Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Should You Hold Your Child Back in Preschool?

Liam is a three year old who is extremely bright, loves to laugh, and has strong fine motor skills. He also cries every time he loses at Memory, is sleepy by mid-afternoon, and his feelings get hurt very easily. Liam’s birthday is in August, which makes him one of the youngest kids in the class. So, when it came time to decide where he should best be placed next year, his parents and teachers had a difficult decision to make.

Today, more and more parents choose to hold their toddlers back a year in school for reasons that are not solely academic. Boys, especially, who tend to be less mature than girls, often benefit from an extra year of development. By repeating the grade level, they have the opportunity to revisit the experience as one of the older children in the class. They will feel more confident, self-assured, and oftentimes will take on a leadership role.

Liam’s parents decided to hold him back and have him repeat the three-four year old program. That extra year is truly a gift, and will allow him to use his skills more confidently. By making the decision now, he can make new friends who he will be in class with until he gets into elementary school. At that point, he will be right on target academically, socially, and emotionally.

This decision could have waited if his parents weren’t sure. For some children, it isn’t obvious that they need an extra year until they are in the four-five year old class, or even kindergarten. By that time, more academic skills have been taught, and it will be more obvious that the child is lagging behind. The same goes for social and emotional growth.

If you have a child about to enter kindergarten and you just aren’t sure whether he’s ready or not, consider this option - if you can afford it, send him to a private kindergarten where he will often get more individual attention due to smaller class sizes. If he still seems like he would benefit from an extra year, he can enter kindergarten again in the public school, and not feel that he has been held back.

Some parents feel that they or their child has failed if he is held back, but I couldn’t disagree more. Being on the older end, as opposed to the younger, has many advantages. He will be physically bigger and stronger; have a chance to further develop fine and gross motor skills; and have the advantage of learning information that is already familiar, which will make him more confident. If you are in doubt about your child, remember that you are giving him a gift when you give him that extra year.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article with solid conclusion.
    We did just the same for my younger kid i.e. put her in private preschool. We tried to push her one grade up but the teacher told us to wait and see.