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    Joined: Jan 2017
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    MVMom Offline OP
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    Dear Parents,

    My DC5 is around 4-6 years ahead of his current grade level in math and reading respectively. This is an approximation based on a combination of achievement tests, school assessments, and reading and math that he does for recreation.

    I'm wondering if there are any parents who dealt with a similar curricular gap and chose not to accelerate. If so, how has your experience been? Was your child happy?

    I understand there is a lot of research on acceleration and good tools for decision-making. I am just wondering if down the line, acceleration eventually becomes inevitable for kids who maintain and then widen the gap between themselves and their age peers; or whether there are any families who managed to keep their kid with age peers--and for how long?

    I'm not completely against acceleration. I am trying to make sense of advice I was given for years that emphasized the importance of kids staying with their age peers in school no matter what. Why do some early childhood educators believe this? Is there any basis for this strong bias toward age-grouping regardless of outlier ability levels? We've seen the gap between my child and his age peers widen dramatically over time. Did his preschool teachers believe that the gap would get smaller? I feel a strong need to debrief from a few traumatic years at a preschool and would like to gain some seasoned advice about what we may have to come to terms with over the next few years (grade skipping?).
    Thank you


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    I tried to not accelerate - and so did the school. Social problems got worse and worse until he was getting beat up on the playground weekly (in 1st grade). Came home with headaches and vomiting **every day** after school. He would cry and beg to "stay home and do workbooks". He went from the popular kid in preschool and 4K to a social outcast by 1st grade.

    In 1st grade, he was doing 4th grade work (as tested by the school) and neuropsychologist said he may or may not regress to the mean over time, but it was unlikely given how far ahead he was then.

    I enrolled him in a public virtual charter school where continuous progress acceleration is their norm. That's when things got crazy with acceleration. In math, my son skipped 2nd, 3rd, most of 4th, did 5th grade in 2 months, refused to do 6th grade and skipped to Algebra 1. In english, he skipped 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 8th. He did not regress to the mean! LOL

    I found radical acceleration to be inevitable and necessary. Observe your child. When the cons of staying with agemates outweighs the pros, it's time.

    If you prefer to avoid or delay acceleration, I think the most effective action a parent can do is to resist the desire to "afterschool" supplement a bored child with academics. Rather, supplement with non-academic but intellectual activities, like music lessons, animal training, computer programming, etc.

    The answers to the rest of your questions are best answered by the book "A Nation Deceived" which is available free online in PDF format.

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    I'd like to underscore what spaghetti wrote. I was actively denied any academic match. I barely lived through high school, much less graduated. I was a teacher's nightmare, my goal was to distract the teacher so that the lesson would not be fully taught and then I would break the curve without doing homework. Or maybe get a D- when that plan didn't work. I gave up on school the first day of high school when the english teacher started teaching.... parts of speech. So very elementary school. I quit. I quit on school, relationship, and nearly on life. I was suicidal throughout high school.

    I developed several psychiatric disorders during my childhood from the academic and social mismatch. I'm still struggling as an adult. No college degree, I've taken a few semesters here and there that don't amount to much. My parents 1) didn't want to push me and 2) my dad has weird anxiety about acceleration and 3) they actively prohibited me from doing anything my 3 older siblings had done because I would surpass them. (My dad is neurotically anxious about sibling rivalry, to the point he has limited/strained relationships with all of his children and grandchildren). What he thought was protecting us severely scarred all of us.

    What burns the most is a classmate and I were equal in musical ability in elementary. My parents (both musicians) picked a terrible teacher for me and then cut me off after a few years of lessons. My classmates parents were supportive of him. He ended up with full ride scholarship and is a professional musician. I tried to keep up with him into high school and ended up with multiple hand injuries that have been plaguing me ever since. Physical therapy doesn't help. My striking talents both depend upon my hands - talents I could make a living off of... if I hadn't ruined my hands from not having music lessons.

    Perhaps TMI, but hopefully building the case that refusing academic match is harmful and neglectful, with lifelong negative impact for the child.

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    Originally Posted by spaghetti
    a cautionary tale... learned that he could do well with zero effort, and that if he didn't master something immediately, it was not something he wanted to pursue... barely finished high school, and then went out into the world and is currently at a minimum wage job, dreaming big of doing some amazing things.
    Unfortunately this is common, and there is an expert article, "What kids don't learn" which is useful when advocating, as it can be important to reference an expert source, so that what is being said is not dismissed as the opinion of uninformed and unnecessarily concerned parents.
    Originally Posted by sanne
    refusing academic match is harmful and neglectful, with lifelong negative impact for the child.
    Yes.

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    I was under engaged. I thought it would be better at highschool: but it wasn't so I quit. I did get a degree but I have never had the confidence in myself to use it. I can't say my depression is caused by a poor academic fit but never fitting in was stressful.

    That said my kids aren't accelerated. Ds9 is the youngest in his year and feels it. He has just been put up 2 classes for maths though. Ds7 is old for year but had a very rough year last year when he was a class up. This year he is much more settled in the middle of the class so I think it will be a hard sell to get him put up. At this point I am not concerned as he is happy.

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    In the big picture, it is important to realize that, for the kind of children we are discussing, there will be asynchrony somewhere--it's just a matter of how, where, when, and to what degree. Keeping them with chronological and physical peers may result in intellectual/academic mismatch. Radical acceleration to approach academic compatibility may create social, physical, and/or developmental mismatches. The appropriate balance will be different for each child and family system, but know that, no matter what choices are made, something will be out of sync, because conventional educational institutions are not designed around these children.

    And, as always, one cannot plan too far ahead, as needs and resources change constantly. What is unimaginable today may suddenly become the obvious only solution tomorrow.


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    It's been helpful for me to understand that very few educators have training or knowledge of gifted/high ability learners and what's best for them. The majority of U.S. teachers have no actual knowledge in this area AT ALL. So, many are operating with myths and tribal beliefs. If you start there, it becomes much easier to understand why they might balk at changes from the norm.

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    I'm curious about an aspect of acceleration. Neither of my children skipped a grade; my HG didn't actually read until mid-first grade, though he was subject accelerated to 4th grade math with a small cohort of classmates. The benefit of his situation was that the math teacher supported the kids in the reading aspect of the class, as they ranged from basic to chapter book readers. Starting in third grade, their math class was a separate, replacement class every day. One thing all the gifted teachers have said is that gifted children learn very differently from NTs, and they can teach more advanced material, more quickly, and more deeply/expanded. If a child is accelerated to the next grade or two up, but the classmates are neuro typical (or not, as the class can include a wide range of abilities) and the pace and depth are as dictated by the curriculum, is the child accommodated?

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    MVMom Offline OP
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    Thank you so much for sharing your very thought-provoking stories and for opening your hearts up on this forum.

    I wasn't allowed to skip 5th grade when I was identified as a candidate for acceleration because that would have put me in the same grade as my older sibling. They were only going to let me skip if she skipped too, but she didn't want to because she actually had friends. I remember always wanting to move at a faster pace. By senior year of high school, I was pretty much done--I barely attended school. My principal would have failed me, but I had one of the highest SAT scores in the school and pretty good grades despite not being physically in class, so I was allowed to graduate even though I only consistently participated in one of my classes throughout the year. Looking back, I was lucky they didn't put my parents in jail for my truancy (!).

    I went on to college and double-majored and graduated (when I was still 20) in 3 years, and ended up with a PhD (but took a long-ish time to finish at an Ivy). I know people who are very successful and extremely intelligent who didn't accelerate, and so I know that it's possible. One of my best childhood friends (from 5th grade--so lucky I didn't skip for this reason) is most likely PG--she is astoundingly smart and accomplished (speaks 5 languages, M.D./Ph.D, dermatology, medical school faculty and researcher), and she was one of the oldest in our grade (much taller, born in Jan, shortly after the cut off). She was my only real best friend in elementary school.

    Thank you so much for the reference to "What Kids Don't Learn"--this is so important to consider.

    I don't think DC's school offers single subject acceleration, but this sounds like the ideal arrangement. I'll have to push for this and see what happens year to year. Thank you all for taking the time to help me think this through!

    Looking back, I do feel I made a mistake in putting DC in a preschool environment that was inappropriate for more than half of his lifetime. I was advised that things would get better, but this turned out not to be true. His self-esteem took a beating. By the third year, the other kids got the idea that he was a pariah (in part due to his record of acting out). Sadly, even when he was acting appropriately, they would point and whisper, or actively "tell on" him. Being around kids DC couldn't have a real conversation with for more than half his life and being consistently on the margins still affects him. One major lesson I've gained is to listen to my child's cues over the recommendations of educators who feel they have seen everything and know what's best.

    Thank you all for being a constructive sounding board.




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    Originally Posted by MVMom
    Looking back, I do feel I made a mistake in putting DC in a preschool environment that was inappropriate for more than half of his lifetime. I was advised that things would get better, but this turned out not to be true. His self-esteem took a beating. By the third year, the other kids got the idea that he was a pariah (in part due to his record of acting out). Sadly, even when he was acting appropriately, they would point and whisper, or actively "tell on" him. Being around kids DC couldn't have a real conversation with for more than half his life and being consistently on the margins still affects him. One major lesson I've gained is to listen to my child's cues over the recommendations of educators who feel they have seen everything and know what's best.


    Don't beat yourself up too much about the past. We make decisions based on the best information available to us at the time. The key is working to change things once you realize and accept that the current situation is no longer a good fit. Even if you find something that is a good fit, our kids change so quickly that it may only be a good fit for a year or two.

    Also, my totally unscientific observation on the acceleration issue, people often have strong feelings based on their personal experiences as a child. If someone had a good experience with acceleration or was not allowed to accelerate but wanted/needed to, they tend to be stronger advocates for acceleration with their own kids. If someone had a bad experience with acceleration or was content with their lack of acceleration, they tend to be in the "don't accelerate" camp.

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