Holding Junior back

Kelly posted, “Can you talk about the thoughts on holding back boys from Kindergarten with late birthdays? I have a son born in July. I am seeing several families in our preschool holding kids back a year. What are your thoughts?”

Holding kids back does seem to be a trend these days, especially boys, and especially boys with summer birthdays. Though it may be a good idea for certain individuals to be held back, in the long run this trend is going to be a problem for all of us and all of our children.

There are several problems I see with the trend towards frequently holding back summer boys:

  • In the long run, it will increase the chasm between the ages and abilities in children in the same grade. As the trend continues, the separation line will keep pushing farther from where it is intended. If now we decide to stop promoting boys born in June, why not boys in May? How about those April boys? And if April boys are held back, why not March? Where will it end?
  • Many families are holding back boys so they’ll have a competitive advantage in high school sports. But when more “big boys” play with physically smaller boys, there will be more injuries and more discouraged boys who can’t keep up. The boys not held back will likely stop playing entirely. The point of athletics to have fun and encourage mental and physical fitness. It is not to encourage a win-at-all-costs mentality.
  • There is a natural difference in puberty: girls go through this earlier than boys. So while the girls are busy with their hormones and starting to notice the boys, the boys are by-and-large still into action figures. They’re clueless as to why the girls are giggling about them, and that’s good. Now, picture a classroom of children where the hormonal girls are matched with a number of older boys who themselves are beginning to have their own ideas. Mark my words: in about 8 years, there will be disasterous consequences as a direct result of increased sexual experimentation among these kids in school systems that have allowed many boys to be held back.

So: in general, it is not a good idea to hold anyone back. There may be individual cases where it makes sense—I’ve advised holding back for boys or girls who academically or socially are not ready for advancement. But I’d only advise it is there is a definite reason that compels the school and the parents to reach this decision.

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One Comment on “Holding Junior back”


  1. […] let me thank you for “bucking that trend” and starting your son in kindergarten. I’ve written before about how routinely holding kids back is going to lead to problems for many children, both the […]

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