I get this dilemma all the time from moms. Now, I have it myself and I am realizing just what a hard choice it can be. How do you organize it? What do you tell people? Where is the cut off? For me, I will honestly say that I was set on Sariah, last Nielsen child, with an April birthday, not starting grade one until September of 2018. I was set. I wasn’t even going to think about it. I didn’t want to think about it. I have too many other things on my plate! This was just going to be a nice, calm year. Then. Then about a month ago she came to give me a hug and her mouth was open, I noticed her two bottom teeth were not in alignment and sure enough one was very wiggly. I do NOT believe that teeth on their own is a sign so I just spent the following week observing. Making note of advances she had made in the recent past. I also was taking into account that she’s a preemie and her adjusted age would have put her birthday closer to June. Something kept nagging at me. After much contemplation, I decided that I would plan a split year. Year two of kindergarten through December and then a VERY SLOW start to grade one in January.
So how does that look you might ask?
I am not a stranger to shifting. My second son had a March birthday and there was always a bit of shifting I did for him. His shifting was much more slight. Most children with March birthdays won’t need any shifting but for my son, it made a world of difference. I am noting just some examples, you will have to meditate on what will work for you. I am including my plans for you to consider 🙂
September to December – Uni & Baby Bird stories (NEW! more info below)
January to May – The Alphabet by Reg Down
June to August – We will evaluate where we are, she may be reading and if that is the case my task will always be finding suitable reading material for a young reader. If she isn’t reading then we will just continue to do a lot of stories together, letter identification, seeking out sounds, etc.
September to December of the following year – A modified grade one based on our grade one curriculum.
It is important to continually evaluate ALL children, but I will be taking extra care here to make sure she’s not being pushed or showing signs of needing to slow down.
Shifting her is a bit different than my son. His was much more subtle. For him, I simply put one or two blocks from the old year into the new one. It allowed me to move the blocks that he needed, often history, to a place more appropriate with his development. He later transitioned to public school and did VERY well, no mix ups or mess ups because of my shifting.
Now someone might say “That’s ridiculous! It makes no sense! If they were in the school they’d have to figure out how to cope!” Guess what 😉 they are home so we get to make all sorts of decisions we wouldn’t make otherwise!
Where is the cut off?
This is a hotly debated topic. Some in the Waldorf school camp allow their cut off to be as late as June. Steiner often refers to the child of 7, almost 7 and starting after having experienced seven springs. What I have found is that when we get as close as possible to that 7th birthday then they tend to be in the right place. If you are starting school in September then that sweet spot tends to be a birthday that is before March. That puts the youngest child at 6 years and 6 months. I will say that my absolute favorite child to teach grade one to so far has been my son that was fully 7 when he began!
Ok, so what’s the story with the stories? I have been talking about unicorn stories for over a year, now I am putting them in place. I am creating a story that can be used for others in this “gap” sort of space, but they can also be used as story content for anyone loving sweet unicorn stories. Why am I writing them? Well our kindergarten is about Super Sam! They are stories I wrote for Sam as he was walking through the kindergarten years. Sariah has heard them and knows they are about her brother. She wants stories about her! So here I go down this road. I will start posting stories with crafting ideas within the week, as well as a detailed plan of our next 9 months.