Teacher thinks my child should repeat grade 2.

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Hi!

 

Last week, we were informed by the teacher (half term assessment) that she feels it would be best if my son repeated Grade 2. Her words are that he is smart but needs more time to catch up with his fellow classmates because of his german speaking skills. He has only been speaking the language for 2 years but has come on leaps and bounds and she says she is impressed with how far he has come in a short time. He can read and speak quite well but struggles in explaining a context or a book he has read. 

 

I guess my issue is that I feel as if this has already been decided without him even getting a chance to try a little harder (we’ve got another half term left!) I’m new to this type of teaching but she doesn’t want to pressure him and feels it’s best if we don’t. She didn’t explain where he is and where he needs to be in this grade to get through the next. We were thinking of getting a tutor to see if he can pull through but I’m really confused as to what to do. My instinct tells me she’s being overly careful and I want to say giving up on him but that sounds too harsh. Is this normal? 

 

I do want to make the best decision for my child so if keeping him in Grade 2 is the best then so be it but shouldn’t they try to encourage my child and push him a little? I’d appreciate any advice or experience in this department. 

 

Thanks!

 

- Naomi

 

 

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An observation: it's relatively common for kids to repeat a grade in German primary schools and there's not a huge stigma attached to it here as is the case in some other cultures.

And a question: what are your educational goals for your son?  Do you want him to go to Gymnasium (and presumably onto university) or Realschule or Hauptschule?  That is one important consideration that you should discuss with the teacher.  The answer will shape the calculus of how much time one needs to get to what level, given what level is being aimed at. I don't know how it is in your Bundesland, but here the Grade 3 grades - esp. in German and Math(s) are crucial in terms of the teachers' recommendation about what type of secondary school a child will attend.  (Even though in my Bundesland the teacher's recommendation is not binding, the Gymnasien still want to see it, and if parents wish to go against the recommendation they are supposed to receive additional counseling.) The grades from the end of Grade 3 form the basis for that determination.

 

 

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Difficult situation and I understand your concerns.  

 

Have you spoken to your son about it?  If he immediately jumps at the chance to repeat the year then it makes your decision easier.

At the same time, he could maybe explain to you in more detail the area where he feels he needs more support.  You can then fine tune the requirements of a tutor to meet these needs.  A tutor might be a good idea no matter which direction you take.

 

Also, I would ask the teacher when the deadline for a decision is.  And if you make significant improvement before then would they might feel more comfortable, and what should these improvements be.

 

In the end only you know your son best.  Will he perform better if he is pushed/challenged to do more, or is it better to give him extra time to learn where he has difficulty so that he can thrive later.  No matter which direction you take you need to discuss it in detail with him and make him feel like part of the decision making process, that way he will buy in to the idea better and feel more committed. 

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I am not an expert in education but surely what you want to do about his weakness in German must depend on whether it is affecting other subjects or not. If he is good at Maths and everything else and was forced to repeat a year because of just one subject he would probably be bored to tears next year. As you have pointed out, he has only been speaking German for two years so he will probably steadily improve over the next two years. If he is not very good in other subjects either then that's a different story. I think you can just relax and take another look in six months time.

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5 minutes ago, LeChamois said:

I am not an expert in education but surely what you want to do about his weakness in German must depend on whether it is affecting other subjects or not. If he is good at Maths and everything else and was forced to repeat a year because of just one subject he would probably be bored to tears next year. As you have pointed out, he has only been speaking German for two years so he will probably steadily improve over the next two years. If he is not very good in other subjects either then that's a different story. I think you can just relax and take another look in six months time.

 

I think what the OP is trying to say is that the child is having difficulty being able to express himself in German in all subject matters. Not just in German as a specific subject.

He seems to be able to clearly understand the topic(s), and provides the right answers, but is not able to sufficiently explain the what's, where's, and why for's in the German language.

 

So that it is a communication problem (due to language skills) rather than a problem of not understanding any specific topic.

 

This is what makes the situation difficult, because as you say, if he repeats then as he understands then he might find it boring.  But if he can express himself better and clearer then he will feel more comfortable and confident.

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Would considering a Montessori school be an option? They usually have several grades in one class. So there would be no need to change class/lose friends while at the same time he could focus on what he needs to focus on most during "Freiarbeit" (when kids can choose what to work on). It might avoid him feeling pressurised which will usually take the joy out of school. Which is bad for motivation. And poor motivation is bad for success.

It would also help picking up the language as kids are supposed to teach each other which involves much more interaction between them - which will help a lot developing language skills.

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We parents know our children as our children, but an experienced teacher sees more in kids.  Better to spend another year in Grade 2 and come out of it able to speak German fluently and confidently than to play catch-up for a few years, jeopardizing actually realizing his potential.  In the ten years I spent in Germany (in Bayern) my five children spent time in every level of schooling.  The one who was truly successful came to Germany at the end of Grade 5.  She repeated Grade 5 in the Volksschule and then once more in Gymnasium!  Boy-o-boy, could she ever speak German.  In fact, she chose to remain in Germany rather than return to the US.

So choose the teacher's recommendation with a happy heart.  She's seen lots of kids, and I think you can trust her on this.

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Quote

He can read and speak quite well but struggles in explaining a context or a book he has read. 

 

I guess my issue is that I feel as if this has already been decided without him even getting a chance to try a little harder (we’ve got another half term left!) I’m new to this type of teaching but she doesn’t want to pressure him and feels it’s best if we don’t. 

 

The problem with inadequate German is that it can effect almost other subjects; studies have shown that many children with Migrationshintergrund struggle even with math due to insufficient German language skills.

 

Quote

My instinct tells me she’s being overly careful and I want to say giving up on him but that sounds too harsh. Is this normal? 

 

I think she is trying to look out for his best interests. The path of least resistance would be to just pass him and let him struggle with the next grade.

 

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5 hours ago, liebling said:

An observation: it's relatively common for kids to repeat a grade in German primary schools and there's not a huge stigma attached to it here as is the case in some other cultures.

And a question: what are your educational goals for your son?  Do you want him to go to Gymnasium (and presumably onto university) or Realschule or Hauptschule?  That is one important consideration that you should discuss with the teacher.  The answer will shape the calculus of how much time one needs to get to what level, given what level is being aimed at. I don't know how it is in your Bundesland, but here the Grade 3 grades - esp. in German and Math(s) are crucial in terms of the teachers' recommendation about what type of secondary school a child will attend.  (Even though in my Bundesland the teacher's recommendation is not binding, the Gymnasien still want to see it, and if parents wish to go against the recommendation they are supposed to receive additional counseling.) The grades from the end of Grade 3 form the basis for that determination.

 

 

 

It’s up to him and how he performs to be honest. I’d be happy if he managed to get into Gymnasium but perfectly fine if he went to Realschule instead. It’s something I haven’t considered but I’m seeing now that I should put more thought it it and how his results in grade 3 will affect the outcome of that. Thank you.

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5 hours ago, dj_jay_smith said:

At the same time, he could maybe explain to you in more detail the area where he feels he needs more support.  You can then fine tune the requirements of a tutor to meet these needs.  A tutor might be a good idea no matter which direction you take.

 

Also, I would ask the teacher when the deadline for a decision is.  And if you make significant improvement before then would they might feel more comfortable, and what should these improvements be.

 

In the end only you know your son best.  Will he perform better if he is pushed/challenged to do more, or is it better to give him extra time to learn where he has difficulty so that he can thrive later.  No matter which direction you take you need to discuss it in detail with him and make him feel like part of the decision making process, that way he will buy in to the idea better and feel more committed. 

 

 

I have spoken to him about it and he does not want to be held back. I did inform him he needs to try harder and we will provide a tutor to assist but that it’s okay if he has to stay back. I do think he will do better with a push and a tutor but I’m not sure if that’s good enough so I think we will see. 

 

The teacher says we will meet again April. My husband (native german speaker) spoke to her today but she seemed quite defensive when he suggested I sit down with her earlier so we can discuss a plan for my child. So I’ll wait till April then. 

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2 hours ago, jeba said:

Would considering a Montessori school be an option? They usually have several grades in one class. So there would be no need to change class/lose friends while at the same time he could focus on what he needs to focus on most during "Freiarbeit" (when kids can choose what to work on). It might avoid him feeling pressurised which will usually take the joy out of school. Which is bad for motivation. And poor motivation is bad for success.

It would also help picking up the language as kids are supposed to teach each other which involves much more interaction between them - which will help a lot developing language skills.

 

I don’t think we will change school. His grundschule is next door and he has made strong bonds with other kids in his class. 

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2 hours ago, katheliz said:

We parents know our children as our children, but an experienced teacher sees more in kids.  Better to spend another year in Grade 2 and come out of it able to speak German fluently and confidently than to play catch-up for a few years, jeopardizing actually realizing his potential.  In the ten years I spent in Germany (in Bayern) my five children spent time in every level of schooling.  The one who was truly successful came to Germany at the end of Grade 5.  She repeated Grade 5 in the Volksschule and then once more in Gymnasium!  Boy-o-boy, could she ever speak German.  In fact, she chose to remain in Germany rather than return to the US.

So choose the teacher's recommendation with a happy heart.  She's seen lots of kids, and I think you can trust her on this.

 

I feel like just accepting a decision before the term is up doesn’t seem like the right step for my son or his future. I am aware that repeating a term is common and if he still isn’t up to par at the end of it then I would of course accept her decision. 

 

She got defensive when my husband asked for me to meet her to discuss this situation with her further. I wanted to know what changes they’d make if he has to repeat the entire year as his maths is not bad and he’s fine in other subjects. But we were told to just wait till April for the next parent teacher meet. 

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We all learn by experience.  One of my sons had a birthday only five days after the first grade school-entrance cut off.  He'd been successful in a KG-1st combined class in a private school with a supportive teacher, and I thought he should be admitted to first grade.  It took six weeks of pressure on my part to get him into school, with physical and mental evaluations.  I was told I was asking too much of my child.  There were immediate problems that I didn't recognize and denied when they were pointed out to me later on.  He was unhappy in school, began acting out, and as he entered his teens I had to acknowledge that I'd made a big mistake.   

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Thank you everyone for giving me advice. Greatly appreciated and a lot of food for thought. I’m actively trying not to let my personal beliefs and feelings get in the way of this decision. Parenting is not easy!  

 

We tried to make an appointment with his teacher to discuss a game plan, where he’s at and where he needs to be to enter 3rd grade and also if he repeats, what changes would or could be made so that he doesn’t get bored. Well she got defensive and said we should wait till April. 🤷🏻‍♀️

 

In any case we will get a tutor, encourage him and keep him in the loop of the situation. He’s a bright child and I’m so proud of him. 

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Repeating is a brilliant offer in the German system. The trouble with not taking her plan is that he may never quite reach the level he would attain with more ripening time.

 

The bummer is leaving the class. It is tricky. They reckon (although I would be hard put to remember where the evidence came from) that moving school/class whatever has an effect of many weeks/months of hold-up depending on the individual, so moving him is also not without risk.

 

I think April is actually not bad news - so she doesn't want to move him right now at the half-year point. If you all pull out the stops between now and then and see what kind of awesome he can manage, maybe the question will become moot. 

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If your husband is German, why did your child only start speaking German two years ago? Does you husband not speak to him in German?

 

The best way for the child to improve is for him to practice more at home. Maybe your husband can spend an hour before bedtime reading with him.

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12 minutes ago, engelchen said:

If your husband is German, why did your child only start speaking German two years ago? Does you husband not speak to him in German?

 

I‘m guessing they lived in the US or UK before that. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for children in the US to never learn the language of their foreign parent(s). 

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10 hours ago, YomiIshak said:

He has only been speaking the language for 2 years but has come on leaps and bounds and she says she is impressed with how far he has come in a short time. He can read and speak quite well but struggles in explaining a context or a book he has read. 

 

4 hours ago, YomiIshak said:

My husband (native german speaker)

 

There's the disconnect.

You have a native speaker at home and you haven't been using him?

 

A child your son's age should have picked up German at native level within a year.

I suspect the problem is not so much his German, but that you haven't been exercising with him after school.

Grundschule in Germany expects the parents to be assistant teachers, i.e. to check the child's homework and to do exercises with the child at home.

Your husband should have told you about this, and since he's the native speaker, he should have been doing these tasks with your son, every day.

 

If he isn't willing to do it, pay a tutor, preferably a university student, to come in every afternoon and to do the exercises with him.

 

Buy these exercise books and make your husband/the tutor work through them with your son:

for "Deutsch"

  1. Tests in Deutsch - Lernzielkontrollen 2. Klasse

  2. Rechtschreiben und Diktate 2. Klasse

  3. Besser lesen 2. Klasse (Deutsch: Besser lesen, Band 272)

for "Mathematik":

  1. Tests in Mathe - Lernzielkontrollen 2. Klasse

  2. Einmaleins Mathematik 2./3. Klasse

  3. Mathe trainieren 2. Klasse
  4. Textaufgaben 2. Klasse: Sachaufgaben - Übungsprogramm mit Lösungen für die 2. Klasse

for "Heimat- und Sachkunde":

  1. Probensammlung Grundschule Heimat- und Sachkunde 2. Klasse. Übungsheft

  2. Das ultimative Probenbuch HSU 2. Klasse. LehrplanPlus: Testflipping

And then for 3rd grade, you buy the same books for the 3. Klasse, and again have your husband/the tutor do the exercises with him every day.

Ditto in 4th, 5th and 6th grade.

 

Yes, it will mean much more work for your husband/additional expenditure for the tutor, since you will need to keep up this regimen up till grade 6 at the Gymnasium/Realschule to be sure these learning habits have "caught" in your child.

But from then on your child should be able to learn totally on his own, and you can then lean back in the knowledge that you have put him on the right path.

 

***********************************************************************

 

If you want to read about somebody else's experience with the German school system, I suggest you read @emkay's post:

and her other posts/threads on this topic: https://www.google.de/search?q=emkay+school+site%3Atoytowngermany.com

 

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51 minutes ago, engelchen said:

If your husband is German, why did your child only start speaking German two years ago? Does you husband not speak to him in German?

 

The best way for the child to improve is for him to practice more at home. Maybe your husband can spend an hour before bedtime reading with him.

 

My husband and myself are of mixed decent. We both speak English fluently and 2 other languages each and were living elsewhere in a different country and never planned to move to his birth country (Germany) until something happened which forced us to make this decision.  

 

Since we have moved here, my husband has done his best to teach him as much as he can. Mu son reads german well according to his teacher. It’s comprehension which we are working on. 

 

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47 minutes ago, jaycool said:

 

47 minutes ago, jaycool said:

I‘m guessing they lived in the US or UK before that. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for children in the US to never learn the language of their foreign parent(s). 

 

The country we previoslg lived in a multi cultural country and my son grew up with two languages which was English and the country’s national language. I am not from the US or UK. 

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