26 answers

Retaining a Child Back in School

Does anyone know who makes the final choice when holding your child back in school? The school or the parent? Is there any law?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for taking time to respond. I didn't talk to the school until my son made the choice to be held back. He isn't worried people will think he is a dummy as one person stated. He just plans to tell them, "I got great grades and commended on the TAKS but my parents wanted me to be in the grade with kids who are the same age." There are still kids in the grade below who are older than him. There parents just knew better than I did back in kindergarten. As for getting him interested in thing outside of school. That would be sports and most of those go by grade and not age so he is on teams with kids who have facial hair! I think my son will be a late bloomer even for his age. My husband and my brothers are all 6' and over but it didn't happen until after high school. My husband will be going to talk to the school one more time next week. If they don't allow us to hold our child back we will just have to homeschool for a year and put him back in public school the following year as a 7th grader. They seem to only care about the grades and TAKS. The maturity level, organization, and self confidence doesn't seem to matter to them. As a parent, I am looking to the future, not just today.

Well, I guess I should have explained a little more. My son is in the sixth grade. He is one of the younger kids. I didn't know I should have waited to start school. I have been asking since he was little. Every year they say his maturity will catch up. His grades are A's and B's but he should have all A's. He forgets to turn in work and is very unorganized. He gets picked on and isn't always happy to go to school. His self confidence is low at school. The school has said to find his passion. He likes sports. When he plays with his grade he mostly plays the bench. There are kids who are 5'7", 150 pounds, size 13 shoe, and starting to grow a mustache! he just made it to 5', not even 100 pounds. If he plays with his age, he gets to pitch or be a leader on the team. Next year if he moves on he will be in school with 7th -12th grades.
I am the one who would like to hold him back. The school goes only by his grades and TAKS scores (commended) I feel it is just as important to be confident and organized. If he moves on he definitely won't be getting any help with organization from his teachers. His confidence will not be any better. I feel I know my son and holding him back he will have the chance to be a leader. If he stays where he is I feel there is a chance for him to be a follower into the wrong crowd.
It made me angry when the principle was telling me that his 12 year old needs to have them on him to get his work done, it is normal for boys at that age to be immature. Then he says his son is in the 5th grade! My son turned 12 2 weeks ago, so my 6th grader is probably younger than his 5th grader!

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It is ultimately the decision of the student's teacher. After the teacher decides to hold a student back, a meeting is held between the teacher, parent, principal and anybody else who may need to be involved. In the long run, it is the best for the student. It's not an easy decision for a teacher to make. The reason a teacher would decide to take such action is only because the student would not make it in the next grade and would benefit repeating whatever grade is in question.

I believe it's the school. They are regulated by the state. There may be summer school options that you can pay for if you don't want them to be held back. It depends on the age of the child if that is available.

Hi! I terach 4th grade so I will help you out :)
The parent has the final say unless the child is in grades three five or eight. In those grades the law states you have to pass reading and math TAKS in order to move on.

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I was held back a grade in second grdae. I am an August birthday and was the youngest in my class. I guess my parents did it more to help me from a maturity standpoint. My grades were ok, but they felt I would do better going back to 1st grade. I made the move in Feb and finished out the year as a 1st grader. I was a little upset at first but made some really good friends--long lasting friends. As I got in to middle school and high school I was always the oldest among my friends. 1st to be able to drive, 1st to turn 18. That was fun to be the leader. It was a good desicion. I don't remember it ever being an issue with the state but rather my parents, teacher and principal. It was however a private school.

1 mom found this helpful

to hold your child back in school, in kindergarten it is the parent's choice (as Kindergarten is not a compulsory grade), but in the grades past that, there is no choice to be made if your child does not pass all the subjects with a grade of 70 or above. Now, if your child is passing and you choose to have them repeat a grade, that can be your choice.
If your child has been previously retained, and he/she doesnot make the grades, they cannot be held back again. They can 'place' the student in the next grade. This gives the next year's teacher a 'heads up' to know that they did not quite meet the requirements to move on.

Since I just read your further explanation . . . yes, you can hold your child back in a grade. We did that with our son this year for that very reason! It was a wonderful experience for him. His maturity has come along. He is with a better group of children, as well as his self-confidence has really come along with the retention.
For us to do it, we contacted the school principal and explained the situation. She told me that I would have to put something in writing stating our wishes and she could make that happen. I also know of several other families that did that same thing. Their boys had the same accomplishments as your son. It has been a very positive experience for each of them as well.

1 mom found this helpful

The parent of course,


It is ultimately the decision of the student's teacher. After the teacher decides to hold a student back, a meeting is held between the teacher, parent, principal and anybody else who may need to be involved. In the long run, it is the best for the student. It's not an easy decision for a teacher to make. The reason a teacher would decide to take such action is only because the student would not make it in the next grade and would benefit repeating whatever grade is in question.

Hi C.,
When i first read your post, the first thing that came to mind was the school makes that decision. And then I read your insert.
You need to speak to the school's principal since school is over. Explain your situation. Tell them that you need a change. Require them to keep him another year and then take it to the superintendent. It will be a fight but if you are adamant then you can do it. If a parent screams enough it will be done.
Also, Is this what your son wants? It might not work for him, he might dig himself a deeper hole because he is embarrased. Discuss it with him and then take action after both of you have made a decision.

Either the parent or the school depending on circumstances.

I'm not sure there is a law. When my friend made the decision she had a meeting with the conselor, principal and teacher. Her daughter could have gone on but was struggling. If they are failing then the school has to hold them back I think unless they can make it up in summer school.

Unless your child falls under 504 or special education, I believe the school has the right to hold back based on testing and observation in agreement with the counselor and curriculum superintendent. If you have a complaint, your always allowed to take it up with the school board. That said, it takes an act of congress to get an audience with the school boards in TX! If you truly believe a wrong is being done the cheapest recourse is to send her/him somewhere else. Charter schools are free if you can get in. I agree with one of your responses that you need to take in the entire picture first. Then persue it beyond that if you see discrepancies.

I taught 10th grade English for 7 years. Nothing is more sad than seeing a child that does not have the skills trying to struggle their way through a 5 page research paper. If your child is still young, you will regret pushing too fast. But from the experience of other parents that have shared with me, they never regretted taking it slower for the sake of skills and readiness.

We will be holding back our son until 6 yrs old for kindergarten (august birthday) whether or not he is ready. Personally, my hubby was moved back to middle of 1st from 2nd and thrived beautifully through HS and college (sports was just the added bonus of that!)

Good luck
If you need to talk more, call me or write back,

There were at least 3 children in my grand daughter's kindergarten class who had their 7th birthday this year. If your child needs to be held back, please listen to the teacher/faculty and strongly consider it. (Don't forget to pray for an answer, too. It will give you such peace.) There is NOTHING like having a child in future grades who just can't cut it. Give your child a strong foundation of learning the fundamentals in kindergarten so that he/she can grow up with confidence and good skills. Besides, if they find that he/she is ready to move on during the year, don't you think they'll make that adjustment, too? JMO Good luck!

I believe it's the school. They are regulated by the state. There may be summer school options that you can pay for if you don't want them to be held back. It depends on the age of the child if that is available.

I am a first grade teacher and try my best not to retain any student. When I do decide to retain it is only because the child is struggling and I know they will probably struggle in 2nd grade. In our district, the principal and teacher have to agree and then the parent make the final decision only if they are in K and 1st. 2nd-5th you have to pass on your report card and you have to pass the TAKS test in 3rd and 5th.

I don't think children should be held back in Kinder. Kinder isn't required right now for children.

Hi Christin

The parent gets the final call. I don't know if there is a law but it is the parents choice. I don't know what you situation is...but if you are the parent...listen to the teacher they have been doing this a long time and they don't just at random pick kids to retain. I am a teacher myself and try my best to not retain...but sometimes it is in the best interest of the child.

good luck

If the child is not failing, you are the final word. Hold him back but make sure he knows it is not through any failing of his own.

Hi! I terach 4th grade so I will help you out :)
The parent has the final say unless the child is in grades three five or eight. In those grades the law states you have to pass reading and math TAKS in order to move on.

Holding a child back after he/she has started school is very tricky. You don't want your son to be labeled by other students as a dummy. Make sure HE IS IN ON THIS DECISION! I feel you probably have a good case for doing it, but you may have to fight the school system. We had to fight to keep our ninth grade daughter out of first year algebra. My husband, a mathmetician, knew she didn't understand some basic math principles and wasn't ready for algebra. We almost had to go to the school supt. to keep her in pre-algebra another year. We won. She graduated with honors. So, don't be surprised if you have to wage a battle. Another option is putting your son in a new school, one where he will make new friends and they won't even know he's not a brand new 6th grader. But again, HE MUST BE PART OF THE DECISION. He might actually be bored repeating the 6th grade material. A private school would be a good option, if you have the money. There are no easy answers.

The school can decide not to hold back, but in some school districts you can still sign a parent waiver that will force the school district to hold the child back. You can only use the waiver one time. If you later feel like your child is not able to move forward again, you will not be able to block it.

Before you decide to hold your child back, make sure it is really something you want to do.
It sounds like work wise, your Son is doing fine and he is in the appropriate grade level.
Your reasons for holding him back seem more to do with the social. By holding him back you can create bigger social problems than he already has with his peers now. You need to make sure you include your son, and let him voice how he feels. You really need to talk over and consider the different scenarios of social ramifications that can come from this decision. Once done it is not something that can be undone without consequences.

One suggestion, if it is a social,age and confidence reason you are considering holding your child back.
Look outside of school for activities your child can do. If it is an activity your child is good at, he can excel here and get the confidence he needs, and outside of school, in those activities find a good group of friends. If I am not mistaken, outside activities usually would go by actual age not grade as well.

You have a very hard decision on your plate. Best wishes for it all to get worked out for you.

My experience is limited...however, I remember I was asking about this with a secretary from a local school and what she told me made sense. The older kids are the leaders. I am glad I waited to have my kids in school. Often, the younger ones are looking up to the older ones. The teacher involved watches your child interact all day. The test scores are also revealing. I hope that helps a little bit. God bless!

The final decision is yours as the parent. The school doesn't like to hold children back. They have talked with me often and said that the studies they have done shows that they dont think it helps. But if yo think your child needs to be held back then she/he probably does. My sister lives in another state and they didn't want to hold back my nephew because of the "sports" but she put her foot down and said no he will not be going to the next grade. It was the best thing that has ever happened to him.

Hope this helps
Keep us informed

My child started kindergarten at age 4 (she has an October birthday). She is now in 7th grade, and not a single year has gone by that I haven't regretted starting her that young. She is bright and a straight A student, even winning awards, but she is socially young for her grade. She's afraid of sleep-overs, is not interested in boys yet, won't even try make-up, and is uncomfortable inserting herself into social circles. Her best friend is a 10 year-old neighbor girl. Just this year she started to really care about her clothes and the way her hair looks. The other girls seem to like her ok, but she is definately NOT included in most social events. Her teachers think she is fine just where she is at; they love her because she is quiet, a good student and no trouble. But she is and feels so much younger and wants to be included in more things, it's just that she is not interested in the same things the other 7th grade girls are. I fear this will continue year after year, and she will be unwilling and unready to go to college when she graduates at age 17. Her teachers say she'll be bored if I move her back a grade, but I think the way she relates to others and feels about herself is more important. She will be going to a new school next year and I want her to redo 7th grade. Any thoughts????

I've had the same battle in my family with my oldest. He's going to be in the 5th grade this next school year. When comes down to it, you are the final say in your childs education. I've talked with all of my son's teachers, principal and aids regarding this concern of mine and we are trying Summer school to see if this helps him, but if not then he will repeat the 4th grade again.

I asked around at my school and they said that it is the schools final decision based on grades and test scores. I know that our administration team tells parents that the older they are when they deal with peer pressure the better they deal with it. I keep my girls at home as long as possible before I send them to K. I think retaining a child in elementary is better than making them struggle and feel bad about themselves.

Hello C.. My daughter was recommended to be held back this year (K) by her teacher. She did not fail so the teacher could not make us keep her back. It is solely our decision. We have been taking her to Sylvan so she will be ready for 1st grade. So, all that to say, unless the child actually failed for the school year, it is the parents decision. :)

Hi C. -

In my experience the school has had the final say. My daughter has been at risk for being held back 3 times (2nd, 4th & 8th grades). Even though I recommended that they hold her back the Principal and teachers signed for her to move up to the next grade. Most recently when she was in 8th grade she did not pass the Math Taks and against my will she was still passed on to the ninth grade. I believe it's more of a statistics thing no school wants to have a reputation of retaining students. I honestly believe that the only reason they passed her is because she is such a likable student, it had nothing to do with grades because she struggled the entire year even with tutoring.Here we are yet again as a ninth grader this year they are recommending summer school however if she doesn't go she will simply bee given the chance to make up her credit later in the year instead of being held back.

Sorry not sure if this helpd or answered your question or not but in my opinion it is totally up to the school.

That decision should be made jointly, but I have seen cases where the parent requested grade retention and the school would not go along with the request.

I should add that repeating a grade will not necessarily help with organizational skills. It it is just a matter of maturity, that might get better on it's own, but some children never develop good organizational skills unless they are directly taught.

I am in that situation myself. The school is recommending that I hold my daughter back in kindergarten but if I wanted, I could insist that she move on to first. However, I feel as the school does, that she isn't ready to move on due to her learning disability and to maturity issues. So I have opted to keep her back. I would rather hold her back in kindergarten instead of a higher grade. I'm not sure exactly what the law states and all but I wanted to share with you what I found out in my situation. If you feel that your child is ready to move on then I would push for that but before you do, be sure to take all of their recommendations, test scores, etc into consideration when making your decision. I'm finding out that this is harder on me as a parent than it is on my daughter. However the grade that she is having to repeat and her age play a huge factor in that. Good luck and hang in there. I know it's hard to make these types of decisions for our kids. :)

I asked my husband since he had a military father that knew alot of stuff...He said right now that is the toss up; b/c the state is trying to tell parents what they can and can not do with their children. I do not know what state you are in or where you are located. I live in Texas and know some people on the board of trustees in one ISD. but he says the parent should have the final say. I do know if you need legal advice...you need to consult someone about PrePaid Legal and when you become a member you can call them with any of your legal questions. I know someone if you need more help.

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