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My Kindergartener Is Behind in School

Are you worried about how your child is doing in school? Kindergarten is your first chance to see how well your little one will do in a school setting.

You first must define what you mean by “behind.” Is your child struggling to learn to read and write? Is she unable to sit still for long periods of time? Maybe she isn’t adapting well to being away from home all day. These are normal struggles many kindergarten children face.

How Do You Know Your Kindergartener Is Behind?

First, determine why you think your child is behind. Has your child’s teacher said something? Is your child expressing frustration about the work?

There are three things you need to know right away.

  • Many children have a hard time in kindergarten for various reasons.
  • Being behind in kindergarten does not mean your child is stupid or slow.
  • It’s no reflection on you as a parent.

There are many reasons your child could struggle in their first experience at school.

She Has a Different Learning Style

Kindergarten used to be a place where children first learned how to spend the day away from their family at school. The focus was less on academics and more on socializing, learning through play and learning to be in an unfamiliar environment.

Today, kindergartens are more academic. They start teaching children to read and write early. That doesn’t work for all children.

In their early years, children learn best through active, hands-on play. They are not wired to sit still for long hours at a time. It’s also not good to force them to learn how to read or write before their time.

Maybe your child isn’t behind. She’s just learning at her own pace.

Your Child Is Not Actually “Behind”

Children need to develop academically at their own speed, and we need to let them. This is especially true for boys, who some people label “slow” to learn. In fact, they’re learning at the pace that’s right for them.

Some children have a hard time adapting to being away from home and surrounded by strangers. This takes practice, and some children never fully learn it until they’re older. That doesn’t mean your child is “behind.” It means you need to be patient as you wait for your child to grow up a little.

He Dislikes Something at the School

There could be something at kindergarten that bothers or frightens your child. Is there another kid there who picks on him? Does he feel bullied? Do the other kids exclude him at playtime? Does he feel the teacher doesn’t like him?

These fears might be all in his head, but they’re real to your child. Try to find out if something is upsetting him at school.

She May Not Be Ready

Many parents feel they’ve failed their children if they aren’t enrolling them in tough academic programs from an early age. You need to ask yourself if you’re doing this for yourself or your child.

Forcing children to sit still for hours and to learn to read and write when they’re not ready to do these things is a setup for failure.

Maybe Kindergarten Is Failing Your Child

Some education researchers criticize the push to learn academics in kindergarten. They say the emphasis should be on playing, which is how children learn. They say the emphasis on work results in children who are “burned out” by the time they reach the third grade.

According to education expert Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, “Play is the primary vehicle that children use to explore their world, learn critical social skills and grow emotionally.”

Some children are just not emotionally or mentally ready for a tough kindergarten program. That doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t learn when they’re ready.

Some parents realize this, which is why about 10% of them delay their child’s kindergarten start date by a year. They want to be sure their kids are ready.

Your Kid Is Fine

Your kid’s performance in kindergarten is no indicator of how well he’ll do in school later. If your child is “behind,” it just means she’s going to learn on her own schedule.

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