Q:

When my son was in kindergarten, the school recommended that he be held back. He's now in second grade and still having problems with his schoolwork. We did tutoring for a while but discontinued it because of the cost.

Because of all his academic problems, my husband and I are now considering having him repeat second grade. Would this be a good idea? -- Retention or Not

A:

Of course, what's past is past. So you must handle the situation as it exists today. If you do not know precisely what is causing your son to have problems with his schoolwork, you must find out from his teacher as soon as possible. In any case, you must discuss with his teacher how your child can be helped by the school. If there is the possibility of a learning disability, he must be tested. Such a disability could be why he is struggling in school.

Summer is rapidly approaching. This should be a period of intensive remediation for your child. Unless he is deeply involved in academics, he will start the next school year with more academic deficits, as children lose quite a bit of what they learned during the school year.

Your child's teacher should be able to tell you about the best summer programs to help your child. Find out if there will be a summer school program in your district that would work for him. Ask also if any of the local colleges have remedial programs, especially in reading and math, that could improve his skills. They are often free. If these are not possibilities, ask the teacher to lay out a program that would upgrade his skills. Perhaps he could redo all the second grade work with a parent, older sibling or neighborhood child in high school.

As far as retention goes, how successful it will be depends greatly on whether the repeated year in second grade will address your son's specific educational problems. Be aware that retention is related to a lot of serious problems later on, from dropping out to behavior problems.

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