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Holding Back In Preschool - Conner's Story

Last year, I touched on a problem we are having with Conner (“soon to be 5”), who is a Summer birthday and, obviously, male. When you combine those two things, being young and being a boy, you tend to fall into the Not Catching On As Quickly As The Older Children Or The Girls category. 

I feel like a horrible mom for even saying that, but it’s the truth. That does not mean Conner is “slow” or less intelligent, but rather, he’s at a dual disadvantage. Not only does being younger mean less advanced and mature, but it also means, for a boy, he’s the smallest boy in his class. Where we live, being on the smaller side in itself is a reason to hold back a boy in school. In a state where football reigns supreme, and sports are a right of passage, boys need all the height and weight advantage they can muster.

I don’t necessarily agree with holding back a boy just because he’s smaller, seeing as Conner doesn’t exactly exude sports, but I don’t want him to be so much smaller that he’s picked on. As we all know, kids can be mean, and as his mother I owe him a chance to even out the playing field.

Along with teacher recommendations, we’ve registered Conner for another round of 4-year-old preschool next year. The good news is that it won’t be a complete stagnant or lateral move. Conner will go from 3 days a week (what he does now) to a 5 day program. With daily school, he will also take on a few days of an extra hour or so, staying for lunch with his friends, and the curriculum includes more arts and extracurriculars (such as “theater”). 

Conner is also seeing a speech therapist, which he will see weekly during the summer. I really feel that this will help him achieve some of the things he gets frustrated with. Commonly, he becomes frustrated and, consequently “bored”, because he can’t express himself verbally as well as others.

For the most part, I am excited about him getting caught up and giving him more time to master some skills he hasn’t yet (in many areas, Conner is on track, while in others… he lacks the “maturity” to handle certain tasks). He made such progress between last year and this year with his behavior, so I only expect the same thing will happen academically between this year and next. 

I do have some hesitation about this. The phrase “holding him back” bounces between my ears, sending a little tinge of guilt through my body. The guilt compounds when I know, as his mother, how incredibly bright Conner is. He picks things up so quickly, is so incredibly imaginative, loves reading and is one of those people that HAS to know how something works. 

This move is good for him though, and I can’t wait to see what he can accomplish next year!

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Reader Comments (6)

Sounds like a good move. Maybe don't think of it so much as 'holding back' and instead think of it as a 'late start.' My 5 year old can't start school until he's nearly 6 because he's a 'late start' (his birthday falls 3 weeks after the school year begins). Sometimes I think they should just make that a rule across the board for boys... most of them need the extra time to mature (plus you get to hold on to them an extra year before they run off to college and forget all about you). ;)

April 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrandi

AGREED! He's not too far ahead of the cut-off - a little over a month. Those girls his age? They might as well be 18! He had one girl in his Pre3 class that was READING. Like, full on reading. (I read at an early too, but damn! Make me look like a bad mom why don't ya!)

Those kids with older siblings? Also ahead! It's just how it works. (Come to think of it, the girl that read at 3 had 3 older siblings - one in high school)

Chase will be 3 months from 4 when he starts Pre3 - which I LOVE. I won't have to "hold" him, but I get an extra year of him at home.

Thanks for the comment, chica!

April 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

It's not holding him back. It's putting him in the right place. Why set him up to struggle athletically and academically for his whole school career when you can give him the time he needs to get on solid footing right now? A year more of pre-school and speech therapy sound like exactly what he needs. You're a rockin' mom for picking this path for him.

Sounds like the BEST move you could make as a mother! So much better than saying, "My child is absolutely perfect" and setting him up to fail. Sometimes we have to look the harder choices in the face, rather than turn away from them.

I'm super proud of you, and I think you are setting Conner up to have the BEST possible experience in school. Good for you. :)

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

Thanks girls!!

You know, Mandy, you really have a great point. I can't IMAGINE being one of those "my kids is perfect. how dare you!" parents - what a disservice to your children.

Appreciate the feedback!

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I did 2 years of 5-K, (one at preschool, and one at elementary school) so at the time I didn't know the difference, and it didn't scar me a bit. I loved being one of the oldest in my grade, instead of youngest and smaller. I think things like that mothers get so worked up and worried about (completely normal) the child doesn't know any different so it's normal. I think holding back is the wrong term, it's simply another year of school. You are such a great mom!

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh Ann

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