My Gifted Child is an Underachiever

I have a ten-year-old who skipped kindergarten because she was labeled as "advanced" with an IQ of 141. We moved when she was in third grade, and ever since, she has become an underachiever. Now we are moving again. Should I put her back into a grade appropriate for her chronological age?

Question:

Moving can be difficult for children. Not only do they have to get used to a new home and community, but they must make new friends and get accustomed to a new school environment as well. Some children are more adaptable than others; Others need more support to become comfortable in a new environment.

On top of the "newness" factor, children have to adjust to a different school curriculum. Also, instructional practices can vary greatly from school to school. These changes can be challenging, even for the best students.

It sounds like your daughter was doing fine in school until you made the move, which leads me to believe that the reason for her problems has more to do with adjusting to a new school than it does with the fact that she is one year younger than her classmates. However, she may feel more comfortable and more successful if she were to be placed with a group of students closer to her own age.

You will need to look at how well prepared she is for the next grade level before making a final decision. If she doesn't have the tools in place to be successful next year, clearly she would benefit from being placed in the age-appropriate class rather than being forced into the next grade where she may continue to struggle.

Before making your decision (and before you move), talk to your daughter's teacher about your dilemma. The teacher knows your daughter's capabilities and needs, and he or she can offer an educated opinion.

You may also want to investigate the school she will be enrolling in for the next school year. Find out about the curriculum and try to visit classrooms so you can get a feel for the instructional practices. If the school has multiage classrooms or combination classes, perhaps your daughter could be placed in one of those so that you can see which grade level would be most appropriate. You might also want to talk to the administrator at the school and explain your situation.

Finally, talk to your daughter about what she might be feeling. The feedback that you get from her may be the most important information you gather while preparing to make this decision.

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