Gifted students struggle socially when grade skipped
When Erykah-Nicole Scruggs was 6 years old, she skipped the first grade and went straight to the second grade. She started her freshman year at Kent State University as a fashion merchandising major at just 17 years old.
Scruggs is one of many students who are grade skipped because of their skills to excel in academics; however, she struggled socially because of being put ahead.
“A lot of parents come up to my mom and dad, and ask ‘should I skip my child up?’ She’s tells them no, don’t do it. Let them do whatever it is they’re doing now and be good at that,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs said, she struggled socially and with identity issues through school because she always had to act like someone else.
“Everybody was going through puberty. Everybody was trying to figure themselves out. I was just in a whirlwind of it. I probably never got there until my senior year. Now, I have a pretty good sense of who I am,” Scruggs said.
There is no official record of how many students skip a grade, but grade skipping does not occur very often is because of the concern about social problems that may arise for students, said Connie Matthiessen, author for Greatschools.org.
“Many educators feel skipping a grade causes more problems than it solves,” Jodi Forschmiedt, an author of John Hopkins School of Education said.
Scruggs said, she struggled socially and with making friends because she left her best friend in 1st grade and never talked to her again. Each year she had a new best friend and would just follow along with whatever they did.
“A lot of people think it’s just an intelligence thing, but it’s also a maturity thing. I struggled a lot with identity issues because I was with older people,” Scruggs said.
Most social issues appear in middle and high school, so it is hard to decide if skipping an elementary child ahead will create problems in the future for them, said Matthiessen.
“It is common for gifted children to hold back their talents to fit in around their peers. Gifted students are moved ahead to embrace their talents and be challenged,” said Dr Joseph Cardillo, an author for Psychology Today.
Children should be permitted to skip a grade on a trail basis and only if they have an IQ of 130. In order for the child to skip a grade the new teacher and parents should be supportive and prepared to provide assistance for the adjustment the child faces, said Forschmiedt.
Scruggs said, she was considered for grade skipping after excelling on every assessment when she began 1st grade and her skill of reading.
Scruggs was then allowed to grade skip after being tested for hours at a time for a week. Each test was proctored by a different person to ensure she was not cheating and truly excelling.
Gifted education expert, Gary Davis, said grade skipping should be made case by case. All aspects of a child’s development should be considered in order for them to grade skip.
“Childhood is short enough. Why hurry kids any more than you need to?” said Matthiessen.