Should My Child Move Up a Grade?

Question:

My daughter is in first grade. She complains daily about being bored. She is a great reader, spells way beyond first-grade level, and the same goes for math. She is a December baby and missed starting kindergarten by two days. I was OK with this at the time, thinking she would be more prepared for the challenge if she was older. Now I’m not sure that was a good call.

I have worked with her teacher and the principal to get her harder homework and more of a challenge on a daily basis. I do not think it is working. I have thought about moving her up a grade, but I’m not sure how that would be for her, being the youngest, and especially a few years from now. Any suggestions?

Answer:

Grade acceleration (skipping a grade) is as serious a concern for parents as grade retention (repeating a grade) but often doesn’t get as much attention. I am curious to know what is not working about the solution her teacher and principal proposed to address your concerns. If it is based only on the fact that your daughter is complaining about being bored, that probably isn’t sufficient to guide your decision. Children of all skill levels use the phrase “I’m bored” because they don’t know how else to explain what they are having difficulty with. Sometimes “bored” means they are having trouble with interpersonal skills, not academics.

You may want to consult with your principal and teacher about their acceleration policy. Find out how your daughter is performing academically across all subject areas. Some schools won’t consider acceleration if a child is not performing in the 95th percentile or greater in all areas. Ask if your school provides comprehensive psycho-educational testing. If not, you may want to seek out a licensed psychologist in your area who provides academic, psychological and developmental tests — to see how your daughter might cope with skipping and to see if it is even an appropriate option.

Once you have determined where your daughter is developmentally, socially and educationally, you will have more information to guide your decision. Knowing what types of enrichment programs your school offers can help guide you as well. Some programs allow children to stay in their grade, but your daughter may receive additional challenges with other classes or activities. As for your child’s specific needs, you can assess not only the acceleration issue but also what schools in your area best support her strengths.

Debra Collins is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has worked in both primary and middle schools as a school counselor. She gives workshops to teachers and students and offers parenting classes in the San Francisco area. To learn more, visit her .

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child’s condition.

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