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About Retention in Kindergarten

by Karen Hollowell

Kindergarten retention is a controversial subject among parents and educators. This mainly stems from the subjective nature of the decision. Kindergarten students do not pass or fail a subject. Their overall academic performance is considered. If your child is struggling in kindergarten, you need to consider all sides of the issue. Regardless of research findings, you and the teacher should reach a consensus and make a decision based on what is best for your child.

Reasons

Teachers usually cite several reasons to justify retention. A student who just made the entrance age cut-off date by a month or less might be too immature physically or socially. If this is the case for your child, you might agree that he would benefit from another year in kindergarten. Another reason teachers support retention is non-mastery of basic skills like alphabet naming or counting and number recognition. If your child is struggling to master these objectives, another year of instruction might be the answer.

Positive

Teachers note several positive benefits of kindergarten retention. A child has an additional year to master skills making him better prepared for first grade. Another year will also give a child time to grow physically and socially. This is important for children who had a hard time making friends or participating in activities during the initial year of kindergarten.

Negative

Teachers also cite some negative results of kindergarten retention. A child might feel left out when he realizes that his peers have gone to first grade. This could lead to resentment during the school year that affects his academic achievement. A retained child might exhibit some behavior problems as a result of this resentment or from boredom. Many times a child in kindergarten will progress until the second semester; repeating skills that he already knows might be redundant for him.

Research

As a parent considering retaining your child in kindergarten, you need to be aware of research findings. Two separate studies concluded that there were no lasting benefits for a child who repeated kindergarten. Math and reading proficiency were not increased dramatically enough to warrant retention. In fact, at-risk students who were promoted to first grade performed just as well or better on standardized tests than children who stayed another year in kindergarten.

About the Author

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.

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