Should My First-Grader Be Held Back for Reading Challenges?
By Allison Gardenswartz, Consulting Educator
My son finished first grade. For the better part of the year he has been assessed as a slow reader and the school wanted to have him repeat first grade. He does fine with all other subjects and the social aspects, but reading gives him trouble.
We don't feel he needs to be held back; partly because of self esteem, partly because it is not the whole curriculum he is struggling with. We read to him, have him read to us and have him spell words at random.
My question is, can children catch up or is it better to hold them back a grade?
First grade is typically a hard year to be held back due to social concerns. If your son seems to fit in socially and to do well academically in other areas, I would recommend doing some supplemental tutoring with him to help improve his fluency and comfort with reading. This could be done at home working with you or elsewhere with a private tutor. Your school and new teacher could be good resources in seeking out some extra help.
Children can certainly "catch up." It is quite common for slow and late-developing readers to become avid readers as they get older. Reading is developmental and thus can really click for some a little later.
With that said, reading is the foundation for all learning so it is essential that you support your son and enable him frequent opportunities to read to and with you so that he can perfect his skills. Why not ask the school if he can go on to second grade with the understanding that you will get him additional support, which you can evaluate at progress-report time with the new teacher in a face-to-face conference? This will allow you the opportunity to know at the start of the year how he is progressing and to have a full understanding of the new teacher's expectations.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.