Kindergarten cut-off: Michigan government passes minimum age change

On Tuesday, Michigan governor Rick Snyder passed into law a change in minimum Kindergarten age. Effective beginning of school year 2015, all Kindergarten”children must be 5 years old at the start of the school year (by Sept. 1) instead of the previous cut-off date of Dec. 1.”

Michigan changes kindergarten age

While many comments on the AnnArbor.com posting reporting this law were unhappy with the new law, it’s time that Michigan constituents understand that Michigan government is simply catching up with the trends and changes.

I was forced to stay in Preschool for an extra year because My birthday was December 5th, not before the 1st. I was always one of the oldest kids in my class, And never felt like the ages around me were the ages I should of been around. I turned 6 in Kindegarten, when most kids were barely 5. I was always sent to the principles office because “I talked too much”, yet could repeat back to the teacher exactly what she was talking about. Being 6 and in kindegarten put me at a disadvantage because the kidegarten curriculum did not keep me engaged. I think the Cutback on the date will make it even worse, and create an even bigger age gap in classes with young children. -Julia Herbst

Comments from those involved in education, the teachers, express what I’ve been saying for several years:

… I teach middle school and often see the later effects of the ones that start school at age four. I like to point out that you’re not only sending a four year old to kindergarten, but you’re also sending a ten year old to middle school and a thirteen year old to high school. Yikes. –Shine16

…Nine times out of ten the “late birthday” students are NOT ready for school. They had issues with rules, academics, and behavior… -Gloria, former Kindergarten teacher

Naysayers, please realize that the Kindergarten curriculum is different now than it was when you were in Kindergarten. Kindergarten has been deemed “the new first grade” and the expectations for commencement to first grade are higher–making younger students struggle more in Kindergarten.

Consider, also, a soon-to-be college student who will turn 18 in December because of a later cut-off in his school. His assigned Freshman roommate turned 19 last week because his parents red-shirted him in Kindergarten. The age gap is only increasing due to the strains and expectations, nationwide, of educational curriculum.

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All quotes from AnnArbor.com

© 2012 – 2013, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.

About Julie Meyers Pron

Julie Meyers Pron has written 1536 post at Julieverse.

mom of 3 and wife, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse and VlogMom, columnist for Rusty & Rosy, Home Made Simple and P&G Everyday, the Social Media and Child Development Specialist at PlayWow, and a team member of Splash Creative Media. Julie is a PTOer, volunteer, elementary educator and that's just the beginning of the list. A marketing strategist and freelance writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, cooking and exercise.

Comments

  1. says

    This is a great topic for discussion, Julie! I believe in our area, the cutoff is September 1 – and has been for a while, right? I think in general, people struggle with change simply because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” All that to say, I wish the school expectations and graduation requirements were such that our kids were not inundated for 18 years with facts/equations/work/work/success/work. I hope one day we can move back to a “let kids be kids.” Attending the Kathy Hirsch-Pasek conference our district offered was a fantastic insight. What are your thoughts?
    Stephanie Anderson´s last blog post ..Homemade Cleaners {DIY}

  2. says

    Goodness, are people actually unhappy about this change? This surprises me as where I am we already have this deadline, and a large percentage of parents are still holding their kids back an additional year. In fact when my son was in kindergarten, 25% of his class had been held back an additional year. What are the reasons naysayers are giving for not liking this change?

    • says

      It’s mostly people who need to send their children to school at 4 due to day care, people who believe their children are too smart at 4 to be held back and people who feel they were too old for kindergarten way back when.

      It’s amazing the debates that come from this topic–several times a year.

    • Shonda says

      My son as four and in kindergarten and he is still more advanced than most of his classmates. His behavior is what I would say to be expected since he is young minded. I however feel it is because of some of the things he has learned. My son has been in school since 2. I believe that it should be a parent’s choice if they should be able to hold back their children or let them start by cutoff date. I was one of those kids who was 18 for 6 months before I gradurated and I truly was not happy, but as I say everything is meant to happen for a reason. However I do believe am making the best choice with my now 5 year old who will be five for 2 and a half months when he enters first grade next year.

  3. Diane says

    My son was born on 9/28. At the time of his birth, our cut-off date was September 30. When he started preschool, the director told me our district was changing the date to September 1st and she believes PA is headed to be statewide that date to make it more consistent. At first I felt bad for my son, who is bright and very verbal…I thought I’d want him to start kindergarten as he turned five. Now that he is approaching his fifth birthday, I can’t imagine sending him to be in all day Kindergarten with the rigorous curriculum it has! I’m glad that he gets to enjoy another year of play-based preschool supplemented by our fun family outings.
    Diane´s last blog post ..Life Well Lived Getting Happy

    • says

      Diane, I truly feel that we should let our kids be little kids as long as possible. They have the rest of their lives to be working/in school full time, 5 days a week. And there’s so little time for free play in school that this extra year is a gift.

  4. says

    We’re sending our son (late July birthday) to Kindergarten this year, after brief consideration to “red shirt” him. That said, we paid more attention to his personality than we did to his age, birthday or gender. ;) He’s calm, regularly sits still for long stretches and if he’s quiet in another room, he’s more likely to be reading than to be causing trouble. I think more emphasis needs to be placed on the individual child’s personality than any other factor. I do worry a little that the more kids who are red-shirted will only widen the age gap even more down the line. Our kid’s ready now and we’re comfortable sending him, but he *will* be the youngest kid in class and now he’ll be in class not only with kids 2 months older than him, but with kids 1 year older than him. It feels like a slippery slope.
    Alissa´s last blog post ..Kindle books – Life From Scratch

  5. says

    In NYC the cut off is Dec. 31st. The truth is, no matter what the cut off date is there will always be kids who are the youngest. The bigger problem is grouping kids by age. Some kids at 5 enter Kindergarten reading, and some kids pick up reading at 6 or later. Some kids know their entire alphabet and can count to 100 by 5, or 4, or 3, and some kids won’t hit that mark until 6. Schools need to be more flexible when it comes to starting kids and when it comes to advancing them. This idea that kids should be grouped by age across all subjects is antiquated and made for a factory system. It seems that most concerns are focused on social issues, and those are real – but again, parents have a good sense of what their children can handle and should be able to make that informed decision. And, until there is a national standard, there will always be a wide range by the time everyone gets to college.
    Rebecca´s last blog post ..KidzVuz Star Reviewers Show Off Their Hartstrings Fashion Hauls!

    • says

      Excellent point, Rebecca. I love this:

      This idea that kids should be grouped by age across all subjects is antiquated and made for a factory system.

      I was recently asked if I actually wanted to move my child to a 2nd grader classroom for reading? *of course not!* But I did want some attention put towards his ability and less towards the overall expectations of a 7 or 8 year old.

    • Karen Funyak says

      I was relieved when I found your response. You are exactly right! I am a principal in a Montessori-based elementary school. Actually, my school has children in pure Montessori programs from age 6 weeks to 6 years. From first-grade through fifth-grade we are Montessori-based and we teach to a child’s ability level using both Montessori materials and traditional textbooks. While I agree that very few children need to be pushed ahead, we need the flexibiity to do so when a child’s intellectual, physical, and emotional development warrant it. It does happen; and, to make an inflexible state rule about age for entrance in to K or first grade is ridiculous. Multi-aged classrooms that are used in Montessori programs and are becoming more common in traditional programs address the need for socialization with younger children when intellectual development surpasses emotional/social development.

      • says

        It’s interesting, Karen. As a 2nd grade teacher, I experienced many students who transferred into my classroom in September who had been at a local Montessori. They had a very difficult time transitioning to public school. All were extremely well prepared academically, maturationally and, for the most part, socially, but they had trouble following the rules of a traditional classroom. I see so much merit to the Montessori teachings–I absolutely love the idea of learning through development and learning at the level where a child fits best, but there’s an amazing difference between the two types of classrooms. Around here, in PA public schools, we don’t see Montessori teachings coming into the mainstream and there is very little overlap. Multi-aged classrooms just don’t happen unless a family chooses to send their children to private school with that structure.

        Thanks so much for commenting. It will be interesting to see if multi-age and non-traditional classrooms do make their way into public schools in the future. (though I’m not holding my breath in expectations. Too many contributing costs, I suspect.)

  6. says

    Other than it being a form of “free day care” I don’t understand why parents are in such a hurry to send kids off to school. They’re only little once. If they are intellectually ready, find a challenging preschool or daycare, there are plenty out there. Or a year of private kindergarten at a Quaker school or something. I have a friend that teaches Catholic kindergarten, and absolutely, parents abuse it–a year of Catholic school is usually less $$ than a year of daycare, so they do this. We vacation in September (at the beach) because the weather is spectacular and it’s sooo much cheaper, less crowded, etc. I’m dreading the years that we can’t do this any longer because of school.
    Lisa´s last blog post ..Thoughtful Thursday~July 5

  7. Sarah says

    As summer birthdays ourselves my husband and I knew we are “red-shirting” our son early on. He’s eligible for kindergarten in 2013 but he isn’t ready. I’m sure if we sent him he would be ok but why not another year of play. What is the big rush? I want him to be more then ok, I want him to excel and to do so he needs to mature more. I’m in no rush for my baby to grow up! My husband, a former HS/college athlete who had a football scholarship to college, is all about sports and wants him to have a competitive edge. I’m not sold on that being 100% good enough a reason to hold him back but paired with his inability to focus for long periods of time and “all-boy” ways, he’s being red-shirted.

  8. says

    Both my kids were born on the wrong side of the cut off, which for my daughter sucked because she was ready to go to school & would have been fine. My son missed it by 4.5 hours but I have a feeling we may have held him back anyway but not for the typical boy reasons. He actually is very social & loves school but we’re in a very competitive district so I’m not sure academically he would have been as ready as his peers.

    We decided to send my daughter to a full day Catholic kindergarten because our public school is only 1/2 day (2.5 hours!) and she needed more. We’re considering this for my son for K as well—but we have a year to decide!
    Jessica´s last blog post ..Our Crayola Factory Experience

    • says

      I am SO going to write about Kindergarten half days soon. Especially with the red-shirting trend, half-day just doesn’t seem to be enough.

      Not sure how old your daughter is now, is it still rough for her now that she’s older and among the oldest of her peers? You may be the first person who who’s child is among the oldest in the class who hasn’t looked at it as a good thing, so I’m curious.

  9. says

    I grew up in the South where people regularly redshirt their kids and wait until they are six to send them to Kindergarten, so this seems like a wise move to me. I think four is young for kindergarten.

  10. Jen T. says

    I skipped a grade so I am 19 months younger than my husband, although we graduated the same year. The only times it ever affected me was when everyone got their license and when everyone could drink.

    My daughter missed the cut off by 20 hours and 40 minutes, so she was nearly 6 when she started Kindergarten. Based on her personality/accomplishments and my experience as a child, it killed me. She was reading at 4 and has always been really mature. Her fabulous Kindergarten teacher fought to have her moved to first grade, which they did (for the first time in our district in 11 years) right after Thanksgiving. She has always made straight As with very little work and her teachers have always said she was one of the more mature students in class, so clearly it was the right decision.

    I do think that there should be a testing option for those who are close to the cut off. If Emily hadn’t had the teacher she did and hadn’t been moved, I think she would have been bored out of her mind in school all these years (she is entering 8th grade). That said, I also think that there should be a nationwide cut off. Had we lived in CT (where I was raised) she could’ve gone to Kindergarten but had we moved to NJ (where we live now) she would’ve had to repeat b/c Kindergarten was not state mandated at the time and they would’ve still used the same cut off.

    Side note…I find it rather funny that the first commenter you quoted who was forced to stay in preschool that extra year had a ton of misspellings and typos. Perhaps that extra year of preschool should have been two, lol?

  11. Queenwdg says

    Hello All,

    I am all for the change in this law, my only concern is that when my daughter starts school she will have been 5 for a whole year(her bday is in Oct) she would have started in 2015 under the old rule, now she can’t start until 2016, versus the children that JUST turned 5. I am wondering if more schools will offer the split grade classes (i.e., 1/2 split). Did this law take into consideration the SOCIAL implications this may have? Just curious.

    Just one last thing, what is this “red-shirting” that I;m reading in these posts, what does that mean?

    I JUST found out that the law passed, so now I am in a state of of panic, because I had a whole game plan mapped out for ages 3 and up regarding her school, so now I have to investigate if I have to veer from it too much, in order to prepare for this change in requirements.

  12. Kim says

    I am a teacher too. This just creates a new “youngest” child. There are always going to be those children who aren’t able to do a well as the others. My son started KDG at age 5 with a June b day. The thought of him still in preschool is RIDICULOUS. My poor daughter is falling victim to this new law with an Oct. B bay. She will be 6 when she starts KDG. This is frustrating and a waste of a year for her. I am hoping private schools are not held to this new law.

    • says

      I don’t see why private schools would be held to it, and I can understand your frustration. You’re right. There’s always a youngest. Honestly, I didn’t want that to be mine (and I was lucky to be able to take advantage of that choice.) But keep in mind, for the majority of the country, kids ARE entering kindergarten at an older age… 6 is the norm. So while in Michigan it’s something new, in other areas that’s been the norm for years. In 12 years, when my kids go off to college, I’d rather them be within the average to older range than among the far youngest because my state hadn’t caught up with other state regulations.

      Either way… one thing I’ve learned in life is that you follow your gut and do what’s best for you and your family. Good luck!

  13. sarah says

    I am now finally getting ready to face this with my soon to be 5 years old daughter. Her birthday is Dec 4. Of course I now have to wait for the following year to enroll her in kindergarten when she will almost be 6. Am I wrong for being upset with this?

    • says

      you’re not wrong, Sarah. You’re never wrong to have feelings when your anticipation is diminished or affected. From my perspective (as an outsider) consider, though, that Michigan is, likely, helping her for when she gets older. The system was behind most of the other states in the US in having a cut-off as far back as it was. Michigan kids were entering K almost 2 years younger than kids in other states. It’s a system of balance. Additionally, don’t forget that the educational expectations are different now than they were in the past. Kids are expected to do more in Kindergarten than they were when the kids were older 4s.

      So while it’s frustrating to accept change (I’m never good with accepting forced change) there’s a valid reason they’ve made the change.

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