Holding Back a "Young 4 Year Old" in School

Updated on October 10, 2007
L.A. asks from Lake Villa, IL
25 answers

Hello--

I recently sent my first child, my 4 year old son to preschool. He is a "young 4", meaning his birthday is June 27th so he's one of the youngest in his class. The teacher has already talked with me about him not listening, getting up out of his chair, etc. during class. I realize since this is his first experience with school it's going to be an adjustment. He is trying to get a handle especially on writing, just because he hasn't before and he's also left-handed. He is smart but it takes alot to motivate him. He is physically big for his age and he's definitely the biggest in his class...however the maturity doesn't size up to him. I think the teacher is frustrated, and most people are, because he doesn't act as old as he looks.

My question is this: has anyone held back their child a year in school, especially boys and has this worked well for them? I'm worried about maturity being an issue. Right now he doesn't seem interested in learning, he would just rather play. What I would do is send him to a 5 day preschool program next year and then full day kindergarten the following year. However I am concerned if I did send him to preschool next year he'd be even bigger than the kids and look funny compared to them! Possibly not fit in, etc. I am worried however that kids are ahead of him right now in his class and that could be an issue too.

I read thru the responses to a similiar post back in August, I would like personal experience with a similiar situation.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.S.

answers from Chicago on

Having taught kindergarten for 2 years, I would definitely reccomend him repeating preschool for another year. Especially for boys and those that have late birthdays. As for not writing at home, maybe you should try and practice with him for a few minutes on a daily basis. At that age, he should be able to write a few things. Good luck.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.

answers from Chicago on

My son, who is now 7, was held back in kindergarten. He has a late June birthday and the teachers at the preschool that he was enrolled at told me that we would really need to push him. We did send him to kindergarten but about a month or so into it, the teacher contacted me and stated he is struggling and informed me of another program that is for students that aren't ready for kindergarten but preschool is not an option.
My husband and I argued, but I then decided to put him in the 5 day 5 program, especially since we knew the teacher and that made my husband feel a bit better. The program was just what he needed and excelled in it.
To this day we are glad that we held him back, but he does miss his friends from the month of kindergarten he was in initially. We don't regret pulling him back.
Another thing to remember, he doesn't realize he is being held back, only the parents/teachers do.

Hope this helps.

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.M.

answers from Chicago on

hi L.! my (also left handed) son is just turning 4 in november and he looks like he's over 5 - so I can relate in that aspect about people thinking from just looks he should act older!! (oh how i hate that look).

i get alot of comments (ironically, mostly from people who do not have pre-school aged children) about how i should send him to pre-school this year. Why? Well, "because he's 4 and he needs to do what the other kids do." And I don't subscribe to that belief at all.

Currently he's at a home daycare setting where he's learning pre-school curriculum. He's not at a desk or in a "classroom setting" - but what he is getting is more personalized time with his provider, who is teaching him how to listen, sit still, not talk during "lessons" etc - which I also appreciate because it's not being done in front of a large class of kids so hopefully, *he* doesn't feel like he's just not "getting it" or feel out of place. Some people might call it being too overprotective but I disagree, I think he's doing better there than he would at a school setting - and we know our kids the best.

You will have alot of people on here (and everywhere)that are pro-pre school (no matter what) right at 4 simply because the child is 4 - and in my belief, not all kids are the same. So you base it on what they are ready for on their schedule...not just their age. From what you describe, maybe something like a home daycare that does have pre-school curriculum built in would be a good idea and then next year you could try the pre-school again?

What we've decided, is that at this time is to do what I suggest above - we actually are going to keep him where he is at probably until the school year that he turns 5 - which is next year, and then probably around August we'll determine if we want to send him to a pre-school since he'll be starting kindergarten the year after.

I'll bet you though, that I keep him where he's at - because really, he's thriving there - he gets the play/learning balance - and he's happy. When he does go to Kindergarten he'll likely be the oldest in his class kind of by default because I think the cut off is beginning of September in my district.

Don't know if that helps much, but feel free to PM me if you have any questions on what I wrote.

Best of luck.

3 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.O.

answers from Chicago on

My son has a late August birthday and so is now a "young 5". All through his first and second year at preschool I would dread picking him up because I would have to hear yet another complaint from his teacher about his immaturity and be told that he needed to be held back. I agreed that he was young and fidgety but he was extremely smart. Reading since he was 3.5yrs old. Reading books such as Dr Suess since he was 4. I just could bring myself to put him back into preschool again. Especially not the preschool he was in.
The thing that really bugged me was the teacher started saying these things 2 weeks after school started. He had a whole year ahead of him and she wasn't even willing to give him a chance before pushing him in the wrong direction.
We consulted a phsycologist and looked into several different private Kindergarten programs.
The shrink probably gave us the best advise. She told us to interview the teachers. She told us to pick the best teacher to fit our son's personality. And we did. We contacted our public school asked the principal if we could observe several teachers and found one who was just perfect.

My son has been in Kindergarten for a little over a month and I can't tell you how what a great decision we made. His enthusiasm is overwhelming at times and he is learning to write and he brings home the cutest project and "work".

I hope you don't get discouraged by your child's teacher and try to explore every option before making a final decision. We didn't make our final decision until mid June and school started in Sept.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.C.

answers from Chicago on

I taught PreK at-risk for 5 years before I had my kids. Most of the kids I worked w/were getting ready for kindergarten, but were developmentally behind other children their age.
I think it's way too soon to make your decision. A child's development increases greatly over the course of a year. Your son is in preschool to learn 'school' skills such as sitting for group time and following a routine. He's new to it, so he's still learning how the class works. The things you said he's doing that frustrates his teacher are normal and to be expected. As far as writing, what kind of writing are they expecting? Although some children his age can write their names, i would not expect it. That skill is not developmentally appropriate at his age, but is pushed because kindergarten teachers want students to come in w/the skill. At home, you can do some tracing activities together or draw pictures together to help his interest grow in this area and give him more experience. Do you think his teacher needs to be politely reminded that although your son is big, he is the youngest and this is his 1st experience w/preschool?
So, to get to the point, if, when the time comes, you feel your son is just not ready for kindergarten, I suggest you talk to his preschool teacher and even the teacher or principal at his potential kindergarten about where he is at developmentally and then make an informed decision. It is okay to give him an extra year before he starts kindergarten, even if he is big. BUt, I would wait unitl the spring and summer to reevaluate this and make your decision. You will be surprised how far you son can come during this school year!

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hi L.! A few things struck me while readings your note, however, if you suspect there is some other medical or developmental issues, please talk to your pediatrician.

First and in my opinion very importantly, I understand the teacher being frustrated, however... if the teacher is not helpful and supportive and patient with you and your son (especially at the very young age of 4-years-old) then it's time to find a different pre-school. It doesn't sound like he is totally disruptive, just energy packed and gets distracted easily and is still a bit of a mystery in terms of what gets his attention in school. That describes 90% of the 4-year-old boys I know, including my own.

Second, his size, age and being left handed are non issues right now.

Third, I'm not a teacher, but I don't think holding a child back in pre-school is necessary. He will be in kindergarten in the fall, which is a lot different than pre-school and the developmental milestones kids go through at that age more than likely will work to his advantage.

My son was the same way. He was in pre-school at 3, birthday in September, always the youngest and it was very hard to capture his attention. A ball of energy that never stayed in his seat and hugged all the kids too much (yep, too much of anything can be a problem) and wouldn't follow directions and needed extra help in reading through 2nd grade and was a huge challenge for me as well as his teachers. He is now a fine young man in high school, in honors classes, and has a very bright future!

Hang in there L. and stay close to your son and keep communication lines open with his teachers. Follow your own intuition about what his needs are as well as listen to what he has to say and you guys will be fine!

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.

answers from Chicago on

Hi L.- I was a teacher in MI and asked a friend who taught Kindergarten for over 30 years the same question. Her response was- "If you can think of ANY reason to wait, wait." Don't look at it as "holding back" you need to make the most developmentally appropriate decision for your child. My neighbor has decided to wait with her 5 year old boy who has a June birthday and has put him in a great preK program.(He is as physically big as my 1st grader) Children's physical size will always vary- right now my 4 and 6 year old girls are within an inch and 3 pounds of each other and get the question "Are they twins?" You should probably look at development, maturity etc. instead of size. I feel lucky my now 1 year old boy will be one of the oldest with his Sept. birthday, I won't have the hard decision you have to make!
Good Luck
B.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

N.D.

answers from Chicago on

Hi there-

My son is 4 and in fact his birthday is June 26th so I understand your dilema. However, I feel that holding a child back is not the answer and in fact, 20/20 did a broadcast about the short-term effects of this solution. Unless there is a medical/ physical problem, I would just work with your son to show him the appropriate way to behave in class through role play and opportunities at home or out of the home. The more he understands, the better he will be. But, I feel very strongly that this is not the answer. If you want to talk further about this, I would be happy to do so. Please continue your research though and see if there is any way that you can't team up with his teachers to make this work.

Good luck.
N.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.S.

answers from Chicago on

My 4 year old Daughter (July Birthday) is now in preschool. I am a stay home Mom, so she has never had any experience in a school invironment (spelled that wrong) and she is having the same issues as your son.

I spoke with her Teacher as I thought the listening and following directions would be her biggest challenge. She assured me that she would get it and would just need some time. I spoke with my Daughter and we made a deal, if she had a good day, listening, following directions, then she would get a special treat. (go to the playground after school, extra time on the computer, watch a movie..etc.) I make sure to ask the Teacher (in front of her) and then determine what the 'treat', if warrented, will be. So far it seems to be working, don't get me wrong, she still has her bad days, but they have greatly decreased.

Just wanted to let you know, that it's not just Boys that have this issue.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.D.

answers from Chicago on

It sounds like the issues your son is having are typical "first time at school" things and the teacher should not be so concerned at this point. He is still adjusting. Your preschool teacher is not handling this well and needs more training. But anyway, so many teachers now of days are used to kids who have been in daycare their whole lives. So, by the time they go to preschool they are "good kids- listen well, aren't issues, etc". Teachers forget that some kids have never been away from their parents that long, so they need to work with them more than others. It sounds to me like your son is doing just fine. I would not hold him back. My son hated drawing, writing, etc. and all of a sudden he really likes it. He'll get interested in school things soon. Playing is learning at their age. They learn so much that way, you'd be amazed. Plus, he is still learning how to cope with school and being away from you. His way of coping with this is probably playing and doing what he wants, as opposed to what the teacher wants. Give him another month or two, then he will probably start getting with the program more. Kids need a good couple of months to adjust to new things. One thing you may want to do with your daughter is start her in 3 year old preschool. They are more understanding at that age as almost all kids are new to school. At 4, most kids have been to school before. I wouldn't send her to the school you are at now though. They don't sound like their are as understanding as as kid friendly as they should be. Shop around and you'll notice a big difference in schools. I went to 6 of them and have seen schools like yours- quick to judge/label, not understanding that kids take time to adjust, etc.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.M.

answers from Chicago on

As a former teacher, I agree with your plan to send him to a preschool program next year and then Kindergarten when he is six. It sounds as if he will always be big for his age and if he is struggling in school it will make it even harder for him to fit in. Many times Kindergarten and 1st grade go okay and then the child starts to struggle. Holding him back later on could be much harder on everyone!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.

answers from Chicago on

L., I understand your concerns, but your son is not that young. If he was born in August, that would be a different story. It makes total sense that he's behaving the way he is because this is his first time in a preschool setting. Is there a preschool that would be a better fit for him ( two days or three days a week vs. all week long?).

The biggest issue I think is his size. I don't think it would be wise to hold him back. He'll get the hang of it. After all, it's just preschool.

Good luck!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.P.

answers from Chicago on

I am a kindergarten teacher, so here is my advice from that stand point. There are just some kids that aren't ready to come to school yet, and that's ok. The extra year in preschool will help your son to master the skills that he is having a hard time with and will help continue to prepare him to go to school. His size will not single him out. I have had all different shapes and sizes of kids and at their age the kids just don't care. You could be purple and they would think it is amazing. Keep open communication with you preschool teacher and continue to talk with them through the year. If you both feel that he isn't ready when it is time for kindergarten then keep him back, it will be better for him now than getting into kindergarten and being lost. I know that it's a hard decision but the extra time will work wonders!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.B.

answers from Chicago on

I do not think that there is anything wrong with holding your kid back, sometimes they just are not ready. And I believe that next year all day kindergarten will be mandatory in all schools in Indiana(this was the last I had heard but I could be wrong) Your son may not be mature enough(most boys do mature slower than girls I know I have 4 boys) My now first grader is Autistic and we thought that he might have to be held back in Kindergarten, and I had to know that the teachers know what he was capable of in school. We go to a small school and they are wonderful with him. This was a hard thing to get used to because my other two older sons(the 4th is only 8 weeks) are very smart and catch on to stuff quickly, where as for him of course thing come with more of a challange. But anyway, he did not have to be held back and is already reading about 100 words. It is amazing how fast they can change. I would keep him where he is at and see how he is at the end of the year. And remember that if he needs more time in preschool that it is OK.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.A.

answers from Chicago on

Watching our very close nextdoor neighbor boy go through the exact thing (but in kindergarten now) I have been reading and observing and taking lots of pulses from lots of sources. What I have gleaned makes it seem to me that the whole "he's this age so he goes" idea doesn't have too much merit - aside from the fact that for some people it is what they have decided is best for their family and child at that time. If it isn't right for your son, you know best - it will not hurt him to wait at this time... holding a child back later on can be tough on them, but at this early stage in the game it will not be noticed much at all. You're not alone in dealing with this question and the truth is that no one (not me either - grin) can know your boy like you know your boy - you'll make a good choice. For an excellent conversation about boys and school I would highly recommend "Raising Cain"... read the first three chapters before you make up your mind - it covers the schooling question from several angles. (For what its worth - though she has similar pressures and conflicting viewpoints around her, my neighbor is working to get her son out of kindergarten, to reintroduce him next year when he can feel better about himself and his successes (and his teachers will not be already frazzled with him after 4 weeks) and build the rest of his future on that wave of good stuff.) Best wishes!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.F.

answers from Chicago on

My son is 6 and in 1st grade now. He missed the cut off for Kindergarten. so I sent him to 3 and 4 year old preschool. he was always in trouble, listening problems. i was terrified I would be called into school for his behavior. to my suprise he is great in regualer school. he is not perfect but does fine and is getting very good grades. i put 2 of my kids in preschool and now are in reg. school. it is very different even though preschool is helping them learn, they just don't have enough structure in the classrooms. i'm not bashing pk but just letting you know what i went through. if you think he is ready for kindergarten i would send him, if not you have that right to wait one more year. my son is also big for his age and he is fitting in fine with his peers. some are small so are bigger. if you know what school he would go to, try calling the school and setting up a time for him to be talked with and they can help you figure out if he should wait one more year. sorry about no caps but keyboard is messing up lol

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.

answers from Chicago on

Do not hold back. All the Moms I know who did it regret it latter. Kids just mature at different levels. Try and help support the teacher as much as possible or take him out of school this year and do everything at home instead. Good luck

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.D.

answers from Chicago on

WOW!!! You have gotten a TON of responses. I just skimmed, didn't read them with there being so many, but didn't see anything when I skimmed about an evaluation. I have a 3 year old (just turned 3.5) and we just went through a preschool screening. It is a state law that they screen your child if you ask for it and that they help with any issues discovered. I asked for a screening because I was concerned about speech. The screening was pretty comprehensive with a speech pathologist, hearing and vision screening, occupational therapist for all motor skill assessments as well as attention span, a teacher for social assessment and school readiness with learning, etc. You just contact the school district and they set up an appointment for us. I thought it was very worthwhile and helpful. I actually asked how they help kids who have trouble with attention span/focusing for somebody else and she said they often use picture cards to help them along, but she suggested the individual do a screening to pinpoint specifically how to help to nip in the bud that which could be a problem for when kindergarten time comes. I'd suggest getting a screening done, so they can provide help that may be needed now to better be on track for kindergarten. Best wishes to you!!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.

answers from Chicago on

I think you will be better able to make a decision in the spring. But also, before you listen to people who think it's a bad idea to wait, read this June New York Times article for another perspective. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/magazine/03kindergarten...

Here's a quote from the article.

"Kelly Bedard, a labor economist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, published a paper with Elizabeth Dhuey called “The Persistence of Early Childhood Maturity: International Evidence of Long-Run Age Effects” in The Quarterly Journal of Economics in November 2006 that looked at this phenomenon. “Obviously, when you’re 5, being a year older is a lot, and so we should expect kids who are the oldest in kindergarten to do better than the kids who are the youngest in kindergarten,” Bedard says. But what if relatively older kids keep doing better after the maturity gains of a few months should have ceased to matter? What if kids who are older relative to their classmates still have higher test scores in fourth grade, or eighth grade?

After crunching the math and science test scores for nearly a quarter-million students across 19 countries, Bedard found that relatively younger students perform 4 to 12 percentiles less well in third and fourth grade and 2 to 9 percentiles worse in seventh and eighth; and, as she notes, “by eighth grade it’s fairly safe to say we’re looking at long-term effects.” In British Columbia, she found that the relatively oldest students are about 10 percent more likely to be “university bound” than the relatively youngest ones."

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.R.

answers from Chicago on

If this is his first time in a "preschool" setting of course he's havimg problems with following ALL the rules. He's just learning isn't that what preschool is all about. As for writing, that is fine motor skills that many children don't have at four. It is usually closer to five. They may be able to write their letters earlier, but true control comes later. Children go into school at many different levels.Alot has to do with what they are exposed to. From the sounds of it your son just has not been exposed to as much as some of the other students and will probally catch up with some the other students if given the chance. I would not decide on kindergarten now, alot can happen in a year. Google "kindergarten readiness" and you can get a check list to help you decided if your child is ready or not. Talk to the kindergarten teachers at the school where your son would be attending. See of they can give you a list of what he should know for kindergarten. Every school is different.Also, size has nothing to do with it. My daughter was the tallest in her class for years, now she is average.
Good Luck,

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.C.

answers from Chicago on

Hi....my son has a July birthday and we held him back from Kindergarten for a year. This was based on recommendations from his preschool teachers. I knew he wasn't ready either. He was in preschool for just over 2 years. He is now in 6th grade and I fully believe it was an excellent decision. The extra year really helped him and it continues to help him. Don't worry about your sons size. There are always "bigger" kids in every class. Just do what you think will be best for your son.

K.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.W.

answers from Chicago on

L.,

My son is 6 (July 17th birthday) and in first grade now. He had the same problems you are mentioning with your son. I thought I was never going to get him to write or to read. Now, he is excelling in his reading and enjoying to write. Your son will catch up. I don't believe there is any reason to hold him back at this point. If anything, have him go through kindergarten and then have him repeat it if necessary.

If the teacher is not patient, talk to the director at the school about your concerns. If that doesn't work, find another school.

Good luck,
Doreen

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

E.R.

answers from Chicago on

Hi L.,

I don’t think that age matters in your son’s situation. My daughter was 4 when she started to go to all day preschool and I had the same problems with her at the beginning of the school year. The teacher will also tell me the same things that you are hearing for you son's teacher. She was also very smart for her age and she knows allot more than other kids, but she didn’t write neatly also. This is her second year in preschool and she is doing so good and is learning allot she is her teacher's helper she helps all of the other 3yr and 4yr olds that are in her classroom.

I think that it’s too soon in the school year for you to even think about doing this. Wait towards the end of the year and look and at how much he has improved. Also give him some small chores for him to due around the house that is what I started doing with Alexis this helped her to learned how to follow directions and to pay attention. I went thru the same thing with my son who is now 10yrs old Good Luck

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hi L.,

I wrote an article about this for Chicago Parent back in April, http://www.chicagoparent.com/article.asp?aID=5109112.###-....

I talked to families and experts and the general concensus is that most kids do catch up and do just fine.

Currently, there are kids in my daughter's kindergarten class who never attended preschool. The kindergarten is able to accomodate all levels of learning at this age.

Best of luck!

M.
Want to be on a mailing list of parents who contributes experiences and ideas for magazine articles? Contact me!
[email protected]____.com
www.michellesussman.com

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

T.F.

answers from Chicago on

Hi L., I also have a young 4 year old(June14th) in preschool. At the start of of it he was doing the same things your little guy was doing. His paper were coming home with needed help and won't try. I'm not saying that everything is great now but me and his Dad talked to him and asked if he really wanted to go to school or not. Noah chose to stay in school and start to try I talked to his teachers and they have said he does try now. You have a couple of option. You can take him out and wait a years but like you said by then he may be out of place, or you can talk to his teacher and see how they run things and what you and they can do to make things easier for him to pay attention. Noah's teacher has him sit next to her so ever if his attention wonders she right there to bring him back to the table. Right now Noah goes four days for two in a half hours. That seems to be great for him. Maybe you can look into putting him in a different preschool or see if yours has a different program he could go to. I hope things work out for you and you little boy Good luck T.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches