Questions surrounding grade (and/or subject acceleration) for gifted children arise on a regular basis (particularly regarding those who are highly gifted or above).
While there is already a quantity of information available on this subject that is easily researched, and it presents as a sometimes contentious field, not all of the information available is relevant to Australian children and their parents and teachers. That being the case, this article attempts to compile an overview of some of the research and information available for Australian (and NSW) users.
Noticeably, one of the most predominant misconceptions, particularly amongst educators and parents who are not very familiar with the make-up of the gifted child, is that of problems surrounding social interaction: If a child starts school a year early, or is soon accelerated a year, or even two or more, how on Earth will they relate to those peers who are chronologically so much older than them? This fear, or attitude, is a legitimate misconception. Many gifted children, particularly the more highly gifted they are, relate a lot better to children who are older than them, rather than their chronological peers.
“…Research on the psycho-social development of the exceptionally and profoundly gifted suggested that the social development of these children is significantly more accelerated than is implied by Terman and his colleagues.” From UNSW Emeritus Professor Miraca Gross’s book: Exceptionally Gifted Children
In a 2011 article for the SMH, Professor Gross states: “Kids who are intellectually in advance of their years have social and emotional abilities beyond their age and they tend to gravitate towards older kids for their friendships.”
Professor Peter Merrotsy of the University of Western Australia, who has an extensive background in the education of gifted children, recently presented an evening seminar on the subject of acceleration.
It is with his permission that the following paper is attached: ACADEMIC ACCELERATION IN AUSTRALIA: AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY,
Sue Vasilevska & Peter Merrotsy
In discussion with Professor Merrotsy, with regards to having one gifted child (or more), and another/others who are non-gifted, in different school years, that it would be important to take into account the psychological impacts of acceleration on both (or all) children. In particular, he noted that it would be ‘correct to consider implications of a sibling at the same school. My reading of the research indicates problems when the acceleration is from the same grade, or into the same grade, as a sibling,’ Professor Merrotsy said. Hence when acceleration by a year or two becomes an obvious option, perhaps meaning two siblings would end up in the same year, ‘It would be necessary to carefully consider the options (for example, it may be best for any further acceleration to be in a single subject area, or to complement school with out-side of school things, such as learning a second or third language, service learning, philosophy for children, involvement in cognitively rich sports like sailing, orienteering or bushwalking, participation in the GERRIC programs, and so on),’ he concluded.
For further reading, please see the NSW Education Department’s stance on acceleration:
And Miraca Gross’s: Exceptionally Gifted Children: Long-Term Outcomes of Academic Acceleration and Nonacceleration