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Holding a child back- 1st grade

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 
My DD attends a public charter school. Ever since Kindergarten she has been a tad bit behind her peers. Her kindergarten teacher last year suggested holding her back in kindergarten but then the school began a "transitional 1st grade" program that we decided would be a better fit. I was told at this time that she would either go on to "regular 1st grade" the following year OR 2nd grade depending on how she did in the transitional 1st. I had all the confidence in the world that she would go to 2nd grade. Well, it's like deja vu all over again because her teacher this year is saying now that she thinks it would be wise to keep her in 1st grade. I'm so torn. What is making it an even bigger deal, is that her sister (who is only 15 months younger and in kindergarten) is ready to go to 1st grade. I don't want them to be in the same grade.

So, I guess my options according to DD's teacher are-

1. Put DD1 & DD2 into regular first grade so they would be in the same grade forever.

2. To put DD1 into regular 1st grade and move DD2 to "transitional 1st" so they would "technically" be in the same grade but then the following year I would put DD1 in 2nd grade and DD2 in regular 1st. They would only be in the same grade for 1 year.

3. To move DD1 onto 2nd grade and DD2 onto 1st and risk that DD1 might continue to struggle.

My DD's are both on the young side too so the teacher is chalking DD1's problems up to maturity. DD2 is even younger....she made the kindy cut-off by 2 days (turning 5 a month into the kindergarten school year).

Anyone have any experience they'd like to share with holding a child back in 1st or an opinion on what I should do? It's a really hard decision.
post #2 of 58
I'd choose option 2. I think the longer you wait, the harder it will be to have her repeat a grade. And keeping her at a level where she is always struggling will also be negative. I do understand not wanting sisters in the same grade forever, so I like your option 2. It sounds like the perfect solution.
post #3 of 58
So...your plan number 2 has you holding back dd2 just because of dd1? That seems awfully unfair to dd2. Appalling, actually. You stated that dd2 IS ready to go to 1st grade...I can't imagine holding one child back just to ..what? save face for the older child? I do understand wanting to spare the older childs feelings, and we have a sort of similar situation here with our 11 and 12 year olds bi oys..the 11 year old is being moved into the "gifted"class, and the 12 year old is struggling in low-grade-level work..such that by the time they are both in high school in 3 years, the younger one will certainly be taking harder and more advanced classes than the older one.... but i can't imagine saying to the 11 year old "Sorry Johnny, but we have to hold YOU back because big bro is just simply not as smart or quick as you are."

I would do what is best for each child. It sounds like that means putting them both into 1st grade this year, and possibly for the rest of their school careers.
I'm not quite sure what your resistance is to having them in the same grade? Perhaps that would give me some insight into your thinking. Do you just feel it would be detrimental to the older child's self esteem?

What exactly ARE the older childs issues? Are they academic?....social? Is there anything you can do to help her "catch up"?

I must say that I am a little concerned when 5-6 year old kids are "behind"...to me, this is generally a sign that the school system itself that you have chosen is simply NOT the one that that particular child needs. I know nothing about your situation, but is there any way to try a different school for that child? Maybe a private school with smaller class size? A school with a different type of educational philosophy, like Montessori?? A school with a different emphasis,such as an "arts" school or a "science" school, etc? Possibly even homeschool?


Assuming changing the school itself isn't an option, I'd look at either option 1 or 3, depending on what the specific issues are and what exactly it was going to take to overcome those issues...if I believed the extra time would be beneficial, I woudl choose option 1
If I believed some sort of extra help woudl help, I'd probably go with option 3 and get dd1 that extra help, be it tutoring, daily skills practice at home, etc.
post #4 of 58
I am not certain from your post if it is an academic issue or mostly a social-emotional issue. If it is academic she is probably better served by doing regular 1st grade next. If it is mostly social-emotional then research shows that most kids catch up by 3rd grade, but she may need additional support from you to do that.

In regards to DD2 it seems unfair to her to hold her back just to spare her sister. If you are putting DD1 in 1st grade then I would probably put DD2 in transitional 1st and then plan to jump to 2nd and contiue in the same grade as DD1 (always request separate teachers which most schools would recommend anyway).

My brother did 2 years of K which put him and my younger sister only 1 grade apart, but since my sister was very gifted they ended up in a lot of classes together as they got older. But my parents were always good about never comparing them and always emphasized each child's strengths. My brother always struggled a little in school due to fine motor problems and other issues but he became a school council leader and is a successful business man these days.

Good luck in your decision. I know how agonizing it can be. I'm sure you wish you had a crystal ball these days that could see into the future.
post #5 of 58
I would not consider holding back DD2 to save DD1 embarassment. That wouldn't be an option for me.

I would either:
a) Move DD1 onto 2nd grade and take the time to work with her to help her catch up.
b) Keep DD1 back in 1st grade and place DD2 in 1st grade but put them in different schools.
post #6 of 58
I just wanted to share that my aunt held my cousin back in the first grade when his sister was entering 1st after kindergarten.

My aunt was worried about how having his little sister in the same grade would affect him, but they both did fine. He began to catch up, did better socially, and they always had each other.

Its about 15 years later and they both really close AND successful. He is in school for environmental engineering and she has a career.
It was a positive thing for him.
post #7 of 58
My two cents:

- what exactly does "a tad behind" mean? Does it really mean failing a grade?

- I would not hold a child back without first having her evaluated for learning disability issues. If something is found, I'd send her on ahead to second grade along with whatever assistance/intervention/accommodation is necessary.

- If something is not found, I'd consider having her tutored over the summer (kumon, etc.?) so that she does not start second grade still being "a tad behind".

- I would not let the school decision on one child affect the school decision on another child.

- I'd do some reading on retention (e.g. http://www.nasponline.org/about_nasp...aderetent.aspx )

good luck with your decision!
post #8 of 58
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobandjess99 View Post
Do you just feel it would be detrimental to the older child's self esteem?
Well, yes, that and DD2 is just so young anyways I didn't think it would hurt her to hold her back and let her mature as well.


Quote:
What exactly ARE the older childs issues? Are they academic?....social? Is there anything you can do to help her "catch up"?
That's the problem. I don't know. It's hard for me to tell.

She downright refuses to do her homework and puts it off for as long as possible and when she finally does sit down to do it there is tantrums, pencil throwing and stalling. She wants help with every single problem. It takes HOURS to get her homework done. I finally gave up the other day when it was time for bed and told her she could just stay in from recess the next day (their homework is their "ticket" for recess...if they don't do it they stay in and do it on recess) and she did the whole thing in the car on the way to school with NO help from me and held it high in the air yelling, "Haha!! I did my homework!!"

Her teacher seems to think she is lacking maturity and is frustrated. My DH just thinks she is being a brat. I have no idea what the problem is and I'm confused.

Some other things....I have her almost caught up on her reading. I almost have her at 2nd grade level according to the reading program we are using. I think she has 8 books left at 1st grade level.

She normally gets pretty good grades on math and spelling tests but occasionally she gets a low score on a math test and has to re-take it. What is so confusing though is the things she gets wrong on math tests, she knows when we go over them the same day at home!

On her state reading test in the middle of the year she got a 30. (I guess that's 30 words in a minute) The teacher said she needs to get a 60 or higher on the next one (in May) to go to 2nd grade so I am still waiting on that. I think she will do fine.

She still writes a lot of her numbers and letters backwards. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, b, d, are almost always backwards) I am told this is normal.

I have been helping her. I have been in constant contact with her teacher and she has been sending things home for me to do with her.

Quote:
I must say that I am a little concerned when 5-6 year old kids are "behind"...to me, this is generally a sign that the school system itself that you have chosen is simply NOT the one that that particular child needs. I know nothing about your situation, but is there any way to try a different school for that child? Maybe a private school with smaller class size? A school with a different type of educational philosophy, like Montessori?? A school with a different emphasis,such as an "arts" school or a "science" school, etc? Possibly even homeschool?
She is in a public charter school which is supposed to be one of the best schools in the area. I drive 25 minutes each way to have them in this school and there is a huge wait list. They have 20-23 kids in each class. They use a "hands on" approach and do a lot of art and other hands on work. For example, when they learned about life cycles they actually hatched chicks and watched caterpillars turn into butterflies. Pretty cool. So, no, the only other option would probably be the public school in the neighborhood which isn't great. Homeschool would be out of the question. I can't even handle the homework process when she gets home!

Her teacher said she is "so close" to being ready for 2nd but that if I put her in 2nd she would be at the bottom of the barrel and continue to struggle. She said if I wanted to put her into 2nd she would do it but she wouldn't advise it and wouldn't "feel good" about it.
post #9 of 58
She sounds a lot like my dd was in first grade. Long story, but my dd had a problem with how her eyes worked together - eye teaming/tracking - and it was fixed with vision therapy. She's now performing well above grade level in all subject areas. see e.g www.covd.org (and after spending hours with homework in first grade, and us driving each other crazy, now she does the same amount in second grade in a small fraction of the time - without the struggle.) Slow reading and letter reversals may also be a tipoff to look at vision (and in particular, how the eyes are working together, not just 20/20 - a ped opthamologist missed dd's problem on a regular vision exam; see the above website to find the right kind of doc).

From what you wrote, I don't see what "maturity" has to do with the problems, specifically. So, I'd investigate whether there are any learning issues (starting first and foremost with vision, by having an eval with a behavioral optometrist).

just another two cents.
post #10 of 58
it sounds like she needs to be evulated. Things like reversing letters in first grade are still common but if she is always doing it it may be something more same with her tanrums about doing the work ect it sounds like more than just basic maturity.
I would put her where she needs to be and DD 2 where she needs to be.

Deanna
post #11 of 58
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowmom5 View Post
She sounds a lot like my dd was in first grade. Long story, but my dd had a problem with how her eyes worked together - eye teaming/tracking - and it was fixed with vision therapy. She's now performing well above grade level in all subject areas. see e.g www.covd.org (and after spending hours with homework in first grade, and us driving each other crazy, now she does the same amount in second grade in a small fraction of the time - without the struggle.) Slow reading and letter reversals may also be a tipoff to look at vision (and in particular, how the eyes are working together, not just 20/20 - a ped opthamologist missed dd's problem on a regular vision exam; see the above website to find the right kind of doc).

From what you wrote, I don't see what "maturity" has to do with the problems, specifically. So, I'd investigate whether there are any learning issues (starting first and foremost with vision, by having an eval with a behavioral optometrist).

just another two cents.
That's interesting because a few months ago she complained that her "eyes were furry" and she complained of not being able to see the chalk board so I took her to get her vision checked. (I got glasses young so I was actually hoping that was all it was) The eye doctor said she had better than 20/20 vision but within days of that she was still complaining and not only complaining about not being able to see the chalk board across the room but the one within a few feet of her desk. (there is one on each side of the classroom)

I'll check out the link.
post #12 of 58
Since dd2 barely makes the cutoff, I don't really feel it is unfair and detrimental to put her in the transitional 1st grade. It wouldn't be holding back so much as not moving her up as quickly as the OP could. My understanding is that the OP's dd1 is in this transitional first grade now, and her dd2 is in K. So next year, dd1 could either go into traditional first grade or second grade. And next year, her dd2 could either go into transitional first grade or traditional first grade. Kind of like there is an optional year between K and 1st, similar to the optional pre-K class some kids do (that third year of preschool). Do I understand that right, OP?

I do think it would be hard on dd1. They will get asked forever if they are twins, why are they in the same class, etc. If dd2 was old in her grade, I think it would be a little tougher to put her in the transitional 1st grade, but she isn't. She is the youngest in her grade. It would be beneficial for her too to have extra time to mature before moving on.
post #13 of 58
Definitely look into the vision issue. That could make a huge difference.

I think if she is so close to being at grade level, I would enroll her in tutoring over the summer. I used to work at Lindamood-Bell and it was very common for kids to go up several reading levels in one summer (this was with up to 4 hours a day of tutoring). It can be expensive, though.

Some tutoring places also do testing, etc., so they will tell you if there is an issue in one particular area (such as reading fluency).

Is the teacher mostly worried about her reading or just general readiness for academics? Do you think she is behind grade level or behind this particular school's expectations?

I would lean toward putting dd1 in 2nd grade and dd2 in first, though I don't know the whole picture I'm sure. As a teacher, I would not have held anyone back in first grade if they were just a bit behind.
post #14 of 58
I know you don't think it's a big deal to not advance DD2 to where she should be, but really it is. If she's truly ready for 1st, transitional 1st will likely bore her and bored, understimulated children often end up hating school and acting out or simply not performing the way they could.
post #15 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by KMK_Mama View Post
That's interesting because a few months ago she complained that her "eyes were furry" and she complained of not being able to see the chalk board so I took her to get her vision checked. (I got glasses young so I was actually hoping that was all it was) The eye doctor said she had better than 20/20 vision but within days of that she was still complaining and not only complaining about not being able to see the chalk board across the room but the one within a few feet of her desk. (there is one on each side of the classroom)

I'll check out the link.
From what you wrote, it sounds like this could easily be the problem. (My gut said "bingo!" when I read your post but I think we should wait for the eval LOL.) I'd follow up very carefully on this. When you call the optometrist (you can locate one at that link), be sure to specify that she's already had a regular exam showing excellent acuity, but that you'd like an evaluation of how her eyes are working together. It's a different type of evaluation. (at our optometrist, part of the eval involves the vision therapist as well as the optometrist, so it's important to get it scheduled correctly.)

Often kids with this type of issue don't even realize that they aren't seeing correctly - they think the letters look that way to everyone. (in some cases, the letters may even appear to float or move or overlap.) Our optometrist wrote a small book on this issue which included his own personal experience - he struggled but didn't know he wasn't seeing correctly until grad school.

And should it turn out that vision is not the issue, I'd still want to evaluate for other learning issues. Good luck getting to the bottom of this!


p.s. another link for you http://www.visiontherapy.org/
post #16 of 58
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirsten View Post
Since dd2 barely makes the cutoff, I don't really feel it is unfair and detrimental to put her in the transitional 1st grade. It wouldn't be holding back so much as not moving her up as quickly as the OP could. My understanding is that the OP's dd1 is in this transitional first grade now, and her dd2 is in K. So next year, dd1 could either go into traditional first grade or second grade. And next year, her dd2 could either go into transitional first grade or traditional first grade. Kind of like there is an optional year between K and 1st, similar to the optional pre-K class some kids do (that third year of preschool). Do I understand that right, OP?

I do think it would be hard on dd1. They will get asked forever if they are twins, why are they in the same class, etc. If dd2 was old in her grade, I think it would be a little tougher to put her in the transitional 1st grade, but she isn't. She is the youngest in her grade. It would be beneficial for her too to have extra time to mature before moving on.
Yes!! That's EXACTLY right and exactly how my thought process is working right now.

And the whole twin thing WOULD happen. They look SO much alike they already get asked if they are twins.

I don't know ALL the differences between transitional 1st and regular 1st, but so far I only see minor differences. (I have friends with kids in regular 1st) The homework between the 2 is the same. They come from the same work books only the traditional 1st was just a little bit ahead throughout the year and transitional took more time. Traditional 1st had 20 spelling words a week and transitional 1st had 10 and traditional 1st did timed math tests and transitional 1st didn't time them at all.
post #17 of 58
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HipGal View Post
Is the teacher mostly worried about her reading or just general readiness for academics? Do you think she is behind grade level or behind this particular school's expectations?
I *think* she may just be behind for this schools expectations although I'm not completely sure. (4th quarter conferences are coming up, maybe I should ask that) I do know this school is competitive and has great test scores. Also, her kindergarten teacher last year told me that she would be fine to move on if we were in a traditional public school but when I mentioned that to DD2's kindy teacher she said she teaches the same curriculum no matter what school she is at and disagreed.
post #18 of 58
No I wouldn't hold either child back.

Since I don't want to spend forever retyping stuff I've said before, here are links to what I've said in the past.
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...0&postcount=20
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...rgarten&page=2
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...9&postcount=38

Quote:
Originally Posted by KMK_Mama View Post
She still writes a lot of her numbers and letters backwards. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, b, d, are almost always backwards) I am told this is normal.
Actually, it's a classic sign of dyslexia.

If your child was doing absolutely fine, having a single sign of a problem wouldn't be a big deal. Just as one would not dx a child as having aspegeres simply b/c they have a single symtom like late talking, but if one is looking at a child with multiple problems and that child is a late talker, then you don't dismiss the late talking as "normal" simply b/c many typical children are also late talkers.

Your DD is showing many signs of LD. In the evening when she is tired, she struggles with getting homework done, which is easy for her in the morning when she is well rested. If the academic level was above her, then she would still find it too hard in the morning. If she has an LD (probably related to visual processing) then the homework isn't too hard it is simply exhausting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KMK_Mama View Post
That's interesting because a few months ago she complained that her "eyes were furry" and she complained of not being able to see the chalk board so I took her to get her vision checked. (I got glasses young so I was actually hoping that was all it was) The eye doctor said she had better than 20/20 vision but within days of that she was still complaining and not only complaining about not being able to see the chalk board across the room but the one within a few feet of her desk. (there is one on each side of the classroom)

I'll check out the link.

I'm guessing you took here to a regular optometrist attached to an eyeglasses store. They can tell you that her eyes have no trouble seeing, but they can't tell you if her brain is processing what she see efficiently.

In the dyslexic research, there has been a long standing debate over whether dyslexia is a primarialy visual problem having to do with how the brain processes what it see, or a primarialy auditory one, where the brain has trouble processing what it hears. I think it probably varies from individual to individual.
post #19 of 58
Thread Starter 
After much deliberation and discussion, we *kind of* decided to move both children forward (with tutoring for DD1) and I called Kumon and planned on attending an orientation tonight to find out about the program.....Then I got this email from DD1's teacher.

Hi there. I assessed Kya last week. For the first grade section she got five out of 12 parts correct. She did fine on : counting by 5's and 10's, measuring and drawing a line, and the fraction 1/2. She needs more time for mastering: counting by 2's, calendar stuff such as the date, identifying coins, counting coins, patterns, telling time to to the hour and half hour, and the fraction 1/4. These are all concepts covered in the first grade Saxon material, and the calendar info we go over daily.

Now I'm back at square one and don't know what to do. When we go over the above mentioned things at home she seems to do better than that assessment shows. She may get confused, but she usually figures it out. For example, she can count by 2's but only to 14 then she stops (they expect them to get to 20) , when identifying coins she always seems unsure of herself but if I confirm that yes, those are dimes, she can count them fine....etc....she just seems to need reassurance, which she obviously doesn't get during an assessment.
post #20 of 58
I just wanted to chime in that there is a LOT of review in 2nd grade. Saxon especially goes over everything again. I'm surprised she could be having trouble with all of those things if they are doing Saxon. Does the teacher give you back all of her paperwork? Are there things not done? If she is having trouble with something, the teacher has plenty of time to act on it (in my opinion) because Saxon covers most things over and over and over again.

Saxon calendar is done as a whole group every day. Do you think your dd is the kind of kid who soaks in whole class lessons or one who needs instruction directed at her? Does the teacher do any songs for days of the week, etc.?

Counting coins is a pretty specific skill at least. That is something you can work on with her fairly easily and make it fun (playing store, etc.).
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