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Elementary Educators/Move child back to K or just repeat 1st


QUESTION: Hi, Just hoping to get an outside opinion from an educational expert.  Long story daughter is in the 1st grade, but is chronologically in the wrong age for our district.  The public school suggested putting her in 1st because she had completed K at a private school ( who did not have any age requirements) It was ultimately my decision what grade I wanted to put her in, and at first I wanted her to just do Kindergarten again but because the school felt her reading skills were right where they needed to be, they suggested 1st grade was the best placement for her.  She also had missed the cutoff by just a few weeks and socially is pretty mature for her age.  However, I was ALWAYS very uneasy about my decision and feared that she could struggle.  Well, half way through the year now, she is in fact struggling, mostly with comprehension and math overall.  She also doesn't like being the youngest!  And all in all, I truly feel that I made a mistake and K is where she should have been with her same age peers and feeling successful!  So, I have to make a very difficult decision now.....either to move her back to K (half way through the year) which the school did give me as an option or just let her finish off the year and then have her repeat 1st.  Of course I always have the option of moving on to 2nd grade, but I do no feel comfortable with that at all and would not want her to keep struggling to keep up!  I feel like if anything, this is the time to correct the fact that she is in the wrong grade, while she is still young.  So, I guess my question is what do you think in your opinion would be the least damaging to my daughter? Switch to K now or just repeat 1st?  I guess the only plus of having her move back to K now is to avoid a retention on her record.  What do you think?

ANSWER: Hello and thank you for your question.  As a teacher I would like to thank you for being proactive about your daughter's education. It is better to take care of development issues earlier in children's education rather than later on. You are taking care of things at exactly the right time in your daughter's development.  I feel that your best option would be to put her into Kindergarten right now for the second half of the year.  She won't have to worry about being behind because it sounds like she has already mastered the skills taught in the first semester of Kindergarten.  Having her in Kindergarten know will allow her to cement the knowledge that she has already learned in her mind.  It will be more less of a review.  It should also allow her to be at kids that are the same age as she is.  She will feel more successful and confident and this will help her when she starts 1st grade in the fall.  

So, in my opinion, take her out of the first grade class and put her in the Kindergarten class.  It is good that the school has made it an option.  Keep challenging her at home with her reading skills.  I think by doing this she will have a successful time in first grade next year and it will make her much happier.

If you need any more information or further explanation please let me know.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi, thanks so much for your advice!  I do tend to agree with you also about just putting back in K right now and that was my initial gut.  But problem is I spoke to my daughter about it, explained the whole situation and she actually told me that she would rather stay in 1st even if it was a little for her and then just do 1st again.  She seemed completely OK with repeating, as I explained it from the age perspective and just told her that she was in the wrong grade for her age.  So given that, would it still be best to switch her to K at this point?  I know children obviously don't always know what is best for them.  What do you think?

Hi and sorry for the delay.  It sounds like your daughter is pretty perceptive of the situation. I am tempted to say that your daughter should make the decision, but since she is pretty young I still tend to think you should go with your gut feeling.  Neither putting her in Kindergarten now nor holding her back in 1st next fall will harm her academically or emotionally.  Either way she is going to be with the right aged kids and she will perform at or above grade level.  If she needs some confidence then Kindergarten would be the place for her.  What has her first grade teacher recommended?  If you do just keep her in 1st grade now and retain her next year, make sure you insist on that with the teacher.  Many times schools frown on retention just because of age (Personally, I think its great.  My parents retained me in the 1st grade because I was the youngest and smallest.  My teacher said I was academically ready for 2nd but my parents had a gut feeling.  I am perfectly happy they did that!)  Don't worry about any negative remarks pertaining to retention in her school records.  It would simply show she went through the grade level twice.  Let me know if you need any more clarification.  I'd love to hear how everything works out.

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Kevin Kennaugh


I can answer questions from teachers, parents, students, and other interested parties. I can answer questions regarding classwork, curriculum, behavior, classroom management, homework, and other school related issues.


I have been an 3rd grade elementary teacher for the past 12 years. I also work with students in grades 1-4 on a daily basis.


B.S. Elementary Education M.S. Elementary Education/Technology Integration

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