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Starting Kindergarten Late

Most states have an entrance age before a child can start kindergarten in public school. For example, in California, a child has to have turned 5 before September 1. Private schools follow roughly the same guidelines. See here for a comprehensive list for all U.S. states.

For children who are adopted, it can be beneficial to start kindergarten later. In the bigger picture, this means the child is 18 when he/she graduates from high school instead of 17. (For some of us, that also means they get to be home a year longer!  🙂 )

For many adoptive families, delaying kindergarten is worth it when compared with the benefits. The goal is to give the child more time to cope with and enjoy every step of the journey – through school and life. Often, there may not be any flags or specific reasons for delaying kindergarten. Usually physical, learning, behavioral or social/emotional challenges aren’t apparent until the child is older.

One of the biggest concerns many families have about delaying kindergarten is that the child may not be appropriately challenged and will be bored and thus, disengage from school. One thing to keep in mind is that academic learning is not the only way to challenge a child. Families may choose to take this time to focus on other development areas, like sports or social and emotional skills. It also allows children who may have been adopted as toddlers the time to improve their English language skills.

Delaying kindergarten also reduces the chance of having to repeat the grade. And since young children can be very sensitive about these things, it’s important that they don’t view any such failure as a lack of ability on their part.

If adoptive parents need advice, they should reach out to parents who have older, preferably adopted, children. Many families believe a good rule of thumb is to err on the side of being cautious and delay kindergarten if you have any concerns.



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