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Homeschool Mom Says More Students Should Be Held Back In Public Schools

Photo: Drazen Zigic / Shutterstock 
students, school, learning, public education

A mother who homeschools her children pointed out a major flaw in the public education system. 

According to the woman, public schools usually place students in grade levels based on their age. Instead, she argued that they should be placed according to their academic abilities to ensure that all students have an appropriate learning environment. 

The mother insisted that more public school students should be held back so all students can have a more effective learning experience.

Sharing her thoughts to the r/unpopularopinion subreddit, the woman revealed that she had worked as both a homeschool teacher and a teacher in the public education system. Based on her personal experiences, the mother concluded that a student’s age is not the most important aspect that should be considered when determining grade level in school. Instead, their learning and academic abilities should be taken into account. 

“Overall what grade a student is in should have little to do with their age and more to do with their ability,” the woman wrote. 

Homeschool Mom Believes That More Students Should Be Held Back In Public SchoolsPhoto: Drazen Zigic / Shutterstock

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She asserted that by placing students who require extra attention at a lower level, everyone would benefit — including their peers who grasp concepts more quickly.

“The first time I worked in a classroom I was shocked at how often the advanced students had to sit around waiting for everyone to finish (and they were eager to learn), and how often the less advanced / ESL [English as a Second Language] students would get lost and sit staring at the wall the whole lesson,” the woman shared. 

She added that she had spoken to some of her teacher friends regarding the situation, and they told her that it is “near impossible” to have a student repeat a grade even if advisable. The woman argued that not allowing students who are struggling academically to be held back only sets both them and their more advanced peers up for failure. 

Many people online agreed with the woman’s opinion, believing that more students would excel if they were allowed to repeat grades and have more time to understand the material. 

“Agreed. There's no reason students should be functionally illiterate and still graduate from high school," one Redditor commented. "It's just setting the kids up for failure.”

“I was held back a year of school and I found that I understood my class better after I repeated the first grade,” another user shared. 

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However, other users believed that holding students back does more harm than good, especially in their socialization skills. 

“You want kids to be able to interact and socialize with people their age so you really can't hold a student back more than one or two years or it's just gonna get weird,” a third user wrote. 

“[Grade retention] causes a [expletive] ton of bullying and even if there’s not bullying it causes self-esteem issues, which then takes a toll on the kid’s mental health, and mental health then takes a toll on school. It’s a harmful cycle,” another user claimed. 



Others suggested that students who struggle with school, specifically those with learning disabilities and behavioral issues, should instead be pulled out of class during the day to receive the extra hands-on help they need to catch up with their peers. Unfortunately, many schools do not have the bandwidth or staff to do so.

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Some research has shown that grade retention improves a student’s overall learning experience and overall confidence. 

In 2012, Economist Elizabeth Dhuey appeared on "60 Minutes" to explain how grade retention helps some students take on more leadership roles in their schools. According to Dhuey, holding students back in earlier grades, such as kindergarten, allows them to learn more crucial information including reading comprehension. It can also improve their socialization skills and self-esteem. 

“I have a study looking at leadership effects and I find that if you’re relatively old in kindergarten, you’re more likely to be a high school leader, a sports team captain, a club president,” Dhuey shared.  “I think a lot of this works with confidence-boosting, leadership kind of capacity.” 

Homeschool Mom Believes That More Students Should Be Held Back In Public SchoolsPhoto: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

Students are also more prone to excel in school if they truly understand the material that is being taught, and they are receiving the learning experiences and attention they need.

Grade retention is not uncommon. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, an estimated 1.9% of American students are held back each year.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to hold a student back is up to them, their parents, and their school administrators who know their specific educational needs more than anyone else. Every child develops at their own pace, and providing this flexibility can support their overall well-being and success in the long run. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.