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Kindergarten Retention


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helena77 September 26, 2012


My daughter was in kindergarten and needed extra help. The school suggested that she go to pre-k in the morning and back to kindergarten in the afternoon. The following year she went to kindergarten. That was 3 years ago and it bothered me because I did not know what to do. I spoke to another parent who was offered the same thing but she knew someone in the board of education who told her not to do it. Her child moved on. I did not know they were going to do this and I never gave them permission to do so. I just recently learned there are guidelines regarding retention and expressed this to the school. They claim she was not left back, rather, was put in pre-k and then moved to kindergarten. My question is, is this legal? She started in the kindergarten and the school did what they wanted to her without consent or first notifying me of my options. Please, somebody help.

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pamb456 October 7, 2012


Although I have never heard of a school holding a child back without the parents' permission (didn't you have to sign something to approve this?), it was fairly common in my kids' school for at least one child per kindy classroom to be held back per year. Sometimes they were kids who started school early (they would be turning 5 within the first few months of school) or had maturity issues or were not ready academically. None of the students thought it was a big deal, and no one made fun of the kids who repeated, to my knowledge (really!)

It sounds like your daughter wasn't ready academically to be in a full day kindergarten. Was the pre-K also at the school? I'm assuming so, because otherwise the moving back and forth wouldn't make sense. The pre-K was probably to help her with her basic knowledge, while encouraging her to keep up with her peers when she got to kindergarten. Then an extra year of kindergarten to solidify her skills.

What really matters now is how your daughter is doing in school. Is she on track with her peers in class? Is she doing well socially? Then all's well that ends well. If the situation wasn't handled well, but she is fine, then you need to sit down one last time with the principal, express your feelings and move on.

If you feel that the school took advantage of you, I would suggest asking to look at your daughter's file, specially paperwork having to do with the pre-K/kindy year, and the repeating of kindergarten. If they won't let you see the paperwork, I would suggest calling the school district to find out what you can do.


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teresamelendi October 7, 2012


I am sorry you and your child had to experience this. My belief on retention at any grade level is that is is simply used as a scapegoat for incompetent administrators covering up for the incompetence of the teachers they employ. If a child is not prepared for the next grade level, the responsibility of that failure falls on the teacher and administrators. Every child is capable of learning, some need additional support and it is up to the teachers and administrators to identify and provide that support to the child. What ends up happening, when the administrators fail to do this is that the child pays the price for such incompetence. When the administration "identifies" a child for retention, it is a method they use to give the appearance that they are really on top of things, and doing their jobs, when nothing could be farther from the truth. Public school administration is a political environment, everyone has an agenda, and it has nothing to do with the well being of our children. It has more to do with them continuing to get their high salaries and feeling a sense of power because they may feel so powerless in their own lives. Using our children to make them feel so high and mighty is outright wrong. I have researched the short and long term effects of retention on children and the news is not good.I encourage you to do some research yourself. Before anyone gets bent out of shape, let me be clear that my commentary here is directed at the incompetent administrators and teachers only, not those whose true desire is that of the welfare of our children. Let me also comment that the backbone of our children's success in school is directly related to those teachers that dedicate themselves, unselfishly and without tiring to our children and never give up on them. When a child "fails" to be promoted to the next grade level, it is not the failure of the child but the failure of a flawed and incompetent administration that failed to intervene properly and timely for that child. Fight for your child and never again allow yourself to be intimated by your school system. You are the only one that will fight hardest to protect your child. You are the parent, you have more power than you think!

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myrandi October 7, 2012


Maybe if you had paid attention and been involved with your child's education this would not have happened. Parents seem to hold schools accountable for the education of their child but the parents must be involved for the child to truly receive the education they deserve!

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teacheralways1 October 7, 2012


It boggles my mind when people think the failure of a child relies SOLELY on educators and administrators. (Someone who replied to your question stated this.) Yes, there are some incompetent teachers as well as incompetent parents. Education starts at HOME. Parens should know in June if their child is being retained. Parents know when their child is not meeting the requirements of being promoted to the next grade. Some are just in denial. I just received a new student who spent 2 years in grade K and then moved to grade 2 so that he could be in his "right grade." After a month of school, he was "demoted" to grade 1. Mother realized that he was not ready for grade 2. I would rather retain a child in a lower grade and only get tears from the child than to try to retain in grades 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 and get truancy and court dates. If it is done correctly and with daily encouragement in the lower grades, the child will begin to feel successful and develop a better self-esteem. It all starts at home!

As an educator (of more than 30 years), I still go above and beyond what is expected of me. This past summer, I held a FREE summer session from July 3rd through August 9th for my incoming class--4 days a week for 2 hours. 14 out of 26 students attended. Why not the other 12?? It was FREE. I did not get paid AND I was able to use my own school. I was able to do this because a private, after school program uses the building during the summer and the director allowed me to use a room---once again--FREE. Free also means I did not get paid. Plan B was to use the neighborhood library.

This year has just started and I can see where my struggles will be. I will do what I can to move the children forward. If not successful, I will not and DO NOT take it personally. The parents will be informed and kept abreast of their child's progress or lack thereof. Unfortunately, some parents will not come in during report card conferences but they will come in if their child misses recess one day a week to receive extra help from me. (Interesting!).

So, to the person who replied with this comment "If a child is not prepared for the next grade level, the responsibility of that failure falls on the teacher and administrators"---my question to you is---"What are the responsibilities of the parents?"

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we6wess October 8, 2012


How frustrating it is to feel that you as the parent were not involved in the decision making process. Even though it was 3 years ago, it clearly weighs on your mind and heart. I agree with the excellent comment of pamb456.
Much of the of other comments make many assumptions about a particular school and a particular parent without knowing facts.
I actually persevered in our school to retain 1 of our 4 children at the kindergarten level... and this was absolutely NO reflection on his value as a student. It was because he was not mature enough to be in an all day kindergarten class. It was not the heartless administration, the failure of a teacher (who honest-to-God is entitled to some bit of a life that involves her own family and household- even though many parents and politicians believe she should be on call for each of her students to succeed) or because the kid has an out of the loop parent.
The emphasis on academic success seems to be unbalanced at the expense of allowing for parental responsibility and professional educators common sense.

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msahlberg October 8, 2012


Not all 5 year olds are ready for kindergarten. Parents think just because their child is five they are ready to go to kindergarten. If you look closely at a group of kindergarteners you'll notice the are so different, Some are tall some are short some are thin some are cubby some have red hair some brown some have light skin and some have dark skin. They are so different in so many ways but most importantly developmentally they are all so different. Just because a child is five years old doese'nt mean they are ready developmentally for kindergarten. And the teacher probably did your child a favor by holding her back, because now she is ready to be successful rather than sending her on and having her struggle the rest of her school years. Parents need to stop and thing about what is best for their child not what is best for the parent. If your child needs a size 5 shoe do you cram her foot into a size 2 just because everyone else wears a size two, I hope not, I hope yiou woukld fit her foot to the size she really needs. the same thing happens in education children need to be put where they can be successful and learn . I worked with a family who daughter should have been held back in kindergarten and he father sais no way. She struggled in first grade and it was suggested she be held back still he said no way. Well things were no better in second grade. Finally after some disscusion the father finally said , I guess I need to be thinking about what is best for my child not how this makes me feel and about what everyone else will think. Right, parents need to understand that 99.9% of teachers want what is best for your child and they are trained to know. So maybe parents should listen to them instead of always blameing them when something doesn't work out. Remember as a parent you are the first teacher your child has.

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PilarOfJustice October 8, 2012


If you are on of those outstanding, dedicated educators, then no need to get your stinger out of joint. These criticisms are aimed at those that are not. It also goes without saying that the other half of the equation is parental involvement. It is the parent who is fully engaged and participating in their child's education who obviously see most clearly and blatantly, the faults and short comings of the public school system. When we are naive, first entering into the system, we are full of ideals and great expectations. However, when we encounter what is the opposite, we are caught off guard and may not even know how to respond or what our parental rights are. So, let's give helena77 a break, because this may have been her experience.

And to the educator, teachersalways1, thank you for being one of those dedicated ones. By the emotion in your writing, one can sense that you have encountered similar frustrations along the way.

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michelelopez October 9, 2012


Instead of placing blame on anyone. I will simply answer your question. Yes. It is legal for a state to hold back your child in Kindergarten. In my state, children do not even have to attend Kindergarten. Check with you department of education for additional information. Good luck, but the best advise I can give you after three years, get some closure!

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fattyman October 9, 2012


Kindergarten is the best place to keep a child back. At that point they and their peers don't know the difference yet and some kids are just not mature or ready at that young age to move onto the increasing demands of first grade. If they haven't mastered the basics they will be behind year after year. It's better to take that extra year at a young age and master the basic skills (this includes social skills as well as academics) so that the child can be successful as they progress through the rest of their education.

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helena77 October 16, 2012


Some of the coments were very negative when I asked for advice. Since posting my iniital response I have learned quite a bit about what happened to my daughter. First, I am always involved in my childrens academics in school. I help them with their homework, make up tests to help them master the skills, and help them study. My concern was this; the school told me she needed extra help and that they were going to give her help.
They never said that instead of giving her the help, they put her back in pre-k without my knowledge. She was getting good progress reports from both the pre-k and kindergarten class. In the state of New Jersey, in this school district, there is a manual with 7 policies that must be followed before retention. The school only followed one, to inform me she need help. In this district you must have a confefence with the principal and guidance counselor before retaining and the school must give the parent a chance to state why they feel this should not happen. The school district did not follow the policy that is on their website and I did look through my daughter's file. There is nothing in it that states a conference was done or that they were retaining her. When the school contacted me after I wrote them they were talking to me about my daughter and at that time, they did not go through the file. All the new principal is saying I was not here at that time. I am asking for someone's thoughts as to what I should do.I am not asking for negative coments. According to the New Jersey website on education, the school is suppose to do everything they can before retaining a child and all this school did is put a child back a grade without following the policy. What should I do?



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