Has anyone held their child back a grade

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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 3 years, 9 months 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
      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

    • #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.

    • #82359

      I needed to read his today. My son is supposed to start kindergarten in September and I’m scared he isn’t ready. I still cannot even get him completely toilet trained. No one has even mentioned holding him back but I’m not sure he should be there yet. Feels ‘good’ to know I’m not alone.

      • #82377
        Penny Williams

        Please trust your gut on that. My son is 15 now and I still wish so much that we had waited a year to start kindergarten, or repeated kindergarten. Instead, it was 5 years of hell and then we demanded he repeat 4th grade (diagnosed in 1st). Words can’t express my regret that we just didn’t wait to start kindergarten.

        It’s totally ok to make that choice.

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

    • #82381

      I repeated his kindergarten n it has proven to be fruitful decision. initially i wasnt ready at all but repeating a year was beneficial in many ways.Last month his both the teachers were asking how this miracle has happened?Reading,writing n eunderstanding skills improved within last three months…I guess its the TIME N PRACTICE playing a major part…

    • #83845
      ADHD mama

      I have been asking myself this question all year long. My 5th grader who is to go to junior high in 6th grade is ADHD, youngest boy in his grade and the shortest as well. He is not failing but he is not doing very well academically but most of all I feel that he is not ready emotionally nor do I think he is mature enough to have several different teachers, classes, responsibility of going to classes on time if at all. When I speak to teachers, principal about my concerns regarding this issue I think they are looking at me in fear that my son will be at their school another year! But they always just say that he is academically doing well enough to go ahead to the next grade. For me it would be a little different if it was just a grade year up but it’s a whole school change and with a whole different set of responsibilities and changes that I am not sure he is ready for.

      If I had it to do over again I would have fought harder for him to start school later. The issue was the school district was slowly bringing down the cutoff age to start school forward one month each year until it got to September 1 (which is where it stayed). Problem was that my son started school the year before when it was October 1 and his birthday is September 23. They were very adamant when I picked up registration packet and I thought okay that is the rule. Well I knew then he was immature if anything but not yet aware of the huge role my son’s ADHD was going to play in his life over the next few years that followed! I guess one of my reasons for replying is to let others know— follow your gut, you know your child and it is much easier for EVERYONE especially your child to fight the system early on (starting kindergarten date) than it is later when you are dealing with all of the feelings your child might have towards being held back when he is a little older like 4th or 5th grade. I wish I would have fought for it back then. It would have been so much better for him to have 1 more year to mature and be ready to start school. I guess knowing then what we know now we would all make lots of different choices in everything.

      So- I decided to have him go ahead to junior high because I think it would be emotionally hard on him to be held back for all of the reasons stated before in this post. I know that it will be a hard transition for him and would have been nice to have another year for him to mature before starting but all of the mental anguish might be worse on him. My point- fight for it when they are younger, you won’t regret it!!

    • #84183

      Supposedly ADD kids are delayed in maturity and for us, 5th grade is followed by middle school setting. Middle School throws in more chaotic factors into the mix (hormones and different threats/distractions that didn’t exist in elementary). A lot of people in my area “red shirt” or delay their boys entering kinder from the start knowing that boys are slower than girls in academic maturity and verbal skills. Those boys hit puberty earlier than the boys that don’t get red-shirted and that made my young son who was not red-shirted and with ADD feel odd and inferior. Many of his friends went to private school in middle school and high school starting (sometimes repeating a year) to get more individualized attention and the advantage of a repeated year in a different social setting. Wish I had that option. It’s an individual boy and family decision but those are some tactics I’ve seen. Yours will be unique to your situation. Good luck!

    • #84186

      I wish the sp ed preschool held him another year as I requested then. We have been paying for it ever since. He’s just turned 12, acts like 10 or even as low as 5 years old, sometimes. We’re using a cyber school at home and this gives us much more flexibility and support than the public B&M school did. It’s so hard to get him to do work, and I definitely feel like I’m putting more effort into it than he is sometimes but he is learning more with me at home than he ever did. If we can get through his aggressive outbursts, ODD, lack of focus, lack of motivation….

    • #84208

      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.

    • #186719

      Dont do it. I was held back in 2nd grade. I did have add aswell so it was hard to focus. But now that I am an adult I can see all the hurt it did to me. I had a teacher by the name of mr,Roger’s in 2nd grade. He was a bully and abused me verbally and physically on a daily basis. My routine in his class was go to a desk that was in the corner with a pencil 2 blank pieces of paper and a 500 word paragraph and I was forced to write that paragraph everyday all day long until the end of class and then I got hit with getting held back so I had to do it all over again another year while mr. Rogers sat there and mocked me in front of the class saying if you guys don’t pay attention you’re going to be just like him over there in the corner, and point at me in front of the class and make damn sure I would hear it too almost everyday and I am still in contact with some of the people I was in school with in the second grade that can confirm. I was bullied every day. ! And guess what else I got! Teased by everyone that moved up a grade and looked down on like I wasn’t smart enough to even say hi to my classmates.and continued threwout middle school and high school. So YES I LEARNED TO ACT OUT. I was one of the examples that I was reading about when I googled if be held back can be detrimental to development and look here (“Grade Retention should not be an option for students failing classes and also failing to be present at summer schools.

      -Academic achievement of kids who are retained is poorer than that of peers who are promoted.
      -Achievement gains associated with retention fade within two to three years after the grade repeated.
      -Kids who are identified as most behind are the ones “most likely harmed by retention.”
      -Retention often is associated with increased behavior problems.
      -Grade retention has a negative impact on all areas of a child’s achievement (reading, math, and language) and socio-emotional adjustment (peer relationships, self-esteem, problem behaviors and attendance).
      -Students who are retained are more likely to drop out of school compared to students who were never retained. In fact, grade retention is one of the most powerful predictors of high school dropout.
      -Retained students are more likely to have poorer educational and employment outcomes during late adolescence and early adulthood.
      -Retention is more likely to have benign or positive impact when students are not simply held back, but receive specific remediation to address skill and/or behavioral problems and promote achievement and social skills.”)

      That’s how I felt. I’m sorry I had ADD and I bet it was easier to just throw me in the he corner and make me write ur “killer paragraph”. I learned how to spell (“because “) because it was the first word on the paper.and I get anxiety every time I write it because I remember.

      And yes I did have issues like misbehaving,acting out, causing disruptions , ditching school or figuring out a way to get suspended so I could go home. And yes I did eventually drop out! I never did any drugs or anything. I wouldn’t even take the ADD medicine because it didn’t feel ok.
      I had so much confusion alwase thinking i wasn’t good enough ever. I had to learn to lift my self up out of depression on a daily. Even to this day it a struggle. I am 31 years old I dropped out in 11th grade , I have a G.E.D that I got in prison while serving 5 years for 3 felonies I have never beed able to work certain jobs because of the abuse I received by those very same teachers that are supposed to lift you up and make learning fun. Instead I got told everytime I misbehaved that I’m gona end up in prison or working fast food all my life. So that’s the motivation I had feed to me IN THE SECOND GRADE!!!!! AND AGAIN IN THE 4TH GRADE mrs. Aguilar!!!!ur next ma’am.!. The mistreated me because I was hyper and thay didn’t know how or didn’t care to teach me. I still struggle with focus today but now I know how to control the energy. And thank you to the very few teachers that took the time to help me learn like mr,chance. He always made me feel like I could and can succeed.
      Iv learned alot about life threw the years and how cruel people can be. I feel being held back contributed to my behavior and the way I would eventually turn out!. I have no regrets tho I wouldn’t be the man I am today. But maybe my life would be different if I didn’t have to endure that abuse.. I would like mr.rogers to be held accountable, along with Fairview elementary school for letting him treat children that way. And the second year in 2nd grade I stayed in the corner again threw out the year. So he didn’t care. Just held me back to hold me back. How dare he try to punish me for not understanding my condition or not have enough patience to try,it was easier to throw me in the corner.
      Iv learned to not let anything hold me back. I keep a positive attitude towards life I have 2 beautiful boys and own my own business $0 debt and own over $80,000 in equipment nothing will stop me on my road to success but I will Never forget those people who tryed to belittle me and abuse me because they don’t understand what ADD is or dose. And I feel I’m owed an apology at the least because I have to live those mental scars for the rest of my life. And my son seems to be just like me when I was young, but I won’t let him suffer like I had to everyday I know better and how to live and function with ADD, how to use it to our advantage. Thank you for letting me share my true life story, and please don’t hold your child/children back. I could learn just fine just didn’t slow down enough to retain information. And I’m hands on you show me how to do it and I got it for ever but if you just say something and im not focusing,I can easily misconstrue that information. And add is not a bad thing I feel like it is more natural than a disease. Who wouldn’t like to have double the energy I appreciate the way I am. Thank you god for making me,me! And helping me stay strong threw the depression and anxiety..

      Things that help for me with ADD.
      No coffee !
      Keep the sugar low
      Run as much as u can or burn off as much daily energy you can before bed.(like sports)!
      If you cant sleep I found that reading a book can help burn off the mental energy that keeps u up thinking about random stuff all night.
      And #1 you can never ask to many questions when ur trying to understand something. Even simple things!remember its easy tell you something but better to show you. Hands on learning is the key!

    • #186901
      Dr. Eric

      Retention is a very loaded topic with a lot of emotion.

      Some things to consider.

      1. The research base is very negative on retention, but the data set is generally huge population sets of people who do it right and wrong. Generally speaking, the data is skewed by states and districts that blindly retain off of a test where students haven’t met a cut-off score – which is exactly the wrong way to do it.

      2. Retention is not really an intervention unless done in 1st grade when a student receives two years of direct instruction of basic phonics and math skill development. This is challenge in grades 3-5 where the students are transitioning from Learning to Read to Reading to Learn. An extra year will not equal more direct instruction in those missing skills because it is unlikely that they are being explicitly taught anymore. And of course, distance learning and COVID has complicated anything related to the last year.

      3. When I have seen retention done correctly in grades other than 1st, the student is receiving excellent interventions and is improving, but they cannot close the head start that their classmates have on them to catch up. If the student is not receiving those interventions and improving at the same rate as their classmates, retention only delays addressing the problem another year – which does more harm than good.

    • #188630

      Coming from a kid who had these same issues…as i have gotten older I have realized at how I can be a slow learner, and maybe didn’t develop as fast as my peers- therefor I really struggled in school. For the sake of trying to keep this short, lets basically say a lot of the time I will look back and wonder if things would have been different had I been held back a year. I truly with all my heart think it would have helped tremendously.

      I understand it may not be well looked upon to some degree for being held back, but in all actuality those factors ( plus or minus other ones) won’t matter. There is no harm in holding one back, especially when having ADD. I wish my parents had done it with me. Though is seems like such a small change, I believe it can truly make a significant impact on the kid ( for the better) by holding them back- especially after explaining what you just said.

      It is hard for me to admit this myself, but if I can help a kidd, who struggled like me ( though you never would have known from just being around me in a non academic setting) then it is worth it.

      I think people with ADD and learning dissabilities can be very smart, and actually interest and wanting to be able to be good in school, but sometimes our brains just develop at a slower rate.

      I hope you get what I mean on from this long rant, but I am in my early 20’s and somehow that is one thing I see being a core issue that could have made a world of different, which has this big regret feeling in my mind- though I never thought about it as an option at the time.

      At the end of the day, only you truly know what is best.I hope I kind of helped. Best of luck!

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