Grade Skipping for the Gifted
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
I have a 5 year old son that was tested and determined to be
gifted 4 months ago. At the time (in Kindergarten) he was the
youngest and smallest child in he school since his birthday
falls on the cut off date for enrollment. Both his father and I
are short, so he will always be on the small side. I tell you
this because his teacher has requested that he skip first grade
and enter second. I trust his teacher and I am also a teacher
at the same school.
My son attended 2nd grade reading classes while
in Kindergarten and did very well, but I am against his
skipping a grade ... mainly because of his size. I can't help
but wonder if I am making the wrong decision, especially since
he says he hates school. He tells me that they keep making him
learn the things he already knows. I worry about all the other
"social skills" he may miss. Am I wrong in thinking
"mom knows best"? Perhaps this time, I don't know
what is best form my son. Please help! Thanks.
There are many reasons for unhappiness in school. For example,
gifted children are often inappropriately placed in educational
programs where they are under-challenged and frustrated. In
your case, your son has clearly expressed his feelings. From
your letter, I feel that you may be most concerned about his
physical state rather than his social skills, perhaps due to
some past experience.
You need to ask yourself a few questions here.
Have you spoken to your son about this? What
are his feelings? The biggest mistake would be to force him
to do something he may not desire, be it grade skipping or
staying on. I understand that he is rather young but it is
important to respect what he thinks and lay out the pros and
cons of grade skipping and staying in the same grade.
Is he really much less physically matured
than his classmates? People come in different shapes and
sizes. Some children grow much faster than others. He may
well be an average sized kid, or there may be others smaller
than him. In fact, if he appears to have good social skills,
then his physical development may not be an issue at all.
Some children are just better able to mingle and adapt to
the school environment. You must consider these factors and
not allow just one aspect to influence your decision. More
importantly, for all you know his size may not be an issue
to him at all but by "reminding" him often (by
making it seem such a big issue), it may be one soon.
How different is the curriculum for grade
skipping? Is it much better and more suitable for your son?
You may want to consider a school for the gifted where
enrichment is done in stages and grade skipping may not be
Is he socially very adaptable? Does he have
problems making friends is his current class? Do consider if
his social skills may improve or deteriorate through
grade-skipping. It may go both ways, so it would be helpful
if he is socially matured to skip grades.
Speak to his teachers to get a feel of what
they think. Teachers are in a good position to make
educationally sound decisions as they are directly involved
with the child at school, and perhaps understand the child's
school behavior better than parents may be able to.
Whatever decision you make, it is crucial that
you consider the above questions and more importantly, whatever
decision is made, you must be there for him to support and