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DD's fear of accelerating

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I ran into a surprising situation with younger DD yesterday. She's almost done with her K math. It's McRuffy, fwiw... started in early September, I think, and there's a lot of good stuff in there. It's given her a great foundation and is definitely not fluff.


Anyway, I mentioned it was time to order the next level up (1st grade). She got this panicked look on her face and said that she still wanted to a kindergartner.


So, I told her that she WAS still a K'er, that you're in a certain grade based on age and she would be in K until next August. This is 100% true for our family, because as long as we're hs'ing there will be no 'grade skipping' or early college, other than a class here and there. She'll start college with her age-mates. But, I digress...


Not moving up to gr. 1 math is truly no big deal to me. My personal tendency is to delay formal academics (unless one of my kiddos specifically requests something). I'm fine with going broader, doing our "fairy tale" math book ("Afterwards" by Peggy Kaye), Real World math, games, whatever ... or even switching to MEP for the spring.


But, I just found her anxiety a little surprising. Isn't moving on to bigger and better things a good thing? I want to understand this, because she is very, very smart. She'll probably always be above "grade level" in math and reading.


I wish I knew what was going on in her head. Anyone btdt? Ideas? Thoughts?

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I've seen this sort of anxiety in my DD as well. Not with math, but even though she was pretty much the last kid in her enrichment class to lose a tooth, she had quite a bit of anxiety over it, esp. when the second one came out. I think some of this has been exacerbated by having the baby on the way; growing up can be scary!


DD also dislikes it when I talk about what's coming next year. Arguments like, "You need to do more things like copywork to practice writing because in 3rd grade you'll have more writing to do" panic her a bit. I got a good deal on CW Aesop a while back and she sort of freaked when she saw me lookng it over.


I find focusing on the "now" and not giving her too much info (i.e. more than she wants) about things to come helps.

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It can also be helpful to casually introduce something new, without any fanfare, a few times before you do any actual work in that area. For instance, while working on a math lesson, I might mention a new concept and show a couple of quick examples. No pressure, just a gradual introduction that takes away the "newness" before you even get to that particular concept, so when you do, it's already familiar. :)

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Two thoughts:

1. She may be afraid that the 1st grade math will be harder for her, and she won't "be smart" any more. This was a difficult concept for me to overcome with my kids. I had to explain constantly that the work was supposed to be hard, and that if it was easy, it wasn't really worth their time, because they weren't learning anything. It has mostly sunk in by now, but we still need little pep talks now and then, along with supportive hugs :)

2. You could cut up the workbooks and give them to her as worksheets, or camouflage in some other way, so that she doesn't know when one level ends and the next begins, or even what grade level she is on.


Of course, item 1 is a better long term solution, but item 2 is a good short term one.


Hope that helps

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My daughter used to do the same thing when she was little, and she still does it now on a preteen level. It seems to be just anxiety about new things and attachment to old ones. (Once she wailed, "But I love my first-grade math book!" That was at the end of K.) She gets used to new things a little slowly.


So what I would do is have the new book and leave it out for a little while before you really start using it. Show it to her in a happy way without actually starting it yet. Pretty soon she'll probably be excited about her brand-new book.


The point above about being smart is an important one, I think. I try to remind my kids often that intelligence is mostly being willing to work hard and learn new things. A kid who thinks smart = effortless is a kid who will give up as soon as anything gets a little difficult.

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This may have zero relevance, but I'll throw it out there. When I was going to be starting 1st or 2nd grade (I don't remember now which one), I cried and cried. Finally, my mom figured out that I was upset because I knew that sometime during that year, I would encounter something that I didn't already know. It's funny, but after I met my husband, his mother told me that he did the exact same thing at around the same time.


With my accelerated learner, we are constantly battling perfectionism. It's OK to not know all the answers or not get them all correct. I am constantly pointing out my own mistakes and how to handle them. ("See, Mommy spills sometimes too!")


Just food for thought ...

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My dd did 2 grades of math as a kindergartener. We just did 2 lessons/day instead of 1. She didn't really think about it- just did it. But after that, she just did 1 grade/year. She is in 7th grade now.


We also have a friend whose gifted child did the EPGY course. We tried it for a little bit. With EPGY, you can finish a grade level in 6 weeks or so. It just moves you up once you know the material. So, she advanced into algebra, geometry, etc. in 3rd grade or 4th grade.


But then, the mom confessed to me that she wished she had done like us and not pushed her ahead so much. Her daughter didn't remember any of the basic math. Didn't know how many quarts are in a gallon.


Anyway, I think for young children they only see themselves in the present moment. It's hard for them to conceive that they will be smart enough to handle the next grade when it comes up. They just think that the next grade is going to be hard because they currently aren't ready for it. So, it produces anxiety for them. That's the way I see it.


Just take it one day at a time and when you finish one book, you just move into the next, which is never much more difficult than the one you just finished. No big jumps and don't talk about it too much. Just concentrate on what you are doing today and perhaps tomorrow. That's how the child thinks, so better to just keep things in that context.

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