Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
Are you facing the decision of whether your young child should repeat their school grade?
The goal of repeating a grade is to give a student extra time to grow, mature, and master grade level skills that were missed the first time around.
Over the years parents, teachers, and school boards have struggled with the promotion/retention issue. As a teacher, my personal experience with retaining students in first grade came before our state changed its Kindergarten entry date.
When I first started teaching, a young child could enter Kindergarten if they turned five by December 31, of that same year. This meant that many children entered school in September at age four. (The law has since been changed to a September first deadline.)
These younger students were at a distinct disadvantage. Developmentally, many of these four year old students were not physically and mentally ready for the academic challenges. Many of their classmates were almost a year older, and that made a huge difference at such a young age.
This is where I saw a positive response to retention. Students given a "gift of time" to mature and develop their skills became the class stars the next year. They grew in confidence, as well as in academics.
I have not had to recommend retention for any of my First Graders during the past few years. I have seen a decline in retention throughout our school system. It appears that starting school later has helped students meet district requirements.
However, if there is a maturity or achievement issue I still feel that retention is a good option in the early primary grades.
Repeating a grade is a highly complex and emotional issue for educators and parents alike.
Can retaining a child ultimately propel them ahead? What’s your opinion?