My six-year-old was recently diagnosed with hyperactive-impulsive–type ADHD. He had a great deal of difficulty with behavioral issues in kindergarten, and now his first-grade teacher has suggested that he might benefit from being held back a year before starting second grade. My son doesn’t seem to be experiencing any academic problems so far. Is it a good idea to hold him back to allow him to learn to deal with behavioral issues?
Parents of young children with ADHD—particularly kindergartners and first-graders—are frequently advised to allow their child to be held back a year to “catch up” on social skills or “grow out of” unsatisfactory behaviors. However, research does not support the notion that most children with ADHD will advance significantly in these areas as a result of being held back.
In fact, repeating a grade can sometimes worsen behavior as boredom increases, prevent a child from receiving necessary special services because his performance resembles that of his younger classmates, and lead to self-esteem issues. For these reasons, most experts recommend advancing the child to the next grade while providing him with the support services he needs.
These services might include behavior modification techniques, tutoring services, social-skills training within the school setting, or placement in a smaller classroom. Kindergartners may also benefit from moving into a kindergarten–first-grade transitional program combining kindergarten and first grade.