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Should I retain my VERY YOUNG first grader?

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Should I retain my VERY YOUNG first grader?
Old 06-09-2014, 05:01 PM
 
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Hello,
I work with ESE students in the elementary grades, but am also a parent of a 1st grader with a serious dilemma and would like some advice from the perspective of other teachers! I am wondering if I should retain my 1st grader for this next coming school year. It is a very complicated and specific situation......so I will try to keep my very long story as short as possible.

Basically, she started school a year before the cut off for our public schools. We are in Florida and our cut off here is 8/31. My daughter's b-day is 9/12. Being that she just missed the cutoff by weeks, I chose to put her in a private school in K a year before they would have taken her in the public school, as I felt she was ready. After K, I transferred her over to public school, where they gave me the choice of putting her in K or 1st and after much, much contemplation about it, I put in her 1st.

So now fast forward...... I regret my decision terribly! Halfway through the year, she really began to struggle with reading comprehension and math. The teacher was very concerned, I explained her situation and I was even given the option by the principal of putting her back in K if I wanted to. However, the teacher and I both thought that doing that mid year would be too disruptive, so we did not do that and decided to wait and see how the year would end.

Now, at the end of 1st grade, she really has shown a lot of progress, to the point that the teacher no longer is recommending retention. However, her end of year test scores were a 78% in reading and a 65% in math. What she struggled the most with all year was with the math, which in my opinion she was not getting a lot of it due to developmental reasons (a lot of it was very abstract). She was also showing some signs of shutting down during math HW and has referred to herself many times as "not being good at math". I did get her evaluated to rule out any kind of disability, and she performed average in math and above average in all areas of reading (according to her age).

So although the teacher is saying move on to 2nd, my problem is this.... 1) I fear that she may possibly always be playing catch up and be one step behind the other kids. 2) I feel that she really is such a bright little girl and that by being in the wrong grade, she will likely perform like a C average student at best in comparison to her peers. 3) What is the rush?

To complicate things even further....she is in a dual language program, which is challenging in itself already. Most of the kids are above average, as they need to meet a minimum criteria to be in the program. She met the very minimum to stay in it for next year(2nd), just like she did going into it this year.

So, given all this information, I'm not sure if keeping her in 1st again (and basically placing her in the grade she should have been) is really the best thing for her do OR should I just continue on the path she has already started. I naturally worry about how retention would affect her emotionally and that is the biggest thing that stands in my way of retaining her. I don't know how she would feel seeing all her friends move on. However, she has always been aware that she is in the wrong grade by age since the very beginning, and when we discussed how she felt about staying in 1st again, she actually thought it was the greatest thing in the world. But I think that was basically because she would get to stay with her teacher, that she loves! I'm not sure she quite gets what retention means at this age! Also, on a few occasions, she has mentioned that she does not like being the youngest.

So given all of that, I need to make a very BIG decision for her! and I only want to make the best choice for her in the long run. What would you advice in this very difficult situation?


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Old 06-09-2014, 05:11 PM
 
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It is hard to say since I don't know your child. I would say to retain her but start her in a new school so her peers do not know she already did first grade. If things are hard now and she is not feeling smart at math at least, I would fear things would get worse as the work gets harder. If you don't wish to change schools I guess you need to decide how doing first grade again would impact her self-esteem and relationships with peers. The older she gets the harder it will be to retain her. Are there many kids in her class who were six when they started kindergarten? That is the trend around here with summer birthdays. If so, some of her peers may be over a year older than her which can make things hard as well.
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Given all you have said ...
Old 06-09-2014, 05:13 PM
 
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I would let her have a second year in grade one. Expect the first few weeks to be difficult as she misses her friends. If possible, arrange to play with incoming first graders over the summer so she has friends in her new class.
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Old 06-09-2014, 05:20 PM
 
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Well, she was at the private school when she was in K. So yes, at that school there was no age cut off, so there were some older than her and some younger. THe problem came in when we moved to public and she did not make the cut off. She is BY FAR the youngest in her class and would always be if I moved her on, since she is in the wrong grade. The next youngest kids would be the summer b-days, and she is fall. She did have a handful of kids in her class a whole year older than her. All the kids that turn 7 in Sept. (like her) are just going into 1st next school year and she knows this.
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Old 06-09-2014, 06:37 PM
 
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My daughter is kind of the same way, except her birthday is in July (the cut off is Sept 30). She hit all the benchmarks ok (slightly above for reading, and math was ok but she had to work hard to stay caught up). There are kids (boys) a whole year older than her, and girls almost a year older. But there are also kids who have summer birthdays too. I do know that as they get older, the age difference isn't as apparent. Kids mature at different rates. I think there will always be the option of retention. But if we retain and it wasn't a good idea, then what?


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Old 06-09-2014, 06:38 PM
 
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I would have her repeat 1st. Other kids at that age know she's younger and, if necessary, can be told she's too young and will be in the correct grade in August.
I repeated K because I was way too young. I was accidentally placed in K instead of preschool. My father was in Vietnam and lots was going on. They decided to keep me where I was, but I would repeat K. It was the best academic decision they ever made for me. K was so much easier the 2nd time!
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:28 PM
 
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I did not have much support the first few grades as a child. In third grade, I finally did and I had some catching up to do. It was hard, eventually I end up one of the best students In a class, but it took some time and work.
Now, being a preschool teacher, I put a lot of time into basics so my little students do not feel lost and behind as I was.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:30 PM
 
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I'm a first grade teacher and I think retaining her in first is the best choice. Her testing shows she is a smart kid, just not developmentally ready to move on. Struggling in grade 2 and beyond could certainly hurt her self-esteem more than a retention at this age. Also think about her teen years. She will be a year younger than everyone else when her classmates start dating, driving, and other adolescent rites of passage. Good luck. Retention is always a tough decision.
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Think ahead
Old 06-10-2014, 12:43 AM
 
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I teach 6th and cannot imagine a child a year younger with these girls socially!
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Give her the gift of time
Old 06-10-2014, 12:48 AM
 
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I faced your same situation years ago and have always wished I would have done things differently. My son is now in his junior year of college. He has a late birthday and I went ahead and put him in school. Little did I know a lot of the other parents held their children out and many did not start until almost 6 years old. This meant my son was in the same class with kids who were close to 2 years older than he was. He graduated at the age of 17 and hated being the youngest in his class. He complained all the time about being the last in his class to drive and sports were more difficult because he was physically smaller due to the age difference. Academically he caught up to his peers with little difficulty once he had more life experiences to draw from. I wish I would have given him the gift of time when I had the chance to do so.


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Young son
Old 06-10-2014, 03:02 AM
 
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I have a young son who used to tell me often he wished I would have started him later. He never struggled academically, but socially school was difficult for him until he got into high school. I think she is so young there won't be a stigma. I think it would be much better to do it now than later. Good luck with your decision!
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:29 AM
 
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I retained my son when he was in first grade. It was one of those things...had a teacher who went into a nervous breakdown in the beginning of the school year, and since he wasn't a behavior issue was sitting in the back of the classroom where he didn't learn much for the first quarter. They ended up disbanding the classroom and he was placed with a multi-aged classroom. Teacher was concerned and at the end of 1st grade felt he could have moved on, but he would struggle. I did retain him. When he was in `10th grade he told me that was the best thing I could have done for him. He said junior high would have been terrible, but with him being older it sure helped him to survive. I do call it a 'gift of time'. From what you have written, repeating first grade sounds like a great gift for your daughter.
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I know it's a difficult decision
Old 06-10-2014, 10:39 AM
 
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This is a tough one as a parent. We went through a similar situation with our son. We decided to retain. It was the best decision we could have made.

1) Being socially immature, he didn't have real friends his first year in 1st grade. The second time around, he made some great friends that have lasted through the years.

2) Even being retained, he struggled and needed extra help with reading through fourth grade. It finally all clicked for him in 5th grade.

3) As a sixth grader, he earned As and Bs in all subjects. He's going into 7th next year, happy and confident.

Having said all of that, every situation is different, and you know your child best. Do what you think is best, and then trust your decision. With your support, she will be fine.
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retention
Old 06-10-2014, 11:45 AM
 
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I am not a big supporter of retention, but there are some situations where it is the best decision. Since Florida has mandatory retention in third grade for those not making the cutoff on state testing, this is something to think carefully about. She could possibly face a double retention if you retain her in first. On the other hand, promoting her could also spell disaster. What is this "end of year" test score based on. It would be more beneficial to know her reading level. Does your district use Fountas and Pinnell? I taught second grade for 12 years and am now a reading specialist. Students who do not enter second reading on grade level have a very difficult time. The focus moves to comprehension, not phonics instruction. Students are expected to read across the curriculum.

The maturity factor is also huge. Look at some of the fifth grade girls in your school and picture your daughter trying to fit in being a full year or more younger.

It is a very difficult decision. I retained my own son in second grade, even though the school wanted to move him on. I wish I had done it sooner.
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Old 06-10-2014, 11:54 AM
 
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Quote:
Students who do not enter second reading on grade level have a very difficult time. The focus moves to comprehension, not phonics instruction. Students are expected to read across the curriculum.
Yes. Wish my P understood that.
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Retention
Old 06-10-2014, 12:48 PM
 
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If you have doubts about your child moving on then retention should help. She's young. Why make things difficult for her and your family?
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Question
Old 06-10-2014, 01:13 PM
 
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Did she score a 78% or in the 78 percentile? Big difference! If she scored those as actual percentages, then I'd consider holding her back. If, however, those are percentile scores, I'd send her own, as both are above average (I ask because of your comment about her scoring average and above average in the evaluation).

As to the age difference, I was that child - back in the old days before public kindergarten, I missed the cut off for first grade, my birthday isn't until Sept 27, so my parents sent me to a private first grade, and then I went straight in to second grade the next year. I never struggled academically... my stepmother feels I struggled socially/emotionally - but knowing what I do now, I think it was more to my nature than my age. The only time it really frustrated me was when all my schoolmates got their driver's license a year earlier than I did..

In the end, you have to do what you think is best for your daughter. Have you talked to her about what she thinks? I know in the end it's your decision, but I'd still ask her how she would feel about it. If it's going to create anxiety for her either way, I'd consider that.
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Middle School and Confidence
Old 06-10-2014, 05:36 PM
 
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When she gets to Middle School and makes some decisions about the people she wants to be with and be like, will she be used to being a leader or a follower?

Best time to retain is in first or K. if you have to do it. After first grade, you pretty much have made your choice. She loves her teacher: I would use that to her advantage, and make some new friends ahead of time, as has been suggested. Once you are in second grade you DO understand what retention means, and it is much more problematic for most.

My three kids were all older in their grade. Two had late summer birthdays and we waited to enter them on purpose. THe oldest child had a September birthday. All of them were happy about their placement in their little world. They were leaders. They had confidence. One was bored, but it was more her personality and I think she would have been bored if she had skipped two grades.

I know it feels like you are playing God, but since she knows she isn't the right age, tell her you made a mistake and give her a year of opportunity. Best if she could change schools, but not the end of the world.
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Old 06-11-2014, 07:00 PM
 
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I retained my Ds in first grade. I previously posted about it. Summer birthday, struggled in k and first grade. He is now a freshman in hs and is doing very well. He has been an honor roll student since fourth grade. He was immature and not ready to move on. It upset me more than anyone else. I am glad I did it. You know your child best .
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Research shows
Old 06-24-2014, 12:01 AM
 
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Research this issue. Most say it is not a good idea except possibly in kindergarten.
I would work with school for best interventions. Be very involved. Get help. I would work with her, get tutor..etc.

http://www.greatschools.org/special-...de.gs?page=all

http://www.nasponline.org/resources/...tion%20WEB.pdf
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Another year of childhood
Old 06-24-2014, 01:36 AM
 
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You're the mom, and you know your child best. From what you said, it does sound like she would be happier repeating 1st. As a first grade teacher, I think they are still young enough for it to be a benefit. Is there a way you could put her back in the private school for a year, and then bring her back for 2nd grade?

Either way, it sounds like she will be fine, but will have an easier academic career if she just has more time. I agree with the math concepts, sometimes they just aren't ready.

Let us know! Take care, Mom!
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Yes
Old 06-24-2014, 03:32 PM
 
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I would opt for retention. The more time they have to mature....the better. I have.taught 3rd grade and had many parents tell me they wish they would have retained in k or 1st. I don't think you will regret it.
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Old 06-29-2014, 04:43 PM
 
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I would like to weigh in on this topic because my younger son was put ahead a year. It was fine until college time! I swear just turning 17 as a freshman really did make a difference in his social adjustment. If I had to do it over again I would have never pushed him ahead a year no matter how easy he found school!!
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Old 06-29-2014, 05:06 PM
 
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Well, what did you decide? Will you be retaining your daughter? Just curious!j
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How does she feel?
Old 06-29-2014, 06:46 PM
 
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Have you spoke to her? Not knowing your child I wonder if it might be a good idea to talk to her. The big issue I have with retaining children is self esteem. Will your child feel worse if she is retained? Will it make her feel like a failure later on? Next year? It's easier when a child is young and won't stick out than when they are older. However, I still think it could be hard now that she knows she should be going on to second grade. Do you feel that dual language is still right for her? While I really do support it and feel it is a great thing for most kids it might be worth considering putting her into 2nd in a different program. Since it's probably a small program, if you retain her will she be with the same group of kids if she's retained? Will this mean she gets teased, etc? As far as your original call, I wouldn't beat yourself up. First grade is tough for many kids. It's much different than kindergarten. And honestly, I think in the long run if you retain her two years of 1st grade is going to be an asset compared to the extra year before K she would have had. If you decide to go for 2nd grade, is extra tutoring an option? Could you do work with her over the summer (enlist help) to push her up where she needs to be?
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retain
Old 07-01-2014, 06:19 AM
 
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I have taught 1st for 12 years and my daughter is going into high school. She was the youngest also. She is smart, but I always felt she should be doing better - in middle school, I began to see that she was not socially where her peers were. If you already have concerns about academics, I would hold her back - in first grade, she will repeat the same topics and she will also be able to expand on her learning. She will also get the opportunity to grow in confidence and socially as well. This is what I would do if it was my daughter - but ultimately you have to do what is best for you and your family.
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retention- yes or no
Old 07-04-2014, 05:04 AM
 
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I struggled through this issue myself with one of my sons. He has an April bday, so of course i sent him! I researched it endlessly. Research shows that retention works best when there is a very positive, supportive environment at home. If this does not exist, the benefits of retention are almost gone by grade 4. Another study shows that some children should not be retained if there are any self-esteem/concept issues. This was the case in my son. He would have been absolutely devastated if I had retained him. He just did not have the personality that would have understood being retained. He would have just considered himself to be a dumb kid. I did not retain him and he ended up being just fine. Really. He is going to college next year and is a happy/successful 18 year old!

BTW I totally disagree that a child should be should be retained just because they are going to be the youngest in the classroom. Some child has to be the youngest!! It is just the way it works! I consider that to be a silly reason.
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Do not retain
Old 07-05-2014, 09:37 PM
 
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I had a November birthday and was thus even younger, and it is no big deal to be the youngest kid in the class. My advice would be to ignore her age and focus on whether or not she is ready for the next grade. Since her teacher says that she is ready, I would let her move on. If you want her to be more prepared, you can always work with her this summer.
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