“This year we are doing first grade, but the public school would have him starting Kindergarten. He is just too advanced to hold back.”
Don’t hold him back academically, but I would encourage you to keep him in the proper grade for his ‘future self’. Don’t dumb down his work, but don’t inflate his ego. Many K’s are doing 1st-grade work, but come 3rd or 4th (or sometimes 9th) it becomes too difficult and they totally lose their self-worth as being ‘so smart’. Remember when someone else’s child walked or talked early… chagrined! And then yours did and beat the other child in a race or a test. It truly all comes out in the end. Some are smarter and some are more athletic and some are more….. However, in our being called to humility, consider what values you want your child to carry into their future. Aim for that/those (3 or less) goals and use academics as your tool to practice those values.
- Label him the proper grade per age (we do this for kids who are behind grade level as well).
- Teach at the level he is (above, at, behind grade level).
- Understand that he is and will continue to ‘play’ school until age 7, 8, or 9. Be a fun playmate!
Never speak into the heart of your child that he/she is ‘so smart’ because one day something will be academically difficult and they will seek to hide (what they see as) ‘dumbness’ from you by either giving attitude, crying, or shutting down. Rather, speak into their heart that they are a wonderful and hard worker. This truth can always stand and will always be based upon their effort and no outside force.
Never keep him/her at full speed/challenged/at potential, but rather, move forward as he/she sets the tone with precept upon precept and concept upon concept. Imagine if your husband said, “You are such a great wife and I want to help you achieve your very best. In that, I expect you to work at your very best Top Notch speed day in and day out.” Exhausting. Overwhelming. Draining. Shut. Down.
When it becomes real and no longer play is when you want to make sure there are no emotional wobbles due to labels or how proud you are reflecting your advanced student. Imagine they hit high school and you realize that they will not be emotionally prepared to graduate a year (or two) early. Temper your enthusiasm and create a pace that suits your child’s abilities but do not begin shifting grades up OR down until much later. Simple teach at their level and at their pace. This very well may be loading them up on double lessons and advanced theories, but you will also want to distract these amazing children with ‘the other things’ in life such as nature and chores and sports and friends and etc.
Usually, a child will continue to be ahead in some subjects and fall behind in others as the years go along. This is perfectly fine. Completing all subjects of a specific grade level does not give validation or credence to work accomplished. A year of math is a year of math even if two levels were completed (in high school this would be 2 credits) or only a portion of the textbook was (steadily) covered because the student needed to scale down. You can also continue/complete work over the summer.
Through my husband’s wisdom, we have always made age 6 our K year regardless of if they began reading and adding at age 3 or age 7. My husband teaches in a college prep high school with tons of really bright kids who have been pushed ahead. They compete amazingly in the classroom, but not on the playing field nor leadership as their bodies and emotions are still at their proper age. And, it’s nice to graduate (especially) a young man who is a bit more mature in age and wisdom than his peers… and we have selfishly loved having the extra year with them!