I have two kids and both are profoundly gifted. And it’s frightening.
They are two years apart and one is a boy and one is a girl. We decided to accelerate one and not the other.
Why, you might ask?
My daughter is our first born. She talked early, knew sounds and numbers early, and read early. Once in school she seemed to learn at lightning speed. I wasn’t sure what to do with her.
We had already decided to homeschool.
I had been a public school teacher and I knew this little person wasn’t going to fit in a regular classroom. She was going to make waves. She was going to push boundaries. She was going to cause trouble.
Charter school was the answer!
We opted for a hybrid charter school that incorporated homeschool and in school activities. Our daughter did very well, but I was lost as her educator. You would think that as a teacher of almost 20 years that I would have education down, but my daughter was throwing me for a loop!
My daughter’s birthday is late November. We were advised NOT to start her early, under any circumstance. I succumbed to peer pressure and chose not to start her. By winter is was obvious that we had made a mistake. Our charter school let us start her in March and by the end of the school year she was at the top of her class academically.
When she started first grade, she no longer fit in first grade. I started teaching her second grade curriculum. By second grade she was fully in third grade and by Spring I knew I needed answers and numbers. I needed to understand what was happening and I knew that IQ numbers were required for any program we might want to enroll her in.
Once IQ testing was done and meetings with the psychologist were had we understood one thing for sure: our daughter was not being challenged in any subject. The psychologist recommended acceleration. What? My baby girl. No way!
But what was best?
We set up a meeting with our charter and came armed with all our information and official tests. It was clear we had done our work and that we were considering her social growth and we hit no barriers. The school agreed, our daughter would skip third grade and start fourth in the fall.
Misgivings and Second Thoughts
I was worried about gaps and information not known, but none of that was an issue. Where she had missed something, she learned it quickly. Her emotional intelligence is high and she acclimated quickly with her new peers. We still homeschooled her, but she participated in musical theater, ASB, and various camps and field trips.
Our daughter is now twelve and a freshman in high school. Academically she is solid, the top of her class. Emotionally she is a teen, so she feels all the feels and has her ups and down. Socially she is learning to find the “right” friends who build her up. We are also teaching her how to cultivate friendships.
So far, I have NEVER regretted advancing our girl. She has done well. Will we have challenges in the future, of course. She will graduate at sixteen. She wants to go to a far away college. Each year is a new adventure, that is what I always say!
But what about child #2?
Our son, however, is a different kid. He is funny, quick witted, loving, kind, intelligent, and so sweet. I always believed he was our “more average” kid. He had trouble learning some of his sounds, reading wasn’t as quick for him, and learning baby-signs and speaking early weren’t really his thing.
However, when he was in second grade my husband wanted him tested as well. We went to the same psychologist and his testing process was very different. She had to try different tactics with him and she wondered if he was perhaps ADHD.
He’s also profoundly gifted!
Despite his trouble with testing, he also testing in the profoundly gifted range. She mentioned, however, that his writing seemed to be subpar and really didn’t go much more into that. (Check out my post on dysgraphia.) She didn’t recommend acceleration for him, but told me that he longed to go to public school where he could play with other kids.
People who need people…
My son needs people. He wants friends to play with. When I would take my kids to the park my daughter could care less if there were kids to play with, but my son considered it a bust if no kids were around. He was an extrovert who needed people.
Push into what he needs.
So, rather than accelerate my son, we chose to push into the activities and fun classes offered at our school. We enrolled him in PE, music, art, STEM classes, etc. We set up playdates, and made sure we went on the family field trips offered by the school.
ALWAYS advance academically!
All the while, I was able to advance him mathematically and in his reading. He was excelling within the confines of his grade-level.
Why did we choose what we chose?
Our daughter had the social and emotional intelligence to advance. She wanted it. She LONGED for it! She so dearly wanted to be challenged and taken seriously. She wanted peers who understood her. We are still on the road to finding the “right” people for her, but if asked, she’ll tell you: no regrets. It was worth it.
Our son needed peer relationships and social and emotionally he wasn’t as advanced. He is sensitive and wouldn’t do well with the teasing and possible bullying he would get with older kids. With that said, we did not hold him back academically. We continued to allow him to advance in his curriculum.
Questions to consider when considering grade acceleration:
- Is your child needing academic challenge in all or most areas?
- Does your child desire the skip? (If not, I wouldn’t do it.)
- Is your child drawn to children who are older?
- Do you have test scores or a history of grades that support this?
- Do you have the support of your school?
If so, then this could be a great fit.
On the flip side:
- Is your child emotionally young?
- Can you accommodate your child through subject acceleration?
- Does your child want to move to a higher grade?
If so, perhaps think twice.
There are so many options out there. First off, take a breath! You love your kids. I love my kids. We want what’s best for them.