With many districts now starting in August, the cut-off date helps with maturity. If you put the range from 1/1 to 12/31, by the time kids start kindergarten, some will be 5 years, 7.5 months and some will be 4 years, 7.5 months. The issue isn't so much the older kids, it's the younger kids. Those 4.5 months make a big difference as far as their emotional, cognitive, and physical maturity.
All of that aside, my girls have fall birthdays - 9/22 & 12/9. The cut-off date the year DD2 started kindergarten was 12/2 so I sent her to private kindergarten for the year. When I took her to enroll in 1st grade, no questions were ever asked. Now that she is going into 5th grade next month, sometimes I rethink what I would recommend to parents. She absolutely thrives in combo classes where she is in the older grade. She's where she is academically but emotionally and physically she is still closer to the younger students in the class.
My ideal would be closer to a college calendar. Kids can begin in Jan or August and that way there is only 1/2 year difference. Also, if kids fall behind, they can re-enroll in the 1st semester instead of having to fall 1 full year behind. Take Alg. 1 for example. As it is now, students don't retake Alg. 1 until the following year. Thus failing the 1st semester and the 2nd semester. Other students wouldn't know or care so much as to whether a student is a semester ahead or behind.
My state used to have the school cutoff so that all children started the year they turned 5, so you had some kids who were 4 for the whole school year (late December birthdays). They changed it a few years back to the cut off being mid year, which I hate and wish it would go back to the old way.
Going back to your original question, I would get them in earlier if it were me. I started school when I was 3, and I was born in October. The rule here in the 70's was if you were born before December 31, you could start school in September of that year. If you were born in January 1 or after, you had to start the next year. I don't know...I don't have kids yet but I loved school more than anything. I craved school and never wanted to leave! I was reading very young, way before I went to school and I just loved being there for all the books!
Got it. That makes sense. Well, my two cents is that I agree with those that have said that they think the grade level should ultimately be about skill and maturity rather than age. If I had a child that I was genuinely concerned could not keep up with the curriculum in K, or did not have the maturity/social skills to be in a school setting, then I would hold him back a year. Otherwise, my children will start the year that they are elligible to start. T has a somewhat later birthday (although not as late as September) being a June baby and he is starting K this year, the first year he is elligible. A few moms have asked me if I'm worried about it; I'm really not. He was one of the youngest in his Pre-K class too, and he was fine. We did the K readiness testing that our school offers in April (not that they refuse to take any kid that is elligible, but they do testing so that the teacher has an idea beforehand of which areas may need extra work, and also so that you know and can work on them over the summer if you want) and he was fine. So I'm not worried about it. I'm not interested in holding him back arbitrarily just based on his birthday.
I don't understand why its an issue that you are worried about now, Bonita. Wouldn't you just do as much work as the child/ren are capable of now (like, you don't hold them back from work if they are capable of moving forward, do you?) and consider what grade level they are at if/when you are actually considering putting them into the school system? It just seems like worrying about something way too far in advance.
If a child is homeschooled and then wants to move to a public school, do they have to do placement testing?