Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yes to Acceleration

Why is it that it is okay for gifted athletes to go straight from high school into the NBA? Forget the NBA. Isn't it a NORM for gifted, young tennis players to go pro while in their teens? The same is true for soccer. How come we accept this form of acceleration, but we don't think it is okay for kids to skip grade levels? This is complete nonsense. Kids should be accelerated whenever they are ready to handle it.

I believe that acceleration in math and science is even more critical for girls than boys. I believe that profoundly, exceptionally, and highly gifted girls (145+ IQ on the Stanford Binet) are at a disadvantage over boys because of their tendency to "dumb themselves down." Yes, when boys come into the picture and being accepted by the crowd becomes important, girls tend to dumb themselves down. While I have little data to prove it, I believe it is quite hard to act intellectually average when working three or more levels above chronological peers. Moreover, I believe that working above grade level has an ego boosting effect that may help teenage girls to deal with the pressure to be normal.

Trying to get a school to allow grade skipping can be a major undertaking. It really does not matter whether the school is public or private. Administrators will use every strategy imaginable to keep your child with kids in the same age group. The reasons could include:
  • Your child is not emotionally ready to be with older kids
  • Your kid will miss crucial material and then fall behind
  • We have experience with gifted kids, and grade skipping is dangerous for the kid and his or her peers
  • What is the rush, let him or her be a "kid"
The last one is my favorite. "The rush?" What kind of a thoughtless question is that? This is not about rushing through school. It is about intellectual challenge, stimulation, developing a life-long love for learning, and striving to maximize potential in a psychologically healthy way.

None of the above reasons against acceleration is based on fact. They are myths. Despite what the professionals may say, acceleration and grade skipping are the right way to go. In fact, outcomes are far more favorable for highly gifted children who are radically accelerated (3+ years) than for those who are not. Furthermore, research shows that radically acceleration leads to a more fulfilling and successful adult life.

Here is some research in the subject of radical acceleration:
My best piece of advice is to arm yourself with knowledge, preferably of the scientific kid. It is one of the few tools at your disposal when advocating for the rights of your gifted child.

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