Holding back your child one grade in school is nothing to be ashamed of, but it can be a tough call to make, especially for children with summer birthdays. The decision you make can have a large impact on your child’s life all the way into adulthood. Studies show that 60 percent of children are not prepared for kindergarten when they arrive, which means it’s worth your time to think carefully about whether to opt for holding back a grade. Yet, if you hold back a child when it’s not necessary, he may deal with boredom in the future. Here’s what you should consider before making your choice.
Studies Show that Older Does Mean Wiser
In many cases, older children have an advantage in school. Studies show that older students test 4–12 percent better than younger students. If you’re already on the fence, this may be a reason to consider holding off for another year, especially for a child born in the summer. That extra year could be the time your child needs to learn more and stay on track when he does begin school.
. . . But You Should Still Put Your Child First
It’s important to hold a child back for the right reasons. There are many benefits to waiting a year when your child can use more time to mature, but some parents do so in an attempt to give their children a competitive edge. They believe that an extra year allows their kids to grow smarter, pushing them to the top of the class when they do enter kindergarten. In return, this reflects positively on the parents. What parents may not realize is that if a child is too mature for his class, he may find the curricula is below his level and feel stifled, in which case he may not actually excel. That’s why it’s best to take an objective view of where your child stands.
Does Your Child Meet the Basic Benchmarks?
Compare your child against the mapped-out criteria that children should meet before they start school. While the guidelines certainly won’t make or break your child’s experience, they are a good way to gauge how prepared your little one is. From math skills such as counting to ten, to motor skills such as cutting with scissors, you’ll want your child to be prepared for kindergarten to ensure his success. If you decide to hold your child back from kindergarten, you may want to look into new alternatives for preschool to further improve your child’s potential for success.
How Excited Is Your Child?
If your little one is roaming around the living room in his brand-new backpack and can’t stop talking about going to school, that may be an indication that he’s ready to begin kindergarten. But, of course, every child is different, and this alone isn’t a good gauge. If you’re on the fence, it’s best to meet with the school, teacher, or a psychologist to help guide your decision.
The Financial Aspect
While your child’s well-being should come first, it’s important to consider the financial aspect of delaying your child’s kindergarten start. For many, starting late means finding a way to afford one more year of childcare. For this reason, it’s more common for children in wealthy neighborhoods to be held back than those in poor ones. If cost is a big concern in your family, it may not be viable to pay for daycare or preschool for an extra 12 months.
The Bottom Line
The decision to hold back your child is a personal one. Think carefully about your reasons for holding back a child and how his maturity stacks up against the kindergarten curricula. Because you know your child best, it’s ultimately your decision.