Should my child repeat a grade?

Your child’s teacher has suggested that he should repeat a grade of school. Not sure how to handle it?

As a parent, you have an important voice in the final decision.

Why are children held back?

Although there is no proof that repeating a grade is helpful, the school might recommend retention for several reasons.

  • Poor academic skills: “Johnny could not keep up this year. He isn’t ready for the next grade.”
  • Immaturity: “Susie is one of the youngest children in the class. She needs more time to grow up.”
  • Small size: “Terry is so little. He will fit in better next year if held back.”
  • Frequent moves, absences: “Sarah missed so much school this year. She has not had a chance to learn.”
  • Limited English language skills: “Elena doesn’t speak enough English yet to do the work.”
Will repeating the grade help my child learn?

Should my child repeat a grade?Here are some facts about retention:

  • Most children do not “catch up” when they are held back.
  • Although some retained students do better at first, these children often fall behind again in later grades.
  • Students who are held back tend to get into trouble, dislike school, and feel badly about themselves more than children who go on to the next grade.
  • “Transition” kindergarten is a type of retention and is no more helpful than promotion to first grade.
  • Many students who drop out of school were held back one, two, or more grades.
  • Retention may be less harmful for children who feel good about themselves, get along well with others, and have the skills to catch up easily.
  • Retention might be helpful for a child who missed a lot of school because of illness or family moves — if the attendance problem is solved and the child will be only one year older than classmates.
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What can I do?

Neither retention nor social promotion alone help a child succeed in school. Children need help to overcome academic or behavior problems. When they are held back, they usually have the same work and the same lessons that did not work the first time. Parents and teachers can work together to find better ways to help children succeed.

The following suggestions illustrate the ways in which you can help:

  • Talk to your child’s teacher often about classwork.
  • At home, ask about homework.
  • Help your child find a quiet time and place to work.
  • Make sure that your child goes to school every day, eats balanced meals, gets enough sleep, and receives good medical care to stay healthy and alert.
  • Let you child know that you think school is very important.
  • Find out more about the school program. Are there other ways to present the lessons that might help your child learn better?
Who else can help?

It’s easy to feel upset or angry when your child is not doing well in school. Making a decision about retention is difficult. In addition to the teacher and the principal, there are many people who can work with you to help your child succeed:

  • School psychologist
  • School problem-solving team
  • School social worker
  • School nurse
  • Special education staff
  • School counselor
  • Reading specialist
How can the school psychologist help?

School psychologists are trained in child development, learning, and behavior. They work with teachers, parents, and children to help students become more successful.

Why do so many teens text and drive? Because of you.

And remember: parents should always have a voice in the final decisions about retention. Ask questions and get answers! Your involvement will help you decide what is best for your child.

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