One of the hardest decisions a mom can make is whether to hold her child back from starting Kindergarten or not. This is especially true if you’re the sentimental type, and even more so if the child in question is your youngest, and therefore your last baby to leave the nest. The most important factor in this decision is your motives behind doing so. Are you keeping your kid home for your sake or hers? Write a list to be sure you’re not just being selfish when all is said and done.
Reasons To Hold Your Child Back From Kindergarten
The number one reason why you may want to hold your child back is because of her age. If she’s going to be one of the youngest kids in her class, you may worry about her social skills, or ability to keep up both physically and mentally with her class mates. It can’t hurt to keep her back a year if you think she has some growing left to do, but if she’s mature for her age, and can hold her own in a large group of kids, she may be ready to make the big leap.
What about your child’s size? If she’s small, you may fret about how she’ll fare on the playground at recess. If she’s more petite than the other students, you may be concerned that she’ll be knocked around and injured. Her self-esteem may also be affected if she always feels like the “runt of the litter” around her peers, as well as if later on in her life, she’s the last to mature and develop physically. Of course mothers of petite boys may be even more willing to hold them back if they fear they’ll always be towered over by their friends at school for years to come.
Those are the reasonable excuses. What about the dubious arguments for holding your child back? Maybe you fear the emotional upheaval you’ll experience by putting your last little darling on the bus. Or maybe you’re afraid you’ll feel lonely and useless without your young buddy around to make you feel needed. Perhaps you’re unprepared to start a new chapter in your life, so you think you can delay it by keeping your kid home with you. It may even be possible that having your baby in school will make you feel like you’re getting old! None of these are valid reasons to keep little Susie or Johnny out of Kindergarten if she or he truly is ready to go.
If you do decide to keep your child home for just one more year, this can be a great opportunity for you to use this time for enrichment. Send your child to a quality, reputable preschool where she’ll learn the pre-K basics, like letters, shapes, and numbers, and how to write her name. If you don’t want to go that route, you could always research a Kindergarten curriculum and teach your child yourself. Who knows, you may like it so much that you could end up choosing to homeschool!
What happens if you did send your child to Kindergarten and you realize that you shouldn’t have after all? Don’t be afraid to withdraw him or her and try again next year. At this age, your child won’t have very many strong friendship bonds that would make removing him from school too detrimental. It’s better to do it now, than to try to force it to work out and have to hold your child back in a future grade. Doing so when they’re older can be emotionally traumatizing to them and will be a stigma they’ll carry with them until graduation.
What if you truly can’t decide what you should do regarding sending your child to Kindergarten versus holding them back a year? In this case, you have several options. One, you can take your child to be evaluated by a school psychologist. Call your child’s designated school and ask them to refer you to one. This doctor can evaluate your child’s readiness to attend school. If that seems too extreme, talk to your child’s grandparents for their opinions if you don’t feel like it would be interfering for them to do so. Make it clear that you will ultimately be the one making the decision despite what their thoughts are on the matter. You could also discuss it with the child in question! Of course, many children would say they’d rather be home with Mom, but you never know…your kid may be over-the-moon excited to get out in the real world and start to experience life outside of her safety bubble. And if that doesn’t work, you can always rely on good old-fashioned mother’s intuition. Ultimately, you know what’s best for your kid better than anyone else in the world. Trust your instincts.
Starting Kindergarten is a necessary rite of passage that every child will eventually have to experience. However, some kids may not be as ready as others, even if they’re old enough to go. There is no more crucial year in your child’s school career than this one to get it right. If keeping your child at home, and allowing him the opportunity to grow and mature, socially, emotionally and/or physically will bring him a greater chance of success in the future…then by all means, do so.
Time goes by fast, and it goes by even faster when your child starts school. Field trips, science projects, homework, and teacher conferences make the school years slip right through your fingers. There’s no rush to break the seal and send your kid to school if she’s not ready to go. Once she does, the next thing you know, she’ll be walking up to accept her diploma and moving on to college and her independent adult life. If you do decide to hold your child back, savor every last moment of their babyhood while you can. These are precious moments to treasure before your little one finally gets on the bus for her first day of Kindergarten.