Repeating a Grade: Pros and Cons

By Amanda Morin

Expert reviewed by Ginny Osewalt

Has the idea of your child repeating a grade come up with the school? There are a number of things to consider when you talk about retention (or “staying behind”). Take a look at these pros and cons.

Pros of repeating a grade Cons of repeating a grade

Kids who’ve missed a lot of school due to illness, emotional trauma or a move may benefit from repeating a grade.

A child who’s just been absent often is already at higher risk for dropping out of school. Repeating a grade increases the risk.

Kids who are much younger than grade-level peers and who have a history of struggling academically can benefit from repeating a grade. It can be a better fit emotionally and age-wise.

Kids who are already the oldest in their grade will be almost two years older than the rest of the class.

For kids who are developmentally immature (either physically or emotionally), repeating a grade may reduce the stress of trying to “keep up.”

For kids who are physically large for their age, repeating a grade can make them stand out more.

Kids who are far enough behind that it’s unlikely they’ll catch up in the next grade may benefit. However, they’ll still need supports in place to help them master skills.

Kids who will be taught the same skills in the same way without any different supports in place typically don’t benefit from repeating. And kids who stay back tend to lose the positive gains within two to three years after being held back.

Kids who have behavior issues or stress that’s clearly related to schoolwork may benefit from another year.

Kids who have behavior issues or stress related to the classroom environment typically don’t benefit from staying in the same class another year.

Kids who can tell you they feel like another year in the same grade will be helpful are good candidates for repeating a grade.

Kids who are strongly opposed to staying back are more likely to find ways to make it not work.

Keep in mind that kids won’t outgrow learning and thinking differences by repeating a grade. And there are more things you can do: