tundraorchid's picture

Struggling Kindergartener

Our son is the youngest Kindergartener in his class.  He is sweet natured, and generally very easy going (to the point of sometimes being viewed as lazy).  He is generally quiet. 

His father and I struggled with the decision to send him to Kindergarten knowing he'd be on the young side.  He'd already attended two years of preschool, and was showing signs of being ready.  Wanting to keep him moving forward, we decided to move him into Kindergarten.  

The problem now is that he is struggling.  His maturity is behind the other children, and his focus is an issue.  He is not hyper at all, and can sit still for long periods of time.  He knows his letters, numbers, and letter sounds.  He appears to be unmotivated and unable to focus in the class, and he uses baby language and immature words towards his peers.  His teacher is NOT an advocate for holding back, but says that our son is having a hard time keeping up and its beginning to affect his confidence to notice his peers ability levels compared to his own. Our son is clumsier, less able to complete tasks, and socially lagging.   

We have accepted that he is not going to be successful in his current large group setting.  We don't know where to go from here.  Back to Preschool?  He would have to wait for a space in the older class, and we don't want to scar him with the knowledge that he is not progressing but is moving back.  Repeating Kindergarten would pose the same problems, potentially with the added component of all of his friends moving on and him staying behind (it would be easy for him to see that he's "different"). 

Any advice for this tough situation?

mombeenthere's picture

you are going to have a lot of reactions that tell you it is easier to hold a child back earlier.

But in reality on the opposite end it does make a difference sure my son has freinds and knows all the children he was in school with right from grade one the second time. But this year all of the kids he bonded with in grade one the first time are graduating. And he is feeling it.

If infact you do hold your child back in kindergarten move him to another school.

It might infact be the best thing for your son to stay in kindergarten for a second year.
I am a kindergarten teacher. I teach in a very small school (less then 40) I had 5 children last year. The youngest, sweetest quietest little boy sounds a lot like how you describe your son. Although he knew his numbers and his letters he had no desire to know more and was ready to play. He struggled to try and as the year went on he felt indeed pretty discouraged about how far the other children were from where he was. I asked that he be moved on with his group but given an adapted program so that we could show him that it was possible for him to make up the difference and catch up with his peers while at the same time giving him work that was at his level and he could feel good about doing. Eventually this boy, this year, went to his teacher and asked for more work "just like the grade ones".
But, he wasnt socially lagging if he was I would have told the parents the same thing your sons teacher has said.

Carebear5's picture

Having older children who were the youngest in their grades I must say that you will be dealing with A LOT later on with them being younger. It's silly things like: boys maturing later than their peers so they don't get to be competitive in gym or sports they want to be competitive in, being the last one to drive, not having the social maturity to handle some situations that their peers are doing. I was also a year younger than my peers, and it basically moved ahead my entire life -- marrying earlier, having kids earlier. One year doesn't seem like a lot, but it is. I have 2 more children yet to get into school, and both are boys. I will think long and hard about possibly delaying them to give them some social advantages.

As for change of friends. I was worried when my child had to switch classes (long story). I knew he had friendships. BUT - at that age, it was like absolutely nothing to him. He was just fine, and I was worried about nothing. I don't think you'd have a single issue on friendships.

My older kids had quite a few older friends, and yes, they would say "I flunked kindergarden" when asked why they were turning 16 instead of 15 like the others in their grade. It would be a joke and NO ONE cared.

It's your call. Socially there are definite pros to being older in a class. If you're only doing this for academics, then you need to know it takes 3 years of school before all the kids start evening out. (Who is lagging in kindergarden may be at the top of the class in 2nd grade and vice-versa.) There are more negative issues, though, if there are academic problems in 2nd or 3rd grade. That's when you'd probably need to switch schools because friendshps are a bigger deal.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

I wldn't pull him out of grade K at this pt. Instead, focus on keeping him social through after school activities and play dates. You might even want to consider a social group that teaches appropriate interactions amongst peers. The YMCA is great for that. Also, work w/ your son at home to help him build his vocabulary and speech skills. It's obvious that your son is smart, and he is capable of doing the classwork. I'm sure he's not the only one in his class, however, who can't stay focused. This is something he will develop in time. You didn't mention if your son's in a half or full day kindergarten program. I think that makes a significant difference.
It's still early in the yr, and your son has time to adjust. Try my suggestions, but also try not to overload him. I'm sure school is a lot for your son to absorb, especially if it's a full day. If you see that your son is still having difficulty at the end of the yr, talk to the teacher about having him repeat grade K again.
Good luck!

acitez's picture

Also be aware that Kindergarten is not mandatory in many states. That is because it is a "pre" school program, as in before children are ready to be students in school. I know a family that never sent their 5 year-olds to Kindergarten. Instead, they stayed home with their mom, and it worked well for them. The children all attended traditional school grades 1-12, some of them did so well in school with AP and concurrent enrollment classes that they entered college as juniors.