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Michelle My Bell

WWYD? Son is being held back at local christian school.

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UPDATE POST #195 - A year later

 

What would you do in this situation....

 

 

I am a long time homeschool mom and up until last year, none of my kids ever stepped foot inside a brick and mortar school. I was divorced several years ago and had gone back to school in 2013 while still homeschooling. My youngest was 7 and still not reading after a year of phonics but was a wiz at math. 

 

2014 came and I felt a bit like I wasn't giving him the best so I switched him to an online school that uses Calvert Curriculum. Long story short, he still didn't learn to read. 

 

So last year, 2015, I made the hard decision to enroll him at a local Christian school. He was really behind, still not reading at 9 years old and I was overwhelmed with my own schooling. (nursing school) The school placed him in 3rd grade which was a year behind where he should be but he is small and very good natured so I didn't worry too much. 

 

He had a wonderful year. He finally started reading and went from not reading at all to currently reading at and early 2nd-grade level. The school truly bent over backward to help him. They gave him a private tutor who helped him daily and kept me in the loop throughout the year. Honestly, he went from not reading or writing to writing short stories and writing in cursive. 

 

Here is the problem, while he has improved substantially, he is still below enough that they want him to repeat 3rd grade. I feel awful for him. When I told him about it he nearly burst into tears and said he would "be in 3rd grade for a second time?" and "All his friends would be moving up but not him?" 

 

So I contacted the school and asked if I was able to help him over the summer would they consider letting him advance if he improved enough. Essentially, the principle said he has too much he'd need to gain (2nd & 3rd grade reading abilities) and it was best for him academically to continue in 3rd grade. I feel as if I don't know my next move. I plan to do work with him this summer, but I don't know the best course of action. I would love to see a miracle and have him tested at the end of the summer so he could move up if they would let him. I don't know if I should just let it be and still work with him, but accept he has to repeat the grade. 

 

I am in nursing school and I don't know if I could homeschool him. Is that what you would do? I need all thought thoughts and advice I can get. 

 

So what would you do in this situation? 

Edited by Michelle My Bell

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Thinking out loud:  my first thought is that often kids in general, and especially their reading abilities, do not develop in a linear manner.  I don't think it's possible to say today where he will be at the end of the summer.

 

My second thought is whether there are LDs present and/or vision issues, in spite of the great progress he made this year.  A 4th grader reading at a 2nd grade level would be a red flag for learning issues of one sort or another.  Does this school accept kids with LDs?  What would be the school's approach if he had a learning issue - would they still suggest holding back?  It sounds like they did a great job this year but aren't coming from that sort of perspective.

 

ETA, I'd definitely ask whether they intend to teach him the next math level if they were to hold him back.  I'm guessing not.  IMO it would be a huge shame to deprive him of instruction in his area of strength due to weaknesses in an entirely different area - has a huge affect on self-confidence going forward.  IMO it would be far superior to move him up to 4th and continue to help him with reading.  Perhaps the school feels it doesn't have the resources to do so?  Do they not have any remedial reading groups?

Edited by wapiti
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I would explore options for moving him up to 4th with accommodations and extra tutoring.

 

 

Go in for a meeting, "How would 4th grade look if he were to move up?"  and then for each problem that is brought up, "How can we accommodate for that without disrupting the flow or over-taxing the teacher?"

 

 

The sad truth is that many private schools are not equipped to deal with kids outside of their scope and sequence.  That is how they are able to boast of wildly successful test scores and graduates.  They weed out any outliers before middle school.  And, really, a private school almost has to do that to stay afloat financially.

 

:grouphug:

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The biggest problem with his reading is it is holding him back in all his subjects where reading is required. He simply can't do a lot of the work independently. They did say they thought he had an auditory processing problem but that is not an official diagnosis. They do not have a special education teacher there. The school is a good school. Not so small they can't hire real teachers or anything like that. 

 

They said he would simply repeat the grade. They would not accommodate him for math or anything like that. 

 

 

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I would not let a child be held back a second time under any circumstances. Are we talking about him being 10 at the start of 3rd grade and eventually graduating at 20? That is going to be a disaster later on. Students who are held back are at very high risk of dropping out of school.

 

I would tell the christian school that if we can't work out some sort of accommodations to allow him to move on to 4th grade, then I will have to enroll him in public school instead. If they aren't workable, then I would absolutely go enroll him in public school 4th grade for the fall. Public school may be a better place for him if there are underlying learning disabilities. If there is an auditory processing disorder, then the public school could potentially provide him with an in-class aide or other accomodations. The hard reality is that many private schools are unable or unwilling to make the accommodations that public schools are required to make.

 

I would not allow him to be held back a second time.

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I absolutely would not have him repeat 3rd grade.  It will very likely be devastating for him, both from a social standpoint and a self esteem standpoint.  If that means that he needs to go to public school (where they should have the resources to deal with learning disabilities), that's where I would put him.

 

If he is like my son (who has dyslexia), he will very likely continue to bloom for some time--meaning that you will probably continue to see rapid progress for a few more years.  It is quite possible that by the end of 4th, he will be totally caught up, and by the end of 5th, with continued support, he could be a top student (I'm basing this on your comment about him being a math whiz--this indicates some level of 2E-ness to me).

Edited by EKS
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I would put together a plan to help him with his reading skills this summer and ask if they would be willing to assess him at the end of summer. Also, ask what they would do if he repeats grade 3 but his reading takes off part ways through the next school year - would they be open to moving him up mid-year?

 

As for math, if he is doing well in this subject, is there any way you could use time after school to work through the fourth grade curriculum with him?

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That kind of inflexibility would be a deal breaker for me. Sounds like last year was the extent of the accommodations they could provide, which was great, but I think I'd move on. 

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It sounds like an epic fail for him to repeat that grade in the same school, but OTOH if he can't read, in 4th or at least in 5th grade he will be solidly in the 'read to learn' subject areas, and if he really can't read he will not be able to keep up.

 

My inclination would be to get him a good and fast evaluation for learning disabilities and for vision problems, and a treatment plan for those, and hit it really hard over the summer.  That should be the next thing anyway.  He needs to get past this, and is beyond the age where it's easy to accommodate for not reading.  I don't know about the school.

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He can't do enough work independently?  Then can he do more homework?  He needs someone to be a designated reader?  Audiobooks? That is a solvable problem.

 

 

 

My 13yo is dyslexic, very late reader.  The timeline you posted of your son is similar.  At 13yo, he's volunteering to read aloud at church.  Someone who doesn't know us very well commented on how enthusiastic and expressive he is at reading the Bible passages in front of the group. I was shocked. (I'm like, "Really?"  Did you know he's dyslexic?...No Way!)  He is very much a 13yo boy.  It would be a shame for him to be stuck with 11yo's b/c 3 years ago he read at a 2nd grade level.  kwim.

 

 

This is something I'd politely fight for.

 

And I hope your ps is an OK option.  I know some places are better than others.  And, HSing one kid in your situation would perhaps be a better option than being held back twice.

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I don't see what would be gained by having him repeat 3rd grade.  Sure, he would get more time to practice reading, but that is about it.

 

On the other hand, they are probably right that sending him to 4th would be a problem too.

 

To my mind options would be: significant support (maybe from you) through 4th.  Another school or program that would really move him on appropriatly (and grade designation likely would not matter so much as what they actually did with him.) Homescholling - even if it was nothing but reading practice and math, seems like it would be better than repeating 3rd.  At least he'd go on in math and could do other things on his own time rather than sit in a class and be bored.

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The biggest problem with his reading is it is holding him back in all his subjects where reading is required. 

 

It might not be possible to make this argument, but my thinking would be that there's no such thing as "4th grade level" in science or social studies (the content subjects where you'd expect reading).  It simply doesn't matter if he slogs through barely passing those subject *at this point in time*.  If we were talking 8th grade, I'd think differently.

 

I'd ask whether they have worked with outside tutors who could help throughout the school year.

 

I'd definitely get an annual eye checkup with a COVD and discuss the reading problems with regard to whether a developmental vision eval might be warranted.  I'd also strongly consider an eval for LDs.

 

I'm sorry; it's really hard to argue against the mindset that the school sounds like it's coming from.  What does his report card look like?  If "passing" that would point toward putting him forward.  I'd wonder if the 3rd grade teacher the main driver or is there more to it (e.g. principal had to devote extra resources).  Or is the 4th grade teacher the decider, based on what the 3rd grade teacher is saying.

 

I'd try to table it until the end of the summer.  Depending on his reading status at the end of the summer, if they still won't budge, ultimately the question would be one of fit - repeating 3rd vs what is available at some other school.  What about the PS?

 

ETA, I agree with the PPs!

Edited by wapiti
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I don't have time to read all of the replies, but I agree completely with the ones I did read. No, I Wouldnt hold him back, no, reading and writing are not linear in progression. It is precisely your scenario that makes my heart stop when I think about my 20 yr old son and what his life would have been like in a school system.

 

He was incredibly gifted in math ,but did not read on grade level until the end of 4th/early 5th. By 8th grade, he was advanced across the board. He graduated from high school with advanced college credits in 300 level math and physics courses. He just finished his 2nd yr of college, has maintained a 4.0 GPA, has finished all UG physics courses, and will be taking grad level physics while finishing up his UG coursework.

 

In a schools system, he would never have been allowed to blossom like that bc he didn't develop like the avg kid.

 

I know you cannot homeschool bc you are in school, but can you hire a teenager or someone to work with him after school to help him keep up with the 4th grade reading until his reading catches up. The fact that he progressed so much this yr means he might continue to do so.

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Tbh, it sounds like the school is caught between a rock and a hard place. From what you posted they've been very accommodating up until now, so when they say he doesn't have the skills to handle fourth grade work, I'd probably be inclined to believe them rather than assume they're trying to be difficult for no reason. Of course, that doesn't mean having to repeat the grade and be older than his peers is good for him, either. 

 

You said the school has a private tutor working with him- could you homeschool him and use what would have been tuition money to pay that same tutor to continue working with him so there will be less of a strain on you? It sounds like things have been going well with that tutor so far. Maybe after a year of targeted, one-on-one work he could return to the school with his friends if he wanted to.

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All 3 of my ds's were late readers.  My oldest was in public school.  At the end of his 3rd (maybe 4th?  can't remember) grade year, his teacher told me to work with him at home over the summer on his reading because he was behind and the work increased significantly the next year.  So I did.  I had no idea what to do, so I just read stories with him and listened to him read.  He fought it for a little while, but then calmed down.  And when he began the next grade, the next teacher was very impressed with the progress he had made.

 

And all that is to say that (assuming no LD's, etc.), with your being an experienced hs'er already, I don't see why you couldn't work with him intensely over the summer and even afterschooling him, and catch him up to the other kids quickly.  Just the tiny bit that I did with my oldest ds made a huge difference.  Imagine what you could do, knowing all you do from having taught your dc for years. 

 

And I'm another who thinks it wouldn't be such a great thing to hold him back.  Especially since he's so aware of what that means and has already made friends in his class. 

 

I hope it all works out for him. 

 

Until proven otherwise, I would assume that the OP's son has an LD, but I definitely agree that with aggressive tutoring over the summer, he could continue to make excellent progress.  

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The first thing I would do is set up an evaluation so you can address things over the long term. I think having so much trouble learning to read, plus the school suggesting an auditory processing issue, definitely calls for that. Then you might know if there's a specific problem to address, or if he's just now ready to read. 

 

You probably won't get results in time to help with the coming year, but I'd get the ball rolling.

 

I'm not in love with the idea of hoping he improves enough over the summer for the private school to move him up. That's a lot of uncertainty and stress for him. I would prefer to have a set plan. 

 

Homeschooling while in nursing school would indeed be tough. Is it possible? It might be. It depends a lot on your particular situation - finances, your other kids, local opportunities. 

 

Does he have a good relationship with the 16-yr-old? Would he be able to stay at home with her when you are at classes? I'm not suggesting she homeschool him, but him being able to stay home safely while you are in class would solve one big problem. 

 

Can you take the money you were spending on private school and put it towards having someone work with him a few times a week? Possibly a homeschool mom, a college student, or possibly even a high school student. This could be your own teenager, it just depends. My youngest prefers to work with her sister, actually, and her sister likes tutoring her. I pay her in lattes, lol. 

 

Would he have social outlets? Any active homeschool groups or co-ops in the area, and would he be able to get to them? 

 

Would the 12-yr-old want to stay home also? Would that be a plus or minus? 

 

Next option, public school. Public schools tend to be able to accommodate far more than private schools, and can often offer lots of great services that are difficult to access otherwise. Even if you have pretty craptastic public schools, I think I would put him there in 4th-grade, as opposed to repeating 3rd at the private school. 

 

Choosing the private school puts him another year behind for the long-term. Public school and home school, however problematic, can be one year decisions. Each would give you time to get evaluations rolling, view his progress, and make more of a long-term plan. 

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Since it sounds like a good school, that makes the decision hard.  Otherwise I'd say move him to a different school, and then either have him repeat (at least he would not have the social embarrassment) or (preferably) have him move up and demand accommodations while he catches up.

 

I don't understand why the school principal is insisting that he needs to be at the end of 3rd grade reading level before he moves up to 4th grade.  It is pretty normal to have some kids begin 4th grade at a lower than 3.9 reading level.  It seems they could compromise and let him move up if he is at, say, 3.something, as long as the improvement continues.  I think that given the improvement he's seen over the past 9 months, 3.something may well be attainable; especially since it does not sound like intelligence is the issue.

 

I guess I would ask them to reconsider and take your son's age and social needs into account.  I think it would be very hard to make him repeat 3rd in that school.  I would probably give the principal another chance to change his mind.  Have the tutor and 3rd grade teacher weighed in?

Edited by SKL
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I would not let a child be held back a second time under any circumstances. Are we talking about him being 10 at the start of 3rd grade and eventually graduating at 20? That is going to be a disaster later on. Students who are held back are at very high risk of dropping out of school.

...

I would not allow him to be held back a second time.

 

 

The first thing I would do is set up an evaluation so you can address things over the long term. I think having so much trouble learning to read, plus the school suggesting an auditory processing issue, definitely calls for that. Then you might know if there's a specific problem to address, or if he's just now ready to read. 

...

Choosing the private school puts him another year behind for the long-term. Public school and home school, however problematic, can be one year decisions. Each would give you time to get evaluations rolling, view his progress, and make more of a long-term plan. 

 

I agree with these two statements. As a public high school teacher, I have seen my share of 18yr old sophomores; they know that they shouldn't be there, and the majority dropped out due to the social issues this has caused, no matter how well they were doing in school at the time.

 

Write a letter to your local public school's Special Ed dept requesting an evaluation and deliver it as soon as possible. Meet with the Special Ed coordinator and tell her the whole story, and ask what THEY could do for your son over the summer/next year. Use next year as a learning/evaluating year and then make plans from there. 

 

Good luck to you both!

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Michelle, 

 

Busy here, and haven't read the replies yet.  I am wondering if another possibly public school might be an option.  They would likely want to test him for placement and have more resources if he needs further resources with reading specialists.  

 

I feel for the little guy, and would definitely want to assist him to success in the best option for learning and making progress.  You might (if money isn't a problem) consider a place like S  ulivan Learning for the summer.  They have testing resources and might be able to make his current school and the next grade an option.

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Here is the email I sent the school over the weekend: 

 

 

Hi Mrs. D, (son's tutor)

 

     I wasn't sure which one of you to contact but I thought I'd start with you. I had some time to think over our meeting yesterday and also talked to a few family members, including L (my son), about him being held back. I understand the reasoning behind it and at the point we are at right it makes complete sense. I want L to succeed and I realize his reading is what is really holding him back. I am extremely thankful for all that you and others at Emmanuel have done for L this year. I am so excited to see his progress. 

 

    So yesterday I told L how it has been decided that he should repeat 3rd grade and my very happy boy was instantly distraught. He fought back tears as he said this would be his 2nd time in 3rd grade. I didn't realize he looked at it like that and my heart sank for him. I fear that holding him back may be very detrimental to him and he may just give up all together. So I wanted to ask, if we are able to get him up to a 4th grade reading, spelling, writing level by the end of the summer, would you consider allowing him to advance with his class? His comprehension of the materials are on task otherwise and I would like to have this one last opportunity to help him succeed. 

 

    I believe with God's help this is completely possible. But I need to know if it is something I can tell L is possible if I ask him to push himself this hard. 

 

Thank You, 

Michelle 

 

 

Response from principal: 

 

Michelle,

 

I’m sorry that L was distraught with this news. I am very concerned for his academic future which is why we made the decision to retain him. I do not want him to have the idea that 4th grade is a possibility at this point. I do feel that he should be doing everything possible to improve his skills to be ready for school, but I do not want to mislead him or you. I am relying on data, testing results, and the feedback from both classroom teachers and specialists in order to make this decision. I feel that it is the right decision as did you on Friday. I know that this is hard and that L is upset, but we really need the decision to made on the above mentioned information and not on emotions. I don’t want him to give up, but if we move him without truly being strong in these areas, we will be adding to his problems.

 

I don’t want to sound as if I don’t believe that he can grow or that God can move mountains on his behalf, but I am trying to look long term and give him the best opportunity for success. I do believe that our Christian school is the best place for Lucas to be and this is a big part of being willing to have him repeat the 3rdgrade verses the potential of him not being here. I would be happy to meet with both of you before school starts in the fall to encourage Lucas and let him know how much we are all pulling for him if you would like to do so. I know that this news will still be disappointing, but prayerfully I believe it to be the right thing to do.

 

Blessings,

 

Mr. F

 

 

(AND A REPLY FROM THE TUTOR)

 

Hi Michelle,

I forwarded your message to Mr. F because the ultimate decision from the school, of course, is his.  The team of us met together last week and discussed L’s progress this year and, in much prayer, planned what we felt would ultimately be the best for him.  At our meeting, we shared our love and concern for L and the plan that we thought would benefit him the most.

I just want to add a few comments to the reply that Mr. Farrington sent to you.  As we have mentioned already, L made some great progress this year towards becoming a “readerâ€.  As I reflect on the year, L was enthusiastic about learning and has a curious nature that just seems to want to know more.  During the school day, L was often engaged mentally, asked appropriate questions, often noticed patterns and similarities, not only in words, but in concepts while studying different subjects.  Often times, L almost appeared in awe and even a little overwhelmed  with the newness of everything in school.  Another year of third grade would, in my opinion, help him to become more accustomed to school life and gain a little more maturity.  I really don’t see him getting bored, but rather accustomed to the environment and better able to concentrate on the material to be learned.   I also noticed that L did very little at home to practice the reading skills necessary to make much measurable progress.  We did see a little growth, but as Mrs. H pointed out, the greatest growth seemed to be connected to the onset of doing the FastForWord program.  As I have been tracking his progress through this program, some difficulties have become evident such as the difficulty to follow directions and some difficulty staying on task. 

 

At times, throughout the year, when the demands of learning to read and keeping up with the curriculum have been too challenging, his frustration and stress level rose significantly.  I am concerned that the pressure of trying to increase his reading to 4th grade by the middle of August would be very stressful for, not only L, but the family as well.

I would like to see him read a lot over the summer both independently and with someone.  He should read material at his independent reading level to reinforce what he knows and experience success.  He can read more challenging materials with someone who is a better reader to help him enjoy reading and be exposed to higher levels of reading.

Everything has been presented to L so fast this year that, in my opinion, he needs some time to just reinforce what he knows and let it all “sink inâ€.

Also, L is not alone in repeating third grade—there are some others in his class that will be with him.

I wish we could think of traditional age and grade levels as a general guideline, remembering that every student is different.  We talk a lot about readiness and being ready for different aspects of our life, but, sometimes, we think we have to stick to an age for beginning school and progressing in school.

Just one more comment from observations of others and my own personal experiences as a mom:  Even though L is upset at the time, children get over it fast and don’t feel as hurt as the parents.  Parents often feel much more hurt that the children.  If we can look at it as a positive experience designed to help L get stronger in his reading and study skills, we are doing him a great service.

We’ll be praying for you as you struggle with this decision.  We all want God’s best for him and want to prepare him to be able to serve the Lord in whatever capacity He has in mind.

With love and concern in Christ,

 

 

Mrs. D

 

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It is true that I didn't work a lot with Lucas this past year. I did check his homework each night and made sure he was reading somewhat but I didn't afterschool him or anything. I guess I had a false sense that he was doing well because his grades were good and he was finally learning to read. I was overwhelmed with my own education and I guess I was at the expense of my sons. I put him in school because I knew I didn't have it in me to homeschool him any longer. 

 

I am surprised that so many of you think it would be better to advance him. I was beginning to think I was crazy because of the responses I got from the school. I just feel so concerned for him. Not just educationally, but his age and social pressures. 

 

We live in a good school district but my son has a hand deformity and I was concerned that children would be cruel to him in a public school setting. I love the school he is in, but maybe I should consider trying the public school for one year. You have all given me so much to think about. I am truly grateful!

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You are correct that there is evidence that grade retention for disabilities CAN be INCREDIBLY discouraging to these kids.  Kids with SLDs are more likely to drop out, end up in jail, etc., and grade retention IS part of the problem, whether they admit it or not.  What happens when he's 20 and going WHY am I still in high school???  

 

So here's what I see.  One, does he have an IEP?  Actual diagnoses and evals and a plan for accommodations?  Because he SHOULD have an IEP.  My ds has an IEP, so I've btdt.  It should specify all his accommodations.  What curriculum are they using?  There are ebooks for almost EVERYTHING now.  He's dyslexic, and using ebooks and ereaders would be an appropriate accommodation EVEN IF HE WERE READING ON GRADE LEVEL.  Because he's dyslexic, it's likely his reading speed (RAN/RAS) is very low.  This is something they can quantify with a CTOPP.  You can work on RAN/RAS or have the tutor do drills for it.  Basically though, he needs ebooks and ereaders even if you get his reading level up.

 

Yeah, I get the overwhelmed thing, but it sounds like you need to hire a tutor to come work with him at least an hour a day through the summer.  And he can read an hour a day, done in chunks.  Implement some reward system.

 

I would be concerned about the things they're saying about behavior and maturity.  Again, that's why I'm wondering if he has had full evals.  It sounds like they're saying he has ADHD and social delay.  If he DOES, you need to KNOW, kwim?  Because why have him held back for behavior if it's something you can improve with meds and a summer of Social Thinking materials, kwim?  

 

Do you have insurance coverage to get evals?  Or have you considered going through the ps?  I would not let them retain him, but I WOULD get the right words for what's going on (dyslexia, ADHD, depression, whatever), and do some serious, serious intervention. Is it an option to hire his current tutor for the summer?  Do they have an OT on staff?  What are your options?

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As a teacher, I strongly suggest that you do NOT hold him back, especially this late in the game. You have every reason to be concerned with his social and emotional wellbeing. 

 

 We live in a good school district but my son has a hand deformity and I was concerned that children would be cruel to him in a public school setting.  

I understand your concern, but kids are mean wherever you go.  A private school isn't going to protect him from mean kids. I went to private school and I still have emotional scars from the bullying. 
If he were in my 4th grade class right now, the kids might notice, some might make fun, but the majority would be accepting. They're accepting of the severely disabled, inclusive of the ones that go to SPED, etc. We've had a student with a prosthetic leg and she was one of the most popular. :) 
I know our worst fears tend to take over, but the majority of the students will be friendly and maybe curious, but not cruel. 

Also, I must say that I am shocked that a private school is holding back more than one student. I'd say that speaks directly to their instructional methods than the students' abilities. I'm seriously concerned that more than one student is being held back! That just shouldn't happen except in the most dire of circumstances. They need to reevaluate themselves first. :/ 
**Sorry - that just really bothers me. 

I am leaving the public school system and I want to homeschool my daughter, so please don't think that I'm saying this because I believe that public schools are the best and the only way to go. However, I do think that it would be highly beneficial for your son to go to public school right now. They will have the resources to help your son. He may get a RIP (reading improvement plan) and extra help, or they will decide to refer him for an IEP in Reading. Either way, he would get the help he needs and he would be with his grade level. 
I would talk to whoever enrolls him and discuss the issues you are having, request a meeting with the special services department of the district, and see what measures you need to take to get him help while keeping him in his grade level. 

I hope this all works out for you. Follow your gut. :) 

 

Edited by Southern Ivy
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It sounds like this school was really good for him for a year, but it's time to pivot to the next thing, whatever that may turn out to be.

 

I think you should take him to the local school district for an evaluation. It will be free, and after you get the information, you are not required to enroll him, but you'll have another viewpoint and some data. The lateness in reading, the frustration mentioned in the email, difficulty following directions and staying on task, the uneven development between math and reading, etc. add up to a picture of someone who needs an eval.

 

I would see what I could do to keep him home, I think, unless he really needed services I could not provide. I like other people's suggestions for using some of the money you've been spending on his school to make that happen. Being behind in areas and being advanced in others is a great reason to home educate.

 

ETA: Like Southern Ivy, I am also concerned a small school is holding back multiple kids. I think that could point to a problem with their instruction and/or expectations. That's why it's good to get the input of a third party.

Edited by idnib
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Oh, just to give you some encouragement. :) 

I had a student 2 years ago who was in 4th grade and barely reading on a 1st grade level. One of my top students in math and had incredibly high comprehension and understand IF he was not the one reading it. I honestly don't know how he got to 4th grade without an IEP, but he did and that was a failure on the previous teachers' parts. 
His mom and I pushed hard for a reading/writing IEP. He had a visual processing disorder, so it made reading incredibly hard. He started services (90 minutes a day) in the middle of the school year and he continued services in 5th and 6th grade. He received reading accommodations on his tests. (A teacher would read the passages, the questions, and the answers, so they could see what he knew, not what he could read.) Because of those accommodations, he was able to show his true knowledge. He almost always got As on his tests.  
He has made incredible gains and is finally up to his grade level. He struggles still with reading, but he's not being held back and/or penalized for something he can not help. 

Because of this boy and others I have seen like him, this is why I am suggesting your public school and looking into an evaluation.

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The biggest problem with his reading is it is holding him back in all his subjects where reading is required. He simply can't do a lot of the work independently. They did say they thought he had an auditory processing problem but that is not an official diagnosis. They do not have a special education teacher there. The school is a good school. Not so small they can't hire real teachers or anything like that. 

 

They said he would simply repeat the grade. They would not accommodate him for math or anything like that. 

 

This school sounds like a poor fit for your son. The outcomes for students who are held back are not good, in general, and the fact that the school is unwilling to actually help him and instead just wants to retain him means they don't really have his best interests at heart. I would find a different school for him, were it me.

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After seeing the letters from the school, I would still not hold him back in that school.

 

Based only on the information you have shared, I would not hold him back at all.  He has already been held back a year.  Do the writers of those letters copied above realize this?  Maybe they think he is young because he is small.

 

I am also uncomfortable with the comment that some of his classmates will also be held back.  Sounds like they hold kids back more than they should.

 

Additionally, you say his grades were good.  Why were his grades good if he was failing?  Maybe if they communicated earlier that he was failing, you would have known to get him some help after school.  That would bug me.  (But I don't know whether that is normal procedure for schools nowadays?)  I have a child who has to work very hard to keep up in school, and I do consider "good grades" to be an indicator that she isn't at risk of repeating.  Seems reasonable to me.

 

I think I would pursue the PS or homeschooling and move on with 4th grade.  Maybe he could re-enter his school when his reading is better.  Maybe it could even happen during 4th grade.  We have transfers into my kids' school at all times throughout the year.  Maybe you could encourage him to work harder on his reading so that he could go back and be with his friends sooner rather than later.  Or maybe he will like the PS just fine.

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I suspect whether or not you're willing to consider a child being held back is based on your own age. There was a time when that happened in the earlier years and people weren't nearly as upset about it as they are today.

I'm wondering how exactly a teacher is going to juggle teaching a room full of kids who can read with one who can't and needs extra help.  How does that practically play out during each lesson? What exactly will the child do during each lesson when the other kids are reading and he isn't? What will the teacher be expected to do during the lesson for the kid who's behind and how will that affect the group as a whole.  Let's remember that classrooms are a group setting, not an individual one. 

Before I'm willing to spend emotion and conviction on the topic, I need a good idea of what's actually happening for each person/group involved in this scenario (teaching, student who is behind and the kids who aren't behind.)  Is the teacher teaching each reading dependent subject as an exposure only subject or is mastery required in some or all of them?  If it's mastery, then how will that work for a kid who can't read independently?  Before I go choosing one option over the other, I think a clear understanding is required, and I certainly don't have a clear understanding yet of the move him ahead option. 

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After reading those emails, I would strongly encourage you to enroll him in public school. As a former teacher, I am seeing a lot of red flags there. Most teachers and administrators should be aware of the overwhelmingly negative research on retention even if they are personally in favor of retention in certain situations (which many are). I am honestly very surprised that they would be so blase about holding a student back a second time. A second retention is not a small thing, and it's not a decision to be made based on a student appearing "overwhelmed" or lacking "maturity". I feel even more concerned that they are holding him back in spite of good grades and the considerable progress he made this year. And I'm wondering why they have several 3rd graders that are being held back. That's very unusual for a private school. I understand that they have been very supportive up until now, but something about the tone of the letters and dismissing your concerns as based "on emotions" doesn't sit right with me.

 

If I were you, I would go down to the local public school with his good report card in hand and register him for the 4th grade for the fall. I would also request in writing for him to be evaluated for special ed services. You should date the letter and keep a copy for yourself. Then I would look around for a good tutor for the summer. With the progress he's made this past year, I have no doubt that he can catch up and excel. But I don't think it's going to happen at this private school.

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My kids are in a Lutheran school, and they do pretty well with my challenged daughter.  Not perfect, but they do make efforts to accommodate her up to a point.  She receives tutoring 2x per week and is given extra time to finish tests if she needs it.  She has kids in her class who are much slower learners, including at least one who has reading problems similar to the OP's son.  A small % did not pass the 3rd grade state reading test (though most were accelerated/advanced).  So far I've never seen any child repeat at that school (grades 1-4).  They still manage to have good test scores on average.

 

My kids are in 4th, and I have to say that reading skills for non-core subjects are not really that important yet, especially not at the beginning of 4th.  Apparently non-core subjects aren't given that much importance at this grade level anyway (I had a question about this on the afterschooling board recently).  I mean, some reading skills are necessary, but if one is at the 3rd grade level one would manage to get by in the non-core subjects.

 

Just saying I don't think it's a given that a non-public school is going to retain kids who don't read on grade level.  I think the OP's school's decisions tell on its philosophy.

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After reading those emails, I would strongly encourage you to enroll him in public school. As a former teacher, I am seeing a lot of red flags there. Most teachers and administrators should be aware of the overwhelmingly negative research on retention even if they are personally in favor of retention in certain situations (which many are). I am honestly very surprised that they would be so blase about holding a student back a second time. A second retention is not a small thing, and it's not a decision to be made based on a student appearing "overwhelmed" or lacking "maturity". I feel even more concerned that they are holding him back in spite of good grades and the considerable progress he made this year. And I'm wondering why they have several 3rd graders that are being held back. That's very unusual for a private school. I understand that they have been very supportive up until now, but something about the tone of the letters and dismissing your concerns as based "on emotions" doesn't sit right with me.

 

If I were you, I would go down to the local public school with his good report card in hand and register him for the 4th grade for the fall. I would also request in writing for him to be evaluated for special ed services. You should date the letter and keep a copy for yourself. Then I would look around for a good tutor for the summer. With the progress he's made this past year, I have no doubt that he can catch up and excel. But I don't think it's going to happen at this private school.

:iagree: 

 

The tone of the letters really rubbed me the wrong way, too. 

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While I agree with the school's response that grade levels should just be a guideline and we ought not to get too hung up on them...

 

The problem with their logic on this is that they would be holding him back an ENTIRE grade in EVERY subject.  Not differentiating to meet his specific needs.  

 

And you know what?  There IS an emotional aspect to all of this that needs to be considered.  When I sat my 8 yr old down to discuss the possibility of having him repeat 1st grade this year, he was really upset about it.  That was my mistake...to even bring it up.  At the end, I held him back in certain content areas but promoted him "on paper".  That's what he needed.  

 

It sounds like your sweet boy may need a different approach than what this school is offering.  And I, too...am shocked that a small private school would be holding back more than 1 3rd grade student.  Kers?  1st graders?  Maybe.  But by 3rd grade, the kids that need to be held back have usually have already been held. 

 

Finally...holding a student back for two years, which is what's happening here, is not helpful to an otherwise NT kid.  I'm not sure the PS will be a good fit for your sweet boy...but I'd definitely investigate it.  

 

Or...if you know other homeschooling families in your area, see if anybody might be available to help tutor him.  

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I would not allow him to be held back. That puts him two years--TWO YEARS--behind.

 

Many private schools just don't have the ability to work with children who are too far out of the norm.

 

If we still had one-room schools, this would not be an issue, because he could be 3rd grade reading and 7th grade math and no one would think anything about it. But we don't. :-(

 

Is there *any way at all* that you could homeschool? He's still young enough that the most important things for him to learn are English skills (which would include reading) and math; couldn't you find time to do those?

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The school is normalizing something that isn't and shouldn't be normal -- 20yo high school seniors* -- while making you think they are reasonable and right just because they have been kind.

 

I'm glad they are loving and kind, and that your son has been in a safe place during some tough transitions for your family. That is wonderful. But school is "for" education. If he can't learn there, then he needs to be somewhere else.

 

*They may not think they are encouraging 20yo seniors. But that's what they're doing when they only focus on the now. To their thinking, these are elementary-aged children still in elementary school, so what's the big deal? But they won't be little children forever. And surely the school does not plan to miraculously leap them over grade levels later on, so that they all finish on time...no. This is a real problem that they are not facing, so you must.

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It is true that I didn't work a lot with Lucas this past year. I did check his homework each night and made sure he was reading somewhat but I didn't afterschool him or anything. I guess I had a false sense that he was doing well because his grades were good and he was finally learning to read. I was overwhelmed with my own education and I guess I was at the expense of my sons. I put him in school because I knew I didn't have it in me to homeschool him any longer. 

 

I am surprised that so many of you think it would be better to advance him. I was beginning to think I was crazy because of the responses I got from the school. I just feel so concerned for him. Not just educationally, but his age and social pressures. 

 

We live in a good school district but my son has a hand deformity and I was concerned that children would be cruel to him in a public school setting. I love the school he is in, but maybe I should consider trying the public school for one year. You have all given me so much to think about. I am truly grateful!

 

I think based on the email from the tutor, I have a much better sense of why they thought a repeat of grade 3 might be sensible.  It also sounds like the tutor isn't really thinking about a repeat in content so much as continuing to build skills at that level, which is good.

 

That being said, what I would worry about more than the social aspect is that the content would in fact be repetitive, particularly in  subjects like math where he may already have a strong grasp.  They have said that would be the same - I am wondering how the school manages other subjects like science or social studies - will they follow the same plan as next year, or would it be something different?

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What's unfortunate is that the tone of the emails makes it sound like they don't believe your son has the ability to catch up, and that you don't have the ability to help him.

 

If their goal was to meet him where he is at the moment, with the intention to move him to his proper grade as soon as the ability is there, I would be inclined to give it a try. But it sounds like they aren't interested in such an approach. I think it makes sense to get him evaluated and see how a public school would be able to accommodate him, and go from there. You need more options on the table.

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I wonder though if perhaps the school isn't thinking in terms more of ability groupings, rather than
​grades" as such?  How flexible are they when kids are ahead in tehir work?  It might not be so bad as it seems if we are using traditional thinking about grades.

 

Or - it might be - it's hard to say without knowing more about the school.  They also may not want to lose students for financial reasons.

 

But, I agree with a lot of teh previous posters - it might be worthwhile to look into the public school.

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I understand why so many people idealize sending their kids to smaller, mission driven (faith or otherwise) schools. BUT, these schools tend to be terrible with kids outside the norm (unless that's their mission). Public schools are nearly always a better option for kids with learning issues. End stop. And I think parents don't always want to hear that.

 

I hope you're able to find a solution that's better, Michelle. I'm glad the advice here has been to not have him repeat the grade again.

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I haven't read all the responses but demand testing in writing. They are required to provide it.

 

At least around here, private schools aren't required to do anything like that. They can hold him back or advance him or kick him out or accept him entirely at their prerogative. The only exception would be if it violated federal discrimination laws somehow, such as if they rejected him or held him back based on race or something. Private schools typically have vast powers to do as they wish in terms of student learning.

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:grouphug:

 

I have had students gain as much as 6 grade levels working through my online lessons and 4 grade levels after 10 hours of the things on my how to tutor page. Also, a student who had dyslexia worked through my online lessons 3 times and did my class with the things on the how to tutor page 2 times and gained 3 grade levels over the course of 6 months. The multi-syllable work is very powerful, it can be done!!

 

Megawords and Rewards reading and Marcia Henry's words are other multisyllable resources that can produce several grade levels of improvement.

 

The student watched my lessons during breakfast every day while getting ready for school, making it through them 3 times in this manner.

Edited by ElizabethB
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I understand why so many people idealize sending their kids to smaller, mission driven (faith or otherwise) schools. BUT, these schools tend to be terrible with kids outside the norm (unless that's their mission). Public schools are nearly always a better option for kids with learning issues. End stop. And I think parents don't always want to hear that.

 

I hope you're able to find a solution that's better, Michelle. I'm glad the advice here has been to not have him repeat the grade again.

My mom is a small private school administrator. They do their best to help, but eventually, they just can't reach those students. She and the board are facing the hard fact that they need to essentially remove a little girl because they just don't have the resources to help her. Breaks my mom's heart, but it's just the way it is.

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My mom is a small private school administrator. They do their best to help, but eventually, they just can't reach those students. She and the board are facing the hard fact that they need to essentially remove a little girl because they just don't have the resources to help her. Breaks my mom's heart, but it's just the way it is.

 

Yeah, I worked for many years at a small, mission driven school. We were geared toward kids who were square pegs for the schools so we did work well with kids like the OP's ds. However, every year there was one kid or two that had issues too profound for us to really address. And it was heartbreaking every year to have to struggle through and decide if we should part with that student. Small schools do their best - and they can be life savers for some kids! - but they have their limits. And this one has apparently hit theirs.

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I have had students gain as much as 6 grade levels working through my online lessons and 4 grade levels after 10 hours of the things on my how to tutor page. Also, a student who had dyslexia worked through my online lessons 3 times and did my class with the things on the how to tutor page 2 times and gained 3 grade levels over the course of 6 months. The multi-syllable work is very powerful, it can be done!!

 

Megawords and Rewards reading and Marcia Henry's words are other multisyllable resources that can produce several grade levels of improvement.

 

The student watched my lessons during breakfast every day while getting ready for school, making it through them 3 times in this manner.

I've heard wonderful things about your lessons. :) 

 

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After reading those emails, I would strongly encourage you to enroll him in public school. As a former teacher, I am seeing a lot of red flags there. Most teachers and administrators should be aware of the overwhelmingly negative research on retention even if they are personally in favor of retention in certain situations (which many are). I am honestly very surprised that they would be so blase about holding a student back a second time. A second retention is not a small thing, and it's not a decision to be made based on a student appearing "overwhelmed" or lacking "maturity". I feel even more concerned that they are holding him back in spite of good grades and the considerable progress he made this year. And I'm wondering why they have several 3rd graders that are being held back. That's very unusual for a private school. I understand that they have been very supportive up until now, but something about the tone of the letters and dismissing your concerns as based "on emotions" doesn't sit right with me.

 

If I were you, I would go down to the local public school with his good report card in hand and register him for the 4th grade for the fall. I would also request in writing for him to be evaluated for special ed services. You should date the letter and keep a copy for yourself. Then I would look around for a good tutor for the summer. With the progress he's made this past year, I have no doubt that he can catch up and excel. But I don't think it's going to happen at this private school.

 

:iagree: I would also ask the specialists who worked with him at the private school to give you detailed information--that will make a HUGE difference in being able to get an IEP on the fast track instead of having the public school try RTI first. It sounds like the school did a lot for him with using FastForward and things like that--you might be able to get that on board at the public school as well. They will want teacher information for the IEP, and it will make things easier.

 

If he does have CAPD, you will almost certainly have to do that privately, and I HIGHLY recommend that you get that done (my son has CAPD, and he hears almost NOTHING in background noise, even light noise when we're working 1:1, and it's far worse in a big room or group). Today we were spelling while my older son was scraping something in another room, and my son couldn't hear the differences in his spelling words!!! CAPD is a big deal. It does require accommodation, not just remediation (though some remediation is possible). I would also have a COVD exam as well. 

 

If you get a CAPD diagnosis, just so you know, there are court cases where students have been awarded IEPs on the basis of CAPD being categorized as "Other Health Impairment" vs. an SLD. It's a broader coverage in the IEP than an SLD designation. It might not matter--his IEP may be appropriate regardless, but if they find CAPD but no evidence of a learning disability, they might try to give him a Section 504 plan which is not what he needs. CAPD is often considered an SLD, but they sometimes try to wiggle out of it. He clearly needs intervention, and if he has CAPD, he needs intervention AND accommodation.

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I haven't had time to read all of the responses, I skimmed through a lot of them. I saw some really good suggestions!

 

We did a Calvert online school last year. I have a 5th grade struggling reader and I also didn't see any advancement in his reading level while doing Calvert. While I think it's a good program overall, I don't think it's right for kids that are struggling with anything.

 

We had thought about doing 5th grade again, but doing it homeschool this time. My child that is having trouble reading is my agreeable, go along to get along kid. He readily agreed to staying in 5th grade and it didn't seem to bother him at all. Then I started reading some of the problems with holding kids back. When I asked him what he really wanted, he admitted he wants to do 6th grade. So he'll be doing 6th grade and working a bit harder on his reading skills. I'm not sure how we're going to accomplish it yet, but we'll figure it out (with lots of WTM post reading for me).

 

I also have a son with special needs in public school. A couple years ago, I asked them about holding him back. They strongly advised against it and I'm glad we listened. I would be concerned that your son's private school is so willing to hold multiple kids back in just one grade. How many other kids are being held back in other grades? Is it the kids or the curriculum? Or maybe they need more support for struggling kids? Instead, they want to put it on the kids to repeat a grade and deal with the emotions that come with that. That just doesn't sound right to me, but maybe you know them better...

 

Good luck. I have dealt with too many years of fighting schools to get my son what he needs. Just remember you are his biggest advocate and you truly have his best interests at heart. I always remind myself of that when I'm heading into a school meeting with 10 people on the other side of the table and a husband on my side that agrees with everything I say, so he doesn't feel the need to say anything :)

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What's unfortunate is that the tone of the emails makes it sound like they don't believe your son has the ability to catch up, and that you don't have the ability to help him.

 

 

From the tutor it read as they don't want to put undue pressure on him. I agree with that. I don't think it's healthy to tell a struggling learner that all he has to do is catch up in 3 months time. That's too much pressure to lay on him. 

 

I agree with everyone who has said that it's time to go to public school. PSs have 2 things that private schools do not have- resources and laws. Double retention is a very big deal. One of the laws that applies to special education in public schools has to do with "least restrictive environment." That means that with any child, they accommodate their needs, while also keeping them as in step with their peers as possible. This is the type of accommodation your son needs. An IEP might change his entire school future.

 

I'm sorry. I'm sure you are overwhelmed. Please explore your public school options.

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I would NOT retain him. If the school cannot accomodate him next year and will not let him go into the next grade level with help I would find another place for next year at least. If you get him caught up maybe he could go back in the correct grade level. The research does not support retention. http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/fape_retention.htm I wold only consider retention for a late maturing young for grade child for 1 year. A public school would at least probably be able to accommodate him in 4th grade.

 

I would start looking into testing. Either through the school district or a neuropsychologist. For some kids though that reading level can be made up really fast though especially after doing something like fast foward. I see ElizabethB has chimed in. Her site does have lots of good resources

Edited by MistyMountain
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What would you do in this situation....

 

 

I am a long time homeschool mom and up until last year, none of my kids ever stepped foot inside a brick and mortar school. I was divorced several years ago and had gone back to school in 2013 while still homeschooling. My youngest was 7 and still not reading after a year of phonics but was a wiz at math. 

 

2014 came and I felt a bit like I wasn't giving him the best so I switched him to an online school that uses Calvert Curriculum. Long story short, he still didn't learn to read. 

 

So last year, 2015, I made the hard decision to enroll him at a local Christian school. He was really behind, still not reading at 9 years old and I was overwhelmed with my own schooling. (nursing school) The school placed him in 3rd grade which was a year behind where he should be but he is small and very good natured so I didn't worry too much. 

 

He had a wonderful year. He finally started reading and went from not reading at all to currently reading at and early 2nd-grade level. The school truly bent over backward to help him. They gave him a private tutor who helped him daily and kept me in the loop throughout the year. Honestly, he went from not reading or writing to writing short stories and writing in cursive. 

 

Here is the problem, while he has improved substantially, he is still below enough that they want him to repeat 3rd grade. I feel awful for him. When I told him about it he nearly burst into tears and said he would "be in 3rd grade for a second time?" and "All his friends would be moving up but not him?" 

 

So I contacted the school and asked if I was able to help him over the summer would they consider letting him advance if he improved enough. Essentially, the principle said he has too much he'd need to gain (2nd & 3rd grade reading abilities) and it was best for him academically to continue in 3rd grade. I feel as if I don't know my next move. I plan to do work with him this summer, but I don't know the best course of action. I would love to see a miracle and have him tested at the end of the summer so he could move up if they would let him. I don't know if I should just let it be and still work with him, but accept he has to repeat the grade. 

 

I am in nursing school and I don't know if I could homeschool him. Is that what you would do? I need all thought thoughts and advice I can get. 

 

So what would you do in this situation? 

 

I think that 4th grade often represents a change in how subjects are taught.  This is one of the early stages of needing to read science books or history books for content, sometimes outside of class time.  So being at a lower ability level in reading may make other subjects a challenge too.  I think the school may be looking at the challenge level of 4th grade as a whole and thinking that he's not there yet.

 

On the other hand, it is a delicate matter to deal with the emotional significance of not moving ahead with peers.  At our house, we refer to a repeated grade as "Xth grade, the sequel" rather than as being held back.  It is hard to know what stings more, repeating a grade because the student isn't on level or moving ahead with peers and having below grade skills that cause struggles in the new grade.  

 

I would do a couple things.  First I would work with the school to see what I could do to continue to develop his reading ability over the summer.  If he is going to repeat 3rd grade, then the further along in 3rd grade level reading, the better.  Second, I would start working with them now on how they will continue to work with him in math at the level he is on.  Do they have math groups?  Could he go to another classroom during math?  Can he work on challenge level problems in the same topics his class is doing (so that he's not just repeating the same math work as last year).  Finally, I would help him network over the summer with his new grade classmates.  That will help him be someone that at least a few kids know well, rather than being the kid that was held back.  (He will probably still be that for a while, but it won't last forever.  The more that the new classmates know him as an individual, the less time that label will hang around.)

 

And hugs for both of you.

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