Should My Son Skip a Grade? Thoughts on Direct Instruction for "Gifted" Child

Updated on June 06, 2013
C.B. asks from Raleigh, NC
36 answers

We are coming down to the wire and need to make a decision about whether or not to have our son skip 1st grade and move on to 2nd, or move up to 1st with his current class. He is very sharp in reading and math and after each school break complained about his classes being too easy. He breased through his work this year but stayed motivated and extremely well behaved at school. I want to send him up a grade to make sure he doesn't become so bored that he loses his passion for learning. I have several hesitations 1. Skipping a grade will put him in the same grade as his older sister, so I worry about the impact on her confidence. 2. Behavior - I believe he is motivated by being among the older and more mature kids in his grade and enjoys being a model student; We play with older kids and I watch him show off and his behavior goes out the window. 3. Finally, being honest, I like the idea of him being a stand out student and the doors that may open in the future, will I be making him a more middle of the road kid by pushing him up with older kids?

The second part of my question is about direct instruction, for those of you experienced with it. Our school uses direct instruction, it has been great for our older daughter and I believe in it as a teaching method, but I'm not sure it is right for our son. The K class was broken into 4 reading groups and 3 math groups, he as in the top groups for both of which finished a 1st grade cariculum; since he was already in the top groups, DI did not offer the teachers any way to challenge him further. Which leads me to question whether or not DI is right for him. Does anyone have experience with a gifted child in a DI environment?

I appreciate any insight anyone has to offer on these issues.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the support and advice based on personal experiences, I have found it very helpful! To clarify one question that keeps coming up, the skip is supported by our son's teachers and administration but the ultimate decision is in our hands. I have never labeled my son as gifted, it simply seemed like the easiest term to use on this forum. My actual preference is that he move on to 1st grade with his peers but switch to a second grade class for reading and math (an option also offered by the school, but I wanted to get opinions in case the timing doesn't work out for this option, which is what happened this year.) We attend a charter school that uses direct instruction for core classes, which gives teachers a scripted lesson plan and does not offer much leeway to meet kids needs outside the 3/4 skill groups within each grade. Like I said, it's wonderful for our daughter, but I'm not sure it's working for our son. I'm not excited about a school change, which would me 4 kids at 4 different schools! But hey, we want what's best for our chiled and are open to all options.

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answers from New York on

Just because he stood out in Kindergarten does not mean it will be the same in first grade. I do not believe in skipping a grade. If a teacher is good he will do just fine being with kids his own age.

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answers from New York on

I can't count how many kids were bored academically in K. The range of abilities and experience etc is huge. And like others have said, by 3rd grade or so, things can drastically change. If you haven't already, I'd have him professionally tested before you try something like this. I know several kids who are technically or officially gifted and they haven't skipped a grade. The teachers can give them some extra work. Have you even asked his teacher? I would think his teacher would have suggested this if it was warranted.

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answers from Dallas on

That is always on the minds of lots of parents. My son is smart and had the opportunity to skip a grade but we didn't just because my best friend made the comment..."it is always better to be at the top of the class instead of the being on the bottom of the class". This early in the stage of schooling see what he does in 4th and 5th grade because for my son things have started to get harder.

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answers from Kansas City on

Please don't do this to your child. I work in an elementary school and have seen first hand what happens when parents try to go around the system.

One child had a pre-school teacher that told the parents that she was "gifted" because she was reading at a third grade level. (How she measured this is still a mystery to me.)

They decided to skip a grade so that she wouldn't be bored. She is now going into fifth grade and is failing miserably. She is too immature, her reading capped out at a third grade level and she can't comprehend a thing she reads. She has no friends because she copped an attitude when she was young that, somehow, she was better than the others because she skipped a grade. It's an awful situation.

Kids are all over the place developmentally until around 3-4th grade. I cringe whenever I hear of a K student referred to as "gifted". Bright, maybe, but gifted? Let's wait and see.

Good teachers are trained to recognize a gifted child. They will refer children to the G/T program if they think it's necessary. Good teachers will also provide enrichment if they see a student needs it.

For now, let him be a boy and develop at his own pace with his own friends. Provide him with lots of activities outside of the classroom that play to his interests. Sounds like you have a great kiddo on your hands. Good luck with whatever decision you choose to make!

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answers from Miami on

First, DI is not "direct instruction", it's differentiated instruction. ALL schools use differentiated instruction. DI is a theory, not a methodology nor is it a set curriculum. IF the teacher was operating under a true DI model, she would have found ways to challenge your son. She didn't. That's an issue and I would address it with the principal.

Second, I would not have your son skip a grade level. Developmentally, he should NOT be with children who are that much older than he is. While he may be academically challenged (for now), he will be very immature and would be isolated socially in many ways. The differences between how a 7 year old plays and how a 9 (or 10) year old plays are drastic and your son will not have developmental peers.

My suggestion to you is this... call the principal and find out what options are available to your son outside of skipping a grade level. That's ridiculous. There are skills taught in first grade that he needs to know... skipping them will not benefit him in the long run. Find out if he can join a second grade reading group. This IS possible and I have recommended it for students in the past. They are in their correct grade, but "bump up" for specific areas of strength (like reading and math). This allows your child to experience the content of first grade (science, social studies, social skills, music, art, PE, etc which are all important) while challenging him academically.

If your state recognizes "Giftedness" as an exceptionality (not all do), then have him tested through the school district to determine his eligibility. My guess is that he would meet criteria.

Don't accept "skip a grade or nothing". There are ALWAYS other options... after all, that is the spirit of Differentiated Instruction. You meet the child where he is academically and provide appropriately designed challenges to help that child progress.

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answers from Denver on

I wouldn't have him skip a grade. There is a huge difference between the average kindergarten, and first grade classroom. Kids do SO much more in first grade. He likely won't be as bored. My kids could read and do basic math before Kindergatren. I have spent a lot of time volunteering in the classroom and I can usually tell you which kid is the youngest in the class. Maturity will play a big role for him.

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answers from Dallas on

As an educator, you have to think of several factors before you do this.

You say he breezed through K and is a stand out. A lot of kids do this in K-2 but they are not ready mentally to skip a grade.

It could be a detriment to him and your daughter to put them in the same grade when they are not twins. It could have adverse effects on both of them mentally. Your son feeling superior and your daughter could feel inferior when she is perfectly normal.

On top of that, he'd be the youngest in the class and right now that might not sound bad but think of it in the later years when classmates are driving, dating, etc. He may not be mature enough for those steps when other classmates are.

Realistically, kids blossom at different ages. Most of the time, by 2nd grade they all even out in the grade level.

If he is tested at the school for the gifted program and truly test into it with no issues (this is testing he cannot study for) then he could stay in his grade level and have certain days of the week where he is pulled with a group to go work with the gifted teacher.

I've seen several reading groups be changed along the way during the year when children progress. They all progress at different times and different levels.

I know there is a lot of things to think through. Even if he is truly gifted, he still needs balance academically and socially.

Another thought is the gifted label. I see a lot of parents who claim their child is gifted and they instill this attitude in the children. Then, I see the children portray this "attitude" at school with other children and in the end some have no friends because of their attitude ofsuperiority. That is just a thought.. not saying you are this way. I see a lot of parents who are this way.

Good luck whatever you choose.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I skipped the second half of 1st and was placed in 2nd at the end of christmas break. I do not recommend it. Not only was I physically much smaller than everyone else, I was emotionally younger. I wanted different things than they did and really struggled to make friends in my grade. With our daughter we worked with the school to create a break out program for her that kept her in class and challenged her. The break out program now is part of the school's curriculum and has 5 or 6 student from each grade. In this program the kids choose a research area of their own design. They spend the school year learning about how to research ideas and integrate them into the regular classes. The small group worked with the librarian the first year and since it has been both the librarian and a "gifted" teacher. At the end of the year they do a presentation to either their class or their breakout class and parents. They have some say in this. My daughter's third grade fascination with marine mammals turned into a fourth grade interest in waves and water movement turned into fifth grade interest in wave mutations in particle physics. She is well adjusted, taking her time, and finding her passion. Just advancing a child because they are very bright does not address the whole child - only one aspect of who they are. I don't recommend it.

(As others noted, it was very difficult for me to start college at 17 and be done before I was 21)

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answers from San Francisco on

You need to realize that being at the top of the class in K really doesn't mean much. By third grade or so things really even out. Many kids who were considered advanced or even slow in K are working at grade level.
You need to be talking to his teacher and school counselor about this. Skipping a grade is rarely a good idea at this age and you NEED to give him a few more years to develop. This isn't just about his academic growth, but social, physical and emotional as well. Do you really want him to be with a group of kids who are more mature than he is? This will follow him through high school. He will be exposed to everything at a younger age, including the stuff you DON'T want him exposed to. At this age it's hard to imagine, but dating, drinking/drugs, sex, those things are real and happening to even the best and brightest kids.
If he's truly gifted he will be tested and put into the gifted program in a few years. Don't push him into something he may or may not be ready for. Being smart isn't necessarily the same thing as being gifted, and if he needs to be challenged more that's easy enough for you to do at home.

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answers from San Francisco on

I personally would not have our child skip the first grade. Maybe later on down the road we might entertain it...but not so early. I would let our child at the top of the class in his own grade level. We would supplement learning at home and continue a love for learning...not just testing exceptionally well.

Our schools do the leveling of students according to performance. The more advanced students are able to do more challenging work. I think this approach is better than sticking a younger kid up a grade with kids that have more physically and emotionally advanced skills and bodies.

Our oldest is exceptionally bright. We never considered moving him up a grade. Once they get to middle school then they are leveled into various classes. He is able to take multiple elective courses and participate in extra curricular activities. He stands out amongst his peers. He has passion,personal drive,creative intuitiveness and is kind and courteous.

These are skills that will set a child apart from others and help in the future with a job. These skills came from feeling confident about himself and his abilities all along his path. He is heading off to Japan to be an exchange student next the 8th grade. The organization leader told us our son is the group's superstar. It was NOT his grades that blew them away...but his interview and teacher recommendations.

I think having a child feel confident in who he/she is will help way more in life. It isn't so much about accomplishing the challenging work...but in your child's desire to learn more.

We just had Open House at our son's middle school. The teachers came up and hugged me...yes middle school teachers do care :) All of them talked more about our son's willingness to tackle tough subjects, asking the how's and why's to problems and always going the extra mile. They all mentioned how respectful and helpful he is. Never once did they mention his exceptional test scores but how his personal drive will take him far. They mentioned other kids test at top of the class,higher than our son...but don't stand out because they are like robots. They get the work, do the work and that is it...never a question as to how or why something is the way it is.

Soooo, long story short. I am a vote for leave your child where he is and let him shine, feel confident in his own skin and not compare himself to the older kids because he skipped a grade. Look for ways to open his world outside of school. Teach him to think independently...ask questions...explore.

Good luck and best wishes!!!

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answers from Dover on

I have mixed feelings on this issue. While I definately agree with challenging students to do their best and being sure they receive the best individualized education they can (whatever that is for that particular child), I also believe that every child has SOMETHING to learn at EVERY grade level. My concerns with moving him up (other than possibly causing him to struggle or affecting your daugher) would be some of the fundamental/basic skills that he would not get in 2nd grade because they are taught in 1st grade. My son was bored and zoned out and had when in 3rd grade tested anywhere from a 1-6 grade level on things due to missing some "chunks". He was bright enough that no one seemed to notice but me (when fighting with him over homework).

Without knowing more specific details about your son and the school system he is in, I suggest the following:

1. Supplement his knowledge over the summer (read books about things he's interested in and subject matter he has touched on in school, maybe plan visits to locations like the zoo, aquarium, area museums, and parks that will expand his horizons).
2. Let him move up with his class. See what next year brings but be sure his 1st grade teacher knows that you would like to see him challenged (maybe she has "extra work" or supplemental assignments for the more advanced kids or maybe they can send him to a 2nd grade class once or twice a week for certain subjects).
3. Be prepared to be his advocate to be sure he gets what he needs.

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answers from Kansas City on

Had your son actually been tested for GATE or did he just need more challenge in K?
Huge difference.
What about his self help skills? Emotional maturity?
It's not unusual at all for K classes to have a HUGE spectrum of skills.
By the end of the year they level out a lot.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I wouldn't have him skip the grade at this point in his life. Just because kindergarten is a breeze, it doesn't mean he's not still learning other information and that he won't learn anything in first grade. My son is finishing up his kindergarten year too. He has been reading fluently and able to do all kinds of math in his head since before the school year started, but I am not even considering having him skip first grade. He learned so many other things in kindergarten - they did science and social studies and learned about things beyond reading and math.

Plus, having him in the same grade as his sister is going to cause problems. It's a really bad idea and not good socially for either one. And you're right, it will probably crush your daughter's confidence.

Keep him where he is. Let him be a model to the other students. Let him learn to lead and help others.

Find fun ways to challenge him and engage his mind at home if you are worried about him getting too bored and not learning enough. Find a subject he really likes and learn everything you can about it. Check out nonfiction books and learn about different animals, cultures, sports, countries, dinosaurs, geology - anything!

Just don't have him skip a grade. Being way ahead in kindergarten doesn't necessarily translate to being way ahead down the road.

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answers from Washington DC on

Do not do it. They learn so much in those grades and it is not usually recommended. Maturity wise he is where he needs to be. The school should be able to challenge him more as he gets older, but keep him where he should be grade wise.

Honestly, if he advances you will need to be able to assist him as well. Not to be rude, but there are several words misspelled in your I'm not sure how much you'll be able to help him as he advances if you move him up a grade.

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answers from Norfolk on

No matter whether you move him up a grade or not - boredom in the classroom will not go away.
The class travels at the pace of the slowest student and they keep the whole class in lock step with that student.
No Child Left Behind has been a disaster as far as gifted students are concerned.
Gifted programs are gutted, budgets cut - and many don't do much until middle school or high school.
My son had this problem all through elementary school.
He had to get the boring easy work done as fast (and neatly) as he could and then we could go learn anything that interested him outside of school.
Try not to let the school limit what your son learns because there is SO MUCH MORE outside of school.
If he's looking forward to a trip to the museum, or building a catapult, or a trip to the zoo - the school work and snails pace doesn't seem so bad.
Socially he needs to be with his peers.
My son has always been more mature than other kids his age, but not in every area.
Once he hit middle school, most of his peers caught up to him maturity wise and he's a pretty popular guy right now.
Promoting your son till he reaches a level where he has difficulty will frustrate him too.
Approach the problem sideways - leave him in his current grade level and provide other learning opportunities outside of school.
See if there's a science day camp in your area for summer and sign him up for a session.

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answers from Columbus on

I personally would not skip my child. I would find a better program or work with the teachers to adapt instruction to meet his needs, but I would not skip him into an older social environment. When they're all turning 16 and he's only turning 15 - they're all out driving, and he's not. They all have later curfews than he does (or you cave and let him stay out later than you'd like). He'll always be behind his peers in maturity and experience. He'll always either feel behind or want to catch up. Personally, the social issues are too great.

And yes, both my kids are identified as G/T in multiple areas and my daughter just finished a special two year alternative (read differentiated instruction - DI is not "direct") program for 4th/5th G/T kids. If they wanted to move her, I would not accept. And from what you've written, it doesn't sound like you want him to move, either.

By the way, in all of this you haven't mentioned what the teachers want for him. Has he even been invited to skip a grade? Or is this something you want to push for.

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answers from Eau Claire on

My 1st grader is reading and doing math at a 3rd grade level at the start of the year. (Could have been higher but the 1st grade tests only went that high.)

My son's grade broke the kids up by ability in each subject and had lessons based on level. He did wonderfully being with kids who were at the same level as him.

I would never have him skip a grade. He needs to be with peers his own age. Putting him up to an older grade is setting him up to be an outcast with kids his age and those older.

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answers from Dallas on

I am against skipping grades. My husband and I attended a small but very prestigious engineering college, and a number of our friends there had skipped a grade. Our college was full of nerds (and proud of it) but almost without exception, those who had skipped a grade stood out in terms of social awkwardness and lack of confidence.

As a high school science teacher, I have also seen what a difference one year makes in terms of a students maturity and interact socially, especially among boys.

Finally, as a mother, this is also a choice I am making. My oldest son is literally 3 grade levels beyond his class in math, reading, and science. Except for penmanship, there was nothing he didn't already know in the curriculum of his school ... but, still, every year he continues to make progress, mostly because he is an avid reader, but also because I enrich his curriculum at home. The school tries to give him more advanced stuff, too, but its more like an add-on ... he still has to sit through lessons he understood years before. But, so far he is happy and gets along great with the other kids in his class.

Good luck with whatever decision you make!

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answers from Boston on

You don't say what the school's recommendation is - are they pushing for or even offering this? There are kids like your son in every class, especially Kindergarten, where some kids come in knowing how to read, write, spell, add and subtract (and maybe even multiply and divide) and some kids come in barely having letter and number recognition. The disparities among kids in grades K-2 is pretty staggering. My middle son mastered skills in the beginning of Kindergarten that his older brother didn't grasp until 2nd grade. My youngest son is somewhere in the middle.

Things tend to settle down by the middle of elementary school - the kids who are like your son who learn easily will eventually be in honors classes in middle school and honors/AP in high school. Prior to that, it's up to the school to be sure that they are applying differentiated instruction (it's differentiated, not direct) properly, which means giving him the opportunity to try more challenging material no matter what grade he's in.

I would be careful with the "gifted" label because honestly, it doesn't apply to most kids whose parents give them that label. If your school district offers testing for this and has a program then by all means go ahead and have him tested and see if he qualifies for additional enrichment. My state doesn't have any "gifted" testing or programming so it's a moot point here, but I can tell you that while I certainly know a lot of bright kids, I know of only one that would be considered truly gifted and that student used to go to the high school in 7th grade for math class and now in high school takes his math classes at a local college because he's years ahead of his peers. His parents very much value him spending part of the day with his peers in a normal school setting and are happy that for sports, activities and his social life, he's with kids who are the same age.

From your post, it sounds like there are a lot of good reasons to keep him where he is. Behavior doesn't seem to be an issue, and I think that for most parents, the fear that their kids will be "bored" and lose motivation because school is too easy is an unfounded one. I thought that my middle son would have some problems staying engaged but he's in 3rd grade and has been just fine. A bit of a challenge for his teachers because he can distract the other kids who need to concentrate, but that's a challenge that his teachers have all been able to manage just fine.

Unless the school is proposing this and really feels that they can't educate him adequately in 1st grade and that 2nd grade is a better fit for him, I wouldn't consider having him skip.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Has your son been tested as gifted? If so, something to keep in mind: when a child is gifted, it means that he learns things faster than other kids. If you bump him a grade, he's still going to be in a math class that teaches material at the pace that an average kid (or slower) learns, not a gifted child. So, he may still in fact be bored in the classroom during math or reading time, when they spend a week practicing long division that he masters the first day it's presented. So just skipping a grade doesn't solve the problem.

I haven't read all the other responses, so I don't know how my experience compares, but here it is. For my child, we chose not to bump up a full grade, but worked on an alternative plan with the school based on aggressive differential instruction (DI) plus using the gifted resources at the school (my son just finished 1st grade).

My son is gifted in reading and math. He is accelerated a grade for math only (so he went to a second grade math classroom for only the math time). There were not other kids at his level in math, so in order to give him a peer group for math, he was bumped up to the next grade. In addition, the gifted teacher gives the 2nd grade math teacher extra enrichment on a particular topic for him to work on in the classroom when he's mastered a concept that she needs to spend another day or two on.

However, since there were a few kids who were gifted at reading in his grade, and they were grouped together and given work at their reading level together (they actually leave their regular classroom, and met together in the separate room with the gifted teacher for literacy time, because they were not all in the same classroom). This isn't part of the gifted program, per se; the school calls is the Book Buddies group.

Finally, the school has a formal gifted program that students must test into. There are 3 kids from my son's grade in the class, and they meet with the gifted teacher for 90 minutes per week on special projects, and are usually pulled out during literacy time. Since they are all well above grade level in literacy anyway it doesn't hurt them to miss that time each week.

This 3-pronged approach has really worked well for my son, because he's in the same grade as kids who are the same age as he is, so he has a good peer group (I think the social learning that takes place in elementary school is as important as the academics). But he gets enrichment in the areas that he's good at. And while some parts of his day are easy for him, there are other parts that challenge him so it all works out.

IMO, you need to work with the school about how to keep him engaged, through enrichment, regardless of whether or not he skips a grade (because as I said, even if you bump him, he's going to be bored when he masters a concept faster than the other kids in the class). And if the teachers don't have enough tools for enrichment in the curriculum, that is something you need to take to the school principle and whoever in the district is in charge the gifted program so that they can support the teachers in this and get him the enrichment he needs.

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answers from Washington DC on

Does your school system offer any form of what is sometimes called "gifted and talented" instruction? (In our system it is now called "advanced academics," which is a better indication of what it really does, since kids can be gifted or talented in many ways that are not academic.) A GT or AA program -- that keeps him at his grade level but provides much more challenging work, among peers his own age who also are up to the challenge -- would be the right middle ground for a child who is very bright and working well ahead.

Skipping a grade has a lot of social development and maturity impact; he may truly be very mature and attracted to working with older kids now, but think through the impact in later years: He will be the youngest, possibly by quite a bit, in his grade, and that does have ramifications in upper grades.

You want him to be a "standout student" but bear in mind that a standout in kindergarten who is pushed too hard, too fast, can also burn out and that can mean losing interest and slipping behind. Look at all his needs, not just the academic need. You don't want him bored in first, but you also don't want him being the youngest by far in second, third, fourth through sixth, kids are keenly aware of things like any differences in maturity and interests, so take that into account.

You don't say in the post any of the following:

What does his K teacher say?

What does the first grade teaching team (usually they operate as a team) say to this? Have you asked them for details about what they could offer him?

Does the system have a GT program? If so, does it mean moving schools (our sometimes does)? What age does it start (ours starts in third grade with entry by testing and recommendations)? How does it work and how does your child get into it? If it begins in a higher grade than first in your school system, can someone explain to you why that is so, and why your child might do better to stay in place in his current grade and move into GT at the grade the system uses?

Have you talked to the school counselor about the social impacts of skipping a grade? Does the counselor know your son well enough to talk with you about whether it would be as positive as you anticipate or not, and why, either way?

If you have already done all this kind of discussion and research, sorry, and that's great. But if you have not -- please do. Especially see what the school system has to offer in terms of GT. If your child has wait until perhaps third grade or fourth to enter a GT program, there is good reason; schools tend to start these programs at a grade and age level where children are most ready for it. Skipping may indeed work for him, but it is a pretty major step that can't be undone without a big blow to the child.

I am not familiar with direct instruction --though it sounds like what our schools have done without calling it by that name. If your son was in top "groups," doesn't that mean that there are other kids who, like him, also finished the first grade curriculum? Can't you and those other parents work together to get the school to provide a challenge for them? And wouldn't the school keep using groups in later grades, so he would continue to be with peers who are at his level and continue working ahead? That would seem to me to obviate the need for skipping a grade.

I know how you feel -- we don't want kids to be bored stiff and lose interest. But as a parent of a child in our advanced academics program since third grade (now finishing sixth and going on to AA in middle school), I can say that the kids do indeed need to be on the same par with peers in terms of social skills and maturity. If they are not, it creates issues where the kids can't take full advantage of the great academics available because they are dealing at the same time with problems navigating friendships and conflicts. He really must be ready both socially and academically in order for the academics to get his full attention.

And yes, being in the same grade as his sister would be a problem for both of them. Have you thought through what will happen if they are in the same class at some point as they advance through school? If your daughter isn't as academic as your son, it really sets her up for feeling either like she must compete with him or like she isn't as good.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I wouldn't.

We considered it briefly for our daughter when she was entering first grade. She was an established reader by then (was reading books at 4) and was leading her own learning in math and science by picking up her older brother's previous year school books (private school, so we paid for and kept all of the tex/workbooks). She also complained of everything being too easy. But she made some great friends, most of whom were also very bright children.
She has always thrived being around older kids and being able to keep up with them (her brother is 3 years older, and for most of her pre-schooling years all the kids she was around were substantially older because they were his friends). She is very mature for her age and always has been.
However, there are long term considerations to make.
For one, our daughter is one of the youngest in her class already, with a June birthday. She also used to be one of the smallest in her classes, which isn't as big of a deal for girls as for boys, but still.

Looking down the road as a middle/high school student, we didn't want her having friends who were much older and driving and dating boys several years older. She may naturally gravitate towards older boys anyway, but if she is in the age appropriate grade, at least her access at school to boys will be somewhat restricted to 2 years or so older, not 3 years or more--although.. that is changing. Many parents are choosing to keep their boys out an extra year... so she could already be in class with boys almost 2 years older than her, which means 2 grades above her can easily have boys 4 years older than her in it.
Probably won't be an issue, but if she skipped ahead grades, it could be.

When we pulled the kids out of private schools and put them in public, she then had access to G/T services, and participated in one day per week pull-out programs that were wonderful. She did well, and continued to excel in every subject (even though she was quite literally in regular classes only 4 days per week). Now, in middle school, most of her classes are full of kids much like her: kids who went through elementary receiving G/T services, who excel at everything. She still excels at everything. But she is in classes that are taught for "gifted" kids and the instruction is more challenging. As she moves through to high school, she will have access to not only Gifted classes, but AP and Honors courses, too. And she can dual enroll and graduate high school with an A.A. if she chooses.

There are a lot of potential down sides to skipping grades, and we decided it wasn't what would be best for our daughter.


Oh, and you can supplement at home with all sorts of things. Our daughter has been taking piano for years, and plays the organ for our church services. She loves this. She also does martial arts (will test for her First Degree Black in about a year), and loves languages. In private school, she had a weekly Spanish class (1st/2nd grades) and in virtual online school she took a class in Latin during 5th grade. She wants me to get her Rosetta Stone, but she is spread a little thin already, so I have held back, even though language comes easier when young. :/ At the moment, she is at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) camp offered to GT kids for a week after school dismisses for the summer. There are tons of things you can do at home, outside of school, to expand and enrich, and keep it fun and interesting. Music is only one option, but is usually pretty easy to set up.
Sorry to continue adding.

Also, bear in mind that, especially if you are in a good school district, the older your child gets, the more opportunities there are for him to participate in a wide range of extracurricular activities. Our daughter has participated in Reading Bowls through school (after school practice and extra reading required, this is not the same as Accelerated Reader program, but they do have that, too); and also on the "Morning News Crew" at her school, where the students do the morning announcements on video aired live in the classrooms, and the kids handle all the tech side of it also, not just have their faces on the screen. Your school may have some of these and/or other additional options that your child can participate in. It is great for kids to experiment so they can see what they enjoy.


Sorry again:
Yes, staying at the correct age peer group helps with their confidence, too. My daughter is willing to try pretty much anything, and asks questions if she has one. She is generally a quiet kid, and reserved. But if she has a question, she will ask it without embarrassment. She has the confidence to admit when she doesn't know something, so that she can learn it! I see so many kids who prefer to pass off as if they do know something that they don't, that they miss opportunities to learn. Confidence can help them avoid that pitfall.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My number two son was very sharp and could read very well and do all the other things a first grader was supposed to do. He missed the first grade birth cutoff by 7 days. The school wouldn't budge and let him into first grade. So we sent him to a private school where he excelled. When it was time for second grade they again refused to budge and I told them he passed first grade from an accredited school and if they didn't let him into 2nd grade, then I'd sue. The relented and said he could advance to second grade if he passed a series of tests they wanted to give him to judge high academic skills.

He did so well they wanted to put him in third grade instead of second grade. He would have skipped two grades according to them. We said, "No thanks" and he started 2nd grade as we requested in the first place. He graduated valedictorian of his class. He probably would have graduated valedictorian of his class if he had been put in the third grade.

I still feel we made the best choice for our son based on his physical, mental, and social development. It was government "rules" that made this difficult. Just like today. Its government rules that make life difficult.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from New York on

It really depends on the kid, but in general this is a pretty risky move.

My own son, "N," is highly gifted, but in a complex all-over-the-map way. N is finishing first grade and can read at a 6th-grade level and then some. He's read everything Rick Riordan has ever written, half the Harry Potter books, is starting the Chronicles of Narnia. But his handwriting is flat-out illegible. It's what a teacher might expect to see in the first few weeks of kindergarten. He has taught himself multiplication and the basic principles of exponents, with no instruction at all, but he gets really basic subtraction problems wrong because, in his words "subtraction makes numbers littler, and little numbers are boring." Socially, he's on the immature side for his age. Not to the point where it's a huge, glaring problem, but to the point where he sort of doesn't get the hint and just has a younger style of playing.

So, academically, N needs much more advanced work than he's getting, but putting him in a group of older kids would be a disaster.

Now, N has a friend, "K." K is the youngest child in a her class (turned 6 in October), and she's the most consistently advanced. She's in the most advanced reading and math groups, and it's just the right level of challenge for her. She has broken swimming records, and she plays beautifully with every single child she's ever met.

Even though K won't even be 7 in September, you could put her in a 3rd-grade classroom, and she'd adjust perfectly, instantly.

So, the big question is, is your son "lock-step" gifted, like K, or all-over-the-map gifted, like N? True lock-step children are very rare, but they can sometimes handle a grade jump well. All-over-the-map kids just about never can.

Does your school have a gifted-and-talented program? That's usually the best option. If not, would they let him "visit" the second grade for reading and math, but still let first grade be his "home"?

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answers from Austin on

I would not skip first grade. I would find out how the school is going to keep him engaged in 1st grade. Many times, it all equals out by 3rd grade. You have a better idea of exactly what type of student you have,

At our daughters elementary school, there were a few "exceptional" children.. A kinder child who came into K reading on a 5th grade level.. The librarian had to request books from the middle school for him to read. Subject matter, was part of this problem.

One 2nd grader was placed in the 5th grade Math classes. The following year middle school for math, the following high school math.. Yes, extremely young emotionally, but could control himself if challenged, but this is what he needed. As you can imagine he attended college extremely young, but his mother worked very hard to keep him with his peers as much as possible in other ways. She had to attend all of these classes with him.

I would find out what their plan is for your son. He needs to learn the social part of school as well as be challenged, you cannot have one, without the other.

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answers from New York on

You have such impelling reasons to NOT have him skip a grade. Bad for his behavior, bad for his sister, possibly bad for his future. If, in the future, you want him to skip a grade, AFTER he is mature enough to handle being with older children without behavior problems, find a way to get him in a different school then his sister, or wait till middle school with the larger school, more classes it will be less of a problem.
In the meantime, push the school to find ways to challenge him without skipping a grade. Send in books that are at his level, But make sure he can discuss the books with you, not just read the words. In first grade they should name the characters and setting, give an opinion of the book (not "I like it" but "I like it because--" and make a connection to the book This book reminds me of when I ... or this book reminds me of that book because..... Many parent think a child saying the words means the child understands the book, understanding the book is So much more important, and the younger the child, the harder it is to understand higher books, they have less life experience and find it harder to connect the stories with their own lives.
Talk to the teacher about what he can do if he finishes before the other children, offer to provide crossword puzzles and math puzzles or harder jigsaw puzzles for the class. Offer to go in and talk to the class about your work or hobby to give the children topics to write about.
My son was born late August and my daughter was early Sept so they were the youngest in their grades (people here do not skip grades as all children work on their own level most of the time) They were not happy being the last of their friends to drive, being put on different sports teams than classmates, being the last to turn 21!

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answers from Salt Lake City on

My oldest (17.5yrs, Dec birthday) niece is graduating this week after a fun and successful academic career. I'm so proud of her! Did very well is AP classes, was a student body officer, great social experiences. now has full scholarship to a local state school. She skipped either first or second grade (sorry I don't recall which). She and her family have never regretted that choice. Use your intuition, you' ll make the right choice too.

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answers from Washington DC on

it's a tough call. no one likes to see their bright kid get bored and stale on learning, and i appreciate your honesty in recognizing the wow factor in being the parent of a smart fellow.
there are times when it is a good thing to allow a kid to forge ahead. the tricky part is figuring out just when that time comes. and yours is on the young side for it. kindergartners are all across the map when it comes to skill sets, and you really don't know for sure if yours is an early starter who is going to settle into the high end of the normal curve (by far the most common scenario) or a truly brilliant child who needs to be constantly challenged in order to keep that sharp edge.
at this age emotional maturity is at least as important as intellectual giftedness. and it can be hard for a little guy in a big pond.
my son was young for his grade, not because of skipping but just where his birthday fell. he was 4 when he started K, but in those days it was only a half day. he did fine, but i think he wouldn't have in today's much more high-pressure atmosphere. and i currently have a truly brilliant nephew (whom i'd love to homeschool, but that's another post) who is having a really hard time in school because a) he's bored out of his gourd and b) he is socially stunted and cannot for the life of him figure out how to be a kid. he's really dying to be a poindexter in a bow tie, with a protractor in his pocket and a lot of grown ups to hang with. having him skip is tempting, but i suspect it would cause him to melt down altogether.
in your case i'd keep the skipping in the back of my mind as a future possibility, but give it a year or three to see how it pans out. you can always supplement your son's academic portfolio at home, so long as you're careful to let him still be a carefree kid.
good luck, mama!

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answers from Honolulu on

Many of our friends have gifted kids.
Some have had their kid skip a grade.
Some kept their child in their current grade.

Now, the ones that skipped a grade... have had negative experiences, per emotional and physical age differences. Because, if skipping a grade... then your child will be less mature, and the youngest, and will not be "changing" physically or emotionally, as the older peers.
So, per girl/boy interactions, or bodily changes, dating, or how kids talk about relationships, your son would be the youngest. And not necessarily "ready" for all of that older stuff. ie: when the kids are Tweens or Teens, and he is not yet because he skipped a grade, then what?
So, anyway, for the friends I know who's child skipped a grade, they now regret, that they had their child skip a grade or two.

At my kids' school, they have a Gifted program. For those kids. They are in their grade level but ALSO have, additional classes, and are taught by the Gifted teacher. So academically, they are not "bored."
See if your kids' school, has a gifted program.

It is not all about academics.
But about, the whole, child. Developmentally.

The DI program you describe, is NOT for gifted/talented kids.It is NOT a gifted/talented program. It is for, teaching kids in a developmental manner. Meaning, per their reading/math level. My kids' school does that too. Some of the teachers do that and it is great. Because, it addresses each child's "ability" per math or reading. As a group.
It is NOT meant for individual one on one teaching, NOR for "gifted" or talented kids.

WHAT does your son's teacher suggest?
Does the school not have a gifted or talented program or department????
Most schools, do.
My kids' school is public school. And even they have this.

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answers from Grand Forks on

I feel that all kids do better when kept with their own peers. I would have him stay in his grade with kids his own age, but have the school supply him with added enrichment. Think ahead to when all of the other kids are driving, but he is still a year away from getting his license, or having him do sex ed a year early.

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answers from Reno on

I say go for it. Here's why: As a gifted student myself my parents were asked MANY times if I could skip a minimum of 1 grade, and 2 on several occasions. My parents refused because they too were concerned about the "social impact" that skipping would have on me. With very few exceptions I was bored to tears, one teacher wouldn't even let me work on more difficult things because "the other kids would feel bad because they weren't as smart". After around 6th grade I didn't care about maintaining good grades anymore, I gave up, I knew it all anyways-my test scores reflected it even if grades did not. I eventually got my parents to agree to allow me to begin taking college classes at 14 and took my junior and senior year of high school together finishing at 16, but I was MISERABLE! Teachers nowdays also have way more kids and less time to devote to those who are gifted, so many resources go towards strugging students with not enough going to gifted ones.

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answers from Detroit on

I don't really have experience in this myself, and I am not familiar with "direct instruction", but a friend of mine has twin boys, one of whom has tested in the "gifted" category for math and reading. They are just wrapping up kindergarten this year. My friend really did not want one twin being moved up a grade and one kept where he would normally be, since she worried about the one of them feeling "dumb" compared to his gifted brother. And the gifted one has some social and maturity issues that make it difficult for him sometimes to function in a classroom and get along with others. At their school, they are able to pull the more advanced kids out of their classroom to do certain subjects, like reading, with the next grade up. This way, they are more challenged, and it's more on their level, without having to skip a whole grade. Would something like that be an option where you are?

ETA: I had a friend of mine in elementary school that skipped 2nd grade, and went directly into 3rd from 1st. Then her parents had her repeat 6th grade instead of entering junior high as an 11 year old, because they did not want her exposed to more mature kids already at that age. So I would not necessarily skip a grade now, since you don't know what may happen down the road. I would see what else the school can offer in terms of challenging him where he's at.

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answers from Amarillo on

I am from the old school.

If you have a school system that has a way to work with children that are advanced in learning they should be able to provide work for them to keep them engaged on a higher level. Not all "gifted" students are gifted in every area.

If your school system has a way to work with children one on one or in small groups that might help keep your child's interest in learning and encourage them to think on their own.

You also have to think about the maturity levels or the age group and the size body structure of the child. I went to school with a girl that had skipped a year and it finally caught up with her in high school. She was the smallest person in the class and her maturity level was not that of a senior and it made it hard on her to things well.

Do things outside the classroom that inspire him to think and seek out how it works. You may enjoy learning this way yourself.

the other S.

PS In the end it will be your decision on how he learns and what he does.

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answers from Detroit on

If he is old for grade... (his birthday is just past the cutoff for your state)... I might consider skipping a grade... but I would not skip first grade... I would skip 2nd grade..

kindergarten is about behaving in the classroom.. and some academics.. first grade is a huge transition.. second grade is first grade all over again.. there is a ton of new material in first grade.. and 2nd grade does a lot of the same things.. but just a bit harder..

Do not think of school as only academics.. social skills are much more important than being smart..we all had some brainiacs in are classes that were smarter than a dictionary.. but were wierdo nerds.. mostlikely they didn't become as successful as the kids who were average academically but had great social skills...



answers from Pittsburgh on

Skipping may be a great option, but I would likely wait until after first grade - I find it hard to believe academics can be assessed in kindergartners. Both my brother and I skipped grades - he skipped fourth grade and I skipped eighth grade. I think it was a good decision and worked very well for us - both academically and socially. Neither one of us experienced social problems due to being a little younger (remember the usual class range of age is a full year). My brother also was very athletic and it did not set him back at all in any sport he participated in.


answers from Philadelphia on

K is so much diferent than first grade! My daughter is the youngest in her class. September birthday, some kids were 8 because their parents held them back when she was J. turnibg 6 the first week of 1st grade. Socially it's hard for her at times.
She tested off the charts by the end of K and still first grade was hard for her at times.
You dont mention what the teachers say so I assume they havent asked? Unless they ask its not even an opnion.
if he excels let him skip a higher grade, so much of first grade is teaching them how to learn and study properly and social skills that they need for the future years

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