Should My Child Repeat 1st Grade?

Dear Sara,

My son is seven years old now and big for his age. He completed first grade last year and his teacher recommended that he repeat first grade. I really think that this would be hard for him socially. He is going to be bigger than any child in his class. Should I go on and let him go into second grade and try to coach him at home or let him go through first grade again?

Dear Karen,

Even though your son is ahead of the other kids physically, he may be immature mentally. He could need some extra time to catch up or he could be struggling through school for a long time. However, a child’s social needs are just as important as his educational needs. It’s really difficult for a child to be the “odd man out.”

You know your own child best. Is he capable of sticking to extra work at home or is he lazy and easy going and doesn’t really care if he does well in school or not? If you think he would be capable of keeping up with some extra work then let him go on to second grade but if you see him as immature, he could be better off in first grade again.


  1. Boys always are less mature emotionally. Why does the teacher want him to take 1st grade again? Perhaps he could go to summer school and catch up? It doesn’t say if he’s struggling with school work, or if there’s another reason. I think it would be hard on him socially, too. Don’t forget about the bullies who could make it rough on him if he’s held back!

    • If he’s struggling in school due to the schoolwork, it will be difficult for him to ‘catch up’ if he’s not ready for the next grade (I know this firsthand!). I totally disagree about the ‘social’ aspect as he likely isn’t the only one in this position (unless it’s a very small school). He’s going to feel MORE frustrated if he continues on but is behind in his schoolwork. This is a true struggle – feeling inferior or worse (he could consider himself ‘dumb’ when he can’t keep up). That one year staying behind could make a huge difference in preparing him for the following years – and his own self-confidence.

  2. My question is why did the teacher think he needs to repeat first grade? Can she pinpoint where the breakdown occurred? Somehow, repeating what did not work is rarely helpful. I would opt for professional assessments about learning styles, strengths and weaknesses and provide him with a qualitatively different classroom environment. Just my thoughts.

  3. I think if your child is weak in certain subjects
    getting extra help in those areas they are not
    as proficient as they should be is what needs
    to be evaluated before holding a child back
    and making them repeat a grade again. Getting
    some extra help in those areas may be what’s
    needed. Usually kids who get left back don’t
    get to graduate with their peers. School is
    for not only academics but having friends
    as well and moving on to the next grade together.
    Not every child excels at everything nor do they
    Excel at the same pace.

  4. Toni Stimmel says:

    Since he completed the 1st grade you should have a real face-to-face meeting with his teacher to find out exactly why he/she is recommending the repetition of the 1st grade. The teacher should have strong reasons for that recommendation and should be able to tell you some things he/she has observed in his interactions with other children that you may not have noticed. If your son is a straight D student that would justify that repetition unless your son has some learning disability.

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