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Should Gifted Twin Skip Ahead?

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

Q: At our parent-teacher conference this evening, we were told that our kindergarten son, who is a twin, is reading at a fifth-grade level, is very bored in class, acts up, and is befriending the troublemakers. He has been going to a first-grade class for his reading and seems much happier there. Both classroom teachers feel he should be in first grade.

This would be an easy decision to make, except that his twin sister, who is very bright, but not enough to go ahead a grade, would be left behind. I fear this will be a big blow to my daughter's self-esteem, if not now, certainly when she gets a little older.

A: Like you, I have concerns about grade skipping one twin and not the other. All the twins I know -- fraternal and identical -- who were moved ahead or placed in gifted programs, stayed together in the same grade placement. I would like to hear from some other parents who may have faced this question. Based on recent research results, I do know that most siblings score within 5 to 10 IQ points of each other. It is more usual for the eldest male child to receive IQ testing.

Perhaps your daughter is also gifted, but has not yet shown her true learning ability. She is still quite young as a kindergartener. You may not know what her future potential will be, based on her current maturity level, personality, and whether she lives in the shadow of a brother with a demonstrative personality.

In my view, you have two options. First, have your daughter tested now to see if she has abilities on par with her twin brother and consider acceleration if warranted. Second, go ahead and grade-skip your son. This recognizes his individuality and doesn't hold him back. Let your daughter know that she and her brother will not always do things at the same time. Emphasize her current strengths to her. Consider having her tested in a year after she has more time to develop on her own -- she may be ready to move up with him by then.

More on: Expert Advice

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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