Repeating a Grade: 6 Things to Consider

In the twelve years of classroom teaching, I had several instances where I had to recommend a child to be held back. The first set of parents refused to listen to anything the administration or I said but retained the child the very next year (which turned out to be a good thing). I experienced parents, who pulled their children from a private school setting and placed them in the public school to keep them from repeating a grade. A couple quickly followed through with our recommendation with no questions being asked. Then there were the parents who were concerned and wanted to do what was best. But they didn’t want to take drastic measures without covering other options, to make sure retention was the final straw. Each parent had the final say in the matter and each parent took a different route.

Repeating a grade is one of the hardest decisions a part has to make for their child. Consider these six things if you have to make this decision.

Repeating a Grade: 6 Things to Consider

As a teacher, I was not an advocate of retention. I was an advocate for the child who was struggling and needed help.

Keeping your child behind a grade is one of the hardest decisions a parent has to make and it should not be taken lightly. Here are some things to consider when facing this difficult decision.

Relationship with Teachers:

Do you have a good relationship with the teachers? As a parent, you have every right to ask to be kept in the loop if your child is struggling. Keep the line of communication open, but don’t become the parent every teacher hates to see coming. Send a note or an email and give them time to respond before making a call. If you don’t hear from them, call.

Be proactive when tests and work are to be signed and returned. Look at everything and if something stands out to you, make a note of it. Don’t let the words, “it is recommended that your child be held back a year”, hit you out of nowhere.

Does your child have a good relationship with their teacher? Personalities clash; if you are in a school where your child will benefit from being under another teacher, a simple change in classes may help. If not, then training your child to deal with these types of conflicts is something you want to consider; when they are adults, they will meet personalities they don't click with.


Is he struggling with one or two subjects or is he struggling with everything? If it is only one or two subjects, seeking a tutor may be the route you need to go.

Just a little advice… do not expect your child's teacher to tutor. Children do well with a tutor who is not their teacher. It helps give them another person’s method of explaining things. A different teaching method equals a positive outcome.


Testing for strengths and weaknesses help identify problems. Is there an underlying learning problem? Is your child gifted, and bored because they are not being challenged?

Learning Styles and Teaching Methods:

There are seven different learning styles. Knowing which style your child has is important. IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHICH STYLE THEY HAVE – LEARN IT! Teachers have their own methods of teaching. Some children don’t learn well with certain methods. But by working together, you and the teacher can come up with a plan to help the needs of your child.

Work Together:

The school is on your side. Sit down with both administrators/counselors and teachers. Don’t be defensive when you go into a meeting. Be willing to listen to their concerns about your child. Being open-minded will help you in hearing the concerns and in decision making.

The Final Decision:

You have the final decision on this. What do you think is best for your child? No one knows them like you do, even the teacher. This kind of decision cannot be made in a few hours or even days. You as the parent will have to do heavy research on what is best for your child.

Don't let anyone make you feel you have to retain your child. With a little work from both you and your child, there are other options.

I am the product of extra work in math during the summer of my third grade year so I could move up on schedule.

Repeating a grade is one of the hardest decisions a part has to make for their child. Consider these six things if you have to make this decision.


  1. I always wanted to be a teacher. My son is now a middle school teacher and I love hearing his stories!

    1. Penny, I loved being a teacher. I'm seriously considering going back to teaching after my son graduates.


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