The Kindergarten Dilemma–To Enroll or to Hold Back?
posted by: Amber Johnson
With summer break on the horizon next week, I can almost say I survived my daughter’s first year of kindergarten.
And am fretting about my son’s entrance into it.
Why would I do such a thing when he is only 3? The reason is simple: I already feel pressured to make major decisions on his behalf. When he was born in July of 2006, I figured he was well within the range for the mid-September cut-off for when he could attend school. I enrolled him in our local preschool last September and he has loved it. He has learned all the sounds of the alphabet and is at the top of his class of 3 to 5-year-olds in math.
It’s a good thing, too because I am counting on him doing our taxes in a few years.
He still has one year left of preschool and then I planned to enroll him in kindergarten the following year. Until the peer pressure began.
“Do you really want him to be the youngest in his class?”
“He will be at a huge disadvantage if you don’t hold him back.”
“I held my child back and have never regretted it for an instant.”
At first, I was puzzled. Why would I hold him back when he is progressing nicely? At a recent parent-teacher conference, his teachers told me his fine motor skills still need developing (normal for a 3-year-old boy) but intellectually, socially and athletically, he is thriving. I shared my worries with them and they said it should be a personal decision based on each child.
“So, if I did hold him back to do three years of preschool, what would I do with him that third year?” I queried.
They didn’t have an answer and acknowledged that he would probably have intellectually outgrown most preschools by that time.
So, call me crazy but isn’t that what the next stage a.k.a. kindergarten is for?
We all want our children to be well-adjusted and ready to enter kindergarten. Of course, I’d love my child to be among the smartest in class but at what cost? Holding him back and running the risk that I am delaying his development? Is making the wrong decision going to cause angst, failure and ammunition for future therapy sessions?
I volunteered in my daughter’s kindergarten this past year. Those who were 6 years old often outperformed their younger peers. The smartest girl in my daughter’s class is also the oldest–and is bored most of the time. The teacher spends much of her day scrambling to find more challenging materials for her. Would this girl be better served in a classroom that engages and challenges her?
Conversely, a friend informed me that a teacher told her that out of the three kindergarten classes at my daughter’s school, only 66 percent of the students are moving on to first grade. If this is true, that means 34 percent of the kids were not prepared for kindergarten and will be repeating it next year. Our school’s assessment test scores are higher than most surrounding schools and we are not considered a high-risk area. But am I alone in finding this a staggering statistic?
I miss Mrs. Garcellano’s kindergarten class. I played house. I had snacks. I kissed my first boy at recess. I plugged the toilet. Those are my kindergarten memories, and what fond ones they are.
Well, most of them. 🙂
I would love to hear your opinion! Please weigh in on what you would do and/or your personal situation with your children. What is your opinion on how far advanced the kindergarten curriculum has become? Too much too soon, just right or do you feel like children should be older when they start? When is the cut-off in your area?