retaining kindergarteners

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-31-2013
retaining kindergarteners
Fri, 05-31-2013 - 2:30pm

Hi everyone. I am new to the board so I hope this discussion has not already taken place elsewhere. My son is 6 as of April this year. He was premature and has consistently been approximately 6 months behind in reaching milestones. He is a very smart, caring child but I had concerns early on about him starting kindergarten. He attended preschool since age 3 so he was not new to the idea of being in a classroom setting. He passed his kindergarten screening and no concerns were brought up at that time. His teacher was, unfortunately, an older woman who was obviously awaiting retirement and had little patience with him from the beginning. He is admittedly a bit immature for his age and adjusted poorly in the start of the year. He could not sit still and he was in trouble almost daily. His academics were below average but I considered some of the assessments inaccurate because he answered questions wrong for his teachers that he answered correctly every time at home. At the end of second quarter his teacher expressed concerns that he "needed help" with nearly all classroom assignments and that he was behind the other students. A couple of months later she did retire and his new teacher is in her early 20's and this is her first teaching job. My son was placed on a low dose of ADD medication and is doing very well behavior wise now. He is catching up slowly and shows much more interest in learning. His new teacher stated that he would benefit from another year of kindergarten to mature and catch up. He is passing his subjects (for what it's worth) with 2's and 3's out of 4's, but still has trouble understanding what he is supposed to be doing on worksheets, etc. At first I agreed that maybe another year in kindergarten was a good idea and that it was good to go ahead and do it now rather than waiting until later. Now, however, I have read multiple studies and advice columns that stress that retaining students, even in kindergarten can be almost pointless in the long run. 

Have any of you parents been in the same situation? Have you retained your child or promoted them when retaining was advised? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I feel so helpless.

Thank you in advance,

worried mommy

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Sun, 06-02-2013 - 11:46am

Well, if you feel that he will be consistently behind as he goes through school, then it wouldn't hurt.   I tried to hold back my son because of his immaturity socially, but for me it didn't work out because when he started a virtual school they put him at 1st grade anyhow.   Has he had any testing done to see if he has any learning disabilities?   When they tested him for the ADHD did they do a full work up?   Was the ADHD the only thing that they found?   I do feel that doing the same thing that didn't work the first time probably is not beneficial for most kids, and yes, he WILL be wondering why all of his friends are moving on and he is not. 

Do you have summer school where you are?   It sounds like he would be a canidate for it, and may become strong enough that he doesn't need more. 

You may also want to have him checked for other issues - starting with seeing a developmental optometrist to make sure that his eyes are tracking across the page properly.   My older son had issues with this - when he read and wrote he had to concentrate REALLY hard, or else the words started moving around on the page.   He did about 6 months of vision therapy (with homework from it to do every day) and it made a world of difference - and really lessened his ADHD symptoms.   (He discovered if he moved then he saw one of things - so he moved a lot, and had been diganosed with ADHD)   It would hurt to have his hearing checked as well, just to rule out any issues.  

If you don't have summer school in your area, can you work with him some at home, even if it is in the evenings after work?   Get a math book from the book store for him to work on, get a reading book or do or get something like Funnix reading program that you can work with him to get his reading skills stronger.   Do a page of math a day, do a reading lesson a day, include some copy work or a writing workbook for writing to go along with reading.   Don't worry about other subjects unless he really wants to get books from the library for them.   Consider participating in a summer library reading contest too.  

Follow your mom gut feelings on this.  If you feel that he will not benefit, don't do it.  See how far you can get him this summer, and if he then has issues in 1st grade have him tested by the school for a learning disability.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2003
Tue, 06-04-2013 - 7:17am

Oh I couldn't have written a ver similar posts a few years back. DS is now 9 and doing very well in the 4th grade but its been a LONG struggle. DS was a July baby and I never thought twice about sending him to kindy when he turned 5. He was bored in preschool to begin with so he did need more. Now there are many factors that played a rule in his rocky kindy start and his teacher waited until after xmas break to bring some issues up. DS was always hyper but we were told boys will be boys, and he will grow out of it and even his kindy teacher was less concerned with that and more concern with motor delays (preschool missed a LOT on him). Helped to have someone who had been 1. doing this a LONG time and 2. had experience teaching older kids. She reconginzed at pace he was going he was going to have issues in higher grades. Her first words to us was she sees no need for him to stay back. Academically he was there, yes he was immature but not only had she been doing this for ages she was a mom of 2 boys and a lot she saw she reconginized from past experience and insured us he will be fine. I found myself sitting at the playground studying other kids in his class and in some ways she was right he was just like everyone else or there were other kids with maturity or hyper activity.

So took some time and we finely got an IEP in place come 1st grade but by 2nd the over activeness was causing issues so we finally got the ADHD diagnosis and going on meds made a difference. Think it was a follow up meeting last year in 3rd grade that we discuss some reading delays and they place some of that on the ADHD not being treated in 1st grade when he was learning skills his mind was just overwhelmed but now that he can focus he just needs to catch up. Closest we came to the staying back was 3rd grade. He had a HORRIBLE teacher. I know she was NOT adhering to the IEP but she talked a good talk in the meetings and would put it on DS because he didn't "ask" to use the computer or take the test orally. Hmmm he was 8!! He already was dealing with being different (he had issues that year with teasing over his cleft) so let me see would I want something to draw even MORE attention to me!! He has GREAT support with his special ed teachers and I really credit them. This year has been totally different. My D and C student is now mostly a B student with a few C but a few A. We are in a dual taught class and his IEP is in full effect and he is doing great. I do beleive teachers do make ALL the difference. Until last year we had great teachers both young and old. A teacher who is burnt out is not going to put much effort for a kid who might need more of a push.

Over the years I questions should I have kept him back but then we have a year like this year and I think I did the right thing. My youngest misses the deadline for kindy by 17 days so we are doing a private kindy next year. Mainly because it was cheaper then the preschool options (wasted money with older DS on a preschool that was just a glorified day care so not going there again). I have every intention he will repeat kindy the following year in public school. Mainly because its the only way I can ensure he gets into older DS school but some does come from our past experiene with older DS. If I wasn't working full time we probably make a different choice. In some ways younger DS is more mature then older DS was at this age and in other ways its flipped. Its all about gut feeling.

Now our schools tend to try to avoid retaining. There was 1 kid who was kept back in kindy but he missed too many days other then that they moved them all on. Those with some delays they try to intervine on but keep them at grade level. I know some of DS friends parents have concidered retaining but didn't. I say go with your gut. If you think another year is worth it then go for it. Have they intervined at all in the school? Offered any testing?