Posted: 12:36 am Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Repeating a grade: How do you know when to do it; when successful? 

By Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

A friend posted on Facebook an end-of-school photo of her child saying now they know they made the right decision to hold the child back a year and have the child repeat kindergarten. She said the last year had ended in tears and this year ended with a happy, successful and confident child. She knew they made the right decision to repeat the year.

When I was in school, readiness was an option in Gwinnett if they felt like the child wasn’t ready for first and they didn’t have to repeat kindergarten. I’m not sure why that option went away. I don’t know if it was funding or just educationally it fell out of vogue.

Redshirting in kindergarten is really common, especially for boys, but I think usually they repeat a preschool year and not the kindergarten year. I think in kindergarten you would be with kids you would go through school with but in preschool you might not end up at the same elementary school with those kids so they wouldn’t know you repeated.

We had wondered about holding Walsh back a year to develop his maturity since he is a May birthday but both the preschool teacher and the kindergarten teachers said he would be too bored if we held him back. So you have to look at a number of factors; not just maturity.

So have you held your child back a year or made them repeat a grade? Why did you do it? How did you do it? How did you know if you made the right choice?

8 comments
Concernedmom75
Concernedmom75

We have a 7 yo daughter who was born at 23 weeks.  She entered preschool at three and were encouraged to send her to kindergarten the following year.  Her birthdate is 11/29 (two days before our state's cut-off).  He actually due date was March 3/21.  She is the smallest and youngest in her class, and has struggled in the classroom for the last two years.  Each year (as parents), we have broached the subject of her repeating to give her sometime to catch-up academically and socially.  The school has repeatedly encouraged us to promote her.

We are at the end of second grade, and as parents continue to be concerned.  She receives additional support in the classroom already and that seems to not be enough for her.  We struggle with this choice but unlike many of the comments I have read, this would actually make her average age with her classmates, and closer in size. We feel the extra year would assist her academically and socially, has anyone dealt with this issue in a child who is  considerably younger than most of their current classmates?

April-01
April-01

As a middle and high school teacher, I think many children are held back unnecesarily. Children mature at different rates and one who seems a little young in kindergarten usually catches up in a couple of years.

The problem comes in when kids begin htting puberty several grades ahead of their friends. Bodies change, interests change, and suddenly a child who was held back as a 5 year old is surrounded by people much younger.

AtlantaMom
AtlantaMom

My brother in law had this decision with his August male child.  For him it was a no brainer because he (the father)  had gone  through school as the smallest child in the class, always.   So, to give the child the extra year for maturity both emotionally and physically was an easy decision. 

Motheroftwins
Motheroftwins

My oldest son was born in Feb, and I should have held him back. We describe him as our day late and dollar short child. Unfortunately, the teachers encouraged us to push him along. The twins were born in March, and were fine being on schedule. This is such a personal decision, and no one has a crystal ball. I've seen holding boys back in the younger grades backfire in high school, so I'm not sure that holding back boys is always a good idea.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I might add that one thing that made it successful for the kids was that their parents adopted positive attitudes about it, although, privately with me, there were a lot of tears and anguish with a few.  One of the parents has since said to me, "I didn't see it then, but I am glad you convinced me to give him a year. It made so much difference."


If the state DOE had asked me, back when they changed from Jan 1 to Sept 1, I would have said, "As a whole, I would recommend a cutoff of June 1 for boys and Nov 1 for girls, remembering there is much individual difference."  However, they never asked.


I would not do it for sports.  They really are not that important.  But if I have a bright kid who is just not grown up for the demands put on kids now, I would give them a year.


One benefit of being older that my son (Sept 14 bday) noted was you are one of the first in your class to get a driver's license.  My Sept girl liked it, too.

Sara0507
Sara0507

I held my daughter, also a May baby (May 20th) back in kindergarten. It was the best decision for us. At the time, she was exhibiting great frustration with tantrums that would last for hours over learning to read and write. Of course, she was a perfect angel in school and the teachers told me she was doing great.  I agonized over this decision because she was very mature (both emotionally and physically) and well above average academically in many areas.   But in my gut, I knew something wasn't right and that sending her on to 1st grade would be a mistake.  Turns out, in that 2nd year of kindergarten, her teacher pulled me aside and told me they thought she was dyslexic.  I have since realized what a gift that second year was because most teachers/schools don't even say the word dyslexia let alone be the first to say it out loud. 


Sometimes, things happen for a reason and I believe this was one of them.  I have met so many parents whose teachers/schools insist that their kid is just "not that bright" and hear the horror stories of that fighting uphill battle. Early discovery has made an ENORMOUS difference. 


My daughter does ask from time to tome about why is is turning 9 in the 2nd grade (again, May 20th birthday) or why all of the kids her age on her soccer team are going into 4th grade instead of 3rd, but I am honest and told her she was having issues with reading and writing and I thought a second year of kindergarten was best.  I also let her know that I started kinderagarten at 6 so I was always the oldest in my class too. A second year of kindergarten was a gift for us. 

K's Mom
K's Mom

Both of our boys have May birthdays and they will both be held back.  They will each do a year of private half day kindergarten and then move to public kindergarten.  We had really made the decision a while back more because we want them to be older and more mature when they begin college, but our 4yo's preschool teacher this year said that she strongly recommends it for any boy born after Christmas.  She said that academically he is fine, but an extra year of maturity will help him for the rest of his life, so that sealed it for us.  I would rather proactively hold him back before starting to public school than be faced with a really tough decision in 1st or 2nd grade.


It is a tough decision and everyone has an opinion.  Some folks assume we are doing it because of sports, which had never really entered my mind.  Since we made the decision pretty early it has been easy to be steadfast and once we start our older son down the path, it will be easier to do it with our younger one.  Also, every experienced teacher that i have spoken to has said that holding a boy back never hurts.  I also know that we are fortunate that we can afford to keep him in his little school for one more year and then move him to public school.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

The important part is NOT "keep it a secret," Theresa, as you imply in your third paragraph.  It is NOT a shameful thing--you give your child the gift of another year.


I taught public school kindergarten for 16 years.  No preK during that time, and none of the children I taught had been in nursery school or even large-group daycare.  During that time, I asked to keep about a dozen kids back for a year, mostly boys.  Of that number, 8 parents agreed.  Of those, I have talked with 7 since, and NONE of them regret it.  Their children have gone on to graduate from high school, some from college or with technical degrees, and several have successful businesses.


Of the others, only one eventually graduated, and it took him an extra year.


I never worried if they were behind academically.  Any teacher can catch a kid up who is a little behind, as long as there is motivation on the part of the child, intelligence, and appropriate MATURITY.


In the mid-70s Cherokee had a developmental class, a readiness class.  An inservice I went to at the time pointed out the high percentages of kids, statewide, with those fall birthdays, that ended up repeating a grade in elementary school, and the surprisingly significant percentage of those who did not ever repeat but dropped out before graduating.  It caught them sometime along the way. (This was before the state moved the cutoff from Jan 1 to Sept 1.)


Closer to home, I have 2 September and one August birthday children.  The two September babies would have been fine in starting a year earlier.  I thought long and hard, and had extensive discussions with the August baby's kindergarten (and before that, nursery school) teachers about whether she should go on.  Looking back, letting her go on was the right thing, but I think her sense of competition, of being sure she was "keeping up" and leading the class, helped her the most.


As for the grandchildren, the September girl will be fine.  She starts first grade next year.  The three boys are all April-May birthdays, and I think they will be okay.  However, the new boy due in July--well, his mother, a teacher also, will keep him back if he shows signs of overplacement.  Because, in the end, you make the decision based on what is best for that individual child, and don't worry about what others might say.