Kindergartener needs to be part of his class, repeating or not

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  March 13, 2012 06:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Hi Barbara,

My daughter decided to start my Grandchild in Kindergarten this last year knowing all along that she was going to hold him back ready or not. He has a September birthday so he is a young one. She is pretty firm with her decision although his teacher is totally against it because he is very ready for first grade. The teacher also thinks he should not participate in the little graduation ceremony they have and that maybe he shouldn't be there the last couple of days.....I think that is totally wrong. My daughter has been very open in discussing the situation with my Grandson and in my eyes he is graduating even though he will be repeating. Can you give me your opinion on this situation. To me it is as if he has failed versus accomplished if he does not attend the ceremony.

Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you.

From: Tricia, Littleton, MA

Dear Tricia,

Graduation for kindergarten? Why? I agree it's nice for kids to have closure, but I prefer to see a family picnic to end the year; or circle time where each child picks his or her favorite book from year and the teacher/librarian reads each one at story time in a "reading marathon" the last week; or some activity that celebrates "Look how much I've grown!"

That said, I'm surprised the teacher doesn't want him at the "graduation" -- I agree that not being there will feel to him like he's been bad. My guess? She's unhappy with the mom for not following her advice and it's the mom she's trying to "punish." I hope she can gently be talked out of her position. I also hope the mom talks to the principal and upper grade teachers to get feedback about the pros and cons of a second year of K. I understand that being the youngest child can be a burden, but being the oldest can be, too.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

13 comments so far...
  1. My son's kindergarten teacher last year told me she was considering keeping him back because he was immature and she was concerned about his ability to handle first grade. While I agreed he was immature, I was concerned about how it would affect him being the held back. We sat down and had a meeting to talk about it and after we both agreed that because academically he was ready for first grade, it would be in his best interest to move him on. And guess what? He is doing great in first grade with no difficulty at all. I think it would have been worse for him to be left back as he would have been bored to tears.
    His kindergarten teacher made a point of pairing him with the first grade teacher that was the right fit for him. I think the mom should get speak with the first grade teachers and even sit down with the kindergarten teacher so they can work together to get this resolved. To make the poor kid not be a part of the end of the year festivities is wrong. I hope this mom and teacher re-think their views and take the child's best interests to heart.

    Posted by Heather March 13, 12 06:16 AM
  1. My daughter has a September birthday, and COULDN'T start public school kindergarten because the cutoff in my town is August 30th, which I thought most of Massachusetts has. She ended up doing "two years" of Kindergarten, one at her daycare, one in public school when she was old enough. She's one of the oldest in her grade now, and while she was academically ready for first grade after her daycare K, and probably would have done fine, I don't regret for a second not pushing her ahead or sending her to private school so she could start earlier.

    If every other child your grandson's group is participating in this "graduation" then I think that this teacher needs to be called out about the exclusion and what this is going to mean to your grandson. If the teacher won't relent, then go over his/her head to the principal or director or whatever. However, if your grandson is going to be continuing at the same school and if there are others in his group that will also be continuing and he is not being singled out, then let it go.

    Posted by Mary March 13, 12 09:24 AM
  1. I agree that the teacher may be "punishing" the mother, but a graduation means they have completed that phase of their life, and are moving onto a new one. This boy is not moving on, so I can understand the teachers thoughts.

    I think the real issue here is that the mother is insisting on holding her son back when he is ready for the next grade. She is ignoring the advice of the professionals, and doing what she wants regardless on if it's the smartest plan for her son.

    If a child has real academic or social challenges that would be helped by repeating a year, then go for it, but to repeat him just because he's young is not a good reason.

    I hate that she insists on repeating her son, even if it's not necessary. Why would you have your son be bored academically? Making him redo everything he has already mastered won't help his development, it will make him bored and frustrated with school. He will also see all of his friends leave and try new things and he will be doing the same stuff and have to make new friends all over again.

    Who cares if he's on the younger side? Someone has to be younger in the class. If people keep holding their kids back just so they won't be the youngest in the class, eventually we will have 7 and 8 year old children in Kindergarten. I started kindergarten when I was only 4 years old, as my birthday is in late October. (cut off date was Oct 31st) My mother was willing to keep me back if the teacher thought it was necessary, but I was able to do all of the skills we learned that year, so she sent me onto first grade. I did fine academically. The only real downside of the whole experience was that I got my drivers license a few months after most of my friends in high school.

    I'm really glad that my parents didn't hold me back just because I was young. I started college at 17, and turned 18 a few months into my freshman year. In my junior year of college, I decided to add a second major. It took me a fifth year to finish college as a result. I still graduated at age 22.

    I'm so glad I did an "extra" year when i needed it in college instead of when i didn't need it in Kindergarten. I would have still needed the year in college even if I had repeated Kindergarten, and then I would have been much older than all of my college classmates at graduation, and a year behind in getting my career established. I wanted to get my career established, then get married and have kids while I was still young enough to. I needed every year I can get. That extra year spent in kindergarten unnecessarily pushes back the rest of the child's life.

    Posted by M March 13, 12 10:55 AM
  1. This seems to be a case where both the parent and the teacher are thinking of their own needs and not that of the child. The parent is insisting on holding the child back, despite assurances that he is ready for first grade. The teacher is insisting on keeping him out of the graduation ceremonies (another good reason to not have kindergarten graduations in the first place), which might make the child feel even more left out.

    Neither one of them is acting in the best interest of the child, it seems, and they have both dug in their heels. Someone, perhaps the principal or school counselor, needs to arbitrate here.

    Posted by SandEE March 13, 12 11:25 AM
  1. The mother should reconsider her decision to hold back her child if the teacher feels he is ready for first grade. Whether or not he goes to the graduation, there is a major problem here in that the kid has friends who will be going to first grade and will forever now be a year ahead of him. It will feel to him like he failed by repeating kindergarten while his friends advance to first grade. At least that's how I would have felt when I was in kindergarten if I had been held back by my parents. Is the problem here that the mother just does not remember being kindergarten? It sends a signal to the child that the parent doesn't trust the child to be ready for the challenge and that is a message that the child will remember forever--that the parent does not feel that the child is as competent as his peers.

    Posted by Scatas March 13, 12 12:23 PM
  1. So let me see: Parents of disabled children go to all kinds of lengths to make sure their children are treated as much like everyone else as possible, while parents of regular (average? normal? neurodevelopmentally typical? what's the appropriate term?) kids now go to all kinds of lengths to make sure their kids stick out like sore thumbs. My snowflake is more special than yours?

    We live in interesting times.

    Posted by di March 13, 12 12:52 PM
  1. This mother sounds bizarre. The question of the son participating in the graduation is the least of the problems here. Why make him repeat a year if he is ready to move on? What could possibly be the motivation there?

    However, what we think of the mother or teacher in this case has no bearing on the advice we should give Grandma, which is to butt out. Her opinion is irrelevant here.

    Posted by gh March 13, 12 02:28 PM
  1. Retaining a child in K or 1 doesn't cause nearly the hoopla it does in 4 or 5. The kids adjust very quickly and their peers don't notice as much--Social stigma isn't as strong yet, as the kids are still very egocentric. I have no qualms about retaining a child that needs another shot, and the confidence booster it gives them to be in the pack rather than behind is a HUGE motivator.

    That being said, a first-grade-ready child will be BORED in K. The teacher can differentiate her heart out, but for some parts of the day that child will be sitting with classmates doing K-level things he's already done and comprehended. All children should be included in end-of-year activities, regardless.

    *While mom is comparing her child to previous children or to himself as he grows, the teacher can see his progress as compared to 20-25 other same-age children.* Listen to that perspective!

    Posted by 1stGrTeach March 13, 12 04:47 PM
  1. I agree, there is no need to hold a child back just because they are on the young side if it appears that they are ready to move on. My sister was young for her grade, and she was the valedictorian of her high school class when she graduated, and is extemely intelligent and well-adjusted adult now.

    Posted by Megan March 13, 12 05:16 PM
  1. 60 Minutes just did a segment on this ridiculous phenomenon called Redshirting that parents are now adopting to somehow give their children an "edge" on other children (to be bigger, to be smarter, to be the tougher and more agile athletes). They hide their true intentions and come up with lame excuses, saying that they want their children to develop "leadership skills" by being the oldest rather than the youngest. One quote stuck out to me from that segment: "the irony [of Redshirting] is that the kinds of parents doing this are the parents of the children the least at risk". Perhaps it could benefit certain children (disadvantaged, inner-city, low SES, ELLs, etc) to give them an academic leg-up, but not just holding children back unnecessarily because its the popular thing to do.

    I have been a teacher for 7 years- I have taught PreK, K, 1, and 3rd grade. My late year PreK and K boys were more immature than their female peers, but that's part of normal child development. They caught up by the end of the year and I spoke to their next-year's teachers who said they were thriving. In contrast, my Redshirted 3rd grade students (I had 4 of them, who instead of being 8 turning 9, were 9 turning 10) had the most extreme behavior challenges, bullies, and had a sick sense of entitlement to every classroom privilege and my attention. Funny enough, that mirrored the exact behavior of their parents!

    And, on a personal note, I was a late 4 when I entered Kinder (birthday is mid-September, cut off date for K at the time was Dec 31st). I was one of the first readers, got tracked into high achieving classrooms, and made it to the Ivy League.

    Posted by R March 13, 12 06:33 PM
  1. I have a late October birthday and I went to kindergarten at age 4. I was fine. A few of my best friends were even younger than I because the cut-off was December 31. Funniest thing, all of us did well. Sure, there were a few bumps along the way because we were younger than most of our peers, but they really did not matter in the long run. If the child is ready for first grade, he needs to be sent along, period.

    Posted by Gillian Cox March 13, 12 06:34 PM
  1. As a Kindergarten teacher myself, I agree that it is most detrimental to a child to have them repeat the year if they are ready for the next grade. Students who are held back when they could handle a more difficult academic load will often begin to have behavior issues if they are bored and are seeing repeat material (this is obviously not the case if the child is not in fact ready for the next grade). I would encourage mom meet with her child's teacher to discuss his readiness and to find a first grade teacher who might be a good fit-children often rise to the challenge when they are given high expectations, both academically and behaviorally.

    Posted by Ms. C March 13, 12 08:26 PM
  1. My husband started kindergarten as one of the youngest in his grade. He was still 17 in college. He was 22 when he started his PhD.

    Now, his colleagues are jealous because he'll be at a "stable" place in his career when he wants to have children, buy a house, etc., whereas they were living like students until age 40.

    Posted by a April 13, 12 02:15 PM
 
13 comments so far...
  1. My son's kindergarten teacher last year told me she was considering keeping him back because he was immature and she was concerned about his ability to handle first grade. While I agreed he was immature, I was concerned about how it would affect him being the held back. We sat down and had a meeting to talk about it and after we both agreed that because academically he was ready for first grade, it would be in his best interest to move him on. And guess what? He is doing great in first grade with no difficulty at all. I think it would have been worse for him to be left back as he would have been bored to tears.
    His kindergarten teacher made a point of pairing him with the first grade teacher that was the right fit for him. I think the mom should get speak with the first grade teachers and even sit down with the kindergarten teacher so they can work together to get this resolved. To make the poor kid not be a part of the end of the year festivities is wrong. I hope this mom and teacher re-think their views and take the child's best interests to heart.

    Posted by Heather March 13, 12 06:16 AM
  1. My daughter has a September birthday, and COULDN'T start public school kindergarten because the cutoff in my town is August 30th, which I thought most of Massachusetts has. She ended up doing "two years" of Kindergarten, one at her daycare, one in public school when she was old enough. She's one of the oldest in her grade now, and while she was academically ready for first grade after her daycare K, and probably would have done fine, I don't regret for a second not pushing her ahead or sending her to private school so she could start earlier.

    If every other child your grandson's group is participating in this "graduation" then I think that this teacher needs to be called out about the exclusion and what this is going to mean to your grandson. If the teacher won't relent, then go over his/her head to the principal or director or whatever. However, if your grandson is going to be continuing at the same school and if there are others in his group that will also be continuing and he is not being singled out, then let it go.

    Posted by Mary March 13, 12 09:24 AM
  1. I agree that the teacher may be "punishing" the mother, but a graduation means they have completed that phase of their life, and are moving onto a new one. This boy is not moving on, so I can understand the teachers thoughts.

    I think the real issue here is that the mother is insisting on holding her son back when he is ready for the next grade. She is ignoring the advice of the professionals, and doing what she wants regardless on if it's the smartest plan for her son.

    If a child has real academic or social challenges that would be helped by repeating a year, then go for it, but to repeat him just because he's young is not a good reason.

    I hate that she insists on repeating her son, even if it's not necessary. Why would you have your son be bored academically? Making him redo everything he has already mastered won't help his development, it will make him bored and frustrated with school. He will also see all of his friends leave and try new things and he will be doing the same stuff and have to make new friends all over again.

    Who cares if he's on the younger side? Someone has to be younger in the class. If people keep holding their kids back just so they won't be the youngest in the class, eventually we will have 7 and 8 year old children in Kindergarten. I started kindergarten when I was only 4 years old, as my birthday is in late October. (cut off date was Oct 31st) My mother was willing to keep me back if the teacher thought it was necessary, but I was able to do all of the skills we learned that year, so she sent me onto first grade. I did fine academically. The only real downside of the whole experience was that I got my drivers license a few months after most of my friends in high school.

    I'm really glad that my parents didn't hold me back just because I was young. I started college at 17, and turned 18 a few months into my freshman year. In my junior year of college, I decided to add a second major. It took me a fifth year to finish college as a result. I still graduated at age 22.

    I'm so glad I did an "extra" year when i needed it in college instead of when i didn't need it in Kindergarten. I would have still needed the year in college even if I had repeated Kindergarten, and then I would have been much older than all of my college classmates at graduation, and a year behind in getting my career established. I wanted to get my career established, then get married and have kids while I was still young enough to. I needed every year I can get. That extra year spent in kindergarten unnecessarily pushes back the rest of the child's life.

    Posted by M March 13, 12 10:55 AM
  1. This seems to be a case where both the parent and the teacher are thinking of their own needs and not that of the child. The parent is insisting on holding the child back, despite assurances that he is ready for first grade. The teacher is insisting on keeping him out of the graduation ceremonies (another good reason to not have kindergarten graduations in the first place), which might make the child feel even more left out.

    Neither one of them is acting in the best interest of the child, it seems, and they have both dug in their heels. Someone, perhaps the principal or school counselor, needs to arbitrate here.

    Posted by SandEE March 13, 12 11:25 AM
  1. The mother should reconsider her decision to hold back her child if the teacher feels he is ready for first grade. Whether or not he goes to the graduation, there is a major problem here in that the kid has friends who will be going to first grade and will forever now be a year ahead of him. It will feel to him like he failed by repeating kindergarten while his friends advance to first grade. At least that's how I would have felt when I was in kindergarten if I had been held back by my parents. Is the problem here that the mother just does not remember being kindergarten? It sends a signal to the child that the parent doesn't trust the child to be ready for the challenge and that is a message that the child will remember forever--that the parent does not feel that the child is as competent as his peers.

    Posted by Scatas March 13, 12 12:23 PM
  1. So let me see: Parents of disabled children go to all kinds of lengths to make sure their children are treated as much like everyone else as possible, while parents of regular (average? normal? neurodevelopmentally typical? what's the appropriate term?) kids now go to all kinds of lengths to make sure their kids stick out like sore thumbs. My snowflake is more special than yours?

    We live in interesting times.

    Posted by di March 13, 12 12:52 PM
  1. This mother sounds bizarre. The question of the son participating in the graduation is the least of the problems here. Why make him repeat a year if he is ready to move on? What could possibly be the motivation there?

    However, what we think of the mother or teacher in this case has no bearing on the advice we should give Grandma, which is to butt out. Her opinion is irrelevant here.

    Posted by gh March 13, 12 02:28 PM
  1. Retaining a child in K or 1 doesn't cause nearly the hoopla it does in 4 or 5. The kids adjust very quickly and their peers don't notice as much--Social stigma isn't as strong yet, as the kids are still very egocentric. I have no qualms about retaining a child that needs another shot, and the confidence booster it gives them to be in the pack rather than behind is a HUGE motivator.

    That being said, a first-grade-ready child will be BORED in K. The teacher can differentiate her heart out, but for some parts of the day that child will be sitting with classmates doing K-level things he's already done and comprehended. All children should be included in end-of-year activities, regardless.

    *While mom is comparing her child to previous children or to himself as he grows, the teacher can see his progress as compared to 20-25 other same-age children.* Listen to that perspective!

    Posted by 1stGrTeach March 13, 12 04:47 PM
  1. I agree, there is no need to hold a child back just because they are on the young side if it appears that they are ready to move on. My sister was young for her grade, and she was the valedictorian of her high school class when she graduated, and is extemely intelligent and well-adjusted adult now.

    Posted by Megan March 13, 12 05:16 PM
  1. 60 Minutes just did a segment on this ridiculous phenomenon called Redshirting that parents are now adopting to somehow give their children an "edge" on other children (to be bigger, to be smarter, to be the tougher and more agile athletes). They hide their true intentions and come up with lame excuses, saying that they want their children to develop "leadership skills" by being the oldest rather than the youngest. One quote stuck out to me from that segment: "the irony [of Redshirting] is that the kinds of parents doing this are the parents of the children the least at risk". Perhaps it could benefit certain children (disadvantaged, inner-city, low SES, ELLs, etc) to give them an academic leg-up, but not just holding children back unnecessarily because its the popular thing to do.

    I have been a teacher for 7 years- I have taught PreK, K, 1, and 3rd grade. My late year PreK and K boys were more immature than their female peers, but that's part of normal child development. They caught up by the end of the year and I spoke to their next-year's teachers who said they were thriving. In contrast, my Redshirted 3rd grade students (I had 4 of them, who instead of being 8 turning 9, were 9 turning 10) had the most extreme behavior challenges, bullies, and had a sick sense of entitlement to every classroom privilege and my attention. Funny enough, that mirrored the exact behavior of their parents!

    And, on a personal note, I was a late 4 when I entered Kinder (birthday is mid-September, cut off date for K at the time was Dec 31st). I was one of the first readers, got tracked into high achieving classrooms, and made it to the Ivy League.

    Posted by R March 13, 12 06:33 PM
  1. I have a late October birthday and I went to kindergarten at age 4. I was fine. A few of my best friends were even younger than I because the cut-off was December 31. Funniest thing, all of us did well. Sure, there were a few bumps along the way because we were younger than most of our peers, but they really did not matter in the long run. If the child is ready for first grade, he needs to be sent along, period.

    Posted by Gillian Cox March 13, 12 06:34 PM
  1. As a Kindergarten teacher myself, I agree that it is most detrimental to a child to have them repeat the year if they are ready for the next grade. Students who are held back when they could handle a more difficult academic load will often begin to have behavior issues if they are bored and are seeing repeat material (this is obviously not the case if the child is not in fact ready for the next grade). I would encourage mom meet with her child's teacher to discuss his readiness and to find a first grade teacher who might be a good fit-children often rise to the challenge when they are given high expectations, both academically and behaviorally.

    Posted by Ms. C March 13, 12 08:26 PM
  1. My husband started kindergarten as one of the youngest in his grade. He was still 17 in college. He was 22 when he started his PhD.

    Now, his colleagues are jealous because he'll be at a "stable" place in his career when he wants to have children, buy a house, etc., whereas they were living like students until age 40.

    Posted by a April 13, 12 02:15 PM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

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.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.
Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives