As the owner/Director of a private preschool I have been asked one question more than any other in my career. “Should I hold my child back a year?” If you’re even thinking about this question you have concerns. Your concerns are warranted because there is a lot to consider. I speak from experience. Experience from my own child as well as overseeing the growth and development of thousands of others. Hold your child back. You’ll never be sorry you did, but you may be sorry that you didn’t.
Common Misconceptions and Thoughts
We need to lay a few ground rules here before we continue. First, you need to remove all of the “you” feelings out of this equation. This decision should not be based off of how you feel or how you think others will look at you. Second, holding your child back can have a negative connotation. Get that out of your head immediately. Holding your child back a year in the beginning of their school career is not a sign of a lack of intelligence.
Children are usually held back due to a lack of maturity, social skills, fine and gross motor skills which are all developmental. Children develop at a pretty standard and predictable pace associated with their age. There are measurable benchmarks for child development. This is how we know when a particular child is not performing at the norm. If your child is almost a whole year younger than the rest of their class you are automatically putting your child at a disadvantage. This has nothing to do with how smart your kid is. It has everything to do with allowing your child the appropriate and standard time to develop their skills.
A Personal Case Study
My own son has a very late summer birthday. When he entered kindergarten he was almost a year younger than most of his classmates. He did great in pre-k, but in kindergarten I began to notice that he seemed less mature and his fine and gross motor skills were not as developed as his classmates. After speaking with his teacher we decided that he would not go to first grade the next year. Fortunately, this particular school had a class called pre-first. If you ask him, still to this day, he will tell you that pre-first was his favorite year of school.
6 Things You Should Consider If You Want To Hold Your Child Back
1. Is your child going to attend private or public school?
Private schools require entrance exams—even for pre-k. Older children often score higher. Again, it’s not because your child isn’t as smart at the others, it’s because they haven’t had the appropriate time to develop those skills. In the very early years new skills develop rapidly. A few months can make a very big difference.
2. Is your child ‘s height and weight average for their grade level?
This may sound a little crazy, but size does matter. Children often gravitate to the oldest and biggest kid in the classroom. If your child has had almost a year more to develop and mature they will probably be in a higher percentile for height of the class. Even kids know a winner when they see one. Stack the odds in your child’s favor.
3. If your child repeats a grade level will they have the same teacher?
This situation can be both positive and negative. The positive is the teacher already knows your child and their strengths and weakness. She is already one step ahead of the game. The negative is life is chemistry. If your child did not have a good year because of personality mismatch with the teacher you have a lot to think about.
4. What grade level will your child change schools?
Typically, your child is going to change schools when they graduate from pre-k into kindergarten or kindergarten into first grade. This should play into your decision making. New friends and a new school may be a good time to make a lateral move. We are always concerned about our children’s friends, but they are much more adaptable then we give them credit. Everyone will be new to the school and on the same footing.
5. How old is your child now?
If you’re considering holding your child back you should do it when they are younger. The social impact of holding your child back one year when they are young is negligible. But the longer you wait the harder it may be for your child to adjust.
6. Do you see your child attending college at age 17?
We often get stuck on the present. Attempt to see into the future by the experiences you’ve had and decide is it a positive or negative for your child to attend college or university at 17. Now here is the big payoff if you hold your child back in preschool or kindergarten. Your child will be one year older and believe me you will certainly find this a very comforting thought when you drop them off their first year of college.
I spend a lot of time with parents helping them make future academic decisions for their child. It is not a subject to be taken lightly, but I am sure with a little soul searching (take ego out of the equation) you will make the right decision. You know you own children better than anybody in the world. And in your heart you know what is best for your child.
Are you thinking about when you should hold your child back? How are you feeling about it? Let me know if you have any questions.