His Pre-K/Kindergarten teacher said she was on the fence about our son repeating Kindergarten or continuing to 1st grade. Another evaluation from a different school said he was too immature to continue for 1st grade. Both teachers based this on the fact that he struggled with the work that needed to be done on paper at his desk/table. Mostly, but not always, he would hurry through it (very messy or incorrect) to go play or complain that he was too tired or had a headache to complete the assignment. Since then we found out that he has a vision problem and he is now in therapy. His vision therapist, also an elementary teacher, said he should move on to 1st grade. I don't want him to struggle all through his school years. Yet, I don't want him to feel left behind. How can we be certain?
It's extremely difficult to hear that a teacher wants to hold your child back. It's hard not to worry about the social aspect and what it means about your child on an education level. The reality is that with most children held back in kindergarten, it's very much a maturity/readiness issue. Unfortunately, maturity is not something that can be rushed. It's not something you can 'tutor' to improve. Children are simply ready when the time is right for them.
Consider that deciding to hold a child back is a huge decision which teachers don't just do on a whim. They've spent close to a year observing and working with your child. They've also had years of experience working with other children. They've seen children not held back continue through school and have seen the results. Making the decision to recommend holding your son back came after very careful evaluation.
You stated that the teachers felt your son was too immature for first grade based on his struggles with classroom assignments. Since then, you've discovered that there was a vision issue for which he is now getting help. It's wonderful that he is now getting the assistance he requires and this therapy will likely contribute a great deal to his educational endeavors.
That being said, the reality is that this issue wasn't recognized until later in the year. This means that regardless of whether or not he's mature enough for grade one, he's nonetheless missed out on what he was supposed to learn in kindergarten. Although many think that kindergarten is simply 'play' in preparation for being in school a full day and for socialization, a great deal more is actually taught. Given that these concepts were likely missed, your child could face a greater learning curve than many of the other grade one children. As you mentioned, you don't want him to face a struggle throughout his school years. Feeling unprepared for the demands of grade one could affect his confidence and leave him feeling left behind during his school career.
Also, take into account that you may possibly end up facing this decision again, only it will be in later years. In later years, the reality is that there are more difficult social issues with which he'll have to cope, and years of struggling will have had a harmful affect on his self-esteem and perception of school.
I know that this is an extremely difficult choice to make. Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball to see into the future so you don't know which route to take. However, it seems like you're making the effort to carefully consider your choices and what it will mean for your son. I wish you luck in making this decision.
I am a first grade teacher in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am not a huge fan of retaining students, however if a child is struggling and it appears to be due to maturity issues it is often in the best interest of the child to retain them in their current grade. The demands in first grade are significantly greater than they are in kinder. If he is struggling because he's rushing and not interested in giving the time and effort it takes to complete kinder activities then he most certainly won't be able to effectively meet first grade standards. This "lack of interest or motivation" often simply requires more maturity which he would gain by repeating kinder. The earlier a child is held in school the greater the benefit with less of a negative social impact. Additionally, for some children when put into situations where the work load becomes overwhelming it proves detrimental to their future success because they feel such a sense of failure which they are struggling to overcome. Sadly, many times these feelings of failure are never effectively conquered. However repeating kinder and feeling more confident about what he is doing will certainly better prepare him for first grade requirements. I've attached a link to an ariticle you might find helpful. Finally, listen to your own little voice. You know your child better than anyone so listen to your instincts. Everything will work out and be as it should be. Best of luck! Your friend in education, Kristin
Children with a vision problem will need modifications especially with written work. Depending on the type of visual problem a child has, the following modifications often help with the writing assignments:
1. Sit close to the front of the classroom
2. Write on colored paper rather than white to reduce the glaring contrast between white and black: light blue or purple are good choices
3. Highlight the "ditch" (area where the tails of g, j, etc. go) to enable better visual appearance for letter placement
4. If copying is required from a page or book, place the page or book above rather than to the side of his paper
5. Overhead lights can place a glare on the paper: sit away from them and closer to natural sunlight
Make sure modifications are in place regardless of the grade level you choose.