Ten Things About Holding Your Child Back

Crying boy

A common practice in the US, holding children back from primary is finding ground in the UK as an acceptable practice and is becoming more common among UK families. The practice originated to give children extra time to prepare for school before beginning kindergarten in the US or primary school in the UK, but before you keep your child out of school for the extra year, consider all sides of the situation.

1. Your Child’s Age

The most common reason to hold a child back from school is due to his age. The cut-off date for school is around the first of September and this makes babies born in the summer and late spring “young” for their school year. Their peers are almost a full year ahead of them which can be a significant different early on in school. If your child is a baby born in the fall or winter, she’ll already be older than many of her classmates, most parents who elect to hold a child back are trying to decide what is best for their spring and summer babies.

2. Your Child’s Gender

Boys are more active in most cases than girls. This makes it a bit challenging for these young ones to sit still and pay attention to the teacher in a traditional sort of classroom. There is also some discussion about boys lacking the fundamental skills required for reading and writing at a young age and therefore starting school behind their peers and staying there throughout their schooling. Regardless of the reason, the vast majority of children who are held back from starting primary are boys born in the late spring or summer.

3. Your Child’s Size

Ask anyone on either end of the height spectrum and they will tell you being in school as the tallest or shortest pupil has special challenges. If your children are very small, they might grow a bit between the two years and fit in more effectively with their peers should you hold them back. On the other hand, if your children are already tall for their age, waiting a full year before starting kindergarten might make the height difference in the classroom even more pronounced for those tall children.

4. Athletics

Increasingly, parents are choosing to hold their children back a year not just for academic and behavioral reasons, but for athletics as well. The boys born in September are bigger and stronger than the boys born in August when it comes time for teams and athletic events. This will be true all the way up through school in many cases and starting a child a year later can improve his chances of playing a better position on the team or leading his team to victory. For parents with this motivation, many are excited to have the largest child in the classroom as he will likely be viewed as a leader both on the field and off.

5. Boredom

There is a risk that is you start your child later in school, you’ll be holding him back when he was actually ready to tackle new material and challenges. Putting him in another year of preschool or keeping him at home when he’d be excited to try something new might cause a year of boredom while he waits to start school and then once he gets there. Children who are at the top of the class are often bored as they wait for their classmates to catch up and as they work on things they already know.

6. Academic Potential

Studies have shown that children who start school early do not wind up being more intelligent than their peers upon graduation. There is no discernable difference in ability or intelligence. Just like the child who reads at four and the one who reads at six eventually level out, children who wait a year to start primary wind up in the same position they would have been in had they started school a year earlier.

7. Success in the Early Years

Starting school later can boost a child’s self esteem, however, if he is in fact the biggest and the brightest among his peers. Being the top of the class early on will fuel his self esteem and give him increased motivation to do well and stay in that position throughout his schooling. It is often this motivation that fuels parents when they consider starting school a year later.

8. Self Esteem Issues

But studies have found that just as often as there is terrific self esteem for late starters, other children are affected by the delayed start negatively. These children often realize that they are not moving on into school with their peers from the nursery or feel ready and are told they are not. Once children who have been delayed are in the classroom, they might be singled out as being older or different from children who started “on time.” Some argue that these children feel as though they started behind and stayed there throughout their schooling.

9. Peer Interactions

There are two ends of this spectrum to consider. The child that is immature for his age will struggle in the classroom socially if his peers are more grown up and less tolerant of the kinds of play your child is still trying to enjoy. On the other side, if your child is more mature than his classmates and a year older, he’ll again suffer from boredom and possibly alienation as the other children play together happily. This is a fine line for parents and is an area that can be discussed with his nursery teachers to determine how ready he is socially to move on into primary school.

10. Readiness

Finally, you should consider how ready your child is for the academic issues of primary school. Children develop in different areas and if your child is not especially developed yet in language and communication skills he might have a harder time. Children in nursery school learn some basic skills to prepare them for primary classes such as walking in lines, sitting still, memorization, writing letters and drawing carefully – among many others. Children who have not been exposed to any form of early education might not be as prepared as their peers to enter primary school and can benefit from a year spend in a nursery school program to get caught up.

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