Repeat 4th grade?

Hey folks I have a very shy, nice, 4th grade son who is very small for his age and on the younger side ( May bday). We are switching to a new school district next year and wondering if it’s a good idea to have him repeat 4th grade. It would not be for academic reasons but more for social and physical confidence. Right now he seems pretty unable to mix in with the rough and tumble boys and seems to want to be on the sidelines during recess. He seems pretty behind socially but is generally on grade level academic. If he were to repeat he’d be older and hopefully a little closer in size and physical abilities. Maybe it would give him some confidence. I’m also thinking it could be detrimental in some way if it makes him feel deficient. We’ve talked to him about it and he’s undecided. Anyone else tried this before?

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RE: Repeat 4th grade? ()

     As both an elementary school teacher and a parent who has a ‘quiet/shy’ child, I would be asking ‘what would change if you gave him an extra year in 4th?’ To me it would really depend on how the child feels about the retention, and how it was framed. However, I lean towards not retaining him because he child’s core personality and interests are not going to change if given an extra year.

RE: Repeat 4th grade? ()

I would visit his new school and ask them for their advice. Sometimes there are class or grade level dynamics that might make one grade or the other a better social fit. We moved abroad and my sons both went “back” a grade — in the long run I don’t think it makes much difference; it’s more important to try to find a fit where he’s happy and comfortable. 

RE: Repeat 4th grade? ()

Our daughter repeated first grade. Her birthday was on the borderline of whether she should advance to kindergarten or do PK for an additional year. She was struggling socially.  Since she had a very wonderful first grade teacher, with whom she would get to spend an extra year, we made the difficult decision to have her repeat the grade. She was angry at me about it, but got over those feelings.

Initially, when we were making the decision, one teacher agreed with me and the other thought our daughter was ready for second grade. But as the year progressed, with our daughter in first grade for a second year, both teachers told me privately that it had been the correct decision.

In your situation, since you are going to a different school, there should be less impact in terms of embarrassment for your boy. He may never be rough and tumble, but if he is better matched to his peers, that must be a good thing.  If he is academically ahead of the curriculum, perhaps you can add some enrichment for him in the areas that he is interested in and has talent.

In retrospect, we don't regret our daughter having repeated a grade.I wish that we had done it at the preschool level, but the social issues did not become evident until later.

RE: Repeat 4th grade? ()

I have a June birthday and I remember being so ready to be done with high school months before I turned 18.If I had been stuck there from age 18 to 19 I probably would have dropped out.My brother was one of the smallest kids in his class but then he had a growth spurt and by high school was 6 feet tall.If he is fine academically I would not do it.

RE: Repeat 4th grade? ()

We had to hold our son back from 1st grade because he was socially behind and had a language delay. When we were deciding, we spoke to the principal of the school who stated that in his experience, those with social delays often have a more difficult time in school and it is much harder to provide support for this.

So our situation was different but I was friendly with a few parents who had to make that decision after 4th (so repeated 4th) and I think the other was at 3rd. One was academically behind, the other socially seemed immature compared to classmates. Both repeated in the same school and so the parents were concerned about this.

However both were very relieved and happy by the decision, not just that year but it was reinforced as the years have continued. Their fears of them being teased or feeling bad did not materialize. For the one I know better and who was academically slower, it was a huge boost to his confidence, he was thrilled to report to his mom that finally he was one of the smart ones. She said she didn't realize how much it had affected him to always struggle and be behind in learning new concepts.

Both seemed to thrive now that they no longer felt stigmatized, including the one who was just socially behind. I saw him 2 years ago when he was in 8th grade and I thought it was the perfect fit as the 9th graders I knew in my kid's class (small private school) had completely different interests and way of being, and he would have really been an outsider if he had stayed in that class level.

Younger kids in a class often have disadvantages which your son is one of the younger ones. If you son is a bit shy and small, he might really gain something from repeating. Remember to consider not just this year, but the future years, jr high is difficult, and high school too. If you are moving schools, it's a perfect time.

RE: Repeat 4th grade? ()

Thanks so much for your replies. It’s a difficult decision but our son seems open to it.