Last week, I got another letter asking “Why and when should children repeat a year of school?” Here is the letter and my answer for you to read, because I get many similar questions and I am sure many parents will find the answer useful.
Hope you are doing well.
My daughter is 8 years old and will go to year 5 this year. She is quite young for her class and is studying with much older children. She is academically an average child and it is quite stressful to keep her where she is. We work very hard at home. Many a times she has mentioned that she finds Math difficult, but the teacher feels she is ready for the next class.
My daughter has a couple of good friends in the class but finds it difficult to be make new friends. When she does not win in various competitive activities, she gets very disheartened as she feels she really worked hard for it. I can understand it’s not easy to compete with older children. Many times, she finds it difficult to complain the teacher about the girls who trouble her, so in a way I would say she is not mature. On the other hand, she is a confident girl. She does speech and drama, dance and other few activities. We feel she should repeat the year, we have been toying with this since last couple of years but now we feel it is high time.
I am concerned about two things: my daughter is quite tall and since she is in year 4, will she cope well emotionally?
I am quite stressed as the school starts next week and we need to talk to the school management. Please can you advise if this is the right way for her?
When thinking of keeping a child back a year, it is often advised to factor in the child’s emotional state and how they are able to cope with change. It is also most effective for a child who is struggling emotionally and I having a hard time.
From what you are saying, she has challenges, but is not struggling. Even other kids in her class struggle with math. Statistically, about 20% of kids in a class are struggling in each lesson. If she struggled with all other subjects that would indicated a general challenge, but struggling with math is common, and very normal.
If she has challenges with math, that’s not a problem; get someone to teach her math from the beginning. (Sometimes kids miss out on something because they are sick, emotionally occupied or the teacher was unable to explain the problem in a way that made it sink in. Maths is like a pyramid, you have to know the basics in order to keep learning, so an unfinished base makes it hard to keep building)
If she has 2-3 friends, that’s a great sign. It is all she needs anyway. If she is hanging out with kids who are younger, that might be concerning, but if she has some friends in her class (who are older) than age is not an issue.
If she doesn’t know how to “lose” in a competition, that has nothing to do with her young age. Many kids don’t have the emotional stamina to understand that in a competition, even if you work hard, there is always the possibility that someone has worked harder. Sometimes when the competition involves the judges’ personal taste, the judge liked the other kids’ work better, and it’s not their fault. I’m not sure competing against kids who are younger than her would make things easier for her.
This requires work on overcoming competitiveness. She’ll be fine.
My son studied most of his life with kids who were 1-2 years older than he was and we had to work on being competitive in music and sport, and within a short time, this was all sorted.
The post Parenting Sore Losers may give you some ideas to help her in this area.
If there is a need to stay behind, we encourage doing it in between primary, middle school or high school. It is not easy to make child repeat a year in the same school, especially if the school is not cooperating. It’s good to repeat a year at a new school, which means the child gets a new group of kids anyway and the new kids don’t know about any previous struggles.
If your daughter is confident, this usually indicates she is not struggling emotionally due to her young age and that what she needs is some help in math, to work on her social skills and to build more competitiveness.
A child should repeat a year only when we think that time is the answer. From what you are saying, time is not her issue, so it’s not the cure. Your daughter probably doesn’t need to repeat a year. What she needs is some emotional intelligence skills and some help in math, and the sooner, the better.
If you have any more questions and want personal advice, you can book some coaching over the phone or on Skype through my parent coaching page.
Happy school year,