At the end of third grade, our daughter's teacher approached us (and our school's principal) and suggested that with her test scores (high-school level) and level academic mastery, we should put her in a private school with a gifted and talented program (our public school system has, for I think good reasons, done away with that), or else have her skip a grade. She felt like our daughter's level was such that differentiation within the fourth-grade classroom wouldn't be sufficient.

We aren't really interested in private school, and were a little concerned about social issues, and eventually a deciding factor was that the ELA curriculum for fourth grade focuses on writing and composition — an area that's always been one of our daughter's rough spots. So, with the help of the principal and teachers, we came up with a plan where she divides her time between 4th grade (homeroom, ELA) and 5th (math).

This has worked reasonably well (she's continued to excel at math and has really caught up in the writing skills), but had some problems as well — the daily classroom switch was stressful, and since our state has mandatory testing, that was done at the 4th grade level for all subjects (she did just fine, but again, it was a stressor). So now, as this year comes to a close, we're evaluating what to do next year — whether to continue the split pattern, to move her entirely into 6th, or even to stay in 5th and work with the math teacher on more advanced / in-depth education this year. (The principal has indicated that all of these are options).

I've read What are the pros and cons of having an advanced student skip Kindergarten?, and found the answers helpful in general, but I think the situation at the start of the school system is different from that at later grades — see for example this answer.

I recognize (and again see the prior question) that social groupings might be a factor, but in our case, our daughter really only has a few close friends in her grade (and we'll continue to be friends with those families anyway), and already has friends in the higher grade as well (from the math class, and just from the neighborhood).

What are other factors we might consider, and particularly, ones that might be especially important at this grade level?

  • Welcome to Parenting.SE! – Acire May 17 '15 at 19:55
  • Thanks @Erica. I'm not actually completely new, but decided my children deserve the privacy of a more-anonymous account than my normal one for these kids of questions. :) – Public School Parent May 17 '15 at 20:55
  • I understand that motivation -- Welcome back, then ;) – Acire May 17 '15 at 20:56
  • For many advanced students, skipping 1 or even 2 years will not make a significant academic difference because the rate of progression in elementary school, especially in math, is very low. It is not impossible for a motivated child in elementary school to sustainably do 5 years of math in one year's free time with the help of online resources such as Khan Academy. My solution when I was in a similar situation was 2 years of homeschooling then skipping 2 years into highschool, where I did a BC Calculus AP class as a freshman. – bjb568 May 17 '15 at 21:23

A year and a half later, I want to report back: for our child and our school, this was absolutely the right move. We were already confident that academics would be no problem, and that was true. We were, however, worried about the social situation, and I'm very relieved to say that this turned out fine. Our daughter is far happier than she ever was, and in addition to the few friends she already had in the higher grade, she's making new ones — something she's always strugged with. In short, A++++, would do again.

I was an advanced student, particularly in math, and I ended up in 6th grade working on my own from a 7th grade text, pretty much teaching myself. Once I hit high school, it was very easy to take upper level math (though I ran through all the available math classes at my school by end of junior year). The point of my experience here is that there are ways to be stimulated mathematically (and probably a lot more ways now than there were when I was in school) without skipping grades.

The downside to skipping grades is what happens when you want to send your 17-year-old high school graduate off to college. I have a friend who went at 16, and she describes herself as being woefully immature as a freshman in classes with kids who were sometimes 4-5 years older than she was.

As a 4th grade teacher, I found youngest students in class often struggled socially. I had one parent who ended up moving her child to another school and making him repeat a grade (despite his good grades), because he just didn't fit in as well as he should. There is a big maturity shift that happens from 4-9th grade (each grade is more mature than the previous), which seems to even out a little through high school. As a parent, I watched another large shift in maturity in the last year of high school.

  • Thanks. It seems a long way off, but one thing we're already considering is encouraging a "gap year after high school but before college. – Public School Parent May 17 '15 at 20:54
  • I am a 16-year-old who went to college at 16 (last Fall). I did not feel "woefully immature," but I did feel younger. It's really not that bad. Many, if not most, people in my classes thought I was at least 18 until they found out (I don't think they observed that well...). From my experience, skipping grades really stimulated my academic learning, but my social learning is much lower (I was homeschooled as well). I had to learn a lot over these last two semesters in terms of social interaction, but I wasn't too bad because I was active in my church's youth. – Justin May 19 '15 at 3:30
  • On the other hand, I entered college last Fall halfway to a Math Major. Basically, I took a lot of math classes concurrently at another college and transferred them. Those couple years of math classes were what felt strange, because I was 14 with these 20+-year-olds. I had a lot of people asking me how old I was (which I considered an uncomfortable question). However, I really enjoyed it because it was mentally challenging and interesting. – Justin May 19 '15 at 3:33

I'm in the UK. Its a different system, but here is a cautionary tale:

Someone I know was moved up a year in Primary school, but when he reached the end of Primary the Secondary school refused to accept him. He was forced to say goodbye to his classmates and redo the whole last year of Primary school.

Make sure this isn't going to happen to your child.

  • Thanks. I don't think this will happen in the US in general, and in specific, we plan on staying in the same city school system, which has a unified governance and policies, so something like that would be rather shocking. – Public School Parent Dec 23 '16 at 16:51

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