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.
Question: How have you handled the kindergarten question?