Saving a year, are we?

This dilemma is often faced by parents of kids whose birthday falls past the school cut-off date. The dilemma is whether to follow the mandate and stay put or jump through hoops to ‘save a year’ by pushing the child a grade ahead. Now, I don’t presume to know the right answer here, but what I want to do is to examine the dilemma, to understand the reasons behind it, to question its very existence.

This dilemma seems to afflict only the parents of Indian or Asian origin for the most part. Which begs the question; is it even a real dilemma, or is it just perceived as one, because that’s how our parents thought and that’s how our entire generation was raised to think? When I asked people who were in a similar situation their reason for the push, the immediate response was to ‘save a year’.

Are we really saving the child a year? All we are doing is causing the child to grow-up a year sooner. Every grown up says the best years of their lives were childhood days. So, how is pushing your child into the work force, into the rat-race, into the world of responsibilities a year sooner saving them a year? Wouldn’t that actually be robbing them of a year?

In olden days, success had a lot to do with seniority and maybe that’s when the concept got born and ‘saving a year’ was justified. However, in today’s world, with 20-something year old millionaires and CEOs, seniority as a factor of success has lost meaning. What, in fact, drives success is motivation, innovation and leadership skills. A lot of these traits are being shaped in a child’s formative years. Pushing a child ahead with older and bigger kids could hamper some of their confidence. A year’s difference is not much when you are an adult, but ask a five or a six year old! Conversely, being with their own age group is more likely to bring out their leadership skills and thus, initiative and motivation.

All I am saying is that it really doesn’t amount to anything, this ‘saving a year’. It shouldn’t be a dilemma, unless the child has shown some ‘Doogie Howser’ traits. We as parents need to question the dogma and take a fresh, new perspective of the world our children are in today, which is vastly different from the world we grew up in! 

This is just my humble opinion, meant only as food for thought. There may be other reasons or arguments for or against ‘saving a year’, if so, we would love to hear from you.

Last 5 posts by Neelam Kamdar Bhamani


  1. Leila

    Hi. Agree with you totally on that. I think sometimes it is a financial decision, as parents want to phase out college. I would rather have a child join in the right year and then move up a year ((skip a grade) if deserved. That way I will save 1 years tuition.

  2. Asha

    One reason why many immigrants do this is because we dont have families to support us here. The earlier the kid is in school, the mom or at home parent can go back to work. For people here who have families here or have nannies etc it is easier to delay a year.

  3. Khushi

    Hi Neelam. Whole fanily has been sick so I have been out of commission somewhat. My younger one is born in the cusp month between 2 years and you are right, this saving a year is a very cultural thing. Most Americans I know want to hold boys back a year – citing what they feel will be developmental issues due to boys being more active and not able to settle down. Asians and Indians on the other hand dont seem to feel their boys will have these issues. For me I think it is very dependent on an individual child, but I tend to agree with Leila. Start with the recommendation and then if needed, the school can move the child up.

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