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In June, my son Ian graduated from high school. He turned 15 five days later. As you might imagine, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from parents wanting to know the “end result.” Was it a good choice to radically accelerate? How did it work exactly? Do we have any regrets? Was it hard for him? Was it good? What will he do now? Will he finally have time to “just be a kid?”
Radical acceleration is still such an alien concept, that these questions don’t surprise me, and in fact, don’t offend me either (though I will admit that last one can ruffle my feathers if I’m not in a particularly generous mood). And I would rather people ask me than to be afraid of asking “wrong” or insensitive questions. We can’t move forward with individualized education if we’re afraid. And I do so hope that we can move forward for all our children. So I’m going to answer these questions here, and more in the comments this week, so be sure to post your own!
First of all, what is “radical acceleration”?
According to the National Association of Gifted Children, “radical acceleration” is defined as “a range of procedures leading to school graduation 3 or more years earlier than usual.” Here’s a link for more info: Radical acceleration and early entry to college: A review of the research
Was it a good choice to radically accelerate?
For us, it was the only choice. When your kid is miserable in his age-based grade, and there aren’t any alternative school models available locally, you have to get creative. We tried keeping him in his age-based grade for his first two and half years of school. This was a horrible situation for him; he was bored and restless which led to great personal dissatisfaction and anxiety. My young boy, who was obsessed with learning in preschool, suddenly lost all joy in it. This wasn’t ok. So we accelerated him twice, and when that wasn’t enough, we jumped into our unique brand of hybrid education, in which he learned at home, online, with private tutors, and part-time in the public schools. He ended up jumping up a third grade later on, and could have actually done a fourth if he wanted to – he had the credits. But he felt connected to the peer group he was with, and stuck with the class of 2015.
So was it a good choice? Yes. Because the best anyone can do for their kid is to try to meet their unique needs with love and consistency. And every choice we made we 1) made with him
, 2) made with his particular needs and interests at the forefront, and 3) evaluated and changed if it didn’t work. Radical acceleration was a good choice for Ian, because it was made authentically.
How did it work exactly?
Ok: quick sum. Here’s how it all went down.
Do we have any regrets?
- Normal preschool, kindergarten, and first grade.
- In the middle of second grade he jumped up to fourth.
- Did fifth grade still as a full-time public school student. None of this was working for him (he hated the worksheets, testing, desk-sitting, and slow pace).
- Sixth grade, we switched to homeschooling. He still took band at the public school.
- Seventh grade: homeschooled with band and Science Olympiad at the public school.
- Eighth: same as seventh, but added a public school science course, which he dropped at the semester – it was still too slow. Started taking private music theory lessons at the local university.
- Skipped ninth grade.
- Tenth: band at the high school, math at the middle school, music theory at the university, science through an online class, and humanities at home.
- Eleventh and Twelfth: full-time student at the public high school. Dropped music theory (his teacher moved away).
Of course one can’t see two end destinations of a crossroads. But gathering from Ian’s unhappiness in those early years, I imagine if we hadn’t grade-skipped and pulled him out of a traditional school setting, the rest of