Friday, March 6, 2009

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Holding Kids Back A Grade

My oldest grandson is five. He's bright. He's ready to read and does math exercises by himself all the time. He wants this, it's not being forced upon him.

He goes to a Waldorf school.

I understand the importance of developing slowly and surely. I understand laying the groundwork. But/and I have a difficult time when "rules" are applied across the board without giving consideration for the unique child at hand. This appears to be what's happening to him, at least to me.

The teacher has suggested he repeat kindergarten. She's a gentle soul. I know she wants only the best for these kids.

Her reasons: He is a male child and males develop six months behind girls. They want the kids to hit age 7 while in first grade and since his birthday is in August, he won't be 7. With these two considerations combined, she feels it's best that he stay another year.

My daughter listened and thought those good reasons. She asked my grandson and he thought it a good idea.

I thought it not a good idea.

I pointed out that give who he is and his learning readiness, he would be bored as time went on. I suggested that while I want to honor childrens' decisions about the trajectory of their lives, he could not grasp what the reality of him staying put while his classmates moved on would be. I reminded her that she and her sisters had all gotten disgusted with high school and that none of the three of them had finished it in the traditional way. Did she want to subject him to another year of school on the other end?

I am fully in support of not pushing kids who aren't ready to be pushed. But it's a balance.

Years ago, his mother's pre-school teachers all suggested I put her directly into first grade. I didn't care, didn't have an ego need for this for her. I could see she was more than ready and was listening to them, but as she was my first I was on new ground. I had a meeting with the principal, told him what I had been told. He decided I was operating from a pushing position and refused to do it. I watched his mother, my daughter, be the Teacher's aide her whole school career. I listened to her teachers in every grade school year tell me she should not be there, that she was so beyond where the other kids were.

I'm happy the school system got an aide and got paid to have her there. My daughter survived and has no long lasting pervasive psychological damage as a result of it :). Essentially it's not that big of a deal as, truthfully?...I think school important, but more for socialization. Most of the successful people I know didn't do all that well acdemically in school. Many of those who did aren't the most successful, happiest people (by far). I look at school as more social training than anything else, which is why grades were never an issue in our household. If and when a child wants to learn something, they will learn it.

After much discussion and pondering, my daughter has decided to not keep him back. I think that in the long run he will be happier. And we like it when he's happy.

image taken from here


Fusion said...

I think your daughter made the right decision there. The powers that be tried to push our son ahead a year back in first grade, but my wife and I said no, and although he basically skipped 6th grade (did a expierimental online course that failed due to the instructor), he had a good normal schooling that put him in the top ten students of his senior class.

Pamm said...

Me, too, Fusion. I understand that it can go both ways, but I fear we are shooting for the lowest common denominator here these days. I think he's ready.

Mom To A Preschooler said...

I totally agree with you. They should also consider a child's readiness. In time, your son will be bored if he goes back kindergarten. I honestly think they should have an individualized approach.

Pamm said...

Hi, Mom..thanks for stopping by. He's actually my grandson...but that doesn't mean I don't have opinions..and 'share' them :)