Any parent is bound to have a lot of questions if a teacher suggests that your child be held back a grade. The answers to those questions have important implications for your son or daughter’s academic, emotional and social future.
Grade retention is a controversial issue, and parents play a major role in the decision. Arm yourself with the latest research and find the best solution for your child.
Finding Alternatives to Grade Retention
1. Do some research. Most experts express serious reservations about grade retention although it’s still a common practice. The National Association of School Psychologists is against it under most conditions because it tends to have an overall negative impact.
2. Consider age and other factors. On the other hand, staying back a grade may be okay for very young kids. After the second grade, it becomes more complicated. Emotional development and extensive absences may also make repeating a grade necessary.
3. Schedule appropriate tests. Testing is necessary to access the services your child may need. Screening can identify learning disabilities and sensory issues like hearing impairments.
4. Talk with school officials. Listen with an open mind to what your child’s teacher and the school psychologist have to say. Working as a team will help you find the best solutions.
5. Put together a comprehensive plan. Give your child every advantage you and the school can offer. That may include tutoring, summer sessions, and additional course materials.
6. Maintain open communications. If possible, prevent the situation from arising by playing an active role in your child’s education. Prompt intervention can keep your child from falling behind.
Making the Most of Grade Retention
1. Collaborate with the teacher. If you decide that repeating a grade is best, introduce your child to their new teacher. If they’ll be continuing with their old teacher, ask them to provide a special welcome back message.
2. Protect your child’s self-esteem. Being held back can make a young person question their abilities and feel inferior. Take time to praise their accomplishments. Let them know that you are acting out of love and not punishing them.
3. Prepare for questions. Children may tease each other. Rehearse an explanation your child can give like saying they have to catch up after a long illness or want to be as well prepared as possible when they graduate.
4. Establish a consistent homework routine. Use extra time well by structuring homework sessions. One good technique is allowing a brief play time after school and then an hour or so of homework before dinner.
5. Teach time management. Your child may also need guidance to get better organized. Break down larger assignments into smaller tasks and deadlines.
6. Reach out to new classmates. Set up play dates with your child’s future classmates. Introduce yourself to their parents.
7. Nurture old friendships. Being separated from their friends at school is often the most difficult adjustment to make. Listen to your child’s concerns. Empathize with them. Find ways to stay in touch on weekends and after school.
8. Consider a peer tutor. In addition to professionals, someone close to your child’s age can be a great influence. Your child may try especially hard to impress them.
9. Be positive. Your son or daughter will latch onto the attitude that you project. Compliment them on being the smartest one in the class because they’ve already been over all the material once. Tell them how being a good student will enrich their lives.
Your child needs your support whether they remain in the same class or stay back a grade. Your love and the appropriate resources can help your child catch up in school and prepare for a successful future.