Summer is quickly coming to an end, and many parents find themselves facing a difficult choice: should they move their child forward into the next grade, or should they hold them back? In some cases, repeating a grade may be recommended by the school on the grounds of the child’s social or academic performance. In other cases, there may be concerns that the child isn’t ready to progress due to ability, health, or attitude. There’s some logic to the idea of repeating a grade: a student who faced a particularly tough year may build confidence by repeating familiar material, for example. Schools may even like the idea that forcing one student to repeat a grade may increase performance in others. If students see a school is willing to issue the ultimate consequence, repeating a grade, more student may straighten up and get motivated to comply. In general, repeating a grade is not helpful to the child.
The Downside to Repeating a Grade
Repeating a grade might sound great on paper, but it’s not so great when it comes time to make that decision. Unfortunately, forcing a child to repeat a grade typically causes more problems than it solves. Students who have been required to repeat a grade are more likely to have confidence issues and social issues moving forward. They’re far more likely to give up on school or even drop out altogether. Middle and high school students, in particular, need to remain on a graded level if at all possible in order to increase their chances of academic success. Students who have to repeat a grade may face a variety of problems.
Social isolation is common among students who have to repeat a grade. Once they’re separated from their classmates, children may struggle to remain friends. Overcoming this obstacle is difficult, especially since placing them in different grades may dramatically change their position in life over the coming years.
Initial academic gains transform into negative impacts across all subject areas. Repeating familiar material might help the first year or two, but after that, children who were held back often experience substantial academic deterioration. Not only that, children who have repeated grades may struggle well into adulthood, facing higher rates of welfare use, low-income jobs, and even jail time even when compared to their struggling peers who were promoted to the next grade in spite of their struggles.
Kids who are forced to repeat a grade will immediately stand out from their peers. They may have size differences that are all too obvious or age differences that will become increasingly apparent as they get older.
Overall, while the decision to retain or promote a child is personal to each family and situation–or in some cases even mandated by the school–it’s evident that it often does more harm than good for struggling students.
What Options Do Parents Have?
If a child is truly struggling and doesn’t seem ready to move forward to the next grade level, parents don’t have to accept it! Instead, they have several options available that will help them make the best possible decisions for their children.
Try summer school. Sure, a child who is “over” school may need the break that summer brings. Summer, however, also offers a great opportunity to children who are struggling academically. While their peers are relaxing–and more importantly, not increasing their academic knowledge–students who are behind grade level can take steps to improve their academic performance and catch up.
Online courses can be a lifesaver for struggling students. Most online courses are designed to allow students to work through them at their own pace, rather than forcing them to keep up with a classroom full of their peers who seem to be working at a higher, faster level. Online courses, particularly in areas where students are struggling, can be the answer to many of their problems–especially if they are supported by parents, teachers, and tutors who are there to answer their questions and help them succeed.
Changing schools can make a big difference for many children. In many cases, parents assume that if one school isn’t working for their child, a different one won’t do any better. After all, aren’t all schools basically the same? The reality, however, is that children who are labeled as “failures” in one school may struggle to escape that label and find a teacher who is willing and able to support them. Changing schools–especially if you’re able to find one that has smaller class sizes and more individualized learning–can make a big difference for students who are struggling in the classroom.
If your child is on the verge of needing to repeat a grade, don’t accept the verdict until you’ve tried everything you can to keep them on grade level–especially if your child is in middle or high school. Our school is an excellent place for students who have struggled academically in the past to spread their wings and learn how to succeed in ways they never dreamed possible. Contact us today to learn how we can help your child succeed.