Cult of Pedagogy Search

Should My Child Skip Kindergarten?

September 10, 2015


Jennifer Gonzalez

Close

Can't find what you are looking for? Contact Us

Skip-Kinder


Break from my tamagotchi” by David D is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

Dear Jennifer,

My daughter recently started kindergarten, and I’m thinking about moving her up to first grade. She is already a proficient reader (she can read whole Berenstain Bears and Junie B. Jones books to me without help) and writes in full sentences. Before school started, I spoke to her kindergarten teacher about my concerns that she wouldn’t feel challenged, and her teacher assured me she would give my daughter higher-level work.

Well, it’s been almost two weeks and every day, my daughter comes home telling me how boring school is. “Today we learned the letter R, Mommy,” she says, rolling her eyes. “The letter R!” I realize her teachers need to start off the year at the most basic level, but I don’t want my daughter to start hating school while she waits for the work to catch up to her. Even though I’m aware of the social implications of pulling her out of her age group, I’m thinking about moving her up to first grade. Do you have any advice?

 

Oh, this is a tough one. I was in basically the exact same situation five years ago. My daughter’s birthday fell right near the cut-off date for kindergarten, making her the oldest child in her class. Because she was also a great reader and seemed to be quickly getting bored, we made the decision to move her up. She’s in 6th grade now, and so far, things are still going well academically, but she isn’t a big fan of being the youngest in her class. I wish I’d had another alternative, but I just wasn’t seeing the differentiation I’d hoped for, so we decided on the move. We still have years to go before we’ll know for sure if it was the right decision.

Since it sounds like kindergarten is the right place for your daughter age-wise, you don’t have that factor to tip the scales for you. So what should you do? I posed this question in a private Facebook group last week and was floored by the number of passionate responses I got, and almost all of them were overwhelmingly opposed to skipping kindergarten. Since Facebook posts come and go, but blog posts last a bit longer, I thought it would be a good idea to take this question to my own readers. I’m going to expand on the original dilemma somewhat and ask a few bigger questions, because I feel like this is a problem that still really needs a good solution.

Okay, so here are my questions for you, dearest readers. Help this parent out by answering as many of these as you’d like:

(1) In general, do you think grade skipping benefits students? Why or why not? Are there certain factors—personality traits, gender—that would make grade skipping more likely to be successful for a child?

(2) If a parent chooses to keep their advanced child in his or her assigned grade, how would you advise the parent to advocate for their child’s needs? Some parents of young children, especially if it’s their first child, are reluctant to be “that parent” who is overly pushy or demanding with teachers. From a teacher’s perspective, what would you like the parent of an advanced child to do if they feel you are not challenging that student?

(3) What are the most effective differentiation strategies and resources you’ve seen at the K-1 level, particularly for challenging students who come to school already reading fluently?

 

 


Do you need advice on a teaching-related issue? Contact me and I may feature your question in a future blog post.


 

 

Keep in touch.
I would love to have you come back for more. Join my mailing list and get weekly tips, tools, and inspiration—in quick, bite-sized packages—all geared toward making your teaching more effective and joyful. To thank you, you’ll get a free copy of my new e-booklet, 20 Ways to Cut Your Grading Time in Half. I look forward to getting to know you better!

 

 

45 Comments

  1. Richard Enna says:

    The main problem with these situations is that there are four dynamics at work: the child, the parent, the teacher, and the school (curriculum, administrators, rules and regulations, etc.). Each dynamic has its own agenda, set of preconceptions, anxieties, and responsibilities. The school has rules about moving students around, what material can be presented at any given time, and how limited resources are to be disbursed. Also, school officials are human beings with individual motivations and concerns. Next, the teacher has a classroom filled with individuals, sometimes as many as thirty, all jockeying for attention. She also has biases, assumptions, limited resources, strengths and weaknesses, and accountability to the three other dynamics. Then there is at least one parent or guardian (and the presence of another one complicates the dynamic, especially when the two are not in agreement). Parents are at times the worst advocates for their children, and the best ones. Their anxiety can both cloud their judgement, but also get positive results. Some teachers and administrators are too quick to dismiss the concerns of a parent, while some parents heap on irrational fears and expectations, while never accepting that a classroom has twenty-nine other individuals all of whom deserve the same amount attention.

    Finally, there is the child, who should be the center of attention for each of the other three dynamics. But the child is not an innocent bystander, but an active participant, And a child is not always honest; she can be downright manipulative. However, her agenda is not always apparent, or her needs always obvious, and responding in the wrong way can be very detrimental (all the more reason for parental anxiety). Therefore, the child requires the most attention, and the most care.

    Unfortunately, the research out there does not provide a conclusive answer to this parent’s question. And the anecdotal evidence is contradictory. Finally, the internet is very good passing judgement on a parent’s actions, making the situation worse.

    In an ideal situation, all four dynamics would come together (yes, even the little kindergartner), and discuss things. Each person would be humble and empathetic, present a logical, realistic solution, and ultimately agree to a course of action in the best interest of the child.

    But we do not live in an ideal world, and options are limited for each of the dynamics involved.

    So, my advice to the parent: do not be afraid to advocate, but do so from a position of humility and patience. Follow up with the teacher and the administration regularly, but give them time to change and adapt. If they are proving stubborn or unresponsive, and your child continues to suffer, then be willing to push harder: you will not be popular, but that is the price one pays to be a good parent. Also, listen carefully to your child, and try to see past your own biases and anxieties. Just remember to do your research, and be open minded.

    My advice to te teacher: you better damn well be willing to change if you want to be an effective teacher. Yes, parents are riddled with anxieties when it comes to their children, and sometimes these fears make these adults do irrational and destructive things. However, never take it out on the child, and remember, all parents have anxieties. Therefore, take the parent’s initial concern seriously. Yes, we as teachers have met “that parent”. But, if we are being honest, we have also been wrong about our assessment of the situation, and “that parent”, while appearing hysterical, was nonetheless correct. Just like good customer service, followup with your promises, keep the parent regularly informed, and be willing to admit your mistake without making excuses.

    My advice to everyone else: shut up and think really hard about the situation before passing judgement or providing advice. Even though each scenario has common themes, each scenario involves an individual child, at least two adults (one parent, one teacher), and a host of environmental factors (the administration, the school, the classroom, the curriculum). While your personal related experience be real to you, it may not have any application to situation under discussion. Present your perspective, but do so humbly and politely. And make sure you have an honest assessment of your experience: sometimes we reshape our memories and realities in order to fit out agendas.

    Having laid that all out, here are my answers to your question, Jennifer:

    1) Unfortunately, our current school paradigm is not effective in addressing situations like this: a young child possessing skills beyond their peers. Anecdotal evidence suggests some children adjust better than others to a grade shift. I personally do not find the hard research conclusive either way. Therefore, it has to be a case by case basis, taking into account the child’s maturity, overall intelligence, other skills, personal desires, and the willingness and ability of the current teacher to address the disparities.

    2) Yes advocate, but do so with care, and use research to support your stance. Give the teacher time to adjust, but by all means, regularly follow up. And do not talk about the situation with hostility or malice, especially with your child, but also with other adults. Find an individual whom you trust, and vent to them in private.

    3) The teacher could have the advanced reading student read a challenging book on her own, either in class or at home, and create a presentation for the class, or a creative response to the book. In addition, the teacher could have the advanced student do more writing, and less reading in class. When choosing reading material, include a good amount of non-fiction titles. That was off the top of my head.

    Apologies for the length and breadth of this post. To sum up, every person should be empathetic to others, be willing to research the hell out of a topic, be able to present their perspective, but do all of it with humility.

    Oh, and somehow accept that most people will NOT be doing the same.

    • Gloria says:

      From a purely personal point of view. I could have skipped grade 1. My mom decided to keep me with the peers my age. I would have in hind sight preferred to skip. Due to intelligence and maturity, I was not stimulated and had some difficulty with my peers. I got along much better with the grade above. This trend of lack of intillectual stimulation followed me into highschool. I was bored. I went from a person who loved school and learning to someone who lost absolute interest. Let the child move up is my advice.

    • No, children should not skip grades. There are so many aspects of the whole that are affected by this move: intellectual, social, physical, psychologically, emotional. While a child may intellectually be ready to advance, s/he might be socially and psychologically ill-equipped to handle the change. I, myself, skipped first grade. Then, I placed out of a year of college. If I hadn’t carried very light work loads, I would have graduated at 19. Why? What’s the big, honkin’ hurry. If a kid can’t find some way to be interested at school, he may not actually be gifted to begin with.

    • Caroline says:

      As an adult gifted teacher (who skipped 1st grade) my viewpoint is a bit mixed. While I rose to the challenge academically, I never felt like I “fit in” socially. Even through high school, students referred to me as being smart, but I always felt awkward and never “part of the crowd”. Perhaps I was simply introverted and never found my niche as a student. It was a small town, and friendships were already formed when I was moved from 1st grade to 2nd.

      I really think it depends on the child. If a child is very self-confident and is bored with the curriculum, it may be a good thing. Another option is to have the student move into a grade level above only for the academic area in which they are excelling. If they are gifted in math, go to the next grade level during math and join the rest of the class for other subjects, etc.

      As a gifted teacher, I have seen many elementary students who were gifted academically but very much the norm (or even immature) socially. Only rarely have I seen a student who was advanced in all areas and could truly benefit from being promoted a whole grade level in every area.

    • Joan Buckley to says:

      Thank you, Richard, for a well presented and well thought out post. As a veteran kindergarten teacher, I have had a few instances of students arriving with higher than average skill sets. My “two cents” of advice for parents is to be willing to work in partnership with the teacher (If possible), to remember that their child is 1 of many in the classroom, and to advocate privately (not complain publicly.) And to my teaching peers – be willing to break out of the box and teach beyond the teaching manuals! Utilize your professional connections to help you support this special learner’s growth and development. I found that I was able to get ideas from the 1st grade team for extra reading and writing for my higher skilled learner.

  2. Elizabeth Hamilton says:

    It’s my experience that moving a child up must be handled on a case-by-case basis and that it is critical for the child to be part of the conversation. Children will help teachers come up with ways to challenge them and should be encourage to do so, if the student is going to stay in the grade level.

    Speaking from my own experience, I would tell you that girls are often better suited for being advanced than boys. The slightly slower maturation and growth process for boys becomes a challenging social issue in the middle school and high school years, whereas girls don’t tend to be as affected.

    Personally, I was held back in kindergarten because my birthday was on the borderline and resented it my entire academic career. I was separated from my friends and never felt that I fit in with my grade. I attended a private school in Atlanta with a very strenuous curriculum, which was fine. However, when I moved to Austin in middle school, I found myself bored. I was repeating classes and content. My mother couldn’t be bothered to advocate for me. The result was a lazy student. I ended up graduating high school a year early and then completed college in three years. I regret finishing college early; I needed that fourth year to mature.
    It’s individual and you need to pay attention to your child. Please listen and advocate for them.

  3. Chris says:

    My aunt is a psychologist. Both of her exceptional children actually took kindergarten twice. Both are exceptional adults. I was the youngest because of where my birthday fell. I don’t know if being with kids my age would have made me more emotionally confident. Having social emotional health is more important than reading the right book.

    Perhaps the district does not have the resources or are not providing teachers enough training or time to differentiate. (I have less than 30 minutes to prep for 7 grade levels, creating everything from scratch.) Donate some more advanced reading books on the social studies or science topics. Help create some stations for her learning centers where kids can be more self directed.

  4. Diana says:

    Just based upon the experiences of the adults I know who were either skipped or started early, I would advise against it. The child may be intellectually advanced, but there is also physical, emotional and social growth to consider. When her peers start maturing, and their interests and bodies start changing, there will be absolutely nothing she can do to “keep up”, but she will likely try, and that need to prove yourself lingers into adulthood.

  5. Diane Nelsen says:

    I was that kindergarten child, one of my sons was that kindergarten child, and now my grandson is that child. My parents had the choice of having me be the very youngest child in the class or the oldest….I have never regretted being the oldest, and yes there were times I was bored, especially in the early years with reading but I had several other students in my class who were early readers too and the teachers had us help others, gave us more advanced books to read, and we had wonderful SRA reading boxes that allowed to advance at our own pace. For my own son, he was a spring birthday and I wish I had waited and sent him the following the year…he could read but as it happened there were many kids in his class that were a full year older than him and maturity wise he didn’t catch up until late middle school, and sometimes that was a difficulty for him socially, ….the academics aren’t always the whole picture. With our grandson, he was reading well in pre-school and had an excellent teacher who recognized his joy in learning and honored it without making him feel singled out or different. He is ahead of his peers in some areas but right on par in others…again an August birthday child so he had two years of pre-school and his parents ( and this educator grandma) really feel that was the best choice for him. And yes he will be the oldest in his class but as his dad has said ” I would rather have a just turned 19 year old college freshman than a barely turned 18 year old one!” Maybe not something you think about when you skip grades with a kindergarten or first grade child but it does mean a younger child later in an adult environment. Always keep in mind each child, each family, has to make the decision individually. How your school operates, is it year round, does it have a gifted program, do you as a family supplement your child’s academics with materials and experiences, where is your child in their school readiness level, etc….? I could keep throwing out questions….all of these types of questions are important and none of us can answer them for that family….as I said my parents made the right choice for me…..this family knows their daughter or son best-we must honor and respect their decision!

  6. Carol says:

    We think very carefully about skipping kindergarten (pre-primary for us). As well as academic ability, there are a number of areas to consider. It is worth looking at whether this child has a genuine gift or whether they are extremely able and have had the advantage of adults who have encouraged early skill development. In this case, early advantages may even out later on. An educational psychologist would assist with this. Sometimes very gifted children don’t mix well with their peers and spending time in kindergarten will not change this so it is good to look at whether this student would benefit from the social/emotional side of things or whether they would struggle regardless because of their uniqueness. It can be quite difficult to be emotionally younger than your peers – to face exam challenges, moving away from home, not getting your car licence or physically developing until after your peers. Then again, gifted children are sometimes unconcerned with these things and may become bored or exhibit poor behaviour. It really is a case by case decision by a combination of people who are qualified to speak on behalf of the child and should not be made lightly or with a short-sighted approach.

  7. I skipped 4th grade because I was in a class that encouraged us to work at our own pace and I worked my way through 3rd and 4th grade work in one year. I told my mom I wanted to skip and she set up a meeting with my teachers and I told them what I wanted and they agreed! It was really empowering for little me to take the reigns on my own education and I believe it set me up to be the life long learner and teacher I am today. My experience was really positive and I would encourage any kid who wanted to feel more in control of their education and had a plan. That is exactly the kind of behavior we want to support, not thwart! As a teacher I know how huge the spectrum of motivation, interest, and math and reading skills levels that can exist in one classroom. It is difficult for quick processors to sit through slowly paced work.

  8. Karen says:

    I have taught first grade for many years. In my experience, the benefits of being in the norm age-wise with classmates far outweighs the short term benefits of skipping kindergarten. Being the youngest in your class all throughout school is not a desirable place to be. Socially, disadvantages abound especially during the preteen/teen years when the younger child is just not as mature as the other students.

  9. Julia says:

    I don’t have the answer for this individual case, but the importance of play in every child’s development must not be forgotten. Although I know little about the American education system, I would imagine a good kindergarten setting would offer far more opportunities for play than a first grade classroom. The points in this article are relevant to the discussion:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/09/01/the-decline-of-play-in-preschoolers-and-the-rise-in-sensory-issues/

    When my eldest daughter started primary school, she went up a class for her literacy lessons each day – then returned to her peer group for the rest of the timetable. She’s now 16 and broke the school record with her GCSE results this summer. She received 13 A*s. (I’m telling you this to put my earlier comments about the value of play into context.)

  10. My husband and I made this difficult decision with our daughter. I was an educator at the time and am now an administrator. I was in the same school with my daughter every day and still Had difficulty know the best decision. This question came up for us at 4 when she was in pre-k and could read, do simple math, and write words and phrases using invented spelling. After spending a lot time investigating and asking questions the decision came down to one factor. Socialization. During times such as, recess, center time, snack time my daughter did not have a peer group. Instead of playing laughing, and talking with her friends, she would gravitate to the adults. They would start her playing with the other students but she would quickly ‘finish’ playing and hang out alone or with a teacher. I was fortunate enough to have a school that allowed her to visit Kindergarten for reading (and eventually math), but most importantly, recess. That is when we saw a completely different child emerge. By the end of the year our decision had essentially made itself. As my pediatrician said it best, when I met with him about this decision “you’re not driving this bus, if you pay attention she will lead you to the answer”.

    My daughter is now 14 and a Sophomore in high school. She will not turn 15 until the end of April. I will tell you, the decision to accelerate her has never ended, it is not a one-time decision. If you choose this path you should plan to continually make decisions. For example, does she have the emotional maturity to attend to the 2-week stay at a university camp that she qualified for based on her SAT scores? What about college at just barely 17? We realized very early into this decision, there will be a multitude of decisions that stem from making this one decision.

    The funny thing is, if you asked if I would make the same decision again, I’m not sure what my answer would be. 11 years into the decision, my daughter is a happy, well adjusted, teenager. However, I will tell you there have been times I would have told you differently. I guess my advice is make the decision as slowly as your school/district will allow. Watch her, factor in socialization and many of your decisions will become clear.

  11. Dianne says:

    I read the others’ comments and feel they have expressed great thoughts so I will not repeat them. In my 38 years of teaching, I have only seen two advancements that I have felt were beneficial.
    1) A sixth grade “gifted” girls’ dad requested that she be moved up to 7th grade as she was leaving our district as a 5th grader. We complied and she went on to be a successful Bucknell graduate with straight As all the way.
    1) Two years ago we had a student move into our school who had been in a very small school and was accelerated by both her teacher and parents due to the teacher;student ratio that allowed for this. She came to us in October as a kindergarten student who could read wonderfully. She could orally respond to the work also. Her writing skills were behind those in the first grade. We spoke to the parents of this once concern of advancement and they supported this need at home. By December we had made the decision to place her in academic (reading and math) grade one classtime and leave her in kindergarten for specials and socialization. She became quite comfortable in both situations. When spring testing was complete, she was at the top of the FIRST grade students and teachers, admin, and parents alike all chose to move her on to second grade. Her academic classmates remained the same and her kindergarten CLOSE friends remained that way. Two years have gone by and she remains one of the strongest in her “new” class.

    Communicate, brainstorm combining options, get support, and believe with a real feel for the situation. It is not common practice, but this was a real success story. BTW Kindergarten teachers are still training in the second and even third weeks so extension may come soon.

  12. Julia says:

    Hi. I don’t usually make comments, but I am today as both a parent and educator. I am a High School teacher in NSW Australia. I see two sides to this coin, I work in a high school that is partially selective, this means we have one full class per year group of gifted students. We have had a lot of succes with students taking courses above their year level no completing their final year 12 exams in certain subjects while they may only be in year 10. As a school, and teacher, we have been able to accomodate for the needs of our students by allowing them to work in their gifted subjects above grade level.
    On the flip side I see when students are younger for their year group, the emotional difficulties that they encounter. Students, at the end of their schooling, as a younger student, don’t share the same experiences as their classmates – getting their licences, boyfriends, girlfriends, freedom, etc…
    As a mum, my daughter repeated a year, as she was on the younger side when she started. At the time, we struggled with whether or not we had made the right decision as parents, but when she got to year 12, it was the right decision, she was emotionally ready to complete school, and was a lot more responsible for her own learning.
    Ultimately, the choice is all about what is best for your child, not for someone else’s. But, your child’s teacher should be teaching in a way to meet the needs of every child in her class using differentiation! Good luck.

  13. My husband and I were both late August/early September babies, and we faced this same concern with our youngest, another late August baby. My husband was held back; I was not. Neither of us regret our parents’ decisions, and I never minded being the youngest. As someone earlier mentioned, it’s a case by case basis, all depending on the maturity of the child. We also considered gender–our youngest is a boy, and although he was certainly ready academically, we worried about the future, too. I was 17 when I started college, but did we want to send a 17-year-old boy to college?

    In the end, we held him back. His kindergarten teacher placed him on a SAT (student assistance team), which he remains on, so his teachers can give him more advanced work ahead of his grade. We ask our son often about what he’s doing in school, check in on his boredom level, and talk to him and his teacher about alternative activities to do if the work is too easy.

  14. Stephanie says:

    I agree that each case is different. I myself skipped 7th grade “unofficially” due to moving around a to a lot of different schools (military child) and quality differed from school to school. When I came to the last school, I encountered all kinds of nasty attitudes from staff, students, and administration because I didn’t fit their rules. I was incredibly happy to graduate and leave that behind. So, I would not recommend leaving it until that late. All of my children (I have 4) are academically gifted, but only one of them was pushing us so hard to learn that I considered sending her early to kindergarten. Administration told me “I would be a bad mother to push her that way and I would ruin her life.” So, my husband and I decided to wait until the official time for her to go. Now, she is paying the price for that decision, as elementary was good about meeting her academic needs; she is socially far ahead of her classmates in 8th grade and sits, very bored in “advanced” classes (she has hundred averages each year). She copes with school boredom by having her own projects at home- she is getting ready to publish her first book on Amazon and creates art, studies nature and science in experiments with her chemistry set and builds incredible sculptures out of different materials. Did I do the right thing in listening to that admin? I don’t know, but I didn’t want her to experience having the staff & admin against her the way I did. You, as the parent, must make the decision and won’t know the outcome for 13-15 years later; do the best that you can with the school system where you live – if she is socially ahead as well, then it would make sense. If the admin/staff is willing, ask them to let her try it. IF she is ready, she will be happy to go to school, won’t be able to wait to get there; if she isn’t, she’ll be reluctant to go, have tummy aches, etc. GOOD LUCK!

  15. Christine Bainbridge says:

    Jus to throw my two cents in…The research shows a very high effect size for accelerating gifted students a grade level vs. enrichment. Although I’m not sure how the developmental aspects of Kindergarten might change that effect. As we know Kindergarten isn’t just about the academic curriculum. Maybe acceleration of a grade a little farther down the line might be something to consider if she remains significantly ahead of her peers.

    • Hey Christine! I just jumped on and saw this. If you can come back later and provide a link to some of this research, that would be wonderful. I think it would round out the conversation here. Thanks!

      • Jennifer, the Acceleration Institute at the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank center has been studying this for many years. They report on abundant research showing the benefits of acceleration. One caveat is that most of the research is based on student self-reports of their feelings about it. That said, there is a standardized, research-based tool for making these decisions called the Iowa Acceleration Scale. It provides a protocol for collecting data about a child and conducting a team meeting to make a reasoned decision which takes the whole child and all of the relevant factors into account. My district uses it regularly, and I find that it takes a lot of the anxiety out of the process.

        It’s critical to remember that whenever you’re having this conversation about any child, that child is going to need special support regardless of the eventual placement. If kept in Kindergarten, she or he will need opportunities to experience challenging work. If moved to first grade, there will need to be other supports to make the transition successful. There’s also no guarantee that first grade work will automatically meet all the needs.

        Further, keep in mind that what we see on the surface (a child who can read, or a child who can do computations with large numbers) doesn’t tell the whole story. There’s more depth to literacy than just reading a book aloud and being able to write a coherent sentence, and there’s more to math than multiplying 3-digit numbers. The decision to accelerate should take this into account as well, which means assessing a child’s knowledge and skills more thoroughly than we often do at that age.

        • Richard Enna says:

          That is a great point: excelling at a particular skill does not a gifted child make. I have met children who can do multiplication and division facts while their peers struggle with addition, or children who can read an entry from a graduate level chemistry book while their peers struggle with first-grade readers. Very rarely do those children understand the underlying concepts. However, in a few instances, the child does in fact understand. And as you pointed out, both sets of students will need a specific approach in order to actualize their potential.

          • Christine Bainbridge says:

            You raise a good point, Richard. We can’t jump to conclusions that a child is gifted without the appropriate assessments . Maybe this mother needs more definitive evaluation to make an informed decision.

        • Hi Gerald. Thanks for this thoughtful reply, and I appreciate you notifying the folks at Belin-Blank about this conversation. As you can likely see, we got more info from Ann Shoplink as well. I appreciate these perspectives immensely, as the general consensus seems to be swinging far in the direction of NOT accelerating. I was hoping to hear all sides, especially some that can link to research. I haven’t yet been able to reply to all of the comments, as they are coming in pretty fast, but I really like the diversity of thought on this question.

        • Great response, Gerald! Thank you. And there are lots more resources for people who are interested: http://www.accelerationinstitute.org

      • Christine Bainbridge says:

        John Hattie’s research gives acceleration for gifted students an effect size of .68 which is very good. An effect size of more than .40 is considered significant. It ranks 15th out of 150 influences on achievement. He references Kulick &Kulick, Steenburgen-Hu& moon as well. Here’s an interesting link: http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/Guidelines_JAA.pdf

      • Christine Bainbridge says:

        Definitely, I posted it in the comments below.

  16. Tammy says:

    As a teacher and vice principal I get many parents wanting their child to skip a grade. Often parents forget about the whole child, and think their child should skip based on academic performance. What about social skills, child development, emotional needs, physical abilities? Usually none of these are considered, not to mention the child graduating earlier and making important life decisions about university at a young age, going away to school on their own etc. More often than not, the desire to have their child skip a grade is often about parental pride. Children can always be challenged, whether in the classroom or from the parents after school.

  17. Michael Sullivan says:

    I’m no expert, but I’m a parent so I have opinions at least.

    1. As with all things it depends. It depends on whether the student is at risk of disengaging from school due to lack of challenge. As we all know, differentiation can only achieve so much. But if the student is able to still enjoy school, I’d say avoid skipping grades.

    2. Academics are only a part of what kids go to school to learn. Most of the learning they need to do is socialization. To that end, skipping grades for purely intellectual reasons can prove disruptive to a student’s essential social development; it can lead to student isolation and a gross mis-match between the student and classmates on emotional/developmental issues.

    3. Not that I’d promote sloppy science, but Malcolm Gladwell’s work Outliers has a compelling argument against accelerating a child’s progress through school: statistically, the kids best-positioned to benefit from the school system (in a broad sense) are those that are at the leading edge of their grade developmentally. Those students typically get more boosts to confidence, more freedom from teachers who trust them, and more access to school resources. Obviously, Gladwell isn’t an expert on these things and I’ve never investigated the data sets he considered when writing that book. But my own life experience anecdotally supports his conclusions and I’m thus comfortable giving them at least some credence.

  18. I’ve researched this, but providing some anecdotal experiences!
    As a parent of one child who was bored but remained in his age grade, one who skipped a grade (actually 2 over her school career) and one who started early, I have experienced exactly this on many levels.
    My son was moved to a combined K-1 class within the first week of school. He did mostly 1st grade work and was fine, but was bored and became a behavior issue in 1st (basically repeated the same work) and 2nd grades. He graduated, but never worked to his potential because he was essentially encouraged not to in those early years.
    My oldest daughter was in 1st grade and reading on a 5th grade level (at least) and her teacher wanted to move her up, but the principal did not support it (actually asked who would take her to the prom). We pulled her out and homeschooled the rest of that year, and she tested in the 98th% on the 2nd grade EOG she took at the end of the year. The new principal the next year allowed her to enter at 3rd grade and she flourished. She considered completing middle school (7-8 grade here) in 1 year, but decided against it. She did complete high school (9-12 grades) in 3 years and graduated HS at 16. She is now in college and working as a CNA while she gets her nursing degree.
    My youngest daughter started preschool a year early, then started Kindergarten a year early. She was showing the same reading readiness and abilities prior to prek as her older sister and I didn’t want her to go through the same issues with trying to grade advance later. She had a difficult year in 1st and 3rd due to instruction issues (and I was student teaching during 1st and in my first year teaching during 3rd) and got behind a little in reading. I worked with her through the summers, though, and she was fine. She is now in 8th grade and doing well. Not top of her class, but a lot of that has to do with motivation (youngest of 5 kids, she’s seen the others stop caring and tries to be that way, too)
    I would open the discussion with her school. Talk with her teacher and let her know your daughter is feeling like she needs more challenge in class. Discuss options and testing. Some states require gifted services start at the Kindergarten level while others don’t have to provide it until 3rd grade. Different states have different rules on academic acceleration. Maybe she could go to another class for just reading or just certain other subjects depending on her needs? See how she does with that and base further decisions from those experiences. There are different types of acceleration as well. What works for one child may not work for another.

    Lots of good information at this site: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/gifted_education.htm

    And here:
    https://www.gifted.uconn.edu/

  19. Cassie says:

    I am of the opinion that the structure of our schools is all wrong to begin with. Why are we educating children by their social groups rather than by their academic skills? I envision a school in which students arrive within their social groups, but separate for academic time into groups based on skill level. A fifth grader who excels in math may be in a class with students who are in their seventh and eighth year of school. The students then come back together in their social group for classes such as music and gym. They have recess and lunch with their social peers, but they should not be held to an academic standard based solely on age.

    In this case, it would be lovely if the child came to kindergarten with her social peers and did activities with her social peers, but was able to join a more advanced group for reading class and any other academic area in which she excels.

  20. Hi there! I am a teacher but I will speaking primarily as a former student.
    My suggestion in one sentence: Prepare you daughter throughout this year in KG to skip 1st grade next year. I will explain why I am in favor of skipping first.

    I skipped 2nd grade about 16 years ago and I am still happy with this decision. I know I am happier than I would have been had I not skipped. In 1st grade I started falling asleep in class every day, and after eliminating all possible medical explanations, my parents and teacher decided it was from boredom and lack of engagement with the curriculum. It sounds like this could very well happen to your daughter soon based on how you have described the current situation. The year before, in KG, I did not have this issue because I was used as a teacher’s helper so I was kept busy tutoring my peers, not sleeping, which was actually where my inspiration to become a teacher began! ;P However, this did not effectively differentiate for or challenge me. In addition to or instead of falling asleep in class, students who are not sufficiently challenged may exhibit other behaviors like disruption (excessive talking, off-task behavior, etc.) and clashes with authority figures (specifically teachers and administration). All of these symptoms I have experienced myself as a student and then through students as a teacher.
    My opinion aside, there ARE ways for the teacher to provide your student with sufficiently engaging material to off-set these symptoms. This is something you can suggest and monitor if you choose not to skip your child.

    KG is a crucial moment in students’ education for more than just reading and writing acquisition. There are many important social and emotional skills that your daughter is being taught about school and the world each day she is in the classroom. You could prepare your daughter this year for skipping next year. The rest of the year in 1st grade, I was sent up to 2nd grade for half of the day to prepare me to join the students the following year and confirm that I was capable of keeping up. As another mom has identified in a comment from her own experience, you could have her sent up for part of the day to the 1st grade classroom for reading and writing and then return for more socially-driven activities and projects in the KG classroom. I would suggest, however, that she participate in social activities in the 1st grade classroom at least once weekly as well so it is easier for her to make friends the following year. She will inevitably be our of her comfort-zone at the beginning, but that being said, I was only out of my comfort-zone for a short period and I learned a lot as a peer and a young person from that moment in time as well. I think it made me a more empathetic and generous classmate later on even as I gained popularity.

    I do not suggest waiting as others have. If it is something you think feels inevitable, then the earlier the better. I know many students who were given the option to skip 4th, 5th, or 6th grade and declined, because they already had concrete friend groups and the sacrifice to their social life that skipping represented was not worth the intellectual gain. They still received an enriching school-experience primarily because of their social relationships, but it was not as well-rounded as it could have been and doesn’t prepare them with the mental and emotional structures to deal with challenging work in their future (college, work-place, etc.) which is problematic.

  21. Christa Wimberly says:

    As child that skipped 1,3 and an offer to skip 5th but my mom wanted to keep me as close to my peer group as possible (LOL). I was blessed to have phenomenal teachers during my formative education. I was in stacked classes that afforded the students to work at their own pace. The assumption that all children learn and process information at the same rate is a foolish one to make and often educational leadership squelch the flame for education by instructing what the SHOULD be learning based upon age. There are several students who are graduating from college before they enter there adolescence as a result of parents not restricting their access to education that fulfilled their interests. It is amazing how we say you can explore the world via education but then fence students in by age and NOT ability.

  22. My son had a terrible time in preschool and kindergarten both. His reading, vocabulary, and logical reasoning skills were well beyond his peers, but because of these things, we did not recognize the possibility of autism. He was diagnosed on the spectrum at the end of kindergarten. Although I am unconvinced by the diagnosis, this has led us to a school that places autistic children in classroom with peers in a 50/50 ratio and in many multi-age groupings. My son is currently doing 3rd grade work–and unchallenged by the reading and language arts–but getting all the social and emotional development he needs from being with age-grouped peers. I feel fortunate that we found this school.

    As a 17 year veteran teacher and a student who was young and gifted, I hated school and never felt it met my needs. I wish every student could have the opportunities that my child has this year…and that more schools learned to group and educate flexibly. That said, I would not skip a grade this early, only enrich at home and advocate for differentiated instruction in her class.

  23. Maria says:

    I’m not qualified to answer questions 2 & 3, but I can share my personal experience with regards to the first. Short story – I skipped 1st grade and wouldn’t go back and change it – the pros outweigh the cons. For me, it worked. Long story – I taught myself to read at 3 1/2, so I was reading the Bobbsey Twins by kindergarten. Halfway through kindergarten at my parochial school, the teacher wanted to move me up, along with one of my classmates. The classmate moved, but my mother did not want me to move because I was not mature enough. We changed to a public school for 1st grade, and although my mother requested I go into 2nd grade at that point, they were not convinced that I was capable of it. So 2 weeks into 1st grade in an open (1st/2nd grade in two classrooms that were open to each other) the teachers announced to everyone that I would now be a 2nd grader. The way this transition occurred (with no prior notification to my parents or preparation for me) was probably the worst part of skipping a grade. In a small town, “the girl who skipped a grade” became a defining part of who I was/am. That created social barriers that I did struggle to overcome. That being said, I was/am somewhat socially awkward and I don’t think (I can only guess) that would have been different if I had stayed on my grade level. I was often the teacher’s pet because pleasing teachers came easily to me and interacting with my peers did not. In 3rd grade I was giving the spelling tests instead of taking them. In 7th grade one of my friends had to tell me not to raise my hand for every question because I should let other people have a chance as well. So even if everyone didn’t know that I skipped a grade, I probably still would have had difficulty socially. And I remember having difficulty navigating friendships and cliques all the way through, but especially in middle school and early high school (doesn’t everyone have difficulty in that age group?). By sophomore year of high school, it just didn’t matter as much. There was the opportunity at that point to take classes with students from other grades, lunch was with all grades, and all of my extracurricular activities were with students from all grades – so my friend groups were not based on age – I had friends older and younger. Looking back, I think it mattered a little bit to me at the time that I was behind my classmates with puberty and late getting my license, but there are so many other things to experience and worry about during adolescence, that wasn’t my biggest concern. I felt completely prepared to start college at 17. I am now a physician, married with two children (my oldest started kindergarten last week), and I absolutely would not change the choice my parents made 30 years ago. I appreciate that it was a choice that has had a huge impact on my life; the impact was way more positive than negative. As many have noted in their comments, the choice needs to be individualized, collaborative and the process for how to do it must be careful. I don’t know how my classmate from kindergarten who moved up midyear eventually ended up, but I do think that making changes like this are probably best done at the start of the school year, because that seems like a more natural transition.

  24. Barbara Paciotti says:

    My birthday is in January. My mom wanted me to go into 1st grade at 51/2, I was tested and did. Never went to kg, never missed it and was always a straight A student. Never had a problem with socializing–I lived in a neighborhood of many ages of kids & we all played together just fine so school wasn’t a problem either. If you’re mature enough to handle the academics, you’re also mature enough to handle the social aspect in school. I was never stigmatized–most kids didn’t even realize I was younger than average.

    Same issue came along for my daughter who was reading fluently at 3. I’d talked to my son’s first grade teacher about entering my daughter into her class the following year and discovered she would be doing kindergarten the next year & could enhance my daughter’s experience. Daughter entered kg, the teacher was giving her mostly 1st grade work to do when we moved out of state. Her new kg was bo-o-o-oring, so I purchased a bunch of reading and math workbooks and sent them along with her to school with the teacher’s blessing. She made it through kg OK, but not sure it was very enriching in any way. She had a great 1st grade teacher who gave her enriching things to do to keep her from being bored &, as a teacher, I had lots of stimulation for her at home. The next year the district was beginning a highly gifted program grouping 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders together. She tested for it and was easily accepted. By the end of the first semester she’d finished 2nd and 3rd grade, and then we moved out of state again. I knew she’d hate being in a 3rd grade class, so the new principal–who happened to be certified in gifted education–agreed to have her tested and the second week after we moved, they put her into 4th grade–she was reading at post-high-school level and her test score was the highest ever recorded for the large-metropolitan county (the scoring grid didn’t even go up high enough–she didn’t miss a single question). She was a straight A student all through school and though she was a whole year younger than everyone else (summer birthday) she had lots of bright, mature friends throughout school and she never had any social problems at all. She graduated at 17 and was accepted to Carnegie Mellon. That’s when age caught up, since she couldn’t legally even sign checks until she was 18. So she worked a year, which convinced her she really did belong in college, and began the next fall at CM. Never regretted the decision to move her up. Yes, I’m bragging; she’s quite a gal.

    I agree each child is different, but a mom senses what’s best for a child and must do battle for them if necessary. I say, if she’s complaining about being bored, that won’t change because obviously any social aspect is not gratifying for her either. Move her up–she sounds mature enough to handle it.

  25. Joyce says:

    I am replying as both a mother and an educator, however, most of what I intend to say comes from the mother part of me. My son started kindergarten already reading, writing, and doing double digit math. At that time, in the 1980’s, there was only half day kindergarten. Yes, he was bored and would ask to do higher level reading at math at home. No parent in their right mind is going to squelch that kind of enthusiasm for learning. At my first parent conference the teacher told me that she did not know what to do with him as he was so far ahead of the rest of the class. Seriously?? My husband and I explored some options but ultimately allowed him to complete his kindergarten year there while supplementing him with know at home, the library, various museums. Before he started 1st grade we moved about 10 miles which put him into another school district. Hoping that we would have a better experience, we eagerly sent him off on a bus to school. It quickly became apparent that this was not going to work. This first grade was repeating lesson he had been bored with the year before. A friend suggested we try a private school; Montessori. We visited, were amazed, discovered we could get a scholarship, and decided this was a good option as the school encouraged learning at your own pace. For my son, this was the best decision of his life. He excelled and never had a day of not wanting to go to school. When he was in the 4th grade, for many reasons, we decided to try public school again. When they tested him to see his “real” grade, they suggested 5th grade instead of 4th. We allowed him to skip 4th grade. And never looked back. He was placed in the Gifted and Talented classes at this point and never looked back. Making friends and being social was never a problem for him. (Remember, it does vary with each child) At 15, in the 10th grade, we moved to Ohio where he tested into Pre-Calculus but the school would not allow him to take pre-cal based on his grade level. Here we go again………….. We enrolled him in the Post-Secondary Option program, which allowed him to attend the local community college and earn credits (free) as well as high school credits. As he was 15, I had to drive him the 20 miles each day. Soon, he discovered other students from the high school who were at the college and they began to car pool. When he graduated from high school, he had 2 years of community college general classes under his belt. He enrolled in Ohio University as a junior and graduated 2 years later. My son has a good job and is now passing down his vast amount of knowledge to his 2 children. Thankfully, they live in an area that has good schools and plenty of options for above average children. Skipping a grade was the best choice for my son.

  26. Being a teacher who taught kindergarten for most of my 42 years, I think it depends on the student and the teacher. If the student has all the skills not just academic but social, fine motor etc. Maybe…but if the teacher will work with that child on his or her academic level because that student needs the other skills than keep in K. I had a student reading at a 3rd grade level but math skills at a kinder level and couldn’t write at all so kept him and we read at his reading level but also have him the rules as to why words were read the way they were because he was strictly a sight word reader. Then I had my daughter who just missed the cutoff to enter school. Put her in an early entrance kindergarten and they promoted her to first grade the next year even though most of those students went to regular kinder programs. I always worried about her socially even though she was getting great grades. It was a question I asked every teacher through middle school. When they reassured me she was doing well, I finally calmed down. I did forget to mention that if I kinder teacher does not work with that student on a higher level, then you might consider skipping a grade but only if all skills are at a first grade level, not just one skill.

  27. Making the decision about skipping kindergarten or first grade is an important one. The good thing is, you don’t have to rely on opinions you gather. There is actually a lot of research on this topic. See https://belinblank.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/what-about-early-entrance-to-kindergarten/ for more information.

    • Ann, thank you so much for contributing to this conversation! When I clicked over on that link, I saw that you had just been a guest on #gtchat last night on this very topic! For anyone who is interested in reading the Storify transcript of the chat about acceleration, click here.

  28. i skipped kindergarten. While I did fine academically, I never fit in well socially and lacked confidence in myself. It took me many years into adulthood to gain that confidence. I graduated high school at age 16…..and completed college 27 years later!

  29. Lisa Cooper says:

    There is an increasing amount of research on grade skipping–and as with all research, it’s important to pay attention to who’s doing it. Those who are in gifted education have gathered enough evidence to show that grade skipping for gifted students works. A tool that schools can use is the Iowa Acceleration Scale Manual. For grade skipping to be most effective, it is important that a team approach be taken, which includes the receiving teacher. For studies and research articles, check out the National Association for Gifted Children website (http://www.nagc.org) as well as the Social Emotional Needs of the Gifted website (http://www.sengifted.org).

    No matter the decision, I advise parents to be “appropriately obnoxious” when advocating for their children, and to know that they are their child’s best advocate, and often only advocate. Every child has a right to be learning, and if a child is not learning anything new, parents have a right to see something change.

  30. Horatio says:

    When I was in school, that wasn’t what kindergarten was for. There were pretty much no academics. We learned drawing, playing and socialization. Sang songs. I loved it. It was 1st grade that was incredibly boring, and turned me off to school for the next 12 years.

    Maybe the problem is that we’re turning kids into workers before they’re ready.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.