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Helping children cope with grade repetition



EDUCATION is said to be an organised mechanism through which society develops its human resources by equipping them with desirable knowledge, skills, attitudes and values which will enable them operate effectively the social institutions of a given country or nation.


When a child’s performance is below the school standard for promotion to the next grade, grade retention may be considered. Although, most educational and psychological research confirms that grade retention is rarely a positive intervention, there are some children that will still do better if they are retained. For these pupils and students, retention is both necessary and beneficial.


But these days, the way and manner in which most parents take this message of retention, without first getting all the facts as to why their children are retained will make one believe that grade retention is an automatic academic death sentence.


For this reason, most schools nationwide, in order not to lose the patronage of parents, resort to ‘automatic promotion’ which is the practice of allowing pupils and students progress from one class to the next irrespective of their academic performances. Schools are now afraid to tell parents that their children might be repeating classes.


On Monday, I went to a school in Awka North Local Government Area on official assignment. There, I met the mother of my little friend, Chimamanda. After exchanging pleasantries, I inquired to know what actually brought her there. She said, “I am looking for a school for my second daughter and I came to know if this school will admit her.


I inquired further to know why her daughter might need a change of school, and her response shocked me down to my marrows. She said: “Her previous school said she did not do well and they insist she must repeat primary 4”.


I probed further to know if she had been to the school to know why they want her child to repeat the same class and  she said: “I don’t need to go there. All I want is for my child to be moving. My child is not the only one that is not intelligent.


After all, there are other children that are worse than my child, yet they are promoted to another class. There are many millionaires who are not even as intelligent as my daughter, yet they made it in life. The end will justify the means”. I exclaimed, what a world! So, this is why one rarely hears these days that a child is repeating a class.


On why pupils and students repeat class and the best way to help them cope with the situation, Mrs Ikwueme Felicia, a primary school teacher said, “there are many reasons that a teacher might feel that retention is necessary for a particular child.  T


he biggest reason is typically the development level of a child. Children start school at around the same chronological age, but with varying developmental levels.  If a teacher has a reason to believe that a child is behind developmentally, compared to the majority of pupils or students in his or her class, then the teacher may suggest retaining the child to give him or her grace of time to mature and catch up.


Teachers may also choose to retain a child because he or she is simply struggling academically when compared to other children at the same grade level.  But then, while struggling academically might be a traditional reason for retention, it is necessary to note that unless that teacher, perhaps with the help of the child’s parents figure out why the child is struggling,

it is likely that the retention will do more harm than good. School management tends to be very knowledgeable and experienced in decisions about retention, and do not lightly make the recommendation to hold a stu­dent back.

Some students do benefit from retention, particularly those who al­ready have strong self-esteem and are emotionally healthy but are still having difficulty keeping up academically with their classmates.

Some school management ar­gue that if children are continually moved ahead without acquiring the basic academic skills they need, they will not develop the literacy or problem-solving abilities required in today’s job market.

This can be counterproductive to the children’s education. Most times, teachers find out early enough that a child is not doing well, but when they send for their parents, most of them will not come, and will be forming too busy until it is too late.

A teacher cannot do everything for your child. So whenever this issue of a child repeating a class crops up, parents should accept it and try to explain it to their children. Parents are also expected to work with the teachers to make sure that every support that is needed to make that repetition a worthwhile venture is given to the child.

A child might need extra mural lessons to catch up; some might need motivations and encouragement. Parents should work hand-in-hand with the teacher to make sure that the child gets all the needed support”.

Again, Mrs Ozoemena Patricia, a secondary school teacher said: “These days, students no longer repeat classes but are promoted on trial with the claim that they will improve if given a chance and this includes the poorly performed ones.

But we all know that most times, students that were promoted on probation do not improve in the new classes because the basic knowledge they were supposed to get from their previous class is still missing and yet to be grasped. One will not expect the school to take the promoted children back to their old classes when they find out that they are not doing well, so, ironically, their cases will be different.

But then, schools are not to be blamed for these automatic promotions because parents most often than not, will always insist that their children be promoted because they don’t want them to develop complex issues which have a way of taking its toll on them in adulthood.

They claim that the children will not be able to stand seeing their classmates in senior classes, while they have been made to repeat. In the case of female children, the parents will tell the teachers that age matters a lot especially in today’s world where everyone is interested in being on the fast lane.

Most times, you will see mothers even coming with letters that were addressed to the principal of the school from influential people in the society, pleading that the child should be allowed to move to the next class.

Most times, you hear parents blaming their children’s academic failures on the schools and I wonder if they don’t look at the report sheets of their children,if they don’t see their performances and should know whether  their children have done well or not, and whether they are deserving of promotions or not.

“But if a child is repeating a class, teachers are supposed to give that child extra care and all the needed support. They should not allow other children mock them. In all, teachers should try as much as possible to see that every lapses that made him/or her repeat that class is corrected”.

However, Mr Polycarp Iwuchukwu said, “being held back a year is a dramatic step in the life of a child or teen. Repeating a class does not have to be a repeat of what has already happened.

There are several things to consider changing for the repeat school year to help that child have a successful year that will bring him or her back on course, rather than just doing more of the same thing they have already gone through.The most important thing is that the parent-teacher communication line should be well maintained.

Parents should work with the teachers, monitor the child’s successes closely and report back to the teachers. Again, a different teacher for the repeated grade year will give that child a fresh start and a clean slate with someone new. This will help break up any bad pattern from the previous year and provide the child with further growth.

Above all, parents should make sure that they provide every school material that the child might need at school, work on his or her diet and keep everything clean. Parents should at least do their own part and leave the rest for God”.

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