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Skipping a grade?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I am looking for some advice on this topic, from personal or professional experience.
Ds2 just started first grade, and his teacher and the "special ed" teacher have asked us to come in for a talk because he is about one year ahead with reading and math. We knew this, and the initial plan was to provide him with extra work in the classroom. Now they are suggesting an alternative plan, where he would start spending afternoons in second grade, and if all goes well, move to second grade full time after Christmas.
I am concerned about the social/psycological impact of this, not only now, but also later, when he would be going to highschool a year early. He is fairly mature for his age, but not overly so, and who knows how he will develop in coming years.
Any suggestions, stories, reading recommendations?
post #2 of 15

I suggest you check out the gifted forum.

post #3 of 15

One year ahead should not be unmanageable in the classroom, in fact most classroom would have a kid or two working a grade above the current level. 


But it is worth a try to move to 2nd for reading/math and maybe staying in his home grade for other subjects?


**If I were you I would try the split grades and then reevaluate in a few weeks.** Base a skip in on how that goes and possible the IAS. The fact that they teachers are receptive is great- it means they want to work with your DS and make sure he is learning.


Does your state/country have Gifted funding/teachers? If so that may be a good option as well.



That said- a LOT factors into it. I would as them to do an Iowa Accleration Scale (IAS). That may give you a good idea on how your DS falls in the big picture. Then look at the area you are in: is it high red-shirted? Is your Ds old/young for grade? Are his writing skills above grade level (which can be tricky if writing is not at the level needed for 'moving' up grade) Is your Ds mature enough to do better in the next classroom up? What are the teachers like in the next grade up?



I can tell you our story:


DD are appropriate for grade in our state, but we moved from a state with another cut-off date and they were in PreK. They went from PreK to 1st. So they are young for grade currently in 2nd. They are the 2nd and 3rd youngest in the class but academically are at or above grade level across the board. Socially-- I would prefer they would have done K instead of 1st since they seem 'immature' but are actually at or around age level, but a year is a big leap. They are still 6 (turning 7 soon), some of their peers are already 8.


Academically- there are several other kids in their class that are above grade level as well. Writing/spelling is individualized, as is reading (done in groups). Math has some enrichment. So overall some kiddos that are a grade ahead have the ability to work at their level. Now if a kiddo was 3-4 years ahead, the school would have to find another solution.


If we move they will be *the* youngest (unless we move to a state with a Dec cut off) so I really am not terribly comfortable with it. One DD has other special needs so that makes it a unique situation, but still at times I wish we could have them in 1st with accommodations for 2/3/4th grade work! Haha...in a perfect world.


Another story:


My sister went to 3rd grade when in 2nd for reading. She was also young for grade. It did not work socially and since she went to a thematic school the 3rd grade themes did not fit the other subjects she was learning in 2nd.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you for sharing. We're in Belgium, not sure they use the IAS here? I actually doubt it.. But I might ask if they would consider using whatever they use locally to make a more complete assessment.
Writing is a point of attention, he does not write that well yet, so we would have to work on that at home as well.
I didn't go to the gifted forum as I'm not sure he's 'officially' gifted, prob 'academically advanced'. He definitely didn't read at age 3 or anything like that, so I'd feel a bit out of place there:o
I guess you're right, we should give the split a try and see how it goes, at least it is not anything definitive yet.
post #5 of 15

I directed you the gifted forum bc there is always alot of conversation and information there about skipping grades. I would have given my ds a similar label to what you have assigned your child and his teacher recommended him for the gifted program, we did the testing and he was accepted. He isn't prodigy or anything. What I have learned is that innovation is fostered by a continual stream of diverse opportunities and learning environments. The gifted program helps my child by providing opportunities that he would not otherwise have in his typical class.


If the teacher is bringing it up take the opportunity to discuss your questions with her, ask if you can speak with other families that have done similar things, ask your child what he thinks. Find out what will happen if it doesn't work out for him.

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Pbjmama, that makes sense, I will at least do a search and see what's already there. And yes, the steps you suggest make sense and that's what we'll do for starters.
Anybody have any thoughts about the longterm consequences, when the child gets older?
post #7 of 15

I also recommend that you post in the Gifted Forum for input. I think most people who post regularly in the Gifted Forum are pretty supportive and you will find some parents with helpful experience and advice to offer about grade skips and other accommodations. 


Regarding acceleration, my personal inclination is to try subject acceleration and other accommodations before a grade acceleration. I also think it's important to complete a careful assessment of readiness for a grade acceleration, and the IAS seems to be the preferred tool. Grade skips are a bigger commitment on everyone's part - parents, school and particularly the student - and more difficult to undo.  Having said that, the pendulum has swung and there is a lot more support these days for grade skipping than in the past few decades when it was pretty much completely out of favour. For some students, it is the most appropriate accommodation.  Those students do very well in the long-term.  Most people who favour grade skips will tell you to focus on the near term and meet his current needs rather than worrying too far into the future. 


One thing to consider is whether good accommodations are possible without the grade skip. Are there similar peers in his class or grade, so that cluster groups are possible? If you think he doesn't have the maturity and executive function to cope with a full grade skip this year, will subject acceleration work for a year and you can reconsider the grade skip next year?  


If the grade skip happens, what kind of ongoing support will be offered? For example, you mention writing skills - will there be modified, age-appropriate writing requirements for him? 


Another thing to keep in mind is how well the grade skip will meet your child's actual learning needs. How carefully have they assessed his abilities and achievements. Is it certain that he is only one year ahead academically? If he is two or three years ahead, then a single year grade skip may not meet his needs and other accommodations may be a better choice. 


Your search should have turned up a few conversations about these issues in the Gifted forum, but if it hasn't, I'd encourage you to cross-post there - or possibly in the Learning at School Forum, for more input. 

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks Olly, I did do some reading on the gifted forum, which was helpful. I get a little discouraged, because it seems in the US and maybe other countries as well, there are a lot more opportunities besides grade skipping, with gifted programs, extensive testing, expanding in the classroom etc. It seems these are quite limited here, but maybe I need to press a bit harder. Of course, it's possible opportunities exist in other schools/ towns as well, but that also seems like quite a radical thing to do. (aside from the logistics of it..)

Sometimes I just think, hey, I was always at the top of my class and did just fine, I loved school and I was happy in my class, so why bother, but then again I find it hard to judge if ds is "just smart" or "way smart" and he really needs something to happen..

post #9 of 15

Don't get too discouraged, I think there are challenges with schooling everywhere. They just differ in nature.  We've had a few challenges of our own along the way. On the bright side, your school is suggesting grade acceleration and that's an accommodation that a lot of school administrators resist even when it's apparent that it's a good solution for a student. A lot of parents have to fight for grade accelerations and even if it happens, there may not be a lot of ongoing support for the student after the grade skip. Since your school is open to the idea, hopefully they have a fair amount of experience with helping students manage grade skips.  Maybe there are even a few students at the school who have skipped recently or will skip and you'll find a few other families in the same situation for some support. 


How is he doing now in school? Is he enjoying the level of work he's getting? Are there indications that he's bored or getting frustrated with the pace of instruction or otherwise unhappy? Is he working well with his classmates? Is there any isolation or worse, ostracization because he is advanced?   

What is the atmosphere like in the upper grade class he would enter? Is there some diversity in physical size and development so he won't stand out as a younger kid? 


Aside from the academic curriculum, what are the expectations for developmental maturity and executive function in the upper grade - ability to work independently, ability to work in groups, organizational demands related to managing more subjects, tests and assignments, project deadlines, partial rotary schedules where students move to different classrooms for different subjects throughout the day........ 


If I understand, he'll be in 3rd grade in the fall, rather than 2nd. IME, there is a lot more written work in 3rd grade but there is still another year before expectations for independent work and organizational skills really kick in. From a developmental perspective, a skip from 1st to 3rd may be a little easier than a skip from, say, 2nd to 4th or 3rd to 5th. Then he will have a year to settle in before those non-curricular expectations complicate school life. So this may be a very good time for a skip, particularly with easing into it with a move to the 2nd grade class later this year. That's based on my experiences in our school system though - it may be very different in Belgium. Also, if he's a mature kid with a natural inclination for organization and personal management, these probably aren't concerns at all compared to finding a good fit for his academic level. 

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your insights and additional suggestions of what to consider and discuss. I guess I wasn't clear, he would do a split 1/2 grade until Xmas, and then go to 2nd year (if all goes well and all agree) from Xmas onward, so only one grade up. Have to run now, but thanks again!

post #11 of 15
Originally Posted by gabry View Post

Thanks for your insights and additional suggestions of what to consider and discuss. I guess I wasn't clear, he would do a split 1/2 grade until Xmas, and then go to 2nd year (if all goes well and all agree) from Xmas onward, so only one grade up. Have to run now, but thanks again!


Yes, that's what I understood. This academic year, he advances from 1st to 2nd and finishes 2nd grade. Then he starts 3rd grade next autumn (or whenever Belgium starts the new school year). 


Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

If I understand, he'll be in 3rd grade in the fall, rather than 2nd. 



ETA: Just realized that *I* wasn't clear - by "in the fall" I meant "the fall that is a year from now". 


I think the split 1/2 until December and then 2nd grade in the New year is a very good way to manage a grade acceleration, fwiw.  It's a gradual, easy move and less likely for there to be gaps in the curriculum. He moves on naturally with these  classmates and they will probably all soon forget that he didn't start out with them in kindergarten.  It truly is an "acceleration" rather than a "skip". 

Edited by ollyoxenfree - 9/21/12 at 7:59am
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Ok, I see what you meant now. I guess I'm trying to pretend it's not even close to fall yet ;-)
post #13 of 15

Just want to give you input. I have a 5yo and 7yo, both are bright but I have no idea if technically gifted or not. I'm in Denmark. The cut-off is Dec 31, which is somewhat flexible. Meaning it is the kinder garden who 98% of the time asses the children, and they very often keep october-december birthday kids in kinder garden an extra year. I have a 7yo with an October and a 5 yo with a late November birthday. Both of them were clearly ready to start on-time - which actually means they were young. My son was the 2nd youngest in his class - he started at 5 and almost all were 6 and one or two were 7. My daughter just started and I am guessing she is youngest in her class. On the plus: they were ready to start. Academically ready. Plus they are the calm, quiet type, so no social issues, from a teachers point of view. It would have been boring, and I would say, very unhealthy, to keep them in an environment that was too simple for them, where their friends had moved on. On the minus: my son is small for his age already, and being the youngest, looks even smaller. Which means he isn't really picked to be on the soccer team during recess, and isn't interested because he isn't good at it. Many of the boys are big into soccer here, so it does mean he looses something socially. But I think in the long run this is minor. He has his friends, and is comfortable at the grade level. My daughter also looks really small compared to many of the girls, but I think this is less of an issue because she is a girl. She really needed to be in school, because academically she will already be frustrated at this level. I could not in any good consciousness make her wait another year. Sometimes she says things which are a bit more simple or naive than her classmates, but I think this is because she has the life experiences of a 5.5 year old, not a nearly 7 yo. She had her nearly 7 yo classmate over yesterday, and they had a fun time. I think this naiveté will also decrease over time.

post #14 of 15

Well, my sister did skip a grade in a very similar manner as has been suggested for your ds (only when she was in 2-3rd, I believe).  I'm not her, but I don't recall her having any problems with the adjustment.  I believe they did try to make available extra help for the increased work, if she needed.  And it worked out pretty well (plus as her older sister, I was there to help out winky.gif).  She took up a musical instrument around the same time, and joined band with her new older-grade classmates at the same time, so probably something that helped her to make new friends in having a new activity and something that put her on the same 'level' as her new peers.


Later on - like in high school - there really didn't end up being any problems, other than having to work out taking driver's ed (which was a little different than her peers, since she was a year younger - but not a huge deal either since sometimes people do end up taking it at slightly differing ages).  Overall, she had a pretty independent and hard-working personality and ended up thriving academically -- and having a good personality to handle the challenge is probably what makes the most difference in having a good experience skipping grades.

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks Allison and Mumkimum, I appreciate you sharing your experiences, it definitely helps. Meanwhile I've been talking to people IRL as well, which can be confusing, but also helpful.

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