Ask Maggie: Advice on Kindergarten from a Mom of Three

June 5, 2018

Dear Maggie.

My daughter's birthday is in August so she turns 5 just before school starts. She is advanced for her age but also really small. I don't know if we should hold her back a year to give her time to grow physically and mature a little more or if we should start her in school at 5 since she is academically prepared?

Dear Wee One’s Mom, 

First, how proud you must be of your little sprite! Ready to spread her tiny Wee One wings and fly into the academic arena of Booger Picking Billys and Best Friend Forever Bettys!  

You already know and have expressed that she is somewhat rocket scientist minded (You GO little woman!) so the worry will never be, “Will our Wee One excel academically?”  No need to bite your nails because she’ll probably do just fine with academic content!  When she hits the wall (and she might, maybe...will)  it’s your job and your chosen educator’s job to guide her through areas where it won’t come so easy.   It’s why we’re paid the beau coup (zero) bucks as parents! No worries there! 

To me, this is a Simple Sally answer and you’ve done my job for me.  No, you will not be paid.   You answered it yourself by saying “and mature a little more.”  I THINK you may have meant mature physically.  For that reason I’m going to share with you that each of my 3 children (girls) were of non-standard sizing at the starting line of their educational life and all had varying birthday seasons.   What I learned was that there was no rhyme or reason to their success and … failures!     

From the tallest in the class to my more squat chubster to my twiggy waif that would blow over with a sneeze.  They all faired just fine academically when I tossed them into life’s education system and yelled, SWIM FOR YOUR ACADEMIC LIVES!  Sure they swam at varying paces and styles --- but they did just fine.  

At times however they struggled emotionally.  So that’s where I’d laser your Momma focus!  

My first born was the tallest in her class and the oldest because of her October birthday. Smart as a whip, embarrassingly precocious.  But she was an emotional wreck. She left the classroom the first day and hid behind the “WELCOME TO KINDERGARTEN SIGN.”   Why?  Some booger picker took her “horse.”   This became a theme and for you I share this because... her height didn’t equate to maturity nor did her birthdate!.  She was unable to handle social situations nor clearly express her emotional needs.  She hid behind a sign instead. A SIGN! would be so easy if there were signs for all of us to retreat to, no?  Alas, this is not the world we live in.  Which brings me to my point! We live in a world where we have to deal with people and emotions.  Flashcards, come second. 

What I want you to focus on is the emotional maturity of tiny Wee One /Rocket Scientist.  Is she mature enough to handle BFF Betty when she drops her like a hot coal?  Will she opt to problem solve or reach out for assistance when someone unnamed (flipping BOOGER PICKING BILLY AT IT AGAIN!)  takes her horse? Or will she run for the signs?  That’s where your concern and decision making “hinge pin” should lie. 

I myself, at age 42 am somewhat immature and ugly cry emotional (I know you are but what am I!) and by all accounts (minus a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame) somehow made it through to incredible stardom!  Just look at me!  Giving SOLID advice to parents. (please...RUN.)  

But I am the exception and it is my solid, albeit simple and stolen FROM YOU advice, that you assess whether or not your Wee One is mature enough to SWIM FOR HER ACADEMIC LIFE!  

If not, just continue to work on developing her wee self confidence and the cultivate her ability to handle the emotional side of academia. 

We’ll be thinking of you and Wee One and hope that whatever you decide, all goes perfectly!  (Or if it doesn’t ---- don’t sweat it.  Really, please don’t.  It all will work out. Emma only occasionally hides behind signs at age 14.  Just kidding!) 



P.S.  If it works out and she graduates Kindergarten with a degree in Aerospace.  I’d enjoy a nod in her valedictorian speech.  It’s only fair.