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    #137811 - 09/12/12 03:28 AM Grade placement and peer status for boys
    Green Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 09/12/12
    Posts: 3
    I am trying to decide whether to let my son attend kindergarten early this year. He will be turning 5 in October, which is past the cutoff for regular public kindergarten. However, he could attend a private kindergarten and advance to public first grade next year. The private school where I enrolled him for pre-K is recommending acceleration; they say he's already on almost a first grade level in math and beyond that for reading.

    I agreed to the switch, but now I have some reservations. My main concern is that his physical development is not as advanced -- he doesn't ride a bike without training wheels, for example, and he's a little bit shorter than the others in his kindergarten class. Am I setting him up to be the kid that always gets picked last for sports? I've heard that young children judge each other on their physical characteristics, so the taller kids are usually the popular kids.

    My son is also introverted -- he never makes the first move. He's been in the kindergarten class for a week but hasn't really made a friend yet. Would he be better off in pre-K with his best buddy?

    Right now I'm leaning toward pulling him out of kindergarten and back to pre-K, so that he can be one of the tall kids. Is this a sound idea? Our public school does have a gifted program (though I don't know much about it).

    #137853 - 09/12/12 09:23 AM Re: Grade placement and peer status for boys [Re: Green]
    mnmom23 Offline

    Registered: 09/11/09
    Posts: 701
    Hi Green. Welcome!

    There has been a lot of discussion of this topic in the past, so you will want to look through the archives. It should be helpful.

    I have a DS8 who skipped K, but he is very tall for his age so I'm not sure that I come at the issue the same way others might. While there are a lot of factors that come into play when making a decision about whether to accelerate, to me size should be a minor factor. There are a lot of people who will disagree with me, though. Pros for skipping regardless of height are that your child will have a chance to be challenged and to learn, and could very well be socially successful regardless of height. Also, depending on how small your child is, he could wind up being one of the shortest in his class regardless of whether he is accelerated or not. Cons would be that your boy might stand out as different physically and it may make it more difficult to be at the top of the heap in athletics. Whether any of this matters to your family, though, is dependent on your view of what schooling and childhood should ideally be. For instance, sports are very important to some families and optional for others; academic challenge is important to some while others find social relationships more important. So, it can be hard to give blanket advice.

    FWIW, I think there is a lot of variation in physical development at that age (e.g., probably a lot of kids don't ride a bike without training wheels yet), so you may want to discuss your concerns with his teacher and you may want to go in and observe his class.

    What about letting him do private K this year (he's already in the class, right?) and then seeing whether you want him to repeat K in the public school next year or whether you want him to go to public 1st. Then you'd have a whole other year to gather data and observe.
    She thought she could, so she did.

    #137857 - 09/12/12 09:55 AM Re: Grade placement and peer status for boys [Re: Green]
    st pauli girl Offline

    Registered: 01/29/08
    Posts: 1917
    Hi Green, welcome! My 4th-grade DS8 skipped 1st grade, so he's at least a year younger than his classmates. He has some company with a couple kids who are the same (short) height. We did discuss the sports issue before we skipped, but by the time he entered kindy it was pretty apparent that we didn't have that sporty of a kid! We got training wheels off his bike last fall, but that was too soon, so now he won't get on his bike at all because he doesn't want anyone to see him on a bike with training wheels but he's too afraid to go on it without. He is enjoying fencing outside of school, and it is not an age-based sport (well, there's a range of ages in his class). He is a fast runner, despite his size. He also dared to get on a razr scooter this summer, and he loves it. smile

    I guess for us re: the whole sports issue, it came down to the fact that he wasn't going to be the sportiest kid even if we kept him with agemates. And the academic need was more important in our family. We talked with our kiddo before the skip and warned him that he'd probably be one of the slowest in gym, and he said "that's OK, I'm already the worst." It really hasn't been that bad, as he's been keeping up pretty well since the skip.

    I have not noticed any kids judging each other on size in my DS's class, and in fact one of my DS's best friends is the tallest in the class.

    #137861 - 09/12/12 10:17 AM Re: Grade placement and peer status for boys [Re: Green]
    polarbear Offline

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Welcome Green smile You'll find lots of great advice here!

    FWIW, my ds12 (7th grade) had a birthday 2 months past the kindergarten cut-off. We desperately wanted to send him to kindy the year before he was eligible because intellectually he was beyond ready - but we couldn't. Our school district is so extremely rigid about the birthdate cutoff that they don't make exceptions for new incoming students until 2nd grade, so even our local private schools follow the same rule re age starting kindergarten.

    That's part 1 of our ds' story - part 2 is, he's very short. So am I. He's not terribly athletic - in fact, he's generally less coordinated than most kids his age (he has Developmental Coordination Disorder which impacts how well he can catch a ball, he runs very slow, can't figure out things like skipping, and he was older than 5 before he learned how to ride a bike). He is extroverted by nature (prefers to be with people) but in early elementary he was extremely shy around adults and not terribly outgoing with same-age children. He's also a bit sensitive about how he perceives other people see him.

    Soooo.... he fits most of the reasons you're considering not sending your ds to kindergarten until next year (short stature, not great at sports, and sorta-kinda-not-outgoing). From my perspective, each of those traits are things that are innately part of who we are, not things that are going to go away with age. Some things will change - as kids mature they often find more self-confidence in making new friends or talking to people they don't know well. Children do get more coordinated as they grow and most eventually learn how to ride bikes. But a kid who is going to be short is going to be short, no matter what grade he's in - not just when he's full grown, but most likely all along the way. The variation in height in each of my children's classrooms throughout elementary school has been huge; my older dd is relatively tall, but she's been with same-age peers who tower over her. My ds has always been the shortest boy in his class and sometimes the smallest kid in his class, and there was an age where this bothered him a bit (I think back around 2nd or 3rd grade) - but the thing is, he would have still been short and would have still gone through that phase where it bugged him no matter when he'd started school. AND keep in mind... we didn't have the option to start him early so he's always been one of the older kids in his class.

    Would I have started him a year early if we'd had the option? For academics, absolutely yes. Have I regretted that we couldn't start him earlier? For the vast most part of everything, no. He did get bored with academics in elementary school, he probably didn't ultimately advance as quickly ahead-of-the-game as he could have had he started one year earlier, but we after-schooled a wee bit in the areas he was most interested in, and at the end of elementary he was able to use his after-school work to advocate for subject acceleration and we found middle school to be a place where subject acceleration has worked to give him an opportunity to have academic challenge yet still be with kids in his age group, which is a good fit - for him. It might not work as well for a different child with a different personality - but sometimes there's no way of knowing until you get where you're headed to, kwim?

    If I were in your place, I'd put aside worries about height, sports etc and trust whatever my inner gut feeling is telling me. You know your son best smile

    The last thing I'll mention - for many of us with EG kids, school just isn't ever going to be a great or perfect fit. Although I mentioned that middle school has been a better fit for my ds in terms of academics, he's still after-schooling in science so that he can learn at college level in an area of academics that he loves. He's matched ok with school and language arts - that's not his area of strength. He's ok with his math placement at school (he's subject accelerated a few years). The pace of his other classes (history etc) can be a bit boring at times (even the math) but he's ok with that. High school holds out promise for more challenge with the classes that he'll be able to take - so in many ways, it would have been nice to be one year closer to high school at this point, but on the other hand, it's also been ok. Not sure that makes sense, but what I'm trying to say is - it's not going to be easy (most likely) no matter when your child starts school, but it's also going to be ok.

    Best wishes,


    #137862 - 09/12/12 10:18 AM Re: Grade placement and peer status for boys [Re: Green]
    Peter Offline

    Registered: 12/16/10
    Posts: 249

    Your DS sounds a lot like my DD. (birth month as well as personality).

    1st thing 1st. He is doing 1st grade level and keeping him in pre-K is a very BAD idea. Most of pre-K is learning alphabets and numbers but mostly pay time and nap time. He won't find any challenges in school. Believe me, he will find friends. Kids that young do not judge and he will find some friends. If you want to accelerate that, invite the whole class to early Birthday party.

    After seeing how he does in Kinder, you can decide whether to put him back in kinder or move to 1st grade in public school. Check the gifted program. They usually test the kid if you request acceleration and you can decide upon the test result.

    Most of the time, popular kids are outgoing kids. If he is into sports, being small and young in the grade level makes it harder to compete at the school. Summer leagues are different matter. My DD did not bike on her own until last December (she turned 10 and when her younger sister bike without training wheels). She was scared to ride without training wheel but when she was ready, she asked me to take it out.

    Some kids have physical attributes but many of the kids (in this forum) has better intellectucal attributes. We (my family)address their shortcomings and celebrate their achievements. We as parents want our kids to excel in everything they participates in. But the matter of the fact is they may be good at something and not as good as other thing. At least, my 2 DDs are bad in sports. We gave them swimming lessons and tennis lessons (at their requests) but we know that they will never be able to compete successfuly at the tournaments.

    I have been in your shoes before. He will be fine and so will you.

    #137866 - 09/12/12 10:35 AM Re: Grade placement and peer status for boys [Re: Green]
    mgl Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 09/05/12
    Posts: 34
    I don't have any helpful answers, I just wanted to join you in being unsure what to do when my ds was approaching kindergarden. My ds8 has a September birthday that is the very day of the school cutoff, so we had the choice of putting him in a situation where he'd be the youngest in his class or the oldest. Luckily, the school had a preschool program inside the elementary school, so we started him in that. His teacher immediately noticed his skills and bumped him up to the kindergarden.

    However, we had two immediate problems:
    1. His fine motor skills were not near good enough to write at the level the teacher was wanting.
    2. He was still well above the grade level he was bumped to in intellectual ability.

    The school found a happy medium that worked for two years, in that he stayed in his grade level, but bounced around the school for math and other subjects. I know he spent a good deal of preschool nap time doing math in the second grade class room.

    It was still so imperfect though, because he changed schools after K, and he no longer gets bumped up. But he still doesn't have the fine motor coordination (or self-regulation abilities) to thrive in higher grades despite being academically ready for them.

    Personally though, I do think fine motor coordination is more important than, say, size when it comes to whether you should place the child ahead. We would have been in a whole different ball game if ds had the physical writing ability to match his math and reading ability.

    Edited by mgl (09/12/12 10:39 AM)

    #137872 - 09/12/12 11:03 AM Re: Grade placement and peer status for boys [Re: Green]
    mnmom23 Offline

    Registered: 09/11/09
    Posts: 701
    I just wanted to add the obvious, which is that being tall won't make a boy any less likely to be picked on or any more likely to be a sports star. My DS14 is the youngest in his class, although he has a July birthday, and has always been off-the-charts tall and has the muscle mass to go with it. He has been teased for being tall, not because there is anything wrong with it, but because it's different. And kids will find anything different -- from your name to your hairstyle to your shoe choice -- to tease about. FYI: He's not really into sports so he doesn't benefit there, but he is placed appropriately for academics, and that has made a huge difference.
    She thought she could, so she did.

    #137887 - 09/12/12 12:07 PM Re: Grade placement and peer status for boys [Re: Green]
    CCN Offline

    Registered: 06/25/12
    Posts: 978
    Loc: BC, Canada
    I say keep him where he fits cognitively. Fyi my neighbour's 8 year old son still uses training wheels (perfectly normal kid - he's just cautious) and there's a boy in my DS's grade 3 class who is the size of the KG kids.

    My DD is an introvert and very sensitive. She's had all kinds of issues with this. She's also a late fall birthday, so she's usually one of the youngest in her grade. Her best year emotionally was grade 4 when she was the second youngest in a 4/5 French Immersion split. Many of her classmates were 2 years older. She wanted a 5/6 split this year but they didn't have one.

    If they feel like misfits for whatever reason (too short, needs training wheels, etc), IMHO they're only going to feel worse from the stress of a cognitive miss-match. On the other hand if they're challenged and engaged with their curriculum, it has a positive effect on their self esteem because they feel like they "fit" and they're not bored, i.e. "this is pointless and stupid." Plus a connection with peers based on cognition rather than superficial characteristics is likely to be more substantial.

    Edited by CCN (09/12/12 12:09 PM)

    #137890 - 09/12/12 12:18 PM Re: Grade placement and peer status for boys [Re: Green]
    geofizz Offline

    Registered: 12/06/10
    Posts: 658
    Another point on the social/athletic issue, is that we're noting, 4 weeks into our skip, that second grade seems to be the year that the boys split into the sporty group and the not-so-sporty group. The not-so-sporty kids are spending their time doing active stuff, just not playing basketball and football. DS reports spending his recess time kicking a 4-square ball against a wall with a few other kids, and I know of a group of second grade boys last year who played demigods as some sort of Percy Jackson derivative.

    I suspect a younger, weaker, less coordinated "sporty" kid might have a harder time than the introverts/creative playground types.

    #137899 - 09/12/12 01:10 PM Re: Grade placement and peer status for boys [Re: Green]
    Old Dad Offline

    Registered: 07/30/12
    Posts: 423
    I'd encourage the OP to make a visit to the elementary school in question and talk with administration and GT staff if possible. See if subject / grade acceleration is something they practice should a child show readiness, also talk about who would be the best kindergarten teacher to differentiate for a young GT student. After that conversation, the answer to whether to enter kindergarten this year or next will have some school background to be base the academic portion of the question on.

    As far as the physical portion of it goes? I think it's already been summed up nicely. It's unlikely your're going to have your cake and be able to eat it too, you just need to decide as a family which is the less of two evils, perhaps being younger and smaller or potentially being unchallenged and frustrated mentally.

    Many have gone though this same thing. We waited a year, however, we also knew the school system and the GT staff well and felt strongly that if subject / grade advancement became a strong need, they'd be accommodating, they were, multiple year subject acceleration in a couple of different subjects kept the best of both worlds.

    Edited by Old Dad (09/12/12 01:11 PM)

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