How to beat third grade retention, or any grade retention

Why would your bright, creative child be at risk for third grade retention or any grade retention? If your child is a neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner (i.e. sometimes referred to as a hands-on learner or visual learner) they are behind due to their learning differences, executive function challenges and pandemic related challenges, even if they were in preschool.

Third grade retention is more likely to be a risk with mandatory retention rules, but students in early grades are at risk for grade retention too.

The good news is that if your child is a smart struggling neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner, they can often make significant gains in reading fluency and reading comprehension in months with our strength-based training.

We know that most smart struggling students:

  • Are a neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner (hands-on) who can do far better with experiential learning that leverages their strengths
  • Have some combination of working memory, processing speed, visual processing, attention, and/or anxiety challenges
  • Are far smarter than present results would indicate

At 3D Learner, we have helped many students to:

  • Beat grade retention and score at, above, or even well above grade level on tests
  • Rediscover their natural love of learning
  • Improve their working memory, processing speed, and self-esteem
  • Improve their attention and emotional regulation


3D Learner can help the neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner beat third grade retention or other grade retention by making significant gains in reading fluency and reading comprehension in months. 3D Learner’s comprehensive educational assessment reveals important issues that many other assessments miss.  For instance, one parent had a recent psycho-educational test that indicated her daughter had an attention, working memory and processing speed issue. After her daughter completed our assessment, she was surprised to learn that her daughter:

  1. Was a neurodivergent, right brain and/or kinesthetic learner (hands-on)
  2. Was a lot smarter than present results would indicate
  3. Had a significant visual processing issue,  skipping words and lines when reading
  4. Struggled with small words, reading fluency, reading comprehension, and sequencing
  5. Had significant attention and emotional regulation issues
  6. Was very strong in 5 of the 11 skills we assessed — she had a great visual memory, was very creative and had a larger vocabulary than most
  7. But she had a real problem with the small words that often change the meaning of a sentence (i.e. words like the, but, what, if) and had significant anxiety challenges

By understanding how she learned best, we developed an engaging, personalized program built around her strengths and interests. In just months. 3D Learner helped her score above grade level on the standardized test. When they saw these results, the parents asked “Why do schools not teach the way the neurodivergent learner learns best?”  We explained that schools, like most learning centers, focus on a child’s weaknesses.

Schools often do not:

  • Leverage the student’s strengths and interests
  • Identify and address issues like working memory, visual processing, or processing speed
  • Ignite a love for learning, which is an essential part of the 3D Learner Experiential Learning Process.

Her daughter made great progress and was actually in the highest reading group the following year.


We see grade retention risks as a great opportunity for parents to make a true life-long difference in their child’s learning.

If you have a child in any elementary school grade who is struggling in school, 3D Learner can help. To discuss your child’s learning style and needs, call us at 561-361-7495.

Frequently asked questions about grade retention & the neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner

Question: What is the key reason for third grade retention and for earlier grade retention?
Answer: In Florida public and charter schools, third grade retention is primarily based on the student’s inability to do well on the English Language Assessment.  While anxiety may be an issue, significant reading comprehension issues are often the primary issue.  In the earlier  grades, reading fluency is often the criteria for grade retention.  At 3D Learner, we identify and address both reading fluency and reading comprehension issues.

Question: If many students at risk for grade retention are a neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner, why do the schools not teach this way?
Answer: Schools tend to have a one size fits all approach.  There has been a real push towards phonics and phonemic awareness.  Unfortunately, this does not provide the experiential learning most right brain or visual learners need.  Even worse, we have seen smart and even gifted learners face grade retention because their needs were not met.

Question: Many programs focus on phonics and phonemic awareness.  What are the key skills the neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner needs to master before phonics will work?
Answer Word recognition and sight word vocabulary are two of the skills needed before phonics will work. Processing speed, working memory, and attention are also skills that must be mastered.

Question: Experiential learning used to be the norm in kindergarten, first and second grade.  What happened?
Answer: If that were still the case, the neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner would be more likely to thrive.  The challenge today is that many of the standards are not age appropriate.  This results in less experiential learning, which negatively impacts the neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner and makes grade retention more likely.

Question Is it too late in the school year to help beat third grade retention or any grade retention?
Answer It is almost never too late to beat third grade retention or grade retention.  The rules on third grade retention in Florida provide many ways to beat third grade retention. The best one is to score a Level 2 on the state assessment. There are also ways to be retested at the end of the summer or at the start of the next school year.

Question: I am not sure if my child is a neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner  or what issues are holding my child back.  I fear third grade retention.  Is there a way to talk with your team and to assess my child?

Here is a no cost screening tool you can use to see if your child might be a neurodivergent, right brain or kinesthetic learner.

Answer: You can call us at 561-361-7495 or click here to schedule a How to beat Third Grade Retention or other Grade Retention risks Conversation

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