The decision of making your child repeat a grade is a difficult one to make. If you notice your child struggling in a grade, you might wonder if making him repeat it would do any benefit? But repeating a grade doesn’t have to be what it was before. Deciding whether to hold a child back in one grade can be emotionally draining for you as a parent, but it can benefit your child. School officials also contemplate such a scenario and try to use it as a last resort. Ideally repeating a grade or ‘grade retention’ as it is called, has not shown to have a large impact on learning and attention issues.
A lot of planning and support strategies need to be put in place to handhold a child by repeating a grade. It is a decision that needs to be made after weighing the pros and cons, discussions with the teacher and the authorities within the school district. If your child is struggling in school with his lessons, homework, activities, and exhibits signs of lack of maturity and behavioural issues then a discussion about them repeating a grade could be initiated. As mentioned, repeating a grade could have a lot of impact on the child’s development, self-esteem, and learning.
How to Know If Your Child Should Repeat a Grade
How does someone know if they must get their child to repeat a grade? What are the key things you need to consider or be aware of if you think your child should repeat a grade? A few things that you can observe to ascertain and make a decision:
1. Determine the progress and development of your child.
Academic progress and the level of maturity of a child are key aspects to gauge. If a child is struggling with literacy, reading, and mathematics in a grade, then it is likely that he will struggle subsequently too. The child must meet the expected standards of performance laid down by the governing body. If your child has a high level of absenteeism then it could be helpful to have him repeat a grade.
2. Diagnose learning disability.
You might want to test your child for a learning disability disorder depending on how he is are struggling. Some signs of learning disability are the inability to sit for long periods of time, attentiveness, and poor listening skills. Identifying, clinical diagnosis and corrective measures could prevent future problems in school.
3. Consider the age of the child.
Some children feel embarrassed in front of their older classmates. If a child is one of the youngest in the class then he may actually benefit by repeating a grade. If they are young, they may even struggle to cope emotionally and will need peers who understand them better.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Repeating a Grade
Once you have ascertained whether your child must repeat a grade or not, it is worth considering the pros and cons of grade retention. Listed below are some of them that will help you make an informed decision:
- One of the key benefits of repeating a grade is better performance in academics and fitting in emotionally with peers. This is very common in kids who are younger than grade-level peers.
- Kids who have missed school owing to an illness or an emotional turmoil will also benefit from repeating a grade.
- Kids who are immature emotionally or have impediments in physical development with benefit as they will not have the stress of “catching-up”.
- Kids who are really far behind and will not be able to catch up further down will be at an advantage.
- Kids who themselves believe that repeating a grade would be beneficial for them as they will be stronger emotionally.
- A child who has a high level of absenteeism has already lost a lot and would be at risk of dropping out of school. Repeating a grade would have an impact on his emotional well-being.
- A kid who is the oldest in the class and is made to repeat will feel very out of place as he will be two years behind the rest of his class.
- The child who is well-developed physically for his age will feel like a misfit when made to repeat a grade.
- Kids who have behavioural issues or stress-related problems because of the classroom scenario will not benefit from repeating a grade.
- Kids who are themselves opposed to the idea of staying back a year will definitely not benefit from grade retention.
How to Cope With Repeating a School Year
Once the decision to repeat a grade is made, you need to be aware that a lot of support has to be given to the child to cope with the transition. The child needs to feel secure, be emotionally stronger, and adapt to a new situation and scenario. A few things you can do to help you and your child cope with the change:
1. Communicate with Teachers
Repeating a grade in elementary school or secondary school is a major strategy to help a struggling child. It is critical to identify trigger points. Come up with a plan at the start of the academic year to keep in regular contact with the teacher, monitor your child’s progress, and offer adequate praise.
2. Try to Get Help From a New Teacher
A different face could make a lot of difference. By introducing your child to a different teacher in the repeated year will wipe the slate clean and give your child a fresh start. It will give them an opportunity to build a new relationship, break previous patterns, and provide ample opportunities for growth. However, if your child had a good relationship with their previous teacher you could think of retaining the same. If your child is making good progress with the teacher yet still needs to repeat a year, it would be beneficial to have the same teacher.
3. Consider Alternative Curriculum
Your child has already been exposed to a certain set of lesson plans, units, textbooks, and activities. The information presented in a different manner will reinforce the learning and the relevant material could be presented in a different way. A different curriculum will give a new perspective that your child would probably need that repeating the same material he has seen. An alternative approach to learning could be the solution to success.
4. Consider Alternate Class Roles
Have a discussion with the class teacher about the kind of roles your child can have in the new classroom. This could add up to the positive experiences and avoid the label of ‘the failed kid’. Consult your child’s teacher regarding the ways in which your child could lead the class and be an example to his peers. Discuss the positive traits and characteristics of your child that will help the teacher get the child to be more inclusive in the class.
5. Focus on Your Child’s Positive Traits
Retention in education is primarily because a child is not ready for the next level. For example, repeating second grade for a child means he is not ready for third grade. However, there is a stigma involved in grade retention. Your child could end up feeling stupid and not good enough. They may suffer from low self-esteem. But you could work around this by focussing on their core strengths. Enrol them in extra-curricular activities that utilize their talents. Improve your child’s self-esteem by working on their growth mindset. A growth mindset is when intelligence and conduct are viewed as a result of positive and sustained efforts by an individual than believing that someone is born smart and intelligent.
What Parents Can Do If Their Kid Is At the Risk of Repeating a Grade?
A few things that parents can do if their kid is at risk of repeating a grade.
- Make sure your child attends the class regularly. Absenteeism can have negative impacts on reading levels, especially at the elementary level.
- Consult a paediatrician to seek psychological and educational evaluations and interventions. This could help in the diagnosis of learning disabilities, language disorders, neurodevelopmental and emotional issues.
- Make sure to reinforce the learning at home. For example, spend time reading and researching about school curriculum in different ways. Encourage the child to read on their own.
- Look into alternatives to repeating a grade. In addition to academic support and one-to-one training, you could look at multi-age grouping. Mixing children from different grade levels in the same classroom could help the child develop socially and emotionally. The child will need to receive age-appropriate academic work though. Another option could be to get a child to repeat a failed semester than a full year. This lets them stay with their peers and boost their confidence and morale too.
Children don’t usually outgrow learning and do not have attention issues by repeating a year. So a decision to repeat a grade need not be that hard. As a parent, if you feel your child has struggled in a grade and you want him to repeat the grade, weigh the pros and cons of it and do what seems best for your child. No one knows your child better than you do. So consider all the factors before making an informed decision.