Behavior & Learning in School/Retaining triplets in first grade


Let me start by saying that  I have quite a bit of experience myself in this area as I was a special ed aide for five years and classroom teacher for 14 years.  However when it comes to my own children, I need outside unbiased advice.  I have GGB triplets in first grade who will not be 7 until September.  Tecnically they were October babies.  So they are young for their grade.  I started them young because everyone seemed ready in Kinder, however now that they are in first, my son is struggling, especially in math and verbal responses.  My son has a word retrieval issue.  He comes close, but has not quite qualified for speech.  He receives outside speech services and honestly it will probably stay that way even if he does qualify at some point. One of the girls is average and one is high average to advanced.  I see some developmental immaturity in all of them such as reversals and lack of focus.  My gut feeling is to hold them all back.  They all could use the gift of time in some form; two of them academically and the higher one for focus and maturity.  We also have a family  issue coming in to play as my husband became paralyzed last year and we almost lost him.  Although we are a strong family, my more academically advanced girl has been affected the most.  I also have an 8 year old in second grade who is light years more mature than them yet only one grade ahead.  I am getting resistance from the AP because, on paper, they are not candidates.  Even my son is only just below grade level.  To me that indicates that he could benefit from another year.  All of their teachers have agreed that they do not think it will hurt anyone and will definitely benefit my son.   They are moving to a new school next year so there will not be the social stigma that often is associated with the negative aspect of retention.  Honestly, I just feel like they should have had that extra year and I took it away from them.  I have a chance to give it back with the move to our new neighborhood's school.  Am I way off base or do I have good reason to pursue this.  Thank you for your advice.

Hello Julie,
Generally, I am not a big fan of retention. As I'm sure you know, learning problems of any kind do not just go away without intervention.  Therefore, your son will probably continue to have his speech issues and his math difficulties unless the problems are addressed.  Your girls seem to be functioning well.  Reversals, lack of focus and immaturity are all common academic behaviors for their grade level.  While keeping them back a year may make them "star" students academically by the repetition of first grade material, that does not mean that they will continue to be advanced as the work becomes challenging.  Keep that in mind when you make your decision.  Retention does not guarantee advanced placement students.
Your family situation and the fact that the classroom teachers are on board with you, make me lean towards agreeing with you to a point.  If there is a way for you to talk with the principal of the NEW school that the children will be attending, I would do that before making a decision.  You need to know what will be expected of the children in grade 2 at the new school.  You need to know if any services might be available in math, speech, reading or whatever areas your children may need.  Sometimes, different schools have different expectations and curriculum.  Some schools tend to be more advanced than others.  Please be sure to ask about the reading expectations.  Use of a different reading or Math approach may make things difficult for the children.  In some schools, first grade is similar to kindergarten in other schools.  Get as much knowledge as you can and then make your decision.  You know your children better than anyone.  Be confident in doing what you think is best for them.  

Lynn McDermott  

Behavior & Learning in School

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Lynn McDermott


I am a retired reading specialist. I taught reading to children in grades 1-4 for 32 years. I can answer any questions from parents or educators about problems children may be having learning to read. I can also offer some ideas to educators, parents and tutors for teaching children how to become successful readers.


I worked with small groups of children in a public elementary school setting. I have also worked with and trained teachers in the field of reading. I have also done one-to-one tutoring in the field of reading.

I have written for a few teacher magazines including "The Mailbox" and "The Bookbag."

My undergraduate degree is in English and my Master's degree is in Reading with Emphasis on Learning Disabilities.

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