60 answers

Repeating Kindergarten


My 5 year old is being retained and will repeat kindergarten based on his teacher's assessment. Her assessment is that he's border line academically. She mentioned several times that he's always the last to finish. Or, often he has to copy notes from others because he's slow in finishing copying from the board --which ticked me off because my son was born with erbs palsy, has been in occupational and physical therapy since he was 5 days old and has recovered remarkably given his birth disability. He is behind in his sight words and his peers are all reading. Her biggest concern is that socially and emotionally he's immature. Essentially, he's a cry baby and a little wimpy. He has a late birthday (October) and there are two other children in the class that are younger and they're doing fine. (I didn't think to ask whether they were girls or boys.)

I admit I babied him due to his disablity and he's asthmatic but come on . . . holding him back in kindergarten is extreme.

Can someone pls help balance me out on this one or confirm that I'm not being an over protective "mama".

Thanks in advance. --A.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

November 2011

I was talking to another mom about holding her child back and thought I would restate - "it was the best thing we ever did for our son". He is now in second grade and in an advanced class. He needed the time to grow and is doing great!
March 2010

While several months have passed, having my son repeat kindergarten was the best thing we ever did. He's excelling and is extremely confident and proud. He helps many of the other kids and he and a few others have started reading comprehension since they were "advanced". I'm so glad we went this route.

it's Tuesday and there are over 20 additional responses . . . WOW and Thanks!

Interestingly, there was a great article in this weekend's NY Times entitled, "The way we live now -- Kindergarten Cram" http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/magazine/03wwln-lede-t....

If Kindergarten is as challenging as portrayed in the article (and at this school it is including copying from the board and regular homework assignments), I am going to let my little guy repeat the grade. I am visiting with our local public school and compare expectations .. . then make a final decision.

Again, thanks to all for your input. Regards - A.

Hi all

We're hardly near a decision but 12 hours in, I feel much better about the potential of letting my big guy repeat kindergarten. I VERY MUCH appreciate that over 32 people responded in less than 12 hours. Wow . . . I love this site. Consider this a giantic thank you and "hug" for everyone's input.

Several of you asked and/or made recommendations regarding what should happen between now and next September. He starts T-ball/little league next week. We also have him enrolled in a Saturday reading class and he'll have his first experience at summer camp beginning in July. Hopefully, this will keep him at par with his academics as well as enhance his social skills.

The school, which is private, will reassess him in August and "it is what it is". I don't think I'll move him to a new school and he will be in a new classroom next fall. The only challenge is that his friends begin wearing uniforms in 1st grade and he'll be wearing regular clothes. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Keep the input coming! Regards -A.

Featured Answers

A., YEAH - I'm so glad you decided to keep him back! All 5 of my kids are fall birthdays and I've held all of them (repeating the first). I have never heard anyone say they regret holding their child back. I've always looked at the "other end" because I work at a college. I didn't want my kids being the youngest and thrown into the college environment before they were even 18.
Thanks for listening,


I know that most of the mothers feel you should leave him back. Before you let them leave him back as some of the mothers said get him tested. Because of his disabilites, he may need to be in a special education program. When you leave children back in a grade they resent it when they get older, trust me.

All the best.


Hi A.,

Don't worry about it. If you are going to hold a kid back ever, the best grade to do it is in Kindergarten. Kids are kind at that age and he is young enough to not have it embarass him. It's better to have him develop stronger skills and be a leader than to be a weak student from the start. Plus it will help in athletics to have a little more growing time. If he is concerned at all, simply explain that lots of children have a slow start and go on to do great things in school especially if they have a late birthday.

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Is you son still participating in OT and PT? If so, what are his therapists opinions about repeating kindergarten? I have an issue with a kindergarten teacher who has five and six year olds "copy notes from the board." As a former K teacher, I think that's a bit strange. If you do decide to have him repeat, definitely have him in a different teacher's classroom...but I think that goes without saying! Kindergarten is the ideal grade for children to repeat...its better for him to do that now,than continue to fall behind academically and socially, and have that be the case for subsequent years...
Good luck with your decision! Try not to feel offended or like your parenting is being attacked. Try to get opinions from other professionals that you trust, since they are not as emotionally connected as you are!

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Before making the decision, I would request IN WRITING a psychoeducational assessment of your child from the school district unless your son is already supported through IEP or 504 programs. If your son's medical condition is impacting his access to the curriculum, then the school needs to provide additional support to help him. If there is no disability, then retention may be helpful in remediating some of the maturity concerns.

I'm not sure whose words "wimpy" and "cry-baby" are, but if those are the descriptors the teacher used, request a conference with the teacher and the principal to address the concerns. If those are your words and the teacher used other phrases indicating emotional immaturity, then maybe you are taking her concerns overly-critically.

It is never easy for a teacher to meet with a parent to discuss concerns. I can assure you of that. As a school administrator I have had many "pep talks" with teachers prior to these conferences and have sat-in on meetings to make sure that the teacher doesn't get attackes- yes, it happens often.

If your son has a disability that is impacting his learning, the school must provide help. If your son is developmentally and emotionally young, then retention MAY help. Also keep in mind that the school cannot retain your child without your consent. The final decision is yours.

1 mom found this helpful

In Connecticut the parents have the final say about holding their child back or not. My son's teacher tried to get us to hold him back in kindergarten and we refused. Other than the normal kids thing of not handing in homework he did fine, as a matter of fact he will be graduating from the University of Hartford, Barney School of Business on May 17th with his bachelors in Business Management and hopefully will get into a masters program for September. Our older son we held back, placing him in Transitional First Grade and he was not stimulated; this son is the one who gave up on school. If I were you I would either get him tested outside of the school system and/or not hold him back. Also what about having his eyes tested, it could be that he can't see the board, it's just a thought. I am familiar with Erb's Palsy as I had studied it in one of my nursing courses and have to remind you it has nothing to do with his ability to learn or think, keep that in mind when dealing with the school system and remind them of that too. Having dealt with what you are going through I am well versed on how they like to manipulate and force parents into doing what they want and truly feel they need to meet their quota of services in order to keep their funding, so I can guide you in how to advocate for your son. Let me know if I can be of any other help.


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The best thing you can do is to demand a psychological evaluation of your child by the school psychologist. (No, the school psychologist doesn't always side with the teacher.)Trust me, I went through it when I was a kid. Another thing is that you can mention that your son has a right to IEP and that he should not be discriminated against, because he is learning disabled. You can fight the teacher's decision. Being slow is not a reason to be held back, especially if he can do the work. You can also work with him durring the summer.

Hi A.,
I feel your pain. Your concerns are understandable. But as a person who has a late birthday, and a special education teacher, I think it may not hurt to have your child repeat kindergarten. It is only kindergarden and in 10 years he won't even remember that this happened, but he may be right where all his peers are. Like I said, I had a late birthday and was the youngest in my grade. I found that it took me a little longer to understand things, and took my until college to really get how I learned (and I am someone who was granted a scholarship to graduate school and have graduate plus credits). Being the oldest in the grade has a lot of benefits. And given his disability he may be right on track with others in his grade if he is the oldest. Good luck with your decision, it is not an easy one.

If he is really not able to keep up with his classmates, you would be doing him a favor by giving him the gift of an extra year to catch up. I know it sounds bad to you becaus he is your son and you don't want anything bad for your child? However, if he is struggling now, it will only get worse. My fear would be that the older he gets, the more he will understand that he is now keeping up with his peers. Children can be very cruel and I would be afraid of him being labeled "slow" or "stupid". Those are terrible words for him to associate with himself. Perhaps you would feel better about it after having him further evaluated. Speak with his doctor first for some recommendations. I have a niece who was held back for one year and it was the best thing that happened to her. She wasn't keeping up with her peers and she was miserable. She just needed more time and that's probably all he needs too. I wish you the best for you and your child.

Dear A.,

Since you asked I would reccomend that instead of being offended try to remember not only does his teacher also have your son's best interest in mind and that for a child it will be much easier to stay behind his kindergarten peers that per say his third or fourth grade ones. School is still so new for him he will prob not even realize he is being singled out in anyway. (another perk, your little guy gets an extra year to be a little guy, we all know it goes by way too fast). Good luck.


This is a very typical thing to do for 5-year-olds, especially if they're struggling academically and/or socially. And if they're boys.
It will be a huge advantage to your son later on--and will help him to build his confidence and self-esteem as he improves in his grasp of school work. That will impact all else.
It is so much better to do this for him now than to wait until he's older and more aware of it.
What your son;s school is recommending, in other words, is not at all extreme, but rather very standard.

It really sounds like you would be doing him a great
service by keeping him back. Now, if you are in a
1/2 day Kindergarten, I would throw around letting him
go to first and then repeating first. I did that with
my son. I thought he had more to gain by repeating first
than K. It worked out well. Repeating a grade is not
a bad thing, better early than in middle school. Hope
that helps. Good luck.

Hi A.,

First I want to say that you sound like a wonderful caring mom and that is most likely why you are so taken back by this recommendation. PLEASE do not take this as a personal failure on your part. I own and operate a Montessori school with a full day kindergarten program. I can tell you that your son will only benefit by being retained in kindergarten for a few reasons. If his teacher is noticing these things now it will only give him the opportunity and advantage of being one of the older children in his class so he can develop his skill even further. Second emotionally, socially, and also in sports it will give him the advantage to be older as he goes through school. Please don't let your personal feelings cloud a professional evaluation trust me it will not harm him to repeat kindergarten. I live in NJ and in my district the public school cut-off is October 1 so in my district your son wouldn't be eligible for kindergarten until this year anyway. Also, there is nothing wrong in my opinion with being an overprotective mom I certainly was. If we are not there to protect our kids, and be their advocate then who else will? I am not sure this is a matter of being overprotective I think you feel insulted so please don't this is not a bad thing. I also think the way this teacher presented this to you perhaps was not done tactfully which has made you also feel bad. One thing I have learned in education is not to compare children basically by third grade they all catch up so as I said you will only be doing him a favor to let him repeat kindergarten again. Good luck to you!!

Hi A.!
I am a high school teacher, not an elementary school teacher, but I want to address one part of your post. The teacher mentioned that your son is often the last one to finish copying notes from the board and sometimes has to copy from others. In my experience, high school students who display this same behavior are often in need of glasses. Perhaps your son could benefit from an eye exam, even if he already wears glasses.
As for holding him back, in my experience as a high school teacher, I find that most academically borderline students benefit from repeating a course. Those who are borderline and move on are usually the ones who have more problems and more learning gaps. Therefore, I think it's better to give your son another chance to repeat kindergarten for his own good. After all, you don't want him to fall behind in first grade!
I hope this helps. Good luck with your decision!

Dear A.,

It is hard to separate yourself and your own feelings from the comments of the teacher so congratulations on trying. I think that is it ridiculous that NYC public schools have a December 31 cut-off date and the private schools have an August 31 date. Moreover, most of the private schools won't take summer birthdays -- particularly boys. This means that your little guy is on track with private school children who are one year older and weren't born with the obstacles he has so valiantly overcome. I have a typically developing daughter with a late October birthday and will likely send her to private school because I think she will do much better being the oldest not the youngest in the class. It's not so much about the academics -- it's about develpmental maturity. My mom was a kindergarten teacher for 35 years and she always says that you can't get over on developmental progress. Kids mature as they mature. I think this teacher has given your family a wonderful gift. Perhaps her delivery could use some adjusting, but I urge you to take it. There will be no stigma for him and there shouldn't be any for you. Good luck.


Listen to me carefully, let him be left back.
He doesn't care, he doesn't realize and in the end he will benefit.
Why should he spending the rest of his school life playing catch up?
He already knows the work, so next year he will be on top of things. Take this summer to go over all of his books and work so he will be prepared next fall.
Late Birthday's do matter. Maturity do matter.

And take this Summer to begin treating him like a big boy too. I think so far you've done a great job with him developmentally - don't see this as a set back. See it as giving your son more time for you to continue working with him.

Watch him in Kindergarten become the kid who couldn't keep up, to being the kid who all the kids are trying to keep up with.

I think this is a blessing in disguise.

As a special educator myself, I think the recommendation to hold him back now is the best thing for him. He obviously did not get the same start the other children had, so why not give him another year to mature a bit. Also, he'll probably be the star of the class since it will be his second time around. This will give him a great self esteem boost. Now is the time to hold him back. Research shows that once you fall behind, it's very hard to catch up. Let him catch up next year and he'll be right on track with everyone else.
Good luck.

Hi A.,

Well, if anyone has to repeat anything, kindergarten would be the best year to do it!
It could put him on a little faster track for the rest of his schooling. Tell him he'll make twice as many friends as the other kids. And have twice as much fun...because remember, first grade is a lot more work! ;)

Good luck!
Corrie Moone ("Grams")
from the Pocono Mts. of PA

From my experience many years ago, let your son stay in kindergarten again. Believe me, it's harder for you than it is for him. He will much happier, make friends easier, and learning will be easier for him. I sent my October daughter to kindergarten when she was not quite five and refused to let her stay an extra year in kindergarten. She always played with children younger than her classmates, felt left out because she was not comfortable with her classmates, and school was a constant hassle. My October son was kept out of kindergarten an extra year, went to pre K and was much happier. I truly believe everyone will be much better off if your son repeats. You really do not want him to struggle through school. Or be required to repeat a higher grade when it will be much more devasting to him (and you). I wish I had listened to the teacher.

Think of it the other way. If he is moved up but constantly behind everyone else that could hurt him too. Holding him back now will be less tramatic than in 2, 3 or another high grade where the children will pick and tease and be merciless. don't look at it as punishment but an opportunity for him to be totally with or maybe even lead his class in the future.

Also talk to your pediatrician and if need be have another teacher evaluate him and his abilities. We all want our child to succedd but sometimes they need a little more time than others but do great in the future. Try not to take it as an offense against your son but if you have liked and trusted this teacher all year look at it as her trying to help your son succeed and not just lag behind everyone else. She may see something you don't.

As a mom I think my kids can do anything and are the greatest kids in the universe but her teachers see the "rest". I have had to trust their judgement at times when I thought they were wrong. TURNS out.. they were right! Teachers can be wrong they are only human but as much as holding him back hurts your heart weigh all the possibilites before deciding. A.

Actually, I have to agree with the teacher here. My oldest nephew (a nov baby) should have been held back in kindergarten. He wasn't and now at 17 he may not graduate high school. He has been behind the other kids his whole life and has had to do summer school the last 5 yrs. School has been a terrible struggle for him. On the other hand, my youngest nephew (also a nov baby and his brother) was held back in kindergarten. The best decision his mother ever made. Landin is an A B student and he excels in school. Both boys were born without any disabilities. O.k. lets think about this logically. Do you want your son to love school or dread it? Do you want him to struggle to keep up with the other kids? Do you want to keep pushing him through until he can't do it any more? I would hold him back now. In a few yrs the kids won't remember and it's not a big deal. If he's held back in 4th grade the kids are far more likely to make fun of him and then it will be more tramatic for him. The thing is, that your son is in school with kids that are almost a full yr older then him (Jan babies) and at this age it really does make a difference, especially in boys. Typically they are more inmature then girls at this age. I know your trying to protect him, but the teacher isn't trying to be difficult here. She is giving you her honest opinion. This may be one of those times when you should listen with an open mind. Believe it or not, kindergarten will set the stage for the rest of his entire academic career. Here is where you set the foundation.

Don't worry. A boy with birthday October needs ime to gro up. This will give him time to mature a little and be more confotable wih himself.If you can, change the school. I is bttero reet nw rahethan later. Good luck!

Hello A., I don't feel that the teacher's recommendation of having your son repeat kindergarten is extreme at all.Why wouldn't you want your child to benefit from repeating a year specially if he is behind both academically and socially.By doing this he will have a chance to mature and catch up.First grade is goiong to be extremely challenging for him both of you will feel worse having to repeat the grade anyway because of this.I made the choice of having my daughter repeat kindergarten after trying for a few weeks in first grade and her feeling miserable and out of place.She is now exceling in kindergarten and blossoming in every subject.Also, I think that it would greatly benefit him to get tested given his birth disability, and perhaps special clases would help him.The best of luck!

As a mom of 4, whose youngest is in 5th grade, I can tell you Kindergarten has gotten way more difficult than when my 10th grader was there. It is a much faster pace. My younger two children are on the younger side of their grade and both received speech therapy from age 2, reading has always been a struggle for them and I believe it stems from the fast learning pace they are subjected to and their later grasp of speech which correlates to sight words, comprehension and beyond. Knowing what I know now, if a teacher had recommended my two youngest repeat kindergarten or even started a year later, I would have welcomed it. Its far better academically and socially then having them struggle later on in middle school and high school.

wow A., i agree with the poster who said they expect too much from 5 year olds. I really don't know how I'd feel if that happens to one of my kids (they start K this year),but I doubt i'd agree to hold one or both of them back because they're emotionally immature. I don't know what options i would have besides homeschooling but if there are ways to get him to first grade, to wait and see how he does i would do that. you will have the entire summer to work with him to bring him up to speed with reading. I know what I am saying is confusing. Bottom line, I wouldn't hold him back if the main concern is him being socially immature. My god, now that I typed it "socially immature?" holy molly they'll definitely ask for my kids to be held back as crying is their middle name :)
good luck

I would say it would be better to hold him back now when it is not as big of a deal. Later on kids will notice more than they will at the kindergarten level. He will be one step ahead now instead of trying to keep up. This may turn him into the class leader and make him more self-confident as he will know what to expect and what the teacher expects ahead of the rest of the class. Try to look at the positive. My daughter did two years of Pre-K 4 (even though she was reading in preschool) because she had a January birthday and did not make the school age cut off- She is the hands down academic leader of her class. In second grade she has already completed the first two stories of the Inkhart Books by Cornelia Funke. Keep in mind however you may have to provide additional education material throughout next year to keep him academically stimulated. Make sure they are prepared to give him extra work if he starts to become bored with what he has already done.

My now five year old has had to repeat pre-K and at first I was hurt and upset. My daughter has a language delay and I too was told she was very immature for her age. However I realized that if I decided just to enroll in her a kindergarten class anyway she would have been behind everyone else. I think this extra year has been amazing for her not to mention when she enters Kindergarten she maybe in a small group of children that knows how to read, this is sure to boost her self-esteem. The benefits absolutely out-weigh any negative thoughts you maybe having. He's come along way so another year will make the sucess that much better and remember this is not just advice that I am offering I have lived it so I know what I'm talking about.

My mom was a kindegarten teacher and she often discussed how concerned parents were when she suggested holding the child back. As a mother of 2, I have often discussed this with other parents. I believe that you should really consider holding your son back. Boys mature later and since your son has a late BD, he may really benefit from the extra time. Your son is not being punished or singled out due to his asthma or disabilities; I believe that the educators have his best interests in mind. You must not compare your son to the other younger children. If there are issues, it is so much better to hold your son back in kindergarten as it is a greater social issue in future grades. I think that you should welcome the opportunity for your son to receive addtional kindergarten experience!


You have every right to question an assessment. You are your childs advocate and bottom line, you make the final decision. We were in a similar situation and had parent teacher conferences, spoke with counselors and Principal. Before agreeing to repeat a grade, we waited a year. We worked with them at home and enrolled them in KUMON (reading and writing program). We worked with the teachers regarding their progress... unfortunately, the progress was not as sufficient as we had hoped. With this, we decided to let them repeat first grade.

We did not make this decision lightly. At one point you blame yourself (not doing enough or possibly bad parenting). Once your emotions subside, you start analyzing the situation and see it from a different perspective.

We were happy with our decision. We realized, that by then, they were comfortable with themselves and the schoolwork. They were familiar with the material and were more confident with their work. In addition, they were more verbal than usual - they took it upon themselves in letting the teacher know if something was difficult. By mid-year they were the top students in their classes.

If they wouldn't have repeated a grade, they would've be struggling academically.

We decided to do it early on rather than later.

Best of luck to you!

I teach Kindergarten (in NJ, so it might be different) but YOU have the final say as to your child's placement for next year. NOT the teacher. Does he receive special supports for academics? Is his IEP being followed? It doesnt sound as if the teacher is going above and beyond to help your little guy succeed. I would ask about if he goes on to 1st, will he receive academic supports - that can be trumendously helpful.
Best of luck!

My daughter had a similar situation. I was told in March of the year she was in Kindergarten that it would be best to keep her back, as she was having trouble keeping up with some of the work, she would cry easily, and she was emotionally more immature than the other children. I was in shock, as I thought she was doing well. She had been in special education classes since she was 3 for speech delays. She had been mainstreamed into a regular Kindergarten class, but it seems she was put there before she was ready. It was a difficult choice, but I took the teacher's advice, and held her back a year. She is now 14 years old and in 7th grade. Her average is a 95; she is a high honor student. It was the best thing I ever did for her. She needed that extra year to mature emotionally. Her birthday is in April, so it's not late by any means, but she just needed a little more time to grow up. Now she's doing great.

I know it's a tough decision to make, but you need to do what's best for your child. You know your child, and you know what he needs. Go with your gut instincts. Don't make life more difficult for your son; don't make every year a struggle for him. It's not worth it for either of you.
Good luck!


I'm a teacher and I think you should have your son repeat kindergarten. I teach Reading in grades 3, 4, and 5. I see that many of the children who need to be referred to Inclusion or Resource Room are late birthday children or children who had health problems as a baby. Also, there are more boys in Special Ed than girls. I think that at this age it will not socially affect him, however if you put him through and he struggling, it will only be harder to catch up. And every year, it will be harder and harder. Also, did your son give the Brigance test before entering Kindergarten? A score lower than 90 shows that a child may not be ready for school. I wish you the best of luck and I know that the choice you make will be the right one for your son.

Hi A.,

Since you said keep it coming I decided to write in. My son was born Dec 14 youngest in his kinder last year. I knew he was struggling academically and maturity wise but when the teacher recommended he be held back I was devistated, my baby??? After seeing the light that she was right and that my boy loved his teacher I asked that he remain with her and told him after Kindergarten "graduation" that his teacher asked if he could do kindergarten again to help her with the new kids coming in. He loves to be a teachers helper. He saw his friends at the beginning of this year go into first grade and it never bothered him. He has friends from the 1 st time around and now more friends. Since he was repeating everything it was all familiar to him and he has excelled in everything that he did so poorly in last year. Now that he is 6 he knows the difference between kinder and 1st and is looking forward to move up. Keep your boy in kinder you will be amazed at the transformation in his academics and confidence. Good luck. You will make the right decision for your son. A. B

Hi A.. My daughter is not quite 2 years old but, in a way, I can identify with your situation because my daughter was born with a pretty significant brain injury and was expected to have cerebral palsy. She also has had multiple therapies since birth and also has made a remarkable recovery. If I found myself in the same situation that you are in, I would look into options for opportunities to socialize during the summer and also see if there is a summer program to developed reading skills (Sylvan? Phonics?). Then, he will be able to "catch up" so to speak potentially without being left behind of his peer group. If you present these options to his teacher, maybe you can convince her to let him move along to 1st grade and then, at the end of next year, make an another assessment. I am not saying that we should push our children along with the group if they get too far behind, but maybe this is not the year to make that decision.

Anyhow, I can TOTALLY identify with being 'over protective'... I think that any parent who has watched their child face and recover from and push on with potential disabilities has a different perspective from parents who don't know what that feels like. Ultimately, you want what is best for your son and, at this point, looking for ways to develop his reading skills and opportunities for him to interact with other kids his age seem to be what will serve him well. If you find ways to do this for him, I believe then you will be able to be objective about his development and thus, your path for his future will be clearer. A.

I'm not in the same situation, and I'm sure it is upsetting hearing that your child might be left back. When I read your post, I was very impressed about how well it seems your son is doing in spite of having to work much harder than other kids his age. It seems he has come very far, but you said yourself that he is a little emotionally immature and he does take longer than some of the other kids in some things. My thought was that if he needs the extra year, maybe it would be beneficial to him. Being left back doesn't have to be a negative thing. It could help him get the tools he needs to succeed throughout his school years and it might make him more comfortable too. Since he does have a late birthday, he wouldn't even be really that much older than the other kids if he were to repeat kindergarten. Just my opinion, but I would look at this as an opportunity.

Hi, I have not had this experience, but my opinion is that the teacher should know best where he is best suited in school. If she didn't care, she would probably just pass him on. It is better now than when he gets older and they want to keep him back because he's not mastered even the basics yet and/or the others have advanced even more ahead. I say keep him back, and the fact that he has a late birthday would mean he would be one of the oldest in his new class, and for a boy, that might make him feel good, especially when he grows up. Also, maybe they need an extra teaching assistant for your son? Disability acts require this, based on need.

Hi A.,

Don't worry about it. If you are going to hold a kid back ever, the best grade to do it is in Kindergarten. Kids are kind at that age and he is young enough to not have it embarass him. It's better to have him develop stronger skills and be a leader than to be a weak student from the start. Plus it will help in athletics to have a little more growing time. If he is concerned at all, simply explain that lots of children have a slow start and go on to do great things in school especially if they have a late birthday.

Hi A.. it sounds like the teacher is just trying to do what is best for your son. To retain a child is a big decision for a teacher, one that is not taken lightly. It sounds like it may be the best thing for him so he won't struggle next year or the years to come. Think of what is best for your son. good luck!

I have worked with children for over 20 years as well as raised three of my own. I think that having your child repeat kindergarten is a good thing! It will give him time to master tasks that he may be slower to pick up as well as time to feel proud about his accomplishments. I truly believe that having a child repeat kindergarten or not sending him early works to his advantage, especially with boys. Please look at it this way......you are giving your son every opportunity to succeed in the very beginning of a long relationship with school. My son and daughter-in-law are not sending my wonderful grandson to kindergarten this fall (he will be 5 in June)so that he will be socially and emotionally more ready for the school career and I support them wholeheartedly! Being a parent is difficult, but we all need to do what is best for our children and their future.


As a teacher, I can understand what your child's teacher is telling you. He will become frustrated in first grade if he cannot keep up with the curriculum, which is quite demanding as a result of No Child Left Behind. He will get further and further behind if you do not give him a chance to catch up and reach his potential. It will be more extreme if he has to stay back in a later grade. You don't mention if he has a 504 plan or is in Special Education. If one of these is the case he should not be retained but should have an aide to help with copying or motor skills (504) or a certified teacher to help him with the academic skills in a separate setting, whether in the classroom or for a few hours a week outside the classroom. "Crybaby and wimpy" are not words that qualified professionals usually use, but we do note if the child has trouble adjusting to things that other children in his age group can adjust to. Not all children, disability or no, reach the same milestones at the same time as their peers. It is often better to let them grow at their own pace. It is not a punishment or extreme to hold a child back to help him reach his potential. I hope you will discuss this further with the teacher or special education staff at your school to give your son the best advantage.

Hi A.,

Since your child is a boy and has a fall birthday I would definately recommend you allow him to repeat Kindergarten. As an experienced first grade teacher I know first hand how frustrating school can be for a child when they are younger then their classmates and immature. Another year in Kindergarten will give your son time to mature physically and emotionally as well as academically. It is better to be "left back" in Kindergarten rather then in the upper grades because it prevents kids from falling too far behind their classmates. Which in turns leads the students to really start disliking school.

On a personal note, as a toddler, I received physical and occupational therapy as well(as an infant I had Hydrocephalus). I also had a fall (Sept.) birthday. My mom decided to hold me back until I was six because I had trouble getting up the stairs, cutting, writing etc.. I was grateful that she did because once I did start school I was ready for the physical and academic demands.

Of course as your son's parent you are able to make the final decision. I am only sharing my experience as a teacher and my life experience. Good luck.


Hi A.,
My advice comes from what I have seen with my siblings. My brother has a December birthday and was deemed "ready" for first grade at age 5. It worked when he was young, but he was NOT ready for 7th grade when the time came. It would have been easier to hold him back at age 5 than 12. And better for him in the long run. He really struggled being on the young side of his class when he was in high school.
- A.

It probably doesn't feel great to you that your son cannot advance, but there is a reason that the teacher feels that way. Your son may have some disability and has caught up well, but if he is behind now, then he will be behind in the first day of first grade, and will likely continue to fall further behind. Consider this to be an opportunity for additional socialization and fundamental skill building.
It is better to be a little older than too young. And education should not be about age, it should be about what is best for your child.

Hi A., my name is N. and I am the mother of 4 beautiful girls. I was a teacher before they were born so I can see this issue from both sides of the fence. (I taught math, but also have a degree in special education). I know were you are coming from - you don't want your son labeled or think that he is going to miss all of his friends. I think at this age they bounce back and forget and move on faster than we do. If you ask that he have a different teacher (so he thinks he is moving to a new class) he will not really care that he is repeating kindergarten. He will make new friends and if you don't make a big deal of it, he won't even know.
We all want our children to be happy and acheive all that they can. I held our oldest daughter back a year on my own. I had her do an extra year of pre-school before she even started kindergarten. She was ready academically but was very shy and reserved. I wanted school to be a positive experience for her every year (12 or more years is a long time). Rather than be struggling to keep up, she is at the head of the class and building great confidence and self-worth. Don't you want that for your son? Think about where he will be in 5th grade or 6th grade. Everyone puts so much emphisis on the age of 5. You have to go to school when you are five. But I think we should start them when we think they are ready. They don't all crawl or walk or start to talk at exactly the same age - every child is different and I believe that the same is true for thier education. I think you should stop thinking about what society says and what your friends might be thinking. Don't worry about appearances and do what is right for your son in the long run.
Just my opinion.


I know that most of the mothers feel you should leave him back. Before you let them leave him back as some of the mothers said get him tested. Because of his disabilites, he may need to be in a special education program. When you leave children back in a grade they resent it when they get older, trust me.

All the best.


Hi A.,
What do they really know those kindergarten teachers!. My youngest son had health problems for the first two years of his life and he was in and out of the hospital but they have his condition under control. When he went to school the teacher made him repeat kindergarten because he was emotionally and socially immature. The year he went to repeat this grade, he was in the class two weeks and the teacher placed him into a grade one class. He was reading, spelling, counting, writing--numerous things he was taught at home before he ever went to kindergarten. So tell me what do they really know!!!
Good luck---I,m hoping things turn out well.

I am curious as to why you think being held back in kindergarten is a bad thing. It would seem better to me to address this problem now and let him enjoy another year in kindergarten rather than insisting he continue on to first where he may remain at the back of the class. Playing catch up is a terrible way to go through school, and if he stays back one year now, all the kids will forget about it as he gets older. Imagine having to repeat 4th grade and what a strain that would place on his friendships then.

Kids develop at their own rates and age is not always a good indicator. If you disagree with the teacher's assessment, then ask for a meeting with the pricipal to discuss the matter and possibly request an independant evaluation. But pushing him to the next grade because it is age appropriate does not seem the right way to go to me.

Hi A.,

I can understand that you are worried about holding your son back but this is the best time to do it. Many parents of late birthday boys try to hold them back so they will be older in Kindergarten. Going to school can be very difficult and overwhelming for a lot of children as they are challenged in so many areas at once (as a social worker I have worked with a lot of young children). I am not sure that thinking of your child as wimpy and a crybaby is helpful for anyone. Try to listen and help him navigate the experiences that he fins emotionally overwhelming.

I wish you and your son the best and think that holding him back will be very beneficial for him.

Do yourself and him a favor and let him repeat Kindergarten. This is not uncommon and some parents actually choose to hold them back when they have a late birthday.
He will do much better in the long run. Instead of struggling every year, he will have the opportunity to do well and feel proud.
If he is having trouble in Kindergarten, imagine how much trouble he will have in 3rd grade etc. Better to have him repeat now.
There is nothing wrong with him repeating Kindergarten. And it most likely has nothing to do with his disability. More to do with his age.
Believe me, your whole life will be easier if you take this route. Plus, he will build self esteem and confidence because his age will match his class work.
Good luck!

Not sure I agree with the teacher. Have you done your own assessment and compared the results with where the other kids are. For ex. does he write his name, know his address, colors, ABC's, basic reading, etc? Have you evaluated his learning style? Have you asked him to explore in a creative way---ie, ask him to draw a picture of a story you just read to him etc. Have you exposed him to music lessons, and does he excel or seem frustrated with this? I guess my point is that kids learn at different paces and they have different strengths. If only his weaknesses are emphasized by this teacher without an effort to explore and develop his strengths, I would strongly consider a MONTESSORI program. Have you taught about home schooling if at all possible?

A., YEAH - I'm so glad you decided to keep him back! All 5 of my kids are fall birthdays and I've held all of them (repeating the first). I have never heard anyone say they regret holding their child back. I've always looked at the "other end" because I work at a college. I didn't want my kids being the youngest and thrown into the college environment before they were even 18.
Thanks for listening,

Your perspective of retention and his are 2 very different things. He has no idea how school works or that it is "different" to be left back. Kids his age pretty much go with the flow. You however are feeling badly and your feelings will be picked up on by him and make him feel badly. I would recommend he be left back and if possible be in a different class. So he will have a new teacher like his classmates. Give him a chance to mature and catch up with his peers and dont feel sorry for him. Treat the situation with excitement and joy. If he needs to have the same teacher again tell him how lucky he is that he is having Mrs. again. He will have so much fun etc.

Hi A.! Your are a great mom and I commend you. I taught K for 10 years and I think it's better for your baby girl to do a "do-over" but it will her later, rather then her being in 1st or 2nd grade and being labeled "leftback." Our 3y/o son has a severe speech delay and I know he probably will "do-over" K. It's okay, better he get what he needs (speech/reading/writing) now while he is still young. I think when we have child with special needs we can't help but give them a little "extra." I do not call it babying. Think about the future of your precious one . . . blessings.

Dear A.,

I held my son back in Kindegartn and he has a September birthday. My son does not have a disability and academically he was on target but I wanted to give him that extra year to grow. The school Principal tried to talk me out of my decison but I decided to keep him back. The other boys in his class were 6 months to one year older than my son and they were all interested in baseball, soccer etc...... My son had no interest in sports! So I decided to give him that extra year. My son is now 9 years old and I do not regret my decision for one minute. That was the best thing I did for him. He is a straight A student and great at sports.

I know we as parents don't want to hear the negative. We get very defensive when it comes to our children. But I would listen to your sons teacher and give him the extra year that he needs to grow.

I also held my daughter back this year in Kindergarten although they passed her to 1st grade last year. But I wanted to give my daughter the same advantage that I gave my son.

Good Luck with your decision.

A.- Please take the teacher's advice !!! Do what is best for your son, not what is best for you. When my son was in preschool, his teacher recommended that he stay in preschool one more year. That would make him close to 6 yrs. old when he starts kindergarten(his birthday is in Sept.) I followed her advice and never, ever regretted it !!! He was an 89% average through-out school and was never behind. I am so glad I followed her advice. Oh, by the way, I am a teacher, too.

Wow!! A year ago I wish you had asked should I send him? At that time I would have said absolutely not. Homeschool him for the year and then send him to K if necessary.
Now you have a situation that is no one's fault but do you want him at the bottom of the class always last to finish, struggling with being the youngest, and least mature in the class especially as he gets into those teen years. I say not, plus the other strikes --- I say hold him back. Everyone is new next year and he will simply fit in and have a head start.
The down side of that is only if he has a best friend near you that is in the class and will lord it over him. As far as I can see it is the only con with a whole lot of pros for him. Oh the other down side of course is your ego. But I am sure you have broad enough shoulders to handle that for the good of your son.
Of course homeschooling is also an option still. I loved it and recommend it highly
God bless you and all you do
K. SAHM married 38 years --- adult children == 37, coach; 33, lawyer married 8 years with 9 mo; and twins 18 and in college after homeschooling.

A.--Let him stay back. If he is lagging behind now, it will get worse, not better, and soon the teasing will start and he will just hate school. October boys are very, very young for kindergarten. There was once a study on June boys (those with June birthdays who made the cut for September kindergarten but were still socially and emotionally too young.) They had problems all through school, starting with the early grades. You will be amazed at what a difference a year makes--and he will excel because he has had it before. It's a favor the teacher is doing, not a disservice.

My son is younger than yours but I was curious to read everyone's responses and even though I am sooo not in this position, I agree with what everyone wrote and hope that if I ever am in this position that I will take such advice. I wanted to commend you though - I think its great that you reached out and that you're gracefully accepting everyone's advice. I think its great that you are being open minded about this and you are really trying to do whats best for your child, even if that means making a decision that goes against the norm. I think your son will be much stronger for it and you are setting a great example for him!

Hi A., Just last year at this time we were told that my granddaughter would be held back. She did not know all the sight words required. Our situation was different in that there is no disability but much confusion in the home due to divorce and also immaturity. In our case we worked with her tirelessly to have her memorize these words. WE knew it would be traumatic to her as the school has only one K class going up to 1st grade. This worked for us but I must say if any holding back is to be done, this grade is best. If there is anyone you can speak to at the school or at the district level, do so. I most cases schools like when parents advocate for their children. Maybe he can be put into a diffeent class. My best, Grandma Mary

Hi A.,
There's certainly a lot to consider. While it's true that someone will be the weakest student in any class and it doesn't necessarily mean that they need to repeat their grade, has your son met the end of year requirements for moving on to first grade? Has your child had any testing, special ed review, etc? Getting the special ed committee involved can help - your son can receive additional services/support to help him to catch up to his peers and perform to the best of his ability. While I am not a fan of holding kids back, especially the standard holding back of boys specifically with late birthdays, don't compare how your son is doing to the other kids with later birthdays who are doing fine. That doesn't mean that he is doing fine.
If your son has trouble coping emotionally, he may need more time to mature or perhaps school has services to help him with that. What a lot of parents don't realize is how busy it is in school - if a child is crying, the teacher really does not have time to comfort and calm that child, they just cry until they're over it. And if he has trouble coping with life in kindergarten, first grade is even more demanding. They are so young in first grade, 6 years old, but they're in school and doing work all day - a lot is expected. Don't make a decision about your son based on how the rest of his class is doing. Be sure that you're having a meeting with the teacher and principal, and request that special ed evalatuion/meeting.
Good luck!


Kinder these days in public school is very academic when it should be about play and social growth. This is one of the main reasons that I started my own school. After being a teacher in the public schools, I have seen too many children struggling in the early years socially and academically.

Starting kinder at 6 is what I would reccommend to parents these days. So, if they want to hold him back a year, I would jump on that opportunity and give him more time to develop socially and academically. He will be better adjusted and have a stronger grasp on the academics because of this decision. It is not extreme and it seems like sound judgement to me. Don't get caught up on the wording of 'holding him back' but rather allowing him another year to grow naturally.

Good luck,

my daughter, now 28, repeated kindergarten. She is a Sept. baby. she, also,was immature. As a one year old she had serious health problems so we babied her and were definitely over protective. She went to a pre-first grade then to first grade. It wasn't exactly kindergarten but it wasn't first grade. She's done fine. She's an engineer and happily married. Since your son is an Oct. baby it probably wouldn't be a bad thing to let him have another year of kindergarten. However, you know him best.

Not sure what school district you are in, but where we live in Westchester, they do not push the kindergarten kids to read. Yes, they are learning sounds and things like that, but on the report card, they leave the reading skills blank (no evaluation) because they don't want to stress the kids out at this age. In first grade is when they push the reading. That being said, there are some kids who do, in fact, read pretty well and others who can read some sight words.
If your child's teacher is recommended holding your son back a year, is there an independent evaluation that can be made to confirm or reject that suggestion? In our area we have CSE and they would do an evaluation to see if there is some sort of placement to help your son. Perhaps he can get an aid in class (there is an aid in my daughter's class for one of the kids). Or maybe he can get OT services to help him with writing.
I agree... holding him back is pretty severe. It may ultimately be necessary, but I would see if there are other alternatives first.

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