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Repeating Second Grade
Q: My seven-year-old daughter isn't doing that well in second grade. She's the youngest in her class, but is well-developed socially and emotionally. Her teacher feels she's apprehensive about answering questions when called upon, and she just told me that my daughter's reading is not at grade level. Our school is very competitive and the teacher recommends my daughter repeats the second grade. The speech and language specialist says my daughter is very smart, just young. I believe my daughter will be okay with whatever decision I make, but will repeating a grade be good for her?
A: I would suggest that you get an independent evaluation of your daughter's reading skills before you make a decision to retain her in the second grade or advance her to the third grade. I am surprised that it's taken her teacher this long to suggest that her reading problems make her a candidate for grade retention; this possibility should be discussed relatively early in the school year. Hearing from the speech and language specialist that she's "very smart, just young" does not constitute a resounding recommendation for retaining your daughter. The pressures in your school system to maintain its high academic ranking may have some influence upon your daughter's teacher to retain her.
I have to be very convinced in a case like this that retention is the best way to educate a child, especially where you mention that she is developmentally healthy at every important level, except for reading. Having her evaluated by someone not connected with the school system will make the evaluation a completely independent one. Individual tutoring for her reading competency, both during the summer and during third grade, should be a strong consideration. Keep me posted if you'd like.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.