Going to Kindergarten Ain’t as Easy as it Used to Be

When I was a kid, a day at kindergarten consisted of story time, play time, nap time, and lunch time. Now kids are expected to be prepared for rigorous academic challenges. With all of these new expectations, parents are faced with a tough decision – Should we send our children to kindergarten when they turn five or should we hold them back another year.

My parents’ generation had a totally different point-of-view. They didn’t want to deal with the shame and embarrassment of holding their child back. In fact many parents did all they could to push their kids forward as fast as possible. I heard several stories of parents’ falsifying birth certificate so their kids could get into kindergarten even though they weren’t old enough.

Parents and teachers were also quick to skip children to higher grades. My wife skipped first grade and my teachers wanted me to skip a grade also. In retrospect, I’m thankful that my mother left me in my proper grade. I’m not sure that I would have had the same academic success if I had moved forward.

Although my son, X, will be old enough to attend kindergarten in the fall, my wife and I have decided to hold him back another year. After our personal evaluation of him and discussions with his pre-school teachers, we realized that he is still a bit immature and not quite ready for the challenges of kindergarten.

It was a tough decision for us because holding him back will mean that he won’t be in the same class as his friends. He’s a very social child and his friends are important to him. It breaks our hearts when he asks if he’s going to a new school with his friends next year. Holding him back also means that we will have to pay for another year of preschool. Although we would enjoy the extra money in our pockets, we know that our son’s well-being in more valuable.

Whenever we start to have doubts, we reflect on the words of his preschool teacher.

“I’ve never had a parent tell me that they regret holding their child back,” she said. “But I’ve had several parents tell me that they regret moving their kids forward before they were ready.”

If you’re dealing with this decision right now, I encourage you to do your research, talk with your child’s caregiver, and mull it over with your spouse or significant other. The decisions you make now can have huge repercussions down the road.

Stay Strong,

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Question: How have you handled the kindergarten question?

About the author
Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad
  • http://tropicofmom.com Holly

    It’s an important decision to make, and sometimes not an easy one. My son misses the birthday cutoff date in our region by a week. When I found that out, I was disappointed because I didn’t want him to be one of those high school seniors who get antsy because they want out of school — they are already 18 years old. They want to get on with their lives. But I am glad he will be nearly six (probably the oldest kid in the class forever) because as an individual, he needs the extra time. On the other hand, a little girl with a birthday close to my son’s left his preschool class after a few months to move up to kindergarten. It’s not that she’s smarter — but loads more mature. Social and emotional readiness is important for kindergarteners as much as academics — probably more so. You know your son best. If you think he needs an extra year, then that’s going to be great for him.

  • Renae123

    My birthday is right after the cut off for kindergarten like 4 days afterwards, and my mom “fixed” my records that year so that I could start a year early. Although, I did alright in school I did find it a little more challenging than other kids in my same grade especially around middle school-and not just with school work I found the social aspect of it challenging as well as far as socializing and fitting in. I always feel if I had waited that extra year to start school I would have done a little better all around. So I wouldn’t recommend the skipping of any grade level, just based on my own experience. 

  • Ceis8009

    there is not a cookie cutter answer except to do what is best for your child

  • Seattledad

    Good choice Fred.  We are doing the same.  I wrote this post a while back, and almost everyone is of the same mind.  http://liayf.blogspot.com/2012/03/should-we-redshirt-kindergarten.html

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