Has anyone held their child back a grade

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  usindlinger 20 hours, 55 minutes ago.

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  • #81721


    I want to hold my 4th grader back this year because he has literally done none of the work and has no skills for 5th grade..has anyone had this issue and why do the staff seem so bothered by me asking for it

  • #81738


    We held our daughter back after she completed Year 5. She has ADD (inattentive type) and also has a dyslexic profile. At her original private school (we are in Australia) they declined our request to allow her to repeat, and after reading as much research & literature as I could about the pros and cons of repeating a grade I approached a smaller school where I requested for her to repeat Year 5. They (a little reluctantly) allowed us to do this. One of the main reasons schools don’t like kids to repeat is the possibility of that child being teased by his peers and the associated reduction in confidence of the child. However, by changing schools and keeping the reason for the change strictly confidential, we avoided the problem of teasing or bullying for that reason.

    Research suggests children with ADD/ ADHD are behind in some areas of brain development by up to 3 years. Executive functioning and maturity are probably the slowest to develop. These skills are necessary to understand and complete schoolwork! This is why we felt our daughter would benefit from repeating a grade and being with a 1 year younger cohort of children for the remainder of her time in both primary school (elementary) and going on to high school.

    In addition, her reading ability improves greatly with each year, although she remains a little behind the class standard. Grade 4/5 is when the focus in school changes from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”. Our daughter was still in the learning to read stage. Teachers will say “the dyslexia doesn’t go away therefore you should not hold the child back”. But my view is the child is learning and improving each year at their own pace. Kids with ADD seem to require much more time and much more training to achieve the same goals, both academically and in other areas. A time of consolidation can be a very good thing! And I have 4 children, 3 neurotypical and one with ADD. The ADD kids will achieve the same goals, but maybe not in the same time frame as most kids – and they shouldn’t be forced to! Schools still seem to create a lockstep learning environment and ADD kids need a more individual path.

    Now my daughter is in Year 8 and I believe the decision to repeat was a sound one. It was better to allow her to consolidate for a year, keep the focus on learning to read, increase her skills and confidence and save a lot of stress. She is still not great at completing all her homework, (some gets done.some I get calls and emails from teachers about) and tests vary from excellent to not attempting them at all. That is mostly the nature of her ADD and no one thing will solve all the issues. But I’m glad she is not in Year 9 where the workload is greater still and she would be struggling all the more. She is quite intelligent but her work ethic is not what it needs to be to succeed at school so she has a tutor for maths. I am also going to hire a university student to come to our house for an hour and a half per week to help her complete homework for her other 7 school subjects. A friend of mine does this with her Year 8 daughter (not ADD, but not motivated) with great success.

    I believe if you research the reasons why staff at your child’s school do not want your child to repeat a grade, and then give them well researched counter arguments they will be more ready to see your point of view. Apparently in some European countries it is more common for students to repeat a grade and there is less social stigma around it. I think this would lead to better long term outcomes for the child than forcing every child to go up a year whether they are ready or not. A good mantra for bringing up ADD kids is “More time, more training”. Good luck!

  • #81742

    Uncle Dharma

    Two issues here, at least for where I live.
    1 – The schools do not like a student to repeat a year even if the student has not learned the basics that are needed for the next year. Not sure of their reasons.
    Some teachers are upset that they have to teach the curriculum for that year level, even though a few students have no basic skills to build on. That subject for that year then becomes a waste of time for those few students.

    2 – Individual teachers can give whacko advice.
    One teacher told me that to repeat a year at high school would be the loss of a whole year’s wages. I am not making this up! I repeated to get more subjects at the higher level, then went onto university and did a science degree. Later I moved into computing and also training.
    These days, I can earn a very high wage, much above the average.
    Due to studying part-time and going to university, I was 29 years old before I earned a whole year’s full-time wage. No regrets here.

    2.1 – The careers adviser at my high school told me that I would not make a good teacher and suggested other options. I have been running training courses for adults in the workplace for 30 years, and occasional guest lecturer classes at high school for about 5 years. The school students ask for me to join them on excursions. I really think that my ADD view of the world helped me to develop good class notes and exercises.

    • This reply was modified 4 days, 11 hours ago by  Uncle Dharma.
  • #81762


    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.

  • #81966


    Changing your child’s cohort can be a terrible thing. Friends are moving on and he has to start making friends all over again. There is research that suggests that changes like this mean a child looses 6 months of education, while they are learning to fit into a new cohort. It is also possible that symptoms will get worse, because he already knows the material and is bored. I know you say no work has been done, but it may be in his head and he doesn’t test well. Please research this a lot and ask your child a lot of questions about what happened this school year. The stigma of being held back is not something a child gets over.

    I think the bigger question to answer is, how did your child go an entire school year without doing any work? The IEP is obviously failing. If there is a BIP that is obviously failing as well. The school and/or teachers seem to be failing. Is there more here that is undiagnosed? Does medication need to be re-evaluated? I would try anything to keep from holding a child back a grade, especially in elementary school where the entire building worth of kids knows he should be in a different grade.

  • #81726


    is summer school an option? i know some ymca’s do a summer school program in local schools. they might be worried he will lose his peer group. i was held back in first grade. but i started at a new school in a new town. my parents found a house they liked and we moved. so i didn’t have the embarrassment of being made fun of by my peers in second grade. i didn’t like being held back but my teacher was really really great. she got me back up to grade level. maybe ask if any of the teachers have experience with adhd education. if you hold him back and he gets a teacher who doesn’t care that will be horrible for him. maybe explore summer school or tutors before you make the decision to hold back.

  • #81744


    Here is a document regarding repeating a grade. I did read this before I repeated my daughter in Year 5, but I was it deterred. I hear many anecdotal success stories although they do no seem to be reflected I. The research. For my child it was the right thing to do.

  • #82013


    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

  • #82122



  • #82137


    It might not be applicable but we had our youngest son repeat Kindergarten this past year. He still has some struggles, but with the adhd-i diagnosis and support of his teachers it has been amazing to see the difference this year. The “free do-over” as we called it, gave him a chance to mature some and helped build some confidence.

    Another possible course of action is to see what in-school intervention programs are available to help kids who are lagging behind. It may be wise to consider requesting a meeting with the principal and appropriate staff to see what options are available to get him back on track if he’s moved forward.

  • #82138


    I held back two of my three sons, both born in June, before Kindergarten. I didn’t know they had ADD at the time. I just felt they lacked the emotional maturity to handle school. I don’t regret it.

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