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Old 15.04.2011, 12:29
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Experience with repeating a grade at school?

My husband and I have been thinking about putting in a request to have our daughter repeat a grade at school. We had a meeting with her teacher who informed us that it is something that is just not done anymore (only in extreme cases).
She's one of the youngest and tiniest in her class. She's quite shy and always struggles a bit with her school work. We think, by repeating a year, she could gain some confidence in herself. If she had a chance to go over the material again before tackling new stuff, it would help her to believe in herself and she could perhaps find one subject that she really enjoys and is good at.

Her teacher feels it could work the opposite and make her feel like a failure. She says that the schools are working towards integration of all children (weaker, stronger, learning disabled and so on). The idea is to meet each individual child's needs within a class of 28 kids. Seems a bit unrealistic to me.

Does anyone have any experience with repeating a school year?
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Old 15.04.2011, 12:38
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

It certainly has been done on a number of occasions since my son has been in our village school, although, as with jumping up a class, my experience is that it is usually done on the advice of the school and with involvement of the cantonal educational psychology service.

We had involvement from them with our son (a different problem .. jumping up a year) and prior to their involvement, we felt we just got problems from the school, not solutions or even guidance. The educational psychology service got involved, spent time assessing my son (over a number of visits) got reports from numerous sources about him, spoke to us about our concerns etc and then convened a meeting where they gave clear advice and guidance (at the meeting were all his various school teachers and headmaster and head of village school board .. cast of thousands but I was glad as they all needed to hear what was being said).

Has their involvement been suggested? I am sure they could help address your concerns about her confidence at the same time checking if educationally this is what she needs etc.

Basically, at a difficult and confusing time for us, this service was the voice of reason and I was delighted to have got them involved. They were solely on the side of my son - his best advocate - looking at everything and every angle. When we realised how committed they were to getting it right, I would have followed whatever advice they gave. I cannot rate our particular department highly enough.
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Old 15.04.2011, 12:38
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

Not personally, but some our girls' peers have had to repeat a year, and in the vast majority of cases they have benefitted tremendously, both academically and personally. In particular, my eldest's best friend had to reapeat a year of enfantine (not sure about the German equivalent, but the 1 or 2 years preceding primary 1) and she is now in the top tier in secondary school.
I think some kids just need that extra bit of time to mature.
It's maybe a canton to canton difference (we are in Fribourg) and there is no talk of phasing out the policy here.
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Old 15.04.2011, 12:56
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

Her kindergarden teacher felt at the time she could benefit from another year of kindergarden. So we had her tested by the school board's psychologist and she thought we should give her a chance to go into grade 1. Then in grade 1, half way through, her teacher thought there might be a chance she would need to repeat, but a couple months later she said she should continue.
Now she's in grade 3, and although she's below average on all her tests, her teacher thinks she should definately go on to grade 4.

The meeting we had with her teacher was very confusing. She basically showed us proof that our daughter is struggling in just about everything, yet says she should continue on. A few weeks ago my daughter started to complain about stomache aches, headaches and so on every day- so that she even missed school. (I bought her Bachblüten drops which seem to help her psychologically at the moment).

She has some pretty "mature" kids in her class and I feel like she's still very childish (which to me is also pretty normal at just 9). I worry that they'll soon be full into adolescence and then my daughter will be faced with even more problems.
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Old 15.04.2011, 13:07
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

It sounds as if you may find it difficult to convince your daughter's teacher of your concerns without some outside involvement.

Have you asked about getting a second opinion/advice from the board psychologist this time? In view of their previous advice, do you have confidence in this service?

You could always go down a private assessment route (we did this too so I have names I can give you) but in our case, by far the most exhaustive and comprehensive assistance came from the cantonal service. (And their advice flew in the face of what the school was saying, so my initial misgivings about the cantonal service sticking to the school party line were completely off target.)
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Old 15.04.2011, 13:35
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

The teacher said she'd ask the head teacher at the school (the one who is involved in special cases and assists the weaker and stronger pupils), but also stated that this person is against repeating grades. So I can pretty much bet on how much this'll help.

I think we will go back to the board psychologist. It's a good suggestion. I just hesitate a little putting my daughter through all kinds of tests and discussions. I think the more smoothly things go, the more natural a decision about repeating would be. If we start analysing everything, that might make my daughter feel like there's something wrong with her.
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Old 15.04.2011, 13:50
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

In my sons school there are a few kids who have repeated grades. In his class the boy who has done so really seems to be getting a lot out of it & is thriving with his new class mates.
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Old 15.04.2011, 14:16
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

Not sure if you are aware of this, but most Cantons have rules or at least guidelines on the issue of repetition. I believe it was also discussed in the HarmoS initiative, but not sure if included as Cantons were all over the board on this one. Some Cantons, like Vaud, have the highest repetion rate, and as such there is a move to somehow control it more/improve it. As such they are trying to limit it, like one year, or exceptionally 2 years, and I believe there is automatic passing to the next grade in primary school. It could be that Zuerich or whereever you are, the teacher is just applying the rule/guidelines.
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Old 15.04.2011, 17:11
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

I think you should really try to push to have her repeat this year. Don't forget that when she hits 13 (?) they will start streaming and she will be most likely not be able to get into the university tract. You should really push this and tell them if she doesn't repeat now, she'll be in greater difficulty later.

Also, it will do wonders for her self esteem to be at the head of the class instead of always at the bottom.

Good luck.
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Old 15.04.2011, 18:58
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

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Her kindergarden teacher felt at the time she could benefit from another year of kindergarden. So we had her tested by the school board's psychologist and she thought we should give her a chance to go into grade 1. Then in grade 1, half way through, her teacher thought there might be a chance she would need to repeat, but a couple months later she said she should continue.
Now she's in grade 3, and although she's below average on all her tests, her teacher thinks she should definately go on to grade 4.
It sounds like she should have done the extra year of kindergarten rather than stay in Grade 1. The decision is not just the teacher's, you should involve those at a higher level who can determine what is the best course of action. If you feel strongly, push for her to repeat the year. What does your daughter want to do? I know a Grade 3 child who repeated a year and it did her a world of good. The parents were embarrassed but years from now all will be forgotten.
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Old 15.04.2011, 19:12
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

I think that it's better to do it when children are young, rather than wait until they are older. I'm tired of hearing that it will harm the confidence of the child. Children have a much easier time adjusting to almost anything than teenagers/adults. I watch my nephew walk up to other kids and ask them if they want to be his friend...just like that! So if they try to tell you it will be an adjustment, push back! If your daughter is struggling now, it will (most likely) only compound itself if she is forced to struggle along with the other students. I don't understand why people look at this as failure and always in a negative light. Congrats to you for thinking about your child in a long term manner. Too many parents think their kids will just pull through and show their brilliance later in life.
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Old 15.04.2011, 19:34
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Re: Experience with repeating a grade at school?

Two questions:
What are your daughter's thoughts on the subject?
Does she play with children in her school year group, or seek out those in the class below?
If she wants to stay back and if she is socially happier with the younger children, then consider pushing for it.

But if she is actually playing with children in her class, then be guided by the teacher. By year 3, if your child is academically lagging behind, then giving her extra help at home ( and through school if they are resourced to do so) will be all that is needed to catch up . Can the teacher tell you specific concepts where your child is behind? ( should be able to) Use these as your starting point.

ALso, be reflective, to be sure that your own desire to protect your child, is not actually affecting her integration at school. Best wishes in the decision making.
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