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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Skipping Grades- Yes or No?

I'm on this mom's message board and a woman asked us what we thought about skipping grades. You may wonder why I would be putting my response here on my blog, but as my name implies, this blog is about parenting in addition to frugality, and academics is a big part of parenting children. In addition, this ties in very much to the fact that I'm homeschooling my kids, and why, something I have spoken before at length on this blog.
In fact, people have asked me why I don't just send my kids to school, but the reason I don't plan on sending them is precisely because of this reason.
This post, pretty much, is what I answered the mom who asked, and I enjoyed writing the answer so much that I decided to share it with you as well. Hopefully it can help you out
So what did I answer? Is skipping a grade a good thing or not?

I skipped, and I have to say that based on my experience, I am pretty anti skipping kids.

Why is that?


Well, for one, it doesn't even solve the academic issue.
All it means is that for one short period of time, you struggle trying to understand what is going on when you pretty much skipped an entire year's worth of learning, but soon you figure out what you missed, and once again, the schoolwork is too easy and what they're teaching you is once again boring you out of your wits as it isn't going at a fast enough pace.
So academically, you're back to square one, and your choice is, either stay in the same grade even though you're once again at the top of your class, or skip again.
And again.
And again.
Which is how I ended up skipping 3 grades. (5th, 11th, and 12th.)

Socially, skipping grades is a pretty big problem.
Firstly, you have to keep in mind that there are three main types of maturity. Physical maturity, intellectual maturity, and emotional maturity.
Smart kids, especially gifted kids, often have this maturity to them that makes them enjoy talking to adults and older children more than kids their own age, but that's an intellectual maturity thing, not an emotional maturity. In fact, one of the hallmarks of gifted kids is asynchronous development, which means that certain aspects of them develop at faster paces than others, and usually it means that intellectually the child may be very advanced, but often emotionally, the child is either at age level for maturity, or behind age level.
Pushing a kid ahead a grade when he is emotionally less mature than the kids in the new grade is bound to cause social issues. I can't even count how many times I was called a "baby" by my classmates in my new grade, because, granted, I was a lot less mature my new classmates and did act babyish in comparison to them, but it still wasn't helpful to my self image to repeatedly be called a baby, nor did it help me socially to be seen by my classmates as such. This is not a rare occurrence in skipped kids; just because a child is intellectually ready for a higher grade level doesn't mean he or she is emotionally ready.

Additionally, there often is some resentment and jealousy, either mild or strong, from the weaker students towards the better students. When the better student is a whole year or more younger than the weaker student, this causes even harder feelings, and to try to make themselves feel better, the weaker students often do pick on the younger, smart student.

Then there's the aspect of physical maturity, not being as physically developed as the rest of the kids in the class, which can provide further mocking.

When I graduated high school, there was the fact that I was 15/16 and out in the real world. Because my grade-mates were all adults, I considered myself an adult as well. I wanted to do the same things as the other people in my grade, but I wasn't allowed to in certain cases because of my age (certain post high school programs that I wanted to attend would only accept people who were 17 or 18), and in other cases, I was allowed to but was criticized for it. (I started dating for marriage purposes at 17, 2 years after leaving high school, but was criticized repeatedly for "being in such a rush". I didn't feel I was rushing at all, because I had been out of high school and in the real world already for 2 years by then, a stage most girls aren't at until they're 20. Note- in my circles, girls generally start dating for marriage purposes around 18 or 19 years old.)

I really think that skipping didn't help me in the slightest bit, and only caused me many social issues.
I would never skip my kids in school.
Then again, I heard people say that gifted kids never fit in socially in their class, even if they aren't skipped a grade, so there's no reason not to. However, I didn't even see any advantage scholastically for skipping, so in my opinion, that point is moot as well.

So what do you do if your child is bored in school?
If your kid is in school, you discuss with the teacher and get her cooperation to let your child do the assigned schoolwork at his/her own pace, and then he can do whatever he wants in class so long as he isn't disturbing anyone, whether this is reading a book, writing a story, who knows what. You can also give your child enrichment material, material that won't be covered in school but that the child is interested in learning about. (Not the next year's math or science reading, but rather in subjects that won't be covered in school at any point, like botany or electronics or anything really.)
Or, you can just homeschool your child and let him/her learn at his/her own pace, and not worry about skipping or what grade level he is at, and then let him socialize with whoever he wants to and gets along with, whether its someone exactly his age or older or younger.

In fact, this is a big reason why I homeschool my boys. My big boy, Lee, is already scholastically at a kindergarten level (or higher), even though he's only 4 years old. If I would send him to school with kids his age, they'd be learning things that he already grasped a year or more ago. So that's academically. Intellectually, he's a very deep kid and understands a whole lot; I'm astounded by the breadth and depth of his questions; they sometimes seem more suitable for an 8 year old than a 4 year old.
However, emotionally? Sometimes when I compare him to other kids his age, he seems more immature, and sometimes he seems exactly developmentally appropriate for his age. But he certainly isn't mature enough to sit in a kindergarten classroom at the moment, even if academically he's at that level.
By homeschooling my kids, I don't have to deal with the issue of "What do I do with my son who is more academically advanced than the average kid his age but isn't as emotionally mature as the kids on his scholastic level."
And we're having lots of fun homeschooling.

But no, if I had to send him to school for whatever reason, I certainly wouldn't skip him a grade. I'd ask that he be supplemented with parallel or alternative material during class for when he finished or already grasped what was being taught in school. My experience with skipping is enough to turn me off skipping any of my children, ever. I think skipping, in most cases, does more harm than good.

Do you have any experience with skipping, either as a parent, a child, or an educator? Do you think homeschooling is a good idea? Why or why not? What do you think parents and teachers should do when there is a child who is much more academically advanced than his classmates?
Would you skip your child? Why or why not?

Linking up to WFMW.

2 comments:

  1. My teacher let me read a book during class and I hated school. It was boring because all I did was read. I read the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter in 1rst grade which helped me in school later but I was bored. The same thing happened to my dad who only went to class for tests during highschool and got a 3.5 gpa. Kindertgarden- 3rd grade I hated school. In 6th grade I talked to my parents and I skipped 7th grade. I am now going into 9th grade. I don't think I was effected negatively at all and am now challeneged somewhat and to keep the stimulation instead of skipping totally I do classes online.I agree with some of the stuff you said but I just wanted to share my opinion as a pro- skipping person.

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  2. I skipped 6th grade and it was the best dissuasion of my life. I got to pick all my 7th grade classes and I felt like I was actually learning something at school for once. But because I only skipped one year, I didn't have to deal with giant age gap.

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