How to Know if You Need to Hold Your Child Back a Grade

By Kathryn Hatter
When weighing the decision to hold a child back a grade, consider maturity level and age.
When weighing the decision to hold a child back a grade, consider maturity level and age.

Holding a child back a grade -- known as “grade retention” -- has many associated benefits and risks, depending on the child’s grade level and the reasons for the retention. As you consider this possibility for your child, weigh the factors carefully. Assessing your child’s progress and abilities should give you an idea about whether holding your child back will benefit him.

Assess your child academically. A child may struggle academically and fall behind with expected standards of the grade level. This may occur if a child misses school due to illness or relocation. If your child shows difficulties with reading, writing or math, a school might consider her for grade retention, according to Colleen Stump, Ph.D., writing for GreatSchools, a national non-profit dedicated to childhood education. Schools often test students academically with standardized tests that measure mastery of grade-level academia. If a child fails to earn a minimum score, the school will not promote the child to the next grade level.

Analyze your child’s maturity level. A child who exhibits social immaturity or behavioral problems may be a candidate for grade retention, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. A child showing developmental immaturity may feel more comfortable with younger children or she may fit in better with slightly younger children because her skills and emotional maturity match younger children instead of kids of the same age. Grade retention may provide an immature child with an additional year for growing and maturing.

Examine your child’s life to determine if recent situations have contributed to emotional trauma, advises literary and learning specialist Linda Balsiger, owner of Bend Language and Learning, a private practice dedicated to the treatment of dyslexia and reading disorders. An illness or death in the family can cause significant disruptions for a child. In this situation, your youngster might have missed adequate parental support, which can have a negative impact on academic progress. A child might become distracted from school due to family difficulties and fail to keep up with the rest of his class academically.

Consider your child’s age. Psychologist Dr. Laura Markham with the Aha! Parenting website indicates that retaining a child in kindergarten or first grade generally does not affect the youngster negatively. However, older children often experience significant self-esteem issues, adopting beliefs about not being as smart as peers. Older children may also exhibit behavioral issues after grade retention.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.