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Gifted, but Doesn't Want to Skip a Grade
Q: My son skipped kindergarten and now that he's in second grade, the school tried to move him again, up to third grade. Then he missed his friends and started to make mistakes on purpose. We have moved him back to second grade, even though he's doing fourth-grade work. He doesn't appear to be bored because he is an excellent listener and picks up the smallest details. I hope we are making the right choice. We want him to be happy socially, too. His IQ score at age 5 was 144. He's extremely social and a happy little boy.
The school wants to work with us. What suggestions can you make about a bright boy who can achieve more but is staying where he is because he is comfortable? I'm afraid that in being comfortable he will later become bored.
A: I'm assuming that your son is enrolled in a regular classroom and is not receiving additional gifted services other than grade skipping for acceleration.
A little guy like him should be able to spend class time with age mates for his social development. Gifted children often have what is known as "asynchronous development." They may be very advanced in one area -- like academics -- but socially be just seven years old. He certainly figured out quickly how to get back to second grade!
Your son will get too comfortable eventually if he is not sufficiently challenged. He should be encouraged to work at his level, no matter what grade he's in -- but that will take some adaptation in his curriculum. There are many publications geared towards teachers with kids of varying abilities in one class. I would recommend the book Teaching Young Gifted Children in the Regular Classroom by J. Smutney et. al., to his teachers for some practical suggestions. Also, offer to help in some way with time or materials to make their job easier. Locate challenging extracurriculars that would be fun for him -- museum classes, a chess or Scrabble club, etc. Your son may be ready to skip ahead at a later date if he stays in the "learning habit" now. Good luck.
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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.