Ivy and Noah


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To repeat or not to repeat.

The end of the year is closing in on us.

Forth term has started and the thing about forth term

is that it seems to fly by.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking lately about this year and how much school Ivy has missed

and how much Noah has struggled

and whether they are in a good position academically to move onto the second grade.

I repeated the girls the year after Will died

because they (and I) functioned so poorly that I felt it would be wrong to send them on.

I met so much opposition from their school, about wanting to repeat them that I had no choice but to pull them out

and start again at another.

It seems that doing the year over is strongly frowned upon amongst teachers.

David (having repeated a grade too) felt the opposite to me as well.

He thought they should move forward with their peers and not be forced into the same social situation that he was.

Still, once the choice was made, the girls coped admirably and did well

so I knew it was the right one.

I’m not one to shy away from such decisions if I have to make them again.

I talked to Ivy and Noah about it, while we were on holidays.

The girl shrugged her shoulders and said she thought repeating was something she would do

but Noah was mortified.

The difference, I think, is that Noah has had all that time to make good friends

and build his social circle

and Ivy hasn’t.

She has gone from having a few good girlfriends in the playground

to relying heavily on Noah when she is at school.

Don’t get me wrong -

the kids are all lovely to her

but she seems to have lost her confidence in her ability to keep friends.

From talking with other parents who have immune deficient kids, this seems to be common.

I wish that it weren’t but it makes sense,

considering she has only averaged three weeks out of each term this year.

The fact that she slips back into class easily and has not fallen behind in  her work

is a pretty neat skill

but is that enough?

Noah is in the opposite position altogether.

He has struggled with keeping up  with his work and understanding of  key concepts

because of his now diagnosed dyslexia and Irlen syndrome

but socially he’s good.

The question is –  is it going to be in their best interests to repeat them?

I can’t guarantee  that anything will be different for Ivy next year

so which is going to be better – pushing her forward or holding her back

She can’t keep on doing the first grade over and over until she’s done enough time

but has she done enough to be able to cope with second grade

and for Noah,

would I be doing him a social injustice holding him back

so that he can possibly catch up academically

or should I just let him move up and hope that he will improve.

Here are some things I do know:

I won’t put one up a grade and hold the other back – they’re twins and I think they should stick together regardless of what decision is made.

I’m not sure about separating them next year in class and that adds another layer into an already complicated thought process.

This is certainly not as clear cut for me as it was when I chose to repeat Immy and Maddy.

I have a meeting with the teachers next week to hear their ideas.

Until then, I’d really like to hear your thoughts.

Did you repeat a grade at school?

Was it okay or did you think it was awful

or have you made the decision to repeat your child?

Did they cope okay

and if you had to do it again, would you?

To repeat or not to repeat is the question.









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26 Responses to “To repeat or not to repeat.”

  • Fiona:

    They simply don’t repeat here in qld so while my oldest probably should they won’t do it.

    I would consider letting them go. Noah will receive the support to catch up and ivy too. But if you hold Noah back when he is horrified at the thought, he may resent ivy and think its because you held her back. I think they will surprise you if you let them go on as planned. I know I don’t know them on a personal level but as I rad that my gut said don’t do it. They both have their reasons for why you are thinking about this but I really think they will both do fine. Plus their teacher will be honest with you if they have concerns about them moving forward.

  • Helena:

    I was offered the option at the end of Yr 1 last year in Qld only because they were introducing the new curriculum but chose not to because of the social side. Doing distance education they are in a small group of peers anyway and everybody knows they have repeated. He has learning support and does yr 1 english but coped well with yr 2 maths and science. Ask how the teacher feels they are doing and what support is in place. I moved to NSW in highschool and repeated half of year 9 before moving back to Qld and jumping up to year 10 with no problems but it was hard with new schools and people. I didn’t really feel like I fitted in until Yr 11 with a new group of kids coming in.

  • Pixie:

    I think follow your gut. If you feel they need to repeat,then do it

    Noah will get over t soon enough and they are both young enough for it not to affect them but help them instead

  • katrina (2 comments.):

    A very difficult decision to make when you treating them the same and not as individual people…and I don’t mean that in a nasty way, I just mean that you are talking about what is good for one, then what might be good for the other but then state that they will have to stay together….will this always happen? What if there is major differences by the end of the next school year? Would you keep one back to help the other or push one up to move with the other? Something that is so much harder to know when you are talking twins….from what I have seen with my own children and with other children (I used to work within our primary school doing one on one work with kids who needed the extra help) is that every child is individual and needs to be assessed seperately from others….what is good for one child is not necessarily good for the other….and this I am talking about non twin as well…I have one who was pushed through and it was the best thing for her, her temperament, the fact that she would have got bored in class if kept back to repeat (and a bored child usually becomes a problem child in the class) and the other was kept back from starting as we didn’t feel she was ready to start school as she was very shy and not very confident…keeping her back gave her a chance to increase her confidence and this helped her so much with school

  • Immy:

    The year Will died, I don’t remember much about school at all. I remember laying my head down most days and staring at a green poster about how to write a recount. I don’t remember anything I learnt, I don’t even remember who was in my class. When you asked us how we would feel about repeating, I think I was relieved, because when the numbness of loss began to wear off I felt so overwhelmed with not only what I’d missed academically but socially as well. I had lost all my friends and didn’t understand where I stood anymore.
    I don’t ever regret repeating. I think that extra year is what we all needed to find our feet., to re learn how to fit back in to everyday life after a year of anything but ordinary.

  • rachel:

    This is a huge issue ad big decision for you all to make.
    Is the room this term to make a decision? See how Noah goes after his diagnosis and how Ivy goes with her health.
    Ivy seems to cope well and her learning not suffer rom so much time away, which is fantastic and a huge benefit for her.
    Noah wants to move forward and now you are ontop of the problems he wa having, he will msot likely conquer through it now.
    But nothign wrong with a little settling and adjusting time of year one again, and then making some goals and plans for a smooth transition into year two the following year, or maybe that can be done this term, ready for year two next year.
    Ivy n Noah although very young, are quite wise and strong minded, think they will do very well with either decision.. and Tiff, you have your gut n mind to guide you, it rarely lets you down.. if ever!

  • Cat@jugglingact (11 comments.):

    Oh gosh, I am so glad I stumbled onto your blog. I have twins that has to go to grade R next year but the one had a sight problem plus sensory processing disorder. So they have recommended he repeats grade RR partially, i am so scared we are not making the right decision in keeping him back . There is no way we can keep the other twin back though

  • river (194 comments.):

    I suggest letting them move on, but get some tutoring for Noah. Those key concepts need to be learned and he certainly can’t pass on to Third grade at the end of next year without them. By then it may be even harder (socially) for him to stay back.
    I repeated the first year of high school. I wasn’t mortified, but I was ashamed of myself. I’d breezed through primary school with no effort at all, so didn’t put much effort into high school. Failed the exams. Big mistake on my part. I did much better the second time around because I already knew the work, but then in second year high, I put in the effort and did well, coming top of the class in a couple of subjects.

  • Tiff (118 comments.):


    I don’t think I’m just treating them as twins. I think I am trying to take everything into consideration but I don’t see how separating them by a year is going to be in either of their best interests. How will the child who is held back feel when he or she knows she is the same age as the other? For me all that will do is make one child feel inferior.

  • Melissa Mitchell (42 comments.):

    I don’t think anyone but you, and possibly their teacher(s?) can give you a recommendation for Ivy and Noah. We aren’t seeing them every day, and we don’t know just how far behind Noah is at present, academically.

    I imagine Ivy will feel the same struggles socially whichever way you go. As you said, there is no guarantee that next year will be smooth (healthwise) and even if it is, she’s going to struggle for a little bit to find her place in the social order. So I think it’s much of a muchness for Ivy if she’s academically ready to move up.

    Noah is another story. It’s difficult to say whether he will get the support to catch up next year. Do you know if he is behind everyone in his class? Or perhaps just not doing as well as he could be? Because if he’s just struggling a bit, but other children are too, then it is a reasonable expectation that next year’s Year Two teachers will have a number of children needing extra support and will accommodate. But if he’s truly behind the vast majority of his peers, that’s another thing again. If he’s really so far behind that second grade concepts will elude him, then I think repeating is the best thing.

    My sister started Grade one, and didn’t cope at all. She had major issues with bladder control and there wasn’t a single day that she didn’t have an accident or two. (She was a bed wetter until her mid teens). After a term, my mother (with the school’s support) made the decision to pull her out and start her again the following year with our younger sister (there’s just 13 months between them). They started together and blossomed. She never looked back. So in that case, it was an excellent decision.

    I feel like (and who am I? I don’t actually know him) Noah is the kind of boy that will make friends wherever he goes. He seems charming and funny and I imagine he will have no problem finding a new posse and being the coolest kid of them all. So for me, it would honestly come down to academics. And I’d be asking the teacher to be as blunt as she possibly can with me about how far behind he was.

  • Bron (2 comments.):

    I hope the class teacher can give some clear ideas and support of where the kids are best placed for next year. Go with your gut after gathering all the info possible x good luck , Bron.

  • katanya:

    Hi Tiff,

    I live in Queensland and I repeated my son’s grade 1- it was hard to convince them, I had to go to a panel and they did assessments, and warned me about psychological effects and him being bored. At the time I did it for social and emotional maturity, and he was tiny compared to the rest of his year.
    They have a check list and the check listed said he should repeat. Interestingly the main reason they didn’t want him to was academically he was keeping up despite the other issues. He didn’t seem to “fit” with that year level..he was at least a year behind..
    Fast forward and he is now in year 2 – the second year of year 1 was hard..He was bored in maths (saying it was too easy- they would’t give him extra) , he struggled to find new friendship groups, though made a friend…I felt like I made a mistake, he kept saying “I should be in year 2″..the amount of time I doubted myself last year exceeded my fingers.. the behavioural issues were still there but he was now the middle of his class physically and even came second in cross country..so there were positives- one night that was really hard was when he cried at bed time and asked me”why did you make me do year 1 again?” agh my heart nearly broke..
    But then year 2 came this year, he has the best teacher, has been put in the top maths group (where they do advanced maths ) og my goodness he loves it, he has a group of 3 friends who he LOVES.. and this is when I say- I made the right choice- to see him succeed instead of struggle socially and be so confident with maths is like a dream.
    He was diagnosed with ADHD recently, it was something I wasn’t surprised by as all the indicators were there.
    would I do it again? Absolutely he’s in a great place now with everything- would that have happened anyhow? I am not sure, but I know that he now loves school, has passion for Maths and with a year level he fits so much better..

  • Karan:

    Yikes that’s a tough one. I can see both Katrina and Melissa mitchells gist. Not having twins though I don’t know. With mine, my big girl has to be held back from starting school as dept of Ed has done an IQ test and sign her off from starting due to mild intellectual disability and I feel a lot of worry coz she is quite social and all her friends will be a year ahead . I have to take it under advisement from her ot, speechy, teacher & school counsellor. The decision is heartbreaking but friends come and go.
    If there was not enough extra support or things like reading recovery groups etc and advisors were on the fence as what to do re your Noah I’d let him continue and hold Ivy back. It depends on their individual readiness. They will always have the special bonds on being beautiful twinnies. With my girl, my sleepless nights are that as time marches on the gap between her and her peers gets wider and the reality of her lot in life and the limitations it poses are more palpable. I hate it soo much but I can’t do anything. There is no cure or thing I can do to fix it. I have to meet her where’s she’s at and not where I wish she was. I get such a heavy ache in my chest worrying about how it will effect her psycho-socially but I can’t do anything to stop it from happening except be there just like you do already for all your kiddies.
    You will make the right decision for them. You know them best and you’re a smart woman. Xo

  • Immy:

    I think you’re completely right to not separate them. To hold one back and not the other would create a rift between them that nothing could really fix. There is just the strongest need to be with one another; to be with them, there for them, to have them there for you. To have one be in the year above would take some of that assurance, that safety, away. As a twin, I can’t think of anything worse.

  • Katie:

    i’m the second eldest girl amid four boys, & all four of my brothers have repeated somewhere along the line. my older brother repeated kindergarten. my younger brother did an extra year of pre-school, as he just wasn’t ready for kindergarten. my next younger brother repeated first grade, & my baby brother (now 10) repeated kindergarten as well. i was the only one who didn’t repeat.

    i think all of my brothers would have coped socially with advancing grades, except my baby brother. but academically they just weren’t where they needed to be to move forward. the brother who repeated first grade manage to advance only because he has a photographic memory. he did well in tests because he remembered things, but it wasn’t until the end of first grade that we realised he really understood nothing!

    none of my brothers had any problems with repeating. my baby brother was bullied a little bit by his ‘friends’ in the higher grade, but i may or may not have given them murderous looks so terrible that they never bothered him again. it taught billy a lot of empathy for others, having experienced that. he was really loving & supporting to the ‘new’ kindy kids, helping them when he could & showing them around etc.

    even having repeated, none of my brothers are what you would call ‘academic.’ they are not stupid by any means, but school work is just not what makes them tick. give them a machine or a motor to play with, & they’ll learn in five minutes what it would have taken them a term with a text book. what i’m trying to say, is that repeating them didn’t really make them academically equal with the rest of the class. which is what i wonder with noah. all it may do is make him feel out of place & different.

    maybe have a chat with them both. you might be surprised with their opinions once you really explain what you’re thinking.
    i don’t envy your decision, but i know you will make the right one for both noah & ivy. xx

  • Megan (4 comments.):

    My younger brother repeated 3rd grade. He too is dyslexic and the school was the ones pushing for it, my mother did not really want to. She did and while he had a little trouble making new friends at first he did find some and is still doing well socially. He felt the long term benefit he got from repeating for the academics outweighed any short term social issues. Now he was not behind in any other subjects except for reading and writing and he still has huge issues with writing(spelling) but is a much better reader, however my mother got him tutors as she no longer feels/felt the school coould really help him in that area.

    The way I see it I do not think a year back for Ivy will be good if she never struggled academicly she will get bored the time she is there. However Noah may need the year back to get caught up academicly now that you are working towards him overcoming his issues the sonner this is done the better. Wanting to keep them together I do not think that keeping Ivy back if she is willing will hurt her academicly you just have to make sure she does not get too bored when she is in school and being in the same year where she does not have to worry about keeping up academicly may help her socially or it may not, were you ever planning on having them in different classes(same year), if that is an option, as this may help Ivy more socially as she will not be able to rely too much on her brother(there is a set of twin I work with that at 3 do better apart then they do together)I know every set of twins are different and you would know best if that would make thing better or worse. In the end it is up to you and I am sure you will make the right decision for the long term succes of your children.

  • Jess (18 comments.):

    I have thought about with my second, and I’d she was still struggling this term, like she was at the start of the year, I would do it no questions asked. Thankfully she has caught up significantly.
    Our school has composite classes, does yours? Because if they went into a 1/2, they would still be in year two,but if they needed more assistance, it wold be easier and less obvious, if you know what I mean? That’s my saving grace for Bridie next year, who we are also seeking a dyslexia diagnosis for.

  • Veronica (703 comments.):

    I think if they were mine, I would feel incredibly torn.

    Has Ivy done enough to cope with 2nd grade? Probably not – but could there be support put in place to help her catch up? And Noah, if he’s made friends, it probably is a social injustice to repeat him, will his peers suggest that he’s being repeated because he’s not clever enough? (I know they would have when I was at school.)

    I can’t really say what I’d do, as I don’t have the experience with them that you do. I DO know that you will do exactly what is right for them, even if it takes hindsight to see that. xxx

  • tricia (169 comments.):

    When I was 5, I started Kindergarten in a 2 room school house. I flourished… so much that when the next year rolled around and we had moved to a bigger city, the decision was made to place me in (gasp) 3rd grade. THAT

  • tricia (169 comments.):

    When I was 5, I started Kindergarten in a 2 room school house. I flourished so much that when the next year rolled around and we had moved to a bigger city, the decision was made to place me in (gasp) 3rd grade. THAT was a disaster because the other children couldn’t cope with a “baby” being in the same class with them and bullied me horrendously. I was placed back in 2nd grade by mid term. When that happened, I felt stupid even though the opposite was true. The next year I repeated 2nd grade because my home life had drastically changed and I had developed selective mutism. Even with all of that I was a year younger than most of my peers and we moved around enough that no one knew that I had repeated.

    With my oldest child, I had her repeat 6th grade. Up until that time I had homeschooled her and wasn’t sure that she was academically ready for 7th grade. I shouldn’t have worried. However, repeating the 6th grade was good for her socially because it allowed her time to adjust to a school setting without struggling to learn new material. If I had that to do over again, I wouldn’t hold her back.

    I know with twins there is the tendency to make group decisions and I don’t know how I would handle that if the children were mine. However, my girls are only a year apart and holding M back means that they are in the same grade. I had to work hard to not let that factor into my decision because the truth is they are individuals with different abilities and needs.

    For Ivy, if she is doing well academically, I would push her forward. For Noah, I would weigh what was in my heart against all the variables: social adjustments, academic achievements, Dave’s opinion, and the insight of the teachers. In the end, whatever you choose will be best, I have faith in your decision as a mom!

  • Mum:

    This is a tough one, I know and whatever decision is made will probably be the right one anyway, as you see it. However, bear in mind that a change can always be made if it is needed, and the school & teachers are willing to comply. My only dilemma about repeating was trying to decide if it was the best thing for your sister to repeat YR 10 for all the reasons you know too well. In the end, it didn’t matter anyway, whatever the decision.

    In term one this year, it was agreed to try separating Ivy & Noah in different classes. Socially, Noah’s friends were Ivy’s friends and they were inseparable at school outside the classroom. Noah became inattentive in class and somewhat lost socially when Ivy’s health meant she was not able to attend, even though they were in different classes. The decision then was to place Noah back into Ivy’s class so they could stay together but Ivy’s necessary protracted absences meant that while Noah was not keeping up with his peers scholastically, he did well on his own socially.

    Now, with Noah’s dyslexia diagnosed and assistance in place for him, his previous inattentiveness explained and his huge improvements already academically, my thoughts are that he will not suffer scholastically by advancing to 2nd grade. Socially, he will be able to maintain and consolidate his friendships.

    Academically, Ivy has maintained her place and standard, despite her prolonged absences and her teachers seem confident that Ivy will continue to do so. Socially, her confidence may increase if those friendships made this year, can be continued next year in 2nd grade.

    In the end, all you can do is listen to their teachers’ advice and do what you feel in your heart is best for both of them, together. Maybe trying each in
    separate classes again and in the same grade (2nd) could bring the same results socially for Ivy as it did for Noah in Ivy’s absence. xoxo

  • Lydia La La ( comments.):

    This is only Yr 1. ( I think?)
    Noah and Ivy have enough able siblings to tutor them at home when ever they need to catch up.
    Let them move on up.
    Yr 1 doesn’t really count in the big picture.
    Having little mates makes such a lot of difference to a happy school life and that matters. Also, who would want their
    child to have to make their way with younger school mates for the rest of their school life?

    Better to repeat at a later year if ever needed.

  • Hell:

    A bit different here – i was moved up a grade halfway through a primary school year. Academically – it was fantastic, but socially, it was incredibly difficult. I didn’t move up in social maturity as well, and I wasn’t particularly accepted by my new classmates. I’ve never had the same social “security” since, so much so that it was suggested in early high school that I repeat a year, start over with people with similar social maturity, but be offered intense extra educational opportunities. That didn’t happen, which is a blessing – It would have made me even more different and socially awkward. I think there is a logic and reason to the stepwise, cohort-driven school system. School is difficult enough for most children, without adding extra layers of “difference”.

    Just my 2c…

  • Malady:

    I’d let them move on.

    But its your choice Tiff, and I’m certainly not in any position to be making any call (even though I did LOL). Its your choice – your kids. You can – and I have no doubt will – make the right choice for them, taking everything into account.

    You are an amazing mother. Your decision making skills are inspiring.

  • Tash:

    I think Immy’s experience and advice is invaluable! My mother is a teacher and she has told me nay times that kids who repeat always always settle in. Parents agonize over social issues but the kids do so well. Incidentally, my mum is a remedial teacher and founder of the dylsexia association here. My two cents would be that another year for Noah to get a good solid grasp of the work he’s been doing would be great for him, especially now that he has been diagnosed and is receiving help. Nothing beats a solid foundation. You’ll see a huge change in him academically if you let him repeat, and after all they will be together so they’ll have each other in the first few weeks of school until they start forming another peer group in the new yr 1 class. I wouldn’t hesitate to let them repeat.

  • valarie k:

    I didn’t repeat any grades myself. I did hold two of my kids back in first grade. The first time it was my daughter. She started school at 4, turning 5 in October, and was the youngest in her class. She struggled with everything, just everything. We passed her in kindergarten and did lots of work over that summer to catch her up. First grade came and while her teacher was just lovely, she continued to struggle. I helped in the classroom and watched my vivacious daughter slink down in her desk, head down, desperately hoping the teacher wouldn’t call on her. She struggled to make friends, frequently being friended by the class bully and treated unkindly. She just wasnt ready, and although I met lots of opposition (from my mother and husband) I chose to keep her back. Now at 15 and 9th grade, she does pretty well. Certainly she is far more confident and strong, and I don’t think that would have happened had she been forced to continue in a situation she wasnt ready for way back when she was 6. My son was a different story….due to asthma and CVID, he was ill much of his early life and behind in some key areas. He did okay in first grade, but was extremely shy and struggled with reading. He missed time due to IVIG and illness and had trouble catching up. Academically, he could have gone on to second grade, but I felt like he would just sink if I did that to him, so I kept him back. He didn’t mind. Now, in 6th grade, I see him much less shy, a good group of friends, strong. He still misses a lot of time due to illness and infusions and I would rather have him a little ahead of the game than constantly struggling to keep up.

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