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?

developmental delays, education, elementary school, kindergarten


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simpl... simplyjaneen

I personally think that kindergarten needs to go back to age SIX. Yes, I said six. My younger sister started at five. She was transferred halfway through the year (because her kindergarten teacher was a WITCH, said my sister was dumber than a rock!), then held back and the kids gave her a lot of garbage about it. All of this would have been avoided if my mom had just waited to start her at 6. Same with my niece who fortunately hasn't had the issues of being picked on but then she's been in several different schools now, she also had to be held back and she too had started at 5. I just personally think that 5 is too soon unless they really show they are ready for it but kids who have developmental delays should definitely not be started until the age of six EVEN if their birthday allows them to be started at 5. I think it will just save a lot of issues down the line.

2girl... 2girlsMom.MN

Yes, I sent my dd to Kinder at age 5.  Barely turning 5 might I add, her birthday is 8/29 she was the youngest, shortest, smallest, and most immature. She was keeping up academically but working her butt off. She was struggling emotionally,socially. By 2nd grade I had enough and put her back a grade. It has made a world of a difference, she has the confidence, and is a "red shirter" she's stronger with her academics now placing her at the top of the class. I am so glad with my decision. BTW our public school didn't want to hold her back, makes them look bad so I had to end up putting her in a private school to do so.

army_... army_wife2000

I held  my daughter back, she "graduated" with her preschool class and wanted to go to Kgarten with her friends.  She turned 5 in July.  We knew she didn't really learn much, but she enjoyed herself.  She was better off repeating it and she has done very well in school.  I am glad that I did it.

jenni... jenniamigo

i literally just had the same conversation with my sons teacher just a couple of days ago. My son has a mild developmental delay not to mention he is also a young kindergardener. school started a week after he turned 5. but he is struggling academicaly and he is on an IEP and taking speech therapy. His teachers told me that they dont normaly hold back a child on an IEP but they are making an exception since my son is a young 5 yr old.

Betti... BettiesOlivia

My daughters kindergarten teacher informed me at the half way point in the year that my daughter might benefit from being held back. We worked together and worked with my daughter and the line of communication was always open. She improved greatly but still wasn't were she should've been academically and emotionally. I really struggled with the decision. I didn't want her to have to struggle when she went to 1st grade, and so on. Her teacher talked with me about it on a number of occasions. She let me know that her daughter had to be held back in her kindergarten year as well. When the time came to make the decision I decided that she would benefit from repeating. She had a different teacher the next year. She was more confidant and helped out the other kids that needed help. She is now in second grade and doing great. When she was younger I had told her she was going to kindergarten part two but now she understands what happened. It was the best decision for her, and I'm glad I made it. I'm even more glad that she had such a great teacher to be talk to and aid me in a really hard choice.

holly... hollyhomemaker

I think there are some kids that just need that extra year.  In other cases it is obvious that to go ahead as planned is no big deal.  I think you have to listen to your kid, your gut and your kid's teachers.

mamac... mamacass260

I discussed the same thing with my daughter's kindergarten teacher mainly because next year our state is requiring all day kindergarten but her teacher suggested first grade would be better for her. I am still undecided but was told in order to hold her back, I would have meet with Principal and go before our Board of Eduacation!

memem... mememom444

I held my son back in kindergarden also. He had been moved from CA. to MS. And had somehow just gotten behind. Now he is in 7th grade, and let me tell you ladies it  seems to me better in kindergarden than when they have other kids and hormones to deal with . I would hate to have to hold him back now instead of when I did. If you have a doubt that your child is prepared to graduate hold them back now it will be so much easier on them socially.

patte... pattecake

Positively, I had a 3rd grader who couldn't read and had to hold him back, I had to fight the entire school system, but I knew he had to READ in 4th grade.  I had asked in Kdgn. 1st, & 2nd.  was assured he was fine.  NOT.   He did survive, at thirty-five, he still calls me to tell me about some great book he read.  He qualified for both GIFTED and Title 9 (?)   if I remember my numbers right.  Had to fight my oldest daughter and son in law to hold oldest grandson back; emotionally he was NOT ready.  It's important that they are able to finish high school with a sense of self esteem, not always in special classes, homework tutors, and hours of frustrating homework they cannot do.  Let him have the time to grow up, most of the affluent schools in our area offer a special pre/K programs with  cute names  PEP, SPARKS, whatever, it helps them later when they can skew the stat.'s that 'their' school has the highest scores and best sports teams, duh, 80+  % of the kids are older.  Good luck, follow your 'gut' not what 'everyone else will think', it's important to allow him to be a success and enjoy his education. Good luck.

chefjen chefjen

don't know if this helps but-   my girls are 1 year apart in school and they had 2 girls that actually went to kindergarten with both of them!  Theu are now in 8 & 9 th grade and the 2 girls that were held back are much happier than had they gone on and struggled more!

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