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Parent/Teacher Conference Time…They Say My Child Needs to be Retained!

Parent/Teacher Conference Time…They Say My Child Needs to be Retained!

It’s Parent/Teacher Conference time. You are aware that your child is having some difficulties in school—with handwriting, or reading, or listening, or staying on task. The teacher mentions that you might want to consider the possibility of retention. (You automatically get a bad feeling. Retention just sounds bad, doesn’t it?

The thought of retention seems to bring on a flurry of negative thoughts from parents. Does that mean my child failed? Does that mean I failed? What will this do to my child’s self-image? Will he be emotionally scarred? What will his friends think? What will my parents think? What will the neighbors think? Where did we go wrong?

My first challenge to you would be to stop the negative thoughts swirling in your head. Remain calm. And listen. Retention is not always a negative thing (as in the context of the ability to remember things). Retention is not a punishment for failure. But it might be the pathway needed for success. Sometimes children just need a little extra time to develop to their full potential.

I think that most educators would agree that the early elementary years are the best time to be proactive if your child is showing signs of a struggle. You see, this decision is not just going to affect one year of your child’s life, but could have long lasting benefits or repercussions.

Let me point out a few benefits that are long-term rather than just immediate. You can give your children the opportunity to be a leader rather than a follower. You can give them the chance to succeed rather than struggle. Oftentimes the confidence that a child gains in a year of repeating a grade can be life changing, giving them a whole new outlook.

There are, believe it or not, social benefits to retention. The student is given an extra year of maturity before facing the challenges that come with age—such as driving (and having friends who drive), dating, and going away to college. These may be hard to even consider at the tender age of five or six, but those babes will grow up all too fast. Consider giving them every opportunity to be as well-equipped as possible to meet the future.

A cool benefit, that often isn’t realized, is that it not only will give them extra time to develop academically, but also in the sports realm. It can give them an extra year of eligibility for a team, offering the opportunity for greater success.

Should you find yourself in the situation of having to make this decision, I encourage you to talk to others who have faced retention with their own children. I honestly have never heard of a parent that regretted it.

Most importantly, seek the guidance of the One who knows your child best, the One who created him. Prayer will bring you the answer and the peace you seek. You can be assured that God knows and wants what is best for your child.

Do you need to give your child the gift of a year?

By: Kristi M. Butler

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