The Kindergarten Cutoff Conundrum

Dear Dumplin,

Who knew getting you into kindergarten would be so intense!  I was so naive.  Apparently you are behind the kindergarten cutoff.  Upon learning this, what has ensued is confusion and perplexity.   At the tender age of four, I already feel that I must push and battle for you to receive the best education possible.  You are a bright child and that is a blessing.  My job?  Keeping you challenged, entertained, and excited about school.  I present to you, the story of the Kindergarten Cutoff Conundrum.

This all began while you were in daycare. One day the director and kindergarten teacher asked to speak to me.   At the time you were only three years old and nowhere near ready to enter kindergarten. I was told that you were ahead of your peers and they suggested I move you to the Pre-K 4 class.  You were bored.  As a team, the school and I decided to move you ahead.  If it turned out to be too much, it would be easy to move you back to Pre-K 3 because it is right next door.   There was a caveat to moving you ahead because we would hit a wall should you excel.  Because your birthday falls after October 31st, which is the kindergarten cutoff in our area of New Jersey, you would not be able to enter kindergarten with your friends.  It was suggested that I start planning for alternatives now and reach out to the Superintendent’s office to see what they suggested.  As a back-up plan, the day care center has a kindergarten class.  If I could not get you into public school, I could always let you attend kindergarten at the day care center.  Nothing to worry about right?  Wrong!

A few months later, I checked in with your Pre-K 4 teacher.  I learned that not only are you excelling in your class, but that she had begun to give you kindergarten level work.  Was it hard for you?  Not at all.  I was excited!  And then the severity of what I had just learned kicked in.  Wait a minute!  If they are giving you kindergarten level work now, what will you do in the fall?  What was at first a passing thought, now became a very real issue and challenge.  My first question: Can I get you into public school even though your birthday is after the cutoff?  The answer? No.  Not at all.  Everywhere I went I was politely but sternly shut down. There are no exceptions to the age cutoff until the second grade.  Until then, it is strictly enforced.  What was I to do?

I now had to consider private school.  Let me tell you, getting my mind wrapped around private school has been challenging.  One of the main reasons we picked this area of New Jersey to live in was because of the blue ribbon school district.  If I can’t get you in, then what’s the point?  I know some will say, it’s only two years. But guess what? I was looking forward to not having to pay for school anymore.  Also, a good private school is more expensive than your current daycare.  Oy! Oy! Oy!  ? I wonder if paying so much so soon is the wrong strategy.  But a Mama’s gotta do what a Mama’s gotta do.  Off to google I went to find a private school for kindergarten.

Private school is expensive.  I looked at some tuition rates and said “Sheeeeeettttttt!  That’s college money!”  Not only are the schools expensive, but there are so many details to consider!  Here is a short list of things one may need to know:

  • How long is the school day?
  • Is before and after care available?
  • Is there an additional cost for before and after care?  (Would you believe one school started at 9 am and ended at 2 pm with no before and after care?  Ridiculous!)
  • Is there a bus to and from the school?
  • Are lunch and snacks included?
  • What school supplies does the tuition include?
  • Do you provide gym class?  If so, how often? (Would you believe one school proudly told me gym was once a month.  Again, ridiculous!)
  • Does the school offer any type of enrichment program?
  • Do they teach cursive writing? (Many schools no longer teach cursive writing.  I think not learning it is blasphemy!)
  • Does the school offer sports or any other after school activities?
  • Is there a uniform or dress code?
  • What’s the teacher to student ratio?
  • What do you do if a child is ahead of the class?  Behind the class?
  • How do you handle affectionate children?
  • Do the kids learn any languages besides English?
  • What types of training do your teachers undergo to make sure their teaching practices are current?
  • Does the school have a summer program?
  • How do they teach the kids about technology?  Do they have access to computers and tablets?

I could go on and on for a long time.  After asking many of those questions over and over again, your Dad and I finally decided on a private school for you. Will it be easy?  No.  Will you attend until the second grade and then switch to public school?  We don’t know.  Will you like it?  We don’t know.  Is it the best choice for you?  We don’t know.  What we do know is that we would feel horrible if we didn’t push you to your greatest potential.  As I mentioned here, you are reading fully.  You can count past 100 easily and sometimes count backwards.  You are grasping math concepts and can add and subtract.  You know some French words and some Spanish words.  Your brain is a sponge.  It is our job as your parents to keep giving you knowledge to soak up.  I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that I worry that it is too much too soon. But  as soon as I think that, you say something that snaps me out of it.  Just a few weeks ago you said to me,

Momma I want to go to a new school. I want a school with more learning! Click To Tweet

Well there you have it.  In the fall you will go to a school with “more learning.”  I’ll keep you updated on your progress.

Love always,



PS – If anyone has had an interesting experience getting their child into kindergarten, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.  ??

2 thoughts on “The Kindergarten Cutoff Conundrum

  1. Wow.. is all I can say. That is a whole lot to consider. Man! I loved how she said she wanted more learning. That’s so cute!

    I remember a similar situation when I was young. My mom was looking forward to not having to pay for school but according to Brooklyn, I was too young for first grade and I already graduated Kindergarten. Let me tell you my mother wasn’t having it. They finally ended up offering to give me a reading test and said if I passed they would make an exception. Not only did I pass, they said I was on a 2nd grade reading level and were even willing to put me in the 2nd grade. My mom declined a decision she vehemently regretted until the day she died. She said had she allowed it, I could have graduated at 15 years old. We never know what the universe has in store. I’m looking forward to your next post!

    1. Thank you so much for reading Shahidah! Looking back, do you think your life would be different had you graduated early? I can think of pros and cons for both. It can be socially awkward to be two years behind your peers but you save time and possibly money by moving through the pipeline faster. Do you wish you had moved up to the second grade?

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