Skipping a grade has become a very controversial subject for gifted students. The public schools advocate that all children are taught at grade level and that alternative approaches to enriching the gifted student are preferable to advancing them to the next grade. Generally, it is preferable to provide new learning opportunities for your child at the appropriate level of developmental readiness. By providing your child enrichment opportunities, your child will learn more about the subject and gain a deeper understanding while the lesson is designed with age appropriate content. It is much more demanding to promote learning at a higher grade level where more life and learning experiences are expected.
The first step is to have your child qualified for the Academically Gifted Program (AGP) by completing an approved test of intelligence. Once qualified, your child will be homogenously grouped in a specialized gifted class. This means your child will be grouped with children of the same, or as close to the same ability levels as your child. Instruction will be delivered at a faster pace, and more enrichment activities will be provided to broaden the scope of the learning.
Often parents ask, “Why do are the public schools generally opposed to skipping a grade?” The answer is that on rare occasions a child may skip a grade, but only after all other accommodations have been made. Historically, when skipping a grade occurred in the past, these children often struggled socially and their school experience was made much more difficult by the stigma of being different.
Now the current approach is to provide gifted children an identity within a group of accelerated learners where they do belong. This approach protects the child’s self-esteem by allowing for success academically as well as socially. Gifted students learn to embrace their new identity as an AGP (Advanced Gifted Placement) student in addition to accepting more responsibility. The transition is made easier for them by the acceptance of children like them who are accustomed to learning like them and by a program designed for them. In conclusion, it is evident that the benefits of accelerated learning greatly outweigh the benefits of grade skipping.
For more information on this subject and on parenting Gifted children check out Barron’s Key’s to Parenting the Gifted Child, 2nd edition by Sylvia B. Rimm, Ph.D. Dr. Rimm explores a range of issues that parents would like advice on. Her topics cover the full scope of academic ages from preschool to college preparation.