Advantages and Disadvantages to skipping a grade - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 07-17-2007, 01:18 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 18 Old 07-17-2007, 03:46 AM
 
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My 6yo was the same way. She passed k 16 days into it. They kept her in K & there were many times she was bored, BUT she still loved going & there was another girl in her class exactly like her so they pushed the 2 girls ahead & they were doing alot of Grade 1 stuff. Because it was K I let it go, but this fall it'll be a different story. If she's not in the 1/2 split, I am making them switch her into it. She's already ahead of alot that they'll be learning in the first 3-4 months of Grade 1.

I didn't know until 6months before she started K that I could have had her tested & put into K a year early.

she has 6 weeks of holidays left & keeps asking when she goes back to school. She loves learning. She's one of those kids who the day they go back after holidays is up at 3am wanting to know if it's time to go because she doesn't want to be late.
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#3 of 18 Old 07-17-2007, 09:43 PM
 
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I'm just going to throw some thoughts out. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to skipping.

For a bright child, there can really be an advantage to being challenged, and given schoolwork that matches her ability. Avoiding boredom is important, and being with other children who match your dd's developmental level may make it a better experience for her as well. Your concern about teasing for being the smart one makes sense to me too; if not immediately then in future years.

The disadvantages that come to mind depend greatly on the individual situation. Some children who are bright are not socially advanced, but it sounds like your dd would fit right in with children who are a little older! The other children will have been in school for a year, which tends to be a problem only if your dd has no experience with that type of structure, since it takes getting used to.

Since schools now face state mandates about accountability, they often start prepackaged programs as early as kindergarden for Math, English etc. and it might be frustrating to catch up to kids who know the program, especially when the underlying facts are already understood. To make this clearer, the schools here use a particular math program where children learn about fact families, and do word problems in a certain way (starting in K) and kids who move into the district, or start public school after private/home schooling take a little while to get used to the new way of doing things. This may not be an issue where you live.

Good luck with your decision!
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#4 of 18 Old 07-17-2007, 11:16 PM
 
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My sister skipped 1st grade- academically, she was way ahead. Physically, she was always one of the tallest in the class-boys and girls- even though she was a year younger. She did fine all the way through school. However, she graduated highschool when she was 17. Went away to college and wasn't ready for it at all. Failed every class she took. Academically, she was fine and could have handled it, emotionally, she just wasn't ready.

Now, I wouldn't make a decision on what *might* happen 10 years from now, but something to think about. She also was the last to get her drivers license of her friends which was a hard thing for her to deal with.

Michelle -mom to Katlyn 4/00 , Jake 3/02, and Seth 5/04
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#5 of 18 Old 07-18-2007, 01:17 AM
 
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In my state, the cut-off is December, so your DD (and my DS, who also has an October birthday) would start kindergarten when they're 4-going-on-5. So in your case, especially given all the other things you listed, I don't think your DD would be out of her element going to 1st. The only negative I can think of is going straight to full school days, rather than having the half-days of kindergarten.

On a personal note, I skipped 2nd grade, and I have a late-March birthday, so I was always very young for my grade (I was 16 for almost all of my senior year of high school). Despite this, I always felt comfortable in my grade level, never cared that I couldn't take driver's ed when all my friends did, etc. Other kids might have a different experience, but I never thought much about it at all. It was the right choice for me.

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#6 of 18 Old 07-18-2007, 01:40 AM
 
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I skipped a grade in elementary school, but am not so keen on accelerating my kids for a few reasons:

1. I was still bored after the skip. It's the pace of the instruction that wasn't right, and being at a grade or two higher didn't change that.

2. It felt like I raced through the younger grades, where there was more individual attention from teachers, less negative attention for being "too smart". Grades 4-8 were the worst for me - sooo boring, all I really learned was how to keep my hand down and not call attention to myself. (Since your dd is so social, make sure she doesn't learn to play dumb just to fit in like I did.)

3. minor things that seemed important at the time: last to reach puberty/need to wear a bra , graduating from high school without my drivers' license, graduating from college before being able to get into a bar with my friends, being sent on business trips before I was old enough to rent a car (but I'm sure being one of the older kids in class has its own set of challenges too)

4. Like shelbean91's sis, I don't think I was ready for college when I got there. While I did OK, I chose my major/classes for the wrong reasons. Had I been more mature when I was in college, I think I would have used the time so much more wisely. (Now I have a mechanical engineering degree that I have no desire to EVER use. )

My kids have september and november birthdays, so I'm feeling a bit of the same pressure to start them early. But so far I'm resisting. I want to try to let them enjoy being little for as long as I can, and help them to maintain their curiosity and self-motivation. My eldest is 4.5 and in a montessori preschool, a great fit for him so far. I hope to put him in public school when the time comes, but am open to homeschooling if we find it doesn't work for him.

Instead of thinking about skipping kindergarten, I would treasure an extra year of half-day school and the time it would give you to explore the world together. From reading your original post, she's obviously learning a lot being with you. If she needs to skip, why not let it be one of the mind-numbing elementary school grades, not kindergarten which has more fun and movement and less busy work.

Enjoy your time together, she sounds like an amazing kid!

Dawn
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#7 of 18 Old 07-18-2007, 01:48 PM
 
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You didn't mention if your dd had been to pre-k or not, so some of this may not apply. I think kindergarten has a lot of advantages that are almost intangible. The teachers are more accustomed to easing the kids into the school atmosphere and they have the experience of dealing with kids at different academic and social levels. The dynamics of a classroom can take getting used to, even for social kids, and I think these Kindy teachers really know what they are doing to help kids adjust that first year. My own dd had some adjusting to the classroom setting in pre-k (and she is also very social), and her teacher was just excellent in helping her feel "at home", so to speak, in the classroom. I can't imagine a first grade teacher taking so much time to ease the kids into school life. In first grade, I think the teachers would be more likely to simply expect *more* from the kids in regards to academics and socialization. The kids may not get a "grace period" of settling in. Maybe you could try K, then skip first? It's a thought, anyway.

That being said, you know your dd the best, so you have to do what you feel is right. My dd started reading just before she turned 5 and now a few months later, she's zipping along with her reading skills. She's particularly interested in math and science, too, and we just go along with it at home. She'll be in K this year, as well, and I haven't even considered the possibility of her skipping a grade. She's been in this school (it's a language immersion school, 3 yo - grade 12) for 2 years and although academically she is ahead of most of her peers, emotionally, she is right on target. We just follow her academic inclinations at home... she doesn't seem to be bored at school. That may be that school is in a foreign language, though, and it takes more concentration to get her tasks done. But she does ask to do "homework" a lot when she's at home, so I know she is feeling a need to do something academically that is not being fulfilled at school. You might find that to be the case with your dd no matter what grade she is in.

Oh, and like the pp, I was the youngest in my class... graduated at 17, out of college at 20 (I went summers and finished in 3 years), and feeling REALLY, REALLY young emotionally during all of that. Good luck!! Let us know what you decide and how it goes!
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#8 of 18 Old 07-18-2007, 02:12 PM
 
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Given your description of your daughter's skills, it sounds like if she went to the school where I teach she would be a successful and well-prepared kindergartner and at the bottom of the first grade class. In my experience, most kids love being kindergartners, and they do lots of neat projects in addition to the academic work. In general it seems like the stronger students are more likely to feel confident in their academic abilities and be leaders in the class, and because the work isn't overly challenging they have more fun than the struggling students.

This past year, I worked with a student who was skipping third grade. Like your daughter, she was smart and socially comfortable. What it meant, though, was that she had to spend a big chunk of her summer and time everyday after school catching up on all the third grade concepts she just hadn't learned. She ended up feeling incredibly frustrated and unhappy with the situation even though she liked her new class.

Anyway, that's what I have seen.

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#9 of 18 Old 07-18-2007, 06:11 PM
 
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I've generally heard if you are going to skip, it is far better to skip 1rst than K, b/c of the 'intangible items' that are mentioned.

Tammy
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#10 of 18 Old 07-19-2007, 05:30 PM
 
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Do you have the option for Full Day Kinder? My DD is not quite 5 and while she doesn't have quite the reading skills that yours does, she's not far off. Her math skills are good and she also knows most of the fact-based things you metioned. She's gone to a totally play-based preschool/daycare and has learned most of the academic stuff she knows from random reading and playtime at home. Depending on your school/demographics/etc., she may not be that far ahead. My DD will probably middle of the pack (at best) in terms of those skills when she enters K in a few weeks (yikes can't believe it's that soon). I guess my point is that it largely depends on your school. Class assignments may already be made, but it's worth checking (with other parents, teachers, administrators) to see if there's a teacher that might be a little bit better dealing with advanced kids. You DD definitely sounds socially advanced as well as academically advanced, but she may not be that much further ahead of the other kids. The list of things you mentioned are definitely advanced for an entering Kindergarten student, but sound on the low-end for a child entering 1st here. Finally, like a few other PPs mentioned, I've always heard it's best to skip 1st or 2nd instead of Kinder. Even if your K is 1/2 day, you could do lots of enrichment/fun classes with her for one more year.
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#11 of 18 Old 08-22-2007, 10:39 PM
 
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hope you don't mind me bumping for an update?
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#12 of 18 Old 08-22-2007, 10:50 PM
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And here's a good article on grade skipping:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...3653-1,00.html

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#13 of 18 Old 08-22-2007, 10:59 PM
 
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Check out her signature and I'll think you'll see what she decided.

She also cross-posted this thread in the Parenting the Gifted Child forum and posted a more detailed update there if you are interested.

Hope you don't mind me answering for you OP!

Trying to get my bearings...
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#14 of 18 Old 08-22-2007, 11:07 PM
 
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thanks
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#15 of 18 Old 08-23-2007, 12:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry, I should have posted an update here too!

Yup. We did it. If you would have told me six weeks ago that we would be homeschooling, I would have laughed at you, but here we are, and I'm happy with the decision. The transistion was easier than I expected, and it seems to be working for our family. And the more I hear from friends who have kids in the neighborhood school, the happier I am that she's not there- in any grade!

I don't know for sure if we'll keep homeschooling or not. We're taking it a year at a time, but at this point, I can't see why we would stop. My dd is thriving, and we're working hard to make sure she still has plenty of fun times with friends and things.

I'm happy that we can control our own pace- she is picking and choosing the thigns that she wants to study, and we are reading everyday like crazy. She gets frustrated because we can't cram all the activities she wants to do into one day! Obviously, I don't regret the decision. If our school hadn't been so poor, I might have gone about things entirely differently, but for now, things are good.

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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#16 of 18 Old 08-23-2007, 12:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, and A&A, that was a fantastic article- very thought provoking. Thank you!

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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#17 of 18 Old 08-24-2007, 04:36 PM
 
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you know her personality best.

My dd is advanced in book work but she doesn't yet understand the way school works. It would not be to her advantage to skip Kindergarten. She would go into 1st not having a clue how to follow the rules.

I think dd will have fun despite already knowing most of the things they will be talking about.

ETA: I might let my child skip 1st grade to go to 2nd after completing Kindergarten. My opinion probably would be different had she attended preschool.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#18 of 18 Old 08-24-2007, 09:37 PM
 
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I also wonder if my DD should skip KG. She's been reading for a year-- reads more at the level of a 3rd or 4th grader vs someone who is 5.5 yrs old. She's not as strong as in math. though I think she'd be fine with 1st grade math.

I skipped a grade (and have an Aug. birthday, so I was almost 2 yrs younger than many in my class) and it worked well for me . . .it was a little tough in 7th/8th grade, but by the time HS came around it felt fine again.

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