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The Problems with Retention

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: Our daughter's teacher wants to hold her back because of her immaturity -- and I agree with her. She has just turned eight and is taking Adderall for ADD. She also has problems writing -- her sentences do not make sense. I want to hold her back. Am I making the right decision?

A: It sounds like you feel good about the decision to retain your daughter. Keep in mind that research has shown that retention increases the likelihood that a child will drop out of school when he or she reaches the legal age to do that. Retention is most successful when done at the end of kindergarten or first grade; older children are more aware of the other students moving on without them.

Whether or not your daughter is retained, you've lined up a great deal of support for next year. The medication coupled with the resource help will make a big difference in helping your daughter. You don't mention how long she has been on Adderall, but children typically make great progress in writing once they begin taking this medication.

Talk with the school counselor. Ask if there are any developmental screening tests (such as the Gesell School Readiness Test) available to help you with this decision. The counselor may also be able to give your daughter some individual time or include her in a small group on self-esteem either this spring or in the fall.

Your daughter will take her cue for accepting the retention from you. If she sees that you believe another year in her current grade is the best thing for her, she will believe that as well. If she feels that you don't believe this, she will worry that something is wrong.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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