2nd Grade teacher wants to hold 7 yr old back. Pros, Cons, Alternatives?

Question:My son is 7, born in May, big for his age. After less than a week his teacher is recommending he leave her class to go back to 1st. She has reported almost daily instances of crying, 1 instance of cheating off the neighbor in Math and an open house revealed his desk next to hers. He is an only child and apparently doesn't stop visiting to do his work or listen. We knew his reading level was a little below level at the end of last year but had no idea it was enought to hold him back. Teacher said he's reading at very early 1st grade level.
He was having difficulty with spelling tests last year and once we starting working with him, he earned 100% every week for the latter half of the school year.
I worry it's too sudden. She offered no alt. like tutoring, or other... despite our offers of Sylan. Please don't just say tutoring, I want the name of a specific program... When I was a kid I remember being helped by Title 5 or 2 or something. No Child Left Behind at work?

Answers:
I am a teacher with 14 years of experience. I am astounded that any teacher would make a recommendation of retention in the first week of school. But, I have some questions:
1. Were you ever told by the first grade teacher that your child had serious deficiencies OR did very low grades on progress reports/report cards last year indicate any problem areas. Sometimes, parents are told and shown these things, but do not "hear" or "see" them.
2. Does your child have any behavioral issues? Is he extremely active and unable to sit still in a typical school setting? Does he have difficulty focusing on a task for a significant period of time (that would be about 30 minutes maximum per school task for an average 7-yr old)?
3. Is memorization difficult for him or does he pick things up quickly and remember them the next time he sees them?
4. Is your child physically healthy, and has his vision and hearing been tested recently?
5. Does he have any social adjustment issues? For example, does he get along well with other children his age, does he enjoy group activities or does he prefer to do things alone, does he converse comfortably with peers?
6. Has your child been classified with a learning disability?
7. Are there any changes in your child's personal or family life that might be effecting his ability to learn?

As you can see... there are many areas in which to evaluate the progress of a child, especially when considering retention.

You mentioned that your son did well when you spent more time with him on his schoolwork. It's possible that he may just be the type of student who needs lots of help at home, at least in the foundational years. Or, he may just need time to mature. Or, he might need to be evaluated by a Child Study Team. This type of team usually consists of an educational specialist, a child psychologist, and a social worker. But every state is different. Lots of parents resist the notion of testing for disabilities, because they fear the so-called stigma of special education. Let me assure you, special education is a very huge field. The vast majority of classified children remain in traditional classrooms with other children of varying abilities.. a "normal" classroom, so to speak. This is called "inclusion." However, classified kids are eligible for services other children are not. For example, there is a service known as "in-class support". this is for students who require on-on-one instruction in their classroom, and they are provided a teacher of their own for certain times of the school day. Or, there are also resource rooms which provide small group instruction. Also, each classified child receives an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) which can modify seat location in the classroom, types of testing (oral instead of written), less work in certain subjects, etc. IEPs are valuable tools in the education of students who are struggling because of a disability. But, only certified Child Study Team testing can make this determination. Ask your school to test your son right away before any retention decisions are made. All of these services are free, even in private and parochial schools.

Children do not learn to walk or talk at the same time. So, it is a mistake to think that all of them will read at the same time.

Having said that... you would not want to overlook any developmental problems in your child. Early detection and intervention will make a big difference in his educational success.

On another note.. I was a Director of Education at a Sylvan Learning Center for about 18 months, and although these types of facilities have their place, I cannot recommend them. Sylvan, Huntington, etc. are great for building student confidence, but they rely on their own methods and materials. It would cost the same for you to hire a teacher at school to work one-on-one with your child after school, using his actual classroom books. While you are waiting for the Child Study Team testing, you could always go with this type of tutoring and work with your son at home.

Some things that you can do:
1. Buy "Word Factory" DVD. It is fun and your son will learn some phonics.
2. Read to your son EVERY day! If he has a favorite book, read it to him over and over.. after a while, he will know the words on the page and will feel like he is actually reading to you.
3. Find some "wordless" books and let your son tell you the story of the pictures. This relieves him of the burden to sound out words, but allows him to still enjoy books!
4. Let your son see you reading for your own enjoyment or information. There is a lot to be said for modeling good educational behavior!

I wish you all the best. Your son is blessed to have such a caring parent.
Listen to the teacher. Chances are she has already reviewed last year's work/grades, and she may have even spoken with the 1st grade teacher. It is much easier to move him back NOW than to delay and find him struggling later in the year. It is also better to repeat a grade now than to just slide by each year and then have to repreat a higher grade level.

Some children are also a little less mature and just function better by repeating first grade. It's not a bad thing. It doesn't mean anything is wrong. And if he does go back, you may even find that he is one of the best students from this point out.

My sister teaches early childhood, and I studied early childhood education. I also have a child that, in hindsight, should have repeated 1st grade. She was a head taller than her classmates in first grade, and that's why the teacher never held her back. It did not do my daughter any favors. I promise you, if the teacher feels this is in your son's best interest, have a meeting with her and the principal and really take to heart what they say. She really is wanting to help your son by putting him into an environment where he will be most comfortable and most productive.

Good luck!
i think its best for your son as he might find it hard to cope with his friends at the same grade.in my school's system, children are not held to the next grade even when their grades are very very low.the results: they failed mentally when comparing to they friend and tend to have low esteem when studying with their friend even when they try their best...
but of course..they are some late bloomers.but thats another story.
listen to the teacher.hold your 7 yr old back...it's what's best..don't put your kid in a higher level if he can't do it.

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