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I am new here and wondering about holding back a year in school.

Whitroses profile image

Hello, I am new here. My daughter who is 5 was newly diagnosed with ADHD in April. (I also have adult ADHD.) My husband and son have "outgrown" ADHD. I am also a caregiver to an elderly grandparent who lives with us. She has stage 4 dementia.

Is there has been talked about having my daughter repeat kindergarten. They have asked us what we want to do. I don't know what to do. I am struggling to know what is best. When we first had her evaluated the teacher didn't know her yet. We (parents and teachers) had noticed she is struggling with being consent in her skills. One day she knows it and nails it all, the next time she doesn't know and gives a blank stare. She struggles with two steps of directions or just listening in general. She can't sit still for to long.

We have started doing behavioral changing therapy. It's only been a few weeks. It's going slow, we are sticking with it. I have been researching and researching to see what I can find on what to do about my daughter bring held back or if we should let her go on to 1st grade. Any advice is welcome or things I should be asking the school.

55 Replies

My oldest son with ADHD struggled with the same thing at that age. Honestly, he still struggles with it. We know he knows the information, but if we ask him a direct question, it's like his brain goes blank. For him, I think it's the anxiety of having people look at him waiting on an answer. I'm not sure if there's a way to improve this in a school setting because we chose to homeschool.

It is possible too that there may be too many stimulating things around her and she is unable to focus. I know for my personal ADHD if there's too much noise I can't focus at all.

Stick with the behavioral therapy! My boys both benefited from it.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to Airica

Yeah we know she KNOWS it. Just when asked she freezes and gets all shy UNLESS she is moving her body then she answers without thinking. My daughter is a joker and likes to make people laugh so instead she tries to do that instead of answering the question. I did think about homeschooling and we were kind of doing a hybrid model of schooling in her pre-k year. Three days home two days in school. I found out I am NOT a teacher! I did try. Plus I have an elder who needs attention often. It gets hard to do both at once. THEN my ADHD kicks in!

We just behavioral therapy so still learning. I have noticed small changes already so this makes me happy!

Airica profile image
Airica in reply to Whitroses

Having her repeat Kindergarten may give her the confidence boost she needs to succeed. Then again, she could get bored and start getting in trouble. It's a tough choice!

Tallis33 profile image
Tallis33 in reply to Whitroses

If she can answer while moving, then she should be allowed that movement. :)

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to Tallis33

This is one of the questions I will be asking the teacher and the IEP board.

Elementary teacher perspective...

Research shows that the social impact of being held back is extremely negative. Also the fact that the student already heard all this and saw all of it. It ends up harming confidence because the kid knows they were held back.

The way to avoid the above negative would be to change schools. This lessens the social impact since the kiddo does not see all the peers moving on and they do not move on.

However, you said above that she knows all the content. So it isn't that she can't "pass" kindergarten, it is that the knowledge isn't always accessible.

Does she have a 504 for accommodation due to her adhd needs?

Does she have (need?) an IEP for behavioral things?

Why does the school want to hold her back? What is there reasoning and why hasn't another solution been looked at first?

I would suggest asking her therapist about kids being held back. And way awesome you found a therapist for her!

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to Tallis33

She doesn't have a behavioral issue more of a distraction and not paying attention issue. Thankfully it hasn't distracted others in the classroom just herself. I had to fill out and sign what felt like a million forms. she needs a one-on-one person to keep her on task. She has a soft IEP now. She is in speech, math help, and reading help right now. She is the second youngest in her class. We are hoping over time she will learn ways to help herself. The worry is if she has the issues she does now it will get worst when she goes to higher grades. I myself have dyslexia and that is one of the things they will be checking too.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to Whitroses

Also going to ask if she starts to act out and have behavior issues because she is bored will there be a review and changes made to help IF she is kept back.

DJE14 profile image
DJE14 in reply to Whitroses

While research may show the social impact of retention is negative, real life has shown me the impact of being in 4th grade and 3 grade levels behind your peers is also very negative. There are pros and cons to retention. I'm a school social worker on the special education team in a K-4 building (I also work a lot with our gen ed population). Our district rarely retains kids and it's not doing them any good because they fall further and further behind and can never close that gap. It's difficult to watch. It seems if you're going to retain, best to do it when the kids are young. We may end up having to keep my son in preK an extra year and send him to kindergarten when he's 6. It'll be a tough decision but I'd rather make it sooner than later. Get opinions from multiple people and professionals that know your kid and then do what you feel is best for her. Good luck to you, you'll make the right decision.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to DJE14

I have a feeling if we were in school last year ( only two days per week.) we would have found the issues then and been able to help her more. I am just glad we can help her now and not have to fight to try and caught her up when she is in higher grades.

Maybe the school can provide accommodations such as an IEP.

We have one of those starting. We are still going through the steps to have one set up for her. I plan on talking to her teacher and school in the next few days to figure out what would be best for her.

My son did a bonus year of Kindergarten. I’m glad we did it. He is intelligent but his executive functioning is behind. I look at it as if he is two years behind his peers in executive functioning. It helped reset my expectations.

I think that is where my daughter is at too. Honestly. I don't know how far behind in those she is. I just know she is. I am just worried I guess. On both ways repeating or moving ahead.

My thought process is that a bonus year of Kindergarten is socially better than a bonus year in a later grade.

This is my hope! I KNOW she will make more friends. She has really never had an issue making friends where she goes. I do know kids CAN be cruel and I know I can't protect her but I do think she will be okay. This is what I keep telling myself at least. Home will always be as safe as we can make it for her.

I'd hold her back now. I wish we hadn't put our daughter in school immediately. If we'd known about her issues we wouldn't have. ADHD brains are 2 years behind so holding her back is likely to be beneficial socially as well as in school.

Otherwise your daughter sounds like mine. Her 3rd grade teacher told me she thought she was stupid and then she was the only one to ace the math test. She knows, but not consistently. It's very hard to gauge what she's actually learning.

I've really pushed the school for some more assistance lately and she's flourishing. She did her standardized test with the school counselor on a bigger computer screen (my daughter is also blind in one eye) and otherwise completely secluded. No noise or other distractions and she has never done so well before. Extra time to complete work and tests has done wonders. Our school is wonderful, though perhaps not this particular teacher, so adding items to her 504 has been easy and the follow through has been great. If the school were less willing to help us I'd push for an IEP. I do think the fact that she has an actual medical problem, the blindness, has helped them accept everything I've asked for much easier.

I see you have an IEP already. Good for you. You'll likely need to try all sorts of things but for my inattentive daughter having noise cancelling headphones helps. Extra time to complete things helps. I got her a small time timer to use in class and that's helped. Also, I just tell her it's ok. Memorizing her times tables may never happen because of how the ADHD brain is. I told her that. I told her it's ok. The important thing is that she knows how to get the answer and not to have it immediately memorized. Helping your kid understand themselves is really priceless.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to WYMom

That is amazing!! I am so happy for your daughter! She must be so proud of herself!!

Now can I ask what is the difference between a 504 and IEP? We for sure are doing an IEP. In the next few weeks, she will have the IEP in place. I don't know if we are doing a 504 tho...

We were told for sure my daughter will need speech and language help.

I LOVE the thought of throwing spaghetti at a wall! (I was a cook/caterer before I became a stay at home mom) I feel like this sums up my daughter and my life! Oh I have my mom who is a special Ed teacher who is helping me as well. She said if the school doesn't do what they need to.. they better be ready.. They will have an angry mom and TWO angry Grandma's!

Tallis33 profile image
Tallis33 in reply to Whitroses

An IEP changes the goal for the student.A 504 gives accommodations but the goal stays the same.

Let's say the math goal is to count to 100 by end of year.

IEP would change the goal, maybe to count Ling to 25 with 90% accuracy. (the goal is based off where the student currently is and a reasonable next step). The student then get support from a special education teacher.

504 would have the same goal, count to 100 by the end if the year, but there would be accommodations to "level the playing field". The accommodations are based of the students diagnosis and needs. An example could be, the student get to show they can count to 100 with a break in the middle. Or the student is alloted movement breaks at scheduled times throughout the day. Or allowed a wiggle seat. Allowed extra time. Ect.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to Tallis33

OH okay Now I do understand! I talked to the school special ed chair and they said they will aim for IEP but if she doesn't qualify she will get a 504.

WYMom profile image
WYMom in reply to Whitroses

I understood the difference between 504 and IEP to be all about regulation. A 504 plan can provide the same accommodations as an IEP but requires less government oversight. IEP's require the school to do assessments and tracking. Also IEP's are for K-12 and 504 plans can be used in college. Also I do believe that private schools are not required to provide 504 accommodations but must provide IEP's, though I may have that mixed up.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to WYMom

Ahh okay. So they said will start off with a goal of doing an IEP and once evaluated will see what is really needed. IF she needs an IEP she may have to move schools to the "big building" as our district doesn't have enough resources to make sure the smaller schools has what they need.

WYMom profile image
WYMom in reply to Whitroses

Well I certainly wish you the best in this. Schools can be difficult. I hope yours is happy to work with you. I know that the pandemic has caused a massive shortage in staff in our district so there are no special reading or math groups right now.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to WYMom

Thank you! I am sure they are tired of talking to me already! I know Covid has done a number of damages to everything around the world.

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to WYMom

I believe you have them reversed. 504 is based on having a diagnosed disability. It's a federal requirement, like the disabilities act. This is one reason why colleges are still required to follow them. If you come into the school with a letter from a Dr with a diagnoses, the school must put them on a 504. They may do testing to evaluate them for what accommodations would work best, but there is no gating requirement like there is with an IEP. In our schools they do extensive testing and it has to show they are academically behind by a certain amount (2 years?) to qualify for an IEP.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to BTV65

I don't know I just know what I was told. 504 was general ( as in the same goal but how to get them there.) and IEP was personalized. ( as in different goals and helping them reach that goal.) I know there are a LOT of tests and watching for both. IEP you have to qualify for and 504 is the "backup" plan. Honestly tho I have NO idea. I am SO confused during most of all this and the questions I ask seem to get the eye roll Like It's dumb. I am better however with verbal vs reading it. I want is to NOT to watch my daughter struggle and feel helpless.

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to Whitroses

Oops. Sorry. I had hit reply to "WYMom", and it just tacked my reply to the end of a bunch of others, so it was out of context. Her last sentence said she might have them reversed, so I was clarifying for her.

A 504 is easier to qualify for and easier for the school to implement. So I can see them labelling it as a backup plan. An IEP can get you more resources, such as specialists than a 504 can. So it is considered a better thing to have.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to BTV65

I am honestly not sure which I would rather have for my daughter. I know right now there are a lot of factors involved. I REALLY don't want her to leave the school she is at right now. It's smaller and so much better for her but if she needs an IEP she would have to change schools. Because of resources.

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to Whitroses

Since you decided to hold her back a year, with 504 accommodations, she may be able to keep up. Also the IEP looks at where she is compared to where she should be, so what grade she will be in starting in the fall has a huge impact on "where she should be". So the school might decide if she is starting 1st grade in the fall, she needs an IEP. If she is repeating K, then they might want to try a 504 instead.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to BTV65

I hope so. She still is on the waiting list to be evaluated. They don't know what she will need. Her teacher says languages and speech for sure but the rest isn't sure. Oh... That is a good point! I didn't think about it. We have talked to her teacher and the principal of her school. they BOTH want to try and keep her in the school she is in right now BUT they also want what is best for her.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to BTV65

Oh, and I love lists! I have so many of them. My husband laughs at them but honestly, I think he secretly likes them too! I have a list for each person in my house. (there is 5 of us at the moment. 7 when my oldest is home visiting with her person.) It's so I can know and remember what needs to be done and when it should be done.

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to Whitroses

Wow. Good job scaffolding. Learning how to maintain a good support structure (lists) is a great coping mechanism. I need more of that in my life.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to BTV65

It was something I learned when I was young. It stayed with me as well as keeping my hands busy so I can be still when needed. I taught my middle child and he still uses them. My youngest is still to little as she can't write yet. (close but not there yet)

Just my 2 cents. Does she have an early birthday or late birthday compared to her classmates. I have 10yo twins with ADHD with late birthdays. I can see how they are less mature than their classmates because of their late birthdays and combine that with the immaturity of ADHD and they seem really young compared to their peers. Just something to consider.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to Lanego

Her birthday is July, then a month and then school starts. I felt like she is young compared to others in her grade level. She struggles with talking and reading the most.

We had my ADHD son do 2 years of Pre-K and he also has a summer birthday, so would have been the youngest or one of the youngest in his class. I am so glad we didn’t push him earlier, with his hyperactive and impulsive nature, and his struggle to focus, school is still difficult for him, even now. The testing and amount of homework as they age only gets more difficult. I would also think ahead to high school and college. With ADHD kids often behind in executive functioning skills, I feel much better having an “extra” year before college.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to BVBV

This is my thinking. I SHOULD have had her repeat pre- K but it was during covid so they were only in school for 2 days a week full day. NOT enough time for the signs to be there and for the teacher see them. Where this year they are going 5 days full time.

A few thoughts..Most children with ADHD functions out 2 years younger than there age. Most children with ADHD will have struggles in school and need a 504 plan or IEP to support their learning.

Did the person who gave her the diagnosis recommend medication? What are your thoughts.

Pro’s to holding her back

She gets to attend and learn the same material a second time

Con’s to holding her back

She will be older ( and maybe bigger) than the kids attending her class

She will be older when she graduates ( senior year), which means she might struggle to be a senior and be a year older than her peers.

She will be aware that she was held back.

Most school do not support holding kids back so you may have struggles with them.

Good luck with your decision

They haven't talked about meds. We said we all agreed on no meds at the moment. We are hoping to make meds the last thing but we do know it may happen.

Right now my daughter is the smallest and second youngest in her class. She has always been small. I use to say what she lacked in size she made up with energy! she has always been a bit high-strung. (extra clingy, always moving.)

It was the school's idea to keep her back. They honestly can't tell for sure what she can and can't do as she keeps being so inconsistent. She's the same at home. I honestly can't tell what she does know and what she needs to work on. sometimes she struggles to spell her name.

I have thought about her knowing she is being held back and right we have talked about it and it upsets her but she is only thinking about her friends. She is 5 so I understand that. I think in the end it will be better for her and less of a struggle later on if she is held back. I just hope her being held back will HELP her and not HURT her.

It is always surprising when parents see medication as a last resort, when for us it was the first thing we started with becuase it is the one thing that helps control many of the things that you say she is struggle with. The right dose, timing and type of Medication does not change their personality it just takes all of the horriable symptoms away. And helps her focus on the task at hand. It helps them think before the act. It helps them be able to sit and work on things they need to do without the silly behavior.As children with AHDD mature, they start to understand what they "should do" and act on it. They don't want to be distracted and act out.

Most parents that find success having medication help their child, usually say they wished they would have started younger.

Your decision to keep her back, will not hurt her. But, I just know the traditional educational system is fast paced and does not forgive. I know from over 15 years of being a teacher (and a mom of a child with ADHD) that the most important thing you can do is to teach her to do the work herself without having someone tell her to do the work. Working with the schools specialist (academic, Occupational Thearpist and behavior specialist) and trying things to help her will be the best support she can recieve. They can try things like a visual calander for the class, color coding system, many tools to help her.

Just know "if something works... it will be working"... if it is not working change it.

Hope this helps. Just know the group is always here with open arms to help catch you when you fall. Please read old messages when you have an issue becuase we have all been there and there could be a message with many responses that helped to comfort someone.in rhe past. If not just write another message and we will all support you.

We told our son everyday, we love you and on other days, but are not happy with your behavior/ choices you made (on days that were a struggle).

Enjoy Mother's day! Take care

I guess for me I had a horrible time with meds when I was younger. Granted this was back in the 80's I know different now. We choose no meds for the moment to see if there are other factors involved that would be masked by the meds. We are just starting out with her. She had some health issues as a baby and wanted to see if those are also a factor. We have a follow-up with the changes we have made so far.

I have chosen to keep her back just because we don't think she is ready yet. Now we are waiting on her to be evaluated at school to see what she "qualifies" for. They have 60 days. School ends in 34 days. I don't know how it will work and I don't know if it will end up with what she needs yet. Right now I may have to fight for her to stay in the school that works best for her because our district doesn't have enough resources for the other smaller schools in the district.

We have said the same things to our daughter. We say tomorrow is a new day a chance to try to do our best. I have noticed small changes from changing how we do things at home right now. Which makes me happy! There are fewer rough days. (not none of course but went from every day to maybe three or four times a week.)

I can answer what it means when specialist have less than 30 days (since a meeting has to be held so there is less than 34 days left) so that means all assessments, review of records, interviews with teachers, observations, etc.. and processing this information has to be decided on with less time than should be. It places a lot of stress on these specialist. Hope you find things that help your child.

I was told if they didn't get to my daughter before school ended that they would have to make everyone who she was with come back in during a time that will work for everyone. She has like 4 teachers she was with. We know for sure she will need help with speech and reading. They had said there are a lot of other cases to do. So we will see.

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to Onthemove1971

I was young in my grade (turned 17, November of my senior year), and I remember being jealous because my peers were able to drive and go out and have more freedom. I think I would have been much happier going through school a year older. I was short and immature compared to my peers, some of whom were 18 months older than I was.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to BTV65

My son (middle child) will be 18 in Jan he starts his senior year in September. He says he is not ready to be a "grown-up" He is one of the older ones in his grade. I asked if the extra year home for him was worth it. He said He needed the time at home vs going into the system that just doesn't fit everyone. He told me he thinks he would have had a hard time than he already did. So now I am hoping I made the right choice for my youngest. She has a more severe case of ADHD than my son ever had.

There were a lot of comments and i couldn’t be bothered to read them all, so I apologize if this is redundant…

Has she had a sensory evaluation?

Some of what you’ve described is very very similar to the reaction we get from our gifted & autistic PDA kid who also has ADHD and is dyslexic.

Stimming (her need to move) is a way to soothe the nervous system when it’s activated—it’s a way to self-regulate. That said, I’ve been hearing and reading more and more about how co-regulation (what her personal aide is doing for her) is even more important than self-regulation (for young people and adults alike).

Just some thoughts.

She has not had a sensory evaluation yet. I think that is one of the things on the list to do. I know my son had some issues with textures. (Still does some but not as bad but he is 17 and can tell us the issue.) I will be asking her doctor about it. Thank you!

Sometimes the source of the behavior can be tricky to pinpoint initially, but her body is definitely trying to communicate something.

I hope you find some answers!

I agree. It's hard to know and she isn't where she can fully understand and explain it to someone yet.

I hope so too!

Late to comment (I did read most of it).

My son was young going into school. He had all the classic ADHD signs and problems, but he was also too bright for his own good. He had no issue learning and spitting it back out. He devoured lessons in pre-school, then bored would start causing problems for everyone else. So he kept being pushed forward by teachers, just to keep him occupied. This meant he started Kindergarten, when he really should have been doing his second year of Pre-K. As the years went by, I have to say I really wished we had done something different to hold him back. He had some kids in his grade that were 14 months older than him. He was emotionally immature and always struggled with that side of things. If he had only been struggling academically back at the start, it would have been an easy decision to hold him back.

I grew up with ADD, but there was no diagnoses for it. One of the symptoms I had then and have always had was that brain-lock under pressure. To be honest, I only read about it yesterday on this forum. I never realized it was related to ADHD. I was smart and tested well. However, ask me to go up to the board and write down a problem and I would seize up. Having the spotlight on me shut off my brain. Like a deer in the headlights. I still run into it and I'm in my 50s. Conflict, heightened emotions, fear, anxiety, all cause me to shut down.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to BTV65

think my youngest is emotionally immature as well. I honestly can't tell IF she knows the stuff she had been learning or not. At home, I watch her struggle to read and sometimes figure out what she wants to say and it's like looking in a mirror of a much younger me.

I had ADD and dyslexia. I wouldn't have known at all if my stepmom didn't fight so hard for me. Now ADD doesn't exist again. It falls under ADHD. I had no idea since my son had been given that diagnosis when he was 8 which was ALMOST 10 years ago.

I didn't test well and I don't think was overly smart. I did have a nic for figuring out how to make things work. I froze on tests I felt so much pressure to do well. (either from myself or teachers or parents) I STILL hate having attention on myself. I almost didn't get married 21 years ago because of it. (I know wasn't a test but felt like it.) How I have SO many unfinished projects I have started and should finish. I guess always the next day to finish!

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to Whitroses

Yeah, I have a lot of projects as well. At my age I justify some of it because my body can't handle the same rigors day after day. So I'll give my back a workout digging up rocks in part of the yard for a day or two, then move to something like repairing the lawn mower, then move to sanding a wood working project. Maybe take a day off and do housework chores I'm behind on... There are always so many things that need to be done, and limited time to do them. Swapping between them gives me time to let my body recover from one while doing another. That's better than over doing it and throwing my back out and not being able to do anything for a couple weeks.

Another aspect is that I'm a planner. I think about a project. Plan it, replan it. Measure it. Research it. Plan it again. Add more detail. Buy supplies. Let it sit for weeks/months, then review the plans and make sure I'm good with it. Then get started on the actual work. I feel better knowing how thoroughly I thought it through. Otherwise I can get paralyzed with fear of making a mistake.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to BTV65

I wonder if I can say that too? Hmmm Hehehe. I turned 40 this year and I feel OLD and run down. Then again We have ADHD in a child and dementia in an elder. I half wonder if they bounce off each other. Or mimic each other. I do the going between the chores and projects. I also have like 5 crocheting projects started I am working on between. My mind gets bored and needs something new to think about or something I dunno.

I am a planner too. I research WAY more than I need to. Go over the plan, write it out THEN get what need and let it sit while I think about it then up not use the plan and winging it. WHICH takes twice as long and is not as good as my plan. (but sometimes the winging works out well.) While I am doing the work I worry about finishing and when I am finished then I worry I made a mistake and go over what I did a million times to "double" check it. It's normally fine but I have to ask my husband to check it too. (or at least someone else) My son is the same way. My youngest daughter is just FULL speed ahead at this point.

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to Whitroses

Interesting. I think mixing it up and swapping between projects keeps us more engaged. For me I need to see progress, or I get disheartened and feel like I'm just wasting my time. I rarely wing it, at least not for a full blown project. When I do, I find I waste time/material and I'm disappointed at the result. I'm a slow processor and I need time to think. Winging it means I just rush and make more mistakes than progress.


God, I lose hours researching things way too deeply. I think that's one of the reasons I rarely read facebook. I get lost down the rabbit hole of something that looked interesting.

Whitroses profile image
Whitroses in reply to BTV65

Not sure if it's right at all. But I have noticed they started acting a lot alike in some ways. Mind you my little is 5 and kind of what they do at this age. repeat.

Yeah, I think having more than one thing to do helps keeps me going. I may be slower going but It gets done. I guess why I like crocheting. I can SEE what I have done and what I have left to do but also give me the flexibility I need too. Life for me gets busy between my special needs in my house.

I love research!!

This is why I can't go on youtube... I call it the rabbit hole! I start doing some research and before I know it it's HOURS later and totally off the topic I started on! Facebook is hit or miss unless I get involved in a group chat kind of thing on a thread!

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