Pros and Cons of Holding a Child Back in School

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Oh dear: the question that no teacher, advisor, or parent would want to have to answer: should your child be held back in school?

Perhaps they have exhibited very disruptive behavior and distracted their teacher and classmates. Maybe their grades are super low, and they will not be able to pass the class at the expected level. Or they missed too many classes to earn their participation credit. The question is asked: this child will have to be held back from school.

In this article, we will find out precisely what are the positive—as well as negative–repercussions of a child being held back in school.

Does Holding a Child Back in School Help?Does Holding a Child Back in School Help?

To “hold a child back” runs a spectrum from having the child repeat a single grade or class to having to repeat their entire grade from scratch. There are several cases in which holding a child back in school may help their future development. However, determining when and when not to do with is generally a case-by-case situation.

The first case would be that the student has a consistent case of exhibiting odd or disruptive behavior. They could be fooling around in class far too much, distracting the other students. The teacher may be unable to teach the lesson because of them properly. Typically, before this scenario escalates into “holding a child back,” the school would take matters into their own hands by placing the child in detention. When a school holds a child back for their behavior, their behavior has reached a critical point in which they would delay the progress and learning of other students. In this case, this is a problem that is best handled at home.

Another prominent case involves when the student is failing in their grades; their academic performance is very much below the expectations of their teachers and faculty. While this behavior isn’t disruptive to the class, it may be evidence that the child isn’t performing well. This case may also be related to the lack of attendance. While a student’s grade level is based on their age, a school generally has many measures to ensure that students at least get the necessary amount of learning and good grades, such as summer or Sunday school. Be warned that schools can and will hold a child back if they believe that the child has not reached the level of learning expected of them.

If the situation with a child has escalated to where the school believes that the ideal plan is to hold the child back and make them repeat their grade, then, as the parent of the child, there is very little you can do to prevent it this from happening. But your child being held back isn’t all bad. There are, in fact, quite a few positives that we will soon discuss.

What are Good Reasons to Hold a Child Back?

What are Good Reasons to Hold a Child Back?

For a child, being held back is not a death sentence. It is often necessary for some kids’ development. Their school curriculum may be delayed, but for many, being held back is a legitimate means for many children to perform better at school and excel in their tasks.

We will first list all the good reasons and positive benefits of holding a child back in school.

More Time to Understand the Material

The child’s struggle with positive results could be due to several reasons: they could have been struggling with the material. The child may have been failing their grades, for one. Or perhaps they missed too many classes, including critical quizzes and exams. Generally, for the school to step in, this would have to be widespread and repetitive behavior—a student doesn’t get held back just for getting one F in their Math class; some schools force the student to repeat the grade if they get too many Fs.

If the child is held back, they get another chance to do all of their work. While time-consuming, seeing as it may take up to an entire year, that is more time to address where they got things wrong and how they can improve and learn more.

More Time to Curb Bad Behavior

Punishment is not the most optimal way to get a child to address their behavior as wrong. However, holding a child back may get the faculty to get the child to understand that their behavior has consequences and will not be tolerated if they want to continue in school.

Their behavior might also stick out among a class of younger students or if they have to deal with the same teachers as before.

Less Pressure on Learning Harder Material

If the child has a whole extra year to learn their material, it will get a little easy. They can check back on the material they already understood and completed and thus be able to take on the material they didn’t. They have more opportunities to sort their own time and study regimen out so that they may perform better on classwork, homework, and exams. The child will likely not receive any extra credit, though some schools may give students the material of their intended grade on top of the classes they are retaking. In general, they are in a better place to excel if their previous problem was that they could not handle so many new and unfamiliar things.

What are the Negative Effects of Holding a Child Back?

What are the Negative Effects of Holding a Child Back?

Of course, there are also detrimental effects to holding a child back. The first, most apparent drawback is that the child’s overall academic curriculum will be delayed. They will not move forward with their fellow peers and have to remain in the same grade for an entire year. But there are additional, perhaps understated, consequences to holding a child back, something every parent and guidance counselor should consider before going through with it.

Holding a Child Back Delays Their Development

For students who are falling behind in their grades, being held back is not a punishment but a chance for them to reengage themselves in schoolwork properly. When a child is held back, they will have to repeat their grade and repeat the same material, likely from the beginning. However, suppose a student is held back for reasons other than their academic performance. In that case, repeating the grade may be a distraction and delay their development instead of getting them properly on track.

In rare cases, a student can excel well despite being held back when they move onto their proper class. In other cas­­es, a school may supply them with material from their appropriate grade and keep them in the previous grade. However, if a school is willing to do this, they would likely instead make the child go to summer school and relearn the last grade’s material there while moving them forward.

Holding a Child Back Will Leave Them Far Away from Their Peers

As the child remains in the same class, their peers and classmates will move on to the next. It will be harder to communicate with each other and have things to talk about if they work on different material in different grades. Some children are cruel and will even mock the child who was held back for their perceived failure.

The child who was held back may feel conscious about their status and may perform worse. They may find trouble making new friends or keeping the old ones when they have entirely different problems to deal with, not to mention the age difference. This issue becomes worse if the age and academic gap between them and their peers is significant.

No Guarantee of Improvement

On top of the mentioned negative consequences of holding a child back, the ultimate negative is that it is no guarantee that they will improve their grades or avoid the same problems. In fact, in many cases, it might exacerbate them. They might start to act out or neglect schoolwork entirely. Children who have significant issues in their academic progress may instead need dedicated tutoring or be placed in a suitable environment.

If a student is held back for bad behavior, then continued behavior in this fashion may have the student closer to being removed from the school entirely. Some schools employ a three-or-more strike rule for such an occasion. In any case, this is not necessarily the most positive reason to have a child held back…

Now that we have highlighted the good and the bad in holding a child back, you may be curious about when you should start doing so. Doing it too early or too late may have drastic consequences for your child.

When Should I Hold My Child Back in School?

When Should I Hold My Child Back in School?

As the parent, you have some agency or responsibility for holding your child back—in some cases, it may even be your decision. In which case, you should hold your child back as late as possible, preferably when they begin high school, where being in the same class as your peers are less critical, and the child is expected to move around the campus or hang out around in halls and such. Children are also tasked with more responsibility for their performance and behavior.

As for when you should hold your child back, this depends on the circumstances of their perceived academic “failure” and whether it is warranted. Your best option is to let the school faculty decide what to do with the child regarding the interests of the teachers and classmates. If your child has behavioral problems, it may be best to remove them as soon as possible and perhaps have them placed differently.

If your child is repeatedly and significantly falling behind in their academics, then it is recommended to have them held back after their present grade. It would give you and the child enough time to address the child’s issues and why they are falling behind and provide them with time to improve their grades with time. If they are still behind, then that is when you hold them back or perhaps pursue other means to enhance your child’s academic behavior.

Holding your child back is not something you can do without a good enough reason. You are doing this for your child’s sake, so you have to be extremely careful when, why, and how you hold your child back in school. While there are benefits to holding your child back, there are also some adverse effects.

Wrapping Things Up: Pros and Cons of Holding a Child Back in School

Play your cards right. There are benefits and penalties for holding a child back at school. However, you can know when to hold a child back and how to make that minor setback into a significant victory when they grow up! For every reason you can be improving their academic prowess and allowing them to succeed in the future, you are delaying their developmental process.

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.

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