NEED HELP Retaining My Kid in the 2Nd Grade

Updated on June 06, 2012
C.K. asks from Tustin, CA
20 answers

My child is November born, and is now in 2nd grade(7.5 years old) youngest in class. We would like to hold him back and repeat 2nd grade. He was asked by the school to be retained in Kindergarten. At that time we as parents refused. But all along it has been a constant struggle and frustration for all of us. Finally we decided to retain him in 2nd grade and now the school is not agreeing. They say he is just not motivated..I have to appeal to the school board. Please let me know how I can convince the school board to retain him in the 2nd grade.

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all your responses.
Additional details about my son: My son takes a longer time in school and at home to finish his work. He requires constant directions from the teachers to follow the instructions on his work. He can learn Math but not interested in word problems. The school expectation going higher every year is making him frustrated to keep up in the class with his peers. He has noticed how he has to stay back in class to finish his work when the rest of the class leaves for recess. When the teachers have shown their frustration, he refuses to go to school. Recently he has started talking about stomach ache and head hurting thinking about his reading and writing class.
This is what I am planning to take to the school board:
A. recommendation letter from his pediatrician
B. take the class room teachers comments/concerns on every grade report.
As for some of you who had suggested about changing schools, I infact had all the paper work filled in another school to have my child repeat second grade. The other school in the same district just wants a retaining letter. I want him to repeat second grade in another school. My child has no issues repeating second grade, In fact he was so happy that the class room teacher noticed about his big relief in the class room. I am even prepared to move him to another school district, or charter schools or private schools. When I checked with private schools, although they can place the kid at the requested grade, when the kid needs to be placed back in public schools, the public schools will test him based on his age. So I am not sure if placing my kid in private school for few years will help him. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
schoosl will test him based on his age.So I am not sure if placing my kid in private ool for few years will help him.

More Answers



answers from Columbus on

Before you make any decision, go to and scroll down the left side of the page, click on "Retention" and read some of the articles about what happens to kids when they are retained.

If the school is saying he is "not motivated" that is code for "we should evaluate, but we don't want to." Children who struggle in the second grade are going to struggle the second time they do the same thing that did not work the first time. Get this child evaluated for processing issues, and know what could happen if you retain him.

You are right, he needs something, but you are barking up the wrong tree. If you are wrong, and it is not "maturity" you are going to cause him to loose one full year of effective intervention and teaching and if his issue is reading, you may have cooked his goose because the window of opportunity closes between age 8 and 9 to learn to read without great difficulty. You are already well into the window.

Please read about that, and what is common for kids who are the oldest in thier class once they get to high school. You won't like that either.

Good luck, you are good parents to try and help your child, but you should do a bit more research because this is no place to use "feelings."


Edit: If you are just stubborn about this and are determined to do this to your son, then what you should do is write a letter to the school board agreeing to hold them harmless for the damage you are about to cause him by holding him back and excuse them from their affirmative obligation to identify his probable disablity that you are letting them igonore. Pediatricinas are not the kind of specialist you need, not by the longest shot, and in my expereince as a special education advocate, nothing is going to improve for your son by the end of his second shot at second grade with traditional teaching methods that don't work for him already. I would be willing to put money on a bet from what you just said that when you finally come to your senses and have an educational evaluation on your son, that he will have a low processing speed, deficient working memory, visual perceptual/visual motor delays, and clinical levels of attention dysfunction. How unfortunate for your boy that you will learn far too late that this was the reason he has had trouble all along. Do you get another transmission job when you need an engine?

Let me tell you, I have seen your son so many times in my career. He is 15 or 16, can barely read, could not sign his name on his drivers liscense permit, he has been held back, maybe twice, he gets some extra help, and he spends more time in the principals office than in the classroom. The school has just suggested "vocational training" and his parents just now think that maybe he is dyslexic and want him tested. They call me to help them get that testing done because schools don't usaully teach reading and writting at 15 and 16, they teach kids science and history and make them read and write about it. It is so sad, and there is very little that can be done to help that child reach the potential he so visibly had in second grade when he was held back the first time.

Do what you want to, but know what is in your future, you are making a big mistake by not doing the research, because I cannot imagine that you would choose this for your son if you had read anything about it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I'm an educator, and I agree with the posts below that respond by saying not to hold him back. It is traumatic and embarrassing for children of all ages. You have no idea what you are doing. Sometimes parents think they are making the right decision about their child's education but most of the time they are wrong because they have no training in our education system. If the school does not want to keep him back it is because they know this. I have been through this many times with my students. The best option for you is to get him tutoring, extra classes, and to have him tested to see if he has a learning disability. That will help him get some accommodations. The teacher will have to follow those accommodations discreetly. Honestly, he is in second grade he probably needs some good discipline and you should ask to sit in your child's class or "help" for a day, to see if the teacher has good classroom management. Many teachers do not have good classroom management and then blame the students (who are completely capable of of following) for not following directions, etc. Please look for other routes to solve your problem. Keeping your son back is not the solution.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Has your child had student success team meetings? If he is struggling he should have been in this process. Has the school documented for you what interventions that the teacher has been using? Has she documented any improvement or skill increase with interventions? We're not talking about consequences doled out for not finishing work or "unmotivated" labeling, we're asking what kind of accommodation, what kind of assistance, what has/is being done within his classroom to help him master grade level academic content. It's important that he should be given intervention as part of his daily school experience before considering retention.

Have you requested in writing that your son be tested for learning disabilities? Before you pursue having him retained, find out if something is keeping him from learning in the same way or pace as his peers. If you haven't done so, do it this coming week. Do not verbally ask, give the school a written letter. If, after testing, there is no disabling condition found, then I'd consider retention.

Regardless, a tutor over the summer is a really great idea! High school stuendents often enjoy spending an hour or two, a couple days a week , with younger kids reading with them and working on math.

Please keep us posted on what you decide and what happens.
[hugs] to you and your son.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Not sure why the school gets to make the decision; you're his parents, right? You have more rights here than the school does. You need to let the school board know that you know your child far better than any of them ever can and you demand that he repeat second grade. Ultimately, the decision should be yours, not the school's.

If they still refuse then go around them! If they will not allow you your rights, then take them! What are they going to do about it anyways? Pull him out of school and re-enroll him as a second grader next year. You can definitely keep him up and educate him at home for the small amount of the remaining school year.


Edit: I read some of the other responses and your "what happened" segment and I'm shocked quite honestly at some of the intimations in the responses that the school system knows best. I could bend your ear for hours about why this isn't true and why the public school system can't be trusted to do what is in the best interests of the child instead of themselves and the teacher's unions they bend knee to. Please trust your own instincts. The school doesn't care as much about your son and his success as you do. Extra tutoring and classes are NOT the answer! Kids already spend WAY too much of their day doing school work! When do they get to be children? Making him spend every moment of his day on school work is just cruel. It's overload and he'll eventually snap under the pressure.

Personally, I researched everything I could get my hands on and once I felt I had a grasp on everything, made the decision to homeschool. My son just finished second grade as a homeschooler. We spend maybe an hour a day on school work. He routinely scores in the 9th stanine on standardized tests and he reads at a fifth grade level. He gets most of his day to follow his own interests and just be a child. He has tons of friends in the neighborhood (I'm the neighborhood snack mom, they all know that I keep the pantry and freezer stocked with juices, popsicles and healthy but delicious snacks for them) and in the community, I coach his soccer team and he and his two besties started an ATV club since we live somewhat in the country and they all have ATV's, so he's not suffering for lack of socialization. I am preserving his innocence as long as I can because it's over all too soon these days. For example, one of his public school friends is only 8 and says he has a girlfriend that he kisses all the time, totally NOT cool with THIS mom.

Your son sounds like he could really benefit from homeschooling if it's something you can manage. If you can afford private school, can you afford to stay at home and homeschool? Crunch the numbers, you may be able to afford it with a few minor (or even major sacrifices if it's important enough to you.) The biggest benefit to your son would be one-on-one attention and the ability to work at his own pace. You don't even have to be a SAHM to homeschool. Can your husband and you work out your schedules so at least one of you is always there? If you can, then you can homeschool. I even know one single mom whose sister is a SAHM and watches her kids during the day. She sends one or two assignments with her kids to her sister's house and then goes over them with her kids when she gets off work. They always have access to her through the phone when they need to ask questions and they go over new material in the evening. You can make it work, no matter what your situation. Do some research and see if you think your son could benefit. I'm willing to bet that he would start to SHINE.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Do you have documentation? If you have saved every note from the teacher telling you how he is behaving and not doing his work and having trouble that will help. If not then his report cards should say things like can't sit still, doesnt' listen, is not performing to potential.
Is he academically challenged? Is he academically at grade level for 2nd grade?
Schools will fight you on everything. They think they know. Get your documentation in order, make sure your reasons are not just beause he is immature, he will be worse if he already knows the subject and is bored. When you go in wear something other than jeans and a t- shirt. Go at this like a business meeting.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I know this might not be financially possible, but if there was any way that you can switch him to a different school in the fall and put him in 2nd grade there, that might be the easiest and best choice. I am a teacher and I can see the benefits of retaining in kindergarten and first grade. Second grade is a little late and the social impact may be a problem if he remains at the same school. That said, I believe it is so much better for children with late fall birthdays to be the oldest (rather than thec youngest) in the class. I am frustrated by the people who cannot do math on this board! If you retain, your child is not going to turn 18 his junior year! If you don't retain, your child will not turn 18 until the November after he has graduated from high school.

If you are going to remain in your current school, you have to weigh the social/self esteem impact that retention will have on your child at this point. While I think he should have started K a year later than he did, he didn't. He has experienced three years of school already. Extra maturity may help, but it won't miraculously change everything. If the school says he is unmotivated, how can you help motivate him? I would definitely suggest tying the enjoyable activities he likes at home (video games, TV) to good reports from school. He might suddenly become a lot more motivated if he had to "earn" these preferable activities by putting forth more effort in school.

Good luck with yor decision. I think as a parent you can get what you want, but I caution you to think very carefully about the absolute best way to help your son become a better learner.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I dont have idea, of how the school here in America Works, but try to make a letter of appeal and add a collection of signature of students and teachers that believe your child should be retain in second grade. This is what, we did ,when I was in college. When we wanted one of the bad teacher in school to be fired. It was successful the teacher, was fired.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

After skimming over the other responses, I tend to agree with the majority. Holding them back in Kindergarten is one thing, but holding him back at this point would probably be a mistake. However something is clearly not right, so I would agree that having some testing done is the next step. It may be some sort of learning difficulty that's frustrating him and keeping him "unmotivated". The are SO common. My husband had learning issues as a child but no one figured it out because he could still pull off good grades most of the time. But it continued to be a struggle for him through his career and was such a relief for him to finally get tested and diagnosed as an adult. Better to check for that now, as well as any kind of visual or auditory issues now, and that way you can give your son what he needs to succeed all through school and feel good about himself, rather than holding him back. Sounds like you're going to have to get forceful with the school, but don't hesitate to push for it. He's entitled by law.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on


I have a second grader who gets on his teacher's last nerve (that's assuming she had some when she started teaching him). When we enrolled him in Kindergarden it was recommended that we wait until he was six. The recommendation came as a result of some study that concluded that boys his age 5 had not fully matured and or developed and could use another full year to reach that maturity(he's born in Sept. and will be 8 this year). My son is very smart; however, the environment that he is in is not meeting his personal needs. He is the only non-white boy in the school. He gets teased on the bus, playground etc. I am saying all of this to say that I don't think you should hold your son back. Because down the road he will face issues about being older. We are experiencing this with our daughter who we held back because no one knew she was dyslexic. She hates it when her peers question her about being held back a grade. Boys are different. I think the school is not agreeing because they know the ramifications for boys statistically as it relates to the drop out rate; also they may feel that your son is bright and just need some support services to help him along. You didn't say if he is having any difficulties with the work or not so I don't know if he is behind academically or not. But my guess is that with support services and tutoring he will do just fine. I engage the services of tutors all the time when I feel my children need that extra boost. I also am wondering if your son is having social issues in class that cause him to frustrate you. My son verbalizes his frustration and anger so we are able to help him problem solve and address the tensions that he face in school. We emphasize the importance of education and help him get it by informing him that his JOB is to go to school and get good grades. We reward him financially when he does well at his job and he goes and buy nitendo games. The other thing that we did when the school said he wasn't motivated was to have his learning style evaluated. We found that he is a Kinetic Tactile learner. This means that he is a hands on learner. Most school's teaching styles is for auditory and verbal learners. We also found that he was bored with the curriculum because it wasn't challenging enough. Now with all of these evaluations, we have made great progress with him at school academically. We still struggle with the social issues. I pray that this information helps. I wouldn't hold him back unless he hasn't grasped the basic concepts that he needs to move forward.

God Bless,


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Sorry to hear of your struggles. We held our son back in Kindergarten (he is Dec born) and he did not start until 6. Our son was hard to discipline and it turns out he was frustrated. We had him tested and he has some learning difficulties. Once we got him tested and he was helped he has been fine. Is your son' issue maturity? If your son struggles now it will only get worse as the work gets more complicated. Has the school made any recommendations as to classes in the summer?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

You are the parent! If you have legitimate concerns regarding his need to repeat the School should side with you, even if it's just a maturity issue. Boys especially need a little more time to mature and often do much better when given an extra year to mature. You probably should have done it back in Kindergarten, but that's all in the past. Stand your ground. Seek a letter from your child's Pediatrition, stating that due to his young age and immaturity compared to others in 2nd grade, you feel it in his best interest to hold him back before he gets into subject levels that will cause him to experience failure & get held back at a more devastating age. I've never heard of a school NOT allowing parents to weigh in on this decision. Your child's 'lack of motivation' as they likely immaturity. I think you'll see amazing differences from 2nd grade forward if he is held back. Hang in there!
**I also agree with documentation from his current teacher.
**the possibility of entering a different school since he is beginning the social climb, and retention may difficult for him in that respect.
**and for motivation...'dangle the carrot' even if you do hold him back. Offer him rewards for jobs well done! And be sure to make the rewards something he WANTS to work for! ;-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

I just wanted to suggest that you ask the school to test your son or better yet, get private testing done. Most 2nd graders who are "just not motivated" have something else going on, in my personal experience. Plus, if he has some kind of learning challenge, finding this out seems to me like it would be a valid reason for holding him back, being able to learn the material again, maybe in different ways, in light of any issues he's dealing with. Good luck. This should be a decision for you to make, as his parent. I also think other posters who mentioned switching schools might have a good idea there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

My advice is a bit different probably from those that responded. I was held back in seventh grade it was very traumatic for me. I had some learning disabilties not severe but it definetly affected my ability to process certain information. I should of been held back at a younger grade.
Anyhow you are your child advocate. Your childs situation is probably going to become much worse over time in school if you don't intercede. You don't want your child to barely hold his head above to speak. He will loose his confidence for himself if he is not held back. Also you could always home school. Wait until he catches up and then put him back into public school. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

I believe you as the parents have the final say. I am not sure of the California laws but if you want your child held back I think it's your option. Just tell them what you think is good reasons.

My personal opinion is that he needs to be with kids his own age, going into the third grade. I think all kids need that. He will already be 18 as a junior, what if he decides at 18 to drop out, or move out, then he hasn't even completed his jubior year. Kids are supposed to be 17 and turn 18 their senior year. Maybe you could work with him over the Summer or have him go to a tutoring establishment.

My neice went to Sylvan Learning Center for about 5 months and she progressed nearly a whole year. They found HOW she learned, her learning style, and my sister was able to talk to the school teacher about the test results and they presented the material in ways she learned better. She was a writer learner. She learns by writing it down. When the teacher gave her stuff to copy and write down from the board she rarely forgot any of it and began making much better grades. Most students are visual and auditory learners so when someone is different they don't learn nearly as well.

Good luck, and if you do hold him back I hope it really works well for him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sioux City on

That is just crazy!! He isn't the school boards's child. He's yours! I am not sure how it works in California, but I believe they have to honor your wishes. Put it in writing that you would like him held back. From my experience as a teacher and a Mother, there is no problem with socialization when they are not with same age children. Children mature at different rates. In the end your the parent and you absolutely know your child better than a school system. You are responsible for raising that child. If you want him held back, stick to your guns and hold him back.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Have you thought of getting him tested. The school has to provide this for your son. If they will not take him to His Pedi and get private testing. You can probably keep him moving forward with the help of some special classes in his school to help him achieve his goals.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Reno on

We went through the exact same thing with our son, but we waited until the 4th grade, mainly because his 4th grade teacher was great and I thought he would benifit the most from having her for 2 years. He has done so well in school ever sense we made that decision. He is just finishing up his freshmen year of high school now and is an excellent student!
I don't understand why in your case it is up to the school board, is it a private school? This should be the decision of the parent, teachers, and principal. When we decided, I just went in and talked to his teacher about it, and she took care of it. Even if it is motivation, if the work is difficult he is not going to be motivated to do it. I think you decision is a good one.
I would be happy to answer any question you have if I can, I remember what a hard decision this was.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Birmingham on

I live in Alabama. My child is 8 years old and has ADHD with very mild autism. I admit we screwed up early on and did not hold him back. (late bday...July)He just finished 3rd grade, made lots of "F's" but usually A,B,C's on report card. His behavior and social skills have not gotten any better throughout the years and we have finally decided to hold him back and now they say it is against their rules. These people who have never even met my child. Different teachers, coaches,etc who have had dealings with him say YES! do it! He does not have any friends that I am worried about him losing. He is usually very angry and most kids and doesn't like any of them. He is better with kids younger than him and girls. I do not feel like his grades actually showed what he learned, long story but horrible 3rd grade teacher, most tests had F but she gave lots of busy work to bring up grades such as word searches and planting seeds. Bottom line, why would I the parent not have a say so, yet some people who have never met him should? We still have a little bit of the chain of command to climb, so I have decided to gather as much info as I can. First step is my pediatrician has requested for our psychiatrist to test him with the recommendation to hold him back. If I knew then, what I know now...geez



answers from Redding on

I have friends who made the decision to retain their son in the 4th grade.
He was struggling, becoming frustrated, losing his confidence and basically giving up even trying. School and homework became torture for everyone.
Fortunately, the school was completely on board with this and the reason they did it in the 4th grade is because that's the first year they offered a 4th/5th grade combo class. So, even though he was technically retained, he still had the same teacher, the same familiar routine, and it's not like it was obvious that he hadn't moved up a grade.
He did so well having that extra year to get his bearings and get caught up with no pressure in a setting that allowed him to do a bit of the 5th grade work as well, that he was able to go ahead and move on the the 6th grade. He was not embarrassed or traumatized in any way. It took a lot of pressure off of him. If he'd gone into a standard 5th grade class, he would not have been able to handle it.
I think it's a real shame that so many schools just pass kids from one grade to the next if they're clearly struggling. My son's friend felt like a failure and like he was stupid because because he just couldn't keep up, and let's face it, it's hard to be motivated when you feel like that.
Retaining their son was the best thing they could have done for him. He's so much happier and self confident.
He is an October baby and was the youngest in his class so it's not like he would be 20 when he graduated high school or anything.

If the school is against retaining your son, have they offered any other suggestions to help him feel successful? Have they offered any other options? Do they have combo classes?
I would see if the school has an on site counselor that you can talk to about this. They may be able to offer some feedback or assess your son a bit. If they think retention would be beneficial, it wouldn't hurt to have someone like that in your corner.

I wouldn't be afraid of the school board. I had to go before them once when I requested that my daughter be allowed to stay in her current school as opposed to transferring her to a different district when I was going through my divorce. She'd already been through enough changes, I didn't think changing schools right in the middle of the year on top of it would have made tihngs any easier. It was granted with no problem. Just be concise. Make clear and valid points. This obviously isn't a decision you are making lightly.

Best wishes and let us know how it goes.



answers from Las Vegas on

Private school could be great for him if they have small class size. This will give him a lot more attention. I'm a fan of the Montessori system because they teach the kids at their level and it's much more hands on. To the students it feels more like play because the method used is practical teaching. Word problems aren't written on a page for the kid to figure out. They actually have physical objects, maps, etc for the kids to use. It makes figuring out the answer a puzzle not a 'word problem'. My son has been in Montessori for almost 2 years and it has been so awesome for our family. He was speech delayed and had other sensory problems. They have worked with our family and occupational therapist and my son is now up to speed. The attention to the needs of the individual child is the core belief of the Montessori method. My best advice (shoulda put it at the begining cause now your eyes may have glazed over!)....go tour some private schools both traditional and montessori. Your mommy radar will tell you what's best!

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