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Acceleration decisions - anyone have hindsight experience?


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My oldest son is 5. He started Pre-K this year, and they found that he was too bored and was causing problems, so they accelerated him to Kindergarten and 1st grade for math. He enjoys being around the older kids and has been great in school behaviorally since they moved him. The 2nd grade teacher thinks that he does not need 1st grade at all based on what she has seen from him. I don't know if I should let him accelerate again or not. I might let him, but then hold him back as he gets older and just let him do the work of the higher level classes so there aren't the social issues later or the boredom issues now.

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L entered K a year early and accelerated to 3rd grade for reading and worked with a 6th grade student on math games a couple of times a week. The following year, the school proposed a 2/3 split (for a 5 yr old), and the K teacher, privately, suggested homeschooling, saying that she felt that it wouldn’t be enough of an acceleration academically, but would be just too demanding to ask of any 5 yr old as far as sitting still and writing. We homeschooled, and L applied to start taking college classes at age 11, and started just after age 12. We did mostly college classes for high school, and accelerated another year and graduated at 16, and L now attends a liberal arts college, and is working on a dual Bachelor’s/Master’s degree. Since L picked a private school, most credits didn’t transfer, but L got placement out of many of the lower division requirements, and has a lot of flexibility in how to tick boxes for the degrees, so it has the same net effect. 
 

i definitely don’t regret it, but I think it would have been harder to manage inside the school setting. We essentially ended up with about a 5 year acceleration at the peak, but then sat there for a few years, which has made full time, residential college a good social fit. A lot of that depends on what your child wants. 
 

i will also say that about age 11/12, finding an academic, classroom fit became essential for emotional health, but by about age 13/14, having a good social fit became essential. i think it would have been really hard to have that in a completely traditional school setting. We’d managed that pretty well, until COVID hit, and really didn’t regain it until this year (where a small college with aggressive policies has allowed the campus to mostly have normal classes and activities).


 

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My son skipped fifth grade and entered a b&m school as a sixth grader.  It wasn't enough, so he skipped seventh and did eighth grade at the same school the next year.  He was three years accelerated in math (if you assume that Algebra 1 happens in eighth grade).  

At the end of that second year, we decided to go back to homeschooling.  He did high school work at home for two years.  Then he decided to attend the public high school when he was 14, so he entered with age peers as a ninth grader.  

There is no way he would have been mature enough to attend college at 16.  I am very glad we undid the skips. 

Acceleration is way more complicated than some gifted advocacy groups would lead you to believe, and school is about way more than academics.  The social piece is huge.  And for some kids the executive function issues can be overwhelming.

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Having a 5 year old (fall birthday son) myself who I homeschool and who blows through the concepts in his reading (first grade?) and math curriculum (K). My hesitancy in sending him to 2nd grade would be the amount of writing that is required. I just don't see my son being able to stay still enough to do the amount of problems and writing necessary to do 2nd grade work. I looked at a first grade curriculum in Jan because he was finishing up his Kindergarten work, the middle of first grade has like 20 problems/day of practice problems after the lesson vs. kindergarten of 4. 

Between skipping first or not skipping first and those were my only options, I would keep my child in first as long as he is happy and behaving.    

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My second grader is highly gifted and autistic.  In my mind she goes to school for the social component, and any learning that happens there is a bonus.  We enrich at home to make up for the lack of academic challenge at school.  We do French, read classic novels aloud, watch Great Courses…. It works for now. I don’t make her repeat any of her academic subjects she does at school, I just add new fun things.  I would not accelerate at school because it just doesn’t work socially in my experience.  I don’t know what I’d do if at-school behavior was an issue.  

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If he is content where he is now, I'd lean more towards keeping him with his current peer group another year. You can always bump him up again later if you run into issues. Higher grades require more than just higher ability.

Hand stamina for more extensive writing, and social skills are two things my older son would have struggled with as a 5 year old among kids 2-3 years older. Currently, he is in 5th on paper, doing grammar and sciences 1-2 years ahead, and Algebra 1. He might be mentally ready for college at 15, but will very unlikely be emotionally ready because of his personality. 

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When is his birthday?

I would not accelerate and then hold him back.  If you don't think he's likely to be ready for accelerated classes at some point in the future, I wouldn't accelerate him.  Instead I'd look into the options at school as he gets older.  Our system has gifted programs, a STEM program that starts in lower elementary, allows 8th graders to take lots of high school courses if they are able, offers lots of good options in high school, and pays for college courses as early as 7th grade for those who want and can handle it.  Besides academic classes, your bright child could be challenged with music, foreign languages, sports, clubs, volunteer opportunities, and so many other things.

As for hindsight, I have 2 girls whose birthdays are in October & January who started KG at 4yo.  They are now finishing 10th grade.  They are fine socially and academically.  My intention was that school be relatively more challenging than boring, and that has worked out.

There are some situations where being older in their grade would be an advantage.  For example, my youngest just recently decided she cares about her grades and qualifying for a better college.  It would have been nice if she'd had that realization in 9th rather than 10th grade.  Overall, given the same amount of motivation, an extra year to learn before college may have been nice.  However, IME, too-easy coursework tends to be demotivating, so the net result probably wouldn't be so great.

Another thing is that high school teens accept less and less direction from their parents.  I feel that filling up the transcript (and resume) earlier rather than later can protect against the fallout from potential bad decisions, bad relationships, etc.  Hard to imagine when your child is 5, but I know parents who are really not sure whether their teens will finish high school.

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I'm not an expert in this.  I have kids 10, 8, 7, and 5.  I've found with homeschooling, it is easier to "accelerate" them and still meet their needs because the social component is not a worry, and of course, you can adjust as need be (say, with writing).  I know if I returned them to a brick and mortar school, they'd be ahead of their peers.  But I wouldn't necessarily want them with older kids, at least not the ones around here, lol.  I think you could do a lot of enrichment at home.  My daughter has sampled and likes Beast Academy for math, for example.  If your child needs to be in a physical school, could that be an option?  

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On 4/28/2022 at 12:42 PM, SKL said:

When is his birthday?

I would not accelerate and then hold him back.  If you don't think he's likely to be ready for accelerated classes at some point in the future, I wouldn't accelerate him.  Instead I'd look into the options at school as he gets older.  Our system has gifted programs, a STEM program that starts in lower elementary, allows 8th graders to take lots of high school courses if they are able, offers lots of good options in high school, and pays for college courses as early as 7th grade for those who want and can handle it. 

That sounds dreamy. Our system will only pay for juniors and seniors to take college courses *and* will only accept college credits towards graduation that they pay for.  I’d love to know which system yours is if you don’t mind sharing. 

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