Skipping a grade, or grade acceleration, is a widely debated and researched area of education. For the highest achieving students, there are many benefits to skipping a grade. Aside from placing high achieving students at a more appropriate level of intellectual and academic challenge, grade acceleration can have other positive social and personal outcomes. However, skipping a grade is not for everyone and must be considered carefully. This is a decision best made when taking into account the parents' views, the teacher's view, and just as importantly, the child's view, too.
Answer the following questions when considering this big step:
- Is he consistently bored at school? The first indicator that many parents notice is that their child consistently feels bored at school and consistently skips homework or class projects because the work is too easy. The keyword is consistently. It's common for a child to find a particular topic in class boring or to feel disinterested in a class project every once in a while. However, if you notice that this has become a regular occurrence for your child, then it's time for you to have a chat with your child and his or her teacher.
- Does his teacher agree? Bring your concerns to your child's teacher and school, and ask whether your child is a candidate for grade acceleration. Understand that your child's teacher may have a different view of your child's progress in class. Sometimes a child who seems disinterested in schoolwork at home might exhibit very different attitudes at school.
- Does the school agree? Your child's school psychologist might administer an interview or a standardized test to determine the child's academic ability and/or IQ, depending on their age and grade level. These types of assessment tools are effective in identifying children who may be ready for more challenging academic work.
- Is your child committed to making this step? Academics are only part of the equation. Consider whether your child demonstrates a strong desire to advance to the next grade level. Make sure to talk with your child about what it means to skip a grade. While they will continue to be friends with their current peers, they will likely be making new friends who are a bit older as well. Furthermore, your child will be challenged with more advanced academic work, so your child needs to demonstrate a commitment to learning and completing class and homework.
- Is he driven to succeed? Your child's personality might also play a role in determining whether he or she is ready for grade acceleration. Is your child someone who tackles challenges in stride and copes well in new environments? Or does he or she get frustrated and upset easily? Sometimes it's useful to give your child a challenging afterschool project to assess how well he or she could take to more advanced tasks.
- Is this the right time? Your child's physical and emotional development should also be considered carefully. An advanced grade means more difficult schoolwork and increased responsibilities at school. But you must also consider non-school factors that will add to the pressure on your child, such as joining a new sports team, or future family events such as a divorce, new sibling, or a pending move. Major life events might make this a bad time for grade acceleration.
Grade acceleration is a decision that must be considered carefully after taking the whole child into account. Whether your child should skip a grade is only part of the question; you also need to consider whether it's the right time for your child to skip a grade.
Has your child skipped a grade? Share your experience.