Early Bird or Second Mouse?

By: Delana H. Stewart

There is a saying that goes: The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese. What about in terms of starting kindergarten? Do you want your child to be the early bird or is being the second mouse better? What about just being right on time? Is there a proverb for that?

Redshirting or Holding Kids Back from Kindergarten

Recently, I have read articles about “redshirting” or holding kids back from starting kindergarten to give them an athletic, academic, or social advantage in school. These decisions are made by parents of kids born in the summer months who believe that having their children wait a year to start school will give them an advantage. Numerous articles exist debating the pros and cons of this decision (and not just the pros and cons to the child, but the effects on teachers and lower income families, as well).

Starting Children in Kindergarten a Year Early

The situations I run across with families raising children outside of their home countries are quite the opposite. Families tend to start their children early in international schools or homeschool. In many cases, they have a child who is bright academically (early reader and very verbal) and want to keep that child challenged. What they do not consider are the ages and stages along the way which could be greatly impacted negatively by an early start. They also do not consider other ways in which their child may not be ready.

brain, human anatomy, body partsIf you are a parent considering starting your child in kindergarten early, here are some things to think about:

1. Kindergarten Readiness

Is my child ready academically, socially, developmentally, and physically for kindergarten? Here’s a readiness checklist you should complete… https://theeducationcafe.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/pre-school-developmental-skills-readiness-checklist/

2. Middle School and High School Challenges

Even though my child may be ready for kindergarten, what struggles might he/she face in starting middle school as a 10 year old or high school as a 13 year old? Will he/she be emotionally, socially, and physically able to handle issues faced in public and private schools as an early middle-schooler or early high-schooler? (Note:  Parents who may be homeschooling their children for K-3rd, may have to make changes for one reason or another later on. Keep this in mind when making the decision of starting kindergarten).

3. Frontal Lobe Development and the College Years

Finally, research shows that the frontal lobe is not fully developed until 25 years of age. Each year before that it is in the process of developing. What challenges might my child face starting college at 17 or graduating from college at 20? How might having an additional year of brain development benefit my child in this transitional phase of life?

roadrunner, road runner, cartoon birdSo, what do you think? Early bird or second mouse?  What about an on time or punctual animal, which one would that be? Perhaps the Roadrunner . . . what do you think?

Here are some articles you may be interested in reading as you look into making wise educational choices for your children:

How to Succeed in Kindergarten (LA Times article on redshirting)

Is My Child Ready… (About.com article providing some advice about delaying)

Developmental Delays (Red flags in preschool/kindergarten development)

Why Teenagers Think and Act Differently (Brain Development)

Build a Better Brain (Brain development in children)

One thought on “Early Bird or Second Mouse?

  1. Pingback: Starting Kindergarten: Ready or Not | The Education Cafe

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