Your 12-year-old's a genius. Do you let him/her skip grades? Enroll in college? LEAVE for college?

Parents always believe that their children for special. I, for example, can prove logically that my baby is far, far more beautiful than any of yours. But in cases others than the Littlest Rhymer’s, that’s generally just genetic bias speaking.

But suppose it weren’t. Suppose outside agencies verify for you that your kid actually is a hyper-genius. At the tender age of 12, the kid’s already mastered algebra, basic geometry, and trig on his or her own, and is eager to tackle calculus; she or he has leapt past Harry Potter to Beowulf, and wants to learn to read it in Middle English. Your child’s teacher says it’s a waste of everybody’s time to keep him or her in sixth grade; at a bare minimum the kid would benefit academically from a jump to 12th grade, if not college, and the teacher’s already found two foundations willing to pay for his or her college education in its entirety. One foundation is willing to pay for the kid’s schooling at the most prestigious local university; the other is willing to pay for the full ride at Harvard. (If you live in the vicinity of Harvard, let’s say the offer is for Stanford.)

As a parent, what choice do you make for your child, and why?

Poll in a moment. I just flipped a coin in my head and decided that this is close enough to real life that the results should be private.

I’m not a parent but a 6 year head start isn’t enough for me to jeopardize the socialization aspect of it. One of my friends growing up was 4 years ahead and he was always singled out and had a real complex about being younger and being respected.

There are so many ways a kid can enrich themselves that I wouldn’t sweat it. He/she can take classes at the local community college and really diversify their hobbies/sports. Plus then he/she theoretically should be able to cruise through HS and college with a 4.0 with minimal effort (as long as the worth ethic is there to match the innate intelligence).

Missed the edit window, but since nobody’s chimed in yet, I’ll add that the free ride to the college does NOT include room & board for the parents, nor a guaranteed job/income for the parents if the parents choose to relocate.

ETA: Damn you for making me a liar, pancakes3! :smiley:

I would allow her to jump a grade level or two and try to find a magnet school that would better meet her needs but a jump to college at 12 is too much IMO.

Allowing a child to go to stanfurd is just cruel.

There are so many special, intelligent kids now and no ordinary ones. It’s a shame.

If you accelerate your child’s education, are you doing it for them or for you? The developmental years, the tween/teen years, are about more than education, they are when you learn social skills and how to deal with a variety of people. He may actually be a genius, but no one is going to take him seriously, because he will likely be socially stunted. I have experienced this issue with home schooled kids who are unable to cope with their peers once they are placed in the general population because they are only accustomed to familiar adults.

Things need to be learned that are not taught but experienced. You need to live through this adjustment. He needs to kiss the girl, stand in the corner at the dance and build up courage to ask for a dance, be rejected, break a few rules and learn from them. Go out and play with things and people that are a challenge to you. These things too are education.

And then the other issue is why be in such a hurry? A 16 year old college grad is not yet at an employable age. So he stays for a graduate degree or two and still graduates at the age of the others who took the traditional route. You will end up with a better, more rounded individual who knows what he wants and how to succeed it you let them grow naturally.

There are no Doogie Howsers in real life.

I would say that the child should also display a precocious level of emotional maturity as well as academic ability before such a thing should even be considered.

Remember Doogie Howser only became a Neil Patrick Harris in later life.

I don’t have kids and likely won’t ever, but if I did…

I might let the kid skip 1-2 grades along the way, but no more. No going off to college as a 12 year old or anything like that.

Why? Socialization and a Normal Life. A 12 year old isn’t prepared for the Adult World (or the facsimile that is College) and should not be denied the semblance of a normal life that comes with continuing to socialize and be with people their own age.

Opportunities to use the big potato in the head can easily be put in place above and beyond those things.

We’re planning to homeschool, so it would be a case of providing a challenging, enriching environment for our son at whatever level he needs. Most likely it will be uneven, anyway - a math whiz may only be ready at an eighth grade level instead of twelfth, of maybe he’ll be a brilliant musician but could really use more work with science. Either way, socialization will be handled through groups, clubs, classes, volunteering, and getting out in he world doing interesting stuff.

I’m not voting because you don’t have the right option. It depends strongly on the maturity of the child. When I went to school NY had a 2 year option for 3 year junior high, as well as an enriched 3 year option. My mother made me take the 3 year one, which turned out to be a good choice - not only for maturity, but because if I finished college a year earlier I probably would have gotten drafted.

I’d tend to go with a program that involves enrichment, not acceleration. While someone might be able to ace the final of a class way early, I bet she hasn’t explored the full depth of the subject. Find their favorite areas, find some experts to work with (and I live not that far from Stanford) and get some depth, which is going to be far more important going forward than rushing through things. And, assuming the maturity is okay, enroll them in college early, but not that early.

Focusing on one aspect of a child tells them that aspect is all that matters, and you wind up with an unbalanced or skewed adult whose self-esteem is tied to a fragile, ephemeral link. What if the same 12 year-old was attractive beyond his or her years - do you pull them out of life to go into modeling or acting? If they’re athletically gifted do you forget school and send them to sports training camp? You end up with a person that’s based their entire existence on their occupation, and as they get older their looks will fade, their athletic prowess declines, and for the gifted most stop being “wunderkinds” when you they’re no longer “kinds” and they’re competing with people who took longer to get their degrees, but come complete with social skills and a broader knowledge of the world around them.

Is the goal to exploit a talent or to raise an independent, capable adult? You won’t find many children raised with the focus on their abilities rather than themselves that support the former approach, even the ones that are wealthy because of it.

This topic reminds me of Doogie as well, or Wormser from Revenge of the Nerds. Kids like that may end up as caricatures on The Big Bang Theory.

IMHO it is better to keep them challenged with their own age as much as possible. I know several kids who are booksmart and skipped ahead a grade, or even two, and socially they are awkward - and I fear that may haunt them for a long time.

I agree with the comment about parents pushing the kids for the parents’ reasons more than the kid’s - I have seen it in action.

I’m moving to Cambridge with my kid so s/he can pursue the things academically that s/he has shown passionate interest and incredible aptitude in.

All this talk of making sure the kid ends up ‘normal’ . . . everyone I know is messed up in one way or another. For every kid who isn’t socialized “properly” because of skipping grades, or homeschooling, or whatever, there’s another kid who learns to be a self-centered jerk, or develops an inferiority complex and a strong sense of self-loathing.

If my kid is excited about the prospect, we’re giving Harvard a shot.

There’s a difference between normal and perfect. Everyone you meet is going to have issues, whether you’re aware of them or not. This reality does not, however, make the Olsen twins or Lindsay Lohan normal.

This is exactly us, as well. A genius 12 year old isn’t growing up faster, they are growing up different. We will shape Mars’ education to best suit him.

Now, if he turns out to be such a raging genius that the only place he can get a suitable education is far away, and we could make it happen, we would go. But I wouldn’t SEND him.

FWIW, I did an almost identical thread (but based on a real life example) a few months ago. Here it is, to compare some of the previous points of discussion.

What does the child want to do? How do they feel about it? Do they want to skip ahead and leave everything behind?

Really, that’s a huge factor. I wouldn’t want to decide something like this for my child; it would have to be an answer we agreed on together, whichever way it went.

Stop being smarter than me, or the Smurf dies. :wink:

Interesting thread; I’ve bookmarked it. Just glancing over it as I have, I find myself … vexed … by the notion that he’s routinely doing 18-hour days. That’s insane, I aver, and will backfire ere long, I predict.

The child may want to do the wrong thing. Genius doesn’t substitute for existence, and there are plenty of things the kid can’t learn in books. Even if the kid WANTED to go cross-country to Harvard alone, I’d not allow it.

Let’s face it. The kids who is a hyper-genius and ready for calculus at age 12 is not going to be socially normal no matter what you do. The only question is whether he/she will be bored academically and skating through without ever being challenged and learning proper study skills.

So I would pick up and move with the kid to whatever academic institution will provide him/her the most enriched environment academically. I wish my parents had done that for me.