Something I’m pretty sure I’ve never told you is that I sucked at school. No, really, like completely sucked at all things school.
I vividly remember being in first grade and needing/wanting to hide my homework papers from my parents. I was so ashamed of my grades and so worried I would get in trouble, that I was literally shoving all my school papers under my mattress, as soon as I would get home.
The combination of all my bad grades and trying to hide it from my parents at the age of 6 or 7, sent my physical body on a roller coaster ride. I had so much anxiety that my stomach physically hurt all day, every day. I complained about it hurting so much that my mom took me to the doctor, where nothing was found…except for my hidden school papers (eventually).
This was the start to the most dreaded years of my life. By the time I was in middle school and jr. high, I had tutors in most subjects and any grade that was passing was considered a good grade. Not only was it physically hard on me, I had zero self-esteem. I never felt confident in anything I did. I constantly shyed away from letting my peers know what my grades were because I knew I would have some of the lowest in the entire class. I woke up each and every day, from 1st grade, all the way through college, dreading going to school.
My experiences are in the past though, and while I don’t let them get in the way of my adulthood now, I can still use the memory of them to help make sure Kaleb doesn’t have to go through some of the same hardships as I did, and that brings me to this:
I’m holding Kaleb back from starting Kindergarten this year. He will repeat Pre-K at a new school and not start
Kindergarten until he's 6.
…..and to clarify, I hate the term “holding back” or “red-shirting” as some people put it. Those terms seem so demeaning to the child. Why does it even need a term at all???
So Kaleb’s birthday is at the very end of May, in which he will be turning 5. A May birthday isn’t necessarily considered ‘late’ in the ISD world, but it’s late enough for me.
The two biggest reasons you hear people give as to why they are holding their child back is, birthday and gender. While those are 2 legitimate places to start, it’s so much more than that for us.
For starters, Kaleb has already been through a lot of change in his little world and noticing that he is a lot like his mom in not handling change very well, I know the last 3 years have been hard for him, whether he realizes it or not.
Kaleb’s personality entails a lot of these things: kind, sweet, sensitive, emotional, huge hearted, competitive, routine oriented, curious and not always easy going. He has tendencies to be a people pleaser. He gets very upset when others are upset and I would say it’s pretty easy for him to get emotional and/or his feelings hurt. I can see leadership qualities and confidence beaming from him when he’s in his comfort zone with friends he’s familiar with, but I can also see how shy and unsure of himself he can get when things are just slightly different. Like me, he likes to be aware of his surroundings for a good while before he can relax and really be himself. He also has that fidgety boy thing going on. It’s so incredibly hard for him to be still and focus on something longer than 5 minutes. This has me anxious to see how much of that goes away with age.
These are all the things I took into consideration for months and months. I also talked to my Aunt who has been a kindergarten teacher longer than I have been alive, literally. She said in her 30+ years of being a teacher, she has never once seen a parent regret holding their child back. She said on the flip side though, there have been many parents wish they HAD held their little one back for an additional year.
I worry that his little emotional and fidgety self just isn’t ready to be in a room with kids almost a year older than him. The last thing I want for him is to feel overwhelmed and frustrated with school, much like I was. I hated that part of my life so much, that it still brings me anxiety to think about it.
If keeping him back one more year, if letting him stay little just a bit longer will help the transition be even 10% smoother, then it will have been worth it.
Not every child is the same and if you are feeling conflicted at all, I would suggest you start asking others about what they have done, and start talking to the teachers. The teachers have years of experience, so take into consideration their opinions, combine it with your intuition and make the decision that will be best for you and your child.