THE BLOG

To Hold Them Back Or Not To Hold Them Back?

Tips for parents who're thinking about getting their children to repeat a year at school.

21/11/2017 04:58 SAST
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Imagine that you are observing, from the side of a swimming pool, and watching children learning to swim. You notice the variety of abilities, confidence levels and fears that they display in the water.

Some children seem to grasp these new skills with ease, while others seem to struggle and need a bit of extra assistance and encouragement along the way. With a swimming gala looming, the decision has to be made as to who is competent enough to compete at the next level, and who may need extra practice in mastering the skills that are needed.

In a scenario such as this one, any child who has not sufficiently mastered the skills at this level will most certainly become more fearful, less confident and progress slower if they were forced on to a more challenging level. They may even risk drowning in the process.

Forcing a child who's not ready into the next grade could have a significantly negative impact on the child's self-esteem. Worse, it could slow the learning process or even stop it altogether.

While learning to swim is not quite the same as learning to read, write and progress academically, the principle of learning any new skill is the same. It is best to sufficiently master each level of study before progressing to the next.

Sadly, for generations, repeating a school grade has been classified as a failure. Scores of parents and learners have struggled to embrace the idea that repeating a grade will ensure mastery of skills needed for the next level.

Forcing a child who's not ready into the next grade could have a significantly negative impact on the child's self-esteem. Worse, it could slow the learning process or even stop it altogether as the child's struggles become more pronounced with the pressures of the new grade.

There is no denying that the decision to hold back a learner is an emotionally tough one. Take your time, and do what you feel is best for your child.

Wondering whether to hold your child back or not? Read these 5 points of consideration first:

  1. Repeating a grade is not a failure. It's an opportunity for a learner to better master the skills they need. If you speak of failure, your child will feel like they have, indeed, failed. Your approach to your child repeating the grade will determine their reaction to and acceptance of it.
  2. Discuss all available options with your child's teachers before making a final decision. Have an open mind -- remember that this is what's best for your child. Discuss your concerns openly and honestly.
  3. Consider your child's current level of competency. If your child is really struggling now, they are most likely going to struggle even more so in the next grade.
  4. Consider your child's age and physical development. If your child was born late in the year, they might be a lot smaller and their development lagging behind that of their peers who were born earlier in the same year. Holding back a child who's already physically quite big for their age might give way to embarrassment. Take all these factors into consideration. Always remember that you need to decide what's best for your child.
  5. Make a list of all the pros and cons. Ask yourself: What's best for my child? What are the long-term benefits or drawbacks? What would happen if I do/do not hold them back?

There's no denying that the decision to hold back a learner is an emotionally tough one. Take your time, and do what you feel is best for your child.

Remember, how you react to the situation will set the tone for how your child responds to it.