Being Held Back in Second Grade

Being held back in second grade, or being held back in any grade for that matter, can be either a tremendous benefit to a child, or it can be a disaster. Making the decision to hold a child back should be approached cautiously and the decision should not be made lightly. You need to consider all of the available information, and to know what the specific benefits and risks of either holding the child back or allowing them to progress will be.

On the one hand, being held back in second grade can set an unfortunate precedent for the child. Being held back may make the child feel as though they just aren’t as smart, deep down, as their peers. They may feel like a failure, or that they will never be able to master the material in second grade. Having said that, most teachers are very conscious of this potential problem, and will work with the student as well as with the family to make it so that being held back in second grade doesn’t have to impact them so forcefully.

On the other hand, being held back in second grade can sometimes be exactly what a child needs academically. It could be that the child started school early, or that the child is pretty close to keeping up with the rest of the class, but just can’t seem to get there. It could be that the child is, socially, not quite ready for the third grade. In these cases, being held back in second grade gives the child the opportunity to catch up in whatever area it is that she was deficient it, whether it is socially or academics.

It is important that, when you are considering holding your child back in second grade, that you thoroughly discuss the question with everyone involved, including the child. The child’s teacher, the school special education worker or social worker or psychologist may have some input, as well. Ultimately, however, whether or not your child is going to be held back in second grade will, largely, be up to you.

  • FlunkingWasNoFun

    I can’t speak for any of the parents, as you know your child better than anyone. But one thing I would caution, if your child has low self-esteem already, please think long and hard before you decide to hold your child back. I was held back in 1st grade, and it was a pretty devastating experience. Almost on par with loosing a parent. Just imagine that everyone at your job got a promotion except you. Then at the yearly company parties, they rub it in your face and made fun of you because you didn’t get promoted. Or maybe they simply kept asking why you didn’t get promoted, and you had to come up with an excuse that wouldn’t further erode your self-esteem by bring to light your inadequacies when trying to answer them. Then, multiply that times 12 years. That’s what being held back felt like during grades 1-12. Seeing all my friends move forward, while I stayed behind had a lasting affect on me. It made me feel like I was never smart enough to keep up with my peers. I remember sometimes dreaming that I was in the 2nd grade with them, and being so happy that I caught up, only to rudely awake and realize that I was still in first grade while they all moved on to 2nd. Then it was on to second grade for me, while everyone else moved on to third, so on and so forth…always lagging behind,…always one step behind.

    I always had extreme anxiety and stress growing up as a kid, especially when we would visit or have parties or get-togethers with my parents friends and their kids. I always remember having to explain or defend myself or make up lame excuses as to why I was held back, just to save face in front of family friends and other kids that would ask or make fun of me. I always resented how other parents would brag about their kid’s accomplishments in school, while my parents had nothing to brag about. Sometimes I would feel that I let my parents down, I let myself down. I just remembered being a stressed-out little kid growing up, always fighting to defend myself from the barbs of being called or perceived as stupid, dumb or slow, but it usually never worked. Basically, everybody new me as the dumb kid who flunked first grade. I got over most of it; but I’m not gonna lie, it wasn’t easy. To this day, I still do occasionally struggle with self esteem and self confidence issues.

    I’m not saying all children will go through what I went through if they are held back, but just be careful and make sure your child has a healthy self-esteem before you do decide to hold them back. When councilors or teachers say “your child is only 5, they’ll forget and get over it. They’re too young to know what’s going on.” Do not believe them. I’m 40 years old. I knew and understood what being held back meant when I was 5, I’m still not 100% over it, and I remember it as if it happened yesterday.

    Please, as a parent, if you take away anything from this post, do everything in your power to boost your childs self esteem at an early age. Because self-confidence is much harder to build when you’re older. If I had a choice between raising a child to be over-confident and cocky vs one who had no self esteem, I would choose the former. A cocky child can always pick themselves up when they fall and with time, they will be humbled. A child who falls with no self esteem may not be able to pick themselves back up. Promoting self-esteem, and self confidence in your child is the greatest gift you can ever give them as a parent. The gift of loving yourself. Please be very careful and talk to them before you do decide to hold them back.
    -Mo


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