Child finishing school at a young age? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 02-27-2007, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know whether I'd call my son gifted. He seems pretty average in comparison to some of the kids on here. He turned 6 in January. He has a very large vocabulary and speaks like a person much older. He is reading and doing addition, subtraction and easy multiplication. That is pretty average for a first grader in my mind but he seems to be miles above the work that the Ontario curriculum is doing for 1st grade. We are considering using their distance education program and I would have to start him in 2nd grade because the 1st grade stuff would be way too easy for him. He is an incredibly fast learner so now I am wondering whether it would be alright for him to finish school much younger than his peers? He would only be in senior kindergarten if he was in school because he's a January baby. If he completed more than one grade per calendar year (I think he would probably complete 3 school years per 2 calendar years) he would potentially finish grade 12 by 14 or 15 years old. Would this be too much of a problem in regards to college? I am rambling I know but if you can understand what I am trying to say - any input?

Shawna, married to Michael, mommy to Elijah 1/18/01, Olivia 11/9/02, and Eliana 1/22/06
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#2 of 10 Old 02-28-2007, 01:11 PM
 
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It sounds like you are homeschooling? I do not have experience with it, but I have heard one strategy to take a few years off in middle school to do some special studies that aren't related to academic stuff... like travel to foreign country, or independent study in an area of interest, and then start high school at "regular" age. High school subjects can often be pursued at different levels.

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#3 of 10 Old 02-28-2007, 01:39 PM
 
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I'm a homeschooler too. I can't really imagine my child progressing lock step through a curriculum and that being the only thing we do. It doesn't seem to me like that would really be adequate to consider the child finished with school. There are so many other opportunities - local classes, internships, mentors, learning an instrument, travel, etc. So, I would consider what your overall goals are and how the curriculum might fit in with them and not let the curriculum define all you do. There is always the opportunity to go wider and not just progress in a linear fashion. We've looked to time consuming things like learning to play an instrument and studying more foreign languages.

That said, there are certainly options for students who are ready to attend college earlier to do so. Typically these are students who are highly gifted and have a strong desire to progress beyond what they are able to do in school or homeschooling. Our son tentatively plans to enroll full time at age 14 (he's attending part time now). Our goal is to try to keep him from graduating college before age 17 or 18. There are schools that are open to accepting younger students, but expected to be not just doing well for a kid their age, but to be a good candidate of any age if that makes sense.
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#4 of 10 Old 03-05-2007, 03:39 PM
 
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I think its great you want to let your son work at his own level, whatever that is. I think there will be a lot of issues to consider as your son grows older- I personally would worry about the social issues of college for a person under 18- but I'm sure that there are options I know nothing about. If he's only 6, I'd just work on making sure learning is fun and he doesn't become bored.

Laura, Mama to Mya 7/02, Ian 6/07 and Anna 8/09
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#5 of 10 Old 03-05-2007, 05:09 PM
 
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I finished HS at 15- it was a BIG fight to take college courses but it completely worked out wonderfully for me. When I was 16 I got sponsored by Rotary to do international youth exchange to Poland and ended up learning several languages... that opened the door to many scholarships and I ended up with a full ride to college I also managed to finished a 6 yr college program in 3.5 years. I really, highly recommend you let him work at his level and don't stress at all if he finishes early- it can be a struggle to go to college early but many opportunities open up. I wish my parents would have let me finish earlier but they refused another 2 grade skips. Like PP said though, be sure that you aim for a well-rounded education- I don't think things would have been as easy for me if I weren't given the opportunity to travel, take music classes, etc.

ETA as far as socially, I felt MUCH more accepted in college even though everyone was older. It was much easier to relate to people at my learning level vs at my age level
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#6 of 10 Old 03-05-2007, 05:42 PM
 
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My DH finished high school at 15, college at 18, and his PhD in Math at the most prestigious/hardest program in the US at 23... He burned out, he regretted not spending more time in school and college, so he can learn things more thoroughly. He also felt cheated socially-never could go to parties at college, was too young to fit in graduate school, etc.

We have a son who is 7 (almost 8) and very ahead in school, and DH is adamant about not letting him skip ahead. Instead we educate at home; he plays cello and practices at least 45 minutes a day. He is in a Spanish bilingual program, and I am going to teach him my native language at home. We love to read and discuss interesting topics at home... I hope DH is right!!
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#7 of 10 Old 03-05-2007, 10:32 PM
 
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One of the trickiest parts of parenting I think is not forgetting everything you learned from experience, but also remembering your kids aren't the same people and their experiences with the same thing may be very different.

A resource I'd recommend for anyone considering these issues:
http://www.amazon.com/Exceptionally-.../dp/0415314917
This book of case studies was really helpful to me. It points out that there are a lot of different paths for different kids and it depends so much on the kid. There are kids who go to college early that are very happy with it - in fact most who do are. I found it helpful to read about some kids who were similar to mine.
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#8 of 10 Old 03-06-2007, 05:16 PM
 
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Personally, I think it can be a problem (not that it is, but that depending on the kid, it can be...). I mean, there are a lot of issues that college kids deal with that are really not appropriate for a 14 or 15 year old. For me, college was a lot of fun. You really learn about yourself. There are lots of people, so you can much more easily find a group that you fit in with, the classes can be challenging, there is a lot to learn away from home... By putting a 14 year old in college, you are not only potentially exposing them (and expecting them to deal with) mature situations but you are also denying them that experience of "college life" when the appropriate time rolls around. I mean, I don't think a dorm is a particularly healthy place for a 14 year old. Yet, for an 18 year old it is a great learning experience and lots of fun. You miss that whole boat (and others) if you are done with college by 18...

I would do like others suggest- taking some time to do something else (travel, some sort of independent study opportunity, maybe some sort of work or internship) or maybe do community college (classes are still challenging and interesting for a high schooler, but without many of the additional social aspects of a 4-year college that a 14 year old might not be ready for- kid can be at home, learn at a college level, and sometimes the classes transfer, so the whole "going away to college for 4 years" is still totally a possibility and you can maybe skip some of the freshman intro classes).

I know that often, gifted kids like to be with people who are older than them. And that gifted kids can be more emotionally mature and responsible. And for some, college a year or two early is fine, But, it is not always the case. And could you really imagine college 20 year-olds truely embracing, as a real friend, a 14 year old? And, if so, what risks does that come with? And if they don't, it could be mighty lonely... I say, college is best for 17/18+. Once they are there, they will fall in with other gifted people or others who they click with- those high school social woes that can make things difficult for kids fall apart in even a small(er) college where there are many, many thoughtful young adults to be friends with and making friends is much easier. Before 17/18 (in most cases- no absolutes in life, but I think in general) they are not necessisarily ready for the situations that a college kid confronts- from work load expectations to being away from home to dangers from campus living to sexual experimentation.

But, he's only 6, right? Take your time. There is a lot of life between 6 and 16 . You might find he has a real interest in something and comes up with a plan for himself!
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#9 of 10 Old 03-06-2007, 06:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexsam View Post
Personally, I think it can be a problem (not that it is, but that depending on the kid, it can be...). I mean, there are a lot of issues that college kids deal with that are really not appropriate for a 14 or 15 year old. For me, college was a lot of fun. You really learn about yourself. There are lots of people, so you can much more easily find a group that you fit in with, the classes can be challenging, there is a lot to learn away from home... By putting a 14 year old in college, you are not only potentially exposing them (and expecting them to deal with) mature situations but you are also denying them that experience of "college life" when the appropriate time rolls around. I mean, I don't think a dorm is a particularly healthy place for a 14 year old. Yet, for an 18 year old it is a great learning experience and lots of fun. You miss that whole boat (and others) if you are done with college by 18...
As someone who is in this situation (with a child in early college) I wanted to comment on two things. First, I think we need to be really, really careful with the tone of "you are denying them..." or "you are exposing them...". In our family at least parents aren't the only ones making the educational decision. The child has a say. I wasn't interested in having my child attend college early but his interest was strong and it has allowed him access to studying in a way that appeals to him. Oh and most students who attend college early live at home. They still get the transition to adulthood when they go to graduate school or move away from home.

While I think there is value in the going to college at 18 experience and I personally enjoyed it, I see it as one path, but not the best one for all or the only one. I know people who are glad they didn't go to college at all and people who were apprenticing in a trade at that time. No one path is right for everyone. What we decided when we initially made the choice to homeschool a gifted child was that it was best to separate out academics from other maturities rather than telling a child they had to freeze (not that it would really be possible!) academically to wait for their chronological age to catch up. To me allowing early college is simply an extension of that same idea. One thing that people need to keep in mind when talking about early college is that is that the students who consider it are typically highly and profoundly gifted and college at 14 may already be really slowing down for the student. To me the bottom line is that EVERY person deserves to have access to opportunities that are challenging and meaningful to them and for some that includes early college. It really isn't any more appealing to sit bored in a classroom at 18 than it was at age 8.

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Originally Posted by alexsam View Post
maybe do community college (classes are still challenging and interesting for a high schooler, but without many of the additional social aspects of a 4-year college that a 14 year old might not be ready for- kid can be at home, learn at a college level, and sometimes the classes transfer, so the whole "going away to college for 4 years" is still totally a possibility and you can maybe skip some of the freshman intro classes).
I agree this can be a great path for some students. I wouldn't generalize totally though that classes will be challenging for all typical age high schoolers. Some community college offerings are remedial in nature and if what the student is craving is learning in a group of intellectually engaged people who care about the material that may not be the place they find it. Some students may well not find a lot challenging for them at a community college when they are 14, 15 and 16.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexsam View Post
And could you really imagine college 20 year-olds truely embracing, as a real friend, a 14 year old?
I think it is very possible to be accepted as an intellectual peer and a classmate. That's all we are looking for. There are plenty of other places to make friends. I've read the suggestion that gifted kids often do best when they are able to separate out their maturities - neighborhood friends, school friends, soccer friends, music friends, etc. That is something we've really seen with our son. There are adults in his life who have shared intellctual interests with that are friends of a sort. They don't have to be the same as the as the similar age running around in the park friends.
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#10 of 10 Old 03-06-2007, 11:01 PM
 
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To me, this discussion is much like not allowing a child to enter kindergarten when they may accademically be ready for and need it sooner than age 5. There are ways to work with young children to help them get what they need and want when they are ready for it. It might not be a well beaten path, but most issues in the gifted arena aren't! It's thinking out of the box and coming up with a better solution than the status quo.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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