The Pros and Cons of Skipping a Grade
By Dr. Kenneth Shore
The decision whether a child should bypass one year of public school is not an easy one. The school and the parents, who make this decision jointly, must weigh the risks of skipping versus not skipping. A very bright child who is being taught material that she has already mastered may become turned off to school and start to underachieve. Even if she does the work, it may be done in a perfunctory manner, with little learning taking place.
Yet skipping a child also has risks. A child who breezed through work previously may suddenly be faced with academic pressures for which she is unprepared. In addition, a child who is moved ahead may be able to keep pace in the classroom yet feel out of place with her new classmates.
If your child is performing above grade level in all academic areas, she is not necessarily a candidate for skipping. If you suspect that your child is not being sufficiently challenged, contact the teacher to see what changes can be made in the classroom. You might also talk with the principal to find out what programs are available outside the classroom, including gifted and talented program.
After reviewing these school alternatives, you may still believe that your child should be considered for skipping. If so, it is important to compare her to children in the next grade on a range of variables, including the following:
- Learning Aptitude: Your assessment of your child’s reasoning skills should draw from the teacher’s observations as well as testing results.
- Academic Skills: To evaluate these skills, review your child’s report cards, work samples, and standardized test results.
- Work Habits: Does your child work well independently? Can she concentrate for a sustained period? Can she prepare for tests effectively? Does she do homework consistently?
- Ability to Tolerate Academic Pressure: How will she cope with an increased workload? Will it upset her to no longer be the star of the class? How will she respond if she struggles in some subjects?
- Enjoyment of Learning: Does she enjoy learning new things? Will she pursue topics of interest on her own?
- Social Maturity: Does she relate well to other children? Is she confident in social situations?
- Height: A child who is short, especially a boy, may have difficulty if skipped because the size difference will be even greater in the next grade.
Also give weight to your child’s views. If she is anxious at the prospect of skipping, she may not feel ready and may not be ready. If your child remains motivated in her present grade, is uncomplaining about the work, is comfortable with her classmates and is uninterested in advancing a grade, think twice about having her skip a grade.