I have a 6 year old son who is finishing his first year of kindergarten. His birthday is in December so he is one of the oldest in his class. He does have speech delays and has been in speech most of the year and some in pre school. He is not autistic and does not have any other diagnosis other than speech delay. His speech therapist thinks he is very bright and he has tested very high on different tests she has given him. His kindergarten teacher thinks he may not be ready for 1st grade because he is behind on his reading and struggles in this area. He does great socially and fits in great with all the other classmates. I'm concerned if he is held back and then has to enter 1st grade at the age of 7 1/2 that he will have trouble throughout the rest of his school years.
Hi there! This is one of the questions I here most frequently from parents. First, it sounds like you've already done a lot of research--speaking to all the people who work closely with him, so that's a great start. I think that there are two main reasons to hold a child back, and often these both need to occur together to make a compelling argument to hold a child back:
1. The child is lagging behind significantly in academics (not just in one area, but in all areas--reading, math, writing)
2. The child is having significant trouble socially in a way that has a good chance of improving dramatically with an extra year because he is 'immature' or 'young' and not having trouble because of a social problem like Aspergers or autism that an extra year won't necessarily help significantly.
Since your son does not have difficulty socially and is one of the oldest in the class, I think it is probably not a great idea to hold him back because he may--for the rest of his school years--have a difficult time relating to classmates. However, it is important to address his reading issues. Therefore, this might be a good time for him to have a full evaluation to determine why he is struggling so much with reading that the teacher is feeling this concerned. it is possible that he has a learning disability that needs to be addressed (not that he would need to be held back for this at all!). So, I'd suggest a full psychological and academic assessment before the end of the school year if possible so that if he does need any services you could have them in place for next year.
Hope this helps!
Dr. Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert www.drsusanbartell.com
NEW book! "The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask"
My son is turning 8 in July and is about to complete 1st grade for the second time. I am so grateful that I made this decision. At first it was hard for him because he felt like a failure, but as I told him; he could go to school and not feel so frustrated everyday when he came home and he might be able to be an example to the other children. When he finished first grade the first time he was only slightly above the reading level that he should have been at when the year started. This second time around in first grade has allowed him to feel more confident and increase his reading schools, writing skills and other literacy skills that have been lacking. After testing we realized that he has auditory processing dysfunction and did end up in special ed to help him along. This made the repeat of 1st grade all that much more beneficial. So in short, I fully 100% support repeating. In the end I think it is us as parents that struggle more with it than the child. Forget the age, who wants to feel behind all the other kids all the time.
As a former school administer in charge of reviewing and appealing the practice of retaining students in a large school district, I have personally followed and seen the outcome, over time, of students who were retained. For most, there was no significant difference in their performance in those students who were retained and those who teachers wanted to retain, but due to either district review or parent objection, were NOT retained. For most others, especially those in 1st grade or above, their grades actually declined. Therefore, I would strongly suggest NOT holding your child back.....ESPECIALLY if he is bright!
All of the research compiled from the 1920's to date suggest that, if a child needs special/additional instruction, it is far better to pass them on and provide it than it is to hold them back (A great compilation of the research is Shepard and Smith's, 'Flunking Grades' or go to 3rsplus.com and click on the Research tab.). To hold back a child who has already been held back once...even if they have a late birthday would be akin to educational malpractice. Because your child will be so much older, and maybe larger, than his classmates, it will cause far more problems in the future than the practice is worth.
It's likely there's a connection between the reading and speech delays. As his speech improves with therapy, his reading may improve as well. In addition to what others have suggested, reading ability can also be influenced by physical conditions such as vision and allergies. Does he have allergies?
Many would argue that social life is the most important part of being human (I agree). For some, a major social change can be a devastating experience with short or even long term implications (good and/or bad). You say he is doing great socially and it sounds like he's a bright kid who is only struggling with reading. Keep seeking answers, solutions, and pursuing ways to assist in that area of development. Summer break can be a good time to help a student play some catch up (not to exclude regular tutoring during the school year).