She didn't hold back her kindergartner.
Is he paying a price?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  September 18, 2009 06:00 AM

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Barbara:

My son turned 5 in May of this year, and I registered him for Kindergarten. I thought this would be smooth sailing and he would breeze through, because his pre-school teachers believed he was more than ready and "one of the brightest children they had seen come through their program".

So it was much to my surprise when the kindergarten screener called me and suggested I hold my son back into their "Young Fives" program. When I started questioning her and finally got down to it, she told me that he didn't score low enough to even really be in the program, but that his "late" birthday suggests that he wait one more year.

So my husband and I only had about three hours to decide whether or not to hold him back or move him forward! So I called his pre-school teacher and she was floored and all the parents who know my son were shocked as well. So we decided to put him in kindergarten. He did his KRAWL testing and though he did fine, the teacher once again suggested the he be put down into the younger program.

Now we are in the second week of school and the teacher is already sending notes home saying our son needs to learn to write his name faster. Though he can write it, she says it takes him too long to do it! When he does his homework, he does a great job and is enthusiastic about it, and writes his name neater than I was ever expecting, but he does take his time to make it perfect when writing it.

Do you think that we made the wrong decision? And do you believe that the teacher is possibly "picking" on his abilities because she didn't want him in that class yet? That maybe she likes to deal with the older kindergartners better because it's easier for her, so that's why she kept pushing the pre-K program? My son talks very well, can count to 20 with no help and to 100 with slight help, can tell you all the letters and colors, is very social and has lots of friends, can sit still and listen, can follow 2-step instructions.

Am I being paranoid or do you think I might have a problem?

From: Amanda, Waynesville

Hi Amanda,

I don't think you are being paranoid; everything you suggest is possible. But here's another way to look at it:

For better or worse (and I think it's worse), academics are being pushed down, down, down, all the way down to kindergarten. Blame it on our standardized testing, George Bush, whatever. But the fact is, teachers are teaching to the tests (that would be MCAS in MA), even, I fear, in some kindergartens, and the teachers are held accountable.

It sounds like your son is bright and that he has age-appropriate social skills for success and therefore it is likely that he will do just fine.In fact, it's highly possible that the teacher will realize this on her own, and all will be well.

On the other hand, if this teacher is, indeed, picking on him, that could have serious ramifications.

It's fairly common in lower grades for a child to think a teacher doesn't like him. Mostly it happens because (1) young children don't have much experience interpreting adults' behaviors and non-verbal nuances, (2) they're incredibly ego-centric, and (3) they can be overly sensitive. When a child perceives -- rightly or wrongly -- that a teacher doesn't like him/her, it can affect self-esteem and performance.

If your analysis is accurate, your son is a prime candidate for coming to this conclusion and his reasons could well be valid.

Don't go looking for trouble, but keep your eye out for diminished enthusiasm, or sense of self-esteem, or even, an outburst: "My teacher hates me!"

If that begins to happen, play detective and make some observations to him: "I notice you don't seem as enthusiastic about school as you were in the beginning..."

If you begin to get a picture that leads you to think the teacher really is giving him a hard time, it would be in his own best interest not to rush into the classroom and make accusations. There's a life-long learning lesson here and it's to help a child learn to problem-solve. I'd start by asking him, "What do you think you can do about this?" He may have some very good ideas.

At some point, however, it may, indeed, be appropriate to talk directly to the teacher. (Note: always talk to the teacher first, even when you suspect the problem may end up in the principal's office.) Keep the issue of not having held him back totally out of it. That's in the past. Be diplomatic but direct, concerned but not condemning: "J doesn't think you like him. I knew you'd be as concerned as I am, so I wanted to bring it to your attention. Do you have any idea what might be going on? What can we do to help him?"

No teacher -- well, ok, maybe a few -- will not not respond. And if you have the bad luck to have one of them, then you do need to talk to the principal.


I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with
some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

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26 comments so far...
  1. This is appalling -- write your name faster, in the first week of kindergarten?! I am seriously considering Waldorf schooling for this very reason.

    At first I thought Barbara's advice beat around the bush too much .... but I agree, keep the issue of him being in the class as a given, don't revisit it or let them push you out by planting seeds of doubt. Your son is clearly eligible to be there by their own standards, no matter this teacher's "preference." The question is, how do we move forward in the class now? Does she need reassurance that you're supporting your (already awesome) son at home in practicing his skills? If her suggestions are truly "Do things just as well, just FASTER" I'd talk to the principal -- is that the Board of Ed goal for kindergarteners, speed skills? Please.

    Posted by serafina September 18, 09 09:43 AM
  1. LW, this situation sounds very upsetting. If your town has a September cut off, I don't understand why they treated your son as though he has a "late" birthday -- May is well before that cut off. In fact, I've never really heard of holding a May birthday back, mostly July and August.

    Barbara's advice seems good to me (especially about talking to the teacher first), and as she says, though, the issue of not holding him back is in the past, and the teacher needs to figure out how to work with him now that he is in her class. I encourage you to keep pressing the teacher to make sure that you are communicating about how your son is doing and making sure that the teacher is not only paying attention to his skills building, but also helping him build a foundation for good learning. Good luck.

    Posted by rebecca September 18, 09 01:16 PM
  1. With 2 kids and many years of school, I have never heard of a teacher who would be deliberately mean because the child is young. I think there are teachers that excessively communicate things that need to be worked on. This may be so parents become more involved but it can also be discouraging for the kids. When I deal with teachers who want to frequently communicate "issues" I ask them to e-mail me directly. That way my child doesn't have to see all of the criticisms.

    One of my kids has suffered with the fact that she likes to do things so neatly that sometimes she takes more time than allowed. This may be what the teacher is seeing.

    My son has a late April birthday and maybe he was a bit immature on the social side but by 2nd grade he had more than caught up. If your son's preschool teacher and you and your husband thought he was ready, you did the right thing.

    Posted by Jayne September 18, 09 02:26 PM
  1. A generation ago a child born in May would have been at the top of any kindergarten class list compared to children who were born in November six months later. All of these children were once upon a time considered normal age for kindergarten.

    What has clearly changed is the definition of kindergarten. It seems to have been confused with Grade One in the mind of the system described here.

    The definition of May as "late" in the year is another mystery -- especially as the child has been described as functioning too high for any lower-level program on offer by the system.

    Red flags all around -- the parent should absolutely NOT feel paranoid.

    Posted by Irene September 18, 09 03:07 PM
  1. Oh my gosh. I am stunned at this posting.

    I taught kindergarten in an urban setting for almost 20 years. The school system had very high standards/expectations, but understood that if a child met the system's entry age requirement, it was the responsibility of the teacher to meet the child at his/her point of entry. I am shocked at the way this parent & child have been treated. This child seems to have had a very successful preschool experience ... a huge plus. For the kindergarten teacher to tell the parent the child doesn't write his name fast enough is so inappropriate. Any good teacher knows that children learn at different rates ... is she timing kids' name writing?? That is crazy!

    I would encourage the parents to have a serious conversation with the teacher regarding the curriculum and how it is presented to the children. Children need a balance of developmentally appropriate academics along with opportunities for guided play... to learn in centers such as blocks, dramatic play, puzzles and games while interacting with other children.

    The teaching of early reading and writing skills should be done in a meaningful way, within the context of concept studies (themes) or longer, project studies. Pencil/paper tasks for the most part amount to drill and kill activities and are useless.

    The bottom line is that this child is not too young for kindergarten. He sounds like a child that would be a pleasure to have as a student.

    I used to remind parents that their taxes pay for what happens in schools, therefore they have every right to speak up about and/or question something if they have a concern.

    Posted by femalePatsfan September 18, 09 05:51 PM
  1. I was confused on one point.

    Is the kindergarten screener person the same as the classroom kindergarten teacher?

    If so, then I fail to see any valid issues whatsoever along with the prior posters.

    If they are different, then that is two school representatives who have separately advised against, and I then would wonder if all facts have been presented.

    Posted by FamilyofTeachers September 19, 09 07:02 PM
  1. I am not familiar with Waynesville, but do note that there is some local variation in the 'culture' around holding back children from Kindergarten entry. The NY Times had a short series about a year ago on this. It is commonly called 'red-shirting' after the college sports trick of delaying a student's eligibility.

    I am guessing that if the school has a program for 'young 5's' that they may purposefully be skewing the entry date. If this is so, then your son may be a fair bit younger than the other students.

    I agree with Barbara's reply. Just thought to add this 'two cents.' Our son just entered K and with an August birthday we deliberated on whether to send him forward. We were fortunate that the school he is in has a cluster of children at just about his age.

    Posted by Ron September 19, 09 11:41 PM
  1. Are there budgeting problems in your district? Perhaps there's a little disparity in the class sizes, and she's using your child's age as what she believes is the fairest or least subjective method of equalizing the situation? I'd try to connect with other parents to see if they've experienced the same problem with her or the school. I can't imagine a teacher acting this way unless it was condoned by the administration. Either way, it sounds like your child is being shortchanged for no valid reason. My guess is if you speak up, they'll back down.

    Posted by eastie girl September 20, 09 04:45 AM
  1. It is also important that others in the school, the principal and the reading specialist, be aware of the conversations between you and the teacher. Having a team viewpoint, rather than just a single teacher's, may help the situation, and bring to light any biases the classroom teacher might have. It would also generate good discussion around curriculum goals, expectations, and student achievement and progress. Hope this helps. This teacher should not be allowed to squash this child's enthusiasm and readiness to learn because of a few isolated skills.

    Posted by kemp67 September 20, 09 08:54 AM
  1. Why would you let your child stay in a class where he is not wanted? Can this possibly have a positive outcome? Every time you ask to speak with the teacher, it will be one more reason to pick on your son.

    Public schools don't work. They are designed for administrators, not kids. I have opted out of them and have no regrets, despite the devastating financial impact.

    Posted by cara September 20, 09 11:48 AM
  1. Is it possible that your son may have some behavioral issues that are bothering her? I'm not talking about serious things like aggression, but perhaps he has a hard time being quiet when it's not his turn to talk, or he raises his hand and shouts out the answer at the same time? If he does things like this, it may make him stand out in comparison with the other children, even though he may be as academically ready as they are. Sometimes kindergarten readiness is as much about self-control as it is about academic readiness. None of this may apply in your son's case, of course, but if it does, it could explain why the teacher is singling him out.

    Posted by ashmama September 20, 09 12:34 PM
  1. One word...Montessori.

    Posted by Sam September 20, 09 05:41 PM
  1. There is something about this story that doesn't seem right. I think some facts are being left out purposely by the parent. As a life-long educator, I find that most advice for boys to delay a year into K is usually good advice if they are on the young side. It is not the end of the world, by the way.

    With that said, there is nothing wrong with asking the principal to also look into this situation. In most cases, I think the teacher probably has their reasons for keeping a student back. I doubt this teacher 'has it in' for your child. You are being paranoid in this case. But it is OK for you to get more specific reasons for why they think the child does not currently belong in K. Involving a 3rd party is usually a good idea, since parents do not think objectively about their 5-year-old.

    Best of luck!

    Posted by Steve S. September 20, 09 07:34 PM
  1. Is this a new/young teacher? They often don't really understand the expectations of a particular age group.

    I also agree with another poster here, the administration is leading this nonsense. No busy teacher wants to keep bugging parents about something like name writing, at least not the way the mom presented. My gut feeling is that the there is a smaller young five class, and they'd prefer he was in there based on numbers and/or there are behavioral/attention issues.

    Posted by loopa September 20, 09 08:15 PM
  1. I taught 1st grade for many years. If I had a nickel for every parent who said, "We thought about holding him back a year, but he is so bright/mature/tall/eager/whatever, we decided he was ready for school. I wish we had kept him home." - I'd be a rich woman.

    On the other hand, in over 20 years I NEVER heard a parent say, "I wish we had sent him a year earlier". There is NO downside to keeping a child back a year. And there can be plenty of issues if the child is young, no matter how smart and capable they may seem to their parents.

    I agree with a previous poster - if there were two separate testers recommending holding him back, why is she suspicious? Has anyone considered that the educators may, in fact, be acting in the child's best interest? They deal with these children and the curriculum every day.

    I suspect they are trying to tell these parents something that the parents are not willing to hear. I will bet the farm that when this little guy reaches middle school the parents will be kicking themselves - and trying to find a private school so that their 7th grader can repeat a year.

    Posted by Anne September 20, 09 08:18 PM
  1. Holding a child back can be a good thing. I held my son back twice. He just needed some more time. He tells me at 18 he is happy about that. Extra time is a good thing. The pressure is on so early for MCAS performance and they do teach to the test. I am also a preschool teacher and have seen kids held back so many times. It always works out well. Good luck.

    Posted by Maggie September 20, 09 08:23 PM
  1. I think the parents need to separate their egos from keeping their son back a year. It sounds like they are getting good advice, but their ego is getting in the way.

    Posted by jonny September 20, 09 10:01 PM
  1. The second week of school and they are sending notes home? That he's not fast enough? In Kindergarten? Are you kidding me? My youngest was THE SLOWEST kid at everything (but very bright!), and I never, ever heard anything from the teachers about him having to move faster. I'd be upset as well. BUT, that said, if your child doesn't care, it might be easier to just do what they ask, to make everyone happy. If your child truly wants to stay in that class, then I'd look into it more - it's ridiculous that they are sending notes home already.

    Posted by ME September 20, 09 10:25 PM
  1. I totally disagree with 13, 15, 17. Give me a break. There's nothing wrong with putting your kids in school ON TIME unless they're showing significant developmental issues. The teacher's job is to meet the kids at their point of entry.

    As a mother with a child who is "young" in his class with a July birthday, I found it very interesting that although his pre-K teacher and K teachers vehemently opposed my holding him back because he did so well in both classes, they also chose to mention his age in relation to the group at every chance they got. So although they felt he was in the right place, his young age was always on their minds, WHICH IS OKAY when it is not held against him. It's such a culturally normal thing to red shirt kindergarteners that this conversation has become vernacular.

    You're not being paranoid. Barbara has given you good advice. It sounds like you are a conscientious parent and that you are intelligent and well-spoken. That, in and of itself, ensures that your child will have a successful school experience in the end, because he has you to advocate for him. The more reading I do about this issue, the more I get the feeling that the vast majority of middle and upper middle class parents who do this seem to think that delaying entry into school one year means their kid can go on autopilot and then they'll just sail right through. God help us all. Stay involved.

    Posted by RH September 21, 09 07:34 AM
  1. I think the LW and Barbara missed the whole point, and might be a little paranoid? My son is in just such a "young 5s" Kindergarten program. He did make the age cutoff, but has an early fall birthday. The program is geared towards the younger ones mainly for maturity reasons. His class size is small (bonus!), and the children get more emphasis on class/school routines, rules, expectations, etc. It has nothing to do with academic intelligence. Maybe try thinking of it from a different angle; it could wind up being the best thing for your child.

    Posted by MaineMom3 September 21, 09 08:20 AM
  1. ashmama : the teacher clearly stated the concern he/she has! I don't think teachers are afraid to address behavioral issues, in fact, it is my belief they see that first! usually so stuck on that issue, it's a biggie today...everyone forgets kids are actually kids!

    Posted by bea September 21, 09 08:51 AM
  1. #17 r u for real? ego? hello ... your comment should be deleted as it is so very obvious this parent's concern is only for her child. She is intelligible, bright, concerned and asking appropriate questions. She was not brusque nor brief, albeit succinct, and showed she can see others' perspectives and yet made a decision and is looking for more input in case she was "too close" to the situation .... One instance where she is second-guessing herself (a new situation she has zero experience with) and I say she should not ... she should be a very confident mom, life in any school is far from perfect! GO Mom!

    Posted by bea September 21, 09 08:57 AM
  1. "blame it on....George Bush"???????

    God forbid Barbara "the consultant" blame the TEACHER!!!

    I love how it can't simply be a poor educator...It HAS to be as a result of someone actually making teachers accountable...

    Posted by dan September 21, 09 09:12 AM
  1. It looks like the only complaint from the teacher is about the kid writing his name faster, though his mom says he writes his name very neatly. So it seems to me that he writes his name so neatly because he takes his time at it, which is great.

    Perfectionism is a sign of giftedness and high IQ, and shame on this teacher for not noticing this trait and instead looking only at speed instead of quality. May is not young for this grade and unless this child is really lacking some social skills, he'll be fine having started kindergarten at age 5.

    Posted by LF September 21, 09 09:58 AM
  1. #15, 16 You're a bit extreme. I can say with certainty I would have hated being held back a year simply because I had a June birthday. Yes, I was always one of the youngest in class, but it always made me feel proud because I was also one of the best students. I ended up skipping yet another grade later in school and didn't feel this was a problem--I was so happy to go to college earlier!

    And red-shirting is a problem. Often kids are held back NOT because they aren't ready but because overzealous parents want to insure that their kid is the best academically or sports-wise in his class.

    Posted by Just1voice September 23, 09 09:52 AM
  1. Sorry to be adding this so late...We all missed the red flag in the letter--that there is HOMEWORK in this KINDERGARTEN. Exactly WHAT homework in kindergarten???? Sharpen crayons to a perfect point, instead of using them to draw freely? Write your name in 5 seconds instead of enjoying the shapes of the letters? Sit in perfect silence instead of dancing to your favourite song?

    Posted by Irene September 28, 09 09:06 AM
 
26 comments so far...
  1. This is appalling -- write your name faster, in the first week of kindergarten?! I am seriously considering Waldorf schooling for this very reason.

    At first I thought Barbara's advice beat around the bush too much .... but I agree, keep the issue of him being in the class as a given, don't revisit it or let them push you out by planting seeds of doubt. Your son is clearly eligible to be there by their own standards, no matter this teacher's "preference." The question is, how do we move forward in the class now? Does she need reassurance that you're supporting your (already awesome) son at home in practicing his skills? If her suggestions are truly "Do things just as well, just FASTER" I'd talk to the principal -- is that the Board of Ed goal for kindergarteners, speed skills? Please.

    Posted by serafina September 18, 09 09:43 AM
  1. LW, this situation sounds very upsetting. If your town has a September cut off, I don't understand why they treated your son as though he has a "late" birthday -- May is well before that cut off. In fact, I've never really heard of holding a May birthday back, mostly July and August.

    Barbara's advice seems good to me (especially about talking to the teacher first), and as she says, though, the issue of not holding him back is in the past, and the teacher needs to figure out how to work with him now that he is in her class. I encourage you to keep pressing the teacher to make sure that you are communicating about how your son is doing and making sure that the teacher is not only paying attention to his skills building, but also helping him build a foundation for good learning. Good luck.

    Posted by rebecca September 18, 09 01:16 PM
  1. With 2 kids and many years of school, I have never heard of a teacher who would be deliberately mean because the child is young. I think there are teachers that excessively communicate things that need to be worked on. This may be so parents become more involved but it can also be discouraging for the kids. When I deal with teachers who want to frequently communicate "issues" I ask them to e-mail me directly. That way my child doesn't have to see all of the criticisms.

    One of my kids has suffered with the fact that she likes to do things so neatly that sometimes she takes more time than allowed. This may be what the teacher is seeing.

    My son has a late April birthday and maybe he was a bit immature on the social side but by 2nd grade he had more than caught up. If your son's preschool teacher and you and your husband thought he was ready, you did the right thing.

    Posted by Jayne September 18, 09 02:26 PM
  1. A generation ago a child born in May would have been at the top of any kindergarten class list compared to children who were born in November six months later. All of these children were once upon a time considered normal age for kindergarten.

    What has clearly changed is the definition of kindergarten. It seems to have been confused with Grade One in the mind of the system described here.

    The definition of May as "late" in the year is another mystery -- especially as the child has been described as functioning too high for any lower-level program on offer by the system.

    Red flags all around -- the parent should absolutely NOT feel paranoid.

    Posted by Irene September 18, 09 03:07 PM
  1. Oh my gosh. I am stunned at this posting.

    I taught kindergarten in an urban setting for almost 20 years. The school system had very high standards/expectations, but understood that if a child met the system's entry age requirement, it was the responsibility of the teacher to meet the child at his/her point of entry. I am shocked at the way this parent & child have been treated. This child seems to have had a very successful preschool experience ... a huge plus. For the kindergarten teacher to tell the parent the child doesn't write his name fast enough is so inappropriate. Any good teacher knows that children learn at different rates ... is she timing kids' name writing?? That is crazy!

    I would encourage the parents to have a serious conversation with the teacher regarding the curriculum and how it is presented to the children. Children need a balance of developmentally appropriate academics along with opportunities for guided play... to learn in centers such as blocks, dramatic play, puzzles and games while interacting with other children.

    The teaching of early reading and writing skills should be done in a meaningful way, within the context of concept studies (themes) or longer, project studies. Pencil/paper tasks for the most part amount to drill and kill activities and are useless.

    The bottom line is that this child is not too young for kindergarten. He sounds like a child that would be a pleasure to have as a student.

    I used to remind parents that their taxes pay for what happens in schools, therefore they have every right to speak up about and/or question something if they have a concern.

    Posted by femalePatsfan September 18, 09 05:51 PM
  1. I was confused on one point.

    Is the kindergarten screener person the same as the classroom kindergarten teacher?

    If so, then I fail to see any valid issues whatsoever along with the prior posters.

    If they are different, then that is two school representatives who have separately advised against, and I then would wonder if all facts have been presented.

    Posted by FamilyofTeachers September 19, 09 07:02 PM
  1. I am not familiar with Waynesville, but do note that there is some local variation in the 'culture' around holding back children from Kindergarten entry. The NY Times had a short series about a year ago on this. It is commonly called 'red-shirting' after the college sports trick of delaying a student's eligibility.

    I am guessing that if the school has a program for 'young 5's' that they may purposefully be skewing the entry date. If this is so, then your son may be a fair bit younger than the other students.

    I agree with Barbara's reply. Just thought to add this 'two cents.' Our son just entered K and with an August birthday we deliberated on whether to send him forward. We were fortunate that the school he is in has a cluster of children at just about his age.

    Posted by Ron September 19, 09 11:41 PM
  1. Are there budgeting problems in your district? Perhaps there's a little disparity in the class sizes, and she's using your child's age as what she believes is the fairest or least subjective method of equalizing the situation? I'd try to connect with other parents to see if they've experienced the same problem with her or the school. I can't imagine a teacher acting this way unless it was condoned by the administration. Either way, it sounds like your child is being shortchanged for no valid reason. My guess is if you speak up, they'll back down.

    Posted by eastie girl September 20, 09 04:45 AM
  1. It is also important that others in the school, the principal and the reading specialist, be aware of the conversations between you and the teacher. Having a team viewpoint, rather than just a single teacher's, may help the situation, and bring to light any biases the classroom teacher might have. It would also generate good discussion around curriculum goals, expectations, and student achievement and progress. Hope this helps. This teacher should not be allowed to squash this child's enthusiasm and readiness to learn because of a few isolated skills.

    Posted by kemp67 September 20, 09 08:54 AM
  1. Why would you let your child stay in a class where he is not wanted? Can this possibly have a positive outcome? Every time you ask to speak with the teacher, it will be one more reason to pick on your son.

    Public schools don't work. They are designed for administrators, not kids. I have opted out of them and have no regrets, despite the devastating financial impact.

    Posted by cara September 20, 09 11:48 AM
  1. Is it possible that your son may have some behavioral issues that are bothering her? I'm not talking about serious things like aggression, but perhaps he has a hard time being quiet when it's not his turn to talk, or he raises his hand and shouts out the answer at the same time? If he does things like this, it may make him stand out in comparison with the other children, even though he may be as academically ready as they are. Sometimes kindergarten readiness is as much about self-control as it is about academic readiness. None of this may apply in your son's case, of course, but if it does, it could explain why the teacher is singling him out.

    Posted by ashmama September 20, 09 12:34 PM
  1. One word...Montessori.

    Posted by Sam September 20, 09 05:41 PM
  1. There is something about this story that doesn't seem right. I think some facts are being left out purposely by the parent. As a life-long educator, I find that most advice for boys to delay a year into K is usually good advice if they are on the young side. It is not the end of the world, by the way.

    With that said, there is nothing wrong with asking the principal to also look into this situation. In most cases, I think the teacher probably has their reasons for keeping a student back. I doubt this teacher 'has it in' for your child. You are being paranoid in this case. But it is OK for you to get more specific reasons for why they think the child does not currently belong in K. Involving a 3rd party is usually a good idea, since parents do not think objectively about their 5-year-old.

    Best of luck!

    Posted by Steve S. September 20, 09 07:34 PM
  1. Is this a new/young teacher? They often don't really understand the expectations of a particular age group.

    I also agree with another poster here, the administration is leading this nonsense. No busy teacher wants to keep bugging parents about something like name writing, at least not the way the mom presented. My gut feeling is that the there is a smaller young five class, and they'd prefer he was in there based on numbers and/or there are behavioral/attention issues.

    Posted by loopa September 20, 09 08:15 PM
  1. I taught 1st grade for many years. If I had a nickel for every parent who said, "We thought about holding him back a year, but he is so bright/mature/tall/eager/whatever, we decided he was ready for school. I wish we had kept him home." - I'd be a rich woman.

    On the other hand, in over 20 years I NEVER heard a parent say, "I wish we had sent him a year earlier". There is NO downside to keeping a child back a year. And there can be plenty of issues if the child is young, no matter how smart and capable they may seem to their parents.

    I agree with a previous poster - if there were two separate testers recommending holding him back, why is she suspicious? Has anyone considered that the educators may, in fact, be acting in the child's best interest? They deal with these children and the curriculum every day.

    I suspect they are trying to tell these parents something that the parents are not willing to hear. I will bet the farm that when this little guy reaches middle school the parents will be kicking themselves - and trying to find a private school so that their 7th grader can repeat a year.

    Posted by Anne September 20, 09 08:18 PM
  1. Holding a child back can be a good thing. I held my son back twice. He just needed some more time. He tells me at 18 he is happy about that. Extra time is a good thing. The pressure is on so early for MCAS performance and they do teach to the test. I am also a preschool teacher and have seen kids held back so many times. It always works out well. Good luck.

    Posted by Maggie September 20, 09 08:23 PM
  1. I think the parents need to separate their egos from keeping their son back a year. It sounds like they are getting good advice, but their ego is getting in the way.

    Posted by jonny September 20, 09 10:01 PM
  1. The second week of school and they are sending notes home? That he's not fast enough? In Kindergarten? Are you kidding me? My youngest was THE SLOWEST kid at everything (but very bright!), and I never, ever heard anything from the teachers about him having to move faster. I'd be upset as well. BUT, that said, if your child doesn't care, it might be easier to just do what they ask, to make everyone happy. If your child truly wants to stay in that class, then I'd look into it more - it's ridiculous that they are sending notes home already.

    Posted by ME September 20, 09 10:25 PM
  1. I totally disagree with 13, 15, 17. Give me a break. There's nothing wrong with putting your kids in school ON TIME unless they're showing significant developmental issues. The teacher's job is to meet the kids at their point of entry.

    As a mother with a child who is "young" in his class with a July birthday, I found it very interesting that although his pre-K teacher and K teachers vehemently opposed my holding him back because he did so well in both classes, they also chose to mention his age in relation to the group at every chance they got. So although they felt he was in the right place, his young age was always on their minds, WHICH IS OKAY when it is not held against him. It's such a culturally normal thing to red shirt kindergarteners that this conversation has become vernacular.

    You're not being paranoid. Barbara has given you good advice. It sounds like you are a conscientious parent and that you are intelligent and well-spoken. That, in and of itself, ensures that your child will have a successful school experience in the end, because he has you to advocate for him. The more reading I do about this issue, the more I get the feeling that the vast majority of middle and upper middle class parents who do this seem to think that delaying entry into school one year means their kid can go on autopilot and then they'll just sail right through. God help us all. Stay involved.

    Posted by RH September 21, 09 07:34 AM
  1. I think the LW and Barbara missed the whole point, and might be a little paranoid? My son is in just such a "young 5s" Kindergarten program. He did make the age cutoff, but has an early fall birthday. The program is geared towards the younger ones mainly for maturity reasons. His class size is small (bonus!), and the children get more emphasis on class/school routines, rules, expectations, etc. It has nothing to do with academic intelligence. Maybe try thinking of it from a different angle; it could wind up being the best thing for your child.

    Posted by MaineMom3 September 21, 09 08:20 AM
  1. ashmama : the teacher clearly stated the concern he/she has! I don't think teachers are afraid to address behavioral issues, in fact, it is my belief they see that first! usually so stuck on that issue, it's a biggie today...everyone forgets kids are actually kids!

    Posted by bea September 21, 09 08:51 AM
  1. #17 r u for real? ego? hello ... your comment should be deleted as it is so very obvious this parent's concern is only for her child. She is intelligible, bright, concerned and asking appropriate questions. She was not brusque nor brief, albeit succinct, and showed she can see others' perspectives and yet made a decision and is looking for more input in case she was "too close" to the situation .... One instance where she is second-guessing herself (a new situation she has zero experience with) and I say she should not ... she should be a very confident mom, life in any school is far from perfect! GO Mom!

    Posted by bea September 21, 09 08:57 AM
  1. "blame it on....George Bush"???????

    God forbid Barbara "the consultant" blame the TEACHER!!!

    I love how it can't simply be a poor educator...It HAS to be as a result of someone actually making teachers accountable...

    Posted by dan September 21, 09 09:12 AM
  1. It looks like the only complaint from the teacher is about the kid writing his name faster, though his mom says he writes his name very neatly. So it seems to me that he writes his name so neatly because he takes his time at it, which is great.

    Perfectionism is a sign of giftedness and high IQ, and shame on this teacher for not noticing this trait and instead looking only at speed instead of quality. May is not young for this grade and unless this child is really lacking some social skills, he'll be fine having started kindergarten at age 5.

    Posted by LF September 21, 09 09:58 AM
  1. #15, 16 You're a bit extreme. I can say with certainty I would have hated being held back a year simply because I had a June birthday. Yes, I was always one of the youngest in class, but it always made me feel proud because I was also one of the best students. I ended up skipping yet another grade later in school and didn't feel this was a problem--I was so happy to go to college earlier!

    And red-shirting is a problem. Often kids are held back NOT because they aren't ready but because overzealous parents want to insure that their kid is the best academically or sports-wise in his class.

    Posted by Just1voice September 23, 09 09:52 AM
  1. Sorry to be adding this so late...We all missed the red flag in the letter--that there is HOMEWORK in this KINDERGARTEN. Exactly WHAT homework in kindergarten???? Sharpen crayons to a perfect point, instead of using them to draw freely? Write your name in 5 seconds instead of enjoying the shapes of the letters? Sit in perfect silence instead of dancing to your favourite song?

    Posted by Irene September 28, 09 09:06 AM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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