If your child is struggling to pass his or her classes or exhibits any kind of maturity or behavioural issues, his or her teacher may recommend that he or she repeat a grade. Having to repeat a grade (also known as retention) can be stressful and embarrassing for children, and it can have long-term consequences for your child’s development and sense of self. If you or your child’s teacher are considering retention, it’s critical to have an open discussion about the potential benefits and drawbacks of repeating a grade, as well as to consider other options.
Part 1 Considering Your Child’s Circumstances
1. Determine your child’s level of development and progress. When deciding whether to promote or retain a child in school, the most important factors to consider are the child’s academic progress and maturity level. Many school districts have created tests to assess these factors, but as a parent, you may want to think about your child’s abilities as well.
If the child struggles significantly in math, reading, or writing, he or she will struggle even more in the following year’s classes.
The child must also meet the school district’s generalised performance expectations, which are designed and implemented. Test scores and class participation may be examples of these expectations.
Consider how many days of school your child has missed. If your child has missed a significant number of class sessions, his or her teacher may recommend that your child repeat the year so that he or she does not fall behind in the following grade.
2. Have your child tested to see if he or she has a learning disability. Depending on how much your child is struggling, you may want to have him or her tested to see if a learning disability is the source of the problem. While this may be embarrassing for your child, identifying and correcting the problem can help prevent future school problems.
Some classroom issues, such as being unable to sit still or listen during class, may have an impact on a child’s ability to learn. If he or she missed a lot of material, his or her teacher may recommend that he or she repeat a year.
You can have your child tested for a learning disability by speaking with a qualified mental health expert or contacting the Learning Disabilities Association of America’s local chapter (LDA).
Consult with your child’s teacher to determine whether he or she requires specialised or remedial education.
3. Take into account your child’s age. Many children who have to repeat a grade are embarrassed because they are older than their classmates. However, if your child is young for his or her grade level, repeating a grade may not be as difficult. A child who is younger than his or her peers and has difficulty in school may actually perform better after being held back a year.
Discuss with your child’s teacher whether repeating a grade would be beneficial or detrimental at your child’s age.
4. Consider your child’s emotional readiness. Another thing to think about is whether your child is emotionally developed as well as his or her peers. Being emotionally underdeveloped can stymie academic progress, so talk to your child’s teacher about his or her emotional readiness for the upcoming grade.
A child should be able to deal with minor annoyances and frustrations without losing his or her temper.
If your child is struggling to meet his or her personal and emotional needs, you should talk to his or her teacher about whether repeating a year would be beneficial.
5. Find out about your child’s social development. According to some studies, repeating a grade can cause social and emotional problems such as low self-esteem and an inability to feel like a part of a cohesive group. Repeating a grade may be detrimental to your child’s sense of self if he or she already struggles with social issues like these, or if you believe he or she may be prone to these types of problems.
If a child acts immaturely or inappropriately for his or her age, an instructor may recommend that the child be retained for another year.
Children who are socially developed should be able to collaborate with other students and work within a group dynamic.
If you’re not sure how to assess your child’s social development, consult a school counsellor, psychologist, social worker, or behavioural specialist.
Part 2 Weighing the Pros and Cons of Grade Retention
1. Understand the benefits of retention. The main benefit of retention is that the child has an extra year to work on his or her reading, writing, and math skills. If the child was advanced to the next grade level, he or she would struggle and eventually fail. Because each year’s course material builds on foundations established the previous year, a child would be further behind and may feel even more frustrated or embarrassed by his or her performance.
It’s important to note, however, that any academic gains made by a retained student typically fade after three years. Before making a final decision, you should think about the negative consequences.
Only when students receive specific and detailed attention to help resolve the problems that led to poor grades does retention truly work. This necessitates increased effort on the part of both the teacher and the parents.
2. Discover the drawbacks of retention. Retention for a year can have a significant negative impact on a young student. Students who are held back a year typically have lower levels of academic achievement, are more susceptible to behavioural problems, have poorer socio-emotional adjustment, and are more likely to drop out early than their peers.
If your child’s teacher recommends repeating a year, discuss your concerns with the teacher. There could be other retention strategies that the instructor is willing to try.
If the instructor insists on retention, ensure that your child receives specialised remedial attention to catch up on the concepts with which he or she is struggling. You may also want to consider the possibility of any behavioural issues developing.
3. Think about alternatives to retention. If your child is really struggling and his or her teacher recommends repeating the year, you may be able to discuss alternative options with that teacher. Providing extra assistance, both inside and outside of the classroom, may help your child get back on track without having to repeat a grade.
One-on-one or small-group tutoring sessions may help your child understand new concepts that aren’t clear from in-class instruction.
Consider getting your child special education services. Simply ensure that his/her IEP goals and benchmarks align with the school’s standards to ensure that your child is on the right track.
In order to avoid having to repeat a grade, inquire about summer school attendance, extended day classes, or extended year classes.
Assist your child with his or her homework. If your child refuses your assistance, have a sibling or an older student/tutor work with him or her on assignments that he or she is having difficulty with.
Extracurricular activities can help your child have more social interactions with his or her peers. Interaction with peers can help some children become more motivated to do well in school.
Part 3 Assessing Elementary School Progress
1. Make a decision on kindergarten promotion. Kindergarten is a critical stage in the development of young children. Kindergarten students must typically demonstrate a strong command of the communication arts as well as the math skills standard for their state before being promoted to first grade.
At the kindergarten level, communication arts skills typically include asking and answering questions about a text, remembering important details from a text, identifying characters in a storey, comparing character experiences, and participating in group reading.
Kindergarten math skills typically include identifying and comparing numbers, counting in sequence, identifying shapes, and solving simple addition and subtraction problems.
In the United States, a school cannot force your child to repeat kindergarten. You can still place them in a first grade class if you disagree with their decision to hold them back.
2. Evaluate first-grade progress. First-grade skills build on the knowledge gained in kindergarten. A first-grade student must receive a passing grade (typically a C or higher, or at least a 70% where numerical grades are used) in both communication arts and mathematics in order to be promoted to the second grade.
Retelling key details of a storey, describing characters/settings/events, and reading prose and/or poetry that has been deemed appropriate for a first grade reader in that child’s state are all examples of communication arts skills.
Extending the sequence of counting, adding and subtracting numbers within 20, learning decimal places up to 100, recognising and working with measurements, and developing spatial reasoning that involves geometric shapes are all standard math skills.
3. Examine second-grade abilities. Second-grade skills pick up right where first-grade skills left off and build on them in ever-more-complex ways. To advance to the third grade, a student must receive a passing grade in both communication arts and mathematics.
Second-grade communication art skills include asking and answering questions about a text (specifically, who/what/when/where/why/how), describing how a character responds to major events, using visual and written information to better understand a character, and reading literature deemed appropriate for second-grade students.
A second-grade student should be able to add and subtract within 20, develop a basic understanding of multiplication, learn decimal places up to 1000, work with time and money, and develop more advanced spatial reasoning.
4. Analyze third-grade progress. A passing grade in both communication arts and mathematics determines third-grade progress. However, if a student in third grade is not progressing at the expected rate, teachers may implement a conditional promotion with a mandatory improvement plan instead of recommending a retention year.
Recognizing the meaning of words and phrases, referring to the various parts of a storey, describing how illustrations and words work together to tell a storey, comparing/contrasting two or more texts, and reading literature appropriate for third-grade students are all communication art skills.
Multiplication and division within 100, using the four operations, explaining mathematical patterns, and understanding fractions are all third grade math skills.
The third grade reading improvement plan (for students who advance to fourth grade with poor grades) usually includes at least 30 hours of additional reading instruction during the fourth grade year. In addition to the reading lessons, the teacher may require summer school.
5. Evaluate fourth-grade progress. In some states, fourth-grade progress requires not only a passing grade in communication arts, but also a passing grade on a grade-level reading assessment. Any student who does not read at or above a fourth-grade level must repeat fourth grade, attend at least 30 hours of reading lessons during the repeated fourth-grade year, and attend summer school classes with at least 40 hours of reading instruction.
Citing details from a text, identifying the theme of a text, recognising the meaning of words in a text, differentiating between different types of texts, and reading literature deemed appropriate for fourth-grade students are all examples of communication art skills for fourth graders.
Fourth graders should be able to understand factors and multiples, use the four operations more extensively, build and order fractions, and convert across units of measurement.
In order to progress to the fifth grade, fourth graders must also receive passing grades in science or social studies.
6. Assess fifth-grade progress. Passing grades in communication arts, mathematics, science, and social studies determine fifth-grade progress. Some school districts also require students to take ongoing assessments to ensure they can read proficiently at the fifth-grade level.
Fifth-grade students must be able to quote from a text, compare and contrast two or more characters, recognise and understand figurative language, recognise how chapters or scenes work together to form the plot structure of the larger storey, discuss how a narrator’s point of view influences the description of events, and read at the fifth-grade level.
Analyzing patterns, performing operations with decimals to the hundredths, multiplying and dividing fractions, and graphing points on a plane are all fifth-grade math skills.
Understanding simple machines, classifying plants and animals, understanding the water cycle, and learning about the solar system are all examples of science abilities in fifth grade.
Fifth-grade social studies skills include distinguishing between the powers of various branches of government and comprehending the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
7. Understand what is expected of middle school students. Students in grades six through eight are expected to pass communication arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. There are no changes in evaluation or testing requirements during this time, aside from increasing expectations with each subsequent grade level.
Part 4 Preparing Your Child to Repeat a Year
1. Try to put your faith in the teacher’s assessment. If you are concerned about your child repeating a grade, you should express your concerns to the instructor in a respectful manner. The teacher, however, has the final say. Remember that a trained educator is more qualified than a parent to objectively assess a child’s growth and abilities. You may not agree with the choice, but you must respect the teacher’s decision and have faith in his or her abilities.
Blaming the teacher may give your child the impression that he or she does not need to work as hard the second time around. If you tell your child it’s the teacher’s fault, he or she may feel “off the hook” for his or her own responsibilities.
2. Discuss the decision with your child. It’s never easy to tell your child that he or she needs to repeat a grade. It’s best to have this conversation in a private, comfortable setting, away from distractions and other siblings or friends.
Remind your child that because he or she is the oldest in the class, he or she will be a better athlete and academic achiever. Tell your child about other advantages of getting older, such as being the first in the class to learn to drive.
Make a list of all the good things your child has done in school. Let him or her know you’re proud of him or her, and highlight specific achievements to help your child feel better about the previous year’s work.
3. Be aware of your child’s emotions. If you decide to hold your child back a year, he or she may have strong feelings about your decision. He or she may be angry, scared, or concerned about having to repeat a grade with younger students. Take the time to talk with your child about his or her feelings before the school year begins.
Don’t dismiss your child if he or she is scared or embarrassed. Instead, respond to each negative emotion with reassurance that the child will have more fun and perform better the next time.
If your child is having difficulty accepting your decision, you should consider having him or her speak with a teacher, principal, or child therapist. This may assist your child in working through his or her concerns and learning new coping strategies.
4. Prepare your child for the start of the new school year. One of the worst things that can happen to a child who is repeating a grade is embarrassment. Your child may be afraid that other students will make fun of him or her at school. This may have already occurred. While you can’t stop other kids from being mean, you can teach your child how to ignore insults and maintain his or her self-esteem.
Make an effort to assist your child in making friends with other students in his or her class this year. Set up play dates over the summer or encourage them to meet and spend time together so your child has at least a few friends when school starts.
Assist your child in determining what to say to mean kids. For example, your child may dismiss insults by saying something along the lines of, “I simply needed to improve in a few areas. It doesn’t bother me in the least.”
Allow no siblings or other family members to tease your child. It may be best to inform other relatives privately and then request that they not bring it up with your child so that he or she does not feel self-conscious.
Make it clear to your child that you still love and admire him or her. This type of reassurance can help your child’s self-esteem tremendously.
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