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

Kids who act are almost exclusively from the region where the jobs are. And things are set up to support normal life - auditions for kids do not begin until school ends for the day. If the kid has a job then he or she spends a of time on set and has a tutor, but let’s face it, working enough to mess up a home life is very rare.
In my experience acting kids are far more mature than average. With production costs, anyone acting up is not going to last long. Again, the number of kids who might be big enough stars to get away with causing trouble is very small.
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Yes, what they want shouldn’t be the determining factor, but it should be taken into consideration, ne?

Like I said, we’d have to decide on it together. If they had their heart set on going, and they were able to find good counter-arguments to my objections, and they knew they could come back at any time no harm no foul, I would probably let them go to Harvard.

And I refuse to believe that a child with a non-standardized upbringing is any more likely to turn out ‘broken’ than one who goes to school like the rest of the “normal” kids.

Assuming that the Olsen twins are screwed up in some obvious way (I’m not up on my tmz reading), how do you know it’s because they didn’t lead a “normal” childhood?

I’ve known kids who are home schooled, kids who moved around all the time because their parents were in the military or some field which required frequent uprooting, kids moved around internationally because of their parents’ work, kids who stayed back grades, kids who were tracked in advanced courses, kids who are smart but were tracked in remedial classes, kids who have lots of friends, kids who have no friends, kids who graduate high school as virgins, kids who graduate middle school having had more than one sexual partner, kids with problems with authority, kids who get along with younger people, kids who get along with older people, kids whose parents support them, kids whose parents ignore them, kids who excel in sports, kids who excel in music, kids who excel in math, and kids who don’t think they excel in anything.

I work with a lot of kids. And the idea that helping a kids to pursue something he or she loves, shows aptitude for, and is generally viewed as a “good thing to do” by society would somehow be damaging is laughable.

I’m not a parent, but I was a gifted child. So was my older brother. My mom put him through the gifted and talented program at our school. She was so dissatisfied about the way it was handled and how it failed to really challenge him the she left me regular classes. Also one or both of us was given an opportunity to skip ahead a grade. She declined because of emotional maturity reasons.

I don’t see how making one aspect of someone’s whole person the focus of their lives is laughable. I can’t imagine you made it thru the US school system without seeing how flawed a person became when all anyone cared about was their looks or athletic performance. I graduated HS with a 7-foot schoolmate who couldn’t read, but was damned good with a basketball. The same thing happens to a person when the pursuit is intellect - in fact, it happens so often that society has accepted the portrayal of intelligent people as socially-inept nerds for decades.

I’m not saying an intelligent child should not be encouraged and enabled, but in the same way most people wouldn’t tell a pretty girl “Forget using your brains, you’re hot!” we shouldn’t tell someone “Screw talking to girls - you’re smart.” Why are we happy creating dumb jocks, pretty airheads, and nerdy intelligent people? Are we encouraging kids that excel or pigeon-holing them? It seems to me that we’d be better served by balancing the areas and pursuits they naturally excel in with life skills in other areas. You learn more doing things you suck at than things you’re good at, in my experience. When people are impressed with stuff I’ve done, I explain it’s because I’ve screwed up at almost everything.

If my grandparents had listened to the school and pulled me for some gifted program, I don’t think I’d have run track, joined the wrestling team, played basketball, raced motorcycles, cut tobacco and trained horses on local farms, rebuilt engines. I did math club, debate club, and chess club as well, and I’d likely have still learned guitar and flute, but it would have narrowed my focus in life early on. When school administrators talk about such programs broadening your horizons, it’s true - but they’ve already decided which way you’re facing.

There’s a great line during the episode “Gifted” on the old MTV show Daria. She’s being wooed for Grove Hill, and she’s asked her goals. She says she doesn’t have any. The recruiter presses her: “You must have some goal in life.” “Yes, my goal is to not be stuck in a career I hate because I was forced to decide on it in my teens.”

Hopefully all this clarifies where I’m coming from on this.

I voted for two different things. I think a kid that smart is going to be getting education in non-traditional ways whether or not he/she is also attending school at grade level. One of those ways might be enrolling for some part of coursework at a local university.

I wouldn’t live in Cambridge or Palo Alto so those options were right out. :cool:

I remain conflicted. My gut reaction is that a kid who is getting a solid supplemental education outside of the classroom can still benefit from many aspects of “regular” school. So I would base it on how much my kid enjoyed those potential benefits – does she like her friends, being in drama club, playing sports, etc? Then she can stay in 6th grade like everyone else.

If she doesn’t like school, either because she’s bored with the material or can’t relate to the other kids because of her super genius ways, then I wouldn’t force it. I wouldn’t put her in 12th grade in any case – that’s not going to help her socialization. If doing college-level course work was the best solution, it would be WITHOUT college-level socialization, we’d have to find that elsewhere. All the recent research I’ve seen tends to show that the so-called benefits of socialization in high school aren’t that great – what it’s good for is enforcing the social skills of people who are already good at it. I think we’d be looking at a home-schooling type situation where I was providing supervision, but college instructors or other professionals were providing content.

I can conceive of no circumstance in which I would allow my 12-year-old to live ALONE across the country, any more than I’d let her or him try to climb Mount Everest. (And yes, I realize that young kids have done that before. Their parents are idiots.) I might be willing to relocate, or to let her live with an adult there I trusted implicitly. Nobody at the school would qualify; I don’t know any of those hosers. But if, say, my best friend were living there and …

You know something? No, I just couldn’t do it. My heart would be breaking. She’d have to live with me.

Let them skip ahead a grade. If they handle that well, then let them skip another grade, but that’s the limit.

Or look into schools for the gifted that are not run by a Professor Xavier. Unless, you know, they’d fit in there.

If they’re not mature enough to decide whether they should go to college, then they shouldn’t go to college. This applies to adults too, but then the parents have less input.

I for one would have been deliriously happy to have skipped junior high and high school, six of the most miserable years of my life. If you had known my parents (mental midgets, both of them), you would have understood there was fat chance of that ever happening.

The argument that “he’s learning anyway” is a load of rubbish. If anything, gifted children need adult guidance far more than those who are “average,” since their minds tend to wander due to their wide range of interests and they get bored when the answers to their questions aren’t immediately forthcoming (or, much worse, when their questions are fluffed off or otherwise ignored by the people responsible for educating them).

Having a high IQ doesn’t mean you can learn from osmosis alone, if at all.

I think skipping grades, especially several, is generally a terrible idea. Yes, you can get a kid into more challenging material that way, but I also think that at least as significant a part of education is the social aspect. For a 12yo, there’s a massive amount of social interaction and learning that they have to do before they’re really ready to take on the additional responsibility. The thing is, if a kid really is that smart and that self-motivated to make it academically in college, he’ll be self-motivated enough to be getting the extra-stimulation he needs. On top of that, he can always take more advanced classes or do extra studying and earn college credit while still being around his peers. He can still get through college and into grad school and all sooner, but he’s not sabotaging his social skills to do so.

Another aspect is that at 12yo is still a kid. I don’t think it’s a good idea to rush someone to grow up and take on all of that additional responsibility. He still needs to spend some time playing and just being a kid. I’m quite certain that while he may be eager to get on to more advanced academics, when he’s done, he’ll probably have a fair amount of regret around growing up too quickly.

Personally, I had a teacher talk to me briefly about the possibility of skipping a grade or two when I was young. This was my immediate reaction, that I’d have trouble relating to kids older than me and I didn’t like that idea. Instead, she put in a little more effort and made special assignments for me. I was pretty much doing my own thing for most of the day, but I was still in the same class with my peers and I think I am better off for it. I did ultimately skip a lot of college courses, as I ended up taking a lot of AP credits in high school and other advanced classes that let me test out, but that’s a very different story.

So, sure I’m not a parent, but if I were faced with that, I’d look into other options. Keep him with his peers as much as possible, afterall, chances are there’s at least an area or two where he’s not head and shoulders above his peers, but maybe get a specialized tutor to spend time with him to keep him challenged for part of the day. I’d still make sure he socialized with his peers and spent plenty of time actually being a kid. Maybe if he were still dead set on it at 16 or so, I’d consider it more.

I had the chance to jump from the 6th grade to high school. I’m glad that I didn’t.

  1. It was to an all boys school.
  2. I was already socially awkward and that wouldn’t have helped.
  3. Yes I was somewhat bored in most classes, but not all that bored.
    I’m a member of Mensa and have a high IQ. However I didn’t go to college after high school. I would have just partied it away. Instead I joined the military and started to go to college about 7 years after HS. Now I have a Master’s degree. Worked for me.

My nephew is booksmart and in his normal grade, and he’s socially awkward and flat-out peculiar to the point where my wife and I watch BBT and say “Wow… that (something Sheldon did or said) is a lot like what <nephew> would do.” I think it’s because siblings-in-law are preoccupied with academics to the detriment of everything else, and they’re both extremely risk-averse.

I think that regardless of the kid’s intelligence and learning, they should be encouraged to be well-rounded people- academics, athletics, art, etc… Not all of it will take, of course, but at least they’ll have been exposed to it and have some experience with it.

My own personal experience as a G&T kid whose parents were offered the opportunity to skip me ahead a grade or two, but refused, is that I would have been woefully behind socially- not only would I have been physically smaller, but I’d have been emotionally and socially a year or two behind.

I did benefit I believe, from the other non-academic stuff I did- the art and athletics, as well as Boy Scouts though. Had I done none of that stuff, and only concentrated on my academic prowess, I’d have been very educated, but weird as hell, I’m sure. Instead, I ended up as some sort of academic overachiever jock… to the point where at high school graduation, they read out the top 5 or so scholarship recipients in our graduating class (inc. me), and someone who only knew that I’d been the center on the football team for a few years came up and said “I had no idea you were smart!”.

Up front: my son is very bright, but he’s not a genius. He’ll go to a regular college at the normal age, some day. This issue will never come up in my life or in MOST people’s.

Now, would life be hard for a 12 year old at a college? Of course! But how would it be better/happier for him at an ordinary high school? “Socialization” is highly overrated. What would a hypothetical genius kidd really this kid miss out on? Wedgies? Pep rallies? Not a tragic loss, in my opinion.

Would he have a hard time fitting in with classmates much older than himself? Sure- but you think it will be EASIER to fit in with classmates who are still obsessed with Justin Bieber or Minecraft?

Life is filled with tradeoffs. Years ago, I heard Jim Rome ask Mary Lou Retton if she regretted not having a “normal” childhood or adolesscence. Her balanced, thoughtful answer was that it was a shame she hadn’t gotten to do things like go to the junior prom… but that she’d gotten to travel to Europe and China as a teenager, something most teens would NEVER get to do.

A 12 year old genius who goes to college will miss out on SOME great high school moments, but will ALSO get to see and do some amazing things most kids can’t.

It’s a tradeoff, and not a bad one, as far as I can see.

I’m not convinced that a genius intellect will prevent the 12-year-old from liking Bieber or Minecraft. But spending the majority of his time with classmates so much older will make a lot of things harder. He’s gonna miss opportunities to learn about asking out girls, for instance, because the 18-year-olds in his class will not be interested in him.

I had a wonderful 7th grade math teacher. She encouraged me academically in many ways. But the single best thing she ever did for me was to practically force me to go to the sock hope and Stephanie G. to dance, because whether Stephanie said yes or no, I’d learn something important from it. That’s a kind of lesson the 12-year-old at Harvard will find difficult to learn.

College students are obsessed by stuff 12 year olds shouldn’t even get near. Either he’d be excluded from them, bad because he would get isolated, or he would be included, even worse. A 16 year old going to college would be no big deal, a 12 year old, big deal.

It depends a lot on who else goes to high school. My school was very big and thus had enough really smart kids to fill classes. We never went to pep rallies. What we did have was social interaction with other smart people of the appropriate age, and also great classroom interaction. If a kids is the only smart kid in a school, then I can see the reason for special measures a lot more.

Like what? What is he going to see in college at 12 which he wouldn’t see at 17?
Yeah, doing the Olympics of special sports or acting at a young age can broaden ones horizons, but not going to college sooner.

Same here. I was small, skinny, non-athletic, and socially awkward at the normal schooling pace. My parents were low income and there were no significant state programs to give accelerated opportunities. I can’t imagine all of the public school bullying, shame, boredom, cliques, and teacher-neglect was more beneficial than early college would have been. My first days on a college campus made me weep with simultaneous joy at the academic options and social self-reliance and with disgust at the previously wasted 6 or so years of schooling.

I experienced pretty much exactly the hypothetical of the OP. I was promoted from 6th to 7th grade mid school year so skipped half of each grade.

I wouldn’t recommend it, ESPECIALLY at that age. It is +/- when kids are hitting puberty, so one year younger at that age is huge. It is exactly why they have separate schools for kids that age…junior-high in my day, I think they mostly call them middle-school now. It is the time ripest for bullying and other abuse. Almost all the kids I knew who were stoners in high school started using in 7th or 8th grade. They keep these grades separate because plenty of them will make life hell for younger kids.

Not a parent, but I would hesitate to send a 12-year-old to college. Certainly NOT alone. The age difference between the hypothetical 12-year-old and most “normal” college students is too great for there to be much in the way of socialization opportunities there. Letting the child skip grades also sets him/her up for possible social difficulties. It’d be sad in some ways to leave him/her in an age-commensurate class that is boring, but I’m not sure what it accomplishes to hurry things along so much that the child graduates from college a few years before peers.

I didn’t vote since none of the options was attractive. If the kid had taught himself algebra and all that, he could teach himself calculus. I certainly would not allow him to go away to college. I might decide on some sort of home schooling. If the school was flexible enough (Ha!) I would try to arrange that he could go part-time, but skip the math and maybe the languages (if he wants to learn Anglo-Saxon and read Beowulf in the original). But there is lots he can learn in a regular school setting. He won’t be self-taught in everything.

I had a sort-of friend who, halfway through 11th grade (we had two promotions a year and he had finished 11A, but not 11B) one summer and came in contact with a member of the math department who was so impressed that he had my friend admitted not to college but to graduate school. Well, he failed the first grad course he took, never graduated from HS, never graduated from college, never had a full-time job and now earns a bit of money from busking, probably has inherited a bit (he is around 75 now) and also has loads of friends who put him up. He travels extensively and sells a bit of his writing. He seems happy enough, but the math professor told me once that pushing him like that was one of the worst mistakes he ever made.

Bottom line: I would try to keep his life as normal as possible.

Not really. With what Retton’s parents likely spent on training her for the Olympics, they could have paid for trips to Europe and China if they wanted, and she wouldn’t have had some Eastern European guy calling her a fat cow because she weighed more than 80lbs. And she’s been free to go as an adult for quite some time.

But can she go to the junior prom?

Mostly, all being a gifted child does is give you a temporary head start. You get to have some of life’s experiences earlier than kids your age, experiences that will be available your entire adult life, while missing out on others that that everyone has, but which you’ll never get a chance at.

And at 30, the gifted child is the maladjusted adult with pretty much the same credentials as everyone else.