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