When I was a young girl, I remember excitedly putting on my shoes and coat to walk my two brothers to school with my mom. On the outside of the school building, it was massive with lots of windows. I remember walking inside the building and seeing so many children heading to their classrooms. As a child, I remember looking up to my mother, asking her if I could stay for a couple of hours. Of course, my mom didn’t allow me to stay, but she told me when I got older, I could come back. There was a time where one of the teachers showed up screen me to see if I was ready to start school. I was so excited when my first day of kindergarten came around. I was ready for school!
Kindergarten was a great school year for me. First grade is where I seem to have a problem. I wasn’t sure what could have been worked out, but I remember being at a meeting with my first-grade teacher and mother. During that time of the meeting, I felt like there was a problem, but I didn’t quite understand. After the meeting was over, I was told that I would be repeating the first grade. It didn’t dawn onto me until the next school year when I had the same teacher but had different classmates. During that time, I suffer from extremely low self-esteem. When recess came around, I isolated myself from the other children because I didn’t want the kids to make fun of me during that time.
“Everyone falls at some point in their life, but failure is just life trying to move us in another direction. The key is to learn from every mistake because every experience, encounter, and particularly your mistakes are there to teach you and force you into being more who are.”
In recent research, Amanda Morin wrote an article “Repeating a Grade: Pros and Cons” about what are some logical reasons why your child has to repeat a grade level and why you should not have a child repeat a grade level. The Pros benefits are:
- Children who missed a lot of school due to illness, emotional trauma, or a move may benefit from repeating a grade level.
- Children who can tell you they feel like another year in the same grade will be helpful is the right candidate for repeating a grade level.
- Children who have behavior issues or stress related to schoolwork may benefit from repeating another grade level.
Now let us move on to the Cons of having a child repeat the same grade level:
- Children who are already the oldest in their grades will be almost two years older than the rest of the class.
- Children who will be taught the same skills in the same way without any different supports in place typically dont benefit from repeating a grade level.
- Children who repeat a grade level tend to lose the positive gains within two to three years after being held back.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) reports that some children do better in school the first year or two after having to repeat a grade level, but it also says that this effect doesn’t last. Also, NASP points out that children with learning and thinking differences may not do better unless there are new, specific interventions in place. If a child is held back because they struggle to learn, more of the same kind of teaching doesn’t help. Moving up a grade with new learning supports in place may be a better solution. No matter how you try to explain it, having your child repeats a grade level will give your child the message that they are not as smart as their classmates. In the article ” Should My Child Repeat a Grade” written by Laura McGuimn MD,FAAP, she mentions that children who repeat a grade level may contribute to long-term issues with low self-esteem and emotional and social difficulties. As a parent, you play an essential role in your children’s education. You have the right to be involved in the decision-making process. If the parent wants to get help if their child is in danger of repeating a grade, please try these options before making the final decision on making your child repeat a grade level.
- Set attendance goals. Don’t underestimate the harm of these school absences. Children who are absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read on grade level by the third grade.
- Talk with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician may refer your child to psychological and educational evaluations. These can help identify any neurodevelopmental and language disorders, learning and intellectual disabilities, emotional health issues, and sources of stress that can be addressed.
- Get supports at school. Your pediatrician can help you request and advocate for the best Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan at the child’s school and help you advocate for changes to existing plans.
- Reinforce your child’s learning at home. In addition to doing homework, your children should spend time reading not only with you but also on their own. If a child finds pleasure in reading, it increased the chances that it will become a lifelong habit.
- Look into alternatives to repeating the grade. In addition to academic supports and services such as extra one-on-one time with a teacher’s aide, there are other alternatives to repeating a grade. One example is multi-age grouping, or mixing children from two or more grade levels in the same classroom. Other options include allowing children to repeat a failed semester instead of a full year. Extended school year or summer learning programs may also be offered in some areas.
Now I want to hear from you. Have you ever experienced a time where you were on the brink of repeating a grade level, or do you know anyone that had to repeat a grade level. Express how you felt about your experience.
Don’t give up is the motto and ALWAYS remember to #beboldstandbackup!