To Kindergarten or Not to Kindergarten During COVID-19


The classic Kindergarten question comes around every year. “Should I send my child with a late-year birthday to Kindergarten or “red shirt” them for a year?” Although this question pops up a lot in Fairfield County because Connecticut has the latest state cut off for Kindergarten {January 1}, I am sure that this debate happens in every state. I have a December baby and have read many, many Facebook threads debating this very hot topic.

I understand that children grow and learn at different paces, and a child, regardless of where their birthday lands in the year, may need an extra year of growth and maturity before attending Kindergarten. I totally get that, and that is a call that you need to make as a parent, in consultation with your child’s preschool teachers that interact with them daily.

But when I start hearing, “Hold them back! You’re giving them an extra year of childhood! You’ll never regret it!” I start to get a little edgy. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve heard moms with older kids say this.

First of all, did your child become an adult at the moment they walked onto the bus on their first day of Kindergarten? I have an incoming second grader, and last time I checked, she’s still blissfully enjoying her childhood. Second of all, some parents do not have the resources to give children “an extra year of childhood” because both parents are working and another year of full-time daycare is not in the budget. These parents don’t need the extra guilt of you telling them that you’re taking away a year of their childhood by sending them to Kindergarten. 

This year, the Kindergarten debate seems to especially be a topic of conversation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have a December baby who will be starting Kindergarten this fall. Yes, she will be starting Kindergarten in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our decision came long before COVID-19 was in our vocabulary when her preschool teachers told us that she was ready. When our instincts told us that she was ready. COVID-19 has not changed our minds, but I found it interesting that the debate this year seems to learn towards strongly not sending children to Kindergarten this year, no matter when their birthday lands in the year. If you’ve read any Facebook mommy groups lately, I’m sure you’ll find a comment to the theme of, “If I had a child entering Kindergarten this year, I absolutely would not be sending them.”

I understand that, probably as we speak, classrooms around Fairfield County are being stripped of rugs, bookcases, etc. to make room for socially distanced desks. I understand that students and teachers will be required to wear face coverings. I understand that Kindergarten will not look like it has in the past.

But I have good news for you if your child is starting Kindergarten this year: They’ve never been to Kindergarten before. They don’t know what to expect. More good news? Kids are resilient little creatures. They are extremely brave and take in new situations way better than adults.

Am I worried about what school will look like in the fall, especially in a Kindergarten classroom? Absolutely. But I am putting my trust in the professionals in this field {administrators and teachers} to make the best out of a situation that nobody expected to be in. Thank you to all administrators and teachers who are working their butts off this summer to get ready for our children to come to school {whether school ends up being in person or virtual}.

So we’ve bought a new backpack and lunch bag, and my daughter is beyond excited to start Kindergarten. Going with the theme of the year, we’ve even bought a new pack of masks and made “mask-laces” together, so it doesn’t end up on the floor.

Will there be bumps in the road? Absolutely. But what Kindergarten year {or any school year, for that matter} won’t have bumps in the road? She has patiently waited for this moment for the past two years since her big sister got on the school bus to go to her first day of Kindergarten. I’ll be darned if I let COVID-19 rain on her parade and ruin this moment for her.

COVID-19 seems to be here to stay, at least for a little while, and as long as we take all the necessary precautions, we are going to keep moving forward with our lives. I will not make decisions for my kids out of fear of the unknown.

You may not agree with me, and you may have made a different decision for your child. You may have made that decision before COVID-19, or you may have made that decision because of it. And that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I respect that you have carefully considered this difficult question and come out on the other side. It’s not an easy one.

The best thing is that everyone gets to make the choice that is right for their family. Whatever decision you make for your family is the right one. But I ask that you please don’t bring moms on a guilt trip if they are sending their child by saying broad statements like, “If I had a Kindergartener this year, I would keep them home.” Please think before you speak and be kind to one another. Moms put plenty of guilt on themselves. It’s not necessary to add an extra dose.

Want to read more about Kindergarten from our contributors’ perspectives? Here are some great reads:


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