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  • Writer's pictureDr. V.S. Gayathri

Should I Retain My Child In The Same Grade?

A kid advances through the grading system to move up the educational ladder. Ideally, they spend around one year in a particular grade before moving on to the next. But, sometimes, parents or the school decided to hold them back in the previous grade, which is known as grade retention.

Research shows that retention isn’t the best plan for most kids. But sometimes, it might be the optimum solution.

When a child has not built the academic skills needed for the next grade, the school may advise holding them back so that they get an extra year will help them catch up. However, academics are only one thing to think about when considering retention.

There are several other factors that parents need to look out for while considering retention. Some of the other factors might include:

  • The kid is still young for the grade or socially immature.

  • The kid might have missed a lot of school due to serious illness.

  • The kid doesn’t reach the performance level expected for moving to the next grade.

As a parent, you might have faced this dilemma that ‘my child will be moving to Grade 2 but he/she is still facing reading difficulty or he/she is still not mature enough in their behavior in a social setup, then should we retain him/her in the same grade for another year’. So, you need to find out and address the main area of concern or difficulty first.

Just giving you a statistical reference. According to 2016 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, about 1.9% of U.S. elementary through high school students stayed in the same grade they were enrolled in the prior school year, which is a reduction from the 3.1% in 2000. However, the rates remain higher among younger children. In 2016, about 4.3% of first-through-third graders repeated a grade.

What are the factors to consider for grade retention?

Some of the things that you might want to check are as follows:


  • Area(s) your child struggling the most, like reading, writing, Maths, Science, Social Studies, social skills, or others? Is it just one subject or more?

  • Things that worked and helped your child learn and things that did not

  • If your child were to spend another year in the same grade, what type of instruction would he/she receive in the areas of difficulty? Would a new teaching approach make a difference?

  • What level of performance would you set for your child to achieve if he/she were retained?

  • Whether your child will be able to meet the required standards to be promoted next year? What kind of change are you expecting in one year?


  • Is their behaviour a concern? If your child gets frustrated in a classroom? The child getting frustrated in a classroom could be due to a learning difficulty too. So, if the child is put in the same position as in the same grade once again, it will just build on frustration rather than solving the real problem.

  • How will your child feel about being retained? Will he/she be more motivated to learn and try, or will she be embarrassed and further withdraw from learning?

  • What will happen to your child’s peer supports and friendships? How will they be affected by retention? Kids develop their own self-esteem and self-confidence around 7 years, so whether it will be a good change for them?

What can be the other alternatives for retention?

Children might not outgrow learning and attention issues by repeating a grade. So, you might look for alternative solutions once you have identified the problem.

If your child needs specialized techniques, then you can get support from an Educational therapist and Special educators who would be able to work with your child to help him/her. The specialized techniques that the kids with learning difficulties need might be the Multisensory method of instructions. So, everyone might not be trained or equipped to do so. Hence, the role of an educational therapist becomes very important here. As a parent or a regular teacher, one might not be aware of these specialized ways.

A good educational therapist or special educator will have to focus on their strengths. If they receive the same kind of instructions, there won’t be much improvement. So, every child would need a customized structure and flow.

Mostly, with some extra support classes around 3-4 days per week, the educational therapist might be able to understand the real difficulty and design a specific curriculum to help your child.

Should we change the school if a child is having learning difficulty?

It is not necessary for all children because changing the school might not help your child resolve the actual problem. So, we will reiterate the point that identifying the base problem that your child is facing is crucial, and then take appropriate action based on it. Changing the school or grade retention might not be the best solution in every case.

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