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:
http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post230061
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.
Posted by: minimensch

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/17/20 12:35 PM

Sorry I'm late but this study could shed some light on your concerns. To quickly summarize, students who percieve they have higher academic ability relative to their peers have less psychosomatic complaints. In other words, they're "happier". https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-018-5977-5

Furthermore, Malcom Gladwell's book "Outliers" has a couple good chapters about career success between students who were average at an elite school vs those who were elite at an average school. Spoiler, the "elite at an average school" students had much higher traditional metrics of success.
Posted by: aeh

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/22/20 04:10 PM

Note the two lines of research referenced regarding BFLPE are not specifically about HG+ students, and are probably better compared to the research on athletic success of students who are old for grade:

They tend to have better long-term outcomes, apparently because coaches preferentially pick them for additional opportunities for play and training, conflating their chronological-age-based physical advantages with actual differences in native ability. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for moderately-above-average potential athletes. (More training means better performance means access to still better training leads to even better performance...) [Sidenote: this cycle is also one reason why our current pay-to-play youth sports system significantly disadvantages children with fewer family resources.] Exceptional athletes are less affected by this because they show such high ability that they are more frequently allowed to "play up" to the age bracket that best matches their performance and developmental needs--aka, acceleration.
Posted by: Wren

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/23/20 08:33 AM

I grew up in Ontario in the 60s and there were regularly about 8 kids per elementary school, who skipped grade 4, as a group. They ended it two years after me. Since we were a group in transition, and when we entered high school, there were many of us, it was a not a difficult transition. And then I could make another skip in high school. I think if you have multi-skips and you are alone, it is more difficult. Especially in high school where interests of dating, parties, all the social nuances that happen in high school are hard when you are younger and alone. I doubt that the child will be included when the group has to decide if the boy's texts mean he is really into you, etc etc. It doesn't seem like much, but a big part of high school.
Posted by: aeh

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/23/20 10:08 AM

IOW, the social risks of whole grade acceleration are also related to a self-fulfilling prophecy/feedback loop. If more children were allowed developmentally-appropriate whole grade accelerations, there would be less social stigma and fewer negative social impacts, but institutions tend to be opposed to grade skipping because of the fear of negative social impacts...which leads to fewer children being grade skipped...and thus greater negative social impacts of grade skips...

But again, at the individual level, it is always a complex risk calculus, even taking only social development into account, balancing social mismatches due to disparities with chronological age-peers resulting from intellectual development, with mismatches due to disparities with developmental academic peers resulting from biological development. And, of course, the range of actual social-emotional development in both GT and NT students is extremely wide, as anyone who has worked in a middle school can tell you.

And FWIW, I was three years young for grade during the years I spent in high school, and found that my slight personal distance from relationship drama made me a go-to sounding board and voice of reason among my classmates. Of course, I've gone on to a career in mental health, so this might not be representative...
Posted by: puffin

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/23/20 10:04 PM

There may be problems later but at the moment it is problems now that are the priority. Don't borrow too much trouble.
Posted by: aeh

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/24/20 06:55 PM

I just remembered that OP noted in a different thread that OP's child was placed in 1st grade for reading and math this past school year, immediately after kindergarten screening and placement measures--so the teacher's recommendation to skip 1st grade is based presumably on his performance in an actual first grade academic setting this year, including social interactions with the same likely set of peers that would be in the receiving 2nd grade classroom in the event of a skip. That lowers the risk of negative social consequences considerably, as he has functionally been in a split K/1st placement this year anyway, and actually makes not skipping more like a retention (unless the school continues to SSA reading and math to form a 1st/2nd split next year).

If OP comes back to this thread, one hopes this discussion will be helpful to her.
Posted by: Val

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/25/20 02:11 PM

I have two kids who skipped grades, and their experiences were mixed.

The better academic fit was obvious.

When their non-skipped peers were 11-ish, those kids started talking about "things I don't understand." Mine knew they were too young to understand that kind of talk, and it made them uncomfortable for a variety of reasons.

There were also problems with hating when people knew they were grade skipped because it made them stand out in a way they didn't like.

If I had to do it over, I'd consider the skips much more skeptically.

IMO, the positive aspects of grade skips are pushed too enthusiastically on this board, which can create a bias. When my kids were younger, I remember parents here laughing at clueless teachers saying, "Oh, but your child won't be able to get a driver's license when her friends get one" and "when other teenagers are dating, your child will feel left out." Yeah, well, stuff like that came true. It's easy to dismiss these concerns when the child is only 5, but time passes and suddenly that kid is prepubescent in an environment where everyone is moving through adolescence.

It's possible to undo a skip, but that process doesn't come without pain.

I have friends who were skipped 2-3 years, and for them, high school was a horror of basically being a kid among older adolescents who could drive and have a job. One grade skip doesn't really have that effect unless your child has a birthday near the deadline and would be the youngest in his age-grade class. This is the case for one of mine, and it's a lot like two skips. There is honestly a lot to be said about going through the physical and emotional changes of adolescence with people who are going through it at the same time.

As tenth graders, two of my kids enrolled in a dual enrollment program at a local community college. These programs are wonderful in general, and for very bright kids, they offer an opportunity to go to high school classes with age peers during part of the day, and college classes otherwise. It's not seen as odd because everyone is doing it. These programs offer a huge advantage of being free college. My eldest got a free AS --- no tuition, no fees, free books, and even a free bus pass (all the students at the college get one).

The problem with being a parent is that we're going to make big mistakes. There's really no way around that, because we have no knowledge about how our kids will respond to whatever worked for us or didn't work. We have no knowledge about how the five-year-old who's enthusiastic about something with long-term consequences will feel in ten years. So my best advice to you is to think very, very carefully about this decision. Try to think about everything that will be different for your child if you go ahead and what's good and bad about that. Consider his personality, his maturity, 7th grade, 11th grade, his relationships with other kids --- everything you can think of.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/25/20 05:52 PM

If they look, talk & walk like, and are otherwise indistinguishable from, older peers at the time acceleration is considered, it’s likely to work out. My eldest started long day care at six weeks of age, in a room with children up to two years of age. By the time she was three, she was globally identical to the 4-5 year olds who were about to start school and visibly more advanced than those who had only then recently turned 4 (she didn’t come across as a precocious 3 yr old, but rather as an above average 5 yr old - strangers everywhere would strike up conversations with her about whether she was excited to start school and she’d tell them she was only three, although she did end up starting because I thought it seemed a foregone conclusion to everyone else). The child care centre assessed her as school ready but because she was so much younger than the school start cut off age, she did have to undergo formal testing by an education psychologist.

She sailed through school and I still remember the high school principal’s shock when, at the end of eighth grade he congratulated us on raising ‘such an incredibly mature 14 year old’, we told him she was 12. She reached the various stages of puberty at the same time as her classmates and she started dating a classmate (a fine & very reliable young man who is still her BF) just before her 15th birthday and he drove her around as soon as he got his license, so none of these social considerations were ever an issue.

My youngest would have been in the middle of the age range if she had started in her correct year, but I noticed that as a three year old at her dance school concert, she absolutely towered over all her age peers (the next tallest wasn’t even up to her shoulder) and her motor control was demonstrably more advanced. Since the principal of the primary school was already familiar with her siblings, he was quite open to the idea of early entry but suggested she attend the pre-kindergarten preparation sessions. I couldn’t take time off work, so my best friend took my daughter. Reportedly, the principal watched for but could not identify my daughter amongst this group, so that became the litmus test for early entry.

Neither of my girls have had any issues whatsoever due to being younger than their classmates and acceleration has been successful for them but..

Serendipitously, DS has not been grade accelerated. Whilst intellectually & physically more capable than his sisters, he wasn’t socially ready to start a year early (noting that his birthday would have made it almost a double promotion if he had). By the end of kindergarten, it became clear that he was very far ahead of the curriculum and as I’ve posted in other threads, he was pretty much given free rein to direct his own learning as long as he wasn’t disruptive in class. This has afforded him the opportunity to reach a ‘summit view’ of class activities. He hasn’t been led through a fairly narrow school curriculum. He has explored the terrain himself, looked at topics from various angles, been the sole architect of his internal model of reality and formed and tested his own hypotheses. In many of his reports, his primary & high school teachers have commented, in some form or other, that they have learned from him. I doubt that they would make such comments lightly and his sisters, successful as they’ve been, with the eldest graduating high school as dux, have never received such comments on their reports.

He happens to also be a great all rounder, excelling in sports, music, chess and other areas and has a humble, friendly and easy going demeanour, so he enjoys great popularity though he has never actively sought it. He is undoubtedly an asset to the school. Therefore, whilst acceleration has certainly been successful for our family, radical subject acceleration whilst remaining with age peers has been an even better experience. I hope that high school won’t become ‘the best years of his life’, but it’s certainly been a terrific experience so far and worth not rushing through.

ETA: The benefits of not whole grade accelerating DS were only clear after my youngest had already started school. Even in hindsight, I honestly don’t know if earlier realisation would have changed our decisions. Each child has to be considered individually. My post is to feed back that more than one path can potentially be successful if progress is monitored.

FWIW, each of my children have fed back that they have been and are very happy and would not have wished for a different experience.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/26/20 07:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Val
It's possible to undo a skip, but that process doesn't come without pain.


That is true, but neither does lock step schooling come without pain, immense pain for some children. The problem is that there is no problem free approach.

I think that this is an area that is DEEPLY impacted by what AEH says about many of the issues that happen with acceleration stemming from schools not being accustomed to accelerating children.

One of the cases I was most struck by in Miraca Gross's book was of the child who completed yr11 twice and then yr12 twice. Not to hold them back, not because they hadn't done exceptionally well (they had), but because earlier acceleration had bought them TIME. Time which they could use to fully study twice as many subjects at a yr11/12 level as is typically done.

This is a marvelously flexible approach to allowing a child to progress out of primary school as they need to, but not necessarily leave school as fast as they left primary school. It certainly won't work for everyone, but it's a great option. Options like this can ONLY work when a school is incredibly supportive and really embraces the process with teachers and student body.

Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum
If they look, talk & walk like, and are otherwise indistinguishable from, older peers at the time acceleration is considered, it’s likely to work out.


This has probably been a significant factor in things going well for our accelerated child. It's not without issues, but no-one thinks things would be better without the skip (and it has been discussed more than once).

Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum
She sailed through school and I still remember the high school principal’s shock when, at the end of eighth grade he congratulated us on raising ‘such an incredibly mature 14 year old’, we told him she was 12.


I went to collect my child from a specialist music lesson and both child and teacher regaled me with the teacher's complete inability to hold my child's age in mind (which teacher did know).

Teacher reported how he had said: "Now I know I am being VERY hard on you for a 14 yr old. These are tiny technical details I don't usually get into until much later, but I think you are ready for this."
Child: "But I am not 14..."
Teacher: "Well very hard on you for a 13 yr old! But you can do this!"
Child: "I am 12."
Teacher: "We can still do this!"

This was the most extreme version of this conversation, but we regularly had to correct the age perception. Especially with regard to the emotion of pieces. ("It's very hard for a 14yr old to get the full emotion into the playing of this piece" "Twelve yr old").

Music is an interesting situation, because it is completely acceptable to progress at your natural pace. It is normal for there to be some VERY young participants in our elite national youth orchestra, which is made up mostly of tertiary and final year high school students. And there ARE conversations about sending your 12/14/16/18 yr old off to a (probably interstate) residential music camp where the age bracket is "Under 25". Most people would have to have a good hard think about sending their middle school daughter interstate to a residential opportunity where the majority of the attendees are in the 18-25 bracket (note that 18 is the legal drinking age here too). And that is very reasonable. But the conversations about these issues have a very different tenor to the conversations about school acceleration.

Obviously you could argue that it all boils down to protecting the child. But there doesn't ever seem to be a developmental argument around music opportunities, that your child will somehow fail to develop normally if grouped with older children/youth of equal ability. It's very much a question of "Is it safe?" and my experience is that it is very gendered (families that would send the son but not the daughter for example, music teachers who recommend girls should not be allowed to attend before 18). And you do see tiny little boys crossing the stage with their instruments at times (some who must be older than they look). I am not sure that my thoughts are leading anywhere useful, but it's an interesting contrast to the advice about acceleration in schools, where being a physically more developed girl is an advantage and a small boy is disadvantage!
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/26/20 08:48 PM

Originally Posted By: aeh
IOW, the social risks of whole grade acceleration are also related to a self-fulfilling prophecy/feedback loop. If more children were allowed developmentally-appropriate whole grade accelerations, there would be less social stigma and fewer negative social impacts, but institutions tend to be opposed to grade skipping because of the fear of negative social impacts...which leads to fewer children being grade skipped...and thus greater negative social impacts of grade skips...


I was just thinking about this futher. The state I was born in had a complicated start of school system, all children would start school the term after their 5th birthday and then must do at least three and no more than four terms of school. Actually when I went through we had trimesters, so probably it was at least two and no more than five. I started school, did one term (trimester) and then moved states, where I was put into yr1, having "already done" FYOS. I moved back to my home state a few years later and progressed as per the grade I had been in for the last few years. I was never formally or deliberately grade skipped, but never the less I finished school a month younger than my grade skipped child will be when she finishes. Functionally I was grade skipped. And it was never mentioned.

The year I started high school birthdays and ages and who was the youngest in the class were all discussed... There were kids younger than me. Two or three I think in my grade (about 100 kids). We had a chat about the school start thing and it was never discussed again. Every now and then I chat with other adults from my state who had the same experience. "Oh yeah, I turned 17 right at the end of yr12, but it wasn't for any real reason, it was just that school start thing".

I suspect it would have been a much bigger deal if I had been "skipped" rather than just randomly very young due to the nature of our system. My state was deeply anti gifted education at the time.

I think we have developed a great deal more cultural baggage around why kids are older or younger than normal (if they are) and how very very important it is not be different because something bad might happen. There is now huge reluctance to hold a child back a year too. We must all be the same in the sausage factory.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/26/20 09:00 PM

Now that I think about it, and I have literally never considered it before, most of the conversations I have had with adults about being young for grade have started with my child's Grade skip... I just don't mention it to most people. So all of these people would have been friends or people I felt comfortable discussing it with, possibly including parents of the child's friend in birthday party scenarios.

"Oh they're skipped? Won't they finish school really young? Are you worried about that?"

"Well actually I was slightly younger than they will be when I finished school, because of the school start thing..."

"Oh, right... Oh, did you do the school start thing? I did that too. How old were you when you finished? Oh! I was even younger than you when I finished school!..... I guess they will be fine then, we were fine!"

And as I further consider this, 40 years ago they probably allowed more discretion to teachers about whether children who were SUPPOSED to do 4 or 5 terms did only 1 or 2. So most of these people, all of the ones I can remember clearly discussing this with, are clearly intelligent and now highly educated and employed. They probably WERE somewhat deliberately "skipped" but in a very informal "the teacher sends them if they are ready" system that allowed kids who were "ready" to move on faster, while also being deeply scathing of acknowledging giftedness or allowing any other sort of accommodations.

How interesting this thought train has been.
Posted by: aeh

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/26/20 09:48 PM

That is quite interesting, MoT. Something similar happened among my in-laws (spouses of my sibling group). Only one of them was actually grade-skipped (and that was at teacher initiative), but most of them graduated young because they had birthdays right before the age cutoff for school entry. They all proceeded quite successfully to elite universities.

My parent social group is heavily weighted for homeschoolers, so grade-age lockstep placement is not a group norm anyway. In either direction.

I agree that there was probably more latitude a few decades back than there is now, on our continent as well. Some of the things my parents convinced the local school district to do for us would have required even more effort and persuasion if attempted now. If they would even have allowed them. We were fortunate to have the district's lead psychologist as an ally. Which is part of why I do what I do now.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/27/20 04:32 AM

‘This was the most extreme version of this conversation, but we regularly had to correct the age perception.’

By the time it was our youngest’s turn, we didn’t bother correcting anyone. For her birthdays turning n years of age, most of the cards she received were captioned ‘Happy (n+1)th Birthday’. We weren’t intentionally deceiving anyone, but felt there was no need to create awkward situations.
ETA: I usually wrote the age birthday on invitations but I guess they didn’t pay attention. The probable scenario was that there were a string of birthday parties and it was assumed everyone was turning the same age.
Posted by: spaghetti

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/27/20 07:47 AM

I do think being mature helps a lot. It was funny that teachers that didn't know about the skip remarked on the report card about how mature my child was!

AND this is something we didn't know to consider, but DD would have been in the class of covid 2020, but instead was in the class of blissfully unaware 2019. Now, that's a social win. Got to experience all the social experience of senior year.

In high school when dd was the last to drive, which limited some high school options, she said that not driving was the stupidist reason not to skip a grade.

My immature child who was never challenged academically but always challenged socially--- no we did not skip that one. Would have loved to hold that one back if academics would have worked. It really is child dependent.
Posted by: aeh

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/27/20 11:41 AM

Our DC also experienced the incidental benefit of moving from class of covid to class of pre-covid for HS graduation, but since we were homeschooling by that point, it made a little bit less of a difference. Though DC did get to experience a final HS musical and prom (since our district allows homeschoolers to participate in extra/co-curriculars, and an in-district friend invited DC to the prom), which were both cancelled this year. (Sadly, the musical was actually cancelled days before opening night--after the final dress rehearsal, but before the first show.)

Driving also is decreasingly important as a social marker, in my observation. My DC didn't get a license until well after the minimum age, nor have many of DC's friends. Many of my students don't seem to have any urgency about driving (with the exception of those eager to go out on senior year internships, which require personal transportation means).

Likewise, while DC has long been described as unusually mature, early on (K-3 grade age), DC actually was described as unusually immature in behavior. Curiously, this was where being young for grade was interpreted generously. One teacher in fifth grade (two years young for grade) commented to me that sometimes immature behaviors were observed, but then she would remind herself that this was expected--and thus not problematic--because of DC's actual age. Which speaks to how critical the adult response to acceleration is. The same behavior could easily have been interpreted by a different teacher as "proof" that acceleration was inappropriate and potentially harmful to social development. In this case, I think our child also picked up some not-wholly-deserved benefit of the doubt, as DC has also consistently ticked many of the boxes for ADHD (formally undiagnosed). (It does help that this placement was the result of a school-initiated simultaneous whole-grade skip with additional SSA, with the backing of the school administrator.)

We also avoided much of the potential for social asynchrony in the high school years by homeschooling from 8th grade on, during the most awkward tween and early teen years. By the time DC was back in classrooms, it was as a DE student in university, at a point in physical development where some people might have wondered, but most would not assume an age difference, but also at a point in social development and confidence that DC could be upfront about being younger, and still move easily in the group as a peer, and even a leader. Late in high school, DC chose to undo one of the early skips, but then ended up taking a full schedule of DE college courses senior year. Which also points out the value for some learners of using DE as a way of addressing academic challenge without fully accelerating nominal grade placement, as this is an option that is available to any student in our state. (So much so that there is a dedicated office in admissions at the small state 4-year where much of this took place for us, with dozens of enrolled students showing up at the DE orientation & registration sessions.)
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/27/20 10:22 PM

Originally Posted By: aeh
Likewise, while DC has long been described as unusually mature, early on (K-3 grade age), DC actually was described as unusually immature in behavior. Curiously, this was where being young for grade was interpreted generously. One teacher in fifth grade (two years young for grade) commented to me that sometimes immature behaviors were observed, but then she would remind herself that this was expected--and thus not problematic--because of DC's actual age. Which speaks to how critical the adult response to acceleration is. The same behavior could easily have been interpreted by a different teacher as "proof" that acceleration was inappropriate and potentially harmful to social development. In this case, I think our child also picked up some not-wholly-deserved benefit of the doubt, as DC has also consistently ticked many of the boxes for ADHD (formally undiagnosed). (It does help that this placement was the result of a school-initiated simultaneous whole-grade skip with additional SSA, with the backing of the school administrator.)


The perception of a child's maturity is SO vulnerable to the eye of the beholder. And to the impact of the environment. Probably more so the younger the child is.

I have had discussions with both the most senior child psychiatrist in our state and an excellent psychologist, where they started talking about how socially advanced, mature, etc my child was. How inarguable, how obvious for all to see... What a delight to talk to. That there was a terrible risk of forgetting how young they were, that if you were to talk on the phone you would not realise you were not talking to an adult (if it were not for the age appropriate voice).

And we have had to point out how interesting it is that they say that because teachers say "Immature, lacks social skills, lacks independence, unable to function etc" and have questioned the ed psych evaluation. Both times these highly qualified professionals have blinked at us before trying to reply to that.

Miraca Gross's research purports to have shown the positive impact of acceleration AND the negative impact of failure to do so. And also clearly demonstrates that this only works where both school leadership and teachers are supportive. I wonder how much just the genuine support makes a huge difference.

Maybe there are other ways to move a very gifted child through school than acceleration, but ANY successful model will require genuine belief and support from leadership and teachers and across the entire span of those measures being applied. Successful outcomes, maybe more for some kids than others, require a belief that gifted kids exist, that levels of giftedness exist, a propensity to actually LIKE and enjoy those children and an ability to have flexible approaches in a fundamentally inflexible system.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/28/20 06:19 AM

For my DS, it was these factors and mutual respect. Most teachers admitted, one way or another, that they had not taught a student like him before, so they supported rather than tried to lead him. He followed the class routine as much as possible (which was really good for his social development) but they gave him a lot of room to differentiate the material.

Occasionally, when his regular teachers were away, well meaning substitutes would give him advanced or extension material which he would respectfully complete but then bemoan to me that they might as well have just given him regular class content as all the materials were so basic, so I got the strong impression that his regular teachers really did give him almost full autonomy.
Posted by: aeh

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/28/20 10:11 AM

Those teachers are rare finds, but at the same time, the potential to be that exemplary teacher is within the grasp of most at least average teachers, if given the administrative backing and professional development supports to do so. Eagle Mum, the likelihood of your DS chancing upon a string of near-ideal teachers all the way through school is rather low...yet it happened. I would imagine that what actually occurred is that his first one or two teachers were unusually child-led and perceptive, allowed him just the right combination of freedom and support, and then created an expectation that each teacher communicated to subsequent teachers.

One of my sibs stayed in the same grade (at parent request) for multiple years because that teacher was willing to teach to the instructional needs of the student, whatever they were, and allowed a great deal of autonomy to a curious, autodidactic child.

I agree that whole-grade acceleration is not necessarily the perfect solution for any, let alone for every HG+ learner, which is partly why we have homeschooled each of our children for at least a few years, and addressed age-peer socialization outside of formal schooling. It (along with SSA) is, however, among the most practical solutions to balancing school resource constraints and HG+ learner needs under our current institutional models. Not without costs, obviously. It's just a question of what and where those costs are, and whether the tradeoffs are worth the benefits for this particular child and family, given the other options.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/28/20 03:50 PM

Yes, his kindergarten teacher was a wonderful individual. DH remarked several times to me that he could picture her, in a different era, as the ‘wise elder of the village’.

I suspect the other major influence was a senior teacher who never actually formally taught DS. Over here, our education system includes Yr 5 & 6 opportunity classes (OC) in one public school per district which enrol students from anywhere through a competitive exam process. Although not involved with teaching early primary students, the senior OC teacher took an interest in DS from the start of kindergarten and would chat to him at lunch breaks (I once saw one of DS’s original origami creations reproduced and displayed by this teacher’s entire class). This teacher ran all the enrichment programs (maths comp, chess team, school band, cross country training) at the school & DS was an asset in all of them. DS was eventually only in the classes taught by the other OC teacher during his upper primary years, but just before he retired, the senior teacher confided to me that with over twenty years of experience teaching gifted children, DS stood out as extraordinarily gifted.

For me, his Grade 4 teacher stood out. With a reputation as a very prickly personality, most students fervently hoped to avoid having her as a teacher. She and DS developed a strong mutual respect and fondness.

To his credit, DS is a team player. I’ve watched him give his all to enable his relay team to win, knowing it would be detrimental to his performance in the ensuing race which was his favourite & best solo event. These sorts of sacrifices endear him to both teachers & students.
Posted by: Aufilia

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 07/31/20 11:27 PM

My son skipped Kindergarten and has always been the youngest in his grade. He's a bit taller than average for his age so he's never stuck out size-wise, though I suspect there will be a year in middle school when others will shoot up ahead of him and he'll be "short" for awile. His being "young" for his grade has only been a problem when it's a problem in his teacher's head. He had 2 teachers in first who were job-sharing, and one of them was hugely angsty about him all year, and the other thought everything was fine. In 2nd and 3rd, he had male teachers who were positive about him and felt he was placed very well. In 4th and 5th, he had the same teacher who continually mentions how YOUNG he is, even though in 5th he was in the middle grade of a 3-grade split and about a quarter of the class was younger, but she had it firmly in her head that he was YOUNG and was going to hold onto that idea like a bulldog with a stick. (This is one of the reasons I've taken advantage of the pandemic to request to transfer him to an online program in our neighboring district -- otherwise he'll likely have the same teacher for the 3rd year in a row!)

My daughter was accelerated from 7th grade up to high school, where she was placed into 2 classes filled mostly with 10th graders. She is quite short for her age and she's Autistic, so she is NOT socially adept and not really mature for her age. But in many ways the high school was socially easier for her. The 10th graders were less resentful of someone who was obviously an outlier than her age-peers were. She got along with her honors chem lab group and the other chem students seemed to like her well enough. Several times she came home with random things she'd been gifted by some other high school kid in chem, like a funny t-shirt that is exactly the sort of thing you'd buy her if you knew her. The only social complaint she voiced was that other students in chem always wanted to know her test score after every chapter test and she couldn't figure out how to politely not tell them. I think it's helpful that because she's young, and Autistic, and the only kid moving between schools, the school was careful to place her with teachers who had a good attitude about having a young student. Her Chinese class has also been a spectcular experience with a teacher who was willing to take a chance on her (DD entered Chinese midway through the school year into a class that was already overflowing but the teacher was excited to have a student who was "seeking challenge"). We did ELA outside the public school last year because the high school english teacher had a lousy attitude about having her, and imo teacher attitude is everything.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 08/01/20 08:45 PM

Quote:
The 10th graders were less resentful of someone who was obviously an outlier than her age-peers were.


Miraca Gross notes in her research that she found children where less likely to be disliked or offend their teachers with their “young”-ness when there was 2+ yrs of acceleration.
Posted by: aeh

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 08/01/20 08:59 PM

I'd agree with this data anecdotally, too. Socially, my first grade skip was the hardest (technically early entry), although not until around second grade, I think. That was the only one that involved not-nice behavior from peers. The remaining skips all may have had some mild awkwardness, but no one being mean.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 08/01/20 09:47 PM

Two years ago, the school’s robotics programming dream team comprised two 11th graders and four 8th graders (even though students of any age could also have joined). There was great mutual respect - each individual made a positive contribution. The senior students led but they acknowledged that the young ones played their part checking codes and brainstorming. They did really well in comps against schools with bigger & older teams.
Posted by: Lorens

Re: How bad is the social aspect of grade skipping? - 08/11/20 07:40 AM

I dont think its bad. In our time people can study at home.