The frugal ecologist asks:
Our LO is in Montessori but started early so she will do the 3 years before she’d be eligible for K. (3rd year Montessori is K). I’m intrigued about having her skip a grade and start in 1st at 5. What are factors to look for about being ready to skip, any particular grade better to skip or not, etc etc?
You may want to find the Iowa Acceleration Scale. Here’s Hoagie’s gifted talking about it. It basically provides questions that will help you think about what’s important in terms of skipping vs. not skipping. For example, if your family is really really into sports, then skipping isn’t as good an idea as if you’re ok with your kid not being the star athlete at school. It’s a bit pricey and may not be useful without having taken concurrent IQ tests, so it might be worthwhile just to read up about the general ideas it covers online without actually getting a number. (But if you want to do testing, that works too!)
It sounds like in your LO’s case, that your child will not actually be skipping K– she will be getting K at Montessori, which is pretty common (something my sister did back in the day!). So basically you’re asking if she should do K a second time in public school after having done it at Montessori.
I would look into what K is in your state. If you’re on the core, then they’re going to expect more than if you’re in a state that doesn’t require K, doesn’t have full-time K, or is in one of the states that refused to go on the core. For schools on the core, you’ll want to make sure that your LO has mastered the K skillset, which may include reading and simple arithmetic.
IIRC, you’re in a state in which K is mainly for all the kids who didn’t go to preschool to learn how to play nicely with others and reading isn’t really tackled until 1st grade. (Though your individual school district may vary. Definitely check the K learning objectives for your district for the year.) Given that your child went to preschool, I would be very tempted to skip out. Unless, of course, you’re in a situation like ours in which you want to do the dual-language option and you have to start at K.
This website discusses details and research about acceleration. One of the things it mentions is that they recommend not skipping the year before starting at a new school. So if your elementary school is K-4, they recommend not skipping 4th grade. I’m not sure how big a deal this is in practice, since kids get moved around from schools because of their parents’ jobs all the time. But maybe it matters in marginal cases.
We chose acceleration for DC1 because zie was bored and starting to act out and hir preschool had run out of materials and was suggesting that the entire next year DC1 would act as a teacher’s aide. Zie had already mastered all the K skills (except cutting, but zie mastered cutting in the summer before K). Our private school tested hir and suggested to us doing K and 1st concurrently. That worked out quite well, though in retrospect, zie probably didn’t need the K at all.
So, I guess I would think about the following:
- Was the LO in preschool? If yes, then that aspect of K is unnecessary. Zie knows how to line up and listen to the teacher etc.
- Has the LO mastered the skillset that will be taught in K? This will vary by your LO, the preschool, and the school district. If not, then there’s less value to skipping K because there’s less chance the LO will be bored in K.
- All that other stuff on the Iowa Acceleration scale like sports and siblings and so on.
There are a lot of misconceptions people have about grade skipping– there are plenty of reasons not to skip for most kids, but for kids who can skip, the things random “helpful” people will suggest to you are just not real concerns. So… I would not worry about your LO’s size. DC1 has skipped two grades and has still not been the smallest kid in hir grade in public school even though zie is of exactly average height. People also have been pretty nice to hir– hir social experience has been very different than mine was and has been much more like my experience in my single-subject skipped math classes. I would also not worry about drivers licenses etc. The trend right now is for kids to put off driving until they’re much older than 16.
In general, it’s easier to start out in 1st and say you’re trying it out and then drop back to K midyear than it is to start out in K and do a mid-year skip up to 1st.
In general, I’m very pro-skipping for kids who have mastered the material prior to the year starting. For kids who have mastered most, but not all, of the material, it is going to depend on more stuff, like how much they act out when they get bored, how quickly they can pick up what they’ve missed, and so on.
For our kids, we’re still taking it a year at a time.
Update: Before another person posts about grade skipping being bad based on one anecdote for which they do not know the counterfactual (note: research suggests that on average, the counterfactual would have been worse!), please read this post here.