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I am looking for feedback from those families that may have had
their child repeat kindergarten. our daughter is 5.5 and her
birthday was only 2wks away from the school cut off for admission
to K. My husband and I decided to place her in a private
kindergarten class. The teachers had informed us that after
completing a year in this class approximately 1/2 the students
would be ready for 1st and the other half would gain from the
gift of time. Socially she was reserved and introspective,
sometimes they had to pull information out of her. Academically
she did fair until approx. March where she really thrived. She
reads well above reading level and mathmatically performs at avg
with the class. The teachers all year had been encouraging me to
give her a gift of another year, and it was only at my final
meeting (3days before class ended) they said she would indeed be
ready for first if we provided her more academic and social
growth over the summer. They were concerned that she still
lacked the confidence to assert herself in a large/demanding
enviroment. Needless to say, I'm a little hesitant to send her
forward with such guarded conditions and the fact she bloomed
later in the year. I am curious if anyone else has been through
this. How did your child handle going into K fully reading?
In turn, if you did send your child on to 1st did them remain
late bloomers and did it effect confidence. I really appreciate
all the feedback.
I did retain both of my (twin) sons for a 2nd year of
kindergarten, which they have just completed. It was a definite
success. My boys also have birthdays just one week before the
cut-off date, and we felt that the social/emotional implications
of continuing through school as the youngest in the class was
important enough to warrant retaining them. Now they are much
more confident and comfortable at school, and ready to meet the
academic expectations of first grade, so it was right for us. We
too were told they could use extra reading help etc. to ''catch
up'' if we sent them on to first grade last year, and that seemed
a poor option, why should they need to ''catch up'' at all? They
have developed early reading/writing skills in the past year w/o
outside resources, as they matured. Feel free to call o! r email
me if you would like to talk about specifics.
I can very much relate to your dilemma, as we were in the same
situation 2 years ago. Throughout the kindergarden year our
son's teacher indicated our son might do well to repeat
kindergarden. Our son was adamantly against this. At the end
of the year the kindergarden teacher indicated that perhaps our
son could progress to first grade, assuming that we provided
academic support over the summer. She also said that repeating
kindergarden was still a viable option. My husband and I
stressed over this decision, talked with others, and so forth.
Ultimately, given our son's strong preference, we decided to
advance him to first grade. Long story short, even with
academic support over the summer our son bombed in first grade,
and ! ended up repeating first grade. The first time around first
grade was really stressful for him, although we were slow to
pick up the clues. He developed stomach aches all the time,
even on weekends, which threw us off. We started thinking food
allergies...The second time around, thanks in part to a really
terrific teacher, he really blossomed. And no more stomach
Good luck with your decision, whatever you decide is best for
My 5 year old daughter, whose birthday is Sept. 5, is one of the
youngest children in her kindergarten class. Her teacher seemed
to label her early on in the school year as ''young'', but I am not
convinced that she is immature for her age, just that the other
kids are a bit older and many are more outgoing. No one has any
concerns about her academic abilities, attention span, following
directions, or the like. However, based on her apparent lack of
social skills, we are being told she would benefit from another
year of kindergarten.
Her personality is such that she often takes a long time to ''warm
up'' to new people and situations. She knew no one in her class
when she first started, and though she doesn't have a ''best''
buddy in her class, she is friendly with most of the kids (all
the girls, most of the boys). My biggest concern is that holding
her back might not cause her to behave any differently next year
and could actually make things worse by making her feel insecure.
She is sensitive, perceptive, takes things to heart, etc.
My instinct is to send her on to 1st grade where there will be a
different mix of kids in the class (there are something like 125
or more kids currently enrolled in K) and see how she does. She
may not be so young compared to others next year. She may have a
teacher who helps to bring her out of her shell. Her self-esteem
won't be hurt by the idea of having ''failed'' at kindergarten for
lack of being as social as others would have her be.
On the other hand, there seems to be a de facto age cutoff for
entering kindergarten that is much earlier than the published
12/5 date. Perhaps she WILL always be the youngest in her class
and that could prove to be a detriment down the road. Her
teacher seems to think that being older and wiser than the other
kids in her class (if she repeats K) would turn her into a
leader, despite her shyness. She does have a strong young
influence at home with her three year old twin siblings, and she
does tend to be a ''leader'' to them.
How does a parent go about making this decision? What are the
pros and cons to repeating kindergarten for purely social
development reasons. What if nothing changes, or worse, what if
there are negative repercussions? Is there any research out
there on this topic? Sorry for the lengthy post, but it's
nothing compared to how much time we spend thinking about this!
As a school psychologist I would highly recommend against
retaining your daughter. Research generally does not support
retention in most cases, even in situations of academic delay.
Retaining her will not change her personality if she is shy.
However retention often affects students emotionally, and most
students feel bad about it throughout their school career.
Professionally I have seen very few successful retention
cases. Most children we test for special education were
retained in the past but continue to have academic delays a
couple of years later. Your daughter does not have to be a
class leader or social butterfly to be successful.
My 5-year-old daughter is in Kindergarten. Her birthday is at
the end of November, just a couple of days before the cut-off
date. She is bright, bilingual, is learning to read sentences
with three words and is doing fine. However, she is the
youngest in her class and doesn't follow the teacher's
instructions very well. She likes to play with her friends
instead of paying attention to the teacher. During classwork,
she looks what other kids are doing to make sure she's doing
right. The teacher and the school's principal think she's not
mature enough to move on to first grade. I don't know what to
do because she is doing well academically. Researches say that
the kids retained in their grades are more likely to drop-out
of school when they have legal age for that, and after a couple
of years, the delayed students appeared to be doing no better
than other 1st and 2nd graders. Nowadays, the schools are
trying to hold children so they are older and the schools get
better ranking (this way they are considered ''high standards'').
Also, retention might bring other psychological issues, but I
would like to hear your experiences, and process all that
information to make the right decision. Thank you for your
A Mother in a Dilemma
I can't totally address your concerns but I thought I would
share my experience with you. I was retained as a
kindergartener for reasons that are similar to what your
daughter is experiencing. (My birthday is Nov. 19 and I am 32
now.) When I finished my first year of kindergarten, I was at
or above grade level academically but very, very shy, and not
yet socially ready for 1st grade, so my teacher recommended
that I stay back. I did and have to say that I don't think
there were any long term negative consequences. My parents told
me that I was repeating so that I could be with the other
kindergarten teacher, who I liked very much. I would go to
first grade for reading every day. (I have vivid memories of
this because my best friend would come escort me--we went to
Glenview and I can remember walking up the stairs.)
As it turned out, we later moved and I went to a school that
had combination classes (1/2, 2/3, etc.). This worked well for
me because even though I was in first grade, I was able to do
the second grade work. Then we moved again, and even though I
was finishing second grade, I had already done the third grade
work and was able to move up to fourth grade at the new school.
So I ended up skipping a grade, which put me right back where I
started. I graduated high school when I was 17, just like your
daughter will if she is not retained. (I hope this explanation
makes sense...I know it's a little convoluted.)
Anyway, it all worked out well for me. Two more points in favor
of retention: 1. My understanding is that the research has
generally shown that the oldest children in a class do better
than the youngest children. 2. Better to retain earlier than
later. Social pressures will be much greater as your child
grows older and she will be much more likely to feel ashamed of
staying behind. I have no memory of ever feeling badly about
repeating kindergarten. (Also, think several years into the
future when her peers start thinking about boys and other pre-
teen issues and your daughter is not yet ready for this. It
could potentially be isolating for her if she's not interested
in the things her classmates are interested in.)
Hope my experience helps!
It seems like your child is just not mature enough for first
grade yet. With a birthday in November, your child is probably
just younger than the other kids in the class.
I realize your concerns about being delayed, but from a
parenting perspective, you would not want this to continue into
the later grades (like 4th, 5th and 6th grades). Maybe she's
doing well because the older kids are helping her get through
rather than her truly learning things for herself. While she
may not have problems in 1st grade, it will get progressively
harder as there will be more work, and the work will require
It wouldn't hurt to let your child be held back and be
the ''leader'' for a change so that the younger kids can follow
her and she can feel more confident in herself rather than
turning to older kids for support.
Just my 2 cents... you should always do what you think is best
for your child regardless of what other people say.
I think there are several factors to consider before retaining a student,
but I do believe strongly that the readiness to learn skills need to be in
place. Regardless of well she is capable of doing academically, if she's
not able to access the curriculum by sitting, listening, and following
directions, then she won't be able to either build upon her academic
skills or to show what she is capable of. It's a tough call, but don't
automatically rule it out becuase you're skeptical of the school's motives.
Really think about whether your daughter will be able to handle the
increased expectations in first grade.
Don't hold her back! You said she would rather play with her
friends then listen to the teacher-that discribs almost all
elementrt school children and almost all Kinder-Frist
graders do! At home, encourage listening skills. It is not to
be expected of a child to already know to sit still and listen
to the teacher in Kindergarden-they have to be taught. The
teacher may not be trying hard enough and because your
daughter may be not as quiet as some of the others so her
teacher is dismissing her as ''not ready''. She sounds like a
sweet, very bright little girl who would do fine in the first
A decision about retention in K needs to take into account
the social and practical demands that first grade will put on
the child. These can vary a great deal from school to
school. For example, at a large elementary school, the
move to first grade may not JUST mean that the school day
is longer, daily homework is expected, and the bathroom is
down a long hall rather than right off the room, but that the
child switches teachers--and classrooms--as many as 12
to 15 periods per week for grouped activities, recess is
shared with a large number of kids up to 4 years older and
supervised by adults who may be unfamiliar, and the like. In
a smaller school, the changes may not be so radical. In
any event, it may be helpful to gather not just the perceptions
of the kindergarten teacher, but also of the prospective first
Mom & Educator
Another Year of Kindergarten for immature 5.5 year old?
I've seen a lot of posts on the UCB Parents list recommending that boys
stay back a year before starting kindergarten, but has anybody had any
experience with boys starting kindergarten and then not succeeding and
My son is a young 5.5 year old (emotionally very young according to his
teachers). He's having some problems with kindergarten mostly associated
with that and being disruptive during quiet and meeting times. His teacher
seems to think he needs another year before kindergarten. I'm not sure what
to think, but I'm willing to consider this as an option. Has anyone done
this? How did you handle it?
Another possibility I have been investigating is a private kindergarten and
then seeing where he is after that. Does anyone have any experience with
the kindergarten at LakeShore Children's Center, Beacon Day School or the
Junior Kindergarten at Redwood Day School?
To the parent with a 5.5 year boy in kindergarten.
If you think about private school for kindergarten, Montessori school
may be the good choice for your child. Family Montessori school in
Berkeley has a class for age 4.5 yo 6 yo. So your child can stay there
this year and then next school year, you and teacher can see if your
child is ready to move to first grade or not. If not, he can just stay
there for another year. I think this is better to send him back to
preschool and you get a second chance to evaluate his readiness next
Leaving Kindergarten--Lakeshore Children's Center
The "kindergarten" at LCC is the oldest group of about 8 kids, who meet
separately in the morning for about an hour with Joni, who is absolutely
wonderful and still my son's favorite teacher ever. The rest of the day
they're w/ the other preschoolers. The year my son was in the group (95-96)
about half the kindergarteners went on to first grade and the other half
went to kindergarten. I think this could be a great arrangement for your
child, because he wouldn't be going back to his old preschool, but wouldn't
have to stay in a bad situation. My son was a bit confused about why he was
going to kindergarten again after LCC, but we just explained that that was
kindergarten for little kids and then he was going to kindergarten for big
I feel strongly that if his kindergarten is not a positive experience you
should take him out. The school my son attended after LCC just did not work
for him, and I really regret that I stuck out the year instead of taking
him out mid-year.
My son goes to a behaviorally-oriented public school in Oakland. They
usually do a Gessell test before admitting children into kindergarten,
but we came the year of the Oakland public school strike and they
didn't do testing. His preschool teacher never directly told me to
keep him back. He wasn't really a disruptive child he just checked
out or did his own thing and other behavior that was young. Anyway, I
sent him on to kindergarten and in retrospect I am sorry I
did. Kindergarten was miserable until April and so was most of first
grade. First grade could have been the teacher, but his kindergarten
teacher was great. I read alot of books, some from the Gesell
Institute, they are real believers in readiness (they write those
books "your one year-old" etc.) and I also read a book that I liked
alot called "right brained child in a left brained world" Anyway we
had a two hard years, which I now feel could have been avoided, He was
already in first grade when the issue of keeping him back came up and
since it there wasn't an academic problem and he was olderI decided
against it. After all the anguish and guilt I went through I wish I
kept him back in kindergarten or preschool, we both would have been
alot happier. you are only a child once, what is the hurry please feel
free to e-mail me if you want to talk directly in more depth.
I've just read the discussion on the website regarding when to start
kindergarten. While I agree that it largely depends on the individual child,
I guess my fears are for the future. My son has a November birthday.
I think he will be "ready" next September while still four, but I wonder
what the implications will be when he enters the dreaded state of
teenager-hood. Our pediatrician (for whom I have a great deal of respect)
says to consider the decision carefully
because he is also *very* big for his age, if held back would literally
tower over his classmates for the next several years, and not
to underestimate the negative effects this could have on him. He also said
kids are pretty adaptable, and that
current studies do not support the idea that waiting the extra year gives
them any advantage.
On the other hand, most of my teacher -friends feel that boys shouldn't
start K before age five.
I was leaning towards waiting but am now unsure.
So, anybody out there have a crystal ball I could borrow?
I'd love to read more comments on this subject!
this page was last updated: Sep 7, 2007
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