Skipping a grade? - Mothering Forums

Skipping a grade?

mum5's Avatar mum5 (TS)
08:48 PM Liked: 44
#1 of 21
01-14-2012 | Posts: 1,878
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Dd1 is a smart child, happy, full of life and loves school. She appears to find the work easy, and we think that maybe she is not using her brain to the best of it's ability at her grade level now.


We are thinking of having a talk with her teacher about her moving up a grade level. Has anyone done this with their children?

What are the pro's / con's of doing this?






moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma
09:45 PM Liked: 3864
#2 of 21
01-14-2012 | Posts: 5,815
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Big, big question. There are lots of social and academic considerations that will have implications down the road. I was double-grade-skipped as a child. Two of my three siblings were skipped. Two of my three school-attending children have been grade-skipped. The school initiated the grade skips in our cases, upon recognizing the poorness of fit and having out-of-level achievement and/or IQ testing that supported the need.


That being said, I think there were definite costs, even though the skips were undertaken with full consideration of myriad issues like social and emotional maturity, personality, physical maturity, giftedness and long-term academic potential. For instance, in high school, in order to prove to myself and my classmates that I wasn't a "little kid" at age 12/13, I undertook a lot of high risk behaviour that I'm not too proud of, even though I was clever enough to pull it off and get away without any long-term repercussions. My eldest dd has ended up taking a "gap year" prior to college in order to get an extra year of specialized training under her belt in her area of study (violin performance). This is something that was partly an issue because of our remote location and the lack of training where we live, but I'm happy that she's had the chance to live on her own at age 17 without the stress of a full university course-load in a large city far from home. I couldn't have predicted these issues when she was younger.


How old is your dd? How far beyond the curriculum does her ability currently lie? If she's younger than 8 and less than two full grade levels ahead, I'd  suggest caution. Most school districts like kids to be at least 2 grade levels ahead (in reading, and writing and math especially) before considering a skip. The idea being that if you're going to subject the child to a bit of a potential age- and maturity-mismatch with classmates, it would help if academic excellence were still easily attainable. Some bright kids are ready for academics a little younger than others and can progress quickly through the literacy and numeracy milestones of the first three years of school. Sometimes their "advanced" nature is due more to a bit more readiness and a rich environment rather than to stark intellectual giftedness that will be maintained over the years. There's a chart on this page comparing bright and gifted children. The more of the "gifted" traits you see in your dd, the more she is likely to maintain her advanced capabilities throughout her educational career.


I know a 16-year-old girl who was grade-skipped as a 7-year-old based on her advanced reading and easy mastery of 2nd grade math. While she is a great social fit for 11th grade and is a solid B+ student, she works very hard for her grades and had a couple of years of real academic struggle around 4th/5th/6th grade. I have a feeling she would have been a real leader and a more confident learner if she hadn't had to deal with the those struggles. 


My kids did not enter school until high school, so the issues of personality, social maturity and affinity, physical maturity and readiness for more adult-type responsibility were all easier to evaluate at the point at which grade-skipping was entertained. Those things are harder to predict with a 6 or 8-year-old. 


One thing that often pushes parents more in the direction of a skip is where the child lies in terms of age-for-grade. I have two kids with fall birthdays who are "young for grade" (our cutoff is Dec. 31) and two with January birthdays who are "old for grade." Accelerating my November girl makes her almost 2 years younger than some of her classmates. With my January girl she's only a few weeks younger than her next-youngest classmate. 


Anyway, there are lots of big long-term issues. It would be a good idea to look at what else is available for advanced kids within your school system. Is there a pull-out or congregated gifted program your dd might qualify for? Can she get in-class differentiation and enrichment in her areas of strength? Then there's subject accleration: it might be possible to, say, have her join the next grade up for Language Arts and Math. Those would be less permanent choices that wouldn't have as many implications down the road. 



whatsnextmom's Avatar whatsnextmom
10:25 PM Liked: 1582
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01-14-2012 | Posts: 1,971
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What accommodations is she getting now? Differentiated curriculum? Subject Acceleration? Gate clusters or pull-outs? Has she been tested by the school or privately for giftedness? Has she had out-of-level testing to determine what her academic levels actually are? You say she's happy and loves school, is she asking for more challenging work? I am an advocate for grade acceleration but on a case-by-case basis.


Our eldest did a mid-year skip from K to 1st grade. She started 2 to 5 grade levels advanced all around. DD, who started school incredibly excited, became depressed, begging not to go to school, refusing advanced work, her classmates worried that their skills weren't as developed, the volunteer parents were freaking out... it was a mess. The principal called us in and suggested we move her to first grade which we did. While it did not fix the academic issues (DD still needed a great deal of differentiation and subject acceleration over the years) it was an improvement both academically and socially. DD is now 14 and a Sophomore in high school. She is excited for fall when she's being allowed to take all her classes at the junior college for both high school and college credit. Overall, grade acceleration has been fantastic with very few and minor cons. That said, DD really was an ideal candidate... highly gifted, driven, assertive, comfortable expressing her needs to adults, organized, unusually mature, strong social and leadership skills, athletic enough that she was still one of the top in school sports, tall for age, ect.


We did NOT accelerate DS even though he tests as high as DD. Because of our late cut-off for K, he started at 4 in a district with very heavy red-shirting practices (there were kids in his kindie class turning 7.) He was not quite as advanced (about 2 to 3 grade levels) and not nearly as driven or confident. His organization skills only recently fell into place (he recently turned 11 and in 6th grade now.) He is very social but also too reactive and worries about things like being the youngest, not being the fastest, not being the tallest (which is only because the other kids in his class are so much older.... he's actually ahead of the curve for his age in all those areas.) Instead, we placed him in an immersion school where all the academics were brought up by about a year, he was given a subject acceleration in math, everything was taught in Spanish and lots of enrichment was offered including GATE and Mandarin as a 3rd language. It's been a good fit for him.


Honestly, if she's happy and loving school, I would explore other options first. Consider challenging interest-based activities. Remember that kids don't need to be challenged on all fronts at all times. They can learn how to tackle challenge, face failure, gain learning skills in many different ways.



mum5's Avatar mum5 (TS)
05:40 AM Liked: 44
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01-15-2012 | Posts: 1,878
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Thank you for your replies! Very insightful and lots to think about.

karne's Avatar karne
08:14 AM Liked: 100
#5 of 21
01-16-2012 | Posts: 3,558
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I agree w/the above posters.  For us, a subject acceleration as opposed to a full grade skip, is working for the time being.  Lots of factors went into the acceleration, but at the end of the day, differentiated homework, classwork, test scores, and maturity were the big considerations.  It has been a great move.


Hopefully you have some options in terms of the above.  I have to say that my child was not happy in school (aside from the social piece), and actually seemed to be making careless mistakes, etc., essentially as a product of not being engaged.  It wasn't until the acceleration happened that we started to see some engagement.  If your child is happy and loves school, that's good info to take into account.

ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree
08:55 AM Liked: 1453
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01-16-2012 | Posts: 4,895
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We also used a combination of in-class accommodations (different work, independent projects), subject acceleration and extra-curricular activities rather than a grade skip for our 2 dc. Eventually, they both entered gifted programs. 


Do you know whether a grade skip is a realistic option at your dd's school? Many schools and school districts refuse to grade skip, although I think this has been changing somewhat. I would try to research whether a grade skip is even possible in your area, and if it is, what kind of criteria the school would need to see before granting the skip. 


JollyGG's Avatar JollyGG
02:37 PM Liked: 1071
#7 of 21
01-16-2012 | Posts: 1,617
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Haven't read the responses yet so excuse me if I repeat something.


My son skipped 1st grade. He is now in 4th. It has been anything but a perfect solution. We have most definitely had our issues. Nonetheless I still think it was the right decision for our situation. I have heard grade skipping called the "least worse option" and that really is how we view it. It would have been far preferable if we had been able to make some other types of accommodations work. However, we weren't able to and that left us with the option of a grade skip.


I do know 3 other children who grade skipped (my so goes to the gifted magnet in our school so the other skipped kids all go to the same school). I think it has worked better for some of them than it has for my son. Some of the reasons involve just basic personality, others have to do with the grade skipped, and some of it has to do with the receiving teacher.


In some ways the skip just exchanged one set of issues for another.


It is hard sometimes to tell the difference between issues that we would have had anyway and issues that result from the skip. For example my son has a really hard time staying focused in class. It could be personality, it could be immaturity, it could be that he needs still more challenge than he's getting, it could be unrealistic expectation. I have no clue if the focus and attention would be better or worse in a lower grade. But the instinct when you have a grade skipped kid is for people to blame every problem on the skip and I end up meeting with the teachers and principle way more than I would like.


Overall, my son is happy and thriving. He has friends and is doing well. He is really interested in languages so may end up deaccelerating in the future as he does some exchanges and such. But he's still young so who really knows what the future holds at this point.


I would suggest you get a copy of the Iowa Acceleration Scale. Even if you don't use the assessments in it, reading through it will give you a really good idea of some of the things you will want to think about as you contemplate a grade accelerating.


squimp's Avatar squimp
08:45 PM Liked: 92
#8 of 21
01-17-2012 | Posts: 187
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We considered this for our DD for many reasons, but our school district has not had many good experiences with skips.  The troubles come later in middle and high school.  Our teacher did some research and found that all of the kids who she knew that had skipped (some at her guidance) were unhappy with the choice and would not do it again.  I think it was a sobering experience for her, since she herself had skipped 2 grades and she had helped push for it in a few cases.  She felt that our DD was more advanced than any of the kids who she had helped skip in the past.  But we still chose not to skip.  Our school is really good with differentiation and it turns out that a bunch of her classmates last year were also really advanced so she has a number of peers.  

LynnS6's Avatar LynnS6
09:37 PM Liked: 619
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01-17-2012 | Posts: 12,446
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You might also consider posting over in the Parenting the Gifted Child Forum -- a number of parents who hang out there have grade skipped their child.


I've got a child that I'm on the fence about. She's in 2nd grade, which is a year for "solidifying" skills, i.e. making sure everyone can read, add and subtract. If your child is already reading and doing those things, it's pretty boring. Dd is reading at a 6th grade level (not sure, could be higher, but there aren't any meaningful tests to find out; she can read whatever she's motivated to read); her math is at a late 3rd grade level for computation, 4th for concepts. Her writing is probably at a 4th grade level. She gets some differentiation (not enough) for reading, math and writing. Last year it was better because they had some dedicated teachers for the differentiation. They lost one of those due to budget cuts and so there aren't enough teachers for the high achievers.


BUT the reason I haven't pursued a grade skip is that emotionally and socially, she's very much 7. We still have a lot of issues with self regulation (tantrums, frustration, getting easily overwhelmed, wanted to tell the world how to run). She's not very socially savvy and she can't let things go. Thus, she's already a mild target for bullies (thankfully there aren't any in her grade, and the few older neighborhood kids do shape up when I reprimand them). She also has a late May birthday. She's already Because of that, I haven't seriously considered a grade skip. (And add to that the fact that the 3rd grade class she would be moving into aren't a great group of kids according to several of the teachers and the school librarian. They're not awful, just not a great group.)


So, right now, we're meeting her need for challenge by enrolling her in music (piano, choir) and swimming. She's got some musical talent (I doubt she'll ever be a professional, but she has the potential to be a very good). She's got less physical talent, but she likes swimming and it challenges another side of her. We go to the library a lot and get whatever books she wants. She devoured the Harry Potter series this summer before 2nd grade. She's working her way through several series now (Warrior Cats, and something else).


There's something called the Iowa Acceleration Scale which you can ask the school to do -- it takes into account intellectual development, social development, emotional development, birthdays and a couple of other factors that I forget. There are parts for the teachers, parents and school counselor to fill ou.

Geofizz's Avatar Geofizz
07:57 AM Liked: 434
#10 of 21
01-18-2012 | Posts: 7,987
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I'd like to echo JollyGG in saying that a skip is the least worst option.  You skip when other solutions don't work or aren't possible.


Squimp, it sounds like maybe your district doesn't follow best practices or the teacher is falling into the trap of "the plural of anecdote is not data."  Data show that the vast majority of kids that skip with the criteria outlined in the IAS in fact do quite well, and there is some evidence that they do better compared to comparable kids who weren't skipped.  I was skipped after being evaluated according to a precursor of the IAS -- I took an IQ test, had an interview with a psychologist,  had across-the-board high achievement scores, and I was old for grade.  This came after 3 years of teachers working really hard to differentiate for me, but the gap between me and the grade was getting too wide.  While the next few years were rough, I don't think that not skipping would have been any different, except with the added problem of being bored silly.  I subsequently had 2 more subject accelerations in math, which were life lines for me.


Lynn has posted previously about the level of differentiation they do for her kids.  If this can be done effectively, then this is broadly a better option than skipping.


The first step is to talk to the teacher.  Feel out where you daughter is performing relative to grade level expectations, and what the teacher is doing to continue keeping your child learning and engaged.  Commit that phrase to memory -- "learning and engaged" as the positive expression of "not bored."  Are there meaningful differentiation strategies to employ on a regular basis?  DS gets "differentiated instruction" -- 2 days so far this year.  Yes, it's meaningful. No it's not regular.  You may find out that the bar for straight As is very low and that your daughter is appropriately challenged.  You may find out that the teacher has been wishing you would give her the impetus to let go of the reins on your daughter.  You won't know until you have that conversation.

whatsnextmom's Avatar whatsnextmom
09:29 AM Liked: 1582
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01-18-2012 | Posts: 1,971
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Originally Posted by squimp View Post

We considered this for our DD for many reasons, but our school district has not had many good experiences with skips.  The troubles come later in middle and high school.  Our teacher did some research and found that all of the kids who she knew that had skipped (some at her guidance) were unhappy with the choice and would not do it again.  I think it was a sobering experience for her, since she herself had skipped 2 grades and she had helped push for it in a few cases.  She felt that our DD was more advanced than any of the kids who she had helped skip in the past.  But we still chose not to skip.  Our school is really good with differentiation and it turns out that a bunch of her classmates last year were also really advanced so she has a number of peers.  

I just wanted to say that long range studies don't actually support this experience. I'm not saying she's lying but there are a lot of factors to consider. Perhaps this teacher checked in on the kids too early. Middle school sucks for all sorts of kids skipped or not.... it's easy to blame being young when reality is, that child was going to be different no matter how old they were and middle school doesn't handle different children too well. Perhaps she's been skipping high achievers from enriched homes as opposed to intellectually gifted children. If she knows a lot of grade skippers, then this is likely the case. It could be this district isn't flexible enough to really do a good job with acceleration (and lots of the "best" districts aren't.)  


We know many kids who've skipped IRL. A couple who have radically accelerated. Only one regretted it and that child was pushed through because mom was a teacher at the school not because she was a good candidate. They had their child repeat 3rd grade in a different school so she could be with her age mates. 


Like I said, it's not for everyone. I skipped one and not the other because one was a good fit and the other not. It may not have been right for your child in the particular school system she was in. However, in the grand scheme of things, the majority of kids grow up happy they had the opportunity to accelerate.

neptunemama's Avatar neptunemama
10:31 AM Liked: 74
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01-18-2012 | Posts: 365
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You've gotten some good advice, so I'll just relate my experience.  My younger dd skipped K.  At 5 she started 1st grade.  It's definitely been the right decision for us.  She just turned 10 and is in 5th grade now.  She's still academically ahead of her peers, but socially being only a year younger has been good.  It's not too much to make a huge difference, but if she was in 4th grade right now she'd be bored in every subject.  And socially if she was in 6th grade it might be hard for her being two years younger.  Academically she's ready for 7th grade now (she's finishing up pre-algebra, and will start algebra soon-she does independent math at school, and tests out in reading comprehension at 11th grade).  However, she's 10.  I state that again because she may be ready academically for harder more challenging work, but she's not ready for the homework factor.  Middle school has a big jump in homework around here, and she still struggles to deal with homework currently.  A lot of kids hate homework or at least don't like it.  And getting a young kid to do 1-2 hrs of homework a night is hard.  My dd is not ready for that.  Yes she can do the work, but will she?  Yes, but not without tears and frustration.  She wants downtime.  So if we skipped her to where she belonged academically she would be stressed and unhappy. And it would not be good socially for her I believe.  But one grade has been ideal.  We are fortunate that the middle school my dd will go to next year will meet her needs in math, as they place kids by ability not grade level, and has an overall challenging curriculum.  


IME skipping one grade has been wonderful for our dd.  

rabrog's Avatar rabrog
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01-19-2012 | Posts: 4,211
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The big question (and deciding factor for us NOT to skip DD) - what is her social level?  My DD is ahead in most things academically, but socially she's right on target for an almost 8 year old second grader.  I'm working with her teacher to have appropriate books, etc. in class for her and we're supplementing at home.  She's doing great.



moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma
09:25 AM Liked: 3864
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Originally Posted by rabrog View Post

The big question (and deciding factor for us NOT to skip DD) - what is her social level?  My DD is ahead in most things academically, but socially she's right on target for an almost 8 year old second grader.  I'm working with her teacher to have appropriate books, etc. in class for her and we're supplementing at home.  She's doing great.




That's a good point. It can be a little difficult to sort this out in some kids, though. Sometimes they exhibit immature (or age-appropriate but not at all advanced) challenging behaviour like meltdowns with classmates and disruptiveness in class, behaviours that would make you think that their social behaviour is not particularly mature. But these behaviours are being precipitated by lack of an intellectual match with their classmates, lack of common interests and aptitudes, and lack of challenge and engagement with the academic material being presented. Sometimes by putting a seemingly immature child who has advanced abilities with older children the stressors disappear and the behaviour and ability to cope suddenly takes a leap. It's worth considering this possibility. 


Sometimes social maturity can take on an unexpected appearance in a classroom of agemates. My ds has always been very mature socially, but in a classroom of agemates he tends to gravitate to the youngest, least mature children, taking on more of a "big brother" role. I think this is because he senses that the more mature kids are still on a different level from him, but wouldn't accept this kind of lop-sided relationship -- and he really dislikes social competition and power-struggles. If you don't look carefully, you just see him hanging out happily with the younger kids. Given the option of relating to kids two or three years older, though, he's much more comfortable in his social skin doing that, and is very readily accepted.



squimp's Avatar squimp
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01-20-2012 | Posts: 187
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Well-studied cases can make data (they do all the time in my field) - her intimate knowledge of all those situations and following their progress over time is key.  Just sharing my experience and that it can be an uphill battle with schools.  I agree that the Iowa scale is a good starting point in building a case.  


Our deciding factor leading us not to skip was that the differentiation here is so good and there are so many advanced kids - at least 5 other kids in her second grade class are reading at the 6th grade level or higher based on testing and doing math at least one grade level ahead and often two.  My DD's issue was mostly social because academically she is being challenged at her level.  She was having a hard time finding peers - but that has changed with time.  

pigpokey's Avatar pigpokey
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02-04-2012 | Posts: 3,067
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I should have been grade skipped.  I likely would have been bored out of my mind at the grade above also, but at least that would have been one less year, or less stress later on.  What I ended up doing was fitting in all my high school credits into 3 years so I could get the heck out of there, which ended up meaning 4 AP classes my last year  plus night school plus my varsity sport.  I'm not sure my adrenals survived that nonsense, when I could have gotten out a year earlier just by doing nothing special but being moved up in elementary.  But the only time I'm aware that it was discussed was when I was moving from my private elementary school into 7th grade, in a system that had 6-7th in one school and 8th-12th in another, and the principal said there was no way he was having a 12 year old over at his school. 



KCMichigan's Avatar KCMichigan
08:44 AM Liked: 102
#17 of 21
02-04-2012 | Posts: 925
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As previous posters stated- there are A LOT of factors: including the schools ability to differentiate, the age of your kiddo, and where they lay academically and socially.


Essentially, my DDs are youngest for grade. They did not do K and entered 1st grade at 5y 10 months. Though technically not a skip since our areas cut-off is Dec1st, they went from preschool in one state (and slated to attended a K/1 split as K students) to 1st graders in the new state (different cut-off.


The idea in our first state was to do 1/2 yr of K and 1/2 of 1st, as suggested by the school staff since there was no 'early entry' to K- but we could enter 1st having atteneded at least a semester of K.



Then we moved and  the girls were assessed and placed directly in 1st.


It has been great. They are working above grade level academically (from 1-3 years), but socially as the youngest : it is a good spot for now.


I would explore your options- split classrooms, differentiation availability, age differences, etc.

A&A's Avatar A&A
10:13 AM Liked: 1858
#18 of 21
02-04-2012 | Posts: 16,186
Joined: Apr 2004
Dd skipped 1st grade. She's in 10th now. We absolutely made the right decision for her. She was so incredibly bored with Kindergarten............she'd come home crying because it was so easy and therefore boring. I wouldn't skip a child who loves the current grade and doesn't express feelings of boredom.

As for social concerns, it's easier to make friends with kids who are your mental age rather than merely your chronological age.

Here's an interesting article to read:,9171,1653653,00.html

and more info:

In order to actually make the skip happen, we had to go to a charter school. (Then after a couple of years we went back to the public school.)

We didn't skip ds, because his needs have been met through a more challenging magnet program. So it really depends on your child's needs and what the district offers.
Elcie's Avatar Elcie
11:54 AM Liked: 12
#19 of 21
02-04-2012 | Posts: 41
Joined: Dec 2011

I skipped one primary grade. No problem at all through middle school but when I got to a new high school being a year younger made a difference (I was a bit of a late bloomer anyway and it stood out even more my first two years.) Not an issue at all in college and I don't regret the skip. However, ironically, I probably would have been a better, more confident student without it. I would definitely consider social maturity. My DS is gifted and mature but we kept him at grade level. He was a bit bored in grade school but middle school has an honors and gifted program which has been satisfying for him. I would say earlier is better to skip because the child can make friends more easily.

A&A's Avatar A&A
05:35 PM Liked: 1858
#20 of 21
02-04-2012 | Posts: 16,186
Joined: Apr 2004
More info:
ChristaN's Avatar ChristaN
08:33 PM Liked: 22
#21 of 21
02-05-2012 | Posts: 3,159
Joined: Feb 2003

The other posters have covered much of what I would say.  The main points I'd echo or say myself are:


* How old is the child and how advanced?  A 2nd grader reading at a 6th grade level and a 5th grader working at high school level in many subjects are two very different things.

* I, personally, would never consider a grade skip without both a composite individual IQ test score in the 98th percentile+ and similarly high achievement in all subjects.  The newer version of the IAS does take composite CogAT at the same 98th+, but I felt a lot more comfortable myself with having the IQ scores when we agreed to skip our oldest.

* What other options exist and have you tried them all already to no avail?


I absolutely don't think that skipping is a bad idea across the board or I wouldn't have agreed to skip dd.  She was already young for grade and, as such, turned 13 shortly after the start of her freshman year of high school this year.  We've not seen any indication that it was a bad choice and we're nearly four years post-skip now.  I do think that there are times when it is not in the best interests of an individual child.  Like a pp, we have a second highly gifted child who is not grade skipped b/c it wasn't the right decision for her for a variety of reasons.  We are doing the best we can to make it work with subject acceleration and other options.



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