Our experiences are very similar. My son couldn’t do anything right in kindergarten, according to his teacher. She constantly told us we hadn’t prepared him and he need more responsibilities at home to “fix” his behavior at school. The reports from school contrasted what we knew our son to be — kind, eager to please, etc. So I finally went to the pediatrician when a change in teacher and school the following year helped very little. I didn’t even suspect ADHD.
We held my son back in 4th grade. He was above grade level academically when tested, but he was way behind socially and had zero executive functioning skills. I had to demand that he repeat. My son’s special ed teacher told me he would be scarred for life and damaged forever (her words) if we held him back. It turned out to be the best decision we ever made for him.
Every school year starting in kindergarten I’d ask if he needs to be held back and they’d always say that he’s smart and he’d catch up. He didn’t, because intelligence has nothing to do with functioning.
If you have any thoughts that he may not be ready to go on, I’d have him repeat now, in K.
As for the response and behavior of the school… it’s typical for students with ADHD. Most teachers and lots of administrators just don’t get ADHD. They just see “bad behavior” which it’s not. Without a diagnosis, you’ll get little traction with support and such before 3rd or 4th grade, if then. Even with the diagnosis, getting appropriate accommodations and services (and understanding) can be an uphill battle. I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer here, simply sharing the realities.
In my opinion – and I’m just a mom who has lived it – your best course of action is to have him repeat (this year has been so disrupted anyway) and see his pediatrician about a referral for evaluation.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism