Is it ever appropriate to make a child repeat a grade?
A difficult question for a lot of parents and an abhorrent solution for most children, is the option to hold a child back in the same grade for another year. There are exceptions where it may be helpful and not harmful to a child to hold him back a grade. But, in most cases, and nearly always in any grade over 2nd, there just is no good reason.
Once must look at a lot of different angles to take note of why a child is not getting good passing grades. Is he not adapting to the teacher? Is he doing better work on tests than on everyday schoolwork or homework? How are his state testing scores? Does he communicate well and does he understand directions well? Paying attention to what is happening and/or not happening that is affecting a child’s learning is tantamount to his success in school. Instead of sitting back and advising that he go through the same grade next year, one needs to find out why the system is failing the child. Not all learning processes are equal. Not all children learn the same way. If a child failed a class in 6th grade, what is going to be different in that 6th grade next year to make him do better?
It is a fine line that divides the great good of a “graded” education and the overall feelings that a child has for himself. This is not a matter of social promotion. This is a matter of significant lose of self-esteem, which is one thing that ALL people must have in order to carry on a productive life. Many times a child being held back a grade does not seem to care one way or the other. As educated as our society, especially teachers and superintendents, would like to see themselves, it should be common knowledge that that “not caring” attitude is a way of dealing with an issue that one does not feel at adequate to deal with. Check your psychology books! Pretending to yourself and those around you that you really don’t care is a psychological defense mechanism! Even children use these. They have to or lose faith in themselves completely. We are back to self-esteem!
Retention issues and their effects on children are constantly being researched. There are several articles discussing the issue at http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/retain.index.htm. (Writeslaw is site that provides an outstanding amount of information for parents and children concerning their rites as individuals.) Another great place to read about arguments concerning retention is the Center for Development and Learning at are/Who%20we%20are.html. These informational sources are just 2 of hundreds that have researched grade retention and its results on our children.
Self-esteem is a fragile thing. Without it, moving forward with new ideas is difficult if not impossible. If a child is struggling in school there must be a reason behind it. Tutoring, after school programs, peer studying; all these things may help. Learning disabilities, ADHD, CAPD, Autism, and many more disabilities might be underlying causes. Showing a child that you know he can do it will add a whole new dimension in how he feels about himself. Show him that you feel he is a “failure” and how do you expect him to respond? If you show him that trying does matter, he will continue to try. If you show him that he is “not good enough” then chances are he will feel nothing he can do will ever be “good enough”.
There are some very intelligent minds being wasted in our schools due to the lack of simple understanding of how school actions affect the future of our youth. Retention only hurts and is an abuse of the power that our school systems hold.