How to Avoid Having Your Child Retained in School

By Shelley Frost
Working as a team with the teacher can help avoid retention.
Working as a team with the teacher can help avoid retention.

The idea of repeating a grade causes emotional stress on parents and the child. Students are often held back because of failure to perform at grade level or due to general immaturity for the grade. The idea of retention is to give the child another year to catch up so she is no longer below grade level. Some studies show that the long-term results are often ineffective because retained students sometimes perform below peers who weren't retained, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. Working with the school and your child can help you avoid retention.

Meet with your child's teacher as soon as you suspect problems. If the work seems to be too difficult or you feel your child's basic skills, such as reading and math, are lower than her classmates, an early intervention might help avoid retention. Work with the teacher on a plan to help your child get closer to grade level before the end of the school year.

Involve yourself at the school to give your child support. Sit in at school so you can see firsthand what is happening in the classroom. You might notice factors that affect your child's learning, and you will show her that you care about her success. Avoid blaming the teacher or taking over in the classroom because you will likely strain relations with the person you need on your side.

Ask about additional services from the school that might help your child. Schools who score poorly on standardized testing often provide tutoring to students, for example. Your child might qualify for special education services. Even accommodations in the classroom can help. For example, if your child becomes distracted easily, ask whether her desk can be moved to a quiet area of the room where she can focus better.

Work with your child at home to help her catch up. Instead of sending her off to do her homework alone, sit down with her. Ask her to explain what she is doing to ensure she understands it. Explain the information in a different way that might be easier for your child to understand. If you're not comfortable with the material, hiring a personal tutor is an option. The tutor can work with your child individually to build her confidence in her trouble areas.

Sign your child up for summer school as a way to help her catch up. Check with her school to determine the availability of a summer school program.

Meet with school administrators if the school wants to hold your child back. Ask for specific reasons for the retention. If you aren't comfortable with your child repeating a grade, ask about the appeal process. The process to keep a child back varies by state, with some school districts setting their own processes. Having a clear understanding of how the process works at your child's school is crucial to proceeding.

Save all paperwork that shows your child's academic achievement in case the school wants to hold her back. If you decide to appeal the retention, documents such as her tests, report cards and conference reports can serve as evidence to support your stance, according to an article at

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.