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Retention Question

May 7, 2018
By Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts - Dear Teacher , OVParent

DEAR?TEACHER: The school wants to keep my son in third grade again next school year. They say he is not working on grade level in reading, math, science or social studies. Do you think that this is a good idea? - Looking for an Answer

Answer: If retention is truly going to be successful, it definitely needs to be done in the lower elementary grades. Whatever problems your son has, retention is not likely to solve them. Many years of research have shown retention to be ineffective in helping children improve the skills that caused them to be retained in the first place. Most children do not "catch up." Furthermore, although some retained students do better at first, these children often fall behind in later grades. In addition, retention after fifth grade is rarely successful. Plus, it is usually very traumatic for older children.

There are still six to eight weeks left of this school year - enough time for you and the teacher to devise a plan that will start working on improving your son's skills. Testing might be advisable to make sure that his academic problems are not a learning disability and should find out exactly where his problems lie.

The teacher needs to immediately pinpoint exactly what skills the child lacks in each subject area and tell you what help the school can provide. You will also definitely need to work with him, get a tutor or enroll him in a learning center now.

Fortunately, there is an entire summer to bring up his many weak skills. Summer school, a tutor, a college learning center for reading and math help are all good choices to help him.

Frequently, multiple skill weaknesses are connected to reading problems. You should start reading aloud nightly with your son to bolster his confidence in his ability to read. Also go online to the Dear Teacher website (DearTeacher. com) and find ways to improve his reading in our Skill Builders section. By starting to work now and throughout the summer with your son, he should be better prepared to handle the challenges of fourth grade and avoid being retained.

Question: We play a lot of board games in our family. Are they possibly teaching our kids anything? - For Learning

Answer: They may not all be educational in nature, but they certainly are teaching your children. They are practicing taking turns, playing by the rules, problem solving and handling frustration when they lose. These are extremely important skills for young children to acquire, and, as a matter of fact, for children at all levels to have.

Some games obviously teach skills. For example, the Memory Game can increase young children's attention span and memory. Then there are games that employ problem-solving skills such as Chinese Checkers and Yahtzee. And Clue helps children learn to use information to solve problems. And there is nothing like Chutes and Ladders to help children deal with frustration and failure.



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