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I was in school before our system had gifted classes. In the first grade, I was tested and was found to be reading at an eighth-grade level (I had begun reading before the age of 2 - good ol' Captain Kangaroo!) and in the foursth grade scored an IQ of 147. Being in a rural area, there weren't a lot of different options, but my teachers pushed me to go beyond, even though I stayed in my 'normal' grade-level classes. They had me do special projects and present them to the class, etc. They never made me feel different, but accepted and challenged. They did get tired of me asking 'Why?' at times and let me go to the library (pre-Internet) to do research.
As a child who was pushed through school a year ahead of my age group, I would never do that to a child of mine. Academically I always did very well, but there is more to life than that. My body developed more slowly than my peers. That was awkward when I got to junior high school. I was very young and immature when I left home to go to college. I am fine now, but it was hard from about age 10 until age 25. As a teacher I have observed that children with the early birthdays tend to be the leaders, while the later birthdays seem to struggle to acheive that role in a class, not matter how smart they are. Social skills are very important and I see no reason to push kids ahead. Let them enjoy being children.
I wholeheartedly agree! As a teacher of gifted students and one who advocates strongly for them- I continually run into roadblocks that are generally political in nature. I either receive no reply from administration (site and district) or am told "We can't do that! or "We've never done that." or "Gifted kids will do all right. It's the classic underachievers who deserve our $ and attention!". The cycle continues.....parents step in and advocate for their child(ren)........by bucking the system!
It's unfortunate that our educational system has remained relatively unchanged for the past 200+ years! We continue to teach to our past, rather than to our students'futures!
Just think- If Ben Franklin were to appear suddenly in pretty much any public school in anywhere USA, he would be perfectly at home. However, if he were to appear in, let's say, downtown Manhattan, it would blow him away! What's wrong with this picture!
As an adult who skipped second grade, I can say I wasn't irreparably harmed by the event.
The family story is that I had completed all the first grade work, and had begun so much of the second grade work, that it would have been boring to me. When we moved to a new school district after only 8 weeks in third grade, I had a difficult time adjusting, but by the end of the year was performing at or above grade level in all subjects.
Eighth grade was probably the most difficult time for me socially. "Fitting in" is a complex issue - I knew few at my intellectual level yet was probably a bit less mature socially. This made me more quiet, I think, and more observant. Again, by the time I started ninth grade, most of the differences had disappeared.
I am very glad my parents made the decision to follow my intellectual, rather than social needs. Being challenged in school, on both levels, has served me far more than staying with my same age peers.
Being that I believe the whole notion of 'grade level' is primarily for administrative convenience, i.e. it's easier for the adults to shuffle the sheeple around if there is some unifying property such as age, then it only makes sense to me that holding kids back purely for administrative convenience is also nonsense. Why let their brains atrophy at an inappropriate level just so it's easier for everyone else?
As a parent of a very gifted child, I feel that keeping her back for some nebulous 'social' reason (the one I hear most often is 'how do they socialise properly?') is utter hogwash. First of all, socialisation with age-peers is an artificial construct of modern public education, and has no bearing on Real Life whatsoever. Secondly, even though I have my children in public school, and indeed, both my wife and I work in the public education industry, I feel that it's high time schools realised they are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge. It's not their job anymore to dribble out information and knowledge in the pre-measured amounts that some bureaucrat has decided meet the 'average' student's needs. We need to be teaching children How To Learn and not continuing to hold them to antiquated educational models.
Finally, people who advocate for more 'enrichment' in the classroom for gifted children are, while well-intentioned, fooling themselves. With the constant cutbacks in education funding, gifted children are simply not important or visible enough for the limited funding to filter into programs for them. We all know they'll make it ok and the handicapped kids won't, so that's where the money goes.