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Skipping A Grade

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter is now 6 and attends a private school in Washington, DC. When she was 5, she attended Kindergarten for half a day before she was tested and promoted to 1st grade. She is now excelling in 2nd grade and is ahead of most of her classmates. The Principal, the teacher and I have tried everything to keep her attention in 2nd grade to no avail. In 1st grade she tested in the 99th percentile across the board with Terra Nova and PALS 100%.

I am at my wits end because I can't see a 2nd grader in 3rd grade halfway through the school year and cannot find a gifted and talented program where we live. I don't think that my daughter is a genius and I am worried about her emotional well-being. She gets bored, frustrated and says that she already knows the coursework. My daughter is almost through the Times-Tables and interested in division. Should I work on having her skipped again? Should I stop teaching her more advanced material although she wants to do it, or move to accommodate her need to learn at a more advanced rate?

A: At this stage, the issues to consider are really down the road for her. There have been several cases of children who were skipped one or more years ahead and are doing well as young teens now. What you may need to keep in mind is that your daughter will enter puberty later than her classmates, which while difficult for any child for that matter, can be overcome with supportive school staff and parents. Many factors have to be taken into consideration here, e.g., her maturity, social environment (able to socialize? many friends?), independence, physical appearance (look too young? skinny?), etc. These are not academic concerns but may affect her socio-emotional well-being.

If your daughter shows evidence of social maturity now, appears fairly even-tempered, and is able to mingle well with most age groups, it is recommended that she be allowed to skip grades. As a matter of fact, schools are usually opposed to grade-skipping. Therefore, you need to discuss this with her teachers and if they feel she should be skipping grades, it usually means that they recognize the special ability and uniqueness in her and are trying to offer her the best the school can offer. In fact, they may also be able to recommend other schools or programs that may suit her better, if they are not able to cater to her individual needs.

I personally do not think holding her back is a good idea. If she wants to work on more advanced material, it would be injustice to stop her from doing so. Home stimulation and support of interests are vital to the development of your daughter's abilities. If she is not given the appropriate challenges, she may burn-out. You really need to seek help from a education professional in your area to determine what would be best for her and the best thing to do is to accommodate to her needs to learn at a more advanced rate; at the same time supporting her emotional needs. This is going to be a tough journey for her carers, but the rewards of satisfaction seeing her through it is incredible. Good luck!


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