Being retained has been proven to be a risk factor in children dropping out of school before graduating high school.
The research on retention is pretty good. If retained for academic reasons, the academic gain for the child is usually gone by 2 years later, and pretty much ALWAYS gone by 5 years later. Retention for academic reasons does not make sense, given this research. Usually, what should be done, is to have the child receive extra tutoring and assistance the next year to be able to keep up with the curriculum.
Research varies on retention for social, developmental, maturity, or emotional reasons. The BEST thing to do if a child is immature compared to his/her peers is to “delay start”, which means you don’t start Kindergarten until a year later, so they have an extra year of maturity. If you didn’t do that and HAVE to hold them back, then the earlier the better. K, 1, and 2, still show some positive changes in children held back for social/emotional reasons. But after that, it declines and can become as detrimental as being held back for academic reasons because of the shame and frustration the child feels.
If you HAVE to hold your child back, I would wait until 5th grade which is a “changeover” year. That way, at least he won’t see his friends in the grade ahead of him. Ideally, this also would be a good point to change school systems or districts. That way no one knows he was held back, and when moving to middle school, the students will continue to be unaware.
I know this is a hard decision. You look at your child and it’s just so confusing what’s best for them. All I can do is provide you with the information I have.
Do you have the ability to homeschool. That could be another path to “retention without retention” You basically just take him out of public school for a year, and get him caught up to where he needs to be, before putting him back in public school.
My son is in 8th grade right now, and still very immature for his age. God how I wish I’d held him back a year before Kindergarten. But he was reading and had a December birthday, so I thought that would be overkill. Watching him struggle to keep up with peers all the time though, it’s been painful. I think he could have used that extra year.
We are moving away from our hometown (thank goodness) and that small school. My son desperately wants to stay for high school, but we’ve made it very plain that staying in that school is NOT an option. They are so small, there’s very little flexibility, the high school has a horrible reputation for applying IEPs, and while my son SAYS he doesn’t want to leave because of friends, he can only name two friends, and he NEVER asks to see them outside of school. One of them is even the little brother of my SIL, so it would be really easy to arrange, but he doesn’t ask. So I think it’s the “familiar” he doesn’t want to leave, not a really strong group of friends.
So we started looking at charter and magnet schools where we were going to be living. There were a five that were “acceptable”, but only 1 that we really, REALLY liked. It’s the first year of the school right now, so when my son enters next year he’ll only be the second class. Plus, the school will only have Freshman and Sophomores, which I think will be less intimidating to him than a school with students who could possibly be 18 or 19. It’s a “non-standard” teaching method for the core classes, and then the focused extra curricular courses, all in Tech, will really catch his interest, and I hope his competency will help make-up for any lack of maturity.
However, we had decided that if he didn’t get into this school, he wasn’t starting 9th grade next year. We would instead use a homeschool method called “unschooling” to basically give him an extra year to mature before starting 9th grade. It wouldn’t have been a home-school repeat of 8th grade, but he would end up essentially “retained” for a year because he’d be starting high school a year later. Since it would be a totally new school, no one would know he wasn’t just like any other 9th grader.
But, we are in the lucky position of having many charter schools in the City where we work. This could be much more difficult in an area with fewer options.