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Retention or Promotion

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: Our son turned 8 at the end of October and is in third grade. He is still keeping up with his schoolwork with constant help from us, but it is becoming harder for him to maintain good grades. We feel like he would benefit from being held back this year (even though he has a B average) so that he could be with children his own age and size. His responsibility and maturity level seems to be ok for his age, but not his grade level. He has a lot of work at school that he doesn't finish, and it's a constant struggle to get him to sit and do homework. His schoolwork (according to his teacher) isn't done not only because it takes him longer, but he is also easily distracted. Reading comprehension is hard for him, and we've noticed that he skips over word problems rather than even trying. His teacher has been very helpful. We would like him to enjoy learning and not to dread school at such a young age. Any suggestions you could give me would be helpful.


A: It is so wonderful to hear a parent's concern for his child and all aspects of his well-being.

I would, of course, ask this year's teacher for her recommendation. You are so right to recognize that there is more to school than the grades on a report card. By the end of third grade we generally consider the foundation to be established for all future learning. If your child is really struggling, you are wise to ask questions about what is best.

Retention for the purpose of strenghtening academic skills only works if your child learns differently the second time around. If your child, for example, was taught reading with a sight word emphasis and is struggling in this subject, perhaps a more phonetic approach needs to be considered. His learning style needs to be determined and the match-up with the teacher needs to be carefully considered.

You are quite right to recognize that your child's developmental age may not be in sync with his classmates' or his chronological age. That does not mean that he has "failed" at anything and he may just need the gift of time.

It sounds like you believe this year's teacher has been successful with helping your son. Her advice would be very worthwhile. Make an appointment to get her recommendations before making a decision.

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

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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