Making correct call for future
It's important to fit the classroom with the child
THE decision to hold a child back a year in school is not an easy decision to make, for the parents or the particular child.
I know this from personal experience because one of my children repeated a year in primary school.
In my experience, the decision did very little to address the learning issues.
With the benefit of hindsight, there was little benefit to holding our child back a year.
Research shows that it is often a decision made in the early years of schooling although some parents do opt to hold their child back in high school.
While repeating a year appears to be the simplest solution on the surface, experience shows that this isn’t always the best approach.
It can often lead to other worrying issues such as social isolation.
More often than not, the issues associated with a child struggling to keep pace with learning are very complex.
They cannot be solved by giving them an extra year doing the same thing over again.
Learning issues need to be carefully unpacked.
Is it a comprehension issue, is the material too challenging for the child?
Or is it because the teacher has not been able to connect to the child on a relationship level?
It takes time and effort to identify the diverse needs of each and every child in the classroom.
We know that early intervention is often the best strategy to address learning issues.
When these are in place, the gap between the individual child and the class can often be closed without taking the child away from their social groups at school, which are so important at a young age.
Admittedly, there may be other reasons that influence a parent’s decision to hold their child back.
This could be a parent making a decision based on social maturity or behavioural issues.
Again the evidence is not strong on the benefits of holding a child back a year at school, and some studies show it can make the issues worse.
The take home message to parents is that intervention becomes even more powerful when it involves the student, their parents and teachers.
This creates opportunities to maximise the educational outcomes and to ensure that the appropriate resources are in place at home and school.
To paraphrase the old adage – it really does take a community to raise a child in the right fashion.
I know this from personal experience because one of my children repeated a year in primary school. Greg Whitby