“Giving the Gift of Time”: thoughts on Repeating Kindergarten

The Question:
Parents of a student I am retaining would like me to talk with her after school on the last day, to help her understand she will be with me again.
Any good books you suggest I could read to her that may help? I have Leo the Late Bloomer.
The Answers:
Cheri Dodson Smith
When I retain a student, I tell them that I CHOSE them to stay with me! That they are SO lucky to get an extra year! It is the reason that I do NOT have a kindergarten graduation, but rather a kindergarten celebration, to celebrate one year completed in kindergarten…and some kids get to do that twice! My students receive a completion certificate. Giving an extra year is a gift to a student who needs it! CELEBRATE this child! celebrate the year that she completed and tell her she will be your kindergarten EXPERT next year!
Ginger Gault Phipps 
Great book to use! We tell our retained students they will be “kindergarten helpers” and give them jobs that help train the new students…like going with the others to take reports, being in charge of a center, etc.
Sheila James Cockerill 
We had a conversation with one little boy we retained where we began by saying that not everyone does things at the same time. Not everyone loses their teeth all on the same time. Not everyone learns how to tie their shoes at the same time. Not everyone learns their abc’s at the same time either. We told him that sometimes we have boys or girls that we ask to stay in kindergarten to be leaders next year. The children coming into kindergarten do not know our procedures and way of doing things. We would love if he would stay in kindergarten to be a leader for the new students coming in next year.
He readily agreed. We just played it up to a special request that we don’t just ask of anyone. He was not only fine with it, but excited about it. Since we are half day still here, he will be coming in to school in the P.M. (he was A.M. this year). He was excited about it.
Andrea Trevethan Tudor 
These are all great suggestions, and I’ve used them before … it’s also VERY important to explain this to the parents as well. Their attitude about the retention has the biggest impact. If the parent giving the same message as you (about the “gift of time”, being a helper, etc.) then the child’s attitude will follow. Also, parents are usually worried about what the other children will say in the fall, but in my experience childrens’ reactions only last a day or two. Once you explain in a short, matter-of-fact way that you’ve kept the retained child with you, the topic almost never comes up again. I just say, “Some kids get to do kindergarten twice” and that usually is the end of it 🙂
Amber Monson Schaefer 
I always emphasize how lucky they are to get to do kindergarten two times. Let’s face it, k is way more fun anyway!
Heather Pocock
 I tell my students that I need a ‘helper’ for next year to help me with the new students who won’t know what to do when they start Kindergarten. They feel ‘special’ and love being the ‘helper’ to the new students!
Lisa Palmer 
Leo the Late Bloomer
Cheri Dodson Smith
 I agree with you Andrea, the parent MUST be on board, and using the same language….about how LUCKY the child is…AND I also agree with being matter-of-fact as that almost always works with kiddos!
 
Patti Brady Greenwood
 We don’t retain, but spend a lot of time talking about our “gifts”. First we have a discussion about how presents are wrapped. Do they all look alike? Are they all the same size and shape? Do all of them have bows and bright fancy paper that is all the same? Then we talk about how they are unwrapped. Some like to open them really quickly and rip through the paper. Some like to take their time and enjoy the experience lasting a bit longer. Our “gifts” are that way, too. Some open quickly, some like to take their time and open slower. But, in the end, don’t we still have the gift? It’s the gift that is important, not the wrapping or the unwrapping! They really understand that because who doesn’t like opening gifts?
Mary Hewitt
 I love these ideas. I do a whole book kinderlite one we make based on Leo. I explain to the whole class how some are just not ready for first. . . .that we all grow differently. I use myself as I was a summer birthday.  My parents sent me at 5. In stone ages when K was half days and more play based.  How I was just not mature or ready to go on but how I did well. My mother fought to retain, they talked her out if it in first grade too. . . .finally I was retained in second, not something I would ever suggest. How I began to fit in. . . .and trust me when I saw scholastics was never an issue! I tell my class I wouldn’t be who I am today had I not stayed back. I ask them if they think I am smart and of course at kindergarten they think I know everything! We can help students learn but as a former k teacher told me we can not make them mature. I have a parent I need to talk to. . . .and some of the things you have posted will help me. This student has struggled some gaining skills but is things are starting to make click but his maturity and being a year younger just make me feel first grade might be struggle because of maturity. . . .but I dont think I can get mom to agree with it.
Laurie Chmarney 
Another retired teacher that I worked with told me this statement and it just stuck, “Children are like flowers, they all bloom on their own at different times”
Cheri Dodson Smith 
again…I never RETAIN…I give the child a gift of an extra year….for free!!!
Lauri Davis 
 
Erin Handy Armstrong 
Just simply say, “You’re being given the gift of time!” As the teacher, let her know what a wonderful time she is going to have next year…Reinforce all of the FUN things you do! Let her know how special next year will be!
Louisa Hoffman
 I always send First Grade Can Wait home with my parent to read to their child. It does a great job of explaining.
Christa Brown Brubaker 
I talk about how some kids do an extra year of preschool, while others do an extra year of kindergarten.
Tammy Tomlin Horton 
Melissa K. Harris Armann
 Usually by the end of the year they know that kindergarten has been hard for them. I just talk with them about how it has been hard this year, so we are going to try again next year so it can be easy for them.
Sarah Hudson 
I think some of you are over thinking this. 5 year olds don’t even understand the idea of NOT being in the same class next year. Don’t make too big a deal of it!!
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5 thoughts on ““Giving the Gift of Time”: thoughts on Repeating Kindergarten

  1. I started my daughter(September birthday) in public school K this year, cut off is oct 1. I also have a 1st grade boy and 4th grade boy. This has by far been the hardest decision of my parenting career. I originally planned on holding her back based on my experiences with my older children as well as her readiness. At the last minute however, I seconded guessed myself and sent her to K. Now we are three months into to the school year and the decision is still not sitting well with me. I am contemplating pulling her out after Christmas break. I don’t know if sending her a private K then back to the public K next year would be best or back to Preschool. I am concerned that this will have a negative impact on her. Any advise or experience with a similar situation would be greatly appreciated.

  2. I am a parent of a 6 year old girl who I decided to give an extra year of kindergarten. We didn’t think the other kids in her class would be of any issue, but my daughter has brought it to my attention that a couple of them at recess have been telling her why she “has been held back,” as well as other unnecessary comments. My daughter is having a hard time with it and came to me crying the other night. I just don’t know if anyone had any ideas of how they would deal with it and those students? I’ve already told the teacher but just waiting for a response as I just sent her an email a bit ago.

    Thank you!!

    • Gina, I’m sorry for your daughter’s hurt. I will re-post this on Miss Bindergarten’s Facebook page so that more teachers can weigh in.
      Miss Bindergarten

  3. Unfortunately, some parents believe there is this stigma to being held back. I have one this year who pulled their child for the last two weeks of the year and are switching schools to retain in Kinder. It was very sad and upsetting to me because I purposely do not do a graduation but a celebration of the year for those who need the gift of a year.

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