Repeating Kindergarten – A Mom's Tough Decision

All of the end of the year activities are in play.   Today, we are going to Chase's Kindergarten awards program & picnic!   It is very exciting.   Not as exciting as next year's Kindergarten awards program & picnic will be when we are actually celebrating his conclusion of Kindergarten.

Oh the joys of repeating Kindergarten.

Have I mentioned that I am not thrilled fully convinced that this is best for my boy?   I don't think I have.   I have mentioned it to some of my loved-ones but not to you, some of my dearest imaginary , invisible, Internet friends in the world!   I am sure many of you will have a contrary opinion to mine but I am going to go ahead and put mine out there ¦because, well, its my blog.

Chase is very young.   His birthday is July 24.   He has struggled a bit through Kindergarten.   BUT.   He is a very sharp kid who has achieved a Satisfactory  rating on his report card in almost every subject throughout the majority of the year. Over the past few months, he has blossomed in maturity & retention of reading/writing concepts in leaps and bounds.little boy with blanket 600x350

NOTE: Shauna has no problem holding kids back a year for growth.   Shauna does not necessarily believe that Kindergarten is the most beneficial year for that to be done for Chase.

I think that the basic concepts covered in Kindergarten are going to be quite boring for my boy next year.   I am afraid that my obedient, well behaved child might fill his boredom with silliness & acting out.   He may not, but time will only tell.     The teachers & staff are recommending another year for Chase because they feel like he just isn't ready  for First Grade. Our school has an amazing reading recovery program for first graders (that Mackenzie participated in this year) – I know that if he moves on to 1st grade, he is likely to be involved in that program and it did wonders for Mackenzie!   I feel a little irresponsible wanting my child in that program but I can see Chase quickly getting right where he needs to be.

When I signed the letter that was written up for me requesting for Chase to re-do Kindergarten, I asked if I could re-evaluate the situation at the end of the summer. I don't think it is fair to measure his maturity 5 months before it is even time to start 1st grade. I do have that option so we will just see where he is in a few months.

I honestly feel like I am up against an educational regime on this though. I feel like if I decide to put him in 1st grade – I have this huge group of people looking down on my parenting skills.   Which isn't really fair.   I want to do what's best for my boy & I just have this gut feeling that this is not it. (NOTE: I absolutely adore Chase's teachers/administrators and know that they are trying to do what they think is best for him as well, we just differ in opinion.)

OK – well thanks for listening to my rant.   Again, I am sure there are some adverse opinions on this.   Feel free to put it out there but be nice.

Shauna rambles and rants over at Blah Blah Blog when she isn’t keeping your favorite website up and running!


  1. I don’t know about where you live, but here in Atlanta there are schools that have pre-first programs. The kiddos go to kindergarten, pre-first, first, etc… There’s actually one school here that requires it of ALL their attendees.

    You might want to see if there’s one in your area.

    Good luck! This is a tough struggle between wanting him to not be bored, but not wanting him to feel behind and lose confidence either. I wish you blessings on your decision.

  2. My two cents…as a former 1st grade teacher & now a homeschool mama to a late-June boy!…

    You, and only you (your family) know Chase best. Don’t ignore your gut feeling on this one. Be firm with the educators & administrators. I know they are trying to do what’s best for Chase as well, but you don’t seem to be in denial about anything. You’re not seeing his educational progress through rose-colored glasses. You seem to have a grasp on the reality of his success & his areas for improvement.

    Those late summer boys…sometimes they have the hardes time (especially in the younger grades) because there really IS a big difference in those 5 months! I agree–and am glad–that they will re-evaluate Chase at the end of summer.

    My personal opinion…first grade is a good grade for retention. When I taught in Keller, our first graders learned reading skills, important “life” math skills like telling time, counting money, adding/subtracting, fractions, etc. The independence factor increased greatly from Kindergarten. If Chase struggles with 1st grade next year, then you will know he needs to repeat 1st grade.

    But being a young-Kindergartener leaves so much room for maturity over the summer, that I always felt it was a jump-the-gun call to hold back in Kinder.

    I know everyone won’t agree with me…but I put a lot of value into the Mama’s opinions…Good luck with whatever road you guys take!

  3. This must be a really hard decision for you!

    Your reasoning sounds right, though. My son is in K this year and you’re right… going back to the beginning would be a huge step back. He’s not at the top of his class, but he can read small words like pot, sat, etc. And if he went back to figuring out what sound a p makes, that would REALLY put him ahead of his peers and out of place.

    I say work with him over the summer and send him to 1st. Also, talk to the school about WHY they think he should repeat K. Is it instructional reasons or is it maturity reasons? Either way, though, it’s your call.

    This is the most frustrating part of being a parent: the intense desire to make the right decisions for our kids, but the lack of knowledge about what the right decision actually is.

    Good luck! Chase is lucky to have a mommy who cares so much for him.

  4. Thanks for your feedback ladies – LISD eliminated Developmental 1st grade a few years ago and I think it was a huge mistake. I appreciate all of your comments!

  5. A few years ago I was ithe same situation. My daughters birthday is aug 5 so she was barely 5 when she started. I am a stay at home mom so she was not exposed to preschool or anything like that. She is a smart kid but really struggled and we worked really hard all year. In Texas they want them to be able to read before they enter 1 st grade. I was always told by teachers I had that if I didn’t feel that she was ready to start school then to hold her back. I was also told kindergarten is the best time to hold them back. My daughter had a good 2nd year of kindergarten. She got into 1st grade and started struggling again. I finally was able to convoke the schoolto test her. It broke my heart that she hated school and had low self esteem because of it. Today she is in the 3 rd grade. Her testing results showed that she struggles with reading comprehension. She know is getting all the necessary help that she needs plus some. If I had to go back and make the decision again about holding her back I would probably still do it. It allowed her to mature a little more before she moved on. It is your decision and you should do what you think is best for your child. I have heard of parents not holding them back and then when they started 1 st grade after a couple of weeks it was obvious that the child needed to repeat the parents and teachers moved the child back down to kindergarten so he could grapes the skills better and move at apace that was comfortable for him. Good luck and no onewilllook down on you you know what’s best for your child but talk to his teachers and find out what he is struggling with and needs to work on.

  6. My son also has a July birthday. I so WISH I had held him back. Not for academic reasons… he gets straight A’s. But for social reasons. See, no one told me when I moved here that it is the norm to hold your boys back a year. So, now all of the kids in his 5th grade class are celebrating their 12th birthday. And he will be 11 – in July! That year and half plus makes a HUGE difference in his ability to keep up socially. He just isn’t as mature as they are. It’s a struggle that we go through on a regular basis. And now that the boys are starting to hit growth spurts and puberty. Forget about it. And what about when all of his friends are driving, but he won’t get his license until he’s a Junior in High School. Yikes. My advice is that you know your child better than anyone, so go with your gut. But talk to your friends in the school. Ask a lot of questions. Holding him back a year might be the best thing you ever do for him.

  7. I say trust your gut! See how you feel at the end of summer and then go with that decision. It’s great the teacher/administration is open to the possibility of his going on to first grade at that time. I have been in your shoes. My younger son (a summer birthday as well) was also “not ready” for first grade. For us, developemental first was the answer, but I see you don’t have that option. Even so, he always felt that he had failed because after developmental first, then they go on to regular first while all their friends from “regular” first grade went on to second. It seems to me that if a grade needs to be repeated, it should be first grade. However it turns out, just let him know there is nothing ‘wrong” with him and don’t pressure him to learn. In other words, don’t make the next three months a summer school session and don’t sweat this…if you do, he will too.

  8. Wanted to let you all know that this article is being republished from a few years ago. Chase is currently at the end of first grade and he is dong wonderfully in school. He is a leader in his class (both academically & socially). I was just discussing this event with another mom today & remembering how strongly I felt about it at the time.

    I have come a long way over the years and my feelings go a little more like this now: “Holding my child back in kindergarten will not be the thing I do that screws them up….that will definitely be something else.”

    I think the discussion is great – this decision is definitely one that more and more parents have to struggle through now-a-days. (Love it when I get to say now-a-days). 🙂

    Thanks ladies!!

  9. Mindy Howard says:

    We repeated kinder. My daughter had an October birthday, but at her Montessori school, if they could do the work, they matriculated. Being an early reader, they sent her on to Kindergarten at the tender age of 4, so she was truly too young for the grade. I looked forward and thought about her being the youngest in her grade for the rest of her school years, and we made the difficult decision to hold her back. Yes, I also worried that she would be bored silly in Kindergarten for the second time. Yes, I also worried that my well-behaved, angelic (really) child would be so exasperated by the lack of new material that she would turn to acting out for attention. We did some research and found a private school with a more accelerated Kindergarten that I believed would be more interesting than being in the same classroom as the previous Kindergarten. Maybe with the change in environment I hoped boredom wouldn’t set in. Altogether, at age 5, she didn’t notice, didn’t complain, and didn’t act out (yay!). My sweetie stayed sweet, and I have never regretted Kindergarten Part II. She is now one of the older students in her class, and I find that gives her an advantage most of the time, socially, academically, and in sports as well. For what it’s worth, being one of the older kids in her grade has been a blessing. I also want to add that my gut feeling was that my very shy child would not benefit from being one of the youngest ones in the class. It sounds like your situation has some other factors at work. Above all, listen to your instincts.

  10. Hey Shauna! I held my June birthday son back and I has been great. That being said, he has other issues (speech, etc) but academically/cognitvely was fine.

    What bugged me when I read your article was the prewritten letter that the school gave you to sign. I think that is a huge”no-no” on their part! When I was discussing holding my son back with the staff at his school, the principal told me that was my decision alone and if we wanted to do that we needed to write a letter. I’m sure they all had opinions on whether or not he should have been held back, but they were not going to express them (unless asked)…..(and even then would say it’s my decision). Anyway, I really hate that the school has put that pressure on you b/c now you will feel un-do pressure. (p.s. we are also in LISD)

    also, lately i’ve been hearing alot about boys being more immature than girls (i would say that’s TRUE) and they are eventually at a disadvantage academically as the years go by. So if holding them back a year will help them in the long run, i think it’s a good decision.

    Mainly, its a hugely personal decision that everyone has to make for their child. Hopefully they can make it without judgement from teachers and other parents!

    ok…so i’m just noticing you last post, but i hope someone else will benefit from these answers.

  11. Autumn B. says:

    So did you end up having him do Kindergarten again? Our son has a August 23rd birthday and we sent him to Kindergarten last year (opted him into another school in the district) with the thought that if he did amazing we would send him on to first grade and if need be we would send him to our “assigned” school for Kindergarten. My husband & I, as well as a LMHP have agreed that he would benefit from another year of Kindergarten – he is doing fine academically, but he also had to be put in a reading intervention group and we worked on reading/writing/etc for the majority of his free time all last year. Unfortunately, the school district would like him to be “promoted” to first grade with extra help if he struggles. We know that research shows that many times retention doesn’t work but there are many factors that go into it. Our son still cries easily when friends hurt his feelings, often stomps off to his room – we worry that with a more challeging cirriculum, behavior issues will arise at school. I would love any information you can give me!

  12. Your posts have all been very helpful. My son is 5yrs old with a July 18th bday and will be completing his 1st year of kindergarten this May. His teacher just called us this weekend and discussed holding him back. She says socially he is great. He completes tasks, is the best behaved child she has, but she worries about him reading. He knows all of his letters and sounds. He is just not grasping blending words together. He is great at sight words and numbers. He can even tell time and count to 100. Its not even March yet I was just thinking we had more time. But my husband and I told her we just wanted whatever is best for him. He is the smallest child in the class and the youngest. I don’t want him to struggle for the rest of his 12 yrs of school. The only real big problem is that he is very upset that he isn’t going to 1st grade with his friends. His grandpa told him without my permission. He thought we had already discussed it. I just didn’t know how to tell him so I was waiting to ask the teacher her opinion first. So now my little man is in tears and there isn’t a thing I can do about it. How did all of you handle discussing it with your kids and other family members?

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