Would You Send Your 12-Year-Old to College?
When I entered college, I was 16. I was younger than most of my class but positively ancient compared to the children of the Harding family. This family has sent six of their 10 children to college by the age of 12, so far.
Now that my own daughter is demonstrating academic skills far above her grade level, I find myself wondering if skipping a grade is right for her.
The Hardings are in a different situation in that they homeschool their children. They also hold religious views and maintain a value system that may discourage partying, and they encourage their children to attend a local university (so they can still live at home), regardless of at what age they enrolled.
The Harding kids get home from their college classes and then socialize with other homeschooled children their own age. At least one of their girls even took time off from preparing for medical school to attend her homeschool prom. (Personally, I ditched senior prom with my best friend and our dates and took a limo into Manhattan instead.)
Those of us who use more traditional schools worry about social integration. Will a child who skips a grade fit in? Depending on the school system, skipping a grade can immediately mark a child as different and a target for bullying.
What about dating at a young age? Or having to wait to drive a car? I could not drive home after dark my senior year of high school...although that did give me an opportunity to ask cute guys for a ride home. I did not even turn 21 until after I graduated from college.
There are advantages to being younger than your classmates, however. Young articulate children may find it easier to communicate with older peers. Skipping a grade gives those children earlier access to programs that begin in later grades, such as instrumental music classes or electives. Some accelerated students take a year off between high school and college, or college and graduate school, to travel or even build their own business.
One of my biggest concerns with grade acceleration is that it is a Band-Aid solution, academically. A child who skips a grade will most likely continue to think differently and accelerate through material more quickly. Placing the child in a higher grade makes the material more challenging only temporarily. Sooner or later, parents and teachers will have to work together to ensure that the child is engaged in schoolwork and challenged to reach his full potential.
What are your thoughts about it?