Skipping School at Age Four?

We are thinking of holding her back cause she’s a summer baby. What do you think?

He’s already reading and he can write his first and last name. Should we have him skip Kinder altogether?

Many of you have been asked these questions by well-intending parents. The decisions made, in part, from our answers, have consequences for the next few decades in a child’s life. Many people have opinions, and . . . well everyone has one. It is truly an individual decision. That is true on several levels. It is true that the decision must be made with respect to the individual child, by the individual caregivers, and with out regard to the success or failure of other early-promoted children (especially older siblings or your sister’s son, or the neighbor’s with the swimming pool and “prodigal” child).

Individual Child

Parents should consider the emotional readiness of their child. Does the child handle frustration well (for a four year old, this may be difficult to assess)? How does the child react to games of tag when they are caught? Do they stick with tasks even after several failed attempts? Do they come back to previously disappointing tasks to give it another go? Even with a jump in academic ability compared to their chronological peers, they may, or may not, have the emotional stamina to handle potential run-ins with adversity in a school setting.

Parents should consider the social disposition of their child. Does the child start conversations with other children in the toy section of your local Target? Do they invite neighbor hood friends over? Are they comfortable leading and following during play? If they are going to be 12-18 months behind in their physical maturation than their peers for the next 12 years, they will need to be able to hold their own socially.

Individual Caregivers

Parents should consider their own emotional readiness, as they will face questions from other parents and future teachers who disagree with early grade-level promotion. In the long term, their child will be fourteen when some of their classmates begin driving. Will parents be able to accept that their child may not connect to their classmates as well as they did when they were in school? Of course, all this depends on the individual, but should be considered.

Individual Among Others

Your neighbors’ child may have entered school at four and has been a rock star ever since. Maybe another child was an early entry first grader, but had to repeat first grade due to social anxieties.¬†Every child will respond as an individual to the age differences that, in turn, create differences in emotionally and physical maturation. Parents should attempt to see the child’s experience to be as unique as the child. The success or failure of other children does not impact the potential results for your child.

Parents will ask. Friends will ask. That is good. Help them to address the realities of early entry by bringing attention to the emotional and social aspects of maturation in conjunction with the academic ability. Of course, how you do that is up to you. It’s an individual decision.