When I was a kid, in South Carolina, the rules were you had to be six years old before November 1 to start first grade. Then sometime in the 1980s it was changed to September 1, which seems to make a little more sense, since that’s around the time that the school term starts.
So, the question: Were other states as late as November 1, and why November (or any other month other than September)?
When I was a lad (in Manitoba, Canada), it was basically by birth year: you had to have turned six by January 1 of that academic year to join first grade. So if school started on September 1, there would be kids in the class as young as 5 years 8 months (or so), who wouldn’t turn six until the end of December.
The January 1 option seems about as arbitrary as the September 1 option to me. I can’t speak as to why November 1 was in the mix, except perhaps as a compromise between those two dates.
I don’t remember which month but as I was born in December I had to wait until I was late in my sixth year of age before I could start first grade. But I caught up by being skipped ahead to second grade before I turned seven. I barely remember anything about first grade.
In addition to the variety of cutoff dates, many states let you start first grade so long as you completed kindergarten no matter when you were born. So there are a lot of kids who are just past the cut off who attend a private kindergarten (which don’t have a cutoff) and then transfer to public school for first grade.
My kids are grown, but I just checked the local school district’s website and the cutoff date is August 1. That seems early to me, but since the school year now starts in mid-August, I guess it really isn’t.
In NYC public schools , it’s December 31 . Private schools may use an earlier date but parochial schools generally use the 12/31 date, There’s some flexibility at least in the nonpublic schools (and maybe the public schools) , where a child turning six in December may be placed in kindergarten rather than first grade or one who doesn’t turn five until Jan 2 is permitted to enter kindergarten rather than waiting until the following September
My son is starting school, at the “kindergarten” grade, in January, a few days BEFORE he is 5 years old. (being summer hemisphere the school year is the calendar year.) . He will wear a uniform and be in the same school with years 1 to 6 (up to 12 year olds) … and high school goes to year 12 .
So we see that the cut-off date can be anywhere between August 1 and January 1, depending on the state (or province or country or whatever) and perhaps depending on the individual school district. While Googling for a definitive answer to this (and there doesn’t seem to be any website with a list for every state, let alone every country in the world), I found a website with a list for states in Australia. Of course, school years in the southern hemisphere are exactly opposite those in the northern hemisphere. Instead of school years being approximately (Note: I’m saying approximately. I KNOW there’s a lot of variation) September to June as in the northern hemisphere, the school year runs approximately March to December. That means that instead of the cut-off date being anywhere between approximately August 1 to January 1, as in the northern hemisphere, the cut-off date for schools in the southern hemisphere is presumably anywhere between approximately February 1 to July 1.
Short answer, yes.
In Connecticut in 1974, my parents had the option of me starting kindergarten that year, when I was 4, or waiting a year. My birthday is November 8. So I started First grade at 5, and turned 6 a couple months in.
At the start of each school year, I was the only one who was (insert age here), then we’d pass my birthday and I’d have caught up. Then starting in January, other folks would be having their birthday and would jump ahead of me again, so by the end of school there were only a couple of us who hadn’t turned (insert age+2), and the others were born in June or July or August, so they’d have passed a birthday before we saw each other again.
Senior Year of High School, I found out a classmate had the opposite situation. His birthday was September 1, if I recall that correctly. Whatever it was was before the cut-off, so he was a year older than all his classmates. While I was lamenting that all the other kids started their Junior year with a driver’s license, he had turned 16 before the start of his sophomore year, and would be 19 when he started college.
Same for me. November 26th baby, I squeezed in with 4 days to spare, making mine the very last birthday of my cohort. I didn’t turn 18 until 5 months after graduating. Forget the daily drama of being the smallest and weakest (until nature decided to hit me with a double whammy and gave me boobs *before *everyone else!)…the most humiliating part was having to take Driver’s Ed with the class of '93 instead of the class of '92. :smack:
Edit: Although I believe our starting ages were based on kindergarten, not first grade. While kindergarten was still, I believe, technically optional, I don’t know any kid who didn’t do it.
When I started first grade in 1956 the rule was that you had to be six by the first day of school unless the school board decided you were ‘ready’. There was no kindergarten in our area then.
My birthday was nearly a month after the first day of school, but the school board president, who was also our milkman said “If anybody’s ready it’s him!” so I was allowed to start as the youngest member of my class. Fit in just fine, in college at 17, did well academically.
I just checked and found that South Carolina is still September 1, like it was when I was a kid. My baby is due in August, so 1) we’ll have a baseball star? and 2) that could be serious trouble - my parents had me skip a grade because I was so bored, and Tater’s gonna be one of the oldest kids in class.
In Philadelphia in 1940s you had to be six by the end of the semester, i.e. Jan. 31. Note that there were two semesters per year in those days, which made a lot of sense since the age spread in any one class would be six months. But since most schools elsewhere (except, AFAIK, NYC), and too many people moved around they abandoned the two terms per year around 1965. Another advantage of the two terms per year was that skipping a term was not so big a deal. Also being made to repeat a term.
My birthday is in late January and I was always the youngest in the class.