To Retain or Not to Retain...

Last night I was reading a wonderful novel and came upon this quote:


"She had to repeat the second grade because she wrote her letters backward. Doing the second grade over didn't help. She still writes her name backward."

-This I Know by Eldonna Edwards


I don't know if this author is just uniquely wise or if she's an educator with years of experience. But she's right. Holding a child back a year and hoping some miracle cure sets in when nothing is done differently is...well...ludicrous!


Besides, did you know that research tells us that kindergarten is the only beneficial year to retain a student?

Think about it. The emotional impact of retention is huge, often setting the stage for a lifetime of failure. To make matters worse, there are still a large number of students getting retained - even though we know it's not the best intervention strategy.

There are better ways to help a child succeed academically!


Following are some suggestions to help you should your child crop up on a retention list. 1. Decline from having your child retained if in elementary school. You don't have to agree to this, especially if your child has an IEP. 2. Work out a plan for success instead of an obvious plan for failure (retention). Does your child need more or different reading instruction? Do math facts need a brush-up? Is speech therapy in the works? 3. Investigate tutoring scenarios. If money is tight, you can enlist the help of older siblings, grandparents, or neighbors. Sometimes a little extra time gives the student confidence to take learning leaps. 4. If you suspect there is a learning disability, have your child tested by the school. You can make an informed decision as to what to do once the testing results are in. 5. If your child has a learning disability such as dyslexia, then be sure it is getting treated. Another dose of academics won't help your child if there is an underlying factor causing the learning issue.


There's a lot you can do to help your child have a positive school experience. Sometimes, it is in the student's best interest to retain, but most of the time, it's an archaic formula for failure - not success.

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