Becky M. was the second-youngest child in her entire high school. That's because she started tenth grade at age 14, having essentially skipped kindergarten. Looking back, she thinks it was a wise move on the part of her parents and teachers. But once she got to high school she was, in her words, "traumatized." Over the years, she had never developed enough socially to catch up with her classmates.
Finding out that your child is "gifted," whatever confusing myriad of things that means today, is welcome news to most parents. But in can also present some perplexing questions, none of which have easy answers. For instance, if your child is not being challenged enough in school, a teacher or principal may recommend skipping a grade so that your child will be stimulated at her intellectual level. But is this the right option for your child?
The Social Challenge
Jess, a Circle of Moms member who is also a teacher, says that kids who skip grades for academic reasons end up being socially ostracized and held back from sports because they are smaller than their new peers. She's not alone in this view; the vast majority of Circle of Moms members who have weighed in on this topic agree that the benefits of skipping a grade are not worth risking the potential consequences. Becky for one, who is mentioned earlier, didn't fully understand those consequences until many years later, when she ended up dropping out of high school.
When Skipping a Grade Makes Sense
In cases like Suzanne's son's though, skipping a grade can turn out well. Due to his January birthday, he was always the oldest in his class. So when he was asked to skip from first to third grade, she jumped at the chance. It was a win-win in his situation because he was already physically, emotionally, and socially at the level of his (slightly) older peers.
Robin also stands by the grade-skipping option. She has six kids, all of whom are considered gifted in her school system. She has had many responses to the various needs of her precocious kids, from homeschooling them to French lessons. But she also feels that skipping grades benefited her kids at different times.
Gifted kids in rural school districts with fewer resources often have no other option than skipping grades. This is the case for Cheryl's son, whose school doesn't have any enrichment programs.
Alternatives to Skipping a Grade
Tabitha didn't want her son to be separated from his friends or feel undue pressure, and so decided that her son would not skip a grade. Instead, he has volunteered in a special-needs classroom and received special work assignments from his teacher that are one grade-level up.
A member named "I-Fan" argues that, for gifted kids, skipping one grade may not even make that much of a difference academically. She recommends that families instead work within the system to find a challenging protocol for their gifted kids. Kylie agrees. After all, she says, would you want your child going to college, i.e., leaving home, at age 15? She thinks the crucial ingredient is a flexible system and a teacher willing to respond to your child as an individual.
Finally, when finances allow, Rachael recommends private school for gifted children. Many private schools have a lower teacher-to-student ratio than public schools and can tailor curriculum to your child's specific needs. Christina agrees; although she's not Catholic, she sent her son to a Catholic school because the teachers were able to challenge her son at his level — and because it was affordable.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.