To Repeat or Not to Repeat? That is the Question.

You guys.  My life has been cray-cray lately.  I’ve been mostly silent on the blog front because in the past 10 days we finished packing and moved and cleaned our old house, moved into our new house and unpacked 6 peoples’ belongings, and paid a lot of money to sell the townhome we own.  All while working and managing 4 small humans.  (But not cooking.  We’ve been surviving on pizza, frozen Costco meals, and donated food).  It’s been nuts, but it’s all good and we are SO excited to be in our forever home.  More on that in a future post.

Anyway, I did want to get a post out tonight because we have an important decision to make soon and y’all have been so insightful before.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know some of the struggles we’ve had making decisions about Smiles’s school.  He just finished 3rd grade and the progress he made this year is seriously amazing.  The kid is great at math- he understands basic fractions, is starting to grasp multiplication and division, and can add and subtract large numbers.  As long as it’s not a word problem (or shapes…he really struggles with shapes) he’s not that far behind most other kids in his class.  Pretty stinking cool considering his background.

Everything else is a different story, though.  He’s reading at about a kindergarten or early 1st grade level- still amazing, but so far behind his peers.  Same thing with writing, science, and social studies.  He’s come so far but still has so much catching up to do.  We don’t view this as a problem- we expect for it to take several years to be truly caught up- but it’s something that we have to think about and consider as we make decisions about his education.

Several months ago I casually mentioned the idea of repeating 3rd grade to Smiles.  I wasn’t at all sure it was a good idea; I just wanted to gauge his reaction.  It was negative, so I dropped it and moved on.

But then a couple weeks ago at bedtime he told me he wanted to do 3rd grade again. I’ve asked his old teachers for feedback but I think they’re already on summer break mode.  I talked to his new principal today and he was super great!  He told me that basically all research says that repeating a grade shows no benefits- but the research is for kids from “normal” backgrounds, not situations like ours.  There really is no research into internationally adopted kids with limited education prior to adoption repeating grades.  He gave me a lot of things to think about and said he will support whatever decision we make.

Summer school starts next week (and the bus comes at 6:56 am.  WHO thought this was a good plan?!)  Ideally we have a good idea what we want to do by then so he can start to get to know his new classmates, but the principal did say if there’s even a chance that we will repeat then we should do summer school with incoming 3rd graders.  That will give his teachers a chance to get to know him and give their opinions for where to place him during the school year- and if they think he’d be fine in 4th,  moving up would be a lot easier socially than moving down.

So, pros for repeating 3rd grade:

  • We moved to a new district so none of the kids will know- if we are ever going to repeat a grade, now is an ideal time.
  • Reinforced concepts from last year can build greater understanding and confidence
  • More time to get caught up; will close gap from peers considerably rather than maintaining or even widening it
  • More time to mature socially
  • Less frustrated from higher expectations and lack of understanding

And cons:

  • He’s a November birthday; already one of the older ones in his grade.  Repeating 3rd grade means he will turn 16 (and drive) shortly after freshman year starts.  He’ll turn 19 shortly after senior year starts and be closing in on 20 by the time he graduates.
  • He’s already more girl crazy than his peers.  If all of his classmates are younger, will he be the inappropriate creepster bad influence?
  • He will get caught up academically eventually.  If he repeats when he’s younger, will he be bored when he’s older?  Should we struggle now in the expectation that it will even out in the future?

Basically, I feel like if we only had to think about the next 2-3 years we would repeat 3rd grade without a second thought.  But this parenting business requires you to think long-term, so while I’m confident repeating would be great for the near future, I’m not at all sure it’s a good long-term decision.  Educator friends, what are your thoughts?

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1 Comment

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One response to “To Repeat or Not to Repeat? That is the Question.

  1. Katie Jones

    Jayme, I’ve been following your blog for quite some time and love it and love watching your family. You all are truly amazing! To give you my 2 cents! 🙂 I have a 16 year old stepdaughter I married her dad when she was 5 when she was in 2nd grade she was having a terrible time at school we had her tested and she was way behind in reading and math. At the beginning of her 3rd grade year we got custody of her and changed schools at that point I felt like she should be held back we spoke with the school and they assured us she would “grow out of it” I said if we are going to hold her back I want to do it at the new school no one will know and it’s perfect timing. I should have stuck to my mother’s intuition and done so because now at 16 we are still paying for that decision. However known of those teachers or principle are here to help or be affected just her dad and I and her. I honestly feel if we would have held her back that one year it would have made all the difference. So if you have any feelings that you should do it. Especially if it involves reading. Reading effects every area of learning. So what if he catches up and is “smarter” than everyone else? Way better than being behind/special ed/ ect…. Just coming from a mom whose been through it! WIshing you all the best!! Katie

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