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Summer Tutoring or Retention?
Q: Our seven-and-a-half-year-old son is a first grader in public school. We want him to go to a private Christian school for second grade. They tested him and he failed in every area --reading, language, and math. The public school says he is doing fine and will promote him to second grade. His behavior is good, perhaps not very mature.
We are in a quandary as to what we should do and would appreciate any suggestion by you. The Christian school does not feel summer school or tutoring will get him up to speed with their second graders.
A: The situation you describe can occur when switching schools. The private school may offer a far more challenging curriculum than the public school your son attended. By comparing textbooks used in both first-grade classes and visiting each classroom, you should be able to see if this is true. You might also want to compare the work being done in each school's second-grade classrooms to get a better idea of whether or not your son might be able to handle second grade in the private school.
If your son switches to the private school and is required to repeat first grade, he is likely to be considerably older than his classmates. In fact, you might want to check out the ages of the other students who would be in the private school first grade with your son next year. Consider also that your son will be 19+ when he graduates from high school if he repeats first grade.
It definitely won't hurt for your son to have some tutoring this summer even if he has to repeat first grade. It could be that some of his basic skills are weak and need to be improved for him to do well at either school. You might even consider having your son tested just to pinpoint any problem areas that could be worked on this summer as well as to get a better picture of his skills. Plus, there is always the possibility that the private school's test scores don't reflect his true ability.
Once you have made the final decision, work with your son's teacher and the school to make sure that he keeps up with the other students in his class. Neither public nor private school is fun for a student who is struggling.
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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.