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Should My Son Skip a Grade?

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: My first-grade son's teacher would like us to consider moving him into second grade -- it's a combined first- and second-grade class in a private school. Academically, he is reading at a sixth-grade level, doing math at a third-grade level, and knows all the states, planets, etc. We have no problem considering the teacher's advice based on academics. But is there any way for us to know if he can handle it socially and emotionally? He is six and a half, and one of the youngest in his class already.

Is it better to skip a grade early in his education or wait until he's a little older? My husband is concerned that if he skips a grade now, in another year or two we'll be in the same position again and my son will still be several grades ahead of his peers.

A: You are fortunate to have a first-second grade combined class to consider as your son's next possible alternative. The issues to consider are really down the road for him. I personally know of several young boys who were skipped one or more years ahead and are doing well as young teens now. Keep in mind: Your son will enter puberty later than his classmates, which while difficult for any child, can be overcome with supportive school staff and parents. Are team sports in your family plans? It's hard to put a skinny eleven-year-old up against a muscular fourteen-year-old. Do the men in your families mature at a later or younger age physically?

These are not academic concerns - they're the concerns of young teen boys. If your son shows evidence of social maturity now, is fairly even-tempered, and is as bright as you describe, I would recommend following the school's plan. If the school gives him appropriate-level curriculum, it may not be necessary to grade-skip him again as your husband stated. And finally, I have found that school systems are usually opposed to grade-skipping. If they come forward and offer, it usually means they recognize the special uniqueness of a student and are trying to offer him their best.

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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.


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