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We began the IEP process towards the middle of my son’s kindergarten year. Towards the end of it we were aware of LDs and strong possibilities of ADHD. He was also emotionally immature and kindergarten was a rough year. The school actually recommended and pushed retention. I read some case studies that said that retention wasn’t a good thing, that the impact it would have on a child’s self esteem far outweighed any academic benefit. So I flat out refused retention. Little did I realize that the studies I was using to form my opinion were based on neurotypical children. 1st grade – same thing; 2nd grade – same thing. 3rd grade was a bit different. Our state has a law that says if a child does not pass the state reading test in 3rd grade, the child is automatically retained. 3rd grade was also when we got the official diagnosis of ADHD and began medication. My son worked tirelessly to raise his reading level from a pre-k level to a 3rd grade level and passed the state test by 2 points. Absolutely no one thought he’d be able to pass that test (the state also says that a child cannot receive any IEP accommodations during the 3rd grade reading test). Again the school recommended retention because of emotional immaturity, but I refused because at that point my son had worked so hard to pass because he was aware he would be retained if he did not pass, I felt it would have actually crushed him to be held back. That successful reading test was the first good milestone that my son had in school, I did not want him to feel like all that hard work was for nothing.

Looking back, I wish I had done the kindergarten retention. That retention would have helped him significantly in social interactions with his peers. And more than likely helped him academically. He’s now in 6th grade and this is the first year that retention is completely off the table. I often wonder how much easier school would have been for him had I just followed the teachers’ recommendations. So long story short, as a former retention naysayer, I’d push for kindergarten retention if you feel it will benefit your child.