Did you skip a grade in elementary school? Did it ruin/save your life?
March 19, 2018 10:57 AM   Subscribe

My friends have a six year old daughter, in kindergarten right now, whose teacher has recommended that she skip first grade and go directly to second. My friend has not made a decision yet, and she's looking for testimony from adults who skipped a grade as children. Was it a net positive or negative in your life? How did your parents explain it to you? More inside.

My friend says, "Basically I would love to hear the firsthand experiences of anyone who skipped a grade, including whether they feel as an adult that it was a good or bad decision, and any other context they can provide for how that decision was made, revealed, and supported." I think she's especially concerned about how this will affect her daughter socially and emotionally.
posted by missrachael to Education (57 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I skipped kindergarten. This probably did make life more difficult for me; I was the shortest and youngest girl in the school when I entered middle school; my friends were all older and so they entered puberty several years before me, which was really rough. I didn’t at the time see any of this as having to do with my age, I thought it was all me who had difficulty holding on to friends or whatnot. In retrospect I’m much more generous to myself!

On the other hand, I was challenged throughout school and excelled in college. I deferred grad school for a year and spent an awesome year abroad, finally catching me up with my peers. Perhaps I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t felt a year ahead...

All in all, for me it felt kind of like a wash. Social bad, academic good.

There was a recent thread here about skipping K that you might want to look for.
posted by wyzewoman at 11:11 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I skipped first grade in a similar situation. I would say that there was some personal pride in the feat at that time for me. This was detected by the teacher, presented to my parents. I remember taking a test by myself and not quite sure why. My parents and teacher talked to me about it and I remember wanting to do it. I prided myself on learning and being smart and this was proof.

But in general, I was probably not as mature as the rest of the kids in my grade. Looking back over 30 years after: I probably could have used the time to develop emotionally. While I didn't miss out on any friendship opportunities or anything like that, I feel like I could have been better equipped to handle growing up (teenage years, etc...). Nevertheless, I would have been bored out of my skull, would have probably acted out and would most likely have gotten into trouble more if I had stayed back.

The best thing for me was an accelerated learning program for elementary school kids that my district opened up in 3rd grade. I transferred into that after 2nd grade and it was probably the best thing my parents did for me. Maybe there's an opportunity for that in this situation.
posted by kookywon at 11:19 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I skipped first grade and went right to second grade! Well, I went to first grade for about 4 weeks and then they decided to move me up. I was at a really small private school, so I already knew some of the kids in the class ahead of me. I remember being nervous the first day but after that it was totally normal and not a thing at all. I suspect that the teacher who gave me up and the teacher who received me did some work around this transition that I wasn't aware of.

If I recall correctly, my parents just said I was going to move to Miss So-and-So's class because the class I was in was too easy and they wanted me to work hard. That seemed like a perfectly logical explanation to me based on the culture of the school, as well as the values and operating assumptions of my healthy, stable, 2-parent family (so no other big insecurities or drama happening at the same time).

I can honestly say that the only remote disadvantage -- if you consider these to be disadvantages -- is that as the years wore on, I was the last person to whatever ... turn 13, be allowed to date, get a driver's license, be old enough to drink, etc. But honestly, that never bothered me. I enjoyed the fact that I remained friends with some of the kids from my original class, and I generally didn't think anything about the whole situation much after those first few days, unless I was specifically being asked a question about "when you were in first grade".

I am female and an only child, and was always mature for my age, so I think that helped a bit. Not sure what the answer would be if you had a boy who was on the immature side socially but really advanced academically...
posted by mccxxiii at 11:22 AM on March 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I went straight to first grade, skipping kindergarten. I wish that I had not. Not for academic reasons but rather that I was always one of the smallest boys in the class, including my senior class in high school. I'm now 6'1"
posted by falsedmitri at 11:27 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was put into 1st grade at age 5 and was always a year (really more like a half-year) younger than my classmates. It made no difference whatsoever to me or my academic performance or social life. (I'm female and was always tall -- and independent! -- for my age.)
posted by mmw at 11:32 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I know there are some threads with similar questions because I've told this story before:

I skipped a grade (I moved states, the birthday cutoff was different, and I was academically way ahead). My husband stayed back a grade. Aside from hilariously divergent stories of puberty (me: literally the only uterus-haver in my class without a period story in 8th grade; him: first kid with fuzzy legs, goatee in 8th grade), we both had pretty similar childhood school experiences, and are successful by most people's standards.

I would encourage them to figure out if there is a way to test how she'd fit into the more-academically-intense environment. Maybe have her spend a day in the first grade classroom and see if she enjoys it? Early on, I remember going to the nurse's office semi-regularly with a headache or stomachache, and as an adult I recognize that I was getting pretty overwhelmed by the environment, although I had no difficulty with the actual classwork.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:38 AM on March 19, 2018

Skipped grade six. Fucked me right up. Due to weirdness in my school district I wound up going to a different school a year ahead of my original classmates and found myself completely socially isolated because most kids had formed their cliques. Got worse in high school and wasn't until I moved to a different town in grade ten that things improved for me.

Academics wise I think it was a huge waste. Turns out you missing a year of instruction left me with gaps in knowledge that my new cohort didn't have so I was a burden on the class in certain subjects. Also in my case grade six was the year that my school introduced the concept of homework in a gradual fashion, so I went from grade five and no homework to grade seven and what felt like an impossible amount of bullshit worksheets and such.

If I knew then what I know now (and if anyone had asked me which they didn't) I wouldn't do it.
posted by Sternmeyer at 11:43 AM on March 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

I skipped second grade. This was in the early '70s at a private school in Baltimore that in retrospect was probably too small to develop a gifted curriculum (and maybe that wasn't a "thing" yet?), so their solution was to skip grades. I was one of two students, both girls, who skipped second that year.

In the short term, the main issue I remember was that this school taught cursive in second grade, so I completely missed that and was hopelessly behind in having to print my writing assignments. I remember being scolded for that and wondering why on earth they thought it was my fault, when they should have thought of that. (Takeaway: Find out what lessons child might be missing from a practical perspective by skipping the grade: telling time, cursive, etc.)

As I got older, it was a bit of an issue in high school, where I was the last one of my friends to get a driver's license and in college, where I was the last one to legally drink. I turned 18 at the end of my freshman year in college and 21 a week before I graduated. Many years later those are funny anecdotes, but at the time I did feel different and in some cases (marginally) excluded. Another lasting impact is the realization that a precocious child can grow up to be an average adult, but I suppose that happens all the time whether the child skips a grade or not.

If it were one of my kids, rather than skipping a grade I would look for a school with differentiated instruction and a gifted/talent development curriculum.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:43 AM on March 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

I skipped third grade after skipping kindergarten (ie, I started first grade a year ahead of my peers). I was moved up because my teacher thought it would help me socially - I was bored and other kids resented me always being first in all the competitions (I grew up in the eighties we had lots of competitions which I don't think was that great).
I was glad to be moved up a grade and I loved the academic part of things. I was a bit of an outsider but I don't think staying back would have changed this - it had more to do with me hating sports and noisy activities. I still had friends and actually connected much better with older kids.
In high school, I spent a year abroad as an exchange student and effectively went back a grade - (the year abroad didn't count) - if I hadn't been ahead I would have probably tried to graduate in time but as such I felt no rush.
So all in all I'm glad I skipped.
posted by M. at 12:05 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I went straight from second grade to fourth grade (in the 80s), and it was really hard for me emotionally and socially. I think maybe I would have been kind of late-blooming anyway? Regardless, I had a very anxious and shy middle school and high school experience, partly because I was younger than all my classmates. I don't know what it would have been like to have *not* skipped third grade, but skipping was very hard. Obviously plenty of people who don't skip a grade have terrible middle school experiences, so there's no guarantee that anything would have gone significantly better if my parents had chosen differently.

I feel like it could have gone way better if I had had some coaching or therapy to fill in the gaps and help me work through some of the emotional/social stuff.
posted by mskyle at 12:05 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Both my brother and I went from kindergarten into second grade, and it was absolutely essential for me (him, too, I suspect, but I don't honestly know) We lived in a very rural area without a lot of resources at the schools, so there wouldn't have been really any options for getting extra lessons within the same-grade classroom. It really did make the teachers lives much easier to get me into a class with other students who were reading chapter books and doing math.
I was definitely younger than the other kids, and didn't have a great time socially, but that was at least as much a feature of the community as of the classroom; if I was already getting ostracized for doing too well on tests, probably would have gotten on even worse with kids my own age in the grade behind me. It was hard in weird ways; I don't remember specific things as being related to my age as opposed to my personality, but I know from my mom's stories that she worried they'd done wrong by me when things were pretty awful in 5-8th grade. I wouldn't change it, though.
As SweetieDarling says, it was a bit awkward to be late hitting the cultural milestones: finishing high school 2 months before I turned 16, so not driving, and finishing college 2 months before I turned 21, so not drinking. But my friend groups were chosen by their nerdiness, and ended up being not car-owning or hard-drinking anyway, so I didn't feel that I stood out. (i.e. what's the difference between not having a drivers license and my friend's mother works late shift so they can never borrow her car). And I went to a small liberal-arts academic-focused college, in part because my school history wouldn't sound out of place there. So for your friend and their kid, I'd say think about what the family's cultural expectations are - does high school mean driving? does college mean university and keg parties? Or is that not a big deal in your region/family/social/incomebracket?
posted by aimedwander at 12:06 PM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I had the opportunity to skip first grade and my parents said no. We all agree now that it was a mistake. I always loved learning, but hated school because it was so boring. I lost interest early and I regret the opportunities I missed out on because of my apathy. I was in the last class before they cut the gifted and talented program - by fifth grade, G&T was held in the freaking boiler room and we had go through the janitor's closet to get there. The G&T teacher was amazing and did her best to advocate for me and give me more advanced work than the other kids, but half an hour three times a week wasn't enough.
posted by Ruki at 12:10 PM on March 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I skipped second grade, but transferred from a public to a private school for the third-grade, so socially the transition was fine. I never really felt that I was less mature or less socially adept then the other kids. In high school, I probably had "first" adult experiences at a younger age than most, but I don't feel I was too young for those experience or too immature for them. Also, I'm an Army brat so changing schools every year, or every other year became normal for me, as fitting into a new cohort is something Army brats do all the time. However, if your kid is going to grow up and go to school in the same school system for his whole life, that might make a big difference.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 12:12 PM on March 19, 2018

Like Ruki, I'm in the position of actually knowing that they brought up the idea of skipping to my parents before first grade, and my parents decided that in particular because I was already on the young side for my grade, I should go ahead and do first grade. I have known people who've reported a lot of stuff about social issues related to skipping, but--well, socially? I had a super bad time of things anyway. I spent all of elementary school much beyond literally any kid in my class, and one day a week of "gifted" programming did not make the other four days less awful. Middle school got much better because we hit a point where they were able to do gifted/honors stuff on a more ongoing basis, but by then I was already really cemented as the weird kid.

I don't think either skipping or not actually causes social problems that weren't likely to be there anyway, when it's done fairly early. I transferred school systems in high school and didn't even realize for ages that one of my friends had been moved ahead a year until I think when we were turning 21 and I realized he was six months *younger* than me and not six months older as I'd always thought.
posted by Sequence at 12:16 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I skipped fourth grade, and on the whole I'm glad I did so. I got more challenging, less boring material sooner and was more engaged with school. I got to avoid a fourth grade teacher who was widely perceived as unpleasant. Socially it was a wash; I got on with my peers no better and no worse than before.

My parents didn't have to do much in the way of explaining. I understood what was up and most of the reasons behind it.
posted by sourcequench at 12:22 PM on March 19, 2018

I didn't skip a grade but I did move to a separate gifted school (which I assume is not an option here) and the thing that made the crucial difference is that the school, having a decent number of new students in every single grade, made a concerted cultural & structural effort to integrate new students socially at the beginning of the year. A school where teachers are able and willing to put that sort of attention in would be a much better environment for grade-skipping, and it's a factor I would consider.
posted by mosst at 12:38 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

My parents chose not to let me skip 2nd grade. I resented it at the time, but know as an adult that I would have been socially behind and would not have dealt well.

However, your friend should find out what the school’s plan is for her kid if they don’t move her up. My sad lil elementary school had me moving between grades. When I was in 2nd grade, I attended 3rd grade reading. I left my classroom at 2nd grade math time and went to 3rd grade reading. When I got back, it was 2nd grade reading time and I would “help teach” reading to my peers. Not only was this its own brand of social hell, but well into adulthood I struggle with 2nd grade concepts that I missed. I’m an over-educated successful person but I am very slow at Roman numerals and reading analog clocks.
posted by OrangeVelour at 12:38 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I'll add - the things where I needed to catch up academically, like topics that they'd covered in math and I didn't - that stuff was fairly easy to do at the elementary school level and I wouldn't be concerned about that in the least.
posted by mosst at 12:39 PM on March 19, 2018

I skipped kindergarten, and I don't regret it. I was less socially mature than my peers, but I probably would have been that way even if I wasn't the youngest in the class. I was still in the top 5% of every class I was in. I do regret not taking a fifth year of college. I was in a rush to get out and earn money, but wasn't thinking about having a year buffer because of my age.

All in all, I'm very neutral on skipping a grade. Either way, I feel it's more about the quality of upbringing and support around the child than it is about social adaptability or academic challenge. If the former is good, you don't have to worry about the latter two.
posted by LouMac at 12:44 PM on March 19, 2018

I skipped part of kindergarten and most of first grade -- they kinda dropped me into a first grade class in the last month or so of the school year, to "get me caught up on arithmetic" before sending me to Grade 2. In general, since this is the same grade/age bracket your friend is dealing with, I feel like I can attest that it's a good age for skipping. Socially things are still very fluid, and academically the kid will still have plenty of time to fill in any gaps.

For me, Grade 2 was at a different school entirely and with a whole other gifted-program component, and I would say that the gifted program had an ENORMOUS and complicated impact on me, while the grade skipping was so nominal I sometimes forget I did it.

TBH I was probably always a little immature compared to my peers but I don't think the year difference was totally to blame. I was just an eldest kid whose folks didn't really do much in the way of socialization, and just kind of a weird anxious dork to boot. I continue to be a weird anxious dork who's a little behind her peers emotionally, and like, I'm almost 40. So I don't think it's fair to blame the grade-skip.

Academics-wise I was young enough and far ahead enough that I don't think it made any impact; I was fully ready for Grade 2 when I got there and didn't really struggle.

My parents sort of gave me a choice about it, but since I wasn't especially attached to anything ABOUT the school experience yet I didn't really care one way or another and it seemed important to them, so I went with it. They just explained it as, "well you took this test, and you did really well; so they think you're ready for second grade next year, what do you think? You'd read [second grade books] and do math like [blah] and go to [other elementary.]"
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:45 PM on March 19, 2018

Our elementary school recommended my parents let me skip from the end of first grade to starting third grade the next year; my parents refused. I was bored out of my mind especially in reading and writing, so my teachers decided to put me a year ahead just in those. They put me in what were called TAG (Talented And Gifted) courses for the rest. It made me so much happier. I had double the friends! Reading and writing were finally a challenge! The only drawback was that second grade was when we were taught cursive, and since I skipped it for writing, I never really learned cursive. To this day I write in print rather than cursive.

Our school recommended my parents put me a full year ahead again at the end of fifth grade; parents refused again. (My parents didn't actually care; that's another story.) I ended up just taking higher-level courses and testing ahead anyway. Finished required high school courses a year ahead of time; they let me do all AP stuff my last year. Which got me a full two years' worth of university credit, woohoo. Now THAT made everything worth it. I was able to do what I wanted in university.

Everyone and every community is different. Our elementary school was very good about integrating kids. Furthermore, those of us in TAG courses were also tutors for kids who had more difficulties, and that was foundational for me. I never took my smarts for granted. Socially I've always walked to my own drummer, as have all my friends.
posted by fraula at 12:47 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I skipped first grade in parochial school. I went to summer school between kindergarten and 2nd grades to make sure this was the right thing, and I excelled and had fun, so thought it would be great; I was a bit sorry to leave behind the kids I knew, but I'd make new friends, right?

HAHAHAHAHAHA NOPE. I was seen as "the new kid" in my new class, and ostracized. This lasted the rest of my tenure at that school. Three years later, I was still socially adrift and one of the picked-on/bullied kids as one of the youngest in the class. There was another girl in my class as young as I was, but because she had come in at the kindergarten level with the others, she was part of the in-group, so she picked on me too. It especially didn't help that there were kids in my class who'd been left back, and then left back *again*, so my second grade class had kids ages 6-9.

Academically I remained at the top of the class, but my parents eventually switched us out of that school because the school wanted to hold my brother back - he was also at the top of his class academically, and okay socially, but he was one of the youngest kids in his class. When we switched, my brother went up as expected into 1st grade, and I was given the choice to pick 4th grade or 5th grade. I went with 4th grade because the teacher was so compelling to me, and it was the best decision I ever made. I still didn't make real friends at school until high school, but that teacher ran a summer camp through our local Y, and I found true friends there I'm still in touch with to this day. They got me through the social nightmare of middle school, when I had zero in-school friends at all.

I would keep an eagle eye on social consequences, based on my experience. Major caveat here: my schools were both small enough that each only had *one* class at each grade level, so at a larger school with multiple classes per grade or separate "tracks," this might give you more options.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 12:56 PM on March 19, 2018

My parents chose not to let me skip 2nd grade. I resented it at the time, but know as an adult that I would have been socially behind and would not have dealt well.

This is me, only with first grade. I was small and shy and they didn't think that skipping me ahead would work so I did this weird thing where I went to 2nd grade for math and reading and stayed with my class for other things. Which wasn't great as far as things went because it was fracturing and because then I was seen as the "smart kid" in 1st grade and people would be like "How are you smart when you are SO WEIRD?" which... fair question.

I continue to be a weird anxious dork who's a little behind her peers emotionally, and like, I'm almost 40.

Truth. Almost 50. Having supportive parents (or not) was what made all the difference for me.
posted by jessamyn at 12:56 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was a military kid as well as an only child and pretty introverted, so depending on the kid this might not hold for them. I started school in England, from there we moved to Florida. The difference in education was a real whiplash. I could already do multiplication and division and the kids in Florida were literally learning their numbers. They moved me up a grade and educationally I did really well. To be honest I was still covering things I already knew. I absolutely succeeded. Socially and developmentally, I really stalled. Kids are generally not kind? I was small and insecure and at best the kids ignored me and more likely there was a lot of insults and teasing. I never felt like I could tell my parents or I'd be letting them down. I had zero friends, although in England I had plenty so I was definitely capable. Even if someone wanted to be my friend no one wanted the heat of hanging out with the baby. Luckily we moved again and the school I went to insisted I be with my own age group. I readjusted nicely and honestly if anything because I repeated the information so much I had an even better base of knowledge to jump off from.
posted by Bistyfrass at 12:57 PM on March 19, 2018

I guess I didn't totally answer the question. My teacher asked initially if I thought I should move up a grade, I said yes because I wasn't learning anything. She then contacted my parents and they asked me again, I said yes. It's not really their fault. I didn't totally understand what I was agreeing to. I just figured I'd be learning more. I was way too young to understand the social side. From my parents point of view, it seemed like I was directing my own education and since my personality was that of a tiny serious responsible old lady they had no reason to not respect my choice? They agree now it probably wasn't the best for me. They said if they could do it again, they would have spent more time enriching my education at home and encouraging me to throw myself into my own interests.
posted by Bistyfrass at 1:06 PM on March 19, 2018

I remember taking an IQ test in first grade which was used to place me in the gifted program. I was also asked if I wanted to skip second grade. I declined, though I don’t remember now my feelings about it or why I declined.

In retrospect I’m glad I did. I know now that I’m not a very socially astute person, I believe it was good for me to have the extra year with kids my age to absorb norms of social interaction. I also am glad that I got to go through school feeling generally academically confident. Not arrogant, but capable. I think thats a key reson I have been willing to take some risks that paid off in my career.

I guess what I would say is that unless being in her current class is a problem— she’s bored out on her mind, or really intellectually frustrated 6-7 hours a day — skipping a grade has more potential to introduce issues where there currently may not be any than to actually improve things for her. It’s easier to enrich her academic life outside of class than it is to give her social or intellectual confidence outside of it.
posted by mrmurbles at 1:23 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I started kindergarten a year early, turning 5 in Nov after I already started after school. I didn't know this until I was an adult (my opinion wasn't asked when I was a kid), but my elementary school principal subsequently pushed every year for me to skip another grade, and my mom fought tooth and nail for me to stay in my current grade. I made a number of close friends in first grade, and my mom's reasoning was that academic boredom could be handled through enrichment activities (both in-class and in the out-of-class gifted program) and at home, but rebooting my school social circle would be a lot harder. I'm incredibly grateful to her for this -- I'm still best friends 25 years later with those guys I met in first grade, and school still worked out great.

If I hadn't had those close friends and I had skipped a second grade, I think I still would have turned out fine. Probably would have been a bit annoyed with my parents eventually when I had to deal with things like not having a drivers license my senior year of high school, or potentially starting grad school while still not old enough to drink legally.
posted by bassooner at 1:24 PM on March 19, 2018

Skipping a grade is a bad idea. It’s good being the smartest kid in the class. It builds self-esteem and it encourages the kid to think of education as something they are good at and enjoy.
posted by w0mbat at 1:33 PM on March 19, 2018

I ended up two years ahead. Socially I was, I think, always going to be a bit of a mess (and I was transferring schools at the time of one of the jumps, so extra disruption); adding (more) boredom to it would not have helped. Sorry, but I laugh at the idea that you can "enrich" away at home seven hours a day of sitting in a class being bored and frustrated. You end up learning bad study habits, because when would you have to apply yourself in a disciplined way? You end up thinking that your classmates and even your teachers are stupid. Altogether, not good. I fell prey to too much of that way of thinking even once put ahead again, as the school was still not very good; I shudder to think what would have happened otherwise.

Despite what I've just said, though, I think this is very kid-dependent. If the kid hates school because they're bored all the time, it's a more compelling argument than if the teacher just thinks she's bright enough to do it. I feel like even through high school, kids are so all over the map in terms of emotional and social development that it's hard to imagine that being one year younger will mark them as irremediably "immature." And fetishizing "fitting in" when Mefi is rife with tales of kids who were bullied for being different anyway seems a little silly. However, some kids may be unusually quiet or shy and might find it too much of a challenge. Additionally, first grade is (or usually is) so qualitatively different from kindergarten that missing some of the changes in social expectations might be especially challenging. Your friend's kid doesn't have to do it right now, you know--I think it's pretty easily done at least through sixth grade. If she's uncertain, why not see how she feels once she's in the more formal structure of first grade?
posted by praemunire at 1:36 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

potentially starting grad school while still not old enough to drink legally.

posted by praemunire at 1:37 PM on March 19, 2018 [9 favorites]

As someone whose dad decided against letting me skip a grade at my doctor's advice, I think he made the right decision. I ended up being among the oldest in the grade and was more mature than most. I think this helped me academically, but of course there are so many variables. I took school seriously and rarely had any conduct issues, and elected to take the honors and AP courses instead of taking the easy way out.

Socially, I think it may have been more of a burden than a blessing. I was always a bookish/more mature square and was far from the class socialite. But looking back as an adult, I don't really care and have become as social as anyone else.
posted by hexaflexagon at 1:59 PM on March 19, 2018

One other point of data: I skipped a grade in parochial school, but the public school refused to recognize it, so I then had to (from my perspective) repeat an elementary school grade and it was miserable. So be aware of the transferability of that skip.
posted by corb at 2:15 PM on March 19, 2018

My parents were offered a skip for me, from second to third. They said no – I was already shy and the youngest in my grade due to a late birthday. When I found out about the offer in high school I was angry they didn't accept. On reflection I don't know if it would have made a difference. I was bored stiff anyway in every standard class I had. I don't think a year up on busywork would have helped.

My district ran K-6, 7-8, 9-12. One day a week in elementary, I went to gifted class at another school. My teachers there were caring and supportive, our projects were independently tailored and self-driven — I loved that and wished it could be every day. I hated regular school but excelled academically there. In sixth grade I tested into a district-wide advanced math class that started at the crack of dawn. That put me a year ahead of the highest level generally offered to my grade, so in seventh I took math with eighth graders. In eighth grade I got special permission to take four morning classes at my future high school. That meant my school day lasted from 7:40AM to 3:45PM, plus another 45 minutes each way for the bus. The start times for my district were staggered, so I spent my last middle school period shelving books as a librarian's helper since I had already maxed out classes and admin didn't know what to do with me. (My librarian was a real gem, but it still felt like punishment. I resented having to extend my day. I wanted quality, not quantity. All of middle school was a black hole and I remember it as the loneliest time in my life. There was only one other kid who did the split schedule with me, we didn't like each other, and I really wish I had just skipped from 7th to 9th. However those "extra" classes meant I got to take 4 more AP courses later and finish with a super high GPA.)

Socially, I usually had one "best friend" and got invites to things, mostly cuz my mom was friends with all the other moms and made me do sports and music. I wasn't outcast or teased, but I had a rep as the "nice smart quiet kid" and never felt like I fit in. I made a couple friends in regular school and a couple friends in gifted class, but I was too young to pal around with the older kids in my advanced high school courses.

Being the last to age up didn't bother me until undergrad when I couldn't get into bars with my much-older friends. I never had an interest in drinking, it was the social exclusion.
posted by fritillary at 2:20 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I could have changed to an enrichment program for second or third grade (so not skipping but a new school w greater academic challenges) but my parents said no, concerned it would be too much pressure.. I found school boring and deliberately underperformed to avoid looking like a nerd. I wish I had skipped the grade.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:22 PM on March 19, 2018

I was always the youngest in my year (birthday in December) and then I skipped 8th grade. I was going to have to split time between the middle school and the high school and, even being in gifted classes, I was getting bored and getting into shenanigans, so my mother moved me to a private high school, told them I hadn't gone to 8th, and they let me take the entrance exam. We moved a lot when I was small, so being the new kid wasn't a thing for me, but my high school also had a handful of kids who had gone to school together and then some public school movers, so it wasn't really a thing anyways, maybe.

I think it was the right thing for me. I was a bit immature, but I think that's just me. The bad things that I could have gotten myself into being bored and not a fan of authority would have been worse than being sociallly awkward. I graduated from college before I could drink, but my school was mostly house parties and then I had a fake ID, so it didn't really matter.
posted by dame at 2:32 PM on March 19, 2018

I attended 1st grade for a few weeks, then split time between 1st and 2nd for a month or so, then moved to 2nd grade. I don't place a value judgment on whether it was right or wrong, it was neither, or maybe both. But, today at age 51, these two things are true:

1. I always feel like the youngest person in any friend group.
2. For the time I was splitting time between two grades, I rejoined the 1st grade at lunch. They were tarring the roof of the cafeteria that fall. To this day, the smell of roof tar elicits a sense of relief, happiness, and well-being.
posted by donnagirl at 2:33 PM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

My parents decided not to skip me a grade, some time after grade 3/4. (FWIW I recall them consulting me, so it was kinda my decision too.) Our logic at the time was that not skipping would avoid social problems.... well, worse social problems, since I had already been the odd girl out in my class since first grade. I think at the time that I felt that might eventually change, but that it definitely wouldn't if I skipped a grade. Ultimately, it didn't improve regardless; skipping might have been good academically and neutral socially. But I was just fine in high school, undergrad (I did rush a bit and complete my BA in three years--maybe I wouldn't have felt compelled if I'd been on the young side to begin with?), and grad school in the end.

On the other hand, my brother skipped kindergarten, and my partner skipped a grade in elementary school. Both had perfectly normal/good school experiences, with none of the social issues I had.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:50 PM on March 19, 2018

I skipped the 8th grade, and since I was seen as a "weird" kid anyhow and my only friend went to a different school, it was actually positive for my social life. I knew some of the kids from my new grade from after school activities and was in the band, so lots of getting thrown together with the same kids until something stuck. A friend also skipped a grade with me, which maybe helped normalize it for the other kids but she and I didn't pair off or talk about our experiences.

The teacher from my gifted program suggested it to my parents, I think they agreed to it, and then they asked me. There might have been testing? They gave me a geometry book to work on over the summer, I didn't, but I was on the math team and picked up what I needed from there.
posted by momus_window at 2:56 PM on March 19, 2018

Started school early, and then got moved up when I shouldn't have been which is similar in some ways. That was fine. But then in 8th grade my parents had a meeting with the superintendent which resulted in me walking by myself to the high school for English class and it was the most socially humiliating experience of my life. I was teased by 8th graders for being a nerd and I was not welcomed by the 9th graders. Academically it was the right call, aced the class with no effort, but socially it was the worst. I think skipping a grade would have hurt less.

I was too eager and studious at the time to recognize what problems that would cause. If I recall correctly being smart had been so important in my family that I wasn't even thinking about the social fallout until I experienced it.
posted by crunchy potato at 3:29 PM on March 19, 2018

I skipped kindergarten and it wasn't a big deal. I was always younger than everyone in my class (plus I was a November birthday), which was kind of a pain when it came time to learn to drive, etc., but wasn't much of a problem otherwise. I started college at 17, which meant I couldn't join my roommates at 18+ events, which was weird, but not for long, at least.

I was also offered the choice to skip from 2nd to 3rd but I turned that down. Two grades would have been socially very difficult.
posted by rachaelfaith at 4:02 PM on March 19, 2018

I skipped second grade and it was a bad experience. I was a outcast weirdo in my new cohort, where I hadn’t been in my original cohort. Didn’t seem to do any good in terms of making school more challenging, either (although I never really got the hang of cursive properly).

Things got better once I switched schools for middle/high school and the fact that I was out of place wasn’t apparent any more, but third through sixth grades were pretty miserable.
posted by LizardBreath at 4:24 PM on March 19, 2018

There was a question about red shirting recently, so I'll repeat what I said. Because so many kids are red shirted, a kid who skips a grade can sometimes be the youngest kid in class by up to 3 years.

It's possible to have both 12 year old and 15 year old freshman in the same class, and that's where it begins to get very unnerving for younger kids.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:04 PM on March 19, 2018

I skipped first grade. It was a good thing on balance, I think, although school was still a miserable slog. I was really struggling socially before I skipped because I had little in common with the other kids, and struggled a bit afterward for the same reason but made friends eventually (and it was easier with the older kids). I was a very mature and solemn kid for my age so any social issues were because I was a weirdo with different interests and no real peers, not because of the age difference.

Academically it was better, although to be honest I was still too far ahead and would have needed a few more years of skipping or a dedicated gifted school or something to solve that problem. There were no negatives from skipping, and for me there was a giant positive which is that the torturous drudgery of school was over a year earlier.

As you can see I did not have a particularly happy school experience. :) But it wasn't because of the skipping, it was in spite of it, and the skipping helped a bit. If your friends' child is far enough advanced, they should be aware that the skipping may not be a complete panacea for the academic imbalance.
posted by forza at 5:05 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was asked to skip first grade but my parents said no. They put me in French immersion instead. I ended up ostracized and bored anyway, and only found my tribe in jr high/high school for nerds. (Private.)

Echoing that if there’s a gifted program available I think it’s way better for asynchronous learners because teachers who specialize in that/differentiated learning will stay aware that learning things quickly isn’t the same as being mature emotionally etc. etc.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:26 PM on March 19, 2018

Here's a past thread with more personal anecdotes about skipping a grade: https://ask.metafilter.com/146984/Should-our-son-skip-a-grade
posted by superna at 5:33 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I skipped grade 2. I have an August birthday, so with a September cutoff I ended up being nearly two years younger than my oldest classmates.

I was bored out of my mind before skipping. Things were significantly better on that front afterward, though I was still quite bored at times. I had had plenty of social problems before skipping, and skipping didn't really make a positive or negative difference socially. After skipping, I generally enjoyed my classes but still hated the unstructured time before, between and after them.

The main thing that I missed learning in grade 2 was more complex multiplication and division. That was an issue at one point, but then I did a bit of extra work on them - and by the time we were doing calculus I absolutely loved it.

It was frustrating hitting life milestones (especially driving) later than my classmates, and I remember being particularly outraged that I was too young see certain movies legally. (This was Ontario, and I couldn't get into The Handmaid's Tale, which was on the English curriculum!) I was also particularly young for the various sex ed classes that we had in grades 7 and (I think) 9.

My parents indicated when I was older that they would not have let me skipped if they knew then what they knew later. However, I am quite confident that I would have been really miserable had I not skipped, and that my study habits really would have suffered due to lack of stimulation.
posted by sueinnyc at 5:50 PM on March 19, 2018

Skipping a grade is a bad idea. It’s good being the smartest kid in the class. It builds self-esteem and it encourages the kid to think of education as something they are good at and enjoy.

This wasn't my experience. I was born in December, didn't start kindergarten until I was nearly six, and subsequently was the oldest and usually smartest person in my class. It made me lazy. I barely had to work to get good grades and it occasionally made me a superior little shit. Sometimes I'd get a teacher who would send me for classes in the grade ahead, or give me more challenging work, but the next year I'd get a teacher who didn't care and then I acted out because I was bored.

I always felt I was "meant to be" with the class ahead of me and I think I would have been better off as an adult if I'd had to work harder.

On the other hand my brother was just barely 5 when he started and he should have been held back. He always struggled.

I think the answer greatly depends on the individual child - how smart and emotionally mature she is.
posted by Preserver at 6:40 PM on March 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Born in July so my age was correct for starting school. Then I was made to repeat 2nd grade, why I don't remember. I was probably bored and so not paying attention. Then I skipped 8th grade to put me back with my proper age group, which was fine, but I think a lot of 8th grade stuff was preparatory for high school things like algebra and so my high school experience was, again, spotty. I did really well if I was engaged in the subject, and paid no attention if I was bored.
posted by MovableBookLady at 7:02 PM on March 19, 2018

I skipped 8th grade. I'd been homeschooled for a while, switched back to public school for 7th grade, and my teachers realized I was pretty academically ahead of the rest of the class (contra their expectations - apparently my history teacher had really expected me to not know much) so they put me in the 8th grade math class for the 7th grade year and then bumped me up to 9th grade/high school. I'm very glad I was allowed to do that; as it was, I was pretty surprised at how easy high school was as well. I wasn't the most socially adept child (and I'm not the most charismatic adult) but I had friends, didn't get bullied, and honestly, if I'd had to spend even more time in my childhood being academically unchallenged, I might have gotten up to more mischief (as it was, I was a pretty straight arrow.)
posted by tautological at 8:28 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

If she's already 6 in Kindergarten, it might not be that much of an age difference; I had several male friends from my advanced math classes who had skipped grades when young and they mostly were within a few months of my age (and I hadn't skipped anything, just a summer birthday). We were all on the younger end of our year but no one knew that unless you were talking about it, and the kids who hit puberty at 9-10 were already skewing the curve for everyone else so it's not like everyone goes through that all at once either. I don't know how their elementary school experiences were but I would've had a way better one if I'd skipped sixth grade like my best friend did.

I'd probably check the age curves for the grade she'd be moving into, and if there are enough students to give some mixing/mingling year to year so they won't all already know each other, and then just how good the child is at making (slightly) older friends.
posted by Lady Li at 11:42 PM on March 19, 2018

Response by poster: My friend says, "I am humbled and reassured by all of these responses! And so grateful for all of the input - thank you!"

(And sorry I posted kind of a duplicate question.)
posted by missrachael at 5:05 AM on March 20, 2018

I should have been redshirted and wasn't, and then I skipped 5th grade so I was a good two years behind. It did kinda fuck me over socially. I was still bored academically, but now I was in high school with my actual babysitter. When I finally made friends, they were a year behind so couldn't do senior year stuff. Got my first boyfriends at a normal grade, which is a troublingly young age apparently. Got to college years before I could legally drink...
But as a kid, I didn't really associate my misery with being younger because I didn't really feel younger. I'm sure a huge part of my social problems were just my personality and not necessarily my age, the other people who skipped with me turned out fine in the social hierarchy. And as a grown-up, I really appreciate that I got through the whole ordeal and into sweet sweet adult life ahead of schedule. So I would recommend it, but I would also recommend lots of enrichment activities outside of school as intellectual and social outlets.
posted by Freyja at 6:04 AM on March 20, 2018

Not firsthand experience, but I started going-away-for-school college (age 18) with two people who had skipped a grade (boy, started college at 17) and two grades (girl, started college at 15).

The girl lasted all of a week before returning home. Lots and lots of inappropriate sexual attention that she couldn't parse (like, are they just friendly or are they trying to sex me?). Also had a very hard time fitting in with other girls. The boy had maturity and fitting in issues, but worked out fine in the end.
posted by porpoise at 11:02 AM on March 20, 2018

I have to disagree with everyone who is saying that grade skipping will stunt a kid socially. My sister went straight from kindergarten into second grade. (Our mom was a teacher at the time, so the decision was made before she started elementary school) She had no lack of friends at any point and excelled academically.

Despite that experience, my parents decided I shouldn't skip even one grade (The school wanted me to skip at least one, preferably 3 or 4). Do not let your friend do what my parents did to me. School provided so little intellectual stimulation for so many years that it screwed me up pretty badly in many non-social ways and boredom combined with untreated ADHD made me annoying enough to have a hard time making friends my age, though I had enough for my taste, including several from before starting school.

The point is that it probably doesn't matter a whit whether your friends' kid skips one grade or not as long as they are only testing one or maybe two grades ahead and they aren't already socially stunted. If they are testing several grades ahead and there isn't already trouble on the socialization front they need to bite the bullet and let them skip, IMO. It's a lot easier to help your kid find friends outside of school if it turns out to be necessary than it is to give them academic challenges outside of school at that age, especially in sufficient volume. Later on stuff like quiz bowl or Odyssey of the Mind can help, but by that point it may well be too late.
posted by wierdo at 4:32 PM on March 20, 2018

I skipped year 4. I moved interstate, and was already out of sync at my new school, as my old state had different cut off dates and also taught things in different orders. They put me in a split 3/4 class for the rest of the year, and then a 4/5 the next year. Another girl who came to the school around the same time as me skipped too. The school did a pretty good job of making the transition as easy as possible.

I was actually only a few days younger than the official date, but I did always feel like the youngest. This was probably because I was a slightly awkward kid. I did a lot of outside social stuff that was not split by year group, guides and ballet and church activities, which meant that I wasn't always the youngest everywhere. I think that helped.

Academically I was still towards the top of the class. I was a fairly compliant kid, so didn't act up too much, even though the work was always easy. I was in some gifted programs in primary school and that helped. I rarely had to work hard at school though, which has done me a disservice in later life. I also feel like I didn't appreciate the literature we were reading as much as I would have if I'd read it at an older age, but I'm not sure a year would have been enough of a difference.

I did a year's student exchange after graduating at 16. By the time I got to Uni, I was 18, and could legally drink. It wouldn't have been uncommon to not be able to drink in 1st year uni, but it was nice to be caught up. I also found that the students who were my age who'd come straight from high school to uni were incredibly young, and I was glad I'd had the gap year.

If you're a smart kid, you're always going to have issues being out of sync with your peers. It is what it is. Some solutions are better than others, but kids know when they are different, and generally, they don't want to be different.
posted by kjs4 at 8:20 PM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I skipped third grade. I was pretty precocious as a young child and, while I don't remember that manifesting in behavior problems, I do remember being very bored. Getting to move ahead gave me more interesting things to work on and had no negative effects that I noticed.
posted by soonertbone at 8:31 PM on March 20, 2018

I skipped first grade. I was quite tall for my age, which I believe factored into the decision, as I physically looked a little older. I am ultimately glad my parents decided to skip me, although school was never a challenge.

The way in which it hit me the hardest was went I tried out for baseball and basketball my freshman year in high school and got cut from both teams. I believe if I had another year of development, I would have likely made the junior varsity teams. At the time this was a big deal to me, although in retrospect not playing a sport gave me more time for other extracurricular activities, like Student Council, that probably had a more profound effect on me than being benched on the basketball team would have.

The other times it mattered was when most of my friends got their drivers licenses and I still had a year to go. Also, in college, many of my friends turned 21 a year before I did, although a fake ID ameliorated that problem mostly.

Academically, I don't think it made any difference. I excelled in school, but mostly did not feel challenged even after skipping a grade. To go back to what I first wrote, I think being tall made the whole experience much easier, as I never looked like I didn't belong.
posted by Falconetti at 2:47 PM on April 9, 2018

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