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Should Your Child Repeat Kindergarten?

Should Your Child Repeat Kindergarten?

As the kindergarten year draws to a close, many parents are left worried their child isn’t fully prepared to take on 1st grade. Perhaps your daughter seriously struggled with learning letters or other concepts, or your son has a summer birthday doesn’t have the same emotional maturity of his peers. While current research doesn’t suggest that retaining children gives them an advantage, anecdotal evidence of retention success stories abound. So what’s a mom to do? There’s no easy decision, but many Circle of Moms members who have been through the experience have shared several points of view to consider.

Why Do Moms Support Kindergarten Retention?

Many Circle of Moms members support kindergarten rentention both for children who are behind academically or are socially immature. As Meghan H. shares, the extra year can offer a great confidence boost to children who struggled with kindergarten concepts the first year, and can reinvigorate their excitement about school and learning: “He is so excited when he 'gets' something and comes home and says he finished all his work. He is learning so much that he didn't learn last year and I think he would have drowned under the more strict schedule of 1st grade.” Indeed, moms like Amy regret not holding their child back for that very reason: “I wish we had had my daughter repeat kindergarten. I actually asked for her to repeat and was told no. She struggled so much in grade 1 and it took a huge toll on her self-esteem."

Other Circle of Moms members, including Jane H., are glad they retained their children for maturity reasons: “My 14 year-old son we held back because his social skills were lacking and he was the absolute youngest in his class. He was a little bored to repeat kindergarten academically but socially it was the best thing we ever did."


Marcia O. agrees: "I had my youngest son repeat kindergarten because he was fine academically but he wasn't mature enough. And that was the best thing for him. If I had to, I would do it the same all over again."

And while kids may at first feel bad about repeating the grade, as moms like Lisa F. argues, the stigma associated with repeating a grade is far worse as children get older: “Better to have him repeat kindergarten now and be fully and adequately prepared for first grade than have to be held back later on. At this age, kids don't realize the stigma of being held back like they do when they're older.”

The Case Against Rentention

Not all moms are in favor of retention, however. Despite the many successful rentention tales Circle of Moms members are sharing, current research doesn’t suggest that retaining children actually gives them an academic advantage.

As a result, many argue that the best response to delayed academic progress is not a second year in kindergarten, but rather summer tutoring and extra help on weak areas during the 1st year.

Moms also express concern that if their children are held back for social immaturity reasons, they won't be challenged academically. This is Nonie F. situation. Her daughter's teacher was worried that she wasn't going to be mature enough for first grade. "My only concern with this was that academically she's right on with the rest of her classmates and I didn't want her to get "bored" with doing the same thing next year (she's usually the first one done with her work and then starts talking/disrupting)."

Furthermore, even at the kindergarten stage, children may encounter negative comments or stigma about repeating a grade.

Making the Decision

Ultimately, kindergarten retention is a deeply personal decision. Circle of Moms members who have been through the experience encourage both seeking teacher input and also trusting your gut feeling. As Tracy J. advised: "Speak to his teacher and let her help to assess the concern. You do not want your son to become frustrated and have negative feelings towards school. And listen to your gut, it is usually correct." Jessica F. concurs: "Talk to his teachers and get their opinions but ultimately I would likely go with my gut instinct."

Explaining Retention to Your Child

If you do decide to have your child repeat kindergarten, realize that your child will take cues from you and others on how to perceive the decision. As Amanda K. shares: “We did have to explain to our son that he was a very smart child and that it was our decision for him to stay back another year and get better before he moved on though.” Similarly, Crissy R. shares: "I told her doing kindergarten again is not a bad thing at all it just means she has more time to study and practice.” Above all, keep things positive, Diedre S. advised: “Model for her how to respond to (or ignore) negative comments as needed, and tell her how proud you are of her.”

What do you think about a second year in kindergarten?

Image Source: woodleywonderworks via Flickr/Creative Commons

Join The Conversation
KerreONeil KerreONeil 3 years
I struggled too in school - my bday is 8/27 and at the time I went to elementary school (80's) the push was to keep the kids moving. My mom told me she wished she held me back to repeat kdg and 1st grade but was convinced otherwise. I did okay - but wished school folks would have listened to my mom. I don't think school would have been so difficult if I had 2 yrs of kdg or 1st grade.
KaylaDeppa KaylaDeppa 3 years
My son was moved up to 1st grade this year after his kindergarten teacher told me at the end of last year he was more than ready to advance. I specifically asked her because he is so young. When he started 1st grade he was having problems understanding what he was suppose to be doing. I found out from his 1st grade teacher that the kindergarten teacher he had last year put on all his school papers that she didn't think he should go to 1st grade. I was appalled that she would tell me he was ready for it if she didn't think he was. So then we were stuck with the problem of what to do. I was working in the classroom one day and my son was so upset because he didn't understand the work that he broke down crying. Seeing that made my decision for me, we ended up moving him back down to kindergarten. It has been the best decision we have ever made, he is much happier, and enjoys school so much. I believe that this extra year of kindergarten is going to help him out and make him better prepared for when he moves up to 1st grade next year.
KathleenSandberg KathleenSandberg 5 years
@Brandy: We have the same problem here. Youngest kid in the class, academically doing fine! (Reading & Math at a 2nd grade level!) Despite this - the teacher is pushing for a repeat, because he "cannot work independently". I see where the problem is - but I just think my Kiddo will be BORED OUT OF HIS MIND if he has to do the same curriculum yet again. I think it's ridiculous that they expect kindergarteners to finish schoolwork independently at all... they're so little! There has got to be an answer to this.
KarenMullins KarenMullins 6 years
I should've added to my daughter, who is getting ready to go to 6th grade, still struggles daily with reading and math. She falls short on standardized test scores and must attend extra classes and school is VERY difficult for her. My son, things seem to come easier for him....thankfully. You can always second guess yourself, you just have to go with your gut instinct.
KarenMullins KarenMullins 6 years
Unfortunately we all find ourselves at the will of whatever programs are available in our area. And in my area it seems more than 50% of children go to preschool from a very early age. We were unable to afford preschool, as there is nothing offered "free" through our state. W/the exception of Pre-K and you have to test into the Pre-K program, which basically means if you "fail or perform poorly" you get IN. So neither of my children were able to get into Public Pre-K. So as we entered Kindergarten you will find that most children are already reading due to the fact they've gone to preschools. My children are BOTH late birthdays, my daughter making the Sept 1st cut off date by 12 hours, literally. We did retain her and she repeated Kindergarten. My son is an Aug 19th baby and we've assumed we'll do the same with him.... Well, long story short, I wish we'd allowed my daughter to go on to 1st grade and repeated first grade instead. First grade offers more essential building blocks for reading, whereas Kindergarten offers more social skills. And as for my son, his teacher indicates he's exactly where he needs to be. So, you live and learn, he'll go on to 1st grade and we'll reaccess next year to see if he needs to repeat first grade. Most teachers tell me this is their opinion......any child with a summer birthday should repeat or wait that extra year to start school. It's a heart wrenching decision, especially with the first child. But my opinion, and remember opinions are like elbows, we all have them, an extra year of maturity when they're in high school, could it really hurt?
NancyCrabtree NancyCrabtree 6 years
We are making the hard decision to hold our youngest another year. She has Speech issues and Stuttering. She is a very Bright girl, but her speech has made her alittle self concious. We have enrolled her in after school Speech. It has really help and her self esteem has really went up. But we just don't feel that she is ready to move on to 1st grade. She lost her Grandfather very sudden and it affected her more than we knew. Her stuttering got increasingly worse before she entered kindergarten. The teacher has went beyond to try and get her ready but she even advised me as a Mom herself holding her back would be best. It has been very hard on me to hold her back. There is always that question of "Did i not do enough" and after some soul searching and help from some other moms I realized i did and am doing all i can to raise my Girls. I feel maturity she is ready for first grade but acedemicly no. (sorry need to spellcheck :P)
AmandaHouston AmandaHouston 6 years
I am a current Kindergarten teacher and feel the best thing is to have your child go to a Young 5's Program, or a getting ready for Kindergarten Program that offers Kindergarten Curriculum at a slower pace. Then have your child go to Kindergarten the following year. If your child has a birthday after September 1st or you know they are learning delayed it is best to do a pre kindergarten/young 5's to get them started on the right foot. It is much harder for school to retain students, because of the research on the negative affects on retention. I have received students from a young 5's program into Kindergarten they they always do well in Kindergarten. Most of them have been the top of the class. My daughter is turning 5 in November and I have enrolled her in the young 5's program and plan on sending her to Kindergarten the following year.
SarahCollins83936 SarahCollins83936 6 years
I strongly disagree with holding children back to repeat K. My district has a kinderprep program and after a child completes that they are then sent on to K. This means that there are kids the age of 7 in my daughters class. She is young (a summer bday) and has kids that are 18-19 monther older than her in her class. I am sure parents are proud of their kids who have had 2 years of K being the top student in their class -- but after having being exposed to the material 2 times shouldn't they be? I think it throws the curve off. I understand that a child may need extra help academically, and in that case I do think it is a good idea...but to have your child stay back because of emotial issues? That I think is the problem. Soon all kids will have to do 2 years of K just to keep up with all the kids with the emotionally lagging kids. Kids aren't able to be kids long enough - my daughter is 5 and can read and count and tell time and count money...skills I didn't have at 5. I want her to know more than me and grow to do great things, but I want her to be a kid to.
ElisabetBorrero ElisabetBorrero 6 years
I had my son repeat kindergarten. His was 4yrs old due to the cut of date, he is August 29 baby. He failed the pebbles and I was being pushed by the public schools to let him go to first and if necessary repeat 1st. I took him out and place him in private school. The private school conquer with me after testing him and put him in kinder. He flourish, both academically and maturity. He right on target with his peers. He never notice. He was very babyish. I know I made the right choice for him.
HeatherBurchett HeatherBurchett 6 years
This has been very informative for me. My son starts kindergarten in the fall but doesn't turn 5 until a week after school starts. He also has eye problems and I am afraid that will make it harder for him to learn how to read and do paperwork-even though he will have an eye therapist working with him but i still worry. I am going to see how he does for the year and keep in contact with the teachers and see what they think. I will probably go by what they say mostly and how his work is doing.
KimberlyPeterson32626 KimberlyPeterson32626 6 years
I am in this situation...but very excited that my young 5 year old will be a repeat kinder for maturaty reasons...We only have time...12 years is a long time to be the youngest know he will become more confidnt his 2nd year...yay for the teacher who suggested it.....
ErinBrown2870 ErinBrown2870 6 years
Back in the late '80s my youngest sister repeated the first grade due to her immaturity, and it was probably one of the best parenting decisions my parents made. She was given an extra year to mature at an age where she didn't really care (nor did the other kids), and then she was able to catch up to the others and excel. More than academic reasons, a child's behavior and immaturity is going to hold them back as they grow up. If a kid acts like a "baby" and is teased about it, ultimately their academics may suffer due to the stress of it. People are in too much of a hurry for their children to grow up and want them in school the instant they are technically old enough (or even before). Think long-term and you will do your kids a favor.
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