My 5 ½ year old is repeating Pre-K this year. We decided to wait, because he was not ready to move forward. I am not talking about academically. If it were only academic needs I would have pushed to send him to Kindergarten. We can do tutoring and school work modification to handle academic shortfall. We cannot force a child to mature any faster. This can be an agonizing decision, because as a parent you feel like you are holding your child back. This is not the first time we have done this. My oldest repeated pre-k, she is now in 8th grade and I am very happy with the decision. She is mature in her grade. We have problems related to her ADHD, but her behavior has generally been fine. This experience has made it easier this time around, but starting the school year seeing his friends have moved on and he is staying behind does pull at the heart strings.
The upside is his teacher has already said she expects him to be a leader. He has the same teacher so he already knows the routine and is helping his younger classmates learn it. This year is all about establishing independence and mastering following a routine, plus making sure he is academically sound to move forward. Repeating Pre-K or Kindergarten is not the end of the world. Many parents will tell you that extra year to mature was good for their child. I want to be clear this decision is not the right one for every kid, but I firmly believe it is the right one for my kid.
I was not surprised when the teacher made the recommendation. I had worked closely with the teacher all year, discussing his progress in different programs. He had never been in daycare before and certain things were foreign to him. Additionally, his speech was still lagging and he had a really hard time writing. He started speech in April of 2016, but the other issues I did not know about. I knew he didn’t like writing at home, but I thought he just didn’t want to sit. Not wanting to sit also became an issue. Over the year he participated in several programs to get him ready for Kindergarten and they didn’t work as expected. When the teacher made the recommendation to repeat Pre-k, I discussed it with my husband and the defining point was he is not mature enough. Although it does not seem like it, kindergarten encourages a lot of independence. I had to honestly assess whether or not my child could handle it, and at the time he could not. As a parent with older kids, I have learned maturity is a big deal. It sets the stage for social interactions, following directions and even understanding some lessons being taught. If your child’s brain development is not ready to perform at the required level, the school year can be hell.
To get him ready to excel this year, over this summer we have done two different occupational therapies for two different reasons. One is just for handwriting and the other is to help him with attention and impulse control. He has improved greatly, and will continue his therapy throughout the school year. I am confident he will be ready for Kindergarten when the time comes. When you add the additional support with the additional maturity, hopefully Kindergarten year will be enjoyable for him.
If you are faced with this decision with your child consider the reason for the delay. Listen to the teacher and consult with a mental health professional or pediatrician. Talking it out with a teacher friend will help too. Do what you need to do, so you are comfortable with the decision being made. In the long run, it can give your child much needed room to grow at their own pace. It also means you get one more year with your child at home. The closer I get to my oldest leaving the nest, the more grateful I am for that extra year.