Reply To: Has anyone held their child back a grade

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Penny Williams

Yes!!! My son repeated 4th grade. I had to fight for the school system to approve it because he was at or above grade level in every subject, except writing where he has an LD. There were several reasons:

1. He was very young for his grade (Mid-October birthday, starting kindergarten at 4 because we saw how smart he was and didn’t see any issues yet). He was constantly bullied and didn’t fit with the kids in his grade.

2. His first 4th grade teacher was the WORST! She flat out refused to implement any accommodations in IEP meetings and the principal wasn’t able to force her (or fire her). She believed that learning disabilities just required a lot of extra work and effort but that accommodations should never be made. She basically tried to bully my son into trying harder. It was so bad on him mental and emotional health that he had a massive meltdown in the classroom and began throwing chairs and shoving desks and the students had to evacuate the classroom. That’s the one and ONLY time he has ever had a meltdown like that (he’s now 15). She damaged him so completely that he didn’t want to go on to 5th grade – felt certain he couldn’t handle it. (By the way, he was moved out of her class for the last quarter of that year to a new teacher and she was an angel.)

3. His severe executive functioning deficits were creating a barrier to any success — he needed another year to improve those skills as much as possible.

The schools have struct rules about kids being behind grade level to even consider holding them back. I think money plays a big role (that’s an additional year your child will be in school). I also think those studies that show social harm cloud their judgement in these decisions. My son’s special ed teacher actually told me that having him repeat 4th would “damage him for life.” What no one takes into account is that all the children in those studies were neurotypical. They didn’t have ADHD. Our kids have more circumstances that have to be a consideration in these decisions. For my own son, the social harm was keeping him with kids that were socially more advanced.

In the end, the principal approved his retention because we moved to a different school district that summer. No one in his 2nd 4th grade would know he had repeated.

ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Trainer on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism