Holding Your Child Back: How to Make the Right Decisions This School Year
One of the most difficult experiences a parent can endure is realizing their child may be struggling in school. If you have noticed that your own child is no longer performing at grade level, you can quickly find yourself wanting to find ways to help them and offer support. But what if you are unsure of the level or kinds of support your child needs? It can be a very confusing and stressful time for not only you but your child as well. One of the most common solutions for a child who is not performing at grade level is to hold them back, or in other words retain them in the same grade for another year. The hope is, that by repeating the grade and re-learning the skills, the child will be ready to move on to the next grade at the conclusion of the school year. If you have found yourself in the situation where you need to decide if holding your child back is viable solution, take a look below at some helpful tips that could make this dilemma a bit easier.
This was a BIG decision for me just a year ago around this time. Backtrack to summer 2012. Zayd’n was getting ready to enter the 2nd grade. I was unsure about how he would handle 2nd grade, since he struggled pretty much the whole year of first grade. While I don’t want to blame the reason why my son was not ready on his first year in school- Kindergarten, it still holds some resent. He went to preschool for 2 years and did great. Kindergarten was just 1/2 days, five days a week and they mostly played.
Zayd’n is a social butterfly and he focused more on having friends, including girlfriends instead of learning. We then put him in a private school for first grade. During his first grade school year I felt that his teacher was not invested into helping him succeed and we pulled him out mid-year. I was frustrated with the fact that I was paying for his education and the teacher did not seem to be invested into helping MY son grow. For the remainder of that year we put in the same public school as his twins brothers. Over the summer we worked with him, but I just had that sinking feeling that he was just not ready.
I remember prior to Kindergarten we took him to a popular charter school in town to see about having him start there. At the time of the testing, they suggested that he was still young and should start out in pre-K. However because of their popularity we were not able to get him, so he landed in a waste-of-a-time-kindergarten-class.
I just couldn’t get that sinking feeling out of the pit of my stomach. “He wasn’t ready.”
I decided to check out the popular Charter school again to see if they had any openings. Unfortunately they had no openings for 2nd grade. But guess what? They had openings for 1st grade. Imagine that! I took that as a confirming sign this was the right thing to do.
Plus moving to a new school meant that no one knew that he was repeating the first grade.
I can honestly say now, summer of 2013 I do not regret my decision one bit. Zayd’n has grown a LOT over this past year. He had a teacher that was dedicated in helping him thrive and wanted to see him succeed. His reading improved. He loves school now and math is one of his favorite subjects. Socially he has calmed down where sitting and focusing at school is easier. I am 100% HAPPY with the decision to hold him back.
Making the decision to hold your child back is never an easy one. Take a look at the tips below and help yourself make an informed decision that is in the best interest of your child.
Should you hold your child back? Ask yourself these questions first:
1. Has your child been struggling all year? Have you seen this struggle taking place all year, or is it recent? If it is just recent, there could be an underlying reason and not necessarily any learning issues.
2. Has your child expressed concerns about their learning difficulties?
3. Has your child’s teacher contacted you about his or her concerns?
4. Despite working each evening on concepts and skills, is your child still struggling?
5. Is your child failing at least half of their subjects?
6. Does your child benefit from repetition? For example, do they benefit from having instructions and concepts repeated to them?
7. Has your child been tested for learning disabilities and found to be without?
If you answered YES to at least five of these questions, it may be time to start considering retaining your child in their current grade level. So what exactly does that mean for you and where do you go from here? Here is an idea of what you can expect:
1. One of the first steps you want to take is to arrange a conference with your child’s teacher, as she will be an important partner in making this decision. By expressing your concerns and comparing notes with her concerns, you can all make a decision about retention that you can all agree with.
2. Your child’s teacher may bring a school counselor or principal in on this meeting as well, not because there is anything wrong with you or your child, but because they can offer you additional assistance and support. Look at their inclusion as a positive thing!
3. Ultimately, as a group you will need to decide if the issues your child is having could be resolved by repetition of the lessons. To do this, you must rule out any underlying issues that could be present such as a learning disability, emotional issues that the child is going through, etc. Once you are able to rule these out, you can then decide if repeating the grade would benefit the child.
Why is repeating a grade beneficial?
Repeating a grade can be beneficial because the child will be familiar with the concepts taught and be able to build upon the skills they learned the previous year. Because they are familiar with these skills, they can also assume a “leader” roll amongst their peers, something they probably were unable to experience this last school year. This will surely fuel them and give them the feelings of self confidence and pride. When you add those feelings into the equation, you will be amazed at what your child can accomplish!
But what about the stigma behind it?
Don’t worry about the stigma that use to go along with children who are retained a grade. Today, it is a viable solution for the problems many children experience during their educational career.
The key is to be open minded, open communicators, and work as a team with your child’s teacher. Be considerate of your child’s feelings and sensitive during this time as you make this decision. In doing so you will be able to help your child achieve educational success!
I would love to hear your thoughts on this– have you held your child back? Have that gut feeling that you should? Feel free to comment below!