Are your twins entering kindergarten this coming fall? Read on to find out why I delayed kindergarten for one year. I’m a twin mom AND a twin myself! Here’s how I see it.
Many schools are insistent on children starting kindergarten at age 5. Some kids are ready on the young side of five, but others aren’t. Parents struggle with childcare options and cost too, so it’s not a simple issue. I’ve talked to parents who have just moved to the U.S. from countries where school is compulsory at age 4 or 5, and they don’t know they have the option to wait.
Here’s my perspective– as a twin myself and a mother of twins. Should your child wait to start kindergarten until they are 6? The concept of “redshirting” for kindergarten is not new, but Malcolm Gladwell applied this term for college athletes to kindergarten– and made the case for it in his book, Outliers. See this article in The Atlantic for background.
If your child is a going to be a “young” five in Fall 2023 and you are in the process of filling out registration forms for public school or a private school, pause for a moment. Take a step back and consider the next 13 years ahead of school your child faces, not just the next year.
After getting feedback from assessments and talking to teachers, you may feel confident in your child/twins starting kindergarten as one of the youngest in their class. They may also have a middle-of-the-year birthday and it makes total sense to start them at age 5! That is entirely possible and may be the right thing!
But you might decide to wait.
Don’t let yourself feel pressured. It’s worth thinking through what will set your child up for success for their academic career. Remember, you know your child. Don’t let my advice or other articles overcomplicate when to start kindergarten. You know your child and your family’s needs.
My instincts told me to waive off kindergarten for my twins until the age of 6. So why did I delay kindergarten?
I have older children in upper grades, so I could see how being in the middle to older age group for each grade was easier for them to adapt to academics and socialization at school. I have also seen how kids go from “learning to read” in K-2 to “reading to learn” in grade 3-4 and on. There is a shift, so sometimes reading struggles catch up with them at this transition. When kids are really struggling, a lot of times the teacher will ask when their birth date is. It can be hard to be the very youngest- academically and socially.
In kindergarten, the pressure to learn to read, the pace, and “kindergarten readiness”— were all reasons I had my twins do another year of preschool before starting kindergarten. Both were accepted to start kindergarten at age 5, but I just felt in my gut one of them wasn’t quite ready…
I had the sense my son was going to struggle with “behavior” problems because he liked to keep his body in motion. I just couldn’t imagine him at a desk in a few months. I reached out to my village—teachers I knew, twin moms, moms of older kids and started asking questions, asking for their advice.
After discussing it, my husband and I decided to “redshirt” our twins. We chose preschool, playgrounds and no pressure for one more year. When in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to wait one year. They spent that year learning ABC’s and 123’s and playing.
Play is a child’s work. This isn’t my idea- there are books and plenty of research to show that kids learn through digging, building, scribbling, swinging.
My little guy got lots of wiggle time that he needed. He’s just older and has the stamina he needs to control his body in a classroom now. He doesn’t view himself as “bad” because he had another year to mature and get ready for a classroom environment. I really think he would have been distracted and distracting had he been 5 instead of 6 at the start of kindergarten.
I can look back now and absolutely see that he benefited from an extra year of preschool and fresh air.
The twin who was “ready” at 5? She’s doing just fine as the oldest in her class. She is confident and ready for math, reading and new friendships. There was no harm waiting for her. Social development is huge at this age. She delights in jobs like being the class “paper passer” and “door holder.” I love the sweet joys of kindergarten and teachers that love teaching!
And most importantly, my twins are together in the same grade. As a twin myself, I would have been devastated to be in a different grade than my twin. They ARE in different classes, which I also recommend as a twin and a twin mom. They are really coming into their own as individual people!
So there you go. That’s a summary of the hours spent working through what was best for my twins. You know your twins. I have seen the benefit it has had for them now that they have been in kindergarten for over a semester. That’s why redshirting worked for my twins who would have been young for their grade—but you do you, mama.
Keep asking questions, observe your children, ask twin moms and teachers you trust, see what options your school has– and go with your instincts.