Reply To: Has anyone held their child back a grade

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As an elementary teacher for twenty years, a middle school teacher for ten years, and now a high school science teacher for five years, I’m not sure why teachers question your request. As an elementary teacher I had parents ask me to hold back their fifth-grade child who was getting acceptable C grades. When I asked for their reasons, they indicated concerns about maturity and focus. After thought and observation on my part, I could understand their points and agreed to retain their child. Unfortunately, since the family moved away shortly thereafter, I don’t know what finally happened.

The most important concern is always–and only, I might add–the needs of the child. This is where all adults involved need to let go of their own desires and wishes and say, “What is best for this child at this time and in this circumstance?” Parents and teachers need to not worry about what others will think. Administrators need to support their teachers and should not see the retention as a change in the building’s pass-rate statistics.

In my experience, it’s also important to get some buy-in from the child, too. I have had a few students who were held back in younger grades and who blamed later difficulties and problems on the parents “because you kept me back in first grade.”

At the same time, I try to remember that parents want the best for their child *and* teachers are doing their very best to do right by each child in their classes. Disagreements occur because they have differing viewpoints about what’s right for the child. The parent knows their child, and the teacher has long experience with many, many children. Both have valid reasons for saying what has been said. Calm and rational discussion is essential for success.