Need to Make Decision About Retention in 1St Grade

Updated on April 19, 2014
B.C. asks from Hialeah, FL
25 answers

My daughter is in the 1st grade, but chronologically should actually be in Kindergarten. She started K at a private school at 4 almost 5 and then started 1st grade this year at 5 almost 6. But the bottom line is that in essence she is in the wrong grade and that all kids with her b-day are actually in K right now! I made this decision after having completed K at the private school and feeling that she was prepared for 1st grade academically and so the school allowed me to make this decision.

I have to say, academically she is holding her own and has progressed very well especially in reading. With math and writing, she seems to struggle a bit more. But her teacher and I both feel a lot of her struggles with math seem developmental and now that she is older towards the end of the year, it seems that things with math are starting to click! However, I worry about how this could impact her in the future as things get harder. I don't want her always struggling with math and being a step behind all her peers. And the reality is that she will always be expected to perform a whole year above where she should be and will be compared to children a whole year older than her.

Then there's the social part to it! She is very shy, but has a made a few close friends (her best friend happens to be very young and closer in age to her than the other kids). However, she HATES being the youngest and repeatedly tells me that she wishes I would have put her in Kindergarten instead of 1st. She actually said to me that she doesn't want to go to 2nd grade and wants to do 1st again, so she can be with kids closer to her age and so she can be one of the oldest instead of the youngest!

So, I don't know what to do! In hindsight now, I do wish I would have never moved her on to 1st before her time. I wish she would have been in K again when she moved to public school, even if she would have been a little advanced in reading for Kindergarten. I feel that if she would be in K now that she wouldn't be struggling as much in math and socially she would be much happier.

So what would you do now, if this was your child? Would you retain them or move them on to 2nd grade? I'm concerned about whether retention would affect her (how she would feel about staying in 1st) and if it would even benefit her academically. If I did leave her in 1st, I know her teacher would differentiate her instruction, give her more challenging work, etc. We already talked about that. I just worry about her socially and how she is already feeling. What's going to happen by the time she's in 5th grade and moving on to middle school at 10 years old!! Or high school at 13!!!

I need to make a decision in the next few weeks and I feel like it's either now or never! Retention in K or 1st is still acceptable as they are still so young, but anytime after that and it's generally a very bad idea! And I don't want to get to 5th grade and look back and think I wish I would have retained her back in 1st!!!

I would leave to hear your advice, insight, opinions, etc.

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So What Happened?

To answer some of your questions on your posts......... my child's birthday is Sept. 12 and our cutoff in our state here is 9/1. So she would be going to 2nd grade at 6 and then turning 7 pretty soon thereafter. But every child with a sept. birthday in her class is actually a whole year older. She noticed the age difference in the beginning of this year, when a child actually pointed out to her (while doing an activity in which they were to write their age) that she was still 5 and the child said WHAT! You can't still be 5 you're supposed to be in K. And that when she came home and I explained. I said that because she had come from a different school with different rules that she now was younger. Also, when celebrating her birthday in Sept kids were confused that she was JUST turning 6, not 7!! Again, when she began struggling in math half way through the year, we started having a rough time! She refused to do math, said she hated it and started asking if she was dumb? This of course, just killed me! So, I explained to her that because she was younger, it might take her a little more time to understand what some of the older kids already did! and that it was Okay if it took her a little longer! I just didn't want this starting to affect her self esteem and so tried to explain it in the best way I could think of! Because I knew that her AGE did have alot to do with it! She just wasn't ready to understand certain things yet! So in answer to some of you YES, this is obviously where alot of this age thing started from! But I couldn't hide it from her either!

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answers from New York on

The big reason retention DOESN'T work is that kids resist it, and when it happens anyway, in spite of the resistance, it leads to low self-esteem.

Here you've got a rare, wonderful case of a child who WANTS to repeat a year. In this case, honestly, I wouldn't hesitate -- go ahead and let her have another shot at first grade. She'll get all the advantages of the "gift of time," and the one big disadvantage won't be a factor. You're really lucky, in this regard!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New London on

As a former FT teacher, I would give her the extra yr.

I have NEVER heard a parent say that they regret giving a child extra time...Only parents who put their kid in too young...

It's easiest to do this now.

If you do decide to give her the advantage of the extra yr---Have play dates with the kids that will be in class with her next yr !

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I see no problem in keeping her back a year and doing 1st over again. All I can see are benefits! I think you should let her do 1st grade again and just keep it positive if you talk to her about it. She will not be traumatized in the least. Talk about all the ways that this will help her. It will be fine.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

Retain her.
No regrets

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I would hold her back. She wants to be with kids closer to her age, she isn't socializing with the other kids, and she is struggling a bit... Those would each be a valid reason on their own to hold her back at this stage... Especially if she has already specifically said that she wants to be in the lower grade.

My younger brother was held back in 1st grade. (Though, his was because he has dyslexia and wasn't able to read or write yet... They discovered the dyslexia that year, and he has done great since. :)) anyway, it has never affected him at all socially... No one ever called him stupid for being held back, or teased him at all. Heck, by the time he was in 3rd grade no one even knew. It just wasn't a big deal to anyone. He did much better socially and academically than I think he would have if he hadn't been held back.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Let her repeat the year. Tell her you listened to her and you feel in your heart that the best thing for her would be for her to do the year over. If you can put her in a different class it might help her. She needs all the help you can give her now at a young age to build a solid learning foundation.

I held my daughter back in second grade. We explained to her that she was not being punished or anything like that. She just needed more time to learn and understand what was needed. I never had a problem with her learning. In high school she had a talk with a teacher and suggested that he put on the board all the lessons due at the end of the week so that they could work on them during the week. Sort of a prep for college when professors give you the syllabus and you have to turn in the work. He appreciated her thoughts.

So always go for the good for your child.

the other S.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Your right, her age will be a bigger factor in junior high and high school. Being older is much better than being the youngest. I would let her repeat 1st. Do it early cause it would be nearly impossible to do it later.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

I know you are struggling with this, you have a lot of questions on the subject.

I would suggest you sit down with her and get her input. I am not saying let this be her decision but just ask, what would you want. I hate that so many moms think their kids lack the ability to know what they want in any rational manner. I mean how would you feel if you are looking forward to second grade and then your mom goes, no, I am holding you back!

You, not your mom, have to go to your friends and say she is holding me back, I won't see you next year. You have to deal with the perception that you are being held back because you are stupid.

Yes you are the parents but it is her life, she should at least be able to say her piece! You should listen to her, guide her, reach this with her. It is her life it is impacting. Please talk to her, not us.

Ahh missed the paragraph about talking to her. Still make sure she knows the friends she have will move on. Then listen to her.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I say ditto to what Mira wrote. If your gut instinct now is that she would benefit from that extra year (repeating 1st grade) AND your daughter wants to repeat it, it is a win-win situation for her to repeat 1st grade next year. You didn't say whether the teacher expressed a view on the matter, however if she is in favor of retaining her or at least not opposed, there is no reason not to retain her. Actually, it looks like the teacher is on board because your post says she has already said she would provide more advanced academic instruction for your daughter if you retain her. Socially, your daughter will probably do better in a grade with kids closer to her age or slightly younger rather than older, and she WANTS to do it. Believe me, that social piece is the biggest component at their age, and the child being okay with the retention. Our daughter continues to resent that we 'held her back' in preschool for maturity reasons, however I am still absolutely certain we did the right thing. Sadly, she doesn't agree.

It really looks like the stars have aligned in this situation. There is no good reason to advance her to 2nd grade and all the reasons to retain her. Unless there are other factors which you haven't told us, having her repeat 1st grade only has up-sides. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

My youngest daughter is also a year ahead. We had her tested into early Kinder because we all (pre-school teachers, mom and dad, pediatrician, etc) thought she was ready. Right now, she's in 6th grade. I've asked her if she would have preferred waiting the extra year. She's happy where she is. She even told me that when she thinks about the kids in the year below her (her ACTUAL peers), she's REALLY happy about where she is because they all seem so young and immature compared to her and her friends. She is one of the tallest girls in her grade. She consistently makes distinguished honor roll. She has more friends than I can count. Being the youngest doesn't bother her in the least. She can always take the year between high school and college to do something else, so when she gets to college, she'll be with people her age. She is *exactly* where she needs and wants to be.

I was also the youngest in my class. I graduated high school at 16 and college at 20. It never bothered me. Grades were good, lots of friends (I freakin' LOVED high school!), my age was just never an issue. That's why I had no problem letting my daughter go through the same thing. Knowing her, I figured she'd have a similar experience and so far, I'm right.

But all this information about us is irrelevant to your situation. You need to figure out what's best for YOUR daughter. It does seem like retention might be a good idea, especially if she herself desires it. Kids are often very insightful about themselves, and this might be such a case. I just wanted to let you know that *sometimes* being a year ahead does work out well. You'll weigh the pros and cons and make your decision, and it will be the best decision for your daughter. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think you should hold her back, especially since she's asking for it. I'm surprised the school let her start K when she was still 4. My kids attend a private school, but they stick with the age cut off. No exceptions. There is a girl in my daughter's grade with a Sept 2 birthday. The cutoff is September 1. So she's the very oldest in the grade.

Give your daughter a leg up socially and academically and have her repeat first grade. It would be best for her! And since she wants it, it should be an easy decision.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Leave her in first grade. You know you need and want to as does she.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Another vote for going with your gut and having her repeat first grade.

A few things to keep in mind, though, because it won't be as simple as just "Hooray, you're doing first over again."

She is saying now that she wants to repeat first, wishes she hadn't been put in first, etc. That's good for now -- but when the time actually comes to start first grade again in the fall, are you prepared for her suddenly to start saying, "No, I really want to be in second with everyone else from last year!" This is entirely possible. If her few good buddies from first are all going on to second, and she sees them over the summer, etc., she may end up with last-second resistance. If you figure you're all set, and then feel blindsided that she is crying or upset in the fall when you remind her she's going to first -- don't be blindsided. Prepare yourself now for the idea that she might reverse all she's saying now about wanting to repeat first. But you are right to do it; you have to be ready to stick to your guns when she's suddenly backtracking.

What will be the plan if she gets bored and isn't challenged in areas other than math? Do the teachers have a specific plan in place for what to do with her when they are covering material that's too easy for her since she did fine with it the first time? Does the school have anything like a reading specialist who can pull her out for reading enrichment on a higher level, etc.? Yes, I agree with you that repeating is OK, but in some areas she may get bored quickly and need enrichment both at school and at home. You say you have already talked it over with the teacher -- which is great. But the teacher could end up with, for instance, a class with some problem kids who require more of her attention; your daughter will be the "easy kid" who's no trouble, and will get less attention, and that challenging work you're promised may not materialize. Or your child could end up with a different teacher from the one you expect (it does happen). What will the school and you do to ensure your child doesn't get turned off school?

Those are just things to keep in mind and plan for. I do still think that having her repeat is right. If she would indeed be moving into middle school at 10 and HS at 13 as you say -- that's not good at all. She would be around older kids and be expected to behave as they do -- both by adults, who will think she's more mature than she is, and by other kids, who will push her to do things you might feel she's too young to start yet.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Go with your gut M.. I would have NO apprehensions about retention in first grade with what you have described. I am speaking as a previous kindergarten teacher and M. of 3 who are well past kindergarten. I see the downfall of parents pushing their kids to do things before they are emotionally,socially,physically or academically ready for. It sets up the kids for anxieties, bullying, depression and failure.

Your daughter will benefit from a strong foundation in the basic math,reading, and social skills. Let her have another year to grow and mature and feel more confident about herself and her abilities. Social skill strength and self confidence are crucial to be successful and well rounded in school these days. School pressures are crazy these days. How a child feels about him/herself is SOOOO important to succeed in school..and life.

Students who are more mature ,self confident and can hold their own around their peers are more likely to succeed in school...and life. Please...don't think of it as "holding her back" a year. You are actually doing the opposite. You are allowing her to gain a strong foundation so nothing or no one "holds her back" in the future.

She will come out of the first grade(for the second time) so ahead of the game and ready to confidently tackle the many school years ahead. She will feel equal to all her peers and not crumble with those nagging thoughts in the back of her head, "I hate being the youngest, I hate feeling lost in school, I hate that everyone seems to grasp concepts quicker than me etc."

She may even be able to have opportunities to "tutor" fellow students during her second round of first grade or read a book to the class. I have see this done with other students who were retained. What a great skill, confidence booster and lesson in compassion and responsibility that comes from that.

Keep us posted with what you choose! Good luck and best wishes!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We had be struggling with the same thing for our 4.5 year old, She won't be 5 until the end of October, but, she is academically ready. I talked to her Head Start teacher, and she said that socially she isn't ready and if she were the teacher's child she would let her do the year again. We went with her idea, and will let our daughter repeat Head Start.

Social intelligence is just as important as math and reading. It doesn't seem like it, but it really is. If your daughter wants to stay in 1st again, then let her do it. We just found out that the older 5 year olds are going to kinder next year, and our little one is super stoked because the mean girl won't be in her class anymore! There can be upsides too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I retained my son last year in first grade. I pushed him into Kinder before he was ready. Age wise he was ready to go, but socially he wasnt. His pre-k teacher wanted him to have an extra year too but age wise he was already one of the oldest.

The retained year was HORRIBLE. We had very gossipy teachers. He didnt get that much ahead of where he was the first time. I think they held the first times problems against him. If your going to retain, I would get it in writing about what they are going to do differently the second time around so they arent doing the same things but expecting a different result. Sometimes I wonder if I should of switched him to a different school for the retention and switched back for second if we would of had a better result. That being said socially he's doing much better.

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answers from Cleveland on

I wish my daughter wanted to be held back... She was also 4 going on 5 and we sent her to K bc we're tall and I figured she would really stand out if she was older too. And she was doing fine in preschool etc so we went ahead. She's in 4th now and doing quite well but my other daughter is on the older side for her grade and everything seems easier yet I don't think she's actually smarter than my oldest. While my older daughter is doing very well academically now, there were some struggles in 1st and 2nd. Part I think is an eye sight issue we uncovered but still, she was just younger. My sister had one of her petite daughters repeat K or 1st and never regrets it. Her daughter was small and shy and did "ok" academically but not great. She still doesn't do great academically so I don't know that holding back is a cure all for things like math but it certainly didn't hurt. If your daughter wants to and the teacher doesn't disagree, why wouldn't you? A girl at our school repeated 1st or K and we don't give it any more thought now. She was also young and it seemed best to let her catch up emotionally. My oldest who is young for her grade also does fine socially but does seem less "grown up" than some other kids and is totally happy playing with kids a grade behind her. That's fine now but it could be an issue as she gets older. If you can avoid all that, why not?... Your daughter has asked to stay in 1st so just tell her "ok, you can stay!"

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answers from Dallas on

If she is still struggling at this time of year, I would strongly consider retention. The longer you wait to hold her back if needed, the more it will damage her esteem to be held back from her class group.

I do a lot of subbing for 1st grade. This year, out of appx 100 first graders, there will be about 3 held back to repeat next year. The reasons are based on academics and social maturity. Some children just need the extra year and there is nothing wrong with that. My personal feeling is that if you are going to retain a child, it is best to do so in Kinder or 1st. The school where I sub and my daughter went to elementary is a blue ribbon exemplary school which is public but in a very good public district. People move here just for the schools.

This year, we have 2 students currently in 1st grade for the 2nd time and you can see remarkable improvement both academically and socially.

It is a personal decision which should be made between you and the teachers. When a student is held back, in most cases, they get a different teacher the following year. Sometimes another teacher has a different style which the child can connect a little better.

By reading your post, it sounds like repeating 1st grade for your daughter might be beneficial. You have to consider the next 11 yrs and her progress for high school academics, graduation and college prep. Time flies.. my baby is in the first year of college already!

Best wishes!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think,since she's on board that doing 1st grade again won't be a bad decision.

Many states have age regulations about Kindergarten AND 1st grade. She is age wise a kindergartner. I think she'll do fine. How does she feel about losing her classmate friends?

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answers from Williamsport on

I see a whole entire post of reasons why you think she needs to be placed with kids her own age. And almost none for keeping her ahead one year.

Go with your gut.

It's better for her to be comfortable and developmentally ready to dig deep into her subjects with confidence-you can always make sure they are enriched enough- and have friends her own age vs...what? Finishing school one year sooner?

If she was super outgoing and gung-ho to be with older kids than maybe...

I homeschooled and just stuck my 2nd grader into pubic school. Her reading level is WAY ahead. Like years ahead. But her math is only slightly ahead. She is so happy with kids her age, I wouldn't move her up. I'll just make sure she has the materials she needs here to keep things advanced enough.

Put her with kids her age.

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answers from New York on

Most kids haven't got a clue as to who the youngest is, who the oldest is. Seems to me she might be getting this "I am the youngest etc." from you. It seems she entered K at the correct age. She seems to be doing fine, so I really do not see a reason to hold her back. Instead of focusing on her being the youngest, why don't you talk about how well she has done. I graduated high school,at 17 and so did three out of my four kids.

She just may not be good in math and always struggle. Not many are perfect in every subject. Holding her back might not fix that.

I am curious. She entered K at 4 almost five. When is her birthday?

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answers from Los Angeles on

I'm curious if she actually makes her school cutoff for first grade or if she's technically too young but was allowed in because of her private school kinder. Are those with her birthday that are in kinder now there because it's where they belong, or because their parents waited a year to send them to school?

In general, I don't support waiting a year to start kinder, as most parents don't have what I consider valid reasons for doing so. However, I do see some merit in retaining a child who has tried the grade and truly isn't ready to move on to the next one. It sounds like your daughter really wants to do first again. What does her teacher think is best for her? Her teacher sees dozens of children every year and should be able to tell you how she thinks your daughter will do if she moves on to second grade.

Remember this though - being shy is NOT a reason to stay behind. Being shy is a personality trait that doesn't have much to do with age at all. If your daughter is shy now, she will most likely still be shy next year and probably for many years after that. It's perfectly ok to be shy! There is nothing at all wrong with it. So don't let that be the reason to keep her back.

It's a tough decision. If she actually missed your school's cutoff for first and if her teacher thinks retention is best, go for it.

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answers from Honolulu on

If you are going to retain her, it is better to do it in Kindergarten or 1st grade.

Her being the "youngest"... is that something that she herself is at conflict with within herself, or it is something that others always tell her?

She started 1st grade at 5 then turned 6. When my kids were in that grade, that was the typical age, of that grade level, and per cut-offs for entering into Kindergarten. Per my kids' class mix, most 1st graders, become 6 in 1st grade. Those that became 7, in 1st grade were the minority. Both my kids entered Kinder at 4 then turned 5. They entered 1st grade at 5 then turned 6. My kids are both late born. Both were shyer type kids, not full extroverts like some of the other kids. But they knew themselves and knew that there are just different personalities. And they have their own small group of friends. Which is normal and fine. Academically, my kids both did fine. One of my kids has a knack for math. The other does not. So we at home also tutor them. That is what my parents did when I was a kid too. As a kid, I was not good at math either. It is still not my thing.

But my concern is: why is your daughter, so focused on how young she is and being the youngest... in her class? Unless that is always harped on to her or told to her or by others... then surely she would be focused on that aspect and "compare" herself to the others in her class and be self-conscious about it. Is she a self-assured child? Or not? Maybe, in conjunction with her academic concerns, work on nurturing her sense of self. That is always important for a child to know, to learn about themselves, no matter what age. And its best done, when they are still young like this.

I work at a school. I see and know kids that were retained for various reasons. I also see and know kids that are the "oldest" in the grade and those that are youngest because they are late born. And their academic or social astuteness.... does not always reflect.... chronological age per grade. Some youngest kids are very good academically & socially, versus older kids. And visa versa. I have also seen and know some retained kids, that have actually regressed, both academically and socially. But yet, they look and are older.
And still, no matter what age/grade... no student is perfect in every single subject, across the board. All students, learn and struggle with learning things. All students have strengths or weaknesses academically. And socially. And in conjunction with that, the student hopefully learns coping skills and grows positively, versus always seeing their flaws only.
Even if your daughter was perfect in all subjects, a kiddo may still feel inadequate. For example.
It is very important, for a kid to be taught how to know themselves and to thus feel self-assured. It is a the whole child, not just one piece of them, that enables a child to deal with things in school.

There is no one solid answer to this.
You are her Mom. You have a gut instinct. Your daughter told you her feelings as well.

What does the Teacher, think?

Anyway, these are just my various thoughts.
I have no single answer for you.
Just reflections on it per my own kids and their ages and grades and how they are doing, and as a person who works in a school and sees, kids who were or were not retained.



answers from Indianapolis on

If she is struggling now she may continue to struggle. My birthday was after the age cutoff for Kindergarten but my mother put me in Kindergarten early and I did well but I think I would have done much better if I had waited a year. My daughters birthday is after the cutoff too and her pre-k teacher told me she would do well if she started early. I decided to wait and I'm glad I did. She is a very good student and I think its because I didn't force her to go early.

If you think your daughter will do better to repeat the 1st grade then she should. This is the time to hold her back. You don't want her to get to the higher grades and the teachers decide she needs to be held back. If she wants to be held back then that lets you know that she is not ready to move on. You have to think of what is best for her. Academically will she be better off moving on are staying where she is? Good luck!!!



answers from Cumberland on

I would send her to second grade-she is capable. Keep up with math over the summer and she will be just fine-don't allow a six year old to make the decision-she'll hate you for it later.

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