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The Kindergarten Conundrum

Most mornings, I am greeted by my son Alex as a super hero, cowboy, or skeleton. He has a wild adventurous imagination, and loves to play outside all day.

It was last year I made the mistake of putting him in Kindergarten at the age of four.  He knew his alphabet, but it was evident, upon starting school, he had no interest in printing or reading. As the year progressed, he knew only a handful of the hundred words necessary to move forward into grade one.

It was at home, I would work with him to improve his skills but he would get frustrated within seconds of attempting to print or read.  As soon, as I saw his face turn red, I would brace for the water works.  It with moments like these I realized I put him in school too early!

I knew he would need another year of kindergarten.  We decided to hold him back for one more year to improve his printing, and reading.  It was evident to us that he was not ready for grade one.

You would think other parents would have been more understanding and supportive. But in the real world this wasn’t necessarily the case.  It was my conversation with Judy which made me realize not all people understand that children learn better at different level and stages.

“So is Alex already for grade one next year?”

“No, we are going to hold him back a year.”

“Oh! Well! Is he slow?”

I looked at her perplexed.

“He’s not slow, just young. He turned five in December.”

“Oh well! Did you practice with him? And do extra homework?”

“Yes, we spent some time on practicing his letters but he is five. He needs his playtime.”
“You know my Madison is doing great and she’s five.”

“Oh that’s wonderful she seems very keen.”

“She is! Did you ever think of putting him in Sylvan Learning?”

“He’s five and I believe at this age it is more important for him to explore outside and play.”

“”I suppose you are right. But I just don’t get why you would hold him back if he’s not slow?”

My face started to turn a little red; I took a deep breath, and looked to the sky for patience.

“He’s not slow, he’s five, and children learn better at different ages. I made the mistake and jumped the gun too soon. I think another year of kindergarten will be just fine for him.”

“But don’t you think he’ll be teased?”

“Teased in kindergarten, really?”

“You never know!”

“I guess! But I don’t think children are aware of that at that age. Besides, it’s better to hold him back, gain confidence, love school, as opposed to placing him in grade one with a more structured routine, have him hate it, and have to repeat. ”

“Oh well, I suppose if he’s slow then you do what you have too.”

At this point the sky was no longer extolling the virtue of patience upon me and I blurted, “For God sakes! He’s not slow, stop using that word!”

Judy then gave me a pissy look “Sorry.”

I took a deep breath, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to get upset. I didn’t realize it was such a sensitive topic for other parents. “

At this point, she looked a little dazed and confused about the whole conversation. I slowly began to back away and looked at my watch.  Needless to say, I haven’t seen much of Judy since this conversation.  But I would love to tell her this “Suck it!”

As the end of this school year slowly approaches, and with Alex’s second year of Kindergarten almost over I have seen a huge difference in my son, his confidence, and his thirst for learning.  He can write, spell, and knows his one hundred words. He will be ready for grade one next year and I know I made the right decision for my little cowboy.

Categories: early learning Education Family, Mothers, Children, Life, Siblings holding kids back in school Kindergarten Life Relationship's School

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Darcie Cameron is a RYT 200 who believes Yoga is a gift that is accessible to everyone with proper modifications, a patient smile and just taking the time to breathe. One of the greatest presents you will ever unwrap is when you connect your mind, body and spirit in perfect sync with your own breath. Connect with Darcie on Facebook

4 replies

  1. Good for you! My mom wished to her dying day she had held my sister back in Kindergarten. Not for lack of intelligence but social/emotional immaturity issues plus just not being ready. Her bday is late Aug, right before the cut off date, & there is a huge difference in just turning 5 & having been 5 for a few months when entering school. I can’t believe, well actually I can believe that other parents think it is odd in today’s world.

    1. Thanks! I know just holding him back has made a huge difference in his maturity. He fits right in and is doing great! I think it is suprising that in today’s world, with the information and facts we have about early childhood development, that some parents can still be so harsh about other parent’s choices and decisions.

  2. It never ceases to amaze me–how judgy people can be about decisions a parent makes for their own child. You know your son best. I would think that another year of Kindergarten now will work far better than a second year at, say, grade 4.

    And how rude for her to keep saying he’s slow, that’s absurd! Social and emotional development isn’t tied to a specific chronological age, there’s a wide spectrum. My son is older than most kids in his K class, but he is certainly not the most socially adept, nor is he particularly mature in certain ways for his age. And that’s OK with me. If I thought he needed another K year, I’d be ticked if some other parent started in with the ‘slow’ nonsense. I think you handled that very well! Better than I would have, that’s for sure.

    1. She was very rude and I avoid her at all costs. My husband unfortunately got an earful about her that night. I was livid! Sometimes you forget how judgemental people can be until you are in a situation where they are bordering on insulting and you wonder is this really happening to me. However, those are the people you realize you don’t want in your life because they are so toxic. I have no regrets about holding my son back. He is doing amazing this year. You are right another year in Kindergarden is far better than holding them back in grade 4. It’s when they get further in school and you realize that they can’t keep up with their peers that causes another whole slew of issues. It’s better to nip it in the bud early, hold him back, and have him like school as opposed to being frustrated to the brink of tears all of the time.

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