School starts next week and my seven-year old will be starting the first grade. Yes, you read that correct. He is already seven and no, he did not have to repeat kindergarten. Jase is typically older than most of his classmates because we chose to hold him back a year.
When Jase was born, I just assumed that when your child turns five, they start kindergarten. The first time I heard about holding a child back was when he was two. We had a school counselor speak at the Mom’s Club I belonged to, and she mentioned the possibility of holding back those kids who had summer birthdays. But I didn’t think it applied to Jase as his birthday is in mid-May and I don’t consider that a summer birthday.
Jase has always been a smart boy but reserved. Even around my parents it took him a while to warm up each time we visited them, which was often since they only live twenty minutes away. When he started preschool, he rarely spoke to the teacher or director. It was his preschool teacher who suggested that we hold him back. They offered a class called “A Gift of Time” which was designed for “younger” five-year olds that might need an extra year to mature before going to kindergarten.
I did what I normally do when presented with something I know nothing about – I began full research mode. I scoured the internet looking at the pros and cons of holding your child back. I spoke to friends and neighbors about it and found out that it was quite common here in San Antonio. No one I spoke to that had held their child back had regretted it. There were a few who wished they HAD done that with their child.
But still I hesitated to do it. Sign up for kindergarten is in March, and he could change a lot in the five months before school started. I didn’t want to regret our decision. It was also hard because many people I seemed to believe that at five he should be in kindergarten no matter what. By holding him back, he would be the oldest kid in his class. When I was in kindergarten, I was the youngest. I started when I was 4. My September birthday was past the cut-off date to attend that year but my mom had me tested, and I was able to start early. Yes, academically I was probably ready. But I am not sure that I was socially mature enough. I was a shy child. Most of the time, I didn’t feel like I fit in. Now I am not saying that starting kindergarten early was the sole cause, but I am sure it contributed to it.
Finally, I just decided to do what was right for Jase. There really was nothing to lose by holding him back a year. We would be giving him a year to grow and mature. And you know what? It has been totally worth it. In that extra year, he blossomed into a confident student. When he entered kindergarten, he was ready for any of the challenges his new school offered. He was a top student in his class. Would this have happened anyway? I don’t think so. If he had started when he was five, I think he would have been very shy and very overwhelmed by his surroundings. He grew a lot in that extra year. And I don’t regret our decision at all.