Skip Me!

One of the many benefits of home schooling, is escaping the “grade” restrictions of learning. We no longer feel the need to keep our children strapped into a boxed learning set. She may technically be in sixth grade, but her curriculum might be all over the place!

On the flip-side, what if your child is advanced in every area? What if your fifth grade student is doing all areas of study at a seventh grade level?  What should we do then? This is where the great debate lies… to skip or not to skip.

A friend of mine has a daughter who fits this category. She is very intelligent and learns things quickly. While she might be in fifth grade, she is doing work well beyond her grade. Her parents have decided that perhaps skipping a grade or two might be beneficial.

Other students in our PSP have also experienced this dilemma, but have chosen to go a different route. Their children remained in the “appropriate” grade, but then graduated a year early.

While each family must make the best decision for themselves, I personally am more inclined towards the second method of approach. Both will yield the same end result, but the second gives me more freedom and flexibility.

Perhaps my children are doing exceptionally well right now. The work given them might be above their “grade level”, but they are handling it just fine. However, what happens if my child hits a plateau? Just because they are advancing well now, doesn’t mean that will continue to remain true.

If I advance my daughter a grade now, she might do fine for a year or so. On the other hand, what are my options should she struggle in ninth or tenth grade? Do I then take her back a grade? Do I keep her at the higher level, but give her easier classes?

If I take her back, it will look bad on her transcripts and could damage her future. If I keep her at the same grade but make her work easier, it will reflect poorly as well.

Keeping her at her intended grade level, gives me the freedom to advance her in work without the worry of maintaining that status. She can continue to be challenged, but still have room to breathe.

Should my daughter exceed all our expectations and push through her years of learning at an awesome rate (which we have known several of our friends’ kids to do), our best option will be to simply graduate her early.

Instead of graduating high school at seventeen, sixteen will be the big year. She will be free to start her journey to higher learning or whichever path the Lord has called her to.

I do not believe there is a “right” or “wrong” answer to the question of skipping. Each family must prayerfully make this decision for themselves. This is simply the direction our family has chosen to take.

I am excited to see how my friends’ daughter does. It will be a great learning experience for all of us. I look forward to watching her progress and hearing her opinions on the matter.

For all you veteran mommies out there… What advice would you give on choosing to skip an advanced student?

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24 thoughts on “Skip Me!

  1. What we’ve decided and told our children is that their “grade” is simply the number of years they have been in school. One of our daughters is well above her “grade level” as far as what would normally be considered seventh grade work but she still says she is in the seventh grade. One of our other children has really struggled with math and is working through the same math book as her younger brother but I tell her it’s ok! She’s not in a competition or race with anyone. What’s important is that she does her best and is progressing at HER own speed. I am able to count high school credits already with our oldest daughter but we have told her that whether she is finished with her high school credits or not she will be expected to continue her education until she is 18, through college classes, trade school, apprenticeship, volunteer work or any number of avenues! (and longer of course, if she desires it).

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  2. All four of my children were highly advanced, but none left “high school” before they were 17. As I spoke with college advisers, other parents,and friends of my children, I found that 16 year-olds can often handle more advanced course work, but were not prepared for the social scene involved at a university level (even at a religious school). We chose instead to encourage them to try a variety of eclectic subjects while in their teens. They had the opportunity to study American Government in depth and get involved in political issues and campaigns. They studied art, multiple musical instruments, writing, sewing and other home arts, cooking and food science,and took advanced classes in math and science at the high school “just for fun.” They also were able to work a part-time job, and earn money for and beyond. I would do it again in a heartbeat! They are either graduated from college with honors, or are currently on the dean’s list. One is in the Air Force with a 4.0 in his current course work. Three are married; two have children. The real proof of success for me is that my daughters (who are now raising exceptional and gifted children) are planning on taking the same route. They loved it! Good luck in your search!

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    • That’s a good perspective to be coming from.

      I believe most of the kids we know, graduated early in order to get into college courses. It seems colleges are more likely to pass over high school kids wanting courses, in favor of the college kids who need them. Graduating them early eliminated this problem.

      I agree with you though; even though academically they might be ready for higher learning, that doesn’t mean they are socially advanced enough.

      It certainly seems to have worked for your family! What an inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Grade levels are a fairly recent development. While my kids were all in grade levels with A-Beka Academy, I started them each out at a different age. One was ready for formal study at age four, while another one wasn’t ready until age six – 7. (My son, for instance, needed to hop around the room while reciting his times tables) I am not sure a child can actually skip an entire grade level.

    Depending on the individual child – advancing should be done at their own pace, but only when you are absolutely certain they have truly mastered the subject. Skipping an entire grade level is risky. One of mine scored post high school levels at the age of nine on the annual MEAP Test. Should we have skipped High School? No! I am convinced that the National achievement tests have been so dumbed-down, her score would not have been that remarkable 100 years ago. Do you see what I am saying? It also depends on what materials you are using. For example, the sample “Life Pacs,” from Alpha Omega we tried out one year, were far behind where my kids were in A Beka, and were supposed to be the same grade level.

    One of mine worked ahead, and finished accredited high-school, complete with authorized diploma – at age 15. She did not “skip” any grades – but instead did ALL the required work for every grade level at a faster pace. But, that is the nature of her personality. I did force all of them to learn things they did not really do well at or enjoy. They were required to maintain at least a B average in ALL subjects. (A Beka grades all exams and issues reports for 7-12 grades) Sometimes there was resentment from the more artistic child – who could not justify in her mind, the need for Algebra, Geometry, and Chemistry. But, they were required subjects for A Beka Highschool. No Chemistry? No diploma!

    The most beautiful roses have thorns. A superior education is not all sunshine and light. Sometimes it is scientific notations, and memorizing Latin root words.

    http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/

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    • You have a good point! It really does depend on how you are looking at their achievement. State tests won’t give you an accurate view and your curriculum might be giving you false hopes as well.

      I believe we ought to challenge our children to reach outside their comfort zone and learn things. My children have required reading assignments, they will take certain levels of arithmetic, and (yes) Latin is on the menu. My logic behind such action, is that our children have yet to learn where the Lord is leading. It is my job to ensure they are fully prepared for whatever He calls them to do. It isn’t about what they want (although the Lord sometimes takes that into consideration) and especially not what I want; it is all about God. Are my children really equipped no matter the call? I’d like to hope so.

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      • Indeed – Moses and Gideon are classic examples for us on reaching “outside our comfort zone.”

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  4. I’m not sure how I feel about ”grade levels”. I think that, for us, it holds more social weight than anything. It’s one of the first things people ask kids when they meet them…and I find it amusing to listen to my children answer considering we are all not really sure what grade level they are studying in each subject. I have tried to find a ”grade level” but each state, and each county for that matter, has a different idea of what’s appropriate for what grade (and I know most states have adopted a common core standard but that’s a whole different can of worms right there). So, after a lot of error on my part trying to not only figure out what works for them, and for me, but trying to figure out the sweet spot, we finally found something in each subject that was challenging and we started there….and as long as we are making forward progress then I think we are doing fine. It’s a bit harder because of the traveling and the touristy stuff that we do but I think it really balances out in the end. They are learning academically, socially, and functionally….so I am satisfied (for now) with that. However…the key is maintaining the challenge without moving too far too fast. And since we haven’t hit high school yet (where the grade level subjects really start to happen) I’m not sure how we would handle skipping grades….I really think that as long as there is forward measurable progress then the grade really doesn’t hold much weight for me.

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    • As another reader mentioned, here in most of the US, our grades are determined by the age of the child. So, if you are six you are in first grade and so forth.
      The difficulty lies in determining if your child is really needing that first grade work or if another level would be more appropriate.
      It really ought to work more along the lines of classical education. You started at level A; once you got that down, you went to level B. It had nothing to do with age, but capability. Theoretically you could have an eighteen year old in the same class as a ten year old; it all depended on your dedication and determination to achieve. That is how learning ought to work.

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  5. Really great post and comments. I was one of those kids who graduated early (leaving high school at 16.) I agree with many of the other comments, Even though I was able to graduate early I really was not ready for the social pressures of college courses but I did love the classes and I did survive. Was it really worth it for me to graduate early? I can’t really say, Instead of finishing college I choose to work full time and then to get married and be a stay at home mom (best career choice for me I’m certain.)
    But, you all have brought a lot of insight to the exact subject I have been wondering about. Should my son though he is in kindergarten by age be limited to kindergarten? He can easily do 1st-2nd grade work. I think for now the idea I like best is letting him stay in “Kindergarten” and just tailor the work to his needs/skill level whether more advanced or not. We can always change our approach later. But, I think at this point I would advocate him not graduating early.For as another poster said, there is a lot that can still be learned even once required course work has been completed.

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  6. I grew up homeschooled, and I skipped two grades. The problem I ran into was always in social settings – where I wanted to hang out with people of my grade, not my age (they weren’t always accepting of someone younger). I liked knowing I had skipped two grades, because I underwent major testing to do so. I never fell behind in my work, either. I think I’m going to skip a grade with my son, because all of his work is 1.5 – 3 grades ahead of where he technically is.

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  7. We live overseas and my daughter is advanced, so I’m also struggling with this issue . . . how far ahead do I want to let her get? Next year she should be starting first grade but she’s already ready for second grade math & reading/language arts. The problem is like others have mentioned – the social setting. When we go back to America there is a possibility that we will put her in traditional school and since she is a December baby, she will already be the youngest in her class. If she were to skip a grade, then she would be almost 2 yrs younger than many of her peers so I’m not sure that’s a good idea – the difference between a 6 yr old and an 8 yr old is rather significant. Maybe it’s better to keep her in the lower grade and let her be at the top of her class? My mom didn’t tell me at the time, but when I switched from private school to public school in fifth grade, the public school wanted to put me up a grade because I was advanced but my mom declined. She thought it was better that I stay in my grade and perform well and be a leader/helper/example for others than be the youngest in a class of older kids and possibly struggle to get A’s. I don’t know how it would have turned out had she let me skip a grade, but I’m happy with how it all worked out 🙂 I also agree with others that there’s not just one pat answer – each child needs to be considered individually with all the factors taken into account.

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  8. Hi! Having raised six to adulthood via homeschooling, I agree with most of these comments. I had students who were advanced of what is commonly expected of their ages, and we always struggled to know what to do with them!
    I never considered allowing a child to skip the materials in any grade bracket, not because it was a good learning level, but because the scope and sequence of any curriculum, if properly weighted and balanced, will give the child a complete and full learning experience.
    Instead, if we found a child dying of boredom with the ease of the math drill, we would challenge him with doing only half the exercises, perfectly. (This had to be every other one, not just the first half!) If, after scoring, we found the work done perfectly, we allowed skipping the rest of the examples. This taught, by reward, the importance of excellence, and also gave relief from doing too much that was too easy. It also assured we skipped NO essentials.
    We also challenged them to finish quickly, if it was so easy. The reward for finishing all but one assignment before noon, was to be allowed to do the afternoon assignment wherever the student pleased, instead of seated at a proper place of study. Many a math lesson was finished in the top of an old oak tree, and several reading lessons happened in the porch swing — student’s choice!
    In the high school years, we allowed college-level extra credit courses at our local community college night courses, worked out that dad could accompany for free since the child often was only 14 or 15. Twice they studied American History that way, and once it was American Sign Language, as the foreign language requirement.
    The only child we allowed to finish early (the oldest) graduated at 16. He spent the next two years in mission work, waiting to be “old enough” to begin college. We were not totally happy with this choice. It is amazing the lack of Christian commitment in some mission camps. We were constantly surprised at some of the things this child was exposed to. He survived, but not because of this choice, but in spite of it, and thanks be to God.
    Although I’m all finished with homeschooling, I still enjoy occasionally visiting this gentle, helpful site!

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  9. As a student in homeschool in my particular situation, students never ‘skip’ but they also never ‘fail’ either (but that’s all English schools in general). All students move on each year regardless of their grades. But now that I’ve been homeschooled for the last two years I am still technically where I ‘should be’ for being 14, although I am studying about two years above that. Schools can end at 16 in England (or in my case, English homeschool now living in America). I will go until I’m 18 because that’s what’s been decided. That’s all very personal I feel though. As you know Hadleigh home schools me and he has one more than one occasion changed the curriculum because I was or was not responding in a way which he felt was healthy for progress. In those circumstances he has adjusted my lessons to either review something we’ve learned (to find out if I’m ready to move on) or introduce new things and he always gives me exams on things from the previous term to ensure that I hadn’t learned certain things really well in order to get a pass mark and then forget it the following term. If I have been able to retain the information and pass another exam (and only because I’ve asked permission to move ahead more quickly) then he will sometimes, but rarely, shave off parts of his original lesson plan and put me on a fast track. But he would never let me skip an entire year.

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  10. Excellent, insightful article that speaks to what I believe is one of the greatest strengths of homeschooling. We have the freedom to adjust lessons according to the student’s strengths and individual learning style. I struggled with math as a student, and I was often pushed into the next concept once I hit the level of “good enough.” That doesn’t really cut it in math. I most definitely would not have become an engineer at 19 (or 29, or even now at 37!), but I do wish I’d had the freedom to slow down until I had mastered the concepts.

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