Precocious or Prepared? The 5-Year-Olds' Quandary

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By Jay Mathews
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dear Extra Credit:

I read with interest David Colvin's letter on how ready his daughter is for kindergarten ["Weighing Issues of Early Admission -- to Kindergarten," Extra Credit, Fairfax Extra, Feb. 2, 2007]. Back in the '70s when the cutoff for kindergarten was Dec. 31, we were concerned about whether to send our son, whose December birthday would have made him one of the youngest in the class.

He had been to preschool and was obviously extremely bright and ready academically and socially. He was also very big for his age (sometimes being mistaken as a twin of his 8-year-old sister).

I never forgot the wise counsel I received from a nun, who was principal of the parish school we were considering. She said, "Did you ever know anyone who was sorry they waited a year to start their child once the child got into the upper grades and high school?"

How many times have we heard people lamenting that their child is not as mature as his classmates entering high school or even college?

In addition that extra year gave him a better opportunity to excel at high school sports as his body matured.

Perhaps the Colvins should consider other factors than academics in their decision-making.

Hopefully they can find good intellectual stimulation for their daughter in the coming year (as you did with the Montessori school for your youngest), and then the public kindergarten will provide for all the academically advanced students they surely must admit each year. Otherwise their daughter will spend the next 13 years competing with students who may be as much as 14 months older than she is.

Margie Carson

Vienna


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