Admissions Overview

What Does My Child's Summer Birthdate Mean for the NYC Independent School Admissions Process?

What Does My Child's Summer Birthdate Mean for the NYC Independent School Admissions Process?
June 30, 2023

When it comes to applying to an independent school in New York City, your child's birth month matters. Public schools follow a New York City mandate stating that children who turn five by December 31st of the entry year are eligible for kindergarten. Independent schools, on the other hand, generally follow a cutoff of turning five by September 1st to apply for kindergarten entry. (Check your target schools’ websites for specifics on their cutoff date.) 

So what does a September 1st cutoff date actually mean for a child with a summer birthday? If your child was born in July or August in particular, you might be concerned that their birthday feels very close to the cutoff. Parents of children in this position often ask us, “Is my child too young for the upcoming kindergarten entry year, given their summer birthday?” 

The basic answer to this question is that a child with a summer birthday might be too young for the September 1 cutoff, but not always. Your child’s preparedness for a particular cohort of school mostly depends on their emotional, social, and academic readiness, which is entirely dependent on your unique child. That being said, here are a few points to consider when assessing whether your child is “ready” for a certain kindergarten cohort. 

Should I apply my young five-year-old to kindergarten, potentially making them the youngest child in the class?

If a child attends kindergarten as a “young” five-year-old (particularly for July/August birthdays), they may be nearly a full year younger than some of their peers. This age gap will be apparent for some young kindergarteners more than others. The other side of the coin is enrolling your child a year later, when they may be nearly a full year older than some of their peers. Both approaches have their pros and cons, all highly dependent on your child’s unique personality and development. You might take into account: 

  • Your child’s educational history thus far. If your child has had meaningful experience in a nursery school or preschool program, particularly one that offered some structure and got your child familiar with the mechanics of attending school, they may be ready for kindergarten even though they’re on the younger side. But if your child is still getting used to a formal school environment, an extra year of preschool might benefit them. 
  • Your child’s level of independence. Kindergarten programs often involve more time away from home, more frequent transitions during the school day, and slightly more complex responsibilities when compared to preschool programs. If your child has historically done well with these independence/socio-emotional skills, they may be ready for kindergarten. If they’ve struggled with these areas in the past, they might benefit from more practice in preschool before moving onto the next level. 
  • Your child’s social temperament. Think back to times when you’ve observed your child playing with other kids, particularly in a group of mixed ages. Does your child tend to withdraw if they’re around older children playing games that they’re unfamiliar with, or do they dive right in? Your child’s personality around other kids may mean that they’ll be totally comfortable around kids slightly older than them, or that they’d feel more comfortable in a group of kids that is slightly younger than them.

Above all, remember that your child will be just fine no matter which option you decide - there are perks to being a younger student in a class, and perks to being an older student! Some degree of age difference is inherent to any school class, and that teachers are adept at taking all ages into account as they implement curriculum. And if you’re looking for more tips to help prepare your child for kindergarten, check out our post here

Do independent schools take age into consideration during the admissions process?

Absolutely. Schools want every child to have a successful transition into kindergarten. Many schools will discuss a child’s fit for a particular kindergarten cohort throughout the admissions process, particularly during parent interviews. In general, families will find dialogue around summer birthdays to be quite common as they interact with admissions offices. Keep in mind that all admissions decisions are very specific to each child, and admissions teams are generally communicative and open to conversation around the appropriate entry year. Of course, age is merely one factor considered in the admissions process, and is not the sole determinant of an admissions decision. 

It’s worth noting that there are a few independent schools in NYC that follow the public school age guidelines, with a December 31st birthday cutoff. These schools may be great options for families who feel that their child is ready for kindergarten, but has a birthday that falls after September 1st.  

Our family received a “too young” notice from a school - what should we do?

A “too young” notice is feedback that a school feels that your child would potentially be accepted to the school next year after they have some additional preparation for kindergarten. If you’ve received this notice from a school you’re interested in, we recommend reaching out to the admissions office for additional information on the areas they think your child could benefit from working on in the upcoming school year. (You can then share this information with your child’s teacher.) 

If you receive this type of notice, don’t panic - it’s not a bad thing, and you shouldn’t take it to mean anything about your child’s development or your parenting capabilities. “Too young” notices are a common and normal part of the kindergarten admissions process. Each child follows their own unique growth journey, and admissions committees are experts at recognizing this and recommending the best path for each individual child in light of their school’s particular environment and curriculum. If your child isn’t the right fit for a certain kindergarten program at this age, they might still be a fit for a different school! 

If your child has a summer birthday and you’re feeling uncertain about the best kindergarten path for them, don’t hesitate to reach out to Admit NY. We’re leading admissions consultants in New York City, and we’ve worked with hundreds of families like yours to determine the best start of their educational journeys. Get in touch here to meet with one of our experts!