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 behavior 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!
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.