Date : October 21, 2019
Beginning the first year of school is a momentous occasion for every child. It’s a huge step into independence and hopefully, the beginning of a lifelong passion for learning. But sometimes this first year doesn’t go quite as expected and as a parent, it can be very difficult to watch your child struggling to keep up with the challenges. And you may begin to wonder, “Should my child repeat Prep?”
We know that the name for the first year of school varies across states and territories within Australia, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll be referring to the first year of formal primary school education as “Prep.”
Should My Child Repeat Prep?
Watching your child struggle to keep up with their classmates is one of the hardest things to do as a parent. We know that children learn at different paces but sometimes, the gap can appear to be just too wide. When this happens, it’s only natural to wonder whether repeating Prep might be the most suitable avenue to take.
John Hattie, famed Australian education researcher, argues that, empirically, there is little evidence to suggest that grade retention will have a positive impact on the development of your child. It can have the knock-on impact of causing negative educational outcomes associated with schooling (a ‘disengagement’ because the student thinks they’re ‘too stupid’ to learn) as well as a multitude of social-emotional impacts. The self-esteem of the child could suffer as they realise that they are being held back and are now in a class of ‘little kids.’
If Not Repeating, What’s the Answer?
Talk to your child’s teacher and get their perspective, first and foremost. After that, engage the services of a wide range of professionals in the educational sphere. Occupational therapists, speech therapists, tutors – there is a world of help available for you that can assist your child in reaching literacy milestones WITHOUT having to keep them back a year. Repetition or retention does not necessarily mean success.
I Really Think My Child Should Repeat Prep
Obviously, this is a decision that’s very personal and is fraught with difficulties and anxiety. It may very well be causing discord and upset in your home, so it’s important to reach out and get the support you need early on. Voicing your concerns promptly gives your child and their teachers the best chance to access additional support where needed.
Your child’s school with have a vast array of resources and professional touchstones that you can lean on when making this decision. Ultimately, the goal should be to avoid retention if possible IF other strategies and support mechanisms can be put in place.