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Is skipping a school year (for a bright child) always a bad idea?

(22 Posts)
castille Tue 21-Oct-08 14:28:05

DD2's teacher thinks she should skip top primary and start secondary in Sept. It's quite common here (France), but we're v unsure about it. She is tall for her age so wouldn't look physically out of place, but she is one of the youngest in the year, still quite little-girly and nothing like as emotionally mature as DD1 who started secondary this year.

Still, teacher fears she'll be understimulated at primary and we don't want her to get into the habit of coasting through school (which she is at the moment, though she denies being bored).

Plus there's the issue of DD1 who might feel threatened by her little sister "catching up" with her.

Is it be a terrible idea?

PortAndDemon Tue 21-Oct-08 14:33:25

It's not always a bad idea, but I'd counsel against it unless you think she will be miserable staying with her peer group.

I was jumped a year ahead and I think it was probably, on balance, the right decision (I'd been working with the group who were two years older through most of primary school and as it was they had to kind of fudge my final year; if I'd had to stay at primary school another year I don't know what I'd have done) but it did rather mess me up socially. I wasn't really emotionally mature enough for it, I think, and I felt quite isolated through much of secondary school.

But then, if it's common in France then that may not be such an issue.

One side effect was that it made finding stuff to do in a gap year before university tricky, as I wouldn't be turning 18 until right at the end of the gap year.

soultaken Tue 21-Oct-08 14:35:11

I think it's a good idea. My friend sent her dd to grammar school a whole year early.

Thing is, if they are gonna be bored and unchallenged in primary, is there really any point spending another year there? What would it achieve?

In this instance you need to do what's best for dd2, not what's best for dd1. She'll have other occasions when her needs override her sisters but this time, I think dd2s needs take priority.

GrapefruitMoon Tue 21-Oct-08 14:39:10

The only negatives I have come across were cases where the child finished secondary school a year early for their age and therefore started university when they were still 16 and possibly not mature enough emotionally to deal with that... but I think they stay in school a lot longer than that in France so may not be an issue?

Cosette Tue 21-Oct-08 14:42:20

Is she understimulated in all subjects - or some of the core ones. At DD's school they have a girl from Year 5 join the Year 11 class for GCSE Maths! But she stays with her peer group for the rest of the time - which seems to work very well.

LadyMuck Tue 21-Oct-08 14:45:36

I don't think skipping a year is a bad idea, but I think that you need to think carefully about which year to skip. I think that to skip the last year of primary would be more difficult emotionally than to have either skipped Year 5 or a later year. In part it will be because when times are hard at a new school her peer group will all be together at her primary which could leave her more isolated.

One option would be to consider whether she could be moved immediately into Year 6. It will also give you a chance to see what happens prior to moving to the secondary school, ie if it doesn't go that well she could repeat Year 6 or even go back to Year 5. Once she starts ahead a year at secondary it will be harder to revert.

lulumama Tue 21-Oct-08 14:48:23

long time ago now, but DH was put up a year and it was the beginning of the end for him academically, he is severley dyslexic, but not diagnosed, and went from being one of teh brightest in the opinions of the school to a lazy waste of space who would never amount to anything. he gave up trying and has terrible memories of school. this was in juniors, can;t remember what year, but it was young. 7 or 8 or so

i personally would leave well alone if she is happy, settled and not bored or coasting

castille Tue 21-Oct-08 14:50:59

It's the social aspect that worries me the most. She'd be miserable if she had no friends. Wherever and whenever she goes to secondary she won't be with her current friends though (catchment/distance issues).

She likes her school. She's currently in a class of year 5 and 6s (French equivalent) together and I think she's ahead in most things as she just picks things up fast. I don't think she'd be miserable if she stayed, just not stimulated academically, which might affect her taste for a challenge later on?

Agree that top primary isn't the best year to skip. I feel a bit like I would be robbing her of a year of carefree childhood by packing her off with the pre-teens a year early (she will be 9.9 next Sept).

And yet...

castille Tue 21-Oct-08 14:52:30

Lulu - she is happy, but coasting...

School run now but will check back later.

notyummy Tue 21-Oct-08 14:52:37

As for 'filling the gap' at the end of sceondary as one poster alluded to ; I was 17 when I went to Uni and wasn't 18 until second year (went from 5th year in Scotland) and I was fine. No gap years in them days...you were either a student or working, not broadening your mind smoking dope in different countries....

<cynic alert>

SpookyButNice Tue 21-Oct-08 14:54:26

I skipped the last year of junior school, so went to secondary when I was 10. I went from being the cleverest in the class to being distinctly average, but that in itself wasn't a problem (nothing wrong with being average!) - it was only when we got to the age where my friends started going out late, or socialising with boys, and I wasn't allowed to as I was "too young".

Over the course of 12 months or so my social circle changed from the out-going set, to the quieter "geeky" kids who were less likely to be going out on the town anyway. To be honest, it was a crappy miserable time.

So if you aren't likely to be over-protective parents, and are willing to let your DD do whatever her older friends are doing, then she should be fine. Unless she has trouble making new friends, in which case it'd obviously be best to keep her with people she knows.

Someone else mentioned struggling when going to university early - personally I didn't find this an issue at all, but you'd have to accept that she'll probably be drinking illegally (if she hasn't done so before).

Fennel Tue 21-Oct-08 14:54:52

To me it depends if she'll be the only one. my sister did this, but it was very unusual in our schools at the time, she was the only child in the school and she did stick out. Always the last to be old enough for something, like driving, guides, going to pubs.

Also, academically, she did fine, very well in general terms, but not as well as me and my brother who hadn't skipped a year.

PortAndDemon Tue 21-Oct-08 15:01:16

You're the same age as me, notyummy... I found when I aaked universities about it they all tutted a bit and said that, while there wasn't a rule against it, they'd prefer me to take a gap year and go when I was 18 (I think they were concerned about in loco parentis legal issues and had had some issues with younger students in the past.

notyummy Tue 21-Oct-08 15:06:16

Interesting portanddemon...maybe its more common in Scotland? Noone batted an eyelid here, and I did have 2 conditional offers from English universities as well.

Perhaps they knew I'd been downing cider liberally since I was 15 so would be fine in the students union?!

MadBadandWieldingAnAxe Tue 21-Oct-08 15:10:54

I think you're right to worry about the social aspects. Can you not find other things - such as learning a difficult instrument or language - to provide some extra challenge?

castille Tue 21-Oct-08 16:41:12

Yes a friend of ours mentioned broadening her education to fill her brain with stuff other than academia. But <brag alert, sorry> she is already bilingual, dances 4 times a week and starts music lessons after half term. I could put her in a school that offers chinese, that'd slow her downgrin

Fennel - interesting that your sister didn't do as well as you and your brother. A friend's son was deemed brilliant at 10 and went to secondary early, into a stream for exceptionally bright children, and now, at 15, is re-doing a year as he just stopped trying (his teenage rebellion).

The issue of being pushed to grow up too fast by older friends is the most worrying to me. She might not be alone in being a year younger than the average, but the other children I know who have done it were born earlier in the school year.

LadyMuck Tue 21-Oct-08 16:42:50

It used to be the case that certain universities would not accept you until 18 - used to be the case at Cambridge hence all the child progidies ended up at Oxford. Less of an issue now that gap years are pretty common.

MadBadandWieldingAnAxe Tue 21-Oct-08 20:46:23

Castille - I know it's difficult to find something sufficiently challenging. How about learning the harp?

Lady Muck - that's what would worry me. At university as a mature student, I met someone who was already a post-grad at the age of 17 (or thereabouts). He cut quite a forlorn figure, as his intellectual peers weren't keen to include him in social events. I appreciate that here we're only talking about accelerating by one year, but it does suggest that there could still be pitfalls.

Rose100 Tue 21-Oct-08 21:09:23

I skipped a year at about age 8, and would say don't do it. I was generally ok academically, but definitely suffered from going to uni aged 17. Totally homesick and out of my depth. Also, the brightest children often sit their GCSEs a year early, and your DD is unlikely to do as well if she is competing with children 2 years older. I would give her all the natural advantage of being part, and ahead, of her peer group.

SpookyButNice Tue 21-Oct-08 21:11:57

I'm an April birthday so young in the year even without being a year ahead. Universities had no issues - a couple asked during interview whether I had considered a gap year, but they certainly weren't worried about me starting early.

I do think the social aspect is hardest. My parents just refused to let me do things that they thought I was too young for, even though it meant that I pretty much got dropped by my friends as I never went out with them.

liath Tue 21-Oct-08 21:15:59

I was put up a year aged 9.

It was not a success. I went from being outgoing and sociable to the class leper. None of my old friends wanted to know me and I was bullied by my new classmates for being a "swot". It was so bad that when we moved house a few years later & I changed schools I asked to go into my own aged class and repeat a year.

I'd think long & hard before doing it to one of my own kids TBH.

castille Tue 21-Oct-08 21:21:40

Strangely enough a mum of one of DD2's friends rang me this afternoon and we were chatting - turns out they are considering the same thing for their (exceptionally bright) daughter. But we agreed we didn't think either of them were socially/developmentally up to the move.

Your experiences are really helpful. Now I'm pretty sure it's a bad idea, at least for my DD.

Will definitely suggest some bamboozling activities to keep her brain busy.

Thanks allsmile

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