Top Parenting Resources: Are There Other Alternatives to Holding Students Back?

Different parenting resources present disagreeing data about whether or not holding a child back another grade in school after failing standardized tests helps improve academic performance. While some argue that giving a child another year to “catch up” is a positive alternative, many specialists and parents claim retention can do more damage to their child’s learning and social development.

According to Karl Alexander, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, grade retention “at any age raises the risk of dropping out of school later,” and has a negative impact on all areas of a child’s academic achievement and socio-emotional adjustment. Another study conducted by the University of California also found that students who have been held back another year attribute being retained for their “poor peer relationships, poor self-esteem and their continuing struggles at school.” This is why it is imperative that you consider the following alternatives before deciding to hold your child back another year:

Alternative #1: Diagnostic testing and supplemental curriculum. Through proper diagnostic testing, you’d be able to accurately identify your child’s academic level, as well as skills. This allows you and the school to clearly determine if your child is in the right grade level, using the appropriate curriculum. If you feel there is a need to “beef it up”, don’t hesitate to go over a variety of supplemental curricula that’s available to you. Once you find one that best fits your child’s needs, integrate it with your child’s school work because this can help emphasize things learned in school.

Alternative #2: Remedial classes and additional course work. Coordinate with your child’s teacher to identify your child’s academic weaknesses, and find out if additional course work can help earn the extra credits she needs. Encourage her to join study groups and if at all possible, hire an effective tutor who can provide one-on-one help in understanding new lessons and completing school work. Consider enrolling your child in summer classes or, if his school offers them, extended day and extended year programs. Many parenting resources support that getting children involved in homework clubs and after-school programs can help increase their learning success in the classroom.

Alternative #3: Extra-curricular activities. Get your child involved in other non-academic activities. Help him make new friends by participating in sports activities like football and basketball, or joining groups such as choir, scouts and dance. Exposing him to things outside school can help boost his academic performance, establishing a good foundation for long-term academic success.

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