Today, over at Birmingham Mommy, you'll find an article I wrote about the issue of holding back kindergarten-aged children:
I hope you'll check it out...but in the meanwhile, here is our personal experience with this controversial topic...
Last year while Nate was in 4K preschool, the director of the school asked to meet with me to discuss Nate's academic progression. Within moments of sitting down at her desk, I had in my hands the scores from a recent test he had been given. He had no problem identifying his colors, most numbers from 1-10, and even most letters in the alphabet. He was kind to his classmates, sweet to the teacher, and generally enjoyed going to school three days a week.
But as the director explained the remaining results, I began to understand that my sweet little Nate was slipping behind academically, in a major way. She explained that more than likely his age was one of the most dominating factors. Nate is a June baby, and the fact remains that because of this, he would probably always have trouble keeping up with peers who were born in the same year, but much earlier. At the young age of four, even just a few months can make a tremendous difference in academic, and social abilities.
The director recommended that he stay in preschool for an additional year to give him more time to progress, before heading on to Kindergarten. Pete and I really struggled with the issue, not necessarily because we didn't want to give Nate the advantage of more time, but more due to logistical reasons. When we moved to AL, the school year had already begun. I was frantic to get both Nate and Juliana into the same preschool, and only looked at schools that were close to where I thought we would be buying a house. With great luck, I found a terrific preschool that had two openings. Our plans soon changed however, and we bought a house that was 25 minutes away from their preschool. So, for the remaining seven months, I drove that distance and back home again, twice a day for three days a week. When the time came to decide what to do with Nate this year, it was clear that I couldn't continue taking them to a school so far away. If Nate was going to have to switch to a new, closer preschool anyway, then why not give him the benefit of the doubt, and enroll him in the local elementary school Kindergarten program. You see, I was biased, I had all kinds of faith in my little boy, plus, I spent loads of time working with him at home! Surely he could prevail!
We took a gamble, and sadly, it didn't work. Nate struggled a LOT this year. It became clear within the first two months of kindergarten that his skill level did not meet those of the majority of his (older) classmates.
I can't spend time wallowing over regrets, but I can make a difference with him now. We have decided to hold Nate back this year, to have him repeat Kindergarten. I believe with all of my heart that doing so will give him the time that he truly needs on his side to improve his learning abilities. I don't want him to spend the next 12 years struggling, and hating school. I want him to feel success, and to be proud of his accomplishments, not always as though he is lagging behind.
I like to look at it like a gift. And as his mom, I feel fortunate to be able to give him this incredible opportunity.