I am trying to hold back my child. He is in 3rd grade and is way behind. I talked with his teacher, and she thinks that it would be a great idea. However, she told me that I can't tell the principal that. I live in Utah and they are strong believers that No Child Should Get Left Behind. I have been thinking about holding him back since first grade and regret every year that I let him move on. He is finally in a program after school that is helping him. I am going to have my kids go to a different school next year.
Is there any steps that I need to know in holding back my child?
From: L, Sandy, Utah
I'm a big believer in doing whatever you can to meet a child's needs. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong/yes or no on retention, and I would never make a blanket statement about it, so I like your approach. But you must know this is controversial and there's research on both sides of the argument. (The quick summary is that holding back for academic reasons tends to have more successful outcomes than holding back because of social immaturity.)
But you're not asking whether, you're asking how, so I'm glad you are able to move him to another school. That will make it easier for him once he's there -- less chance of him being stigmatized, and that's often the reason there are negative outcomes. Getting him there? Probably not be so easy.
Even though this is your decision to make -- and be clear about that, including with him; this is not a child's decision -- don't just spring this on him as a fait accompli. Bring him into the process. Have conversations about his struggles; what ideas does he have. What does he wish for? For all you know, he may wish it for himself. What you want to avoid is him feeling like a failure and the more you can get him to sign on, the easier it will be for all of you.
Look carefully at the new school. It's possible that your son hasn't done well because of his learning style, not the grade he's in. What will make a new school better able to meet his needs? Since the teacher agrees that holding back is a good idea, ask her specifically what you should look for in a new school. What does she hope for him?
The one thing most parents don't think about when they hold back is what will happen in years to come. Your son likely will be the oldest, the biggest, the first to get facial hair and his driver's license. He may have responsibilities and expectations foisted on him, from teachers and peers alike, just because he is taller and older.
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