Hi...I have 9-year-old twin boys in 4th grade. They turned 9 in August, and Sept. 1st birthdays turned 10. A lot of the kids are almost a year older than they are. They have struggled academically every year, but I was a teacher until I quit so I could spend more time working on their homework with them (sometimes it takes 3 hours a night!). They took the dreaded FCATS in 3rd grade and both got level 3's on math and reading. All the grades they get (As, Bs, Cs) come from really hard work, tears, and fights. They are not liking school very much! This year is even more challenging already!
My question...is it possible for me to request they be held back? And is this even the right decision to make for them, since their friends are all in 4th grade? I just don't want them in middle school and high school like this. I really don't know if they can ever "catch up" and if their self esteem is going to be ruined!
From: J, Florida
Questions about holding back always generate lots of heated discussion, as did this one, just last month.
Is it possible to request that they be held back? You can request anything.
You're absolutely right that kids who struggle all the time will start to not like school and think they are stupid. Self-esteem will absolutely suffer.
Get your boys tested now, before the situation gets worse. See where their deficits are, what help they need and what help they can get, and then see where that takes you. Holding back may -- or may not -- be the answer. I will say this, though; if they are really far behind and holding back does seem appropriate, it will be easier for them to start a new grade at a new school. You don't say what grade you taught, but if a parent had come to you with this problem, how would you have advised them?
But why did you wait so long to act on this?
There must have been feedback in the early years; did no one pick up on their struggles, or did you hide the struggles from the teachers? As an educator yourself, did you not recognize that first, second, or third graders who take three hours to do homework is a sign of a problem? Was this a matter of personal pride? That as a former teacher, you thought you could "save" your boys?
Sorry, I don't mean to beat up on you. I hope you will take this in the spirit in which I am giving it: that there's a lesson here for others of us who think we can be objective about our own children.
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