This last year with the pandemic and virtual learning has been overwhelming. And I suspect there are some parents who are realizing their child has fallen behind. Maybe they have begun to wonder if they should hold their child back. My son was just 6 years old when the really uncomfortable and difficult conversation of holding him back in school began.

Holding My Son Back In School

It was already something I had been feeling in my heart and my head. And then the teacher gently brought it up. And just because I had been pondering it and even knew deep down it was a conversation that needed to happen, did not make it hurt any less. He was not even close to reading in the middle of 1st grade. I knew he was behind. 

When The Future Looks Different Than You Plan

Let me lay out how hard it was for me to even begin to think about holding my son back in school.

First, I am a teacher! I did all the “teacher things” with my son since he was born. I read to him daily, over and over again. He LOVED listening to stories! I would spend every night in a rocking chair reading story after story after story. 

I kept him off electronics

I exposed him to a variety of literature and experiences.

I sent him to an incredible preschool.

We sang and talked and read. 

But in the end it didn’t matter. He was behind. He needed help. He needed time.

The Beautiful Gift Of Time

To this day it is still the hardest parenting decision my husband and I have ever made.  It is not just a simple decision to hold a child back.  We thought of so many things.

How would we help him understand he needed more time to learn to read?

How would we tell our friends and family?

Would his friends treat him badly? Would they still want to be friends with him if he stayed back?

Would kids make fun of him?

Should we keep him back in the church group and boy scouts as well?

It was heartbreaking. And heavy! And sad!

They Were My Fears

But here is what I would tell any mom or dad who is considering holding a child back. 

It was really hard!

I was really sad!

It was a difficult year!


My son thrived!

My son learned to be proud of what he accomplished!

Yes,some kids were mean…really mean BUT my son learned at 6 years old to share his story to help others!!

He grew!

He started to read!

New friends were made!

And that gift of time to grow and learn became the most special, invaluable gift to my son.

It Hurts But It Is Good

I would say to any parents who is thinking or knows deep down that your child is struggling or is behind or just needs some time….you can not begin to understand the gift you give your child to give them time to grow.  Of course no parent wants to hold a child back or cause pain or discomfort.  But I am a few year past this and I am SO proud of my son.

He shares unapologetically that he was held back because he needed time.

He advocates for other kids who are held back.

He has learned resilience and compassion like few kids I know.

He understands everyone has things they are naturally good at and areas that they struggle.

And the best of all, he has learned you are not defined by “failures” or hardship! He knows you are defined how you meet them…  head on and work to overcome them!

Grow and Thrive

I am in absolute awe of my son! He has learned so many life lessons and is proud of himself. I would never sugar coat that it was not hard….for a season. There were times I cried and prayed and could not sleep. But I will tell you on the other side of it is gratitude and pride and a thankfulness your child has learned to work hard, share their story to help others and know struggle does not mean an end.  

It was a year of hurt…..and a year of a gift.


 But inspiring!

A mourning of loss!

But a beautiful story of overcoming, conquering and growth.

If you have even the slightest thought maybe your child is struggling….behind….needs time. I want to encourage you to truly stop and recognize your fears. Work though the hurt and pride and fear to see what is best for you child. Though it might cause hurt and discomfort for a time…let me share that you are also potentially giving a beautiful gift.  The gift of growth and hope and joy in watching your child thrive and learn!


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