• Is it just me or does it seem like kids these days have so much more homework in Elementary school than we ever did? As a matter of fact, I don’t remember doing any homework until I entered High School. But don’t tell my children because I’ll never get them to finish their homework again. Schools these days definitely seem to have a more challenging curriculum. That’s why many schools are starting children in Kindergarten at an older age. The school-year cutoff is now in September in many schools, which is a change from the original December date So, for a child to enter first grade, s/he must turn six by September otherwise s/he is placed in Kindergarten. Generally, they want your child to be older and more mature prior to entering their respective grade. Some parents handle the transition well, while others struggle or get upset because their child just narrowly missed the cutoff date. So, they may request to push their child up to the next grade. Most schools require some level of testing for this to occur, but the question often arises- Is it really worth pushing your child?

    It’s a big decision that can often make or break their self esteem, academic success, and their future

    While parents struggle with this question, the reality is that often they allow their egos or misconceptions to guide their decisions. They may be concerned with how others look at their child or that perhaps that their child may be the oldest in the class or not be sufficiently challenged. While these are all valid concerns, the reality is that the decision shouldn’t be theirs at all. It’s your child who should decide! Not necessarily by what they say, but by their behavior. It’s a big decision that can often make or break their self esteem, academic success, and their future. The fact is that your children can accelerate scholastically regardless of the grade they are in. Plus, if they’re truly little geniuses then it’s up to the school to challenge them and/or place them in higher classes as needed. To help make your decision, the key is to look at your child’s non-verbal cues to gauge if s/he is emotionally prepared and mature enough to jump ahead.

    There are several factors to consider. First of all, talk to your child’s teacher so they can give you a fair assessment of your child’s abilities (scholastic strengths and weaknesses). I realize that most parents want to hear that their child excels in every category but be prepared for the truth (good or bad). Secondly, you can talk to your children but I caution you with this since they may be too young to know what is good for them and may be influenced by peer pressure or the fear of being embarrassed. Finally, work with your child to get a better idea of where s/he stands with his/her ability to simply sit down and learn. Observe how your child interacts with other children as it relates to their ability to fit in socially. For me, the decision was pretty easy as the most important aspect of children’s learning is that they are successful and build on that positive reinforcement. Otherwise, they will be turned off to learning, which in turn may cause them to feel ostracized socially if they are not successful. They’ll get over being the oldest in their class. But failures and loss of self-esteem will carry with them into their adulthood. I have four children, two of whom were born right on the cut-off date, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. I chose more manageable success (oldest in the class) versus pushing them and having them potentially fall behind. I have found that they are still challenged — one of them has since been enrolled in the gifted program and both are well adjusted socially. In my opinion, being prepared and mature made all the difference in their motivation to learn and confidence in their ability to grasp material. In the long run, that momentum is what translates into success!