Dear Doctor, 

We are in the middle of making a tough decision that will affect our daughter for the rest of her life. She is in the sixth grade, and it has been recommended that she skip seventh grade and be promoted to eighth grade. She is very bright and a bit ahead of herself physically. We have read that doing this may cause some serious social problems, so we’re not sure of what to do. Has there been any studies on this?

Deciding

Dear deciding,

Let me share two things.

When I read your question, I thought I had recently read something about skipping grades and social development. In fact, I found a summary of the study.

A recent edition of the Journal of Educational Psychology refers to a study that was done tracking a 35-year span in the lives of 1,636 people who were “double promoted.” No unusual signs of psychological harm were discovered.

Another study evaluated 478 graduate students who were moved ahead academically. They, too, showed no signs of damaged well-being. In fact, the subjects exhibited better social and emotional health compared to the control group.

Allow me to share a personal experience. At the conclusion of the sixth grade, it was recommended that I be promoted to the eighth grade. To make a long story short, I never attended seventh grade. For maybe two weeks, I recall being a bit lost. Then, the experience became natural, and the learning and social development was no problem — and never has been.

All this being true, it is important to consider what your daughter would like to do and all of the variables in her life and stage of development. Monitor the situation carefully if you decide to have her skip ahead.

Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at lllrsn@comcast.net.

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