Skipping a grade never occurred to me when my child started school. I assumed she would enter each year for a new grade following the school curriculum. Her birthday falls later in the year, which makes her one of the younger ones in her group. This made me think she would need a whole year to keep up with the curriculum, but I was encouraged to find that she was a quick learner and started reading at a much earlier age than her peers.
Once she started grade one, she breezed through the curriculum and expressed her boredom right away. Curious, I started introducing higher-grade materials at home. She seemed comfortable with the materials and at times she even asked to try the next level. Following her lead and responding to her curiosity, I soon found myself researching ways to help her accelerate her learning plan at school.
1. What does gifted mean?
It is not easy to define exactly what “gifted” means, since the definition of the term has expanded. Conventionally, it meant children who score high in a range of cognitive intelligence scores, pertaining to areas including advanced thinking and comprehension, highly developed curiosity, perceptual reasoning, excellent memory and processing speed. But now the definition includes above-average performance in one or more of athletics, music, visual arts, or in a specific academic field such as math or science.
2. Is skipping a grade beneficial for my gifted child?
The general assumption that kids tend to do better in school when they start older and more mature than their peers can be true, in areas like sports, but not necessarily so in other areas.
According to an article in the Washington Post, We grade-skipped our daughter. Here’s why you should consider doing it, too by Jennifer Jeanne Patterson, gifted children actually do better around older children, and in particular, those who excel in math showed better success after grade-skipping.
In fact, holding gifted children back and taking away chances to actively learn could possibly make them lose their motivation to learn, and force them to become underachievers.
3. What is the advantage of skipping a grade?
One of the questions parents might ask is how accelerating their gifted child’s grade level can be an advantage.
Studies show grade-skipping had positive effects across a range of academic outcomes, including better social skills and maturity, higher grades, self-motivation and satisfaction, higher education level, and achievement in their field, compared to gifted students who did not skip grades. Also, by entering a grade suited to their ability levels, gifted children can work on school subjects at an appropriate pace, instead of being held back. Placing children according to their abilities helps them remain curious and engaged, while giving them a chance to develop different interests.
4. How do you decide whether your child should skip a grade?
If your child not only proves competency on all of the subjects in his/her current grade, but excels at them while showing signs of losing interest and expressing boredom in her class, you might consider assessing your child for a higher grade.
There are achievement tests designed to determine whether your child is gifted or not, based on their academic ability. Also, there is a method of assessment used by professionals, who can determine your child’s learning style, challenges, educational strengths, and needs.
Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a well-known standard that schools use to assess gifted children. The majority of the population will fall within an IQ of 85 – 115, with an average IQ being around 100, while a gifted child’s IQ will fall within ranges between 115 to 160 or higher, with the lower range considered mildly gifted, while those scoring over 145 are highly gifted.
5. Does skipping a grade look good for college?
No. Skipping a grade won’t necessarily affect your child’s college application directly, as long as he or she is meeting the credit requirements to graduate.
However, not having enough extracurricular activities, volunteer hours or work experience will make your child a less competitive applicant in a holistic admission process, and may limit his or her chances of acceptance to a college.
6. Disadvantages of skipping grades (accelerated learning) for gifted students
One presumed possibility can be the emotional and psychological challenges that students may face, but studies show that this is rarely true and in fact, many gifted students in accelerated learning programs benefited from increased social skills and maturity. On the other hand, there remains the possibility that a gifted child who has moved to a higher grade could become a target of bullying, for being younger and different.
7. How to skip grades in elementary school
Your request is reviewed according to strict requirements and the final decision will be made by a dedicated team consisting of a teacher, counsellor, and psychologist specializing in work with gifted children.
In order to either approve or reject the request, they use acceleration tests to assess a student’s readiness to skip a grade. The tests are used to collect information about the academic performance of the student, emotional intellect, and attitude towards studies to determine if grade-skipping is best for the student.
You can seek advice and information on accelerated learning programs from your child’s school, although each school has different policies regarding acceleration. There are many ways you could help your child to remain motivated and have constant stimulation academically, including starting school early (derogation), single or selective subject acceleration, skipping a grade, and interdisciplinary project-based learning, including multi-grade (where the student combines learning from multiple disciplines and multiple grade levels to come up with new ways of thinking about issues and solving problems).
If you want your child to have the chance to explore higher grade subjects without all the complication of meeting requirements and passing tests for skipping a grade, a homeschooling environment can also give you space to provide your children with a challenging academic pace at whatever age they become ready for it, without having to declare a formal grade acceleration.
In conclusion, in spite of general concerns about whether grade-skippers are able to adjust with older age groups socially and psychologically, studies show that there was little or no negative social or psychological impact connected to grade-skipping.
Most importantly, gifted children who do not get enough intellectual stimulation can lose interest in learning and become less motivated. Gifted children can best reach their full potential by constantly learning at a level appropriate to their abilities and by being exposed to enough stimulation.
It is hard to decide as parents which choices will benefit our children most, with their ever-changing physical and mental development. Even though studies show certain benefits from skip-grading, your clearest indication of the best choice will come from your child’s reactions and how well they thrive in each new environment.
Parenting is an area that never seems to have one answer for everyone. Luckily, our children tend to let us know what they need, and the best we can do is look for their cues and tackle the choices as they come.