How to cope with repeating a grade

28 Sep 2019


Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

When a student is required to be detained in the same grade to repeat it instead of being promoted to a higher one the following year, the process is known as grade retention or repetition.

When faced with such a situation, many parents find themselves with a difficult choice: should they move their child forward into the next grade by making a special request or change school, or should they let them repeat the class?

In some cases, repeating a grade may be recommended by the school on the grounds of the child’s social or academic performances. In other cases, there may be concerns that the child isn’t ready to progress due to inadequate skills, health or attitude.

Unfortunately, grade repetition typically causes more problems than it solves. Students who have been required to repeat a grade are more likely to have confidence and social issues moving forward. They’re far more likely to give up on school or even drop out altogether. Their personal well-being and self-confidence are affected by it in a crucial way.

Failing in a class is a distressing experience that can be turned into a lesson to learn from

It leaves an impact on their personality which lasts for many years and, in some cases, even for a lifetime. Somtimes, parents believe that if one school isn’t working for their child, a different one would perhaps do better. They may also change schools if the child is having either social problems or confronting issues with studies. But changing the school isn’t always a way out or a good option as almost all schools basically follow a similar system.

The reality, however, is that a child who is labelled as ‘failure’ in one school may struggle to escape that label and find a teacher or someone who is willing and able to support him/her. A majority of these students become a victim of social isolation due to which their academic performance suffers.

Here are some pointers to help deal with grade repetition if you are going through this process:

The fight within

To cope with a situation, people need to fight within themselves first, for all those enemies which hold one back reside within a person. One has to fight against all those negative thoughts, distress, anxiety, depression, isolation, etc., which affects them more than the external conditions around them.

It is understandable to be heartbroken and crushed when children and their parents hear that a class has to be repeated, but it is so important to realise that it’s not the end of the world! They should try their best not to feel degraded, for life has so much to offer in the coming years and there are lessons to be learnt from this.

Grade repetition will do a lot of good if it is taken with a positive attitude and used as a motivation to perform better in school and in life as a whole. Repeating a class doesn’t mean that one is unintelligent or a bad student, it simply means that the student did not achieve the required level of academic progress in that class and needs to devote more time and effort towards studies to reach the benchmark.

Analyse mistakes

It is important that at the very start, such students should create some ‘me time’ for themselves to analyse their mistakes, and the factors and reasons because of which they are repeating the grade. This will help them to perform better the second time and present themselves in a better way to those who are criticising.

Most students bear grudges against their parents and teachers because they assume that their parents or teachers have created this situation. But they must consider that their parents and teachers have decided to hold them back in the same grade because they know what is best for them and not because they want to punish the child.

If understanding study material was the issue, then the child should not hesitate to take help from teachers, parents and siblings, and devote more time towards studies. If they weren’t punctual, didn’t pay attention in class or skipped homework and tests, then it is time to make some changes in order to do well this time.

Try not to repeat the same mistakes again. Discussions with parents and teachers will lead to better guidance and understanding of the mistakes made.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Take help from teachers

According to a primary school teacher, “Many students who fail, blame the teacher’s style of teaching. They say that it wasn’t good enough because of which they weren’t able to understand.”

Instead of blaming, it is important to talk to the teacher about it. Questions should be asked in the class so that they can be answered right away. If a student feels uncomfortable doing so, or if there isn’t time to do so, talk to the teacher after class. This shows the teacher that the child is trying hard to do their best.

If the student is still unable to understand the material, then they should tell the parents that things are not working out. Then together something can be worked out to solve this issue.

Social implications

The most terrifying aspect of this situation for students is dealing with the social implications and telling others about it. And it is because of this fear, most students consider repeating a class a curse.

To avoid this situation, students often change school, but that doesn’t always provide a solution. People will tease or criticise the student. Though it is easier said than done, such talks should not be taken to heart. The child and parents should decide what is to be said to such people and how the child can stay motivated, calm and dedicated towards their goal.

Hard times reveal true friends

We get to know who our true friends are when we are in trouble, because those who can’t stand by us in hard times aren’t our friends.

Those who really care about us remain with us, no matter what our situation is. So a child should not be afraid to lose old friends just because they are not in the same class. Old friends and former classmates can still be good friends and their help can be very useful.

But if a child feels that it was because of any old friend that they got distracted from studies, such company should be avoided at all costs. People with positive vibes and ways should be associated with.

Make new friends

A new bunch of students gives one a chance to make new friends and discover new connections. It might be tough at first to make friends with juniors, but from now onwards they will be one’s classmates so a good relationship should be established with them.

In many cases, children can fail a class because they were not mentally and emotionally mature enough to handle the requirements of that class. So it maybe that the new, junior classmates or actually be more at par with the child’s level of maturity and this may lead to better connections.

Improve your attitude

As quoted by a primary school teacher, “Many students who repeat a class tend to have a carefree attitude towards studies, followed by behavioural issues which lead to failure in academic performance.”

It’s important to work really hard on behaving better at school because one’s behaviour decides how one is treated in return by others. If there are any behavioural issues, both parents and teachers need to discuss it with the child and show better and correct behaviour.

Work hard

Hard work is needed to perform well in anything. It is, therefore, essential that children understand what is expected of them. This will also give a clue of what went wrong in the previous year. This understanding will help in focusing on what is required this time round and putting in the needed effort.

Hire a tutor, if needed

Self-study should be any student’s first priority, but if it is not working to address the difficulty being faced, it is time to look for expert help. A good private tutor provides the extra guidance needed until the student has a good grip on the basic concepts.

Overcoming all these obstacles may be difficult, but it is certainly not impossible. Grades don’t define a student’s intelligence, but they do display their attitude. Whatever the reason behind grade repetition may be, one needs to have a positive attitude about it if one wants to succeed. One should learn to see the struggles as opportunities to become better, be smarter and stronger.

Nothing can come in between people and their success, if they give it their best shot and nothing less than that.

Published in Dawn, Young World, September 28th, 2019