Full grade acceleration is unusual and can often be a hot topic. It is not something to be taken lightly or jumped into blindly. Every situation is different because every child is uniquely gifted. This is our experience and our story.
The Path to Autumn’s Ultimate Decision
Last year, I posted about grade acceleration and our decisions for my oldest daughter, Autumn. We are already in a far different place now, halfway through what should have been Autumn’s 7th grade school year. In case you haven’t guessed, we made the decision to full grade accelerate Autumn so as of January 3, 2018, she is an 8th grade student. Mostly. This is how it happened.
Autumn begins the school year as a 7th grader with three 8th grade classes – math, language arts, and social studies. She also takes 7th grade social studies, science, related arts, and CogEd (a trimester course for gifted students).
Things begin to slip as Autumn feels frustrated with her 7th grade classes (and classmates).
The 8th grade students take a trip to Washington D.C. every year. As a 7th grader, Autumn is not able to go. Her 8th grade math class contains a number of 7th graders but she misses her 8th grade peers. There are only three other 7th graders in her language arts course. They are told read a book together, record the discussion, and submit it to their teacher. Autumn is the only one to finish the book, Fahrenheit 451, so they end up discussing a number of other books, most of which Autumn hasn’t read in years, and submit that. Additionally, Autumn seeks out (thank you, Google) essay questions to accompany Fahrenheit and writes essays that she submits on her own to her teacher. There are no other 7th grade students in her 8th grade social studies class. Autumn spends the class time in the library reading.
She is moody and frustrated all week and through the weekend. Eventually, Autumn breaks down and tells me everything. Mainly, she feels she needs to be an 8th grader. It is no secret that she is struggling socially with her 7th grade peers and tends to gravitate toward her 8th grade peers whenever she has the opportunity.
After several discussions as a family. Autumn speaks with her teachers, especially her 8th grade teachers, about her thoughts. She is surprised and pleased when they all agree that it is a good idea. I reach out to Autumn’s guidance counselor with our concerns. In very little time, a meeting is set.
We meet with Autumn’s guidance counselor and the gifted services coordinator. The meeting is short and sweet – all parties agree that Autumn will move to 8th grade for the new semester.
The Biggest Factors in Academic Acceleration
It’s not just about a kid being bright enough to take on the materials in the next grade level. I’ve discussed it before and I will say it anytime the topic comes up – social issues and drive are huge factors.
- Social – The gap between Autumn and her same age peers grew to the point that it stressed Autumn. It had nothing to do with bullying or struggling to find her crowd. No, it had to do with Autumn knowing her crowd and feeling herself around her older peers. Autumn felt welcomed and included by her 8th grade peers in a way that she’d never experienced with her same age peers (save a few exceptions).
- Drive/Motivation – Autumn works hard at everything she does. If schoolwork doesn’t challenge her enough, she seeks out other things to fill her time. Autumn is a two sport athlete, trains regularly, writes posts for my blogs, participates in her schools News Team, Yearbook, and Power of the Pen team. Even before full grade acceleration, Autumn started a spreadsheet for colleges she’s interested in attending. She carefully documents coach’s names and contact information, programs of study, and minimum GPAs and test scores for entry. Each division has its own page and the schools are broken up by state. Not kidding.
What Autumn’s Full Grade Acceleration Looks Like Now
Okay, so it is only day two of this new situation and there are still some things to iron out, but, it seems to be going well. She will still have first period in 7th grade classes (finishing up with her CogEd/gifted peers for this trimester and then a study center), but for all intents and purposes, this kid is an 8th grader. She gets to graduate with the 8th grade class in the spring and will be a freshman in high school next year.
I take a picture of the kids on their first day of school every year but I had no idea I’d be taking two for Autumn this school year. She was not pleased about it, but I reminded her that it is the only way to have one for each grade for her. She is quite excited to be an eighth grader and I’m excited to see the positive change in my kiddo.
We will have updates. I’m sure Autumn will want to share some things herself, but, no more being torn between two grades is a definite load off.