Child Behind in an Early Grade? The Dilemma of an Early Start

Cute boys coloring pictures with highlightersThere’s a lot of talk about the benefits of postponing entrance into kindergarten for children whose birthdays fall in the latter half of the year, especially for boys. Researchers have found that the youngest children in the class have a roughly 30% higher chance of developing depression compared to their older counterparts. They also have an increased chance of being diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities. 

However, for some, delaying kindergarten is not an option. If a child enters kindergarten early, parents must take steps to avoid potential pitfalls. The good news is that there are resources available to help children succeed in school, whatever the situation.

I recently evaluated a young boy with an August birthday on the cusp of entering first grade. Although obviously bright and inquisitive, his parents were concerned that he would not succeed in first grade because he had struggled to accomplish tasks in kindergarten.

Success in first grade rests heavily upon a child’s ability to read, write, sit still, and follow directions. Boys especially struggle to reach these benchmarks at this age. 

Face it, first grade is no joke! Rising first graders are expected to have at least a 2000-word vocabulary, reading mastery at the sentence level, the ability to sound out unknown words, and recognize hundreds of sight words. 

Boys seem to be less equipped to be rule followers. This may be because boys, since birth, are more susceptible to temperature changes and can become cranky when hungry, tired, or sick. Boys tend to be physiologically kinetic beings, an attribute that doesn’t necessarily gear them for success in a first-grade classroom. 

What I discovered in my screening of this boy is that academically, he was indeed about one year behind his peers. He hated reading with his parents or on his own, and he wasn’t processing what he hears efficiently. However, this deficit is not enough to be considered a learning deficiency. A year above average or a year below is termed “within functional limits” because children do grow and mature at various rates. What is considered “normal” constitutes a broad continuum.

Common sense suggests that he would have benefitted from an extra year to grow and mature before entering the school system. Obviously, this is no longer an option, so my suggestion for him is to do intensive, yet light-hearted, catch-up training. One-on-one time with a trained specialist helping him to make those sound:symbol associations will help him develop the necessary skills to keep him from falling farther behind. The best deterrent to depression is good grades and peer acceptance. Eventually, with this targeted assistance and time to mature, he can catch up to his peers and find success in school.

For more than 20 years, Encinitas Learning Center has helped hundreds of children by providing pivotal programs that have been the turning point in their life and academic careers. Call today for a free 15-minute consultation with one of our expert staff.

We are here to support you! We have parent resources and live, online tutoring options from our expert staff. Call Lynda DETWEILER for more information 760-634-6886