Kindergarten Do-Over: When Should You Hold a Child Back?


At a recent parent/teacher conferernce that alexandersmom03 had with her son's kindergarten teacher, she was shocked and dismayed to find that the teacher actually thought it might be a good thing to hold her child a back a year. The talk left her feeling "sad, upset and worried," she said.


On the other hand, however, alexanders acknowledges that if her son is really struggling, it makes little sense to force him on to first grade is there is no chance of him keeping up. She has the frustration of a lot of other kindergarten moms; she wonders if the children are being pushed too hard, too young.

I also have a son in kindergarten, and there have been many times throughout the year that I've been left wondering if he is keeping up. When we enrolled him in his school--one known for intense academic enrichment--he made the cut-off date for kindergarten by literally three days. Consequently he is the youngest child in his class (younger than some kids by a complete year)--by the time school lets out this summer, he won't even be 5 1/2.

The teacher hasn't suggested holding him back (yet)--gulp--however, I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit to having the thought myself. But like alexanders, I wonder if there is emotional trauma to leaving a child back. Will he feel left out or stigmatized as his friends move on? Will he be bored next year repeating the same work? Or will it be just the opposite as Gilagirl, whose daughter was also a young kindergartner, found when she held her child back in the 2nd grade.

"She was a little upset at first, but we are all thrilled that we made the decision we did. She is thriving now. Her friends have been great! No one has said anything negative at all. It was the best decision we could have made for her. You son will do so much better if he repeats early on," Gila says.

Interestingly enough, many parents in the private school system, read: parents who are ofter wealthier than average, actually hold their children back on purpose by starting them in kindergarten at a late 6, early 7. It's called academic red-shirting, and it's done specifically with the idea of giving children the advantage of being older, stronger and more mature than their peers. The logic is that this "leg up" on other students will follow kindergartners their entire academic career--and often amounts to access to better colleges, excuse me, prestigious universities.

What do you think? Is it a good idea to hold a child back in kindergarten? Or will they likely catch up as they move on?

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