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Repeat Performance?

Yael Schuster

Parents are often faced with the tough decision of whether or not their child should repeat kindergarten. When is it beneficial to repeat, when is it wiser to push a child ahead, and what can be done to smooth the process if the child is repeating? Our panel of educators share their wisdom and advice.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mr. and Mrs. Pfeiffer squeeze themselves into the tiny seats and turn eager faces toward Mrs. Grossman, their darling Eli’s kindergarten teacher. Eli is their oldest, and this is their first PTA meeting. Mrs. Grossman flashes them a warm smile, and the couple relaxes as they wait for the accolades to rain down.

“Eli is clearly a very bright little boy. When he stays focused, he absorbs what we’re learning like a sponge. And what a smile! However, Eli is displaying some immature behaviors that, quite frankly, I’m concerned about.”

After giving a few examples, the bomb drops: “Of course, it’s way too early in the year to make any decisions, but if things continue in this vein, Eli may not be ready for pre-1A next year.”

The Pfeiffers stumble out of the meeting, their faces reflecting their shock. Over the next few months, as they observe his behavior, Eli’s parents seek answers to some difficult questions: When is it in a child’s best interest to repeat kindergarten? Are there any clear-cut criteria for making this decision?

Our panel of educators, with over 150 years of collective experience, sheds some light on this often-perplexing, high-stakes question.


Note: In this article, “kindergarten” refers to the grade two years prior to first grade (primarily four-year-olds). “Pre-1A” refers to the year before first grade (primarily five-year-olds). Some preschool programs classify their grades differently.

the panelist

Mrs. Goldie Golding is director of early childhood at Yeshivat Shaare Torah inBrooklyn,New York. She is the author of children’s books in the famed ArtScroll Middos series, and is aMercyCollegeprofessor in Sarah Schenirer’s Post-Graduate School Building Leadership program. She has over 30 years of experience in early childhood education.

In what situations should parents consider having their child repeat kindergarten? What are red flag behaviors?


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