Teacher Says 5-Year-Old Is Falling Behind & Should Repeat Kindergarten But Her Parents Are Torn



We aren't really sure what this abbreviated school year will mean for our kids. Will homeschooling be enough to keep them on track? Two parents are wrestling with this exact issue after their daughter's teacher told them they thought she should be held back in kindergarten -- but the parents aren't so sure.

  • The mom shared that her 5-year-old has been out of school for a month.

    And there won't be any more school for the rest of the year, she added in a letter to Slate's Care and Feeding advice column.

    Her daughter Julia has the basics down; she can count to five, knows a little bit of addition or subtraction, "but she definitely struggles to read, though she is slowly getting better," she explained.

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  • Her teacher only recently told the parents that Julia has been behind all year.

    Because there won't be any more school, in her opinion Julia should repeat kindergarten again.

    "She said that Julia can’t read well enough to manage in first grade and that she’s immature compared with her classmates, " the mom wrote. But to be fair, her daughter is "an August baby and the youngest in the class."

  • The parents are torn -- they don't want their daughter to fall behind, but they don't exactly believe the teacher's opinion.

    More to the point, wouldn't holding her back in kindergarten do her more harm than good? 

    "She will have to start over socially," the letter writer explained.

  • The parents are also sort of upset that they are only learning of this now.

    After all, there's not much they can do to fix things.

    They decided not to say anything to their daughter until they make their decision. As far as their daughter goes, "we have talked to her a little bit about how she feels about her reading and math skills, and she seems pretty confident in them."

    So, they set up another meeting with their daughter's teacher but hoped columnist Rumaan Alam could weigh in.

  • Some people in the comments thought the parents should take the teacher's advice.

    "I know of four or five families who have had their children repeat kindergarten," one commenter wrote. "Every one of them see it in retrospect as having been beneficial for their child. None regret it."

    A second person agreed:

    "I’d keep kiddo in kindergarten. At this age and with the big break, they probably don’t have an established social group anyway. It’s h--lish hard to always be trying to get a kid up to the same level as their peers and the difficulty can put kids off school altogether. Let the kid mature a bit and enjoy another year in kindy. This will likely help her education more than pushing her when she’s not ready."

    A third person was incredulous about the parents' indecision: "She will have to start over socially at age 6 vs. she is going to be behind academically forever? Is this question for real?"

  • Other people thought the parents would be a fool to let their daughter fall behind.

    "If she's held back, she's going to go through her entire school career older than her peers and forever stigmatized about being the 'dummy' that had to repeat kindergarten," one commenter wrote. "Forcing her to repeat the year is a disaster waiting to happen."

    A teacher wrote in and shared that "this can completely mess with her social life for the rest of her school career. This kid -- especially if she goes to the same kindergarten -- will get another, nastier label that will stick with her forever, unless she changes schools so that no one knows her there."

  • It seems the advice columnist disagrees with the girl repeating kindergarten.

    In his response, Alam wrote that normally he would take a teacher's advice, but he believes the parents should "push forward."

    First, most kids will not have had a full year of school anyway, and teachers will understand that not every educational milestone will be met. Also, even though Julia's young for her grade, "a lot can change for a kid over the course of even a couple of months," he wrote.

    He advised the parents to inform their daughter's teacher of their intentions and ask for advice on how to help her academically in the coming months.

  • Julia seeing her friends and having the comfort of the familiar shouldn't be overlooked. 

    "I don’t think this is something to fret over or discuss with your kid," he continued. "Unless the teacher vehemently objects, I think you should move into the new academic year prepared and optimistic."