I just got back from a conference with a teacher. Even though the teacher has had my child in first grade for just a few weeks, the teacher suggested that my child should probably repeat first grade next year. It seems that the teacher feels that my daughter isn't catching on to reading as fast as her classmates. I feel utterly devastated. What can I do to avoid my child being retained, as I understand it is rarely beneficial for a child? -- Very Upset


There is usually a moment of "Oh, I get it now!" when children suddenly understand what reading is all about. This does not occur in the same time frame for all children. Obviously, your daughter is one of the children who is going to need more help in mastering the first steps to becoming a reader.

Go back to this teacher and find out as nearly as possible the exact problems your child is having with beginning reading. Find out how this teacher plans to help the child and if there are any programs at the school for poor beginning readers. It would be very helpful for a reading specialist in the district to investigate specifically where your child is having problems and to suggest how they can be eliminated. Be sure to find out what you can do at home or if a tutor is necessary beyond how the school can help your daughter. The possibility of dyslexia also needs to be on the table.

Remember this: It is the early days now -- far too soon to discuss retention.