How to Skip a Grade: Is Your Child Ready?
With children starting their education earlier than ever, parents often ask how to skip a grade. But when should kids skip a grade?
Kids start learning at a young age, and this early exposure to education may give some children a leg up on their peers. When kids seem far advanced in their classes, parents often ask how to skip a grade.
Skipping a grade is not a common occurrence anymore, as schools have many excellent ways to challenge gifted students. However, it does still happen. But there are many things to take into consideration before going down that road with your child.
What Factors Should Be Considered?
One of the greatest mistakes is thinking that skipping a grade should be based solely on IQ. Dr. Chester Goad, a former K-12 principal and teacher, warns that many factors should be considered before students are moved from one grade to another.
"What are the social implications of the move if the students move up a grade? What are the social implications for the student if the student stays in the current grade? In this age of high stakes standardized testing, it's also important to ensure that the student has actually mastered the necessary objects or would be able to do so on standardized tests," he says. "We may not like the power and emphasis of standardized tests, but scores on those tests can determine placement and affect other decisions."
Parents thinking about grade skipping for small children should also consider not only intelligence but social and peer interaction, motor skills and emotional development. "Students seem to be under a lot of pressure these days to grow up quickly, but spending time in a nurturing environment with opportunities to develop and express creativity is an important aspect to student growth and is often overlooked," explains Dr. Goad.
Kids who excel at dealing with other children or who have many outlets for group activities may do well in a new environment, while more introverted students could struggle with the transition. How your child handles these obstacles needs to be considered and should play a role in the decision.
Concerned about your child not transitioning well? Read these tips for socializing shy kids.
When Should My Child Skip a Grade?
When considering having your child skip a grade, it might work best if it's done in the beginning of the year. For example, have your child skip kindergarten and go right to first grade in September, before your little one has time to form social bonds with other students or teachers that would then be disrupted. The biggest disadvantage, however, is that kids at this age are often socially immature.
Think about your child's age as well. If your child's birthday is close to a cutoff date for entry into that higher grade, they might be a better match socially with older kids. Even if your child is exceptionally bright, if they aren't quite up to speed socially with an older age group, skipping a grade could be tough on them if they feel like they don't quite fit in. This decision is a long-term one, so consider all angles.
Third-grade teacher Peggy Farlow warns that the disadvantages may outweigh the advantages when skipping a grade. "Socially, one year is huge," she says. "Although academically the child might feel better and challenged, socially they become somewhat left out."
Farlow continues that it's the school's job to find ways to challenge the brighter students without moving them forward. "That is why schools have advanced placement and honors courses in high school," she explains, and many elementary schools have gifted programs or accelerated learning classes as well.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Families considering acceleration may also want to research the processes and procedures on how to skip a grade, because policies vary from state to state. The Acceleration Institute offers a breakdown of the regulations in each state, if any. Typically there is less push-back and red tape involved with grade acceleration in private schools than public schools.
Many states and school districts have policies on acceleration: At the very least, your child will probably be given an IQ test and the results will be evaluated to see if he is above average when compared to students in the next grade. Just like you weighed maturity in your decision factors, the school will too. The ability to fit in with older peers will be very important.
If your child qualifies to advance ahead a grade, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be written and put into place for your student. Many times, this will be done on a trial basis and your child will be monitored closely. Grade skipping is a team effort with parents, teachers and the student working together.
Just as your child will have to rise to the challenge, you'll likely be called upon to watch her progress, encourage social development, stay in contact with teachers and keep an eye out for any issues.
And check out these Gifted and Talented Education Tips.
Stephanie Glover is the author and photographer behind A Grande Life. When she doesn't have her camera in her hands, you'll find her with a cup of coffee.