Holding Your Child Back in School
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From WikiParentingWhen to begin kindergarten is becoming increasingly a matter of parental preference. Parents mull over the decision based on their child's birth date, social development, or overall readiness. "Redshirting", the practice of holding a child back to develop stronger academic readiness, is utilized for kids with late birthdays and social immaturity. While the merits of this practice are debated, parents need to ultimately decide what is best for their kid.
In the United States, many states hold that a child must be 5 by a certain date, usually during the month of September, in order to qualify for kindergarten enrollment. If your child just barely makes the cut-off, this could be a reason for waiting an additional year. Children with birthdays in the latter half of the year, particularly for boys, are often held a year from starting kindergarten in order to increase the likelihood of academic success. Twelve months is a long time in the development of a child. A child who turns six nearly one year after the older children in his class is more likely to struggle with the academic material and social structure of kindergarten than his older classmates. However, experts caution that age should not be the only factor in consideration. Some young kids may be ready to begin school, while older ones may not be.
 Kindergarten Readiness
Many schools administer a kindergarten readiness screening and offer some thoughts to consider when making the important decision as to whether to start kindergarten or wait a year. Additionally, there are tests available that parents can do with their own child. Screening instruments measure attention span, motor skills, socialization, overall behavior, independence, and interest in learning.
Knowing what your school expects of new kindergarteners can help you, as a parent, make informed decisions. Consider too whether the kindergarten program is full-day or half-day and how strenuous the curriculum is in reading, basic math, and logic. Some kindergarten programs focus heavily on these things while others focus more on "soft skills" the first year and transitioning from home to school.
 A Transition Approach
For some children, the first school year is spent in a private, half-day or even transition kindergarten program similar to preschool. The next year, the child then attends a full-day kindergarten program at public/private school, hopefully with the advantage of the transition year and entering school with more academic readiness and self-confidence. Certain “transition programs” are specifically geared for 5-year-olds who are delaying school one year.
 Repeating Kindergarten
When in doubt, you can always go ahead and enroll your child in kindergarten, but keep an open mind that you child could possibly repeat the year. This allows the child to receive a full-year of academic instruction and gain a year of self-esteem and readiness to boot. There is typically little or no social stigma involved with repeating kindergarten, so if you are still on the fence, it may be a good way to test the waters and give your child an opportunity to adjust to the idea of school.
 Promoting Kindergarten to Your Child
Children should be told what they can realistically expect to do and know in kindergarten without sugarcoating from their parents. Kindergarten is a fun year but the experience is not all fun and games. Kindergarten offers lots of opportunity for social development, but self-control, academics, phonics, math and even basic science concepts are often de rigor.
 Reinforce Learning at Home
Parental participation is vital to a child's learning, and never is there a time more important to be involved than with kindergarteners and early reading. If your child is struggling, ask his teacher for specific advice as to how you can help reinforce basic learning at home. Dedicate "homework" time for your child every night to start them on the right path of learning. Sit with them and help them work through the material. Keep the mood positive and reward your child for focus and attention to detail.