Grade Retention – How to Help Your Child Cope with Getting Held Back

The end of the school year is a celebration for many students, but it can be challenging for children who are getting held back a grade. Many students need grade retention to mature or re-learn lessons they may have missed over the school year. If your child is struggling with grade retention, these tips can help you through the hurdle.

Common Reasons Children Get Held Back in School

Approximately 5% of first through third graders in the U.S. get held back a grade. The goal is to give the child a second chance at a grade they found challenging, so they can be better equipped in years to come. The reasoning behind grade retention may be based on maturity, behavior, absences, academic performance, or any number of factors.

Getting held back is not a reflection of intellect. Your child is not “stupid” because they need to repeat a grade. Make this apparent with every discussion. Each child learns and grows at their own pace. Your child may simply need more time to reach a specific milestone.

How to Help Your Child Cope with Grade Retention

Because most children get held back within the first few years of school, your child may not understand what grade retention means. Be prepared to answer questions like, “Does that mean I won’t see my friends again?” Your child may have the same questions several times over, or they may get confused on the first day of school. Address their concerns in an honest and supportive manner.

Your child may focus on the negative aspects of grade retention. Redirect to the positive aspects. Will they have the same teacher? If so, you could focus on “seeing Mrs. X again” next year. If you know of special field trips or grade-specific events, that may give them something to look forward to. You might not make every fear go away, but you can create balance to get through the anxiety.

Encourage friendships and interests outside of the classroom. Extracurricular activities provide excellent opportunities for children to interact with other age groups or kids from other schools. If your child builds a friend group outside of school, they may have an easier time transitioning to new social circles.

Do not brush your child’s feelings to the side. This is a big change for them, and they may need extra support to get through it. Acknowledge their emotions, and steer them toward the positive side of the situation.

Use the Summer Months to Prepare Your Child for the Upcoming School Year

The summer is a great time to reset, regroup, and prepare for next year. Did your child struggle with a certain subject? If so, you may do some supplemental learning over the summer.

If you think your child’s struggles are the result of a learning disability, ADHD, or autism spectrum disorder, schedule a psychological evaluation over the summer. CNLD Testing & Therapy offers giftedness testing, IQ testing, child mental health evaluations, and many other psychological testing services for children.

Your psychological evaluation will include one hour of educational advocacy services. This will give you a clear path to follow after the test. Learn about special education accommodations that may make it easier for your child to get through school. We have a diverse team of specialists to guide you through each step of the process.

The First Day of School May Be Tough – Here’s How You Can Help

The first day of school will likely be a slew of emotions. This is when your child will see their former classmates advancing to another grade, and they’ll be faced with a new set of kids to meet. Your child may struggle to understand why they can’t be in the same class with their friends or why they aren’t in the same seat as last year.

You can say things like, “You’re going to have so much fun with {teacher’s name} this year!” or point out exciting things in the classroom. You may want to get to school a little early on the first day to allow time for anxiety, tough conversations, and big emotions. Emphasize that you will be there at the end of the day to pick them up and hear about their amazing first day of school. Knowing there is a support system waiting for them may give your child peace of mind.