Skip Me!

Skip_MeOne 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. A student may technically be in sixth grade, but their 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.

Or course, one could always choose not to allow the student to skip at all. Instead of advancing to college early, they would be permitted to use their time to pursue creative endeavors or seek employment for a time.

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.) What are my options should they struggle in ninth or tenth grade?

Do I then take them back a grade? Do I keep them at the higher level, but give them easier classes? If I take them back, it will look bad on their transcripts and could damage their future. If I keep them at the same grade but make the work easier, it will reflect poorly as well.

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

Should they exceed all our expectations and push through their years of learning at an accelerated rate (which we have known several of our friends’ kids to do), we can then choose to either graduate them early or allow them to use their time pursuing other options.

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. Through Biblical wisdom and the leading of the Holy Spirit, may we each make the best decisions for our family.

🔔Time to Chime In: What advice would you give on choosing to skip an advanced student?

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31 thoughts on “Skip Me!

  1. I see no need to skip grades in homeschooling unless you plan on placing the student in a school.
    I noticed that when I was school aged, adults would ask my grade instead of my age to find out how old I was.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree that keeping them at the intended grade level is best. The flexibility it affords is perfect, but more importantly, it keeps them connected with kids at the same level of emotional development.

    While kids do mature at different rates, I have seen far too many parents skip their kids ahead (because academically they could handle it) but the kids are not at the same level of maturity as their peers. They struggle. I prefer to allow the kids to emotionally be kids as long as they can. The pressure to ‘grow up’ is real, even for homeschooled kids. Why make it worse by placing them in social groups above their maturity level?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Within the realm of homeschooling, I wonder how many parents are worried about the social aspect. Just because they are in a different grade level, doesn’t necessarily mean their choice of friends will change.

      The only issue I could foresee would be in graduating them early. THEN their social environment might be above their level. Perhaps the other issue could be with group involvement, such as co-op activities? I could see that might be a problem as well.

      Here’s a side question for everyone… do all kids develop at the same emotional rate? Does anyone have kids emotionally mature for their age? Do we want our kids to only connect with those of the same emotional development, or perhaps learn from those more advanced?

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s just an observation, but I think in Western Society the language about kids and their emotional and relational development, needs to be adjusted. From my own experience, as a child, I had to fake it, then learn how to function and process problems like an adult from the age of 12 onwards.

        Kids aren’t growing up faster; a lot of them are being forced to fake growing up faster. There are a lot of areas that hold some responsibility for this, primarily the entertainment industry, but also society which tends to teach appearance over substance; seeming to be doing (or coping) over actually doing (or coping).

        I think kids, generally develop at the same emotional rate. I also think it’s good for them to be guided by a loving parent or guardian into recognising what they are ready for and what they’re not.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You bring up a good point. How many of us faked maturity, pretending to be more grown up than we were?

        Perhaps if we allow our children to enjoy their youth while they can, they will not feel the need to ACT like children when they reach adulthood; taking advantage of lost time with newfound freedom.

        Good point!

        Liked by 1 person

      • In our co-op we see a big difference in emotional maturity when kids are moved up. In groups like this, I see these young ones valiantly trying to keep up and be cool and it saddens me. For sports, co-ops, and church groups I think we do our kids a disservice by moving them up. Most of the time they simply aren’t ready emotionally. Most of the time. There are rare exceptions, of course. The problem is that all parents think their kid is the exception.😉

        In the day to day interactions with other families though, grade levels and even age doesn’t seem to matter much. We have always encouraged our kids to interact with a wide range of friends.

        Interesting discussions here. This can be a touchy subject in the homeschool world! Brave you!

        Liked by 2 people

      • 🙂 It CAN be a touchy subject!

        While we encourage our kids to engage with a wide range of friends, we too prefer our children remain young at heart for as long as possible. They have the rest of their lives to act like adults, why push it?

        Like

  3. I totally understand. I started schooling a little earlier mainly because my eldest was around her older home schooled cousins and just picked stuff up. We did K at 4. So she has always been ‘ahead’. The other kids in our village (I home school with my sisters) are the same. We don’t focus on the grade level too much. We simply move at the pace the kids are working at. This has proved beneficial as it allows them to actually LEARN the content they are studying. This method though has resulted in the older kids (and I am projecting my daughters) to actually finish school earlier. My nieces have taken advantage of this extra space–in fact they plan for it. My niece who is entering 12th grade for example has technically finished ‘high school’. During her 12th grade she will take college courses (three I believe), finalize college applications, go on mission trips and also work an internship.

    My stance, go along at a pace that works for the child and see what opportunities exist for them because of that!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Grade levels are very restrictive to the home school. Children need to work at a good pace, yet at the same time a little nudge here and there can help them do work that might surprise both of you.

    Emotional levels have nothing to do with home school. In the terrible Catholic school I attended, I was turned into the school librarian at the age of eleven, due to scoring very high on achievement tests. That’s how I spent 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. The nuns didn’t know what to do with me, since I was still such a child emotionally and physically.

    Thank God for home schooling, which allows even super smart kids to work at advanced levels, while still being just kids. No stashing away in a moldy library, or placed with much older kids in an inappropriate social setting. If children are capable, on no account should higher maths and such be held back from them. Otherwise the poor things will stagnate, and possibly come to loathe their home school environment.

    One of my friends had a son who was prodigious in math. He was allowed to accelerate and is now a mathematical engineer with IBM – and he’s only 19. But he is very happy now. He did not do “well” in reading and history, but most people do well in only one or two areas. That is a fact of life. It is the progressive, socialist mentality, that causes us to think that our kids need to be “well rounded.” Hence, the talented clarinet player is forced to participate in competitive team sports. Yet – the star foot ball player is not forced to excel at the clarinet, or even learn to play an instrument.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It was John Dewey who developed the Progressive education system that is now entrenched in government and most home school curricula. Before Dewey – there wasn’t even such a thing as high school. Students who excelled academically, (and they were REALLY smart) went on to university, while average students (which is most people, thankfully) would enter some kind of trade school or direct apprenticeship.

        IMO – high school is a complete waste of time, and does nothing to mature kids into responsible adults. Rather – it extends an already too long adolescence, that often continues well into college and even past the age of 30.

        It really is a tragedy. So many in college don’t belong there, but are made to feel inferior if they don’t have a “degree.”

        Interesting, that around here we a have local chain of grocery stores that always draws management from the employees within the store, rather than a college grad. They find those that “grow up,” in the store have a more vested interest in seeing it succeed, and the owners see the individual’s proven over time work ethic as their credentials. If only more businesses operated this way – we might be able to eliminate the “normalizing” travesty of high school.

        Great post Christina – excellent launching point for conversation!

        Liked by 1 person

      • My sister-in-law teaches college and has mentioned something along the same lines, “…many in college don’t belong there, but are made to feel inferior if they don’t have a ‘degree.'”

        How many students would benefit MORE from taking a few years off from formal education, seeing where their interest/abilities lie, THEN pursuing a career in a given field. Or, as was done historically, choosing to apprentice under a master who could teach them a trade.

        Perhaps if our goal was to simply train up good people, the way we educated our children would be entirely different.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. As hinted at by onetuffmama’s comment, people (can I say the system?) who don’t know the student tend to measure their age by their intellectual/academic ability/level, not their spiritual, or psychological (emotional) maturity.

    Eg.: Children who have worked as entertainers.

    However, all kids are unique. So, when it comes down to advancing an advanced child I think it’s a case by case scenario. I also think it’s an area to take caution in. Pray, consider the options, wait and only commit to it with the full agreement of the student.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One of the reasons we chose to homeschool was because my son was ready to read when his friends were just learning their letters in preschool. He hasn’t skipped a grade, but he is ahead because we let him go at his own pace. He started Kindergarten last February and finished by August. Instead of waiting around or giving him free time for several months we moved onto first grade. He’ll be finishing up first grade in August and starting second. He’s an entire year ahead, but without skipping. I feel like it typically evens out in junior high when things start getting a little tougher. I don’t really agree with keeping kids “at their grade level” according to their age because all kids learn at different paces. Even public school kids have G/T and Pre-AP and AP classes. Keeping a kid at grade level instead of letting them advance at their own pace can cause frustration and boredom with school. It’s easy for homeschool kids to get ahead because it doesn’t take nearly as long to get through school as it does for a teacher working with 25 students.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think any of us would argue against allowing our children to do more advanced WORK. The question is whether we give them the work, but keep them in the same GRADE, or go ahead and change grade levels along with textbooks.

      I would be interested in knowing your thoughts on this. Your son certainly seems to be ready for more advanced work. Do you plan to give him more challenging texts, but keep him at the same grade level, or switch over both grade and work?

      Like

      • On paper for all official purposes my son will be in 1st grade for the 15-16 school year. He will actually be moving on to 2nd grade work. We are completing each grade level and all the work with it, but he’s completing it quicker and were moving on to the next grade which puts him ahead. I guess I don’t really see the need to keep him in the same grade but give him advanced work. Honestly I don’t see the difference because in my experience advanced 1st grade stuff is what is planned for 2nd grade. Why call it advanced 1st grade when it’s basically 2nd grade? I see where this is necessary in more strict states, but Arkansas is very relaxed on what I have to report. Once he starts doing 9th grade work I’ll report that as his official grade level no matter what age he is. The official record may show that he skipped a grade even though in reality he didn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I guess the short answer is that his official grade he’s starting this fall is 1st grade. However when people ask, we at he’s staying 2nd. At church and in sports he stays with the 1st graders to stay with his age. Now that I’ve read back over your post I think we’re saying the same thing differently.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank-you for this input and advice 🙂 I truly appreciate it.

    In my case, when I started homeschooling officially my oldest was in need of being held back to re-learn the basics (due to Autism regressions) and my youngest was just starting out. That means they both ended up in the same “grade”(Kindergarten). They have done a LOT this year though and have advanced in some areas. I got told my youngest sounds like he just graduated 1st grade actually.

    My oldest though still has many areas he struggles with and a few that he’s pretty advanced in. He doesn’t seem to be on “grade level” with anything though. Always above or below. Does the same advice apply to that kind of situation? Just keep him moving forward “grade wise” as long as he is doing ok or hold him back again until he can do ALL the work of the grade he was supposed to have just completed?

    Liked by 1 person

    • A good question, my friend. I wish I had an easy answer to give you.

      To my way of thinking, I would keep him at the grade level he is ‘supposed’ to be in. He might even out in the new few years. If not, I still don’t know if that is something to really worry over.

      Standards are guidelines, they aren’t rules written in stone. Just because a board of people, who have never met your child, says this is where we are setting the bar, does not mean your son is forced to achieve it before moving forward. If this were the case, half of our public schooled high school students would not be where they are today, nor would they be graduating!

      Instead, focus on where he is today. Keep him at the grade level you feel comfortable with, and spend time working on areas you know need improvement.

      Would anyone else care to chime in on this question?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll chime in! 😃. We held my son back in the second grade to relearn the basics. He was later diagnosed with a learning disability. He is almost 17 now, and we have always had him do work at whatever level he could do. For language, it was always much lower than his ‘grade level’, though in the last couple of years he has made huge jumps in ability. I guess his brain just wasn’t ready before to make the connections.

        I’m glad we held him that one year only because he needed a bit more maturity to handle the difficulties of his learning disability. We never thought to continue holding him back though, because for group activities, sports, church groups etc. it was his emotional age that mattered, not his academic ability.

        Every child is different, and this seems to be an emotionally charged topic for parents more than the kiddos. Do what is right for you and your son and remember, God’s got it covered. In 10 years will it really matter what grade level we put our kids at? Grace and peace to you– ☺️

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I am not sure yet how all of this will play out with our homeschool. But I do know some of the local homeschoolers have used the opportunity for once high school work is done and transcripts complete they do classes that prepare them to CLEP out of college/university classes and also some local college classes so that when they do turn 18 and go off to college they have some of that under their belt. I know one family that seriously shaved almost two years off of their daughters college requirements for her degree. Not only allowing her to get her degree faster but also saving them those two years of tuition and other college expenses.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I simply focus on learning forward from where the child is, regardless if they are ahead (or behind). We give an assigned grade level to the state for testing purposes, but as far as any assigned work, I have never gone by grade level but simply by learning levels. Out of the six kids, I have had 2 highly advanced, 2 slower learners, and 2 average ones… it all balances out by graduation.
    great topic. =)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. If I wasn’t home schooling I think I would be trying to figure out if I should put my daughter in kindergarten early. I LOVE that we can think outside the grade level box and start some subjects now (kinder math) and wait on others (kinder phonics). It seems like sooooo much easier to go this route!

    Liked by 1 person

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