New research making me think deeper about next year

I am crossing my fingers tightly that Mike’s teacher promotes Mike to first grade in May. If not, I have a tough decision about what I should do as a parent.

New research is saying repeating grades is not a good idea. A press release on the research is posted here.

I e-mailed the researcher, Dr. Huang, and he said it was my decision whether Mike should repeat kindergarten and that “Research though, on average, has discussed that repetition by itself may not be the best thing for a child. Usually, if the child repeats, it is more of the ‘same thing’.

I continue to find more research that finds repeating of grades doesn’t guarantee improvement. Here is more research showing that point.

Research does say that children who struggle with reading can benefit from repeating a grade. But Mike does not struggle with reading. He does need to work on reading comprehension and I have been working to improve his comprehension.

I am already in agreement with Mike’s teacher that he should attend the district’s summer reading program, which will work on reading, comprehension, writing and art over about 16 days. I will never turn down any educational services for my children.

Mike’s struggle is math, not reading. In November, Mike’s teacher told me that the reading skills would be the big factor in deciding about promotion and that math is just an  introduction.

That is fine with me. I’ll have three months to catch up Mike where he should have been at the end of kindergarten. Last May, Mike finished preschool with knowing a few letter sounds. It wasn’t the preschool’s fault because he wasn’t ready to absorb the material.

After a month of working with me one-on-one, Mike learned all his letter sounds and could tell me which letter started certain words. When he tested for DIBLES in September, he placed right among his peers for reading skills. I believe I can catch up Mike again over the summer.

So why am I so scared of Mike repeating kindergarten? My second grade teacher recommended me to repeat. I only learned this a few weeks ago because I randomly found my elementary school report records in the attic. My parents disagreed and I was placed in a special program to catch me up while I continued to third grade.

If I had repeated second grade, I believe it would have destroyed me. I faced a lot of bullying in middle school and I can imagine it would have been even worse if I repeated a grade.

Then, the fourth grade teacher for an older brother recommended that he repeat. My father agreed and it destroyed Jack, who finished high school at 19 years old. My widowed mother had to fight Jack to not drop out of high school. Jack attended college and it took him 8 years to finish a 4-year degree.

Jack never did well in school. He most likely has Asperger Syndrome. Instead of looking at what is the real problem in Jack’s academics, his teacher thought teaching him the same material in the same way would solve his academic problems.

So if Mike’s teacher wants Mike to repeat kindergarten, there better be a plan of action. Repeating a grade is not a plan of action.

Mike will receive services in math and a first-grade reading program from day one of the school year or he will not repeat kindergarten. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to this.

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