Should I retain my VERY YOUNG first grader?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by psych638, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. psych638

    psych638 New Member

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    Jun 13, 2014

    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 regretted 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% (percent, not percentile) 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). MY gut never told me she had a disability.

    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 B/ C average student in comparison to her peers, when she could be an A student. 3) What is the rush? Just to have her graduate a year earlier.

    To complicate things even further....she is in a dual language program, which is challenging in itself already IMO. 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 OR should I just continue on the path she has already started.In reality, she is meeting criteria for promotion. That is the bottom line. 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 didn't think much of it and 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 just not sure she quite gets what retention means at this age!

    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? Stick it out or undo the grade skip?

    Thanks so much for your opinions.
     
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  3. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jun 13, 2014

    That's a tough one. I would go with your gut-I think you know best deep down what is best for her.

    I taught 1st this year and had a student who was also a very young 6 at the beginning of the year and also attended a private K. She was still below average at the end of the school year and I actually decided to move her on (but it was an agonizing decision). She made so much progress throughout the year that I'm hoping that progress will continue and she will "catch up".

    I do think if you are going to decide to retain, this is the grade to do it in. Those foundational skills in math can get more solid and they are socially much more adaptable.
     
  4. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Jun 13, 2014

    I would keep her back. You said she would like to stay with her teacher another year. That's a plus.

    Also, now she would be one of the more capable students and that will boost her confidence.

    She will make new friends. And, like Kinder said, it's better to retain early.
     
  5. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Jun 13, 2014

    I was in your position five years ago and I did not retain my daughter and in many ways, I wish I would have. She is not that young for her grade, but is very small and just did not grow and mature as fast as everyone else. She only struggled a little with reading in first grade, but by second grade she was put in Title 1 for reading. She is always struggling, and it affects her confidence. She thinks she is "not smart," when in reality she is a very smart girl, it is just not shown in her schoolwork. As a preschool teacher for many years, my advice is always to hold back if you are not sure. Good luck to you and your daughter whatever you choose.
     
  6. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jun 13, 2014

    I have two personal experiences with this.

    First, my own. I was a bright kid, and even though my birthday is in December, my parents decided to enroll me in school early. I did well academically, actually performing well above my classmates for my entire school career, but the social aspect was hell. I had no friends, was teased and bullied relentlessly, and was utterly miserable. The difference in maturity between kids only a year apart at those ages is huge, and it actually gets worse as you move into middle school, before finally evening out a little bit more in late high school. On that point alone I recommend NOT moving kids ahead. There is so much more to school than academics.

    My second experience is with my own son. He has a late May birthday and was one of the youngest kids in his kindergarten class. He was also a very early preemie and rather immature for his age. When he got to second grade, he floundered. Just like you, it was an agonizing decision, but I made the choice to bump him back down to first mid-year. Now, he's finishing up 5th grade and doing very well. Even though it was a tough choice at the time, I don't regret it one bit. Academics ramp up in intensity in the second grade, so if your daughter is struggling now, she might have a similar experience as my son did.
     
  7. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    Jun 13, 2014

    I see your concerns. I do think that with added help, possibly summer school, or other interventions your child will be fine. My personal opinion is that in your case holding your child would be one step forward, but two steps back. I would suggest not holding your child back. Instead seek other ways to improve her over the summer so she is more prepared for 2nd grade.
     
  8. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Jun 13, 2014

    I was the youngest in my class growing up (Dec. birthday - ok for where I started K but the cut off elsewhere was sept.). It was never a problem. I was smaller than my classmates, but was smaller that some kids two years younger too!

    I chose to hold one of my children back a year before starting K. I figured there was no rush in starting school (she missed the deadline by ten days) and I really enjoyed having her at home with me. We would have easily been granted an early admission but she seemed too young at the time. Holding her back did not give her any noticable advantage. She struggled with school and was always a few steps behind her peers even though she was older than them.

    I think the decision is very individual.
     
  9. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Jun 13, 2014

    I think this is probably the last chance you have to hold her back and not have it impact her socially or hurt her self esteem. If you truly feel she would benefit from another year in 1st, then I would keep her there. You're right, she might end up playing catch up year after year. Maybe not forever, but who knows for how long. If she's playing catch up in 2nd, 3rd and 4th she might start to lose interest in school/learning and that will then impact her in 5th, 6th, maybe even middle school. Let her catch up now if that's what you think she needs and start 2nd grade on a super positive note.
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Jun 13, 2014

    I have almost the same birthday as your daughter, and I went to a school a year later rather than a year earlier. So I technically could have went to K as a 4 turning 5 year old, but I went as a 5 turning 6 year old. I'm glad my parents did it that way. I liked being on the older end of my class. Not to say that younger students won't be successful, but of my high-achieving friends in high school, we all were on the older end of the class except for one. One of my friends that was in all of the AP classes with us did have a late birthday (basically a year younger than us) and although she was just as successful academically, there were some maturity issues there. Not to mention things like having to wait an entire year after everyone else to start driving and things like that. I wouldn't hesitate to hold her back given her age.
     
  11. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jun 14, 2014

    The advocate in me wonders what her subtest scores were on her evaluations - as districts cannot diagnose disability, they can only perform evaluations to see if there is something impacting the child's ability to perform in the classroom.
     
  12. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Jun 14, 2014

    I had a student come into my class from another school a couple years ago and he was NOT ready for 2nd grade. The Principal moved him back to first grade after a week in 2nd. He was then in my class the following year and did very well. This year he's in 3rd and his teacher told me he was in her TOP Reading group. Same thing with another boy who was retained and is now in that same class- getting straight A's in third grade!

    I don't take the decision lightly- I know there are MANY times when retention would not be the best idea (not every child is going to be an A student every year). I believe retention works when it's done EARLY (K, 1, 2) and when the child is either smaller, younger, or less mature than the rest of the kids in the grade level.

    Given the circumstances, I would retain her. She loves her teacher and she could gain some confidence this year since she's already familiar with the routines & procedures. She can kind of "show off" as opposed to playing catch up all year. :hugs:
     
  13. psych638

    psych638 New Member

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    Jun 14, 2014

    TO the question about the testing.........I did not test her through the school system. I actually had her tested privately on my own. All of her subtests were average to high average. Her weakness was in number sense (which is what she struggled most with in school), however, although it was a weakness for her it still fell within the average. So really wasn't low at all. She also did not show anything affecting her learning, great memory skills, great phonological awareness (reading was above average). That's why they said there is not a learning disability. Which can only mean one thing to me- that it is probably all developmental! And if she is making a 65% on the end of year math test, it is more than likely because she is asked to do the same things that children a whole year older than her are asked to do as well, yet have a whole year more of cognitive ability. A year makes a bring difference! Some people tell me I am way off on my thinking- and that there is no such window of opportunity to learn, that she will just learn it early if I push her on early. But how could I not believe this is totally wrong with everything we know about how children learn developmentally. There are stages of development, many of these things she is asked to do with the new common core math are very abstract and a 6 year old is NOT thinking at an abstract level, they are still very concrete. Sure I can drill and kill and go get tutoring for her from here on out, but I do not think she will ever truly grasp it 100% and what will that do for her self esteem. AT that point, learning is no longer fun!:confused:
     
  14. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Jun 15, 2014

    Hold her back! It will only get more difficult with CCSS.
     
  15. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jun 15, 2014

    I have only retained a student once. I agonized over the decision to recommend her for retention! Thankfully, the members of the SST (Student Study Team) agreed with me. Mom was completely on board, too.

    She stayed with me for her second time around in 2nd grade (per mom's request). This particular student was younger than the rest of her classmates when she was in my class the first time and was the same age as the majority of her peers when we together for year two.

    I watched her graduate from 8th grade two weeks ago. She is excelling and entering high school feeling confident and well-prepared! :love:
     
  16. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Jun 15, 2014

    The biggest hurdle is the family and whether the family supports the retention or not. You are already on the far side of that hurdle. If she is not a large first grader, if she does not have a sibling a year apart from her, if she is not having academic issues due to behavior issues, and she is gung ho for retention I would say go for it.
     

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