I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day about her son starting school. He will be five on September 1st, which is the cut-off day for kindergarten in Utah. I happen to know a little background about this boy. His parents are divorced, his dad is non-functioning most of the time, he is small for his age and he is very emotionally vulnerable much of the time. I recommended that she not start him in kindergarten this year. I told her the key was her attitude and to just tell him he will begin next year. Don’t even mention that he could start now. That is the key to failure. I know some critics would pitch a fit at my advice. I speak from experience. Not only did I teach kindergarten for 15 years, but I have two sons with late birthdays. One started school young and one (with an Aug. 28th birthday)waited and started school the next year. A few friends criticized my decision to let him wait. They told me he would be devastated. Not so. He didn’t even know he could have started a year earlier until one day in 5th grade. He came home from school and said, “Do you know I am old enough to be in 6th grade? Why am I in 5th?” I responded, “Well, I wanted you to be the oldest and smartest in your classes. See, it worked!” He went away with a smile. In fact, when he graduated from high school, he thanked me for letting him have that maturity. His older brother struggled continually through school as the youngest. I wish I could give my older son another chance and let him have more maturity and preparation prior to school.
Manager of Educational Programs, Excelligence Learning Corporation
University Clinical Instructor
Credentials and Accolades:
M.Ed., Early Childhood Education
1996 Utah Teacher of the Year
1998-1999 President, Utah AEYC
2011 Outstanding Teaching Award, University of Utah
John Funk has worked in early childhood since 1979. He taught preschool, 1st and 2nd grades and kindergarten. He worked as an early childhood specialist for a large school district and managed early childhood services for Salt Lake CAP Head Start. He is past president of the Utah AEYC. As an early childhood, reading, and literacy consultant for the last decade, he has written on early childhood subjects and products for McGraw Hill and Leap Frog. He served on the editorial panel for Young Children magazine published by NAEYC.
Currently, John is the Manager of Educational Programs for Excelligence Learning Corporation, and he teaches courses in early childhood, children’s literature, classroom management, reading methods and supervises student teachers at the University of Utah.