Thursday, November 4, 2010

School, Boys & Starting Early

(NOTE: These are JUST my opinions based on 21 years of ministry
and 18 years of parenting... so far.)

Recently a young Mom  asked my thoughts about starting
her 4 yr. old son in home school Kindergarten soon.

Here's my response.

I'm sure he's more than able to learn the stuff that's 
taught  in kindergarten, but you may wanna think long-term.

Growth is more than head-knowledge, and boys tend to 
mature at a different rate than girls. That said, if a boy 
begins school early then he's always the youngest among 
his peers & possibly the smallest, too. (Which can be
very significant to a boy) He might always be the "little kid" 
or the "shorty" or whatever else kids may think up to say. 
Playing in sports with his grade level would put him at a 
disadvantage, which can be difficult for developing

Younger-starting children can also face disadvantages 
because their emotions and social development are not 
as advanced as their brains, and this can be frustrating for
the child as well as peers and other people in their lives. 

Also, Starting K as a 4 yr old means that a child 
would graduate as a 17 yr old... not always a plus. 
(Not to mention the parents saying, "Goodbye" a year early! SAD!)

When making parenting decisions involving the oldest child, 
parents need to be careful that their desires for advancement
 have nothing to do with proving to themselves and/or
others that they're a good parent.  

These are observations gather over the years in youth ministry 
(we've seen many students who were young for their grade level) 
and our own 18 years of parenting.
So these are just some things to consider & pray about.
You may have other thoughts & observations.
I'd love to hear them. (Your comments are ALWAYS welcome!!!)


Jess said...

these are really good thoughts- things i never thought about before! thanks for sharing1

Erin said...

Great perspective, Netta. Thanks. Making sure we're challenging and teaching our kids at their level is important...but thinking long term about their development as a whole person is important too. Parenting is such a great responsibility!

erinnovian said...

WOW! Now I'm glad my mom held me back a year! Though there are certainly pros and cons to both ideas... I always thought I was "behind" and needed to "catch up". Ultimately, prayer is the most important ingredient to great parenting!

I'd also add, you can never read too much... so maybe don't say your "starting K @ 4" just teach him ohow to read... then he might not even look at it as "school"... then maybe he'll enjoy it MORE!... hmmm...

SarahMae said...

Hmmm...I obviously don't have kids, being 17 and all, but these are really good thoughts.

mohan37 said...

Our boy will actually be old for his grade, which ive also heard can be good. Malcolm Gladwell has a pretty long section on kids who start school early/late in "Outliers."

thepainteddresser said...

Well, I am a girl, but have something to share about this.

When I was in kindergarten, I was given the opportunity to go to first grade as I was advanced in my sharing skills..Just kidding on the sharing part, but long story short, my parents went ahead and let me go to first grade at the age of 5.

I don't feel I had any issues (as a girl) mingling in school and keeping up with everything academically UNTIL college. WOW, I don't think I was ready for college at the age of 17. I understand study habits can be instilled in a 17 year old, but there are social dynamics that an extra year might have helped with. I chose to mingle with my friends more than mingle in the library, if you know what I mean. I personally believe there is a difference in maturity when one is 18 yrs old versus 17 yrs old.

I think it is wise to keep a child in their grade level and offer advanced courses as a replacement for grade advancement. It might keep a child more on the upswing, rather than having to push themself through obstacles.

Just thought I would share from someone who has been there and done that. :)