No one wants to repeat a grade, but if this happens to you, you're not the only one. Repeating a grade can be the right thing, though, because you get another chance to complete the work and learn what you need to know to do well when you do move up to the next grade.
Why Some Kids Have to Repeat
Most kids need to repeat a grade because they are having trouble with the work or other stuff they need to do in that grade. Some kids might have learning disabilities. For instance, a kid might have trouble reading. Other kids might have been ill or absent for a long time, so they didn't get a chance to learn everything they needed to learn.
Who decides if you should repeat a grade? It's often a team, including your parents, your teacher, counselor, and principal. Teachers and parents aren't trying to be mean when they decide a kid should repeat a grade. Everyone is trying to do the right thing so that the kid will learn what he or she needs to know before moving on.
You probably know that the stuff you learn is like building blocks. First, you learn your numbers. Then you learn how to add, then subtract. Later, you'll learn how to multiply and divide. If you didn't learn your numbers, how could you do other math?
Sometimes a kid might understand the schoolwork, but is having trouble with other stuff, like behaving in class and sitting still while the teacher is teaching. Sometimes, an extra year gives the kid and his or her family a chance to work through problems like that. If a kid is just refusing to do the work, that problem needs to be solved.
If You Have to Repeat
If you have to repeat a grade, you might be thinking: "Is everyone really moving on without me?" Repeating a grade might make you sad, angry, or both. It can be stressful. You might be upset because you won't be in class with all of your friends.
Try talking with your mom or dad, a teacher, or a school counselor if you're having these feelings. If you are worried about missing your friends, try to set up playdates or other times when you can play together. Ask for a parent's help with this.
You might feel embarrassed or ashamed about repeating a grade. You may think that people are talking about you or making fun of you. These feelings are normal. It can really hurt if someone teases you about repeating a grade.
You might want to think about what you could say to someone who teases you. Maybe you could say, "I needed to get better at some stuff. It's not a big deal." If you are teased, be sure to tell a parent, teacher, or counselor. Find a grownup who can help you figure out what to do.
If Your Friend Has to Repeat
Try to be kind if a friend needs to repeat a grade. Let him or her know you will still be friends. Try to get together after school, on the weekends, and during vacations. Support your friend and never tease him or her. Sticking by him or her in this tough time might make you even better friends.
Can You Avoid Repeating?
Sometimes, there's no way to avoid having to repeat a grade. If you have learning trouble or you missed a lot of school, there may be no way around it. But you might be able to make up work during summer school or with a tutor who comes to your house.
If you're struggling with school, be sure to tell a parent. Work with your teacher and the school counselor to figure out what the problems are and how to solve them. Try to handle problems right away, instead of just hoping things will get better. It's easier to catch up if you get help quickly.
School can be hard work — there's no denying it. But you can learn some strategies to help it go a little better for you. For instance, if you study a little bit each night, that can make it easier — and less scary — than having to learn everything the night before a test.
With school, set a goal for yourself and keep working toward it bit by bit. Ask for help if you need it, and you'll get there!
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: November 2010
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2015 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.