Advantages and Disadvantages to skipping a grade? Update- Post #24 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 07-17-2007, 01:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a almost six year old dd that will be entering Kindergarten in about two weeks. We have year round school, so she will start the beginning of August. The age deadline is Sept 1st, and she has an October b-day, so she will be one of the oldest.

DH and I are considering having her tested to skip Kindergarten and start 1st grade. I don't know that I would label her as "gifted," but she is extremely bright, and has an appetite for learning that astounds me. She is reading 3 and 4 letter words fluently, knows basic math facts, and has started figuring out vowel and consonant blends. She also has about 50-75 sight words.

She knows days of the week, months of the year, and is very very social. She is an extrovert- really is happiest around people, and is very eager to please. She's also a gifted musician- I'm a Suzuki violin teacher, and she's been doing lessons for two years. We're currently practicing about an hour a day, five to six days a week. And lest you think I'm a stage parent, she reminds me to practice everyday, and will not let us be done until we have done everything assigned to her. She's a very determined little girl.

Our public school is extremely over crowded- there's 1800 kids, and 13 kindergarten classes. The area where I live has boomed so fast that the school systems haven't been able to keep is. I worry a lot about her being completely bored in Kindergarten- I want her to be stimulated and excited about learning, rather than spend the whole year doing things that she's already comfortable with. I also don't want her to get lost in the massive crush of kindergarteners, although I'm not sure that 1st grade would be any better.

We have thought about homeschooling, but I don't think its a good fit for ou family. DD is very much an extrovert, and I don't think our relationship would survive homeschooling. (Although if the situation in the public school gets any worse, we might look at it more seriously.)

So, what are the disadvantages of skipping a grade? She'll be the youngest, but only by a few weeks. I know she's socially mature enough to handle it, and I don't think the transistion to an all day school would be a big one for her- I think she would love it. I'm not trying to push her, I just want to find the best situation for her.

And in the back of my mind, of course, is my experience from childhood. When I entered kindergarten, I was reading at an 8th grade level. My mom refused to skip me ahead, because she didn't want me in the same grade as my older brother. I hated the first few years of public school- not only because I was bored, but because I was always picked on for being the smart one. So I'm probably projecting a little bit.

Any experiences? Thoughts? I'm all ears.

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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#2 of 25 Old 07-17-2007, 01:34 AM
 
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She sounds like a perfect candidate for a grade skip. Would she be upset about skipping kindergarten? I mean, will it upset her sense of order or if she has been looking forward to it. How are her fine motor skills? But really, it sounds like it is likely the best thing for her.
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#3 of 25 Old 07-17-2007, 01:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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She sounds like a perfect candidate for a grade skip. Would she be upset about skipping kindergarten? I mean, will it upset her sense of order or if she has been looking forward to it. How are her fine motor skills? But really, it sounds like it is likely the best thing for her.
Her fine motor skills are great- the violin has been wonderful for that.

What would actually happen because we have year round school is that she would start kidnergarted on schedule with her "track." She'll be tested within the first two weeks of school, and if we decided to mover her, she would then start 1st grade with a new "track" that starts later in August- so she would get a fresh start with a brand new first grade class.

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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#4 of 25 Old 07-17-2007, 01:49 AM
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She is reading 3 and 4 letter words fluently, knows basic math facts, and has started figuring out vowel and consonant blends. She also has about 50-75 sight words.

Any experiences? Thoughts? I'm all ears.
Disclaimer here: I'm not an elementary school teacher, so maybe my understanding of what "typical" Kindergarten skills are off-base here, but it sounds like your DD's skills could be reasonably accomodated in a kindergarten class. She's clearly bright and would probably do very well in school and find it challenging, but not too frustrating.

Generally speaking, from my understanding, grade skipping is most arguable when a child's skills are far above grade level -- usually about 1-2 grades or more -- and it's clear that even with reasonable accomodation, the child's needs could not reasonably be met in their normal classroom.

Whatever happens, though, I wish you the best of luck.
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#5 of 25 Old 07-17-2007, 02:02 AM
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I'd skip her. My dd skipped first grade and hasn't looked back since. (She's about to enter the 6th grade now.)

It just works for brighter kids, academically and socially. (It's easier to make friends with kids who are your mental age, rather than merely your chronological age.) Looking back, I wish that my parents had skipped me a grade, as well.

And waving "hi" because I'm a fellow Utahn. (I can't believe you have 1,800 kids in an elementary! Crazy! That's the same number of kids as in the high school at which I teach. ESPECIALLY since you're in the Utah school system, skip a grade! )

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#6 of 25 Old 07-17-2007, 04:07 AM
 
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We considered this, had our DS gone to the neighborhood school, so I did some research on it.

One thing I heard was to consider skipping 1st instead of K, because K is fun and a good intro to school, whereas 1st is all about learning to read (I'm sure this varies across systems), and if you are already reading and otherwise advanced, that's a good year to skip. But then other people said 2nd was the best year to skip, for similar reasons.

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#7 of 25 Old 07-17-2007, 10:05 AM
 
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Have you talked to the school at all about it? Do you know if they'd be open to a skip? Or, that it would be easier to skip K than 1st?

If the school is as open to a first grade skip, I'd be inclined to let her go to K and take it from there. I agree that her skills are above average for a K but not so far out that a decent teacher couldn't accommodate her and since she is so social she may really enjoy K even if the material moves too slowly.

If you haven't already done so the Deborah Ruf book Losing Our Minds has some good information about choosing schooling options. I think you'd have a better idea in a year or so about her degree of giftedness and if a skip is needed.

And, I'm glad you will keep your options open regarding homeschooling. We know some very, very extroverted kids who happily homeschool. If you live in an area with a lot of homeschoolers you can easily be out of the house every day of the week with one homeschooling activity or another. And, you can likely meet someone else with a very social kid who would be just as eager to trade kids for an afternoon as you would be.
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#8 of 25 Old 07-17-2007, 04:33 PM
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We considered this, had our DS gone to the neighborhood school, so I did some research on it.

One thing I heard was to consider skipping 1st instead of K, because K is fun and a good intro to school, whereas 1st is all about learning to read (I'm sure this varies across systems), and if you are already reading and otherwise advanced, that's a good year to skip. But then other people said 2nd was the best year to skip, for similar reasons.
We skipped 1st, but should have skipped K (or skipped them both.) This is Utah, keep in mind, where I am and the OP is, as well. (Different district, but same state.) In K they were learning COLORS and LETTERS. You know, stuff dd had mastered at age 2. They'd spend an ENTIRE WEEK on one color and one letter. She was bored to tears. Don't be afraid to skip K.

If they give you a hard time about it, put her in a private 1st grade, then transfer her back to public 2nd grade the next year. Then they can't say anything about it.

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#9 of 25 Old 07-17-2007, 05:34 PM
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I did an accelerated HS college 4 y combined program, so I graduated college very young. Worked out for me
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#10 of 25 Old 07-17-2007, 07:22 PM
 
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My own disclaimer-- I had (have!! ) an October birthday, and I started school at 4.5.

I'm with Meg Murray-- unless your local kindergarten program is *extremely* deficient compared with typical kindergartens around the country, it sounds like her needs could be well accomodated in kindergarten. If her evaluation two weeks in suggests otherwise, or if your local kindergarten program is not up to her level, I'd definately say go for the grade skip but it doesn't sound to me as though it would be necessary for your daughter to thrive. That said, the kindergarten program in which I'm putting my son this year (:-- he'll be 5 in November) is a particularly rigorous one, as are the kindergartens from whence my nieces 'graduated.'

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#11 of 25 Old 07-18-2007, 12:16 AM
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P L E A S E don't listen to people telling you NOT to skip.

Skip.

And read this:

http://www.nationdeceived.org/

"Students who are moved ahead tend to be more ambitious, and they earn graduate degrees at higher rates than other students. Interviewed years later, an overwhelming majority of accelerated students say that acceleration was an excellent experience for them. Accelerated students feel academically challenged and socially accepted, and they do not fall prey to the boredom that plagues many highly capable students who are forced to follow the curriculum for their age-peers."

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#12 of 25 Old 07-18-2007, 12:46 AM
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P L E A S E don't listen to people telling you NOT to skip.
My point -- and possibly Eilonwy's also -- is that it sounds to me (with the limited data I have) that the OP's child's skills are well within kindergarten range. Like I said, I'm not a K teacher (just a high school teacher), and there are many things about the OP's child I don't know.

That said, though, I believe that any reasonably decent school district could accomodate the needs of this particular child. The problem with asking for a grade skip is that most schools, even when the child is clearly misplaced at her or his grade level, will be resistant to the idea despite the Templeton Foundation's well-publicized data. The closer the child is to a reasonable accomodation at her or his level, the LESS likely the skip will occur and the MORE entrenched the administration will become in their position of prejudice against this idea.

Moreover, I think that unless a child is clearly one, maybe even two full grade levels above their current grade, they can reasonably be accomodated. It's not unusual in some districts to have "combination" 1st/2nd or 3rd/4th grade classes. What you usually do *not* have is combination classes exceeding one grade level. What this suggests to me is that 2nd isn't all that huge a step away from 1st, nor 4th from 3rd, but that there is a larger and more significant gap between 1st and 3rd, for example -- a gap that would probably be too large for an average teacher to accomodate reasonably within her class with her resources.

The poster sounds like she has a delightful, energetic, adorable child whose needs sound like they would fit very well in K. If the OP had said her DD was independently reading and understanding, say, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or even a Ramona book, quite obviously that would call for a grade skip for precisely the reasons you're suggesting. I'm not sure what "knows basic math facts" means in this context to the OP, but if her DD is (for example) comfortably adding and subtracting two-digit numbers without regrouping, I think a subject-level skip would definitely be in order, again for those same reasons you're suggesting. However, that may or may not be the case (I just don't have enough information from the OP).

Anyway, I would give K a try and see how it is. Initially, I think it's reasonable to expect that the skill level is pretty low because they're obviously having to accomodate bright, eager learners who have been exposed to early enrichment at home, like the OP's child, and less eager learners whose parents have not exposed them to early enrichment. At the end of the year, if her skills are widely and clearly ahead, I'd agitate for a grade skip into grade 2 and see how it goes.
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#13 of 25 Old 07-18-2007, 01:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow. Lots of very interesting thoughts that I really appreciate.

I don't contend that my dd is highly gifted. I do know that she is motivated, eager, and has an insatiable appetite for everything right now. She was in a three day a week, three hours a day program preschool, and was easily the most advanced in her class. I want her to be challenged, I want her to have to work to achieve- I don't want her to spend the whole year being the teacher's "special helper" or be ostrasized or picked on because she's excited about learning.

I admit, some of this is probably me projecting my experience on her. I was miserable in school until I was placed in a G/T magnet program when I was in 4th grade. I remember doing a book report on the "Little House" books when I was in 1st grade, because I needed something to do while everyone else was learning to read. DD is not that advanced- I haven't pushed her, only responded to her. But I am concerned that having things come way too easily in Kindergarten for her will set up a bad precedent of things always being easy.

Being in violin lessons has taught her how to respond to lots of different group situations, and she is commonly interacting and observing student much more advanced or older than she is. She does wonderfully socially- we spent a week in June at an intense Suzuki workshop, where she was in classes and concerts 8 hours a day. She did beautifully, and frequently talks about her friend that she made there that was eight. I'm not worried at all about her socially or emotionally- she would thrive in either enviroment- I mostly just need to know if there were drawbacks or benefits educationally.

The other concern is the school- a lot of the schools in Utah are a mess. The area I live in has grown so rapidly that neither the school district or the city planned far enough in advance to have another school ready. 1800 kids is enough for 3 elementary schools. There are going to be around 25 kids in her class, and there are 13 (!) kindergarten classes. I have met some of the administration. The principal, in particular, leaves something to be desired. But I did meet the assistant principal yesterday, and she seemed pleased to work with me. Having never had a kindergartner before, I don't know exactly what we are in for. But whatever we choose, she will be in Kindy for at least 2 weeks, so I'll be able to better evaluate at that point.

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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#14 of 25 Old 07-18-2007, 02:24 AM
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Wow. Lots of very interesting thoughts that I really appreciate.

I admit, some of this is probably me projecting my experience on her. I was miserable in school until I was placed in a G/T magnet program when I was in 4th grade. I remember doing a book report on the "Little House" books when I was in 1st grade, because I needed something to do while everyone else was learning to read. DD is not that advanced- I haven't pushed her, only responded to her. But I am concerned that having things come way too easily in Kindergarten for her will set up a bad precedent of things always being easy.
.
Yeah, it possibly is -- what I would strongly advise is take an honest assessment of your dd's abilities right now matched with the Utah state standards.

Here is a link. I would focus MORE on the core math/reading skills than anything else and give them extra weight. Here's a decent overview of the K-3 core language arts skills required in Utah:

here.

For instance, here are some language arts standards for first grade. See link.

Obviously, these are goals for the year, but they are MINIMUM goals, so what you'd need to do is say, "Realistically, can she be here at this level by about January of 2008?"

*Read grade-level text at a rate of approximately 60 words a minute
*Read grade-level text with an accuracy rate of 95%-100%
*Read with automaticity 100 first-grade high-frequency words
*Read grade-level text in three- to four-word phrases using intonation, expression, and punctuation cues


Here are the math standards for first grade in Utah, and again, these represent bare minimum goals.Link.

Hope these help -- there was actually a lot of specific information about Utah, which is nice: I think it helps knowing the precise lay of the land, especially if you're going to be arguing for a grade skip.
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#15 of 25 Old 07-18-2007, 07:49 AM
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My point -- and possibly Eilonwy's also -- is that it sounds to me (with the limited data I have) that the OP's child's skills are well within kindergarten range. Like I said, I'm not a K teacher (just a high school teacher), and there are many things about the OP's child I don't know.
I'm a high school teacher, too. So I guess we're even there. But I live in Utah, where the OP lives. I have a better idea of this state than you do. And I have a dd who skipped. That gives me more insight, too. (And I have one child who won't be skipping--I know that side of it, as well.) The OP's dd is reading 50-75 sight words. That is far beyond the Utah "kindergarten range."

And the core curriculum (what you linked) doesn't tell the whole story of what actually happens in overcrowded classrooms with stressed teachers. Did I mention that Utah is 49th or 50th (it varies--I think we're right there with Mississippi) on state funding per child?

And I'll say that I had a student this year who had skipped an early grade (either K or 1st-I can't remember now.) I teach 11th grade. I wouldn't have known that she was a year younger if the mom hadn't told me. She fit right in with her peers, academically and socially.

Oh and if you do skip, don't announce it to the new teacher, if possible. (That's a suggestion in the report I linked previously.) Because your child will really blend in and there's no need to announce it.

I'll also say that my dd has a summer birthday.....that made her young for her class, anyway. So now she's about a year and a half younger than most of her classmates. And she is fine. Ten or so of them showed up to her birthday party. She really fits in. And she's not trying to drop out of school now, like she wanted to in K.

Stacymom, I think your biggest problem will be convincing the school/district that she deserves/needs a skip. We went the private school/back to public school route to get around that.

When you think about it, 13 years of public schooling is really arbitrary, when your child is the type who can get it all done in 12.

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#16 of 25 Old 07-18-2007, 10:25 AM
 
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And, I'm glad you will keep your options open regarding homeschooling. We know some very, very extroverted kids who happily homeschool. If you live in an area with a lot of homeschoolers you can easily be out of the house every day of the week with one homeschooling activity or another. And, you can likely meet someone else with a very social kid who would be just as eager to trade kids for an afternoon as you would be.


I don't know about grade-skipping, but as a homeschooler, I know that you can homeschool in a way that actually gives your kid more social time than she would get in school. In school, kids are surrounded by other children, but they only get to interact for small parts of the day, typically recess and lunch. In my area, where homeschooling isn't all that common, we could go to a homeschooling park day within an easy drive of my house 3 days a week, each of which offers 2-3 hours of pure socializing. Add in a couple classes or a playdate, or a fieldtrip, and it can really add up!

My point is not that you should homeschool (you seem like a very thoughtful parent, and I'm sure your doing a great job of considering all your options), but just to give you another perspective on the socialization aspect of homeschooling. If you start looking at homeschooling a little more seriously, you might start by checking out a couple local homeschooling groups. In an area where the schools are struggling the way you describe, I'm guessing there are quite few families who homeschool for academic reasons.

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#17 of 25 Old 07-18-2007, 11:05 AM
 
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I'm a high school teacher, too. So I guess we're even there. But I live in Utah, where the OP lives. I have a better idea of this state than you do. And I have a dd who skipped. That gives me more insight, too. (And I have one child who won't be skipping--I know that side of it, as well.) The OP's dd is reading 50-75 sight words. That is far beyond the Utah "kindergarten range."
See, that's very relevant. Please notice that I didn't say "Don't skip your kid," but "From what I know of kindergartens, your daughter would be fine." I feel the same way as the OP; it's very important to me that my children be challenged from the begining, that they enjoy learning and actually working hard. It's one more reason that my children (my son especially) will never set foot in a typical public school classroom. The program that my son will do this year is a particularly rigorous one, and while it's not designed for gifted children as far as I can tell (there is WAY too much repetition for that!) it can very easily accomodate a gifted child (we have the option, for example, only to do assessments if I don't feel that the work is necessary). If I thought for a minute that he'd be working on, say, colors and shapes and individual letters for weeks on end in *kindergarten*, I'd be lobbying for him to start first (or even second) grade this year.

Pennsylvania, for the record, has the second-greatest disparity between the best-funded and the worst funded school districts. We're number two!

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And the core curriculum (what you linked) doesn't tell the whole story of what actually happens in overcrowded classrooms with stressed teachers. Did I mention that Utah is 49th or 50th (it varies--I think we're right there with Mississippi) on state funding per child?
They never do; nor, in fact, does the amount of money spent on each child. Some of the best charter schools in the country are teaching kids with less money for each child than typical schools in their districts. You get a better idea by talking with teachers, other parents, etc. As I said, my own experience with kindergartens suggests that the OP's daughter could easily be accomodated. Yours is certainly more relevant in this case.

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And I'll say that I had a student this year who had skipped an early grade (either K or 1st-I can't remember now.) I teach 11th grade. I wouldn't have known that she was a year younger if the mom hadn't told me. She fit right in with her peers, academically and socially.
I've always found that particular argument to be an exceptionally weak one, myself. It's almost impossible to tell a 15 year old from a 16 year old; it's not like the difference between, say, two and three.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#18 of 25 Old 07-18-2007, 12:42 PM
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The OP's dd is reading 50-75 sight words. That is far beyond the Utah "kindergarten range."
My point was not whether she would be beyond Utah's kindergarten range, but whether she would be beyond Utah's first grade range. Most kindergarten teachers can accomodate high-end kids to within a certain point (and I believe the OP's kid to be comfortably within this range). I think most parents find it very difficult to get a grade skip unless the child is already at least a grade ahead of where their age indicates they should be. I provided the information for the OP to decide this according to where she knows her child to be -- and she knows her child's abilities better than either of us.
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And the core curriculum (what you linked) doesn't tell the whole story of what actually happens in overcrowded classrooms with stressed teachers. Did I mention that Utah is 49th or 50th (it varies--I think we're right there with Mississippi) on state funding per child?
Eilonwy said it best: funding does not necessarily equal quality. I'd also like to add that this doesn't change the fact that the minimums I cited are still the minimum, not the maximum. I come from a remarkably sardine-packed district myself, and I've had class sizes approaching (and in some cases, exceeding) 40, and there was never a year, even with my low-level students, that we didn't complete the minimum requirements by about January. My experience (and I'm sure yours also) has demonstrated that this is true for most teachers most of the time, though obviously there are exceptions.
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#19 of 25 Old 07-18-2007, 06:36 PM
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Stacymom, feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.

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#20 of 25 Old 07-19-2007, 12:02 PM
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#21 of 25 Old 07-20-2007, 06:30 PM
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looking back, what did being at the top consistently profit me? who cares if you're top of your class 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade? Much better to be challenged, challenged, challenged. when my ds goes to school, i don't want him to be accomodated, i want him to be CHALLENGED.
Good point. I agree-- "accomodation" isn't enough (and most teachers aren't even willing to do that.)

AND most skipped kids quickly become the "top" of the next grade, as well, because they have gifted minds.

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#22 of 25 Old 07-20-2007, 06:57 PM
 
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I don't know. It's interesting hearing both sides. From my experience, what you describe as your dd's abilities should be easily accomodated within the high-end range of a kindergarten classroom. It would be where I live, and it would have been when I was a kindergarten teacher. But I don't know your school, so only you can judge that.

As your dd is older, it wouldnt be such a big deal to skip if you do decide on that route. My dds would both have been the youngest, if I'd have skipped them, so I made the decision to homeschool. It has been the best decision I've ever made.

In extreme cases like mine, when your child is on the young end chronologically and socially, you have little choice - either skip but deal with the huge difference in age and maturity between your child and classmates, or homeschool. It sounds like you have less of a gap, as your child is older, so personally, I'd take the 2 weeks and listen to what the school advises. In the meantime, I"d look into homeschool groups, so that if need be, you can pull her out at that point and start again.

I don't think there are any absolutes about grade skipping. It wouldnt work for my kids, but it does work for others.

Good luck!
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#23 of 25 Old 07-29-2007, 03:16 PM
 
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This is a challenging decision.

When I was a child, my school district did not allow skipping. They thought it was not a good idea. I went to school in one of the top 10 school districts in the country, so they had gifted and talented classes. They were dreamy. We read and performed Shakespeare in 6th grade. I loved, loved, loved that time.

I didn't skip and I was happy because I was challenged. High school was another story, because I was not challenged there and then became undermotivated and then earned poor marks.

My friend was skipped (in another country) and ended up being the pipsqueak of the class. This was not good for her. She was made fun of and was rather scarred by it until we became friends in h.s and our friends were other bright kids.

I share this to present you with two different experiences. It's hard to say how your child will handle skipping, but you probably have an idea better than anyone.

Does she make friends easily? If so, maybe she won't have the hard time my friend had when she was skipped.

Best of luck with your decision.
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#24 of 25 Old 07-29-2007, 10:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just popping in with an update-

Things at my school are such a mess. After several disastrous experiences there, one culminating in my dd being in tears, I knew we had to do something. We met with some family friends at a bbq last week, and one of them is hs'ing her kids ages 5-16. Dh and I completely monopolized her the whole evening, and by the end, we knew that hs'ing was the right decision for us, at least for now. There is a gifted program that she would be eligible for starting in 1st grade at a magnet school, and there will be a new school next year, (hallelujah!) but the more I've researched it, the more I'm convinced that this is the road we should take. I'm nervous, but very excited.

You know, I never, ever thought we would home school. But then again, I've also said "Why would someone ever want to give birth without pain medication?" and "When they're old enough to ask to nurse, they're too old." I'm becoming an expert at eating my own words.

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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#25 of 25 Old 07-29-2007, 11:35 PM
 
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I'm glad you've made a decision you're happy with!

We really enjoy homeschooling, and it is SO NICE to be able to decouple age/academic levels. My kids just work at the level that's right for them, and then we go to park day and they play with the kids they like best.

You might want to check out the book "Creative Homeschooling: A Resource for Smart Families" by Lisa Rivero. It's specifically about homeschooling gifted kids.

ZM
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