If your child is one of the more than two million kids who will be retained this year (mostly in grades K-3), you need to use the remainder of the school year and the summer months as a time to heal his sadness and hurt, in addition to bolstering his sense of self-worth and optimism. Regardless of your attempts to downplay its significance, retention causes a child to feel that he is stupid, that he has failed.
In a child’s mind, if he has failed at first grade, his first attempt at “real school,” he may reason that he.she will never succeed in school.
Here are steps to get a handle on everything.
1- Identify the reason why your child is slated to repeat the grade. Circumstances sometimes dictate that a student should repeat a grade: frequent relocation, excessive absences or long-term illness, for example, may have kept your kindergartener out of the instructional loop for a year. Exams may be a stresser for your child. Does your child have a learning disability? It can be a pretty simple thing as getting a test done. You need to find out why your child does not have the skills to pass to the next grade. If he actually has a learning disability, the school will work closely with you to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) to meet his/her needs.
2- Get a good grasp on the material your child did not understand or just wasn’t “getting”. Some subjects can be confusing. Yeas ago, I had one parent tell me that the “new” math was like building a road to an asylum. The answers you got were right but the method was wrong. Find out about different learning programs offered in your area that can help your child. Your local university, library, museum, and a learning center are some good places to help you begin your search
3- Understand the rules and regulations of your educational district. Some children are allowed to take the class that gave them trouble over the summer at a slower pace. They may even suggest that the child take a concentrated study class. These classes are offered throughout the nation.
4. Remember you have rights as a parent. If you are uncomfortable with your school’s decision to hold back your child, do you have the right to appeal that decision? Possibly—guidelines vary widely from state to state and even district to district. Many districts have an appeal process in place. Do your best to educate yourself on local policies: grounds for retention, intervention and notification processes, the possibility of alternative assessment criteria (particularly if high-stakes testing is involved), and appeals procedures. Gathering evidence in the form of report cards, tests, quizzes and homework assignment, and conference notes is vital—remember that you are better off building a logical case to support your son or daughter, not an emotional one
Work closely with your school’s personnel before the school year closes, in order to insure that your child’s retained year will be substantially different from his past academic experience. When the new school year approaches, your retained child will experience increased anxiety and fears. His behavior may become erratic, his sleep disturbed, and he may complain of headaches and stomachaches. Don’t dismiss, ignore, or punish these behaviors and feelings. Tell him/her that you understand why he/she is feeling these things and behaving in this manner.
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