My take on GA HB100 – Changing the cut off date for Kindergarten

I came across a post on Facebook in regard to a new proposed bill to change the eligibility date for children to start kindergarten.

The post read:

“Yes!!! Maturity and readiness make SUCH a huge difference in Kindergarten. If you don’t support this bill, clearly you’re not a Kindergarten teacher, therefore your opinion doesn’t really matter to me on this topic.”

and linked to this article

I was in shock to see this post for two reasons:

  1. Since I’m not a Kindergarten teacher my opinion does not matter [this is America]
  2. As a child who went to school at 4 and thrived, I feel this a terrible idea and there just has to be a better way to judge a child’s readiness and maturity.

I researched the Bill – House Bill 100 – which will change the cut-off date from September 1 of the school year.  If passed, for the 2015-16 year, children would need to be 5 by August 1 and then for subsequent years, they would have to be 5 by June 30.

I was born in November.  In New York, I believe that the cut-off was Dec 1 so I started Kindergarten 3 or 4 months shy of being 5 years old.  Many of my friends growing up there had Sept-Nov birthdays, and we all did fine.  In fact, most of us now have great jobs and are productive members of society.  I was more than ready to start school at the age of 4.  I was grateful to have a lot of knowledge coming into Kindergarten due to great parents and family members.

I thrived in school, I was no more or less mature than other kids that age.  I fit right in, and didn’t require extra attention caused by the so called lack of maturity.  I understand that all children are different, and that may not be the norm.  So can be said of kids that are 5 and still lack that maturity.  An arbitrary date isn’t going to solve this.

I wish I could post the whole thread, but I can’t…for many reasons.  Here are some excepts.

Comment: “People who want to have a voice and dictate what goes on schools and how teachers teach yet they have zero teaching experience, have no standing with me. Until you see and experience what I deal with day in and day out 5 days a week, 6:30 AM to god knows when… No, I’m sorry, you really don’t have a true picture of what life is like as a teacher today. “

People who oppose the bill are not claiming to want to dictate how teachers teach or what goes on in schools, This bill is a double edged sword and isn’t going to change the underlying problem.  Most likely, the problem of the kids who are underachieving at this age is because the parents are not taking active roles in their child’s education.  This will not resolve by changing a date and is only going to hurt the children that are ready to start their education.  What about them?

Comment: “…If a child is truly that gifted at 4, there are much better alternatives than public school.”

-This is pretty crazy.  So basically, if you have a gifted child – or not even gifted, just a child ready for school at 4, parents should jump thru hoops and pay all kinds of money for a private school?  That makes zero sense.  I get that there are magnet programs in the area, but the logistics are often not convenient for the child or parents…and that’s if you are even lucky to live in an area with that option.  What if a child lives in an area where there aren’t these programs, or even Honors/AP classes?  I guess the parents should move?

Comment: “…unless as the old saying goes unless you walk in that persons shoes and does what that person does everyday in their job then you need to STOP.There is always going to an exception to the rule! …Again until you walk in someone’s else’s job shoes sit down please!!!! “

-As the child that would have been affected by something like this, I feel like my view point is [somewhat] valid.  I’m not saying it’s right, but it is my view.  I would have been SO BORED if I had started school later.

I obviously don’t have the answers and don’t claim to.  All I’m saying is that it’s crazy to think that issues with kids falling behind are going to be solved by a date.  I think sure, some kids fall into this date gap, but it’s purely a child-by-child basis.  It’s only going to solve a small part of the bigger issue and set back kids that are truly ready to go to school.  Saying the kid born on June 29 is not ready but the kid born on June 30 is, is absolutely ridiculous!  I will be writing my lawmakers my [uneducated] opinion surrounding this issue and hope that others will too, regardless of which side of the fence they are on.

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16 thoughts on “My take on GA HB100 – Changing the cut off date for Kindergarten

  1. Stacy

    I hope someone starts a petition to on change.org. I’m considering it. The June 30th eligibility date will mean that only two other states in our country will have have kindergarteners older than those in Georgia. Unfortunately, research shows that children who are older when starting kindergarten may do better academically and socially at first (k, 1st grade) but that advantage dissipates over time. Interestingly, research is showing that children who are the youngest in the class, even if they do struggle a little at first, have been challenged and are more motivated. These are the children who end up scoring higher academically, on I Q tests, etc. later. They are also more successful in the workplace- consistent with what you are saying. This plan, if implemented, would backfire on GA. Studies show that the older kindergarteners get burned out later in middle and high school and have a higher drop out rate. The June 30th date especially makes no sense to me. If the complaint is that the September 1st cut eligibility date was intended for students starting school after Labor Day, then that would mean children would need to turn five the week before starting school. If kids start school in August, why would they need to turn 5 over a month before school starts?

    1. Well said everyone! Brittney that is the most logical and objective way I have seen this issue described. Stacy the research you stated is exactly why my wife and I have pushed our now 4 year old to succeed over the years. He’s been in pre-k for 3 years now. He knows all his letters, speaks just like much older kids, can write his name, and even read a little. Socially, he’s the popular one who all the kids know. I’ve looked for every excuse or test to give me a reason to hold him back, but everything shows he is more than ready to advance. I’m afraid he will lose some of the momentum if he was held back.

      Initially, I thought the amendments would affect all kindergarten schools, but from what I am told it won’t initially affect private ones. Down the road private schools might have to comply for accreditation. But that aside, I thought of all of the parents in the same boat as me, but can’t do private school, or maybe can’t afford another year of daycare, That is why I started the petition. Thanks Natsha for posting it by the way 🙂 I’ve been trying to get as much support as possible for the movement. My area senator stated that about 150 votes won’t change any lawmakers minds. So I’m going to wait to send it when we get closer to 1000 votes. At that point the key will be who to send it to. My plan right now is as many lawmakers as possible. Thanks again everyone.

  2. Lisa attaway

    I cannot believe Ga would short change its students by even proposing such an unfair one size fits all bill. I would love to see something on change.org!

  3. lkmyersLaurel

    My daughter was born July 2nd and we just signed her up for Pre-K this fall. Then I heard about this bill (literally right after I turned in my deposit). This year’s change will not affect her, but next year’s most definitely will. So now there is a chance she will be ‘held back’ and bored, because she might have to do ‘pre-k readiness’ twice! Kids do not mature over night as soon as they turn 5. My 3.5 year old is more mature than a 6 year old I know! If school starts in August, why does the cut off need to be in June? And the last I saw was June 1st, which is super early! I can understand moving the cut off to sometime in August, because of the August start dates for school, but June is just ridiculous. But I think most parents will hold their 4 year old back if they see fit! There are always going to be young kids and old kids every year. Why doesn’t Georgia implement Pre-K rather than change the cut off date?

    Sorry for the vent, but I am so glad I’m not the only parent who is concerned!
    PS: Great article! 🙂

  4. lkmyers

    My daughter was born July 2nd and we just signed her up for Pre-K this fall. Then I heard about this bill (literally right after I turned in my deposit). This year’s change will not affect her, but next year’s most definitely will. So now there is a chance she will be ‘held back’ and bored, because she might have to do ‘pre-k readiness’ twice! Kids do not mature over night as soon as they turn 5. My 3.5 year old is more mature than a 6 year old I know! If school starts in August, why does the cut off need to be in June? And the last I saw was June 1st, which is super early! I can understand moving the cut off to sometime in August, because of the August start dates for school, but June is just ridiculous. But I think most parents will hold their 4 year old back if they see fit! There are always going to be young kids and old kids every year. Why doesn’t Georgia implement Pre-K rather than change the cut off date?

    Sorry for the vent, but I am so glad I’m not the only parent who is concerned!
    PS: Great article! 🙂

  5. Sunnyday

    Great blog article. I might not be a kindergarten teacher but I think I still have a valid reason to have a say in this. I am a July baby and did just fine going through my school years as one of the youngest in my classes. It sure beat being one of, if not the oldest, in the class. I’d rather have to “fight” to hang with the bigger kids.

    More importantly, I have a son who would miss this July 1st cutoff date by 8 days. There’s no valid reason why he should be held back.

    I totally agree with your comment about problems in kindergarten not necessarily being an age/maturity thing but rather a problem at home or an individual problem. A 6 year old could roll around and disrupt the class while a 4 year old looks down on them hoping they’d finish up so the teacher can get back to teaching. My little guy isn’t even 2 yet and he already loves sitting front row for circle time and learning new things every day.

  6. tiberious1971

    As a mother of a 4 year old that would be affected by this bill, I want to say that I am for it. At least for the age being moved to August 1. See my son is autistic while he has no cognitive delays, he is very immature for his age. Special needs prek will not let me hold him back in prek. They want to send him to mainstream kindergarten and THEN if he fails to thrive….. Hold him back! We can’t afford private school or private prek so we are being forced to put our son in an environment where he might fail. If this bill passes, it will benefit kids like my son who are not ready for kindergarten. You and I might have succeeded when we were 4 in kindergarten but they expect so much out of kindergarten these days that kids need the extra year.

    1. Thanks for your reply! I definitely understand your support for the bill. I still, however, believe that the age cut off is arbitrary and that it should be more of a child by child basis. Parents know best and they know if/when their child is ready.

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