The news from the school district that your child needs to repeat a grade can seem disheartening. After all, you have put a great deal of effort into helping your child along so that he can finish his last grade successfully. The thought of repeating a grade may instantly send your mind into a tailspin, wondering what you did wrong and possibly making you feel like a failure. However, by understanding why the school district is making this recommendation, knowing how you can best help your child during this time and understanding any alternatives your child may have can help you feel empowered throughout this time.
- First, understand that your school district may have specific rules from the state that it is required to follow when it comes to holding children back. The decision may be based on a standardized test score. Other districts commonly retain struggling students in third grade as this year is known for bringing big changes with it. However, many districts are actually quite flexible when it comes to their retention policies. Request a meeting with your child’s teacher and with district officials who can help you understand the decision.
- Second, you can help your retained child feel confident during this time. It can be a struggle for a student to be in a new class and to be surrounded by children with whom he has no long-term relationships. Talk with your child, and explain why this decision was made. Help him fit in with his new class, and encourage him with the knowledge that repeating a grade will help him feel more confident for the rest of his school years.
- Third, if you disagree with the school district, you do have the legal right to fight this decision. This is especially true for a student who has an Individualized Education Plan and who is guaranteed the right to have a free and appropriate public educations. The school should be able to show you ways in which they have been trying to help your child succeed.
Although it may not seem ideal to have your child repeat a grade, it can help struggling children grow in confidence, especially at certain important junctures, such as third grade and seventh grade. If you are having trouble working with your school district, contact an attorney from Newman, Aaronson, Vanaman who focuses solely on special education law.