23 answers

So Conflicted About Keeping Child in Kindergarten Another Year - Please Advise!!

Hello Dear Mamas!

I am the mother to a bright, vivacious, totally awesome 5 year old girl. We do not live in the US, but my husband and I are Americans, and we speak English to our daughter at home (not the native language of the country in which we are living). Even though my daughter has been in schools and care centers in which the native language has been spoken since she was little, she still does not have a solid grasp on the native language. By far and away, her strongest language is English.

Last year, her teacher told us (it was her first year teaching, just to provide all the info) that we should look into examining her speech, because she wasn't managing well in the native language. We decided to wait and push the native language more at home. It worked to some extent, but not fully. While our daughter is competitive, she actually doesn't seem to want to learn so much! She is easily discouraged, and hates making mistakes.

Now, the same teacher - who is her teacher for kindergarten - says we should hold her back for another year of kindergarten. The school psychologist agreed, saying that because she is young for her school year, it would be a good idea, and that it would be really beneficial to send her to the class of a teacher who focuses on preparing for first grade (teaches reading, etc).

I signed her up, but was just informed that this teacher is being switched out for another teacher who has not gotten rave reviews from the parents I've spoken to. I don't know yet whether she does active prep for 1st grade.

So now I feel really conflicted - should I keep my daughter back for another year of kindergarten which may or may not prepare her for 1st grade and risk wasting a year on playdoh and finger paints (meaning she'll be almost 7 when she starts 1st grade), or do I try to get her tutors and push her forward into first grade with the rest of her class, risking her being unready but not actually more prepared for school than she was before?

To complicate matters, now her teacher also thinks she has problems with word recall - she is very smart, and easily speaks her way around a word she forgets, but I'm starting to think she might actually be right - she has a hard time remembering names of people, for example.

I realize that while she will probably be ok either way we make the choice, this decision actually has massive implications, effecting all the kids she will know and grow up with, the age she will be when she makes certain decisions, and potentially the amount she is challenged in school, how old she is when she learns materials, etc. I don't know how to make this decision - I'm scared!

Do any of you have any advise? THANK YOU!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

You are all so fantastic, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your responses - you gave me so much to think about but more importantly, so much peace of mind and a sense that I am not alone in making this important decision.

I did a lot more research, including calling kindergarten teachers who work with and near the kindergarten teacher we were worried about, and the reviews improved. I'm thinking now that the parent I spoke to who didn't like her had a child who may have been difficult in her class. I also asked these kindergarten teachers what they thought about our situation - they said that in their experience, it is overwhelmingly better to give a child an additional year of kindergarten than to push forward to 1st grade if there is even a hint of a concern over readiness.

So we have decided to send our daughter for another year of kindergarten in a school which is thought to do good prep for 1st grade. I will meet with the teacher to discuss our specific concerns and needs and pray that it all works out!

Thanks again for all of your help and support, wonderful mothers. You are so terrific!

Featured Answers

If you are going to hold her back, now is the time to do it. If done later, it will be harder, on her.

3 moms found this helpful

I may not be reading this right... but...her age is on par for kindergarten in the fall regardless. My daughter was 6 when she started first grade-and no foreign language involved. If the kindergarten there is THAT remedial, then MAYBE you should push her...but with the language factor, she is being enriched. She would be on the young side to move to first..First grade at five? Is that what you're saying? If so, that's young.

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More Answers

The problem with answering your question effectively is that most of us know the American system, and it's hard to tell you which way to go in your country's system since this is actual kinder you're talking about, and not preschool getting treated like kinder, like a poster talked about earlier in the week.

I will say that if she is the youngest in her class or close to it, that makes things harder for her for the rest of her school years. Many American mothers hold their children back (especially their boys) if they are very young. But I don't know about the country you are in.

If I were you, I'd work with her at home. I'd also talk to a speech therapist who works with bilingual children. It's not just about speech - it's about language, receptive AND expressive. An evaluation would really help.

Good luck.

12 moms found this helpful

You need to do a little research into the characteristics of young billingal children. They are slow to recall words, they do fall slightly behind in language development, but ultimately they catch up. She does not sound atypical in that context. Before you make your decision about whether she needs additional intervention, please learn about bilingual education. Until then, it's difficult to know what to do with kindergarten. I was inclined to tell you to keep her in an additional year because I think a good foundation is key to success in future years. Depending on what the issues with the new teacher are, though, that may affect my ideas.

5 moms found this helpful

zero back in on your last paragraph. she WILL be okay either way, remember that. the 'massive implications' are there in every single parenting decision you make. but it's very easy to become paralyzed by all the potential problems, and i'm afraid you're teetering on the edge of that.
good, thoughtful, informed, well-considered decisions can become terrified head-spinning morasses if you try to factor in every single eventuality.
it's good to have professionals, and to take their opinions seriously. it doesn't sound as if you disagree with them. if, however, your gut tells you that your child will actually be harmed by following their advice, then go a different path.
i don't really see any big red flags to having her do kindergarten again. at a higher grade it could have a bigger impact, but it's only K. being 6-almost-7 in 1st grade is fine. children are rarely harmed by 'wasting time' on play (which is not what kindergarten is in the US any more, sadly), while pushing them to keep a pace which may be 'standard' but is not their natural speed can be much more harmful.
don't be scared. you have way bigger and more impactful parenting decisions ahead of you. this is an important one, but neither choice is going to break your child. there are ALWAYS pros and cons to any big decision. if it were 100% either way, there wouldn't be a decision to be made. trust your professionals, trust your parenting, and most of all, trust your kid.

3 moms found this helpful

Please do not let worries about one teacher your child might have influence you into making a choice!

You don't know anything real or substantial about this new K teacher yet. And even if she IS one who doesn't push first grade prep, the real issue here is the language, not other things. Asking your child to get better on the language while simultaneously having her in the new and tougher academics of first grade is too much, too fast.

You already say your daughter is balky about learning the new language. If you push a tutor at her and pressure her to be at a certain language proficiency before a very specific deadline -- the first day of first grade -- it may well backfire as she gets more, not less, resistant under the pressure. I know you are at this point probably saying: But we wouldn't pressure her, we'll work on it at home, we'll be positive and give rewards, etc. That may all be true and you might proceed very carefully and have a great tutor -- but to HER it will feel like pressure no matter how you do it. She is smart, and will be well aware that she is studying the language to be ready for the next school year. That will be pressure in her mind.

I would give her the extra year of K, especially as she already is young for her grade level. It does trouble me that you depict K in this country as "play-doh and finger painting" and I hope there is more actual learning than that going on, but in your case, the language issue trumps everything. If she enters first grade unsure about language, every subject -- every single one, including math, which will be taught and explained in the native language -- is going to be affected. Give. Her. Time.

Also, please don't overthink this decision as something that will harm her forever. You write, "this decision actually has massive implications, effecting all the kids she will know and grow up with, the age she will be when she makes certain decisions, and potentially the amount she is challenged in school, how old she is when she learns materials, etc."

It isn't really as massive as your feelings are telling you it is. It sure looks that way when it's your first child, I agree! I would have felt the same way when my daughter was in K! But please believe me -- in a few years you may wonder why you saw it as such a huge deal for her to have another year of K. She will find her own friends no matter what kids she knows in school; and the extra year of K will not really affect life-altering decisions for her later on. Truly. It might mean she's a bit older when she's faced with the social pressures that come later in school - wouldn't that be a good thing, not a bad one?

I know kids who repeated K for much less vital reasons than needing fluency in another language and they were fine -- in fact, their parents all say that they are glad they did it. So having a truly serious reason like another year of language practice would make me even more likely to say yes to another year of K. And the only family I know who did not repeat K when teachers advised it, (because the child was very smart academically but very disorganized) found that their child took several more years to get her act together once she entered elementary grades -- she should have had that extra year of maturing, and not getting that extra year put her behind her peers despite her being academically very bright.

And finally -- it is MUCH easier to have a child repeat K than to have a child repeat a grade later on. It's academically easier and it is absolutely socially easier. You might set her up for having to repeat a grade later if she begins first grade without better language skills.

You might be worried that since she is bright, she will be bored with another year of K. It's possible. But again -- the language issue is paramount or she will end up being taught academics in a language with which she is not fluent, and that will have a far larger impact on the rest of her school years than repeating K would have.

3 moms found this helpful

If you are going to hold her back, now is the time to do it. If done later, it will be harder, on her.

3 moms found this helpful

I was in a similar situation with my son. He needed speech therapy and went to pre-school for one year; everyone suggested another year because they really didn't think he was ready for Kindergarten and I'm glad I listened to the professionals. He did one more year of pre-school (altho, it was considered more of a pre-Kindergarten), then Kindergarten - I'm glad we went that route because everything turned out great. That extra year in pre-school really did help.

If I were you, since the professionals all say hold her back, I would. BUT, I would also speak to the principal and find out what the curriculum will be and voice your concerns. They may suggest a tutor and they may even be able to provide one. Also, can you work with her at home? I didn't rely completely on the school for my son's speech therapy or other learning - we always worked with him at home as well. Then when it was time for First Grade, he was definitely ready.

As for being seven in First Grade, don't worry about it. My son was always one of the oldest; but my daughter was always one of the youngest and they've both done fine. Also, I've volunteered in the Kindergarten classes for many years - some of those kids really should have been held back; they were not ready at all!!!

Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful

Why is your kindergarten teacher not doing more to prepare kids for 1st grade? I would think that all kindergarten teachers should be following the same curriculum and "rules" regarding what kids need to know by the time the school year is done.

This is a hard decision. As a former kindergarten teacher, I can understand where the teachers might be coming from. It is hard to send a child on that is having a hard time meeting the expectations of kindergarten, let alone what they will be doing in 1st grade the next year.

If there is something else going on - i.e. a learning disability or something, another year of kindergarten may NOT be the answer.

Is there a way to delay your decision? How does the school year work? I.E. where I am, we have a "traditional" school year - September thru May. If it were me, I would try to boost my child's skills (being a former teacher, I have the skills to do that so I wouldn't hire a tutor, but you might want to). I would see how they are doing in August and decide from there.

As a teacher, I am disturbed that different teachers are teaching different things in the same grade...That would be something I would question/complain about with them. Why is one teacher doing "old" kindergarten (i.e. finger painting) and another doing more "1st grade prep" kindergarten (aka "new" kindergarten)??

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Before making the decision, I think you need to find out more about the new kindergarten teacher that she would potentially have next year. Find out whether she will actively prepare your daughter for first grade the way the current teacher would, or if it really would be a year of playdoh and paints. If it is the active prep, you'll feel a lot better about holding her.

Normally, I am very opposed to people who hold their children back. However, your daughter is exactly the type of child that I really do think could benefit from another year in kinder (and trust me, it is rare that I think kids should be held). The main reason I think it is because it will give you a chance to really focus on the other language. She'll be surrounded by it in school, so she'll hear it more both in a social and an academic way. You can also work on it a lot more at home. I think she would really benefit from being read to in the other language - reading is a great way to introduce them to new words and ideas. Plus, it might make her feel more comfortable in a school setting if she's used to reading books in that language.

If you decide to move her forward, I would find an intensive language program to put her in for the summer. I also think that getting her evaluated for a word recall problem is a good idea, as it will give you a chance to get tips and strategies to help her work with it.

I think you are very lucky that her current teacher is involved and taking an active role in helping you evaluate her strengths and weaknesses.

I have no doubts that your daughter is a smart girl and I really think the struggles are language-related. Do all that you can to improve the language and I think you'll see a big change.

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