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Starting kindergarten early

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Updated: 8/12/2003 12:11 am
When your child's birthdate barely meets the cutoff for starting kindergarten, you may wonder whether it's better to enroll them, or wait a year. Unfortunately, there's no easy answer. You'll have to weigh the evidence, based on your child's personality. To be eligible for kindergarten, a child must turn five by a certain date. This date could be April 1st, before the fall term; or, it might be after the term starts, such as October 31st, December 1st, or January 1st. Studies suggest that when fall or winter cutoff dates are used, a percentage of children will not be developmentally ready to start school, though their age allows them to do so. This is especially true for boys. Compounding the problem is the fact that many of today's kindergartens are simply an earlier version of first grade. Experts say this creates unrealistic expectations for children of that age. They also claim that children who are youngest in their class tend to have a more difficult time academically. Still others say such differences usually disappear by third grade. The final decision depends on you and your child. Consider how advanced they are for their age, and if there'll be other children in the class with birthdays near theirs.

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