Reader Question: Skip Kindergarten Process, Apply For 1st Grade?

One of our readers asked whether she should apply for 1st grade and skip the kindergarten admissions craziness and competition?

At first, that may sound like a great idea. Keep your child in preschool another year. Or, enroll him/her in your local public school for kindergarten. Then, apply to private elementary schools for first grade. Escaping the kindergarten application process sounds tempting! It can even sound like a fairly simple plan. If you’d rather be one of the 4,500 people stranded last week on the Carnival Cruise ship off the Mexican Rivera without power or fresh water than brave the kindergarten admissions process, that’s understandable. But, the problem is that there are just not enough (if any) openings for first grade at most schools to ensure your child will get in.
The challenge with the first grade application scenario is that most kids graduate from kindergarten and go on to first grade. At most schools, there are very few–if any–first grade spots available. Its not a point of entry at most schools. You’re basically waiting for someone to leave and hoping a spot opens up…a risky proposition. Granted, there can be a spot here or there, but it’s not a sure thing.
And, you also need to think about putting your child in three schools in three years: preschool, local public school and then first grade at private elementary school. That’s a lot of schools in a short time for a young child.
Obviously, if your child isn’t accepted for kindergarten and you choose to re-apply for first grade, that’s a different story. In that case, it makes sense to re-apply if it didn’t work out the first time.