For all of us who had late spring and summer babies, kindergarten brings a pressing question with it: should I hold my kindergartner back?
This question is no small thing to consider. There are implications for sending a young kindergartner to school on schedule or holding them back a year.
If you are in this boat, you are not alone. Parents all over the country have this debate. We have some things to consider to help you make this tough decision.
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The Basics of Red-shirting Your Kindergartner
Red-shirting is a term used typically applied to college athletes that don’t start playing their first year in college. A “red-shirt freshman” is a player who practiced a year with the team but never played in the game. As a result, the player gets an extra year of eligibility.
When applied to kindergartners, the term means to keep a child from starting kindergarten when their birth date allows them to start. In college, red-shirting enables an athlete to hone their skills and increase their strength. Red-shirting isn’t much different for kindergartners.
When you hold a young kindergartner back, it allows the extra year to grow in physical size and maturity. A year is a long time and a lot of development for young kids.
When it comes to holding your kindergartner back, there are several things to consider. Everything from their academics to their personality to the local school district can play a role.
Most importantly, the decision on whether to send your young kindergartner on to school now or next year comes down to the parents.
While you should put some stock in how “prepared” your child is for school, this is not the most critical aspect. If they only know some of the recommended sight words, but not all, that won’t seriously affect them in kindergarten.
However, if your child does not know any of their letters and does not seem interested in learning at all, it might be a good idea to take an extra year. Not knowing everything they “should” know is one thing; not being mature enough or have the desire to learn is another.
While considering academics, now is one aspect, finding out the long-term benefits for academics is another. Research has shown that older students outperform younger students throughout the rest of their school career.
Older students consistently perform better on standardized tests. While the gap does narrow with time, the effects are still evident.
Your child’s personality is vital to consider, as well. Does your young kindergartner listen well? Can they sit still for more extended periods without getting restless? Are they able to focus and follow instructions well?
Your child might not be ready for kindergarten if the answer is no to some or all of these. There is nothing wrong with your child if they would rather play during the day than sit at a desk, surely most elementary school students feel that way. However, a kindergartner has to be able to sit at their desk and follow instructions.
Another thing to consider is their excitement level. Some kids can’t wait to start school, but others might be dreading the idea of leaving home and their siblings all day.
Just because your child is excited to start, does not mean they are ready. However, it is a crucial factor to consider. If they are not quite willing and don’t want to be there, it will be a long year in kindergarten.
Finally, consider your local district. Unfortunately, there are vast differences between school districts.
The first thing to look at is the actual cutoff date for kindergarten for your district. They vary widely and can be as early as July or August or as late as October.
You should also consider the average size of classes. Some districts set the number of students much lower than others. If you are sending a young kindergartner to school, smaller class sizes will help greatly.
Another thing to consider for delaying kindergarten is the district’s curriculum and any changes made. Ask what your child will be required to do at the end of the year. Do they need to count to 100? Or will they need to start recognizing fractions? What sight words are they expecting them to know?
When you know what the curriculum entails, consider whether your child is ready to tackle it. This idea hearkens back to their personality.
How About a Repeat?
Another option, though not ideal, is a kindergarten repeat. Sometimes, a child completes some or all of their kindergarten year but is not ready for first grade. Many parents decide to have their child repeat kindergarten.
You might hear from your child’s teacher that they are unable or unwilling to participate and follow along. While a repeat or a stop and start again next year is not ideal, it is essential to consider your child and their personality. If it is better for them in the long run to repeat kindergarten, there is nothing wrong with going that route.
Many factors might make your child need to repeat kindergarten. If their fine-motor skills are not where they should be after a year in school, it could benefit your child to repeat kindergarten.
You want your kindergartner to be able to meet the requirements of first grade in your district. If they start kindergarten but are not thriving or finish the year, and you don’t feel they’re ready, a kindergarten repeat might be the best course of action.
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Whether you’re sending your child to kindergarten for the first or second time, or whatever grade they are going into, school supplies are a necessity. Follow our tips for successful school supply shopping.