Parenting & Family

Jan Baby - Attend JK Early?

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[OP]
Newbie
Mar 22, 2008
69 posts
3 upvotes

Jan Baby - Attend JK Early?

Hi everyone:

My little one is a January baby. We are considering schooling options for her. We are open to both public and private schools. One of my questions as of late is whether she should go to school a year ahead. This, of course, is contingent on whether we have this option in Ontario (I can't seem to get a clear answer to this).

She appears to be ahead of her peers (or the other children her age that I've had the chance to observe). Examples include the ability to sight read, hitting cognitive milestones much earlier than peers, etc. Without belabouring the point, she's very bright and seems to be on par with children 2 years older than her in some specific areas (language, math skills, behaviour/maturity, etc.). Everyone who meets her is surprised at her age (despite her small frame).

I wondered, would be to her advantage to start formal schooling a year ahead?

Does anyone have experience sending their child a year ahead?
23 replies
Moderator
User avatar
Aug 22, 2003
15541 posts
964 upvotes
Niagara Falls
The cut off is Dec 31st so it won't be an option in public schools....
Thinking seriously about the 4 S's...Sun, Sand, Surf and ... Booked for Sept in Mexico and booked Samana DR for Jan!
Deal Addict
Aug 17, 2008
3673 posts
683 upvotes
Sask.
It likely won't be an option, but contact the principal of the school to discuss it if you want to know for sure.

Usually, it's better to have a child start school at the appropriate age - then if she's found to be advanced, that will be dealt with at the school once the child is of age to have formal testing. Here they test in Grade One, then again in Grade Three.
Deal Guru
Dec 31, 2005
13066 posts
625 upvotes
at that age, it just doesn't matter as far as development. You can provide far far more enrichment at home (and i don't mean studying).

Keep in mind, that if you tried to move her ahead, you are now possibly the smallest and even "ordinary" kids may perform better socially or even "academically" as they are much older.
Member
Jan 8, 2011
412 posts
82 upvotes
London
Won't be an option in Ontario public schools.

I am a Kindergarten teacher. I would suggest providing lots of experiences and enrichment at home over the next year rather than starting her a year early. With the new FDK program, there should be plenty of opportunities for her to learn at her own level once she gets there.

If you have concerns once she gets to school (her being bored, etc.), share them with her teacher. My experience is that most children who are academically advanced still benefit from the social aspects of being with their age-appropriate peers.

If she is indeed found to be advanced or gifted, options will be based on the local school board. Acceleration (grade skipping) is very rare (at least in the boards I've experienced). There are usually enrichment programs for these students either within their home school or a school to which they are bussed. Focus is more on problem solving and application of knowledge and skills rather than learning skills that are above their grade level (I.e., learning multiplication in Grade 1).

Honestly, my best advice is just to let your child be a child for now. As long as she is happy, socially confident, and behaves appropriately, you should not be worried. You have plenty of years to worry about whether she will reach her "full potential" in terms of academic abilities.

Edited to add: wanted to say that, even with what I said above, I don't necessarily agree with the strict cutoffs that currently exist for Kindergarten entry. There are plenty of fall babies who would benefit from holding off a year before entering JK (currently they don't have to start JK at age 3, but if they hold off, they simply miss the year of JK) and some children with early birthdays who are socially and academically ready to start school a year early. I wish there was some sort of screening for these children.
Newbie
Oct 17, 2013
64 posts
20 upvotes
Ontario
My advice is coming from both being a mom and teacher and the opposite end of the spectrum since my son was born on December 27. I truly believe we need to have the option of some flexibility, especially for children born during the first and last couple of months of the year.

The research I have done completely pointed to my son having more difficulties and chances of being less successful due to his late birthday if he were the youngest in his class. My gut instinct told me to have him start JK a year later, not because he might have difficulties in K, but much later in school when he would be required to make so many adult decisions at a much younger age. Anyway, I don't want to start a debate about this, so I'll tell you what happened to me.

This will probably not be helpful to you, but I read through the Education Act and through our board's policy about late starts. The only thing that was clear was that a child must be 4yo by December 31 of the year they start JK. Therefore, not any younger. I tried not to be a PITA parent and started communicating early with the principal. He was completely supportive at first, then a month later, he said we wouldn't be able to start him late, but would do his best and get back to me. No explanation. I kept asking, he kept saying he'd get back to me. All I wanted was an explanation, and if it made sense, I'd go with it. Nothing. Finally, I asked my lawyer for her opinion. Basically, it came back as "the parent makes the decision". My son is starting JK one year later.

So, I would do plenty of research, trust your instinct and be very sure of your decision and, possibly, be ready for a bit of a fight since your deadline is already written up in the Education Act.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Aug 15, 2003
859 posts
138 upvotes
We are in a similar predicament, but my concern is more with my DD being bored and unstimulated once she starts jk 1.5 years later. Our local school will not allow early entry. We are looking at enrolling her in Montessori.
Deal Guru
Dec 31, 2005
13066 posts
625 upvotes
mintchoco wrote:
Apr 6th, 2014 7:29 pm
We are in a similar predicament, but my concern is more with my DD being bored and unstimulated once she starts jk 1.5 years later. Our local school will not allow early entry. We are looking at enrolling her in Montessori.
At that level school is about socialization...keep them engaged at home.
Member
Feb 19, 2011
202 posts
20 upvotes
This is a situation where paying for preschool is probably your best choice. There is almost no chance that they will allow you to enrol her in school early. We did preschool for our oldest the year before he started K and will be doing the same for our youngest. Some preschools can be pricey but it's only for one year so I find that it manageable.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 4, 2004
3888 posts
243 upvotes
Toronto
We went through the same process as you OP. My son was born at 2AM on January 1st and also seemed to be a bit brighter. He was enrolled in pre-casa Montessori and learned to read, write and do math on his own before JK. He's now in SK (public school) and already memorized the times table and can do long multiplication. The rest of his class is learning the alphabet.

IMO, sending him to the pre-casa helped my son to advance quickly...but that only made the problem worse as he's even more ahead of kids in his grade. We put him in French immersion so at least he'd be stimulated learning another language. But it still doesn't seem to help as he seems to have picked up the language quite easily.
Deal Guru
Dec 31, 2005
13066 posts
625 upvotes
mjl_toronto wrote:
Apr 7th, 2014 11:28 am
We went through the same process as you OP. My son was born at 2AM on January 1st and also seemed to be a bit brighter. He was enrolled in pre-casa Montessori and learned to read, write and do math on his own before JK. He's now in SK (public school) and already memorized the times table and can do long multiplication. The rest of his class is learning the alphabet.

IMO, sending him to the pre-casa helped my son to advance quickly...but that only made the problem worse as he's even more ahead of kids in his grade. We put him in French immersion so at least he'd be stimulated learning another language. But it still doesn't seem to help as he seems to have picked up the language quite easily.
So let him have fun...school at that age is about socializing. Enrich him outside of school.
Deal Addict
Jul 16, 2005
1275 posts
246 upvotes
Here in Ontario, they follow a strict "age based" placement even up to grade 3 (and possibly higher). I had no luck getting my son with a January birthdate into Grade 3 early. Principal won't even consider looking at any achievement tests. Gave some lame excuse that he should stay with kids his own age and some excuse about being on different sports teams than his classmates.

WTF? "Age based"? Either way he will be the oldest or youngest of the class. He will have fun and do sports either way, but he's the type of kid that needs to be challenged.

Back to Montessori he goes.

This is bullsh*t!
[OP]
Newbie
Mar 22, 2008
69 posts
3 upvotes
Thank you for the thoughtful responses! I appreciate the various perspectives.

Since my first post, I made one call to a local school and was promptly told that it is not possible, as per the Education Act. Based on what I've read, I sort of knew that already. However, I have also read that there can be exceptions made (hence why it's unclear to me). The person I spoke with was somewhat condescending and was sure to tell me that in their years at this school, they've only seen 2-3 "gifted" students (this was after I asked her about testing, etc. at the school to identify/assess students' abilities). I didn't use the word gifted, however, in discussing my kid with her. I also didn't want to bother telling her that I am well aware that most kids who are very bright are simply just that: very bright. However, I also know that there are varying degrees of giftedness. Even then, there can be varying abilities. I wasn't suggesting my LO is exceptionally gifted. I think she's very bright - but due to my lack of experience with children, etc. I am not sure just how bright she is (average vs. above avg. to mild/moderately/highly gifted). It irked me that this person made assumptions and responded to me as if I were an overzealous parent adamant that her very ordinary child is gifted. That phone call was a total waste of my time. I wonder if talking to the principal would help (rather than a subordinate).

As for enriching her at home -- we already do that. I let her lead. There's very little structure to it, actually. If she wants to read, we read. If she wants to write, we write. If she wants to play, then I let her go and do whatever she wants (which can sometimes result in a mess :o ). She has varying interests and we go into it whenever she requests (i.e. dinosaurs, animals in general, letters, etc.). I don't push her but I do encourage whatever it is she is doing at any given time. She's very creative and loves imaginary play, so she can spend hours off on her own playing.

There are times when I'll go through something more structured with her, but only if she seems ready/interested. Rather than a didactic, formal approach, we make everything fun and light (which I suspect most parents do). As she gets a bit older, I think we might do more structured stuff. I actually sometimes wonder if I should be doing more structured learning with her, given her propensity to absorb new concepts/material very quickly. In fact, there are times when I feel guilty and wonder if I should I be doing more "traditional" learning with her.

We also place emphasis on her emotional growth and try to be there for her as much as possible without coddling her. She knows there are rules and has to follow them. She does go to swimming and skating (just starting to learn). She's also enrolled in a more hands on cooking class tailored for her age (they don't actually cook, they help with parts of the meal making). In this sense, we try to give her some balance. But my gut is telling me we should be doing more (i.e. take her to more museums, etc.). We hope to do more "outside" activities this year.

If the public school system simply won't budge, I may have no choice but to keep her at home or send her to private school. I've read that the Montessori system can be great for "gifted" kids (wherever they may fall on the spectrum). However, it's a bit of a daunting task identifying which one is actually true to the Montessori philosophy (there are so many out there).

Whoever drafted the legislation didn't consider advanced kids in making the age cut off requirement. Why are there no exceptions noted? There have been studies that suggest that kids who are very bright (or ahead of their age group) thrive in higher grades. Why is it so outrageous that a child be placed among her intellectual peers? Very bright children often prefer the company of older kids/adults anyway. To insist that a very bright child, who has demonstrated they are well above their grade level, be with her peers ignores so many things and assumes a great deal. As a parent, I am disappointed.
Deal Guru
Dec 31, 2005
13066 posts
625 upvotes
mjl_toronto wrote:
Apr 7th, 2014 8:58 pm
What makes you think he's not?
Then great...and I would also say stop worrying and let the kid have fun.
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