A few months ago we decided we were going to have our son start Kindergarten this August. He'd be young for his grade, but he really wanted to go and academically we felt he would be okay. I didn't feel overly confident in this decision. I don't worry that he'd have any problem in Kindergarten but I did worry that maybe those little gaps of immaturity or those little gaps of being super sensitive will become bigger gaps when he reaches 1st and 2nd grade. At that point it becomes difficult to slow the train down, so to speak. I talked with the teacher who would be his Kinder teacher. She thought he'd be fine to start, but also acknowledged that I know him best and generally speaking holding younger boys back a year is never a bad idea. I talked with mothers, my own included, who sent their young sons off to school and to this day regret it. My brother she sent to school young is now a successful lawyer in Chicago, so it's not like he was not successful, but both she and my brother think things were much harder on him than they had to be and truly believe much of those struggles could have been eliminated had he been given "the gift of a year."
The more people I talked to, the more I really became uncomfortable with our decision. The tipping point was when I called a friend from college. We went through the College of Education together and she taught elementary for a number of years before opening her own pre-school. She gave me a host of reasons why giving the "gift of a year" is a good idea. The two that stuck with me were 1). She is more concerned with where students start emotionally than academically. You can always catch a kid up academically. You can tutor them, etc. You cannot teach or tutor maturity.2). You can only give this gift of a year one time. Once you start them in school there is not really any turning back. Sure, kids can get held back or just press on and struggle. But you only get to truly decide for them ONCE and what is the rush to start them?
Once my husband and I came to realize holding him back a year would likely be best and I verbalized that, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. There was instant relief. It was like I had been holding my breath all this time and I could finally exhale.
So, we are going to do half-day preschool instead to get him used to school and give him an extra year to mature a bit. I realize our decision isn't right for everyone and some people even feel kids shouldn't be held back under any circumstance, but it is what is right for our son in this particular instance and I couldn't feel any better about this decision.