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Should My Child Repeat Kindergarten? | A Teacher-Mother Perspective

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 5 min read

If you are reading this blog, you have come to find some answers as to whether your child is ready for formal schooling. You’ve gone to the miracle of Google and typed ‘Should my child repeat kindergarten?’, hoping miraculously that you find an article that gives you that answer. I’m sorry to say, this isn’t the blog that will answer that question for you. What I can share, is our journey, and why we waved goodbye at the school gate to one of our children the ‘right’ year and why we have decided to repeat the other in Kindergarten.

I’m not going to lie! Making this decision has been the hardest decision we have had to make as parents to date. Being a teacher, most people said: “You know what to do!”, but the fact of the matter was, I didn’t know what to do.

One minute you are sitting on the ground showing your child how to build a tower with blocks, next minute, you are faced with the beginning of their formal schooling. It creeps up way too quickly!

Like anything with children, there is no one size fits all approach, each child is so different, but I hope this blog provides some insight and helps others with their decision-making process.

Why I’m Repeating My Son in Kindergarten

My first born, Sophie, was due to turn 5 in May of the year she was going to be starting school. We had no doubt that although she would be one of the youngest in her class, she was ready for school. She was absolutely ready to thrive in the school environment.

Lachlan is also due to turn 5 in May of the year he is ‘meant’ to begin formal schooling. He has no problems socially, having formed a close group of friends in Kindy. He is a ‘delight’ in terms of behaviour in class, though I sometimes find this hard to believe! He can sit still and concentrate on an activity for extended periods of time, especially if it involves role-playing with transportation devices! He is a generally quiet boy, who’s got a big heart (though I may be a little biased). However, we have decided that he would only be ready to survive if we sent him to formal schooling.

And…. what would you want more, a child who is ready to survive, or a child who is ready to thrive?

Why We Decided to ‘Make the Call’ and Delay Formal Schooling

Repeating Kindergarten, delaying formal schooling, giving them more time to ‘play’ and explore their interests and develop more… whatever you want to call it, we have made the call and are happy we did. It was always something that was in the back of our minds, but making that final call was really tricky! Here are some of the reasons that helped us make up our minds:

He is Young and He is a Boy!

As a teacher, it was always evident that boys and girls developed at different stages, both mentally and socially. Scientists have always studied the differences between boys and girls and their maturity and development. It’s a well-known fact; I saw it in the classroom when I was teaching. But, seeing it in my own children has been truly eye-opening.

Lachlan would have been starting school at the age of 4! And, a much different 4-year-old to my daughter.

Not Interested in Learning to Write His Name

Although Lachlan recognises his name (most of the time), he has no interest in writing or even tracing his name when given the opportunity.

It’s so important that we don’t push this on to young children. As long as they are provided with the opportunity to learn these sorts of skills, they will take it on board when they are ready. Also, having that fine motor control to begin writing is an important developmental milestone that is really important in school readiness.

No Emergent Writing Skills

Emergent writing is the beginning stage a young child will go through by making random marks on a page that somewhat resemble writing. It is their first attempts in the writing process and means they have begun to understand that writing is a form of communication and that the purpose is to convey a message.

Lachlan has not shown any interest or begun this emergent writing stage, and again I don’t want to push this. I provide him with opportunities to begin this, but he’ll jump in when he’s ready!

Toileting Issues

Lachlan is still struggling a little with toileting, though he has improved a lot this year. He still has accidents at Kindy when his mind is preoccupied with something that is far more interesting than going to the toilet!

Speech Hiccups – Areas for Development

Speech and language skills are another major factor in the ‘school readiness’ decision process. A child’s speech development is a gradual process and it’s not uncommon for children, especially boys, to require some extra assistance with pronouncing certain sounds.

After a speech screening at Lachlan’s kindy, a few areas of development were highlighted and he has since started some speech therapy. As a teacher, I knew this was most likely required, but I just needed that reassurance from another professional.

Scribbles More than Draws

Although Lachlan has an older sister, his interest in drawing has been very sparse.

He’d much prefer to play with his cars and role play an ’emergency’ situation rather than sit down and draw or write – which is completely fine! But, we felt this was a tell-tale sign that he needed another year at Kindy to build his confidence in this very important developmental stage.

He’s Physically Small

Yep – he’s my little munchkin. And, of course, we wouldn’t base our whole decision on the fact that he’s small! But it definitely added to the benefits of delaying school.

Kindy Teacher Agreed

Finally, the professionals agreed! It’s important to know that it’s not just you on this journey. Ask professionals, talk to others that have gone through this journey!

With all this in mind, you’d think it would be an easy decision, but really, what parenting decision is ever easy?

You are always wanting to do the ‘right’ thing by your children. I still think… is this the right decision? How is he going to feel when his friends are no longer at Kindy and have moved on to Prep?

So, there you have it! Our story and our journey of making this important decision in our son’s life. I hope it provides some help to parents out there trying to work out what is best for their child.

I’d love to hear your stories… share them in the comments section of this blog.


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  • Shannon White

    Oh my goodness!!!!! I feel as though I could have written this blog. I feel like it describes the journey we are having with my son. He too is a May baby and struggling in most areas you stated except the toileting issues. He is not interested in school at all. Even when you ask him if he wants to go to school he will say " No Mummy please don't make me go to big school!" He also has been diagnosed as having speech and language difficulties which we are currently working on. We too have decided to keep our son back another year to enjoy being my baby. While he is one of the bigger kids in his kindy class he is probably one of the most shy and least willing to take risks. Thank you for sharing your story. While we have already made the decision to repeat it is nice to hear that there are others going through the same issues and having to make the same decision.

    • Holly (Teach Starter)

      Hi Shannon, Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experiences. When I wrote this blog, I knew that there were going to be people out there that were going through the exact same thing. Or different, and it has made them feel a little more at ease with whichever decision they have made! This parenting gig is a hard one and we are all trying to do the best we can. Thanks again for sharing your story as well.

  • Sarah Grosvenor

    Thankyou for this article. As a mother of 5 (2 boys, 3 girls), and a teacher across F-12, I believe this is a beneficial topic for discussion. We have experienced schooling and teaching across 2 states, and have found it to be common to send the child off when they reach the acceptable age, irrespective of the child's interest/capabilities. Parents see the child to be ready to start primary school without any consideration as to what it may look like as their child starts high school, and beyond as they complete their schooling years later. As a teacher, I have seen many students struggle as they are younger and immature compared to their cohort. Holding back where possible has benefitted my own children, and I have seen it in the classroom. As yet, I have not seen any negatives in holding the child back, and yet have seen many students struggle because they were not socially and emotionally ready for what is ahead.

    • Holly (Teach Starter)

      Hi Sarah, thank you so much for your comment and sharing your views. I'm so glad that this blog is going to be helpful to other parents, especially those that have no experience in the education field. It is so true what you say at the end of your comment - I haven't heard anyone say they regret repeating their child in Kindergarten! Thanks again for sharing your story.

  • Hayley Wharton

    We are repeating kinder as well. My girl has a speech delay that needs a bit of extra time. She is more than ready academically. Writes and recognises all the letters, both upper and most lower cases. Starting to sound words out. Understands adding and some subtraction. Her speech has set her confidence back. The little confident girl she is at home is quiet and withdrawn at kinder. We had the added pressure of her age with our decision. She was 5 in December meaning that she'll start school 6 already turning 7 the September of prep. This weighed heavily on my mind, if I'm honest still does. We also chose to move her kinder for the second year. Then she's still getting a change and won't notice that the kids she's with this year aren't there next year. It's a very hard decision to make but I've assured by all of the professionals I've spoken to, one that we won't regret.

    • Holly (Teach Starter)

      Hi Hayley, thanks for sharing your experience with us. It is always such a hard decision but sounds like you have made the right decision. I've never heard from someone who regretted repeating their child in Kinder but I have heard from parents that they wish they had of delayed formal schooling. Thanks again for sharing.

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