It’s a tough decision that confronts almost every parent of a child born between the months of August and December—is my child, who has either just turned 5 or is about to turn 5, ready for kindergarten? It would seem like a minor problem and yet states across the country have passed legislation that delays the start of kindergarten for these cutoff kids, since research shows that a few extra months of cognitive development could make huge differences in the academic abilities of children. A bill is currently sitting on the Governor’s desk that would require California children entering kindergarten turn 5 by September 1st rather than the original cutoff of December 2nd. SB 1381, approved by the legislature last week, would also provide a year of transitional kindergarten for children with Fall birthdays. As kindergarten becomes more academically rigorous, could a few extra months of preparation for first grade help boost test scores and improve the classroom performances of California’s young students?
John Eberly, member, Board of Directors for the California Kindergarten Association and faculty member in the Child Development Department at Santa Rosa Junior College