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Three plus A plus A plus more A's Equals... The Fifth Grade... A Tale of Skipping...

Sometimes getting "Straight A's" isn't a good thing.  Sometimes it can actually hurt, and many kids never get over it.

I can remember it now.  Just like it was yesterday.  Me and Ann Marie Zeitz.  We were always the last two standing in the "spell-downs" in the third grade at St Jerome's Catholic School in Cleveland.

Same thing for the "math-downs."  Same for vocabulary, same for the Geography contests, and just about every other test Ann Marie and I ever took.  She was first, I was second, or I was first and she was second... or we were simply both "tied for first place."

I remember our teacher... Sr Mary Of The Cross.  She was an Ursuline Nun.  She's is probably a saint now.  Actually, she was probably a living saint way back then !  She should have been, with everything Ann Marie and I put her through.

It wasn't all "glory" way back then.  Always getting straight A's in a Catholic grade school class... it wasn't easy.  And... the pressure of it all.  But, then again... neither of us felt any pressure whatsoever.  We were just "being us."

But... I guess they felt sorry for us.  Either that, or they didn't want the fourth grade teacher going through the same stuff with us when we were to start back to school the next September after summer break.  So... what did they do ?

They "skipped" us.  Both of us.  Ann Marie skipped the fourth grade... so did I.  Bingo.  Third grade in June, fifth grade three months later.  Ouch !

What they did not realize was... that both of us were already the youngest girls in our class before they skipped us.  And, the shortest.  And the most inward... as each of us were shy and bashful.

There I was... the first Tuesday in that following September... starting fifth grade feeling like even more of an oddball than I did only one year earlier starting the third grade.  At least there was oddball Ann Marie.  At least there were two of us.

If you are the parent of early elementary school-aged children... here is my suggestion.  If you are ever approached by any of your children's teachers about them "skipping" a grade... [I think back then they called it being "accellerated..."] please talk to one of your child's school counselors before you do anything. 

After that first day in fifth grade... I don't think I got even close to escaping my "oddball fish out of water" feelings until my first day in college.  I think I would much rather have preferred being allowed to live my childhood elementary school days... rather than "skip" over them.

Comment balloon 33 commentsKaren Anne Stone • March 20 2008 11:39PM

Comments

Amen.....both my daughters have skipped grades........well actually my oldest did grade 11 and 12 in one year and graduated early, not with her friends or normal graduating class............burned out during her final/provincial exams......and 3 years later is waitressing when her original plan was to go to university to be an architect......my youngest skipped grade 8 and now they're suggesting she can completed grade 12 6 months early.....?  whats that all about - this time i'm saying No.....a resounding no - you can only be a kid for so long............the need for speed even through school....
Posted by Liz Moras Migic, Chilliwack, British Columbia - Realtor over 10 years ago

KA, I feel for you... I was there myself.  I remember winning that 5th grade spelling bee... the word was "antidisestablishmentarianism" ... remember that one?  I was always... usually still am.. the shortest one in the room... at 5'0" ... I was extremely introverted until I started taking drama classes in 9th grade.  Oh, baby, that was the beginning of the end of "shy" for me.  Sometimes I still feel shy like that little kid inside, but I've learned to act my way through it for the most part.

What ever happened to Ann Marie?  BTW, I didn't know there is a "We are Women" group... I will have to check it out now.

Posted by Jan Evett, Broker Associate, 20 years+ in real estate (The Premier Property Group LLC) over 10 years ago
Liz:  All things considered, I totally agree.  Tell them no.  Some get burned out, some go so far inward they rarely, if ever, come out again.  They totally dismiss the emotional age and growth, or lack of it, that kids go through when they are "accelerated."  Liz... nice to see you making the first comment.  Please come back.  Also... try reading some of my earlier posts... and if you like... please subscribe.  Take care...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago
Our 'baby' was born on October 13, the cut off date for entering school was xxx age by September 30.  Robert was a bright boy...but my husband and I did not feel comfortable putting him in a classroom with 30 other kids who were several months to a year older than him....so we held him back from kindergarten onward....and I'm ever so thankful that we did.  He was the smartest and the brightest,  the most confident, in his class.  We've never regretted it, he's never 'thrown it in our face'....he's a leader, not a follower.
Posted by Mary Warren over 10 years ago

Hi Jan:  Yes, I remember that word.  How about "dociousaliexpeisticfragicallirupous."  That, of course, was supercalifragilisticexpialidocias pronounced backwards.  I still am everyone's walking spell-check.  Except for when I choose to invent my own words when I need them.

Oh Jan, you may be short, but you're oh, so powerful.  LOL.  We are women group.  Yes... it is waiting for you.  I rushed in the door when it first opened.

And sure, I know exactly what you mean by still feeling shy like that little kid inside.  I still do, too.  Lots !  But I, just as you, overcompensated, and "acquired" being able to put on the guise of being "outgoing."  I can be very outgoing... but only with a very few people... unless I either want or need to, or if I am in some sort of teaching mode.  Yes, when I need to be, I just reach back and turn on that doggone switch.

Today for example.  I took myself to lunch at an Italian restaurant named Brio.  I went at 2:00pm.  The place was almost empty... just as I like it.  It was like I was "the Queen in Her Court."  Peace and quiet.  Most times... I just prefer just being able to "chill."  Today I brought a book... one of the BeliefNet books on Gnosticism and Philosophy.  Sounds pretty exciting, huh ?  LOL.

I lost touch with Ann Marie after we graduated eighth grade.  We went to different high schools.  She may have ended up joining the convent.  Just like Virginia Andes did.  She was my first "best girlfriend" in Kindergarden.  I wonder if she is still in the convent ?  Prolly not.

PS... I think I needed to write a post like this one today.  Many of my recent posts have been politically oriented, and woman... they can really wear a girl out !  Perhaps I need a break from them.  Whaddya think ?

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago
Hi Mary:  What a wise decision on your part.  See... you were wise beyond your years even back then.  Good for you, and even better for your son Robert.  I really took advantage of learning when I was in school... but the emotional growth should have been a bigger part of it for me than it ended up being.  Sure I was still "smart and bright"... but it took many, many years for my confidence to catch up.  Hooray For You !  Take care...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago
So many parents jump on the bandwagon to have grades skipped. It's ridiculous.  I've also noticed parents trying to get their kids into VERY competitive school districts.  I think this can do a lot of harm.  If your child isn't the ivy league type the competitive nature can destroy their desire to learn for LIFE!  For 90% a GOOD school district is perfectly sufficient - and perhaps preferable.  I see parents trying to squeeze into Scarsdale all the time - when they simply can't afford it.  Silly. 
Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 10 years ago
I agree. Kids just need to be kids enjoy their childhood and not live their parents dreams vicariously. Too much pressure. 
Posted by Todd and Danielle Millar, Sixteen years of excellence! (Glenn Simon Inc.) over 10 years ago

Karen-Anne, I so agree, we held our last son back in kindergarten, and it was the best decision we made. I just think young parents don't understand and are proud their kids are smart. Yea, you can be book smart, head smart, but your emotions needs to develop and you need to be around kids similiar in age not trying to keep up with kids in 5th grade if you are in 3rd.

 

 

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 10 years ago

KA,

I checked out the woman's group... and lots of our AR friends are already there... sometimes I'm the last one to know...

Hey, you write about what ever strikes your fancy.  We'll all be out here reading in the Rain.  You're such a good writer... anything you post is good. 

I'm not much for political stuff though... I vote about like I shop.  If I like it, I go for it without too much thinking involved.  If a candidate fits my belief system (pro-life, strong military), I'm good with him; if she doesn't fit my belief system, there's no amount of rhetoric that is going to make me vote for her. :) (Big smile - you know where I am now on the political scene.  Love me anyway??)

Posted by Jan Evett, Broker Associate, 20 years+ in real estate (The Premier Property Group LLC) over 10 years ago
Karen Ann - You are SO right.  In an effort to "promote" a child by skipping an entire grade is totally disruptive to a child's growth and development.  Fortunately you got a handle on it.  Many do not. Being a "brain" is not always an easy position to hold when you're a kid.  I know - I was the tallest kid in my class, I always got A's, I always got called on by the teachers to "help with the class," and got appointed as class monitor or hall monitor.  Those distinctions can make a kid feel like some kind of alien being in their own world.
Posted by Carol Smith (Casmi Photography) over 10 years ago

Interesting post, Karen Anne.  I, too, was skipped, but it was a different kind of experience.

My good, Catholic parents wanted to start me in the church's school, but the school started at third grade, so I started in public school.  I LOVED school.  And I'd been able to read and write words since I was four, but I was so quiet that my teachers didn't know it. 

Finally, in first grade when they started to teach reading, they found out I could already do it.  At about a fourth grade level.  Halfway through first grade, they put me in second grade.  At the same time, they put a boy they decided shouldn't have been promoted BACK in first grade, so there was some guilt involved for me.   

After I was promoted, I was STILL one of the tallest kids, so I looked like I belonged, but I was very shy and quiet.

The following fall, I started third grade in the Catholic school.  Our nuns weren't as nice as yours.  They'd "tsk, tsk" over the fact I was skipped ahead in the public school and they judged me waaayyy more harshly than other kids because I couldn't have possibly deserved it.  For a couple of years, my life wasn't pleasant in school.  Then they gave up. 

P.S. it's not that they were against skipping.  They skipped my sister from 7th grade to 9th.  You wanna talk about a leap?

Posted by Karen Webster...Grand Rapids, MI Realtor (5 Star Real Estate, Grand Rapids MI) over 10 years ago

On the other hand, it's not a bad thing to get comfortable with being a bit of an oddball. Each of us is, in one way or another. And those who are not - who are completely normal - are some of the most boring and unaccomplished people I've known. Without challenges, a little discomfort, even a bit of pain, we may never ignite our inner fire. It's all about learning to compensate - the art of which formulates a rich, creative layer within us.

Would you rather have had it easy? Not me! 

Posted by Jennifer Monroe, Real Estate REALTOR®/Broker in Beautiful Charlotte (Savvy + Company Real Estate) over 10 years ago

I absolutely agree Karen Anne... I can't imagine going from 3rd to 5th.  I can't believe how much older the 5th graders look than Rhiannon and she's in 4th.  How intimidating.  I waited for Rhiannon to get into the school I wanted, so she was on the older side of her class.  More confidence I think.  I was lucky enough that her pre-school did a pre-k for her & others, added a K and then added a K+!  They wanted their kids to get into their chosen schools as well. 

Jeez, school is hard enough without adding that kind of pressure.

www.stagingwebsites.com

Posted by Chris Fisher (Your Virtual Assistant) over 10 years ago
Karen,
Kids learn at different rates.  But kids need to learn to be kids, to relate, to be comfortable with themselves more than become academically challenged before their time.  Kids have a whole life ahead of them to learn, challenge society, have their own families, etc.  I probably learned this too late.  AJ
Posted by Alan 'AJ' Nisen California Contra Costa Mortgage Officer (A Large Bank in America) over 10 years ago
As the mother of an almost-4-year-old, I never considered this aspect of school.  Thanks for the counterpoint to my current vein of thinking....
Posted by Marlene Scheffer, Realtor to Kitsap County, WA (Realty Station) over 10 years ago
Great Post, It is true that skipping a grade can have serious side effects just like being held back, Great advice..I some times still feel like a fish out of water!!
Posted by Mary Thomas BH,MB,HB, PV, Estates LA+, Mary C. Thomas Your Agent around the Globe ( Remax Estates Properties) over 10 years ago

Karen Anne,

Just the opposite for me.  I moved to South America after the eighth grade, and my parents schooled us using the Calvert System.  When I tested, they made me repeat the eighth grade.  When I came back to the States at age 16, I was still a sophomore in HS.  Oh well.  Ancient history!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 10 years ago

Ruthmarie:  I think it can be hurtful to parents to push their kids into being competitive to the rediculous.  Competition is fine, but, just like everything else... it is not fine when it gets so extreme it becomes a negative.

Danielle:  Kids who miss their childhood... end up resenting those who took it from them.  Let their parents live their own dreams.

Missy:  I bet it wasn't easy holding him back, but in retrospect it sounds like it obviously was the best thing for your son.  You gave him the time he needed to grow along with his emotions.  Hooray for you for putting his best interests first.  Way to go, Mom !

Jan:  I think the "Womens Group" is a cool thing.  Such a nice place to post a menopause joke... LOL.  And yes, I will continue to write about whatever I please.  So... you vote like you shop, huh ?  Cool Beans !  Sounds like a good plan.  And, politically speaking, so we cancel each other out.  We could have bigger issues... LOL.  And, sure, I love you "anyway."  You silly goose ! 

Carol:  Disrupting social and emotional growth can be a disaster for many.  And actually, I don't know if I really ever did get the handle on it that I wanted to.  Not much fun as a senior when all the others were driving cars, and there I was... having my mother cart me around.  Talk about wanting to hide !

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago

Karen:  Ahhhh... the "quiet ones."  Ya gotta be careful of those kids... :)  I always enjoyed watching the teachers in the younger grades when they caught on that something they thought would take a certain child forever to learn... because the child was "quiet"... and then after a little effort with the child, they found out that the child already knew way more than they were going to try to teach her.  Cool ! 

Being "promoted" for you went well, with your own personal situation, and with the fact you were tall.  That must have been a bit of a relief for you.  How clear is it in your mind how you felt back then when that was going on ?  I'd love to hear about it, as I am sure others here would too.

I am sorry your nuns had taken too many grumpy pills.  As they say... "sometimes... the best is "nun" too good !"  Sorry for your unpleasantness with the nuns.  I'm glad they gave up. 

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago

Hi Jennifer:  I am really glad you made this comment.  It needs to be talked about.  I'm going to pull your entire quote down here... to make it easier to follow. 

You wrote... "On the other hand, it's not a bad thing to get comfortable with being a bit of an oddball. Each of us is, in one way or another. And those who are not - who are completely normal - are some of the most boring and unaccomplished people I've known. Without challenges, a little discomfort, even a bit of pain, we may never ignite our inner fire. It's all about learning to compensate - the art of which formulates a rich, creative layer within us."

"Would you rather have had it easy? Not me! "

Jennifer, I very much agree with you.  Being an oddball can be fun.  It can be quite an adventure.  But only if you enjoy it.  And sure, each of us is an oddball... each in our own way.  Unique is good.  I remember coming home from school, and asking my mom why some kid in my class kept calling me "weird?"  Mom made sure that I came to learn that "weird" was just another name for "special."  Mom got that one right, doncha think ?  As they say... Why B Normal ?  It also goes along with the city of Austin's slogan of "Keep Austin Weird !"  They have Tee-shirts, and lots of souvenierry-stuff with that quote.  What a boring place the world would be if everyone was "normal."  Thankfully, that is not the case.

Finally, I like your quote of "without challenges, a little discomfort, even a bit of pain, we may never ignite our inner fire."  But... some ignite their inner fires, and grow dramatically, others simply burn out.  It all depends.  Thanks for your comment.  It should spark some additional comments.

 

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago
Chris:  Yes, getting into the school of your choice can be very important.  I am glad you were able to dance around until you and Rhiannon got your wish.  Every child is so different.  Every child is unique.  I remember when I was teaching... when the kids were quietly reading something in class... I'd just sit there and try and imagine the possibilities for each child as they grew older.  They were all so very special.  Skipping a grade can either put the child under unhealthy pressure, or in a situation where they will be positively stimulated.  Everyone is different... thank goodness. 
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago
AJ:  Sure, kids need to learn to be kids.  And usually the best way for them to learn that... is for us to simply let them alone.  As you said, kids learn at different rates.  There are so many different aspects or facets of each child... sort of like facets on the face of a diamond.  Each facet reflects the light, or even refracts it... in a diferent way.  In looking at it in that way... as a child grows... all of these variable-speed facets turn each of them into their own special kind of rainbow.  And, AJ, it is never too late to learn.  But, I, too, and just figuring that out, so not to worry.
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago

Marlene:  You are very welcome.  I really think that this is one of the biggest benefits of Active Rain.  We get to share ourselves with anyone who chooses to read us, and sometimes they even share back with us.  I am glad you found a new perspective here.  Also, my posts seem to pull many excellent comments from my readers... which really makes some of these posts very informative.  But even more than that, the comment threads become a way for all of us to connect... if we wish to... inside and along with each post.

I am so proud of the fact that my posts do not bring an endless series of "way to go, dude, or dudette", or "Nice Post, Karen."  I am sounding kinda motherly, or more likely ""sisterly" here... but I really enjoy the comments to my posts.  Thank you, and thanks to everyone.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago
Mary:  Skipping a grade can have some serious side-effects... just like being held back.  Thanks for your kind words.  Yes, I understand that you still feel like a fish out of water !  When a fish is out of water... they cannot breathe.  And the feeling you describe... fits right in with that.  I have felt that way too many times.  Sometime I might even write a post about that "chapter" in my life.  Not now... but...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago

Mike:  From what I know, the Calvert system provides a good curriculum for home schooling.  It appears the subjects areas are well-covered, and that there are a lot of extremely helpful tools for parents to use when they home-school.  The major thing I worry about, though, is the emotional growth, and the short-changing that could/might take place as far as a child's social development.

That may be part of the reason that they made you repeat the eighth grade.  Perhaps they mis-took "reading" your academic levels due to the fact that you were home schooled.  I don't know, I am out of my element, here.  Classroom teaching I know, but I have never really immersed myself in the world of home-schooling. 

As I said above, the main thing I worry about is that the child may end up much too "sheltered" or "protected" from the "outside world."  As a parent, shielding our kids from the world's nastiness can seem to be a plus, but it has been known to backfire.  Once again, each child is different, and the way they come through it totally depends on the child.  Ancient history ?  Nah... you're not that old... LOL.  Mike, thanks for sharing.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago

Karen Ann,  I too went to Catholic grade school and Mass M-F then Sunday as well of course.  Well I choose public school for my kids and they went to the most Open School they could have and it was a magnet school.  Interesting how we want different for our kids. 

Great story and I totally understand your points here.  Why didn't the admin understand kids just want to fit in and get along?  There is more to school than just the studies thats for sure!! 

Posted by asdf zcxv, Ann Arbor Area Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

Karen:  In many ways, living back then was like living in a time warp.  The year the dear Ursuline nuns skipped me to the fifth grade was 1953.  The television show Ozzie and Harriet was very much the way people lived back then.

I don't think anyone can get even a taste of what it might have been to go through twelve grades of Catholic school unless a person actually lived it.  If it were today, I would have just loved going to a magnet school.  But, then again, so many of the "public" schools around the Fort Worth suburbs are so excellent.  Here is a post I wrote that tells part of why I now feel that way.  I Feel Better About our Country's Future... after Shopping at Borders Tonight.

These days there aren't very many Catholic grade schools around, but there are quite a few "Christian" schools.  If I had elementary school aged children right now... a "Christian" school is the last place I would send them.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago
Hi Karen,
I, too, attended Catholic school and I credit the Sisters for my work ethic and organizational skills (though the organization is sliding a little these days). 
As for skipping, that did not happen in our school and I believe it is a mistake, some kids may be able to skip a grade academically but what about socially?  
Posted by Cynthia Tilghman, Realtor® Onslow County NC Home Specialist (Kingsbridge Realty, Inc) over 10 years ago
Cynthia:  The social adjustment of a child at that age, or at any age in elementary school is in many ways equally as important as the educational side of things.  And yes, the dear Sisters had a lot to do with my work ethic and many of my other skills.  What a great education they provided.  And, gee... I liked it so much... I went back and taught in the Catholic schools for nine more years.  :)
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago
Karen - sometimes as parents we let our pride in how smart our child is interfer with what is best - well said... thanks for sharing
Posted by Thesa Chambers, Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon (Fred Real Estate Group) over 10 years ago
I knew you were smart but not that smart! That is really interesting, I'm learing alot about you. I should have already known. I need to be a better friend. Thanks for sharing your life with me.
Posted by Anonymous over 10 years ago
Thesa:  Yes, I know that occasionally parents may find themselves living vicariously through the lives of their children, rather than really think it through, and making a place for all of the areas in which their child needs to grow and needs to be nurtured.  Thanks for your kind comment.  It is my pleasure to share.  Take care...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 10 years ago

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