Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Would you "Tiger Mom" to save $9000?

Boy was born two weeks after the cutoff deadline for kindergarten. So next fall he will be 5 minus two weeks, and therefore ineligible to enter kindergarten. The following year, when I return from sabbatical, he will be 6 minus two weeks, and can start school as one of the oldest in his class. We were content with this arrangement until we realized that the cost of putting Boy in daycare in Suburb will be about $9000 for the length of my sabbatical. If we can get him into the public Kindergarten by petition, the cost will be $0. However, as expected, there are certain skills he needs to master before he can be considered for a special waiver. He has a lot of those skills already, but we will need to be a bit more directive in his play for the next 9 months to make sure he has ALL of the skills. So my new role is Homeschooling Preschool Mom (evenings and weekends), a la Tiger Mom Amy Chua. I exaggerate of course. If he's not ready, we won't do it. I have read Malcom Gladwell, too. I know the older kids get more attention in Kindergarten, and end up doing better. He seems to be on track, though, and I think, why not?? Your thoughts?


  1. The gains in kindergarten from red-shirting dissipate by middle school. (And if you compare by age instead of by grade, they're a year behind.)

    We're in a different situation-- we're paying extra to a private school so our kid could skip a grade. (The publics here don't consider early admittance for anybody.) We also do extra skills building at home because he bounces off the walls on the weekends if we don't. As long as you keep the learning fun, I am confident that he will not be scarred for life. (Amy Chua-style would be telling him he's worthless. Don't do that.)

    With kids on the borderline, I think they're probably fine either way most places. If your kid were in a different state (California, for instance), he would be starting K right away. Also K consists of different things in different states-- one of the reasons we needed to start early is that in our state K is mostly socialization, letters, colors, and numbers. In California, they do in K what we do in 1st grade here.

  2. I would.

    My daughter is 5 weeks past the cutoff in our district. She'll be 3 in January and I'm already wondering if I can get her in early. It seems to silly that she can't start at 4y8m and instead has to start at 5y8m. She'll spend most of kindergarden as a 6 year old.

    Three years of preschool is annoying- especially since the school district doesn't offer it and we have to pay.

    Redshirting kind of bothers me. Achievement isn't the goal of education. Learning is the goal of education. Who cares if your kid is the smartest in kindergarden. By 2nd grade, nobody will care!

    I was a mediocre student in elementary school. I didn't start to excel until I was in late middle school, and that was because of effort I chose to exert. I went on to the Ivy League degrees everyone seems to be yammering about in preschool.

  3. My son's 5th birthday was 4 days before kindergarten, and his friend down the street turned 6 years old 2 days after school started. They are in the same class, and are both behaving well in school and performing at grade level. Send your son to kindergarten, if at all possible! In WI, the requirements for kindergarten aren't bad, they need to count to 20 and know their colors (and listen to teacher, etc.). I wish my second son, whose birthday is in November, could go to kindergarten at 4.

  4. I would push for my kid to go to kindergarten if he was only two weeks off! (The younger one has an October birthday so it's possible this may yet happen.) I think if it doesn't drive you or the kid nuts making sure he can count to 20 and recite his alphabet (or whatever the equivalent is there) then why not.

    Just think how happy he (or you) will be to have $9000 less debt at college time! Or whatever.

  5. Dang. Just called the school district. Person on the other line said "no exceptions". Push it?

    1. One of our daycare teachers with a bright daughter told us that the way to do this is not to mention a word about acceleration or early entrance over the phone (we also got shut down over the phone). Just request a meeting with the principal. Bring evidence of the kid's advancedness. (By this point we'd already committed to go private, so I don't remember more details and haven't done it myself.)

      Also check your state laws for early entrance. Some of them don't allow it at all, some say it can be allowed and some say it has to be allowed if the child does x, y, and z. (Our state is a "can be allowed" and I think they want the child passing a third grade test in order to start K early, which seems ridiculous to me... if the kid can pass a third grade test, K doesn't seem to be the appropriate level either.)

  6. My son was also close to the cut-off, and we were able to start him early. I agree with the previous poster's suggestion to request a meeting with the principal to discuss the situation. You may want to ask what skills the students need before kindergarten. In my experience, part of kindergarten is just getting used to the routine and rules of school. Kids who have been in full-time daycare since they were infants have no problem with this.
    Maybe the principal will agree to enroll him early if you can settle on a "curriculum" that you will follow with your son at home over the next few months.

    Go easy on yourself, though. You have enough on your plate without stressing about teaching your son at night. I ended up taking our son to a program at Sylvan Learning Center 1-2 days a week after dinner. There is an expense associated with this - I think it ran us around $2000 for the year - but I thought it was worth the money it would save us in daycare and the extra stimulation it would give my son. They do regular assessments, so this will also give you something to give to the school district at the end of his program so they can see what level he is at.

    If your son likes Disney, you might also want to try these workbooks by Bendon Publishing called Disney School Skills. My son really liked these, and they matched up very well with the standards for pre-K and K in my state (MA). It also gives you a record of what topics your son has worked through, which may help with the school district.

    Take care and good luck! You are already doing so much for the kids and the family. I hope things work out with this.

  7. Although it makes one proud to be the youngest in the class and still one of the smartest, I'm not sure it is helpful in the long run. Being the 'smart kid' in eighth grade and yet not having hit puberty? That was TERRIBLE.
    All your friends being able to drive when you aren't? Not fun.
    Being a passenger with your friends driving when they are brand new, not very good, drivers because you are not old enough to drive yet? Questionable.

    I wouldn't do it. There are plenty of programs for gifted kids and you and your husband will be able to make sure he has access to them. Let him be the right age in school and complement his education after school.

    I was the youngest in my class and it was fine in elementary school, but not much fun later. Think about his entire school career, because once the decision is made it is difficult to back track.

  8. What did you wind up deciding? Is your district really a "no exceptions" one?

    Our district allows kids whose birthdays are in September-December to join first grade if they attend an NAEYC-accredited kindergarten and have recommendations from the K teacher(s). It didn't help us in saving any money, but it did stave off boredom for our daughter. Turns out that we are not alone in doing this, and among the other families in my daughter's grade who did this is one of her best friends. BF is only a few weeks older than my daughter, so it's not like my daughter is the only one who is "young". They are in fourth grade now, and so far, everything has been just fine. Teachers in second grade didn't even realize that she was younger until her birthday rolled around and she told them she was turning 7 and not 8.