I Have to Meet with My Child’s Teacher about Possible Retention

It is that dreaded time of year again when teachers have to begin making phone calls to set-up meeting with parents. The dreaded part is not the calling or the meeting but what has to be discussed- the child’s progress and possible retention. No parents like the thought of their child being retained. Wait a minute! That statement is probably not true. We did have a kindergarten parent tell us on the day of registration that her son would have to be held back and repeat kindergarten! Lots of faith she had, huh? Anyway back to the point! Retention is not a bad thing. It does not mean that there is something wrong with your child or that you failed as a parent. However, it is usually very upsetting for parents to hear that there is a possibility of their child being retained. As a parent, I can understand this. I would not like the thought of my child “failing” either. I can see where it would even be more upsetting if the teacher has not done her part by keeping the parents informed and letting them know about the child’s struggles.

However, school is more difficult now than ever before. There is no adjustment year as kindergarten once was. Ready or not, teaching and learning are full force beginning with day one in year one. Some children are simply just not developmentally ready to process the information that is given to them. They are not “slow” or “dumb” or “learning disabled”. They are just not ready. They need a year to mature.

Some parents worry about the child’s self-esteem if he/she is retained. The younger the child is, the less noticed the retention is by peers or even by him. I remember one day this week I was on car rider duty and heard two boys talking. They had been in the same room last year. One was repeating kindergarten this year and one moved on to first grade. The first grade student looked at the boy that had been retained and said, “you’re in kindergarten again aint you?” The boy replied by nodding his head yes. The first grade student continued, “Cool! I remember that your birthday was different!” Neither child seemed to have a real concept about what retention really is. Other parents worry that the teacher is not making a good decision in suggesting that their child be retained. Retention is a process (in my district anyway). We have a set of guidelines to follow. We must first discuss weaknesses with the parents. We have a student retention sheet to fill out. We complete a Lights Retention scale to determine if the student is a good candidate for retaining. The teacher must meet with the principal, meet with the parent, and meet with a committee of four people to discuss the child’s academic progress. By the end, retaining a child has been well thought out and discussed by many people.

Therefore, in closing, if you get the call to meet with your child’s teacher about possible retention, remember it is better now than when he falls farther behind in a couple of years, you are not to blame, much thought has been put into it, and it does not mean that something is “wrong” with your child.

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