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Holding your child back in school

It’s the time of year when parents and teachers meet to discuss a child’s

achievements and their progression to the next grade level. For most parents it’s just a routine meeting but some of you may hear the words no parent wants to hear:

“We’d like to hold your child back.”

You might wonder why is this happening to your child or you may worry about how he will adjust to seeing his friends move on. Most importantly, you’ll want to know if this is the right decision. This is NOT the worst case scenario. In fact, this could be a monumental gift for your child. How do I know?

I’ve heard those words and walked that path.

Each child reaches developmental and academic milestones at his own pace. Some children are right on target and others need a bit of extra practice. It’s the same as learning to tie a shoe or ride a bike, each child has their strengths and struggles. Your child’s teacher has observed his learning style, academic progress and even his social skills. All of these factors play into the decision of grade progression.

Your child may ask, “What about my friends?

Some children will be sad, scared, frustrated or even embarrassed. Remember to acknowledge his feelings! If you are compassionate, he may be more open to allowing you to help him through this adjustment. “I understand you are sad about this and it’s not what you expected,” will go a long way to healing the hurt. You could also brainstorm options of how he can still get time with his friends who are moving up (this could happen if they play sports or participate in other activities together). The key is your patience and understanding.

Is this the right decision?

You’ll have to make that choice based on many factors.Things to consider include academic strengths and weaknesses, emotional maturity and social skills. Ask your teacher questions, talk to the school counselor and even other parents who have been in this situation. One thing is for certain: I have never had a parent tell me they regretted giving their child that extra year.

The gift of an extra year will help your child:

  • Build a strong academic foundation for future challenges

  • Experience academic success (he’s already seen the lessons once)

  • Grow in confidence

  • Have a more positive self-esteem

  • Gain additional social skills through meeting new peers the next year

One last thing…trust your gut! Gather the information you need to make an informed decision and trust yourself to make the right decision, even if it is a hard one.

Parenting isn’t about keeping them happy for the moment, it’s about giving him the skills they need for their future.

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