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.

2 moms found this helpful

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.

More Answers

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!

1 mom found this helpful

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.


1 mom found this helpful

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.

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