Inside – There are a lot of factors in deciding to delay kindergarten, but for my family, the biggest reason was to honor our son’s childhood. Here are my opinions and why we’ve chosen this path.
There’s no prize for finishing childhood first
The REAL reason I’m holding my child back
We are holding our son back from Kindergarten. Actually, we already did hold him back – this is the year he should be in Kindergarten.
But we knew – from birth – that he wouldn’t be.
My son is a great kid. He’s bright, he’s social, and he was (by all standard metrics) “ready” for Kindergarten.
He was the toddler who had the ABCs memorized at 20 months, could count to 100 at 2.5 and by 4, could read numbers into the thousands. He thinks deeply, questions thoughtfully, and creatively searches for answers to problems.
He makes friends easily, plays well with others, and leads groups in activities. His is a kind of well-rounded smart. Whatever “it” is academically, he has “it.”
So, perhaps people will be shocked that we chose to hold this child back.
This child who appears so ready for Kindergarten.
There are TWO reasons why we held our son back: his present and his future.
Here in the present, kindergarten has changed.
We all know that. It’s been well documented that Kindergarten is the new first grade but let’s stop and quantify what that actually means.
Kindergarten used to be a time of exploration, to learn the ABCs, and to grow in social / life skills. I’m sure that’s how you remember your kindergarten experience.
But our children face a kindergarten where there is limited time for exploration and social / life skill development. Where tests and standards have put undo pressure on our children (and those who lovingly teaching them).
Here’s exactly what I mean by “changed”
When I taught Kindergarten in 2007, my state’s standard for rote counting was to 31 by June.
November to count to 100 VS. June to count to 31.
Our children didn’t change. But the standards changed and our kids are being forced to adhere.
They also face other Common Core State Standards above their developmental levels, including the standard to “read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.”
This just isn’t appropriate for a lot of kids.
Reading is big developmental skill and requiring all 5-year olds to be fluently reading by the end of kindergarten would be like requiring all babies to fluently walk by 12 months. Some will, and some won’t, but it’s just not appropriate to expect it of all children.
We know kids walk on their own time, they run when they are ready, they learn to ride bikes as their bodies naturally grow and we don’t rush the motor skill development.
Then I ask of you: Why is their brain development not treated with the same respect?
One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is to remember that academic skills are just like motor skills: they’ll develop when the child is ready.
RELATED: Read more about the changes in today’s kindergarten and its far-reaching impact.
So we’re holding him back… but Kindergarten isn’t the only reason and it’s actually a small part of the reason.
We’re doing this for the Present AND the Future
We call it the “Gift of Time” because that’s exactly what we’re giving our son – time now and time later.
Right now, we’re in early childhood and I’m so thankful he didn’t have to rush his way through it. The world rushes enough these days, why are we encouraging young children to grow up faster?
There’s no prize for finishing childhood first.
This is the gift we gave our Present Son
As a new 5-year-old, he didn’t need to rush off to Kindergarten and begin an overly academic life faced with rigid boundaries.
He was able to continue to grow his divergent thinking and his creativity before being asked to “sit and work” for six-plus hours a day.
He’s had one more year of developmentally appropriate learning and play, which is exactly what his growing mind needs.
Kindergarten has aged up, so I will age my son up.
I want my son to be six when he’s asked to perform challenging tasks, like fluently reading. I want him to spend age five learning social and life skills like I did. I want to honor his brain development and help him find his best path to learning.
Not a hurry-up path that forces him to learn skills before he is ready.
I am not holding my son back to make him the smartest in his class.
I am not holding my son back so he will do better on tests.
I am certainly not holding him back for sports (you’ll have to trust me on this).
I am holding him back partially to make his kindergarten education as developmentally appropriate for him as possible. The way Kindergarten and First Grade were for me.
But that’s not the full reason we chose to delay kindergarten.
I’m holding him back for his Future Self.
I’m holding him back for the middle schooler who has to navigate social media, something I didn’t have to do when I was 12.
I’m holding him back for the high schooler who will be making life changing decisions.
The world is a whole lot different now…
I want my son to be just that much more mature for all the big life events heading his way.
He will be 18 when he selects a college and makes the first in a series of impactful decisions. He will be 19 when he begins college and is asked to choose a future career path.
He will have the chance to be a kid one more year rather than rushing away and leaving childhood behind.
RELATED: Is age and life-satisfaction in the teen years linked? This study says “Yes.”
There’s no prize for finishing childhood first
We held our son back to give him the “Gift of Time.” To recognize that education and childhood are NOT what they were 30 years ago and to loudly say, “We value childhood. We value YOUR childhood.”
We are the generation that grew up with Ferris Beuller reminding us that “Life moves pretty fast…” Ferris, you have no idea what it looks like now for these kids.
What will my son think of this?
My husband was held back.
My brother was held back.
They’ll tell him there is nothing in life that made a bigger, more positive impact than this decision their parents made for them too.
And I will tell him every day that there is no prize for finishing childhood first.
There just isn’t.
A FEW QUICK ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS FREQUENTLY ASKED:
Nothing is one size fits all: this is my opinion and what we are doing for my family. Please do and choose what’s right for yours/your child.
Am I worried my son will be bored in school? Bored is a word parents use. Kids don’t. Especially not bright kids. They can always find something to do or dream up and forever see the chances to learn. He’ll be no more bored than any other child sitting in a desk all day dreaming of recess.
The fact is: only boring people get bored. Harsh, but true.
Would I do this for a girl? Absolutely, and maybe even more so. The social media nightmares of middle and high school are real. I’d want her to have some extra maturity for that.
For going to college, I’d rather send a 19 year old to pledge a sorority or navigate campus life, than a just-turned-18 year old.
Are you allowed to do this? States (and countries) all have different policies on delaying kindergarten registration so make sure to know the “rules” in your area.
Are you worried he’ll be bullied for his age? Nope. I was a kindergarten and first grade teacher, and had many children who were held back. Never did I hear of them being picked on for age because childhood is the only time in life when older = better in the minds of the citizens. I checked with others I know were held back and they all confirmed the same: children more envious of their age than anything.
Did he go to extra preschool? Nope. Because we set our son on this track from birth, we were able to delay him starting preschool as well and he is currently enrolled in his one (and only) year of preschool. Both my husband and brother repeated the final year of preschool and were totally fine with it. They knew nothing different.