Almost every parent with a gifted child asks themselves the questions: should my child skip a grade, and how will it affect them? For some gifted students, skipping a grade can have adverse affects to their emotional development as well as their social development. For others, skipping a grade can be beneficial so that they may be challenged and work with other students with comparable intellectual ability. Not all children will have the same reaction to their circumstances, but there are some pros and cons to help parents make a decision.
Pros of Skipping a Grade
Intellectual Peers and Community
According to NAGC, gifted students who are moved a grade ahead are not affected socially and academically – at least not in a negative way. Letting a child skip a grade ahead puts them with peers who may be older but have similar intellectual ability. The sense of community allows a gifted student to thrive, especially if he or she has not been in an environment like this before and is emotionally mature enough for the change.
There are some schools that have programs for gifted students, and other schools that may not have the funding for the resources. For schools that do not have separate programs, moving ahead a grade can provide more mental stimulus. The academic challenge can be very exciting to a student who has never encountered it.
Reduction of Problem Behavior
If a gifted student is not challenged, he or she may show behaviors of being bored such as complaining about going to school, saying that school is dumb, or not wanting to go to school at all. Teachers may notice that children who are finishing their work ahead of their peers begin to distract others and become disruptive. If gifted children are challenged, they are less likely to exhibit these behaviors and stay more engaged in the classroom.
Cons of Skipping a Grade
Skipping a grade ahead can have its challenges, and many factors can influence the decision. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Is the student able to move ahead in all subjects? For example, if the student excels in math but not in other topics, moving ahead a grade could cause more problems than it solves.
- Can the student keep up with the increased workload? As students go through school, the amount of homework increases. The more challenging the material is for the student, the more an increase in workload can have negative effects on his or her grade. Students who can understand the next grade’s material with effort may not be ready for such a significant change.
- Can the student stay in the top of the class? Not only will the student be doing more difficult material but he or she will also have different competition. A student who is in the top 1% of his or her current class may not stay there when moved up a grade level.
Moving up a grade level may not be the best solution for a child who is bored with the homework if it will have a negative influence on his or her grade.
While being with intellectual peers can actually help students socially, there are other factors involved that may make the change more difficult. Some gifted students may be smaller in size than their classmates and become singled out as a result. Others may lack the maturity to relate with their classmates, and they may feel anxious or fearful of their situation. Leaving old friends and making new friends can also have a significant effect on how the child reacts to the new grade.
That’s why it’s important to let the gifted student to have a say in whether or not to move up a grade. If the student is happy, staying motivated, and shows no desire to move ahead, a parent should rethink making the change.
Skipping a grade is not the answer for every gifted child. Some may thrive in the environment, while others may not. Being able to match the gifted student with the correct curriculum is what is important. For some students, this may mean skipping a grade, or it could mean enrolling in a supplemental learning program at an enrichment academy. Whatever the situation, communicating with the school, teachers, and the students themselves will be one of the most important components to making the decision.
Do you have any suggestions about a gifted child skipping a grade? Please feel free to leave a comment.
Author: Pam Crum., Lead Teacher at A Grade Ahead