How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping?

Posted by: bethanyc3

How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 04/10/20 05:44 PM

My DS is a young Kindergartener and his teacher has discussed with me the possibility of skipping 1st this fall. The biggest concern is the problem of age. His teacher says that he will always be the youngest in class and that could be problematic as he enters higher grades. I am really stuck on this and wonder if anyone could give credibility to it; is it very hard for a boy to be smaller and younger than his peers? The principal would like to meet about acceleration and I know the primary issue will be “are you comfortable making a decision that could subject your son to social problems in the future”?
Posted by: aeh

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/09/20 06:22 PM

Sorry we didn't see this earlier...

In your prior thread, indigo gave you an excellent curated list of information on acceleration. If you haven't yet done so, I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with the research on grade acceleration, keeping in mind that this is group data, and every child is an individual, with unique needs and strengths.

But to highlight some of the relevant findings that decades of research have found as generalizations:

1. Group data consistently indicates that long-term outcomes are more positive (academically, socially-emotionally, self-advocacy) for HG+ children who are grade accelerated than for IQ matched peers who are not.

2. The disadvantages of grade acceleration are most likely to show up in petite, socially-reserved boys.

I cannot emphasize enough that both of these reflect group data, and that what is best for your specific child may be quite different than what has been net most beneficial for someone else's child. IOW, the group data says acceleration is generally more positive than not for HG+ children, but that when there are social impacts, it is most likely to fall on boys of small stature.

Critical protective factors include the attitude of the family (e.g., instilling values and assurance in the child that prioritize internal character over external appearance), and the attitude of the adults in the receiving classroom (including administrators, the lead teacher, and supporting teachers). If all of the adults involved are supportive, and communicate matter-of-factly both to the student himself and to his classmates that this is just what this particular student needs to learn and grow, just as teachers and parents try to provide what each of his classmates need to learn and grow, that can go a long ways toward offsetting the potential social costs.

Another key finding is that HG+ children on the average tend to gravitate toward older children anyway, and (again on the average) tend to be more advanced in social-emotional development. Not to belabor the point, but this is of course highly individual to the child, and even the moment in the child's life and development.

You know your child best, so these would be questions for you to ponder yourself first. If, in your assessment, you believe your child could adapt socially and organizationally to the peer and self-monitoring demands of second grade without having experienced first grade, then the conversation with his teacher and principal would need to include considering how he has interacted with peers this year. If there are older children in his K class, did he play and work well with them? How are his self-management skills at this point...behaviorally, and with independent task completion (within the developmental expectations of K)?

Additionally, in this particular school year, is your district planning on distance learning, hybrid, or fully in-person? I suspect that predominantly distance learning will obviate any social-emotional gaps that might otherwise occur.

Finally, consider whether instructional underplacement (in grade 1) may actually exacerbate any social-emotional immaturity, as it does for a not insignificant fraction of HG+ students. There will almost always be mismatches somewhere in development for HG+ children, who tend to be highly asynchronous. It's just a question of which areas of match are most critical to his overall growth and happiness as a whole human being at this moment.

And, FWIW, someone is always the youngest in class. The data on redshirting age-eligible students to avoid being the youngest is pretty uniformly neutral to negative on long-term outcomes (i.e., high school dropout rates, self-esteem).

Full disclosure, in case you can't tell, I have a personal bias in favor of acceleration (others on this board feel otherwise, for valid reasons). Whatever you end up choosing for your child, know that someone will likely criticize your decision. Listen respectfully, of course, in case they have valid points, but don't let them override your confidence as a parent. No one knows and cares about your child as well as you do, and you are making the best decision you can for your particular child. Also, remember that if you don't skip this year, it doesn't eliminate the option in future years (or even in the middle of this coming year), and if you do skip and it doesn't work out, nothing prevents you from undoing the skip. The same comment above regarding how to protect him from any negative impacts of a skip applies to changing course in the future as well.
Posted by: indigo

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/09/20 06:50 PM

You've received an EXCELLENT response from aeh... who consistently provides GREAT insight.

Here is the link to a round-up of discussion threads on acceleration PROs and CONs... crowd-sourced, over time, on these forums:
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/09/20 08:09 PM

Our experience has been of an alternative route. My son is the most academically advanced of my three children. Unlike his sisters, however, he was not socially ready for early kindergarten entry (though like your DS, he is amongst the younger students of his cohort), somehow no one actually ever suggested grade skipping. From Yr 1, however, his teachers have given him quite free rein to engage in self directed learning and as a consequence he is now a very mature and organised high school student who has successfully had radical subject acceleration. Because he is also physically advanced, he has enjoyed great sporting success which carries a lot of social currency. He has therefore completely avoided problems that academically talented students often face.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/10/20 01:36 AM

I can't offer much more than AEH's exceptional advice. Other than wanting to point out that not accelerating is not a neutral choice. Your child is so gifted that the teacher and principal have approached YOU, this is not a common scenario, you need only spend some time on this board to find out how often families struggle to negotiate subject or full grade acceleration which they believe their child needs. For the school to make the suggestion implies that your son is very gifted, and quite visibly different from his peers. It also suggests that he would be accelerated within a very supportive environment, because it is THEIR idea. If your child is so different that school have noticed and proposed a skip you must consider that the children will also be very aware of his difference and THAT can also lead to social problems.

When children are very different it can unfortunately cause social problems. If he is the youngest in his class, that is one way of being different, it has risks. If he is very noticeably intellectually different from his same age peers, that is another way of being different, and that also has risks.

Acceleration risks possible future problems (especially for smaller and quieter boys, as AEH has noted). Not accelerating risks more immediate social problems and long term impacts on a child's engagement with school and learning.

Personal anecdotes:
I have one child who is one year accelerated, there are problems at times. Every time teachers, or anyone else, points out a problem and blames them on the skip, I will ask "Do you think they would be better off in their correct grade". The answer to this is always somewhere between expressions of abject horror and "NO! Of course NOT!" or slow consideration followed by "No, no I really don't think so, I think that would be worse". There is no "best" solution to my child's problems. There is only the least worst thing we could do at the time, and it has continued to be the least worst thing anyone can think of.

I have another child who we did not accelerate during grade 1, when it was discussed, although they fully met the IOWA scale criteria as an good candidate. I deeply regret that now, mostly for social reasons. Despite having started school a very socially advanced child (the school also commented on this throughout the first year of school, it's not my imagination), they just didn't fit in and were bullied fairly relentlessly through gr 1-4, across two schools. They are now home-schooled, have significant social anxiety and have learned some fairly negative social strategies after so many years of social failure. This child was my "easy child" (the school also talked about this one being my "easy child" during their first year of school). Or so we all thought...

I should note that my husband is very tall and my children are all tall. The eldest happily had their growth spurt late, so wasn't the tallest until about yr9-10, despite being in the correct grade (though young for grade). The child who is 1yr accelerated actually would have stood out like a sore thumb height wise if they had not been skipped, as they were one of the tallest in their grade even with the skip. Due to their physical size one of the problems my child has had with their skip is that teachers don't remember that they are skipped, and that is good in some ways but problematic in others.