Should My Child Repeat Kindergarten?

“Repeat kindergarten?” you say to yourself, after meeting with your child’s kindergarten teacher. You feel confused. Was it the finger painting that did her in, or was it story time?

How could a child flunk out of kindergarten?

The real question of course is: should you do it? Should you hold your child back from first grade and let her repeat kindergarten? Will your child benefit from being held back?

Repeating Kindergarten: The Research

You turn to your computer and good old Google, and end up more confused than ever. The reason? There is a vast amount of scientific research showing that children do not benefit by being held back in grade school. But there is very little out there about holding a child back in kindergarten to wait another year before starting first grade. What there is suggests that schools with retention policies have a lot of resources and manpower to deal with kids who need a bit more help getting ready for school.

The data also suggests that in spite of having all these resources and manpower, kids who repeat kindergarten don’t do as well as their first or second grade classmates once they make it into those grades. In one study, researchers associated this poor academic performance with repeating kindergarten. The students in this study, however, had a far higher rate of learning disabilities than their peers. It seems realistic to suggest that repeating kindergarten may not be the reason for their poor school performance. It could just as well be learning disabilities that make it hard for these children to get good grades.

Perhaps students with learning disabilities who repeat kindergarten do better in school than they would have had they not repeated kindergarten. It would be nice to have a study to prove this one way or the other. That said, it’s important to note that learning disabilities may not even be diagnosed until the child goes to grade school. This makes it difficult to get a sample group of very young students with diagnosed learning disabilities we can study.

Learning To Read, Reading To Learn

Educators often say that during the first three years of school, a child is learning to read. After that a child is reading to learn. But the truth is that today children begin learning to read before they enter the first grade. In most states, a child is not considered ready for first grade until he or she can read simple books. It remains true that the process of learning to read should be complete by the end of third grade.

Kindergarten students spend a great deal of time on their pre-reading and reading skills. Entering kindergarten children have already learned to appreciate the feel and look of books, and the sound of language. By the end of the year they know the alphabet and can read and write simple sentences.

What could really be wrong about giving kids another year in kindergarten to let their social emotional skills mature? If your child simply needs more time to mature, why not wait a year? What could be wrong with taking more time to grow up?

And if the issue is counting and numbers, or poor  early reading skills, perhaps giving a child more time to learn numbers and letters; to hear stories read; and play with making rhymes, is indicated. First grade is where kids must apply themselves to the act of learning to read and do simple math. What could be bad about spending more time on these skills before going to first grade?

Kindergarten Readiness

Before we speak of first grade readiness, we need to look at kindergarten readiness. There is a whole checklist of things your child should be able to do before going to kindergarten. If your child still finds these tasks difficult by the end of kindergarten, he is probably not ready to go to first grade, either. Is your child ready for kindergarten? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can he put on his coat by himself?
  • Does he need help to use the bathroom?
  • Can he say his ABC’s? Count?
  • Does he know his colors?
  • Is he able to learn rhymes?
  • Can he grip a pencil and cut paper with a scissors? Can he paste?
  • Can he run and jump, play catch, bounce a ball, dance?
  • Does he like to look at books? Does he try to tell the story by looking at the pictures?
  • Is your child curious and always wanting to learn new things?
  • Is he good at sharing? Does he wait his turn? Does he play well with other children?
  • Can he work with others as a group? Does he know how to compromise and adapt? Is he flexible?
  • Can he cope with challenges?
  • Does he follow directions?

Doubts About Kindergarten Readiness

Let’s imagine that you have a child you weren’t really sure was ready for kindergarten. In most areas, children must turn 5 by September 1st, in order to start kindergarten. Your child only turned 5 in August. He’s great with a scissors, but doesn’t really get along well with other children. He cries often, and doesn’t follow directions very well, but loves to look at picture books and make up funny rhymes.

To sum up, his fine motor skills are good, his pre-reading skills are good, but he may not yet be mature enough for kindergarten.

Not sure what to do, you speak to a few experts, do your research, and decide to chance it and send your child on to kindergarten. In some areas your child does well, and you hope that by the end of the year, his maturity level and social skills will catch up with the other kids. You don’t really have a fallback plan. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll worry about it when the time comes.

This situation is a fairly common scenario. In spite of how often this happens, it can come to a shock when the kindergarten teacher asks to speak with you suggesting your child repeat kindergarten. It can feel like an insult: like your child isn’t smart. Your gut reaction may be to defend your child.

Rather than be upset, it pays to remember that the only thing to think about here is the well-being of your child. The truth is you knew that it might come to this. You knew that your child was close to the cut-off date for kindergarten. He or she probably could have used a bit more time before going to kindergarten, but you took a chance. So now what should you do?

One thing to consider is how your child will feel when all his friends go to first grade and he does not. Is this fact likely to upset him a great deal? Your child may not mind this as much as you think. It could be he will find it comforting and safe to stay with his kindergarten teacher for one more year.

Late Kindergarten Warning Signs

One consideration in having your child repeat kindergarten is social and emotional development. Children who are behind in these areas late into kindergarten may:

  • Cry often and/or have tantrums
  • Try to get out of going to kindergarten each morning
  • Still wet their pants from time to time
  • Scribble instead of drawing or writing letters and numbers
  • Find it hard to stick with a task or pay attention to what the teacher is saying for five minutes at a time
  • Often interrupt
  • Act out aggressively toward other students

First Grade Readiness

In deciding whether your child should repeat kindergarten, it is important to consider whether he has all the skills he needs to go on to first grade. Requirements for first grade readiness vary from state to state. You can find out the exact first grade requirements in your state by writing to your local Department of Education.

There are certain basic skills that all children should have going into first grade, no matter where they live. A child who is ready for first grade can:

    • Separate from his parent or caregiver without getting too upset
    • Notice and respond to other people’s feelings
    • Enjoy having stories read to him
    • Read and recite the alphabet
    • Knows letter sounds
    • Reads simple books
    • Recognize his own name in print and write it, too
    • Draw a picture of an object or to express an idea
    • Count to ten
    • Count the objects in a group and tell you if one group is larger or smaller  than the other
    • Understand that addition means putting groups together and that subtraction means taking away from one group
    • Add and subtract using numbers 1-10
    • Break up objects into groups of different numbers to show how they add up to the same number (example: 6 balls = 2 groups of 3 balls or 6 balls = 2 groups of 1 ball and 5 balls)
    • Figure out how to turn a group of 1 to 9 items into 10 (example: a group of 6 items and a group of 4 items =10 items)
    • Use items or draw pictures to show and solve simple addition and subtraction word problems
    • Recognize and name basic shapes
    • Sort items according to size or color, for instance
    • Identify basic colors like red, orange, green, blue, black, and white
    • Use words to express himself
    • Use complete sentences of at least five words
    • Speak in a way that adults understand
    • Follow directions involving at least two steps
    • Tell you his name and age
    • Hold a crayon or a pencil between his fingers rather than with a fist
    • Hop on one foot
    • Use alternate feet to climb stairs

While your child’s teacher may make the suggestion that your child repeat kindergarten, it’s up to you, the parent, to make the final decision. You may want to seek help from the school in having your child assessed for school readiness. But know that teachers don’t make the recommendation to repeat kindergarten without a lot of thought.

If you decide to have your kid repeat kindergarten, be sure to look at this k-8 public charter school option.

Think about it this way: if the teacher was asking out of malice for your child, she certainly wouldn’t want to have him as her student again.

Have you thought about holding your child back from first grade? Has a teacher recommended that your child repeat kindergarten?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published 12/02/2015 and has been completely revised and updated for accuracy and scope.

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About Varda Epstein

Varda Meyers Epstein serves as editor in chief of Kars4Kids Parenting. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Varda is the mother of 12 children and is also a grandmother of 12. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Learning Site, The eLearning Site, and Internet4Classrooms.

Reader Interactions


  1. Emily says

    My kindergarteners are required to be able to read a level C book to move on to first grade. If they aren’t reading, it isn’t even a question that they remain in kindergarten. Although this article is well written and touches on plenty of other skills students need to go into first grade, it fails to mention they need to be reading, fluently adding and subtracting, and do more than just hold their pencil correctly. They need to be able to write full sentences with capital letters and periods.

    • Varda Epstein says

      In what state do you teach, Emily? Is this a public or private school?

    • Sara says

      Emily you are 100% percent correct! Kindergarten is not a fluff arts and crafts grade. Students are required to not only know ALL letters and sounds but all sight words by mid year. They are reading sentences and books. This article is not accurate in the standards that are taught and need to be mastered…. oh and for the record I’ve taught in Florida and Michigan.

      • Gina says

        That is not a requirement in Colorado – we are told to have them at least know 30 of the 100 most frequently used words, and they should be able to read, but not fluently. C books are recommended, but not required. Not a teacher, but have researched standards.

        • Janet Rodriguez says

          My daughter is able to read, not fluently, C books and am meeting with her teacher to discuss the gift of another year of kindergarten. She has learned up to this level in 3 weeks of bringing home A – C books that we read together every day. I don’t think my daughter will handle being held back well. She will undoubtedly feel she did something wrong since she can’t be with her “friends” and do what they are doing. I have almost a 10 year age difference in my kids. I know that my oldest was not required to read at this level until she was in 1st grade. Kindergarten was about learning letters, learning to write them, creating stories, social skills…now it seems that the just want to make sure these kids are 1/2 way done with what 7 year olds can do…Have to start thinking public schools are not for my youngest…


      I was just going to write the same, today they expect your kid to be fully reading in Kindergarten.

    • Jennifer Schwartz says

      Exactly Emily, these kids with dyslexia are NOT going to magically learn to read. They need specific intervention. ALL kids can learn to read the Orton Gillingham method. I had 2 children held back and come to find out BOTH have dyslexia. It has been a nightmare to get help for them. The teachers have not been taught what dyslexia is and IS NOT. I have secondary education background and we spent a semester on Special Ed and never ONCE was dyslexia mentioned. I kept saying I feel like it was dyslexia and they gave all the excuses why it was not….well they were wrong and my children paid a very high price in self esteem, a year behind their friends, and still not being serviced. It should be criminal to do that to these kids. Even the screening laws are failing these kids.
      Where are the numbers to let us know if screening is working? There should be 20% of the kids identified. Where are they?

    • Jeanie Martin says

      No ! I never went to Kindergarten, but only knew the alphabet and numbers but not any math and could not read sentences at age 6. I now have a Bachelors and Masters Degree and taught 31 years. Social interactment, discipline, only basic skills as for letters and numbers, and becoming more mature are the only skills needed for first grade. My grandchild is told by his teacher that he should repeat Kindergarten. I am NOT allowing this at all ! He can build master structures with a huge number of plastic blocks of all sizes and do things with triangular and square magnets that are amazing. He puts together over 50 pieces puzzles by himself. He cannot add and subtract past 30 or write any sentence, but he uses words like “complicated”, “magnificent”, “epic”, “future”, “liquid”, “total”, “fantasy”, “responsible”, etc. etc. etc. in his conversations with me, and he is 5 years old ! I did not know these words at 6, nor could I build and create what he does without my help. I taught gifted children in my career as a teacher who were held back in kindergarten by demanding and close minded teachers and parents. You just couldn’t see or analyze yourself ! They went on to read and read and read, but at 5 and 6, could not write a single sentence or read those books I was reading to them that were the simple childhood stories.

      • Rose Satterwhite says

        Hi Jeanie,
        I have read all the comments you made about holding a kindergarten back. I would love to get your opinion concerning my 5 year old grandson. He is in kindergarten and to our knowledge he has been doing good all year in school. He has been staying after school to work on blending. Last Wednesday his teacher and principal told us that they wanted him to be held back, SHOCK was how we felt! Why had his teacher not told us earlier that he was having issues so we could have worked more with him on blending or got him more help? He gets out of school in 3 weeks and we are just hearing about this issue. ??? So because he is not doing well with blending sounds and he only knew 55 words of 100 on a site word test. They want him to repeat kindergarten. He is doing wonderful in all other subjects 100s and smiley faces on his work. Going back to the blending….. he know all the alphabet and every sound. Just don’t know why he can not put the sounds together to make the word?? He is very smart in my opinion, when he was 3 he could recite the pledge of allegiance and pledge to the Bible and much more. Colors perfect gets along with other kids good, writes his name and letters and much more. He is the youngest in his class according to his teacher, end May Birthday. First should we allow him to repeat kindergarten ? Second do you have any suggestions on how to teach him to blend sounds into words? Thanks in advance for any help you can offer! Rose

        • Jeanie Martin says

          Rose, my heart breaks for you and your grandson, as it does my grandson. I cannot give much advice about teaching on Kindergarten or early elementary level as I was a teacher for grades 8 and above in English and History. However, I believe talking with a school councilor, which we are going to do with ours, and also, having him tested by a very knowledgable but retired elementary teacher friend, is what we are going to do next and then keep researching for stat on this and what the experts say. Your grandson sounds like mine : very smart, maybe just a bit slower in maturity, but just waiting to really take off a bit later but not lagging because of IQ or skill performance probability in a very short while. Some kids just do not progress as quickly that young, but in no time, I have read, take off and catch up the majority of the time. Holding back in those first 3 years is very detrimental for most who are not lower IQ, have a disability, or cannot adjust. These teachers, trying to put all kids in a peg as either “Got it” or “Did not get it”, are unconscionable ! I did not know HALF of what my grandson at 5 now knows when I was his age, but I went on to get 3 college degrees and was asked to work with the state educational committees for years on curriculum. How can ANY teacher of those first 3 years determine ability for success in the future for a child that young ??? Holding back in failure of an entire school year that soon cannot be explained well or documented.

          • Jessica Marks says

            I’m not a parent or teacher, just happened to stumble across this page while doing personal research and I would like to share my story. Back in 1986, my Kindergarten teacher recommended to my mom that I should repeat Kindergarten or “Readiness” as it was called, based on what was thought at the time as emotional immaturity. My mom refused to have me held back, as there was nothing wrong with my intellect; in fact, I surpassed my peers in reading skills, as I began reading simple words at age 2 1/2- 3 years old and read story books aloud to my Kindergarten class. From old progress reports, it appears the “emotional immaturity” stemmed from not consistently staying on task and randomly talking out of turn. I still talked a little too much in first grade, but honestly, the trend continued on into my 30’s 😉 If your child is doing well academically and isn’t disrupting the teacher/class too much, let kids be kids..they’ll be just fine!

    • Jeanie Martin says

      Read my reply above. You need to reassess. I am a teacher, and I HAVE reevaluated after many years of thinking what is not analytically true.

  2. Concerned Mom says

    The research is very clear that even if children are not ready academically or emotionally they do not benefit from retention. Why is it still being suggested then? My, very young for grade (August 22nd birthday), 5 year old was reading at 3. Not kind of reading but really reading. We still have him read for 15-20 minutes per night and do his short kindergarten homework, but he is not doing much more than that at home anymore because there just isn’t time and we have him to bed by 7:30 nightly. I wish he were only going 1/2 a day but that wasn’t an option where we live. His teacher is very, very strongly recommending we hold him back. She said he will not make it in first grade. He cannot follow directions consistently enough and other kids are not being nice to him because he is more immature. He where he should be academically. She said he is “average” but not ahead of the others.

    I have a hard time believing that, as I am sure all parents do. Who wants to hear their child is average? My best friend has a child who is 6 months old, a girl, and said to be 100% ready for 1st grade by her teacher. We asked our children several of the same questions, because my friend thinks my son is smarter than her daughter. He was at least even with everything she is doing. My best friend, by the way, is an Occupational Therapist so she is used to working with these school aged kids a lot. She is the one who pointed me to the research that says retention is not a good choice.

    What am I supposed to do though? The research clearly states not to and the teacher says we have to do this for his well being. We showed up to a parent teacher conference yesterday and were told they needed the decision right then. We reluctantly decided to hold him back but I stayed up half the night researching and sent an email to the principal this morning about our struggle. I want my child to succeed. That is all I want. The research suggests I am placing n obstacle in his way by doing this. The teacher say I am setting him up for failure if I don’t. I have never had such a tough time with something. Every answer seems wrong!

    • keerthi says

      Hi, So finally did you decide on this? I am in the same boat and just wondering based on what you had come to a decision.

    • Becca B. says

      I would like to know what specific research you have found that states that retaining is not beneficial. My research states that you do not retain if there is a learning disability (dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia sp?). ADHD is not a learning disability. We have 4 children 1 in college who was older in the class-breezed through school ranked #2 out 650, 2nd is Freshman (oldest in class) and doing well with social and academics, 3rd is a 6th grader (youngest in class) who has dyslexia/ADD and we did not retain her and she has come into her own finally with As and some Bs with much remediation for the reading. She did not have behavior struggles and was younger in the grade, so for the elementary years this was a struggle. So I can see this both ways.

      And 4th we have our 5 year son who has ADHD and maybe ODD. He has a summer birthday (so he is youngest in his kinder class). Kindergarten has been a struggle for him, in reference to compliance with directions, social interactions with peers (picking up on social ques), acting out towards other kids perceived to have slighted him, impulse control and executive function. The teacher has let him build legos, blocks pretty much all year. He is on an IEP for behavior and we have seen great improvement.

      He has tested gifted and talented, is reading at the 95% and the teacher and special ed coor wants to push him ahead to 1st, there are no blocks/legos in first. More academic focus.

      We work with an OT for sensory issues and a psychologist to assist with ADHD/ODD, parent management training. They feel repeating would be a good option so his social/behavior/impulse control and executive functioning to catch up.

      Me and his dad are leaning towards repeating. But are concerned he will act out if he is bored. We also don’t want him to hurt his self esteem.

      Any suggestions?

    • BS Detector says

      There is absolutely no way your best friend with a 6 month old girl has been told her 6 month old is ready for the first grade… most babies don’t even start walking until 9 months let alone every other thing a child needs to be able to do in 1st grade!

  3. carol says

    my son is 6 year old the teacher told me he has to repeat kindergarten because he don’t want to do his classwork and he does not follow directions what should i do plz help me

  4. mak says

    My older son is in kindergarten. He will be turning 6 in a week here. He has been diagnosed with ASD, is ‘developmentally delayed’ and has ADHD. He’s on the low end of the spectrum. We put him on Adderrall to help him little bit with his ADHD during the school hours. He’s also on an IEP since the beginning of the year.
    All these things combined – he has had a pretty tough Kindergarten. Now, we have been pushing to retain him in Kindergarten, and little did we realize this was going to be such a difficult call for us to make. After multiple evaluations and what not – the school has basically been recommending to promote. We feel like there is no support whatsoever from them in trying to retain. School will respect our decision at the end of the day, but I honestly did not realize we would feel this much lack of support. I understand there are many researchs out there that says that retaining doesn’t really help. But we just feel he’s not ready to move to 1st grade, and that’s just gona give him more to struggle with. He has emotional issues, is not matured, does well with younger kids as is, and just has not yet developed emotionally where he should be for his age. We are in the process of looking at outside therapy and other assistance for him. All in all – we just think it’s not right move for him to move up, but we are struggling mostly with how he will react when he sees that all his buddies are in a different class and he’s not able to interact with them the same way he used to.
    we are so lost. We are questioning ourselved non stop, and havent made a decision yet. Ugh.

    • Varda Epstein says

      I totally feel you. You’d think given all the evaluations and so forth, that the school would back you. No wonder you feel insecure about doing what is obviously the right thing for your son. If it makes you feel better, I am POSITIVE you are doing the right thing.

      As for seeing his friends going on ahead, I sympathize. But now he should be able to keep up with his friends in the work they’re doing in kindergarten. He may even be ahead of his new classmates. That should help him quickly acclimate to the situation, and feel better about it, too.

  5. Renee says

    Same boat here. My son turned 5 a week before the deadline. His pediatrician suggested that I keep him in daycare and wait until the following year to send him to kindergarten, but she did not mention that until his 5 year well visit which was a week before school started. We did not have the money to send him to daycare and it was just to short of a notice. Long story short, he did not do well in kindergarten. Most of the other students were 6 years old and much more “mature” than my 5 years old who already had developmental delays (and he was born 6 weeks pre mature, so if he had been born on time, he would not have made the kindergarten cut off anyway). He was always in trouble in kindergarten, had difficulty making and keeping friends, never did homework or classwork, could not focus, did poorly on tests. Now school is over and although his teacher told me throughout the semester that he will most likely be repeating kindergarten, the school promoted him to fist grade. I am not sending him to first grade. I have enrolled him in a new school for a fresh start. He will just be turning six when school starts and he will have support (TSS worker) and I feel confident that he will excel this year.

  6. Tatiana Morales says

    Exactly! This used to be Kinder requirements, now they are prek requirements. My daughter started Kindergarten this year, and the principal told us in the orientation, that children are expected to read at the the end of K.

  7. Cindy Boykin says

    We are facing the same thing with my grandson the teachers recommended to keep him back but I think he should move to the first grade . I believe with a one on one tutor for the summer it will help him perform better in the first grade. I was keep back in school and I hate it to this day. He is very smart he just had separation anxiety at first. And didn’t want to be at school. He is constantly talking about being in the first grade next. I think it will scar him to be kept back. Praying my daughter will make the right decision.

  8. Tene says

    My 6 year old daughter is in Kindergarten at a private school in NYC. We were told today that we should leave her back because she isn’t progressing at the pace of other Kindergartners. I’m so upset! My husband and I knew she wasn’t doing well with reading so we recently enrolled her into the Sylvan Learning center. She’s also going to attend a reading program over the Summer. We are confident that she will be prepared for 1st grade by September. However, I’m still struggling with the decison. Should I trust the professionals or my instincts. Please help!

    • Varda Epstein says

      I believe in trusting maternal instincts! Moms know their children better than anyone. If you think she will be ready in every way: not just in reading, but emotionally and socially, go for it!

  9. Brooke says

    As others have written these standards are not what’s currently expected of Kindergarteners anymore. In our CA school kids are expected to be reading at a “D” level by the end of Kindergarten. They expect them to know all upper & lower case letters and sounds by November or they are considered behind. Our class has also been given 80 sight words and take spelling tests. The kids are expected to write sentences and use inventive spelling (spell phonetically) for words that they haven’t learned yet. My daughter is behind and her teacher wants to retain her. I’m so conflicted. I feel bad for her emotional wellbeing. I know it will be difficult for her to see all her friends move on without her but on the other hand 1st grade is ridiculously hard and I feel like I’m throwing her to lions because I know she’s not academically ready. She is such an amazing little person. I can’t tell you all she’s put up with this year, all the extra tutoring in and outside of school, the testing, speech therapy, etc etc. This is by far the hardest decision I’ve ever made.

  10. Jaclyn D Swisher says

    My son is in what they call the “foundation year”, kindergarten. His school has been lacking in what a student needs to know and work on before end of year. My sons school sends graded test and work hes done through out the year and hes been doing great! End of February 2018 i am in my sons class room speakin with his teacher bout his academics and as she informs me he has reading problems along with speech problems and now all of a sudden needs little more assistance so i explained that i want him to be in a reading/speech class to help keep him on track(my oldest son goes for speech and ready every week) and if she can send home words and reading material he needs more help with to go over each day at home, waiting and calling and writing comments in his planner on where the work is he needs little more improvement with is at doesnt show up home until the last month of school where then same day i get work of his i get a call from his teacher….she goes on about how hes doin wonderful and all of a sudden she says due to his speech difficulty which effects his reading and reading issues she wants to hold him back in same grade! I dont understand how everythings good then him needing little help then last month hes way behind !?? Hes able to do work great at home with no issues or complications but we have been reading and going over his words to say rite and hes mastering all academics in school other then speech issues and the reading(which is the latest work for children to learn in one month that hes having issues with) As a parent and knowing my son can pass work that his teacher sends home ,wonderfully and has great reports and test and work through the entire year, i feel that his teacher should have caught issues at beginning of school and in feb when we spoke and i asked from his teacher for him to be in speech and reading classes it should have been done…also for her waiting for the last month .Of school (and more confussin of hes doin wonderful to switch he needs to be in same grade again) In my eyes and heart my sons teacher failed in teaching and catching early what he needs help with, she failed him as his teacher and failed to help him further in class and with his school issues..She failed to listen to what i would like and want for him to keep and help him stay on top …He shouldnt be kept behind for his speech and very little reading issues he has its not rite and wrong !!!! I could use advice information and anything that could help us!! Thank you!

    • Varda Epstein says

      That’s awful she didn’t speak up sooner! But at this point, I’d be grateful that she did spot a problem and tell you about it before he went on to first grade. I suggest you have him evaluated by a speech therapist and see what the speech therapist thinks. If the speech therapist agrees with the teacher, you’ll know what to do. And while it’s bad, no point crying over spilled milk. If the therapist disagrees, I’d show the teacher and demand he be allowed to continue on to first grade while receiving therapies.

  11. Illuminatd says

    Here’s what I think: we’re pushing these young children too hard. Let’s follow Finlands example. What I have experienced is that the homework is the only thing my kids learn from. They seem to retain NOTHING from the entire day at school! If they aren’t doing the homework then they aren’t learning. And as a full time student myself with several children needing help with homework I hardly have the time. I might as well homeschool. And in fact, that’s what i’m going to do.

    • Ashley says

      Oh my goodness, yes! They are pushing kids too hard these days and are expecting way more than when I was in kindergarten 22 years ago. My 5 year old has math, reading, and spelling homework now. Every week! Spelling tests in kindergarten? They do testing of 4 parts. Red, yellow, green, blue with red being the worst. She scored green on 2/4, yellow on 1, and red on reading. In her defense they JUST started really reading. I am being sent home a retention letter Tuesday. So I told her teacher today that we will work hard with her and that if she isn’t eligible to pass that I will be pulling her out of the school system because something isn’t right when 3/5 of my children are at risk of failing right now. I will do what I need to do.

      • Kris says

        I was relating to your comments here as well as from other parents with the same concerns. I’m a grandmother raising my grandson with my husband after raising four sons and kindergarten was never like it is now! I’m actually not liking it a bit!
        My grandson is very bright, but I have found that his report cards have everything on it as emerging. He’s very good with numbers, has a very extensive vocabulary, can spell a lot of his 144 sight words that I taught him because the teachers were not able to help him through them for some reason.
        At first he loved reading our books and felt very important that he could read, but since January that has become a fight to get him to read. We’ve read to him every day for long periods of time since he was 2 months old. The teacher can’t get him past level B, but I’ve helped him with level C and D books before.
        I’ve asked multiple times to please send books home so I could help him with reading to give him the confidence he once had back, up I’ve been denied every time with the excuse that he first needed to demonstrate his reading at school…I even know their strategy that was confirmed by the teacher and still only a very few books sent home. Those books he flies through them because he satisfied the teacher.
        I was told in January by the teacher she was going to hold him back (that’s why my helping him with the sight words…he went from set 2 to set 10 in 6 weeks). We just met with the teacher, her aid, the principal and counselor and were told by the teacher she still couldn’t recommend him for first grade because of his poor reading skills and comprehension which surprised me because of how he can tell us all about the stories we read! He’s great at math though.
        We were reassured that they would work with his math and build on what he knows with reading, but not once did we hear anything about resources that can help him with reading if we chose to put him in first grade…that was made out to be just another burden for someone to do.
        Our little guy is very social and very much aware of his surroundings even figuring out adult things out. He lives with adults and communicates like a little adult. He will catch on that he was held back as he watches his friends move on.
        I fear this will really hurt him!
        I’m ver sure I could have helped him read the schools books that they test him with that would have helped him with retention of sight words ( we continue to read ours), I am continuing to go over the sight words and he can put them into sentences and makes up stories as well.
        My frustration is with the teacher and her seeming intent in holding my little guy back for whatever reason by not supplying the tools necessary to help him be successful in kindergarten.

  12. Deise Coelho says

    What if I want my child to repeat kindergarten but the school wont allow it because of the “mo child left behind”? According to his teacher they wont hold them back until 3d grade! It doesn’t sound right to me.

    • Varda Epstein says

      You have some options. You can go higher up to members of the local school board and explain how you feel. You can hire an education lawyer. But generally, if the school wants your child to go ahead, that’s what will happen.

  13. Laurie says

    I have an almost 6 year old. His kindergarten teacher wants to keep him back next year. His academics are really good. He gets 100% on everything. However his fine motor skills need work. He has an attention issue. His teacher has to repeat everything to him. Constantly. He even went to half days because they said he cant handle a full day. He struggles with staying still. He’s always been a very busy boy. As a mother it makes me sad she wants to do this. I sort of understand. But then again I just can’t understand why 1st grade can’t help him write his letters perfectly? She’s says that’s what’s holding him back the fact he’s not writing like he should. I can write his letters they’re just not perfect. According to 1st grade standards.
    Anyone that can offer advise I’d appreciate it.

    • Varda Epstein says

      Teachers often have good instincts, but not every teacher is great. Speak to other parents and see what they think about the teacher’s judgment. In any event, why not have him evaluated? That way you’ll know for sure, from an expert, if your child has a learning disability of some sort, such as ADHD, which could make it hard to sit still, or dysgraphia, which can make it difficult to write.

  14. Chris Calway says

    So here in 2020, I find this article. I’m having the opposite problem. I knew my son was young entering kindergarten. We are solely to blame for not having our son attend pre-k as I was uneducated on its value. We missed the registration for pre-k by a week. My son did not turn the required age of 5 here in TN until May 2014. So… we entered him into kindergarten in August 2014. He didn’t even register on the standard test they gave to that assesses each student. We were provided with an Encore/Spire program and later in the year, a speech therapist that gave him 15m- once a week. I bought ABC Mouse and downloaded many helpful learning programs. Through the year he attended, we had several conferences to discuss his progress. I was continuously told what an eager happy angel we had, however he never progressed to the standard. These test results were always provided in graph format. Our son barely showed up on it. We found we had good results at home. Things we knew he concretely understood never translated in class. We would re-run tests he had failed and realized there was a social issue to the testing he must of struggled with. We attended class parties and could quickly realize the difference in maturity, knowledge and socializing shortcomings. So in the middle of this chaos comes Covid-19 shutting the school down on March 18th in our state. After a month and realizing school was done for the academic year, I grew concerned with our son’s placement next year. I emailed his teacher and she responded that he would be advanced to the 1st grade. I was of the opposite opinion. As far as seeing friends go on, he had very few and I know my son has forgotten about school. As far as he’s concerned he didn’t finish kindergarten and he believes this is a short break due to Covid. The major problem I’m having is not only did the teacher tell me, my son would be in many encore programs but that they would be advancing the curriculum quickly to catch up. My son has completely lost his memory of everything he studied or learned. I feel that not only with his issues but that Covid gave us a perfect chance to mulligan the previous year. I’m being pressured to follow the schools recommendations by family and the school, but I know my son. This, in my opinion could greatly help my son with almost zero downside. Any advice is greatly appreciated esp now. Thanks

  15. Susan says

    I am a retired teacher, having taught 43 years, at the primary level and the middle school level. Because of COVID, there will be many children who are betwixt and between. The work done at home, or not done at home, will place all children behind where they would have been socially and academically. However, in years past, before standardized testing became so prominent, in the years when teaching to the test was an anathema, children learned to read in first grade. The skills learned in kindergarten laid a vital foundation for later learning. Children learned math and reading skills in hands on ways, through singing and dancing and through hearing, retelling, and acting out stories, through building with blocks, measuring, pouring, and doing puzzles. Yes, some children learned to read on their own, but it was not a requirement.
    Since standardized testing, and the mandates it presents to schools, pencil and paper learning have been pushed down into kindergarten, and even prekindergarten, and children are not all developmentally ready for that kind of learning at five years old. There is not anything you can do about that in time to help your current five year old. There is something schools could do, though you are more likely to find a willingness to do it in a private or parochial school. For some children, a “bridge” class between kindergarten and first grade offers time to grow. The child is not “repeating kindergarten”. Ideally, such programs allow children to develop at their own paces. At the end of the year, most of the children go to first grade. Some go to second grade. But all are given time to find their feet in school, and time to succeed. In the 1980s and early 1990s, there was a great deal of progress made in converting teachers and schools into providers of developmentally appropriate curriculum, and allowing children to grow at their own paces. Read David Elkind’s Miseducation and look up the High Scope program. Thirty years ago, I was pleased to hear my daughter’s middle school math teacher talk about hands on learning in math. Then, for a few years, I taught in a school for behaviorally disordered children. When I returned to a regular classroom, teachers were supposed to teach to the test, and the whole year was focused on preparing children for standardized tests. Before that time, the tests measured the achievement of individual students, and good teachers used the data to plan lessons to reinforce weaker areas. Suddenly, scores on those tests were the only thing that mattered. I’ve seen the damage done to countless students by the change, and much joy and celebration robbed from early education. Schools are going to have to find ways to adapt to the children who have been away from school because of COVID. It cannot be allowed to be a lost year. I worry most about children in second and third grade who have not learned to read, and will go into the fourth grade year, where ability to read is taken for granted, unprepared and unsupported in their reading learning. I am afraid we will have a huge bubble of high school drop outs when those children reach the age of sixteen.

  16. Edith says

    Hi first time mom with a kindergarten 6 year
    Old born in November. I just received a letter about a possible retention for my son, i do have a meeting scheduled with the school. Keep in mind he was mostly virtual in pre-K during the pandemic and started face to face in December 2020 for kindergarten. Besides the pandemic delays he does good in my opinion and has
    A fantastic memory, the main reason they want to possibly repeat kindergarten is due
    To reading. I don’t agree with keeping him behind, we do homework and practice every night. I am also currently looking into private tutor for my
    Child. I was Also told as a child that i had
    To repeat kindergarten and that i was not smart enough to continue and my Parents disagreed, now i am 28 years old working with my respiratory therapist license saving lives. So i don’t believe in repeating kindergarten. I just wanted to know what are my rights as a parent in the state of Texas.

    • Varda Epstein says

      This document details the education code in Texas and your rights as a parent: EDUCATION CODE
      It does look as though you can argue against a decision to hold your child back.

  17. Andrew Liu says

    I know I am extremely late to this article, but both my twin brother and I repeated Kindergarten during the 1993-1994 school year. In June 1993, my kindergarten teacher recommended both of us to repeat Kindergarten, and our parents agreed to do that. Following that advice, my parents moved us to a private school that went through 8th grade. After that, we both went to a public high school and graduated at 19 years old in June 2006. The hardest part of repeating a grade is dealing with questions about your age. We both went on to finish college. I served in the Army from 2006 to 2011 and deployed to Iraq twice, and then I graduated from Texas A&M University in May 2017.

    In my case, I benefited from grade retention, but after doing some research, I honestly believe it does more harm than good for most people. I believe struggling kids should be promoted, but receive other intervention methods, such as intensified learning, supplementing classroom instruction, and providing one-on-one tutoring with a teacher or cross-age tutoring with an older student . I know that’s tough to implement, but grade retention isn’t the answer.

    A 14-year study conducted by the Texas A&M University College of Education and Human Development has determined that Texas students who are held back during elementary school are almost three times more likely than their peers to drop out of high school. The study of 784 Texas school children followed from first grade until graduating or dropping out of school led by Dr. Jan N. Hughes, Professor Emeritus in educational psychology, found that even though grade retention in the elementary grades does not harm students in terms of their academic achievement or educational motivation at the transition to high school, it increases the odds that they will drop out of school before obtaining a high school diploma by 2.67 times.

    • Varda Epstein says

      Andrew, thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience, as well as sharing this important study. I may just decide to revisit the topic and include the study in my piece. I think it’s interesting that even though retention was good for you, you made the effort to tell us that there are other, better ways to assist students, and that for most, retention is not ideal, in your opinion.

  18. Andy says

    I got held back in preschool for crying too much. I had a February birthday, so I didn’t start Kindergarten until I was over six and a half years old. Once I got to middle school I started to notice that all the other kids looked really little. Fast forward to high school and they STILL seemed little. I found out that a bunch of kids in my grade were like 21 months younger than me. No wonder they seemed so little! It was almost like getting held back twice. My preschool teacher should have been aware of that.