I have a 9 yr old son in 3rd grade. His birthdate falls on the borderline of our school district so we had to make the decision to hold him back an extra year or not. Well, we didn't hold him back & feel like he's paying for it ever since. We have seen him struggle with his school work since 1st grade and it seems to be getting worse each year. We help him daily with his homework, tutored him and he has sometimes been put in special academic classes at school (math & reading) to catch up to grade level. His grades are too high to be placed in special ed. but his grades are borderline. On a social level, he likes to play with kindergarteners, 2nd & 1st graders instead of 3rd graders.(He does have younger brothers). I have signed him up for extracurricualer activities with kids in his class but he only seems to bond with the younger kids. Intellectually, he is not as mature as the 3rd graders & I think he feels intimidated by them. So, now we are in 3rd grade struggling! Teacher suggested a tutor for math & reading again. She also mentioned that he needs to work on his social skills because he isn't trying to make friends with the other kids in his class but he knows how to press their buttons with unkind words. I have tried to help him by involving him in activities. I am also a frequent volunteer at school & he seems unmotivated in the classroom. He now wants to withdraw from his extra activities and just play video games all day. He is starting to become a little overweight too because all he wants to do is eat when he gets home. I need to do something! Should I continue to let him go on to 4th grade and work on his social skills & academics like we have in the past & continue to involve him in other things or should I put him back in 3rd grade at a different school? I would really appreciate some help & advice! Thanks.
Your son certainly is struggling, both academically and in the social/emotional domain. One factor to consider is the increase in work load and academic complexity in fourth grade. It is a jump in terms of the curriculum, and most children see the difference. You mention that special education resources had been considered, and I wonder if this issue might be revisited. Your description of your son's functioning is very typical of children who display learning disability. While he may not require placement in a substantially separate classroom, he might require a reource room for a couple of periods each day. It would also be worthwhile to arrange an evaluation with a pediatric mental health professional to obtain some guidance re: your son's emotional functioning. All in all, your idea about repeating third grade does sound like it bears consideration.
Thanks for your response. There are so many factors that go into a decision to leave a child behind but I will try to talk with him & see what he wants to do & how he feels about both choices & we will go from there. Just wondering if allowing him to play with children younger than him is hurting his social skills? Thanks.
If, in the social and emotional domains, he is 'younger' than his chronological age, playing with the younger children may actually be more appropriate for him. On the other hand, playing with same-age peers will call on him to 'raech' a bit socially, and this can be helpful. It's a question of how much of a gap exists between his chronologicval age and his social/emotional age. If the gap isn't big, playing with the same-age peers is better. If the gap is 'big', playing with the younger kids is sensible. This begs the question, of course, "How big is big?" A gap more than 9 months or a year at this age can be considered significant.
We faced the exact same issues, except we were in 2nd grade, and my daughter was extremely social---had a great circle of friends. She was just so far behind, and was almost a full year younger than the rest of her class. We were told the whole, "she's a girl, she'll mature faster" malarkey, and we should've held her back sooner. It was the greatest decision we ever made, and my daughter would even tell you that. Now, she's the top of her class instead of hanging on by a thread. And, think of it this way. When they graduate from High School, doesn't 18 going on 19 sound better than 17 going on 18? A little maturity can work wonders. Good luck, and I'll answer any questions that I can.
It was a tough decision, many many tears, and sleepless nights (for me!!!), but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It took about 3 days and she had built a whole new circle of friends. Now all her classmates think she's cool, b/c she knows ALL the "older" kids.
I am a teacher and a couple of years ago the father of one of my students was faced with a similar situation. The boy (4th grader) was labled "special ed" in another state (I teach in Texas). According to the father they had some bad experiences with this and made the decision after moving to Texas to keep him in the regular classroom. I worked with the boy all year and tried on several occasions to get the father to give special ed. another chance. After working all year the boy seemed to be improving. The father and step-mother talked with the boy and came to the decision as a family to have him repeat the fourth grade. I would suggest talking with your son. Tell him what will be expected of him in fourth grade. Ask him how he feels. Tell him how you feel about the situation. Does he feel like he can handle the new work that will be expected of him? Explain to him why you feel he should repeat the third grade. The boy in this case didn't seem to be bothered by having to repeat the fourth grade he saw it as something that would help him. Also, has your son been tested for learning disabilites? If not check with his teacher. I know many parents do not want their child labled as learning disabled, but sometimes we have to do what needs to be done to help our children be successful, I know I would not think twice about it. The teachers in special ed classes are trained to help students who are having learning problems. The classes are small group and there is alot of one on one instruction. (Here in Tx the students are only in special ed for math, lang. arts or both) In some cases a student can work hard and get to a point where he or she can successfully achieve in the regular classroom without going into the special ed classroom.(I've seen it happen). Another suggestion - get a private tutor to help him.
I hope this helps - good luck.
Thanks for your responses! It seems that most people who have experienced this situation had succes in leaving their child behind. Since I posted this question I have come to find out that their have also been some bullying issues that he has been struggling with & not telling me about. He is the youngest in his grade & not very tall & kids have made comments like " you belong in 2nd grade" or "why are you so slow" or "stupid" for being pulled out of class for math help, etc.. I really believe that my son does not have learning disability but that the constant "teasing" is putting so much pressure on him that he isn't comfortable & it's hurting him academically. He is not concentrating in the classroom but one on one he knows all the work. He really has low self esteem because of this & luckily I know exactly what I need to do to build up that self esteem again! BUT.. the big issue is do I have him repeat 3rd grade because of it. We need to get through this year & I have found a tutor for him & continue to encourage him to do his best but I have a feeling that repeating the grade in a new school will give him a new start & free from all the labels placed on him. It can't be any worse than it is now. I agree that I should have him tested for a learning disability as well because it couldn't hurt & at least I would get a better idea of where we stand. Again, thanks for your comments!
I am going through the same sort of thing but my daughter is 9 and age wise so is alot of the children in her class. She is struggling w/comprehension difficulties in Math and Reading. She has had some of these problems in 1st and 2nd and was in the resource classes......but in 3rd was not put in a resource class. I do not know why and have a feeling it is due to the teacher she has this year. Not to bad mouth teachers, because she has had some great ones, but this one has not been so encouraging and pretty much feels it is my daughter who is not trying. I believe mentally she has been really hard also. There has been some issues that basically I feel have touched my daughter in ways that has made her work fail. Nevertheless, I have worked hard w/her and also had a tutor (recently she doesn't have this tutor due to expense.) She was put in a math resource class recently and I wonder why sooo late in the year! But I guess this might help some. I spoke to the guidance counselor and the school district we are in does not test for learning disabilities......they use the MAP Testing to put them into groups (w/differnt levels) and go from there. Since her birthday is in November, I am hesitant to hold her back.........she is passing, but not really good. Hmmmm, what to do!! Good Luck.
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