Negative Effects of Holding a Child Back in School

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


Are you a parent wondering whether holding back your child in school is the best decision? If yes, this article is for you. Holding back a child in a grade for an additional year is a popular practice. If your child is underperforming academically, you may receive an email from their school recommending grade retention. However, is that the best solution? Are their other options available to help the child? We’ll dedicate this article to answering all these questions and more. However, before we get started, let’s talk about what holding back a child in school is all about.

What Happens If You Get Held Back in School?What Happens If You Get Held Back in School?

Otherwise known as grade retention, being held back in school is a practice that has grown in popularity over time. Simply put, it’s a practice of holding students back in a grade. When a student fails to complete the standards required to move to the next grade, they are typically held back by the school as a way to give them another opportunity to learn and complete the academic work for that grade. However, it’s also important to note that there may be situations where students will be held back for other reasons apart from their academic performance. For instance, schools may hold students back if they miss so many classes within a semester due to illnesses, unexpected emergencies, or other reasons.

Irrespective of the reason for the decision, students would be asked to repeat a grade if held back. Usually, they’ll join the next set of students to repeat the said grade. It’s generally believed that students can use this time to catch up on everything they’ll need to move to the next grade. However, there are cases where schools will offer alternatives to grade retention. Some schools offer Saturday school or launch detention hours as an opportunity for students to make up missed class time. We’ve also seen cases where schools require students to attend summer schools to come up to speed with grade requirements.

What are the Benefits of Holding a Child Back?

What are the Benefits of Holding a Child Back?

Are you curious to know whether or not you should allow your child to repeat a grade? A detailed comparison of the pros and cons of holding a child back in school can help you make the right decision. That said, here are some of the benefits of grade retention that you’re probably not aware of.

Allows your kid more time for emotional maturity 

Sometimes, students’ failure is not because they are not putting in enough work. It can also be because they lack the emotional maturity to handle schoolwork. At such times, they’ll need to have more time to develop self-regulation and emotional processing skills before going into the next class.

It gives the student an advantage

Although the practice is often considered controversial, some parents request grade retention, hoping that their kids will be stronger, smarter, and faster than their new classmates. Recent studies show that kids are likely to outperform their peers if they are held back in their early school years. However, bear in mind that they’ll get back to leveled performance with their peers as they grow older.

It doesn’t mean they won’t graduate from school

It’s important to point out that repeating a grade doesn’t mean that a kid won’t graduate from school. If handled correctly, students will still maintain the enthusiasm needed to graduate successfully and pursue higher education.

What are the Negative Effects of Holding a Child Back?

What are the Negative Effects of Holding a Child Back?

While there are so many positive effects of grade retention, there are also adverse effects. Here are some of the reasons why students should not be held back in school.

Social stigma

This is especially related to students being held back for exhibiting unwanted behaviors in class. Studies show that retaining students increases the stigma attached to undesirable behavior.

Increased tendency to give up

Often, the unsuccessful struggle to learn academic material will put students in a difficult mental position. In essence, telling such students to repeat the same grade where they’ll have to struggle with the same material can discourage them from continuing school. Therefore, teachers, parents, and the school authorities must come together to find the best ways to help students understand that repeating a class doesn’t necessarily make them failures.

Decreased confidence 

Nobody wants to remember their academic failure. There’s no worse way to remind kids of their failure than putting them in the same class every day with their juniors. This can have a long-term effect on their confidence if not managed well.

5 Factors to Consider If Grade Retention is Good for Your Child

5 Factors to Consider If Grade Retention is Good for Your Child

Now that we’ve talked so much about grade retention, you’re probably considering the options available for you. Grade retention is a significant decision, and whether you’re a parent or teacher, you want to be sure it’s the right thing for the kid before choosing it. Here are factors to consider before making the decision.

Academic Performance

More often than not, the main reason why schools retain kids is because of their inability to measure up academically. While many may consider this reason fair, it’s essential to look at the child’s academic performance from a broader perspective. Ask questions where necessary. If it helps, make independent investigations to know possible reasons why the child is not doing well. Take note of efforts that have been made to help the struggling child. If the child would spend another year, would there be a different approach to assisting them in performing better? The answer to these questions can help you decide what your child needs.

Social/Emotional Needs

Before agreeing to grade retention, ask yourself whether the kid truly needs it. How will the child feel knowing that they can’t move to the next grade with their mates? Will the decision provide better motivation or cause embarrassment and further withdrawal from academics. Also, examine the effect of the retention on the kids’ friendships and support. This way, you can tell how well a kid can take grade retention. Remember that this is a significant decision for you and them. Consider the psychological effects of grade retention on them both now and in the long run. If they need to see a counselor for it, by all means, get them one.

Potential Alternatives

Keep in mind that retaining older students can put them at risk of dropping out. Therefore, it’s vital for all stakeholders involved to discuss everything. Talk about potential services or interventions that can be incorporated into the student’s program to alleviate their concerns. Fortunately, many alternatives are available today, including summer schooling, community service, etc. So, you can constantly tailor these alternatives to a child’s need to see which one matches the situation.

Consider the Child’s Age 

It’s not a big deal to repeat kindergarten, preschool, or first grade. Students can shake off any negative impact and move on at this age. However, if you ignore the problem and a repeat becomes inevitable 3 to 4 years down the line, it becomes a challenging experience for the child. So, if you are considering holding a child back in school, age is an essential factor to look at. You can also talk to your child’s teacher to know whether repeating a grade will benefit or hurt your child.

The Teacher’s Genuine Assessment

If you’re unsure about the impact of grade repetition on your child, you should have a respectful conversation about the issue with their teacher. However, bear in mind that the teacher should have a more significant say. Remember, they are trained educators, and as such, they are more qualified to assess a child’s growth and abilities objectively. You may not like their choice, but you have to accept it and trust their ability to make the right decisions.

Wrapping Things Up: Negative Effects of Holding a Child Back in School

Otherwise known as grade retention, holding a child back in school is a big decision that requires detailed thoughts. Yes, there are many reasons to hold back a child in school, but you should never rush the decision. Think about how it’ll affect the child. An excellent way to determine whether it’s the right option for your kid is to compare the pros and cons of grade retention. Fortunately, there are other alternatives you can try if you don’t want grade retention.

Bear in mind, however, that the decision to retain a child in a grade should be made by the children’s teacher, their parents/guardian, and the school authority. We’ve discussed different pros and cons of grade retention in this article. We hope that you can leverage all the information in this article to decide whether your child needs retention or not. If your child has to repeat a grade for any reason, don’t feel bad. Pick the positives and move on for the better.

You’ll love our other middle school study tips. Check them out below:

> Can You Get Held Back in 8th Grade?

> Can You Get Held Back in 7th Grade?

> Can You Get Held Back in 6th Grade?

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

A Guide to Effective Study Group Strategies

A Guide to Effective Study Group Strategies

Perhaps you have exams coming up and you’re considering studying with your friends but aren’t sure how to kick things off. Crafting the ultimate study group involves making sure that the time you spend together...

Read More