The Big Bad Scary World of Kindergarten

It’s that time of the year again. All over the country kindergarten round-ups are happening and nervous parents prepare themselves for sending their sweet little preschool aged child into the big bad world of grade school.

I was there last year. My husband and I attended a meeting with other moms and dads to talk about their kids entering kindergarten the following September. While it was a lot of information in such a short time, some words stood out to me: independence, expectations, and maturity. While I heard from many others that kindergarten is not the same as it was when I was a tot, it was much more than I expected.

Big Bad Scary World of Kindergarten

I thought I was going to have a coronary. I knew that my little guy was not anywhere near ready for all of this. 

Don’t get me wrong! Charlie was and is a sweet, smart and inquisitive child. But, I just wasn’t sure that he was ready to handle the great big scary (grade school) world on his own! He is young for his grade with a July 31st birthday. This made him five-years-old only one month before the first day of school. So, he would be in class with kids turning six years old within a few months. In my opinion, there could be a huge developmental difference between these ages. 

While he met the September 1st cutoff for Kindergarten of that year. Red-shirting him until the following year is what made sense for him and our family.

But, in the spirit of being truthful, to ‘red shirt’ him was a huge bruise on my ego. I know, I know, you are reading this thinking “it’s not about you!!” And, you are right. My brain knew this, but my (sometimes much stronger) emotional side thought it was a view into how I was as a parent. Was I not enriching his life with educational materials outside of the classroom? Did I not feed him enough brain building foods as a baby? Did we not read enough story books before bed?

The fact of the matter is that all kids develop differently. Not all kids can count to 20 at the same time. They can’t all draw a detailed picture of their family members. Not all kids are the same. Period.  

I remember a friend saying to me once that if you put 100 adults in a room, even though we are all humans and breathe air, not one of those adults are the same. They look different, thrive at different things, and have different interests. 

It was a great reminder that I needed to take the emotional part of my brain out of the equation. So, after several discussions with his teacher and each other, my husband and I decided to give our Charlie the gift of time. We decided to put him in a junior kindergarten program and let him have another year before entering grade school. 

Now, a full year later, Charlie is half way through junior kindergarten and we are positive that we made the right choice for our son.  Things are clicking, he’s excited to read new words and figure things out. It’s a vast difference of night and day from a year ago, when he would just get frustrated and walk away from the challenge. I see a whole new confidence in how he carries himself around his fellow classmates. 

So, next week, I’ll be there again at kindergarten round up. Except this year, I won’t be breaking out in hives from anxiety. I’ll be listening and getting excited for what is to come for my soon-to-be big boy. I will probably shed a tear or two when September comes, but I will also be so excited for him to take on a new challenge with his head held high.

Are you preparing to send a kiddo off to kindergarten this fall? Are you excited or sad? What are you doing to get the whole family ready?

The Big Bad Scary World of Kindergarten


  1. The step to getting your child ready for kindergarten is a scary thing, even to us Moms whose children are grown. Because it is a first step. There will be many along the way like middle school, high school, driving, first dates and getting married. Each of them are unique and frightening for us parents. This just happens to be the first one.

    Take a breath and enjoy the fact that it is a natural next step in growth. One day you will look back and think “if I could just do that first day of kindergarten over again”.

    Know you are not alone. Thank you for sharing your insights. Be brave Mommas, this too shall pass.

  2. Thank you for sharing this! We are planning on putting our son in a “4/5s class” when he will be due for kindergarten by his age. Like yours he has a summer birthday and we’ve noticed that in his 3 year old program right now there are kids turning 4 or who have turned 4 and are so much more adapt at regulating their emotions, communicating and have slightly better social skills. Months do make a big difference when they are this young. We’ve caught some grief from our family on “holding him back” and “won’t he be bored” but reading stories like yours reinforces what our guts are telling us as his parents. We want him to have more time and that’s a gift that we hope will benefit him for the rest of his life.


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