Repeat Kindergarten or go to 1st Grade? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 03-22-2013, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son's birthday is June, and last year we had a difficult time deciding to send him to kindergarten or not.  We did, in a community school in a K-1-2 blend.  He was in my home preschool until his 5th birthday, and I knew he was ready for something else.  He was too old for other preschools so I sent him to kindy.  He LOVES school, is tall, sturdy, social, and extremely enthusiastic.  He's happy as a clam being in kindergarten.  I'm not sure he'll be so happy and confident as a 1st grader, staying until 3 and doing a lot of writing work.  His teacher says we need to work on letter recognition because he only has a handful of letters and numbers, and hasn't been able to memorize the ABC song.

 

I have four close friends whose boys are all his age, with birthdays from May to September, and they all chose to wait on kindergarten another year, either homeschooling them or sending them to an expensive Waldorf kindy for kids 4-6 years old.  Neither of those options were available to us.  Now I'm regretting not trying harder to come up with an alternative to him going to kindy so young.  I was very young for my class and it was very hard once the girls were developing and I was still playing with dolls!     

 

So do we work on these things and push through, even though he doesn't have the attention for it?  Or do we ask to allow him to repeat kindergarten?  He would still be in the class with his current buddies as it's mixed-age, and knows a couple kids who are coming into kindergarten next year.

 

What are the negative effects repeating kindy could cause?  After his initial confusion, wouldn't he just go with it?

 

 Thanks for your input!


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#2 of 18 Old 03-23-2013, 04:30 AM
 
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I would base a decision on academic progress.  It sounds like your DS still needs more practice with academic requirements before starting first grade.  My son's kinder class is independently writing complete sentences, so if your DS still can't recognize letters and doesn't know the ABC song, he is not ready for first grade.  I obviously don't know him in person, but from what you posted, that seems significantly delayed for age five.  My son's birthday is in August, so he turned five right before kinder started and is one of the youngest in his class, but he is right on target for academic progress.  He has some social immaturity, inattentiveness, and moodiness that made us question whether he should repeat kinder so he could grow up a little bit more, but because he is academically strong (already reading at first grade level) we feel he is ready for first grade.  He would be bored repeating kinder just for social development, and the school offered to start a small social skills group with several other students, so we signed him up for that. 

 

So, yeah, the main goal of school is academic progress, and your son needs more time to develop his reading and writing skills, because it is going to be a lot tougher in first grade.  Not knowing the alphabet by age five seems pretty far behind.  That would have me concerned about the school not being structured enough, or wondering about a learning disability.  I hope you can figure out what is going on with him. 


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#3 of 18 Old 03-23-2013, 08:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mataji4 View Post

My son's birthday is June, and last year we had a difficult time deciding to send him to kindergarten or not.  We did, in a community school in a K-1-2 blend.  He was in my home preschool until his 5th birthday, and I knew he was ready for something else.  He was too old for other preschools so I sent him to kindy.  He LOVES school, is tall, sturdy, social, and extremely enthusiastic.  He's happy as a clam being in kindergarten.  I'm not sure he'll be so happy and confident as a 1st grader, staying until 3 and doing a lot of writing work.  His teacher says we need to work on letter recognition because he only has a handful of letters and numbers, and hasn't been able to memorize the ABC song.

 

I have four close friends whose boys are all his age, with birthdays from May to September, and they all chose to wait on kindergarten another year, either homeschooling them or sending them to an expensive Waldorf kindy for kids 4-6 years old.  Neither of those options were available to us.  Now I'm regretting not trying harder to come up with an alternative to him going to kindy so young.  I was very young for my class and it was very hard once the girls were developing and I was still playing with dolls!     

 

So do we work on these things and push through, even though he doesn't have the attention for it?  Or do we ask to allow him to repeat kindergarten?  He would still be in the class with his current buddies as it's mixed-age, and knows a couple kids who are coming into kindergarten next year.

 

What are the negative effects repeating kindy could cause?  After his initial confusion, wouldn't he just go with it?

 

 Thanks for your input!

 

In your case, I think I'd look into your DS's situation a little further. Retention only works if any issues can be fixed the year they are held back. I'd not care a lick if he was still not reading as it's a skill that generally "clicks" for more kids between 6 and 7. However, being close to 6, with a full year of academic kindergarten and still only grasping a handful of letters, not being able to sing the song is atypical and could hint to a learning disability. I taught preschool for underprivileged kids for several years. These were kids who were poor, often didn't own books, spent a lot of time with older siblings because both parents worked multiple jobs, watching more TV than having people talk to them, or simply learning English for the first time... basically, very little to no exposure to early academics. Most still come in at 3 or 4 knowing the ABC song (or picking it up very quickly) and leave at older 4 or young 5 knowing at least half their letters... many knowing them all. 

 

I don't want to say retention is wrong for your child. I'd just not do it without some testing first. You need to find out why your child is struggling. It could be as simple as hearing or vision. It could be he is screened for LD's and passes with flying colors! He may only need time. However, at 6, being actively taught letters and still only knowing a handful is a red flag in the schooling community and one I'd want them to look at before holding him back.


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#4 of 18 Old 03-23-2013, 02:33 PM
 
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In your case, I think I'd look into your DS's situation a little further. Retention only works if any issues can be fixed the year they are held back. I'd not care a lick if he was still not reading as it's a skill that generally "clicks" for more kids between 6 and 7. However, being close to 6, with a full year of academic kindergarten and still only grasping a handful of letters, not being able to sing the song is atypical and could hint to a learning disability.

 

 

agreed. I work at a title 1 school, half my day in K and half in first. Many of our kids speak Spanish as their first language, never attended preschool, and start K without being able to count to 10 or know their colors. And no one waits to start K once they are old enough (the parents generally need the "free childcare" aspect of public school). Your son is behind where nearly all our kids at.  He would be in response to intervention at our school so they could decide if he just needs extra help or if he needs to be tested for more significant issues.

I would start with having his hearing and vision checked and go from there.

 

I don't think there is anything wrong with letting a child with a June birthday hang out in K for two years, especially since it sounds like red shirting is common in your area. However, not being able to memorize the ABC song is a big old red flag.


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#5 of 18 Old 03-24-2013, 06:03 AM
 
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To echo the above: get a proper vision and hearing test- not the screening with the ped or school nurse.
Ask the school to evaluate for learning disabilities. Outline exactly the difficulties you see. Ask the teacher for any other feedback on lagging skills. He should be tested for phonological processing and language abilities. Any speech concerns? Language oddities? List those too. Make the request in writing. As this process takes time, make this request now even as you sort out the vision and hearing exams. You want this done before the end of the year so that you have a fulll set of information to go on to make decisions. There are only 50 days of school left here, and our school drags this out to 60 days.

If this is a private school, you might need this private evaluation. Insurance sometimes covers a neuropsych exam (though you might not need the whole whammy), and I'll be paying out of pocket for related speech and language concerns for my son with a MA SLP with Orton-Gillingham certification next week for $150. ( He already has done much of the testing that goes into a neuropsych exam and that's not where his issues lie).

"more of what's not working" rarely helps.
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#6 of 18 Old 03-24-2013, 06:50 AM
 
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If his class is mixed aged does that mean he'd be in the same class whether he was in 1st or K?  If so, I would move him to 1st with the idea in place that he was having accommodations to meet him where he is.  If they are all together and break into reading groups he would be in an appropriate *for him* reading group.  If he is still working on letter recognition then he would then work with other kids who are still working on letter recognition (regardless of whether they were 5 or 6 but based on ability).

 

If you feel like he could use more work on the skills he is having difficulty with there are lots of fun computer game and app type learning games out there (starfall, reading eggs etc).  If you think there might be an LD then I would ask for an eval (in writing with a date on the letter).

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#7 of 18 Old 03-30-2013, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, yes, that makes a lot of sense...moving him onto first grade, yes, he would be met where he is ability-wise.

 

I am not worried about my son having a learning disability.  As a preschool teacher I have worked with a lot of kids so I think I have enough perspective to not worry.  He doesn't know the alphabet by song or by sight, because we let him PLAY.  He's 5.   I believe that many children are labeled with learning disabilities early simply because they aren't ready for academic learning- some boys don't get there until 9.  My boy is healthy, has a great many talents and abilities, and I'm sure in his own time he'll have the interest and ability to read well.  In fact, last night he asked if he could read a book and surprised me with his dedication to the simple words.  

 

This just might be a case of a worried mommy : )


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#8 of 18 Old 03-30-2013, 07:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mataji4 View Post

I am not worried about my son having a learning disability.  As a preschool teacher I have worked with a lot of kids so I think I have enough perspective to not worry.  He doesn't know the alphabet by song or by sight, because we let him PLAY.  He's 5.   I believe that many children are labeled with learning disabilities early simply because they aren't ready for academic learning- some boys don't get there until 9.  

 

I completely agree with you about the importance of play and of the wisdom of delaying academics in young boys or girls who show little interest. I also don't want to suggest that your instincts and perspectives on the learning disability issue are wrong. But I do think it's worth noting that he has had almost a year of early academic experience by virtue of being in KG. I also think that learning to sing the alphabet song isn't exactly "academic work"... for most kids it's an aural/musical ditty of more-or-less-nonsense-syllables that they pick up naturally through casual exposure, just as they might pick up skipping rhymes or "one-potato-two-potato." My eldest was never exposed to the alphabet song as a preschooler: we were TV free and she didn't go to KG or anything of that sort. She didn't learn it until she was 6, had been reading novels for almost two years, and wanted to learn the *order* of the alphabet in order to alphabetize books in our home library -- at which point it was useful to introduce her to it. So I certainly don't think kids need to learn the alphabet song in order to be successful learners of anything -- not even of literacy skills. I just think it would be unusual for a 5-year-old who is exposed to the alphabet song on a regular basis at school not to pick it up easily and naturally over the course of a year. It may be a red flag -- or it may not be. If nothing else it may tell you something important about his learning style: perhaps he struggles to learn by auditory means, preferring a kinesthetic or visual presentation.

 

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#9 of 18 Old 03-31-2013, 12:01 AM
 
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Could you plan to put him in 1 but then change your mind if he doesn't adjust well to the longer days or changed expectations?  If it is going to be the same K-1-2 class for the next two years anyway, it seems like maybe you could wait until next year to decide and nothing much would change.


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#10 of 18 Old 03-31-2013, 09:44 AM
 
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I'm a former teacher (pre-k to third grade) and education specialist. My son ended up going to kindergarten for two years. Repeating was totally my decision and I don't regret it for a second. My son needed more time and differentiation, while wonderful, wouldn't have been enough. DS is now in second grade and right where he needs to be.
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#11 of 18 Old 03-31-2013, 02:39 PM
 
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I also think that learning to sing the alphabet song isn't exactly "academic work"... for most kids it's an aural/musical ditty of more-or-less-nonsense-syllables that they pick up naturally through casual exposure, just as they might pick up skipping rhymes or "one-potato-two-potato."

 

 

I agree with this. Its not academic, just as using color names or counting in front of our children aren't "academic." 

 

I also agree that for a child who hasn't been exposed to it to not know it isn't a flag, but for a child who has been in K all year, its odd.

 

Here is YouTube video that is super popular with our Kindergartners:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36IBDpTRVNE

 

The kids don't think of this as academic -- they dance and sing.


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#12 of 18 Old 04-01-2013, 10:21 PM
 
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Thank you, yes, that makes a lot of sense...moving him onto first grade, yes, he would be met where he is ability-wise.

 

I am not worried about my son having a learning disability.  As a preschool teacher I have worked with a lot of kids so I think I have enough perspective to not worry.  He doesn't know the alphabet by song or by sight, because we let him PLAY.  He's 5.   I believe that many children are labeled with learning disabilities early simply because they aren't ready for academic learning- some boys don't get there until 9.  My boy is healthy, has a great many talents and abilities, and I'm sure in his own time he'll have the interest and ability to read well.  In fact, last night he asked if he could read a book and surprised me with his dedication to the simple words.  

 

This just might be a case of a worried mommy : )

 

The song itself isn't an indicator of a learning disability but being close to 6, having a preschool teacher for a mom and having a full year of kindergarten... it's just unusual to only recognize more than a handful of letters and be unable to sing through a song I have to suspect he's had lots of exposure to. Most kids pick it up, even those who don't go to preschool. If you (and the school) are comfortable with your child being 7 in kindergarten and you don't want to explore any learning differences on his part, that's totally fine. It's just something to keep an eye on. Early intervention can really make a world of difference and could spare him some pain when he sees other kids are moving ahead and gaining skills he doesn't have.


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#13 of 18 Old 04-02-2013, 03:04 AM
 
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You also might want to poke around on one of the many threads in this forum on the topic of red shirting or holding boys back before they go to kindergarten. The reason I am suggesting this is that some of the same concerns apply, about the age of the child in the older grades. Being 7 in kindergarten is not so big a deal. Being 15 in 8th grade is a bigger deal.  Being 18 in 11th grade is a huge deal.


 
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#14 of 18 Old 04-03-2013, 03:17 AM
 
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OP has it in her profile that she is a Waldorf preschool teacher. 

 

It is a little strange that after so many months of kindergarten, he only knows a handful of letters but some children truly are not ready until they are 8 years old. The problem is getting them the right kind of instruction when they are ready.

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#15 of 18 Old 04-03-2013, 04:13 AM
 
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There is such a thing as educational neglect.  Some of these alternative schools and teaching methods do not impress me.  Consider these philosophies with some critical thought when they recommend letting children fall behind their peers.  It is a very competitive world in universities and professional employment.  You could be doing your child a disservice.  The workplace is not egalitarian. 

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#16 of 18 Old 04-03-2013, 06:57 AM
 
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OP has it in her profile that she is a Waldorf preschool teacher. 

 

It is a little strange that after so many months of kindergarten, he only knows a handful of letters but some children truly are not ready until they are 8 years old. The problem is getting them the right kind of instruction when they are ready.

 

Waldorf-ians may not always like to admit it, but a huge chunk of the pre-school curriculum is good old-fashioned pre-reading skill development. Listening to and singing and saying all those Waldorf songs and poems and rhymes develops phonological and phonemic awareness. Students may not yet be learning to recognize the letters of the alphabet or their sounds but they are learning to recognize and manipulate linguistic units. It's an important step in learning to read. 

 

With a Waldorf pre-school background, I would expect that a child would quickly pick up and be able to recite the ABC song even if he couldn't match the sounds to specific letters. OP, I'm wondering whether his phonological and phonemic awareness seems to be on track. Can he identify the different syllables and individual sounds in a word, recognize same sounds in different words, find rhymes for words and so on? 

 

DD was an early reader but I recall, with a lot of nostalgia, that for a long while when she sang the ABC song, she would burble "el-el-la-la-PEEE!!" instead of "l-m-n-o-p" because she hadn't distinguished the different sounds at that point. It was very cute.  

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#17 of 18 Old 07-05-2013, 05:52 PM
 
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I know this is an older thread but I am kind of in the same situation...My L turned 5 September 5th..she made the Kindy cutoff for public but didn't make it for private...I couldn't afford to send her to their preschool and pay daycare so I went ahead and send her to Public Kindy...I regretted it big time...Here we are and it is July...School starts the day after Labor Day...Academically she did ok in Kindy although she is in the lowest reading group and they said she will be given special services in 1st grade....She won't even be 6 till September and they are labeling her behind because she isn't reading stage 2 books...Sigh....The class sizes have always bothered me also...30 kids to a class with one teacher who has to use a microphone to be heard..don't get me wrong...I loved her teacher...Just she didn't have time for just one child...Plus my L is still babyish socially...Most of the kids in her class tower over her and are a good 6-12 months older than her...So I signed her up for private school this fall...She got a scholarship and when they tested her they said she would be ahead of the other kindergardeners with her letter,numbers and reading but that was okay..They said she didn't make the age requirements for her to go to 1st grade..Their cuttof is September 1st...And next year it will be August 1st...20 students in her class with a a teacher and an aide..They will nurture her reading and writing to keep her steady and ahead..They will challenge her...Sounds like a winner to me...So my L will be changing schools and repeating Kindergarden...So just to let you know others are out there doing the same...

 

 

Plus my eyes bugged out when I saw the Work L was bringing home...A lot of the stuff she learned I didn't learn until 1st and 2nd grade...Academics is important but so is maturation and being ready socially...Go with your gut and what you think your child needs...That way you won't regret it later on...

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#18 of 18 Old 07-12-2013, 06:34 AM
 
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A look at the research shows that grade retention is very rarely an effective intervention. The main reason being what some other posters alluded to which is that more of the same is usually simply not enough to solve any issues. Students just end up spinning their wheels in the same grade again unless issues that led to the lack of progress are identified and dealt with. And these issues and interventions can usually be handled in the next grade just as effectively if not more effectively than in the previous grade where the student already experienced a lack of success.

 

Mylie - Your situation doesn't sound like simply more of the same. It would be nice if your daughter could move on to the next grade in the environment that you feel is a better fit. It sounds like the school rules place her in K and there is a strong plan in place for meeting her needs in the new setting. That's great.

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