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This can be a tough decision. Consider all sides of things.
If your child is showing advanced skills in school, they may have the opportunity to be placed into a different class that will help them to foster those advanced skills. Depending on their grade level, and how advanced they are, they may be placed in a new class completely, or simply go to a different class for part of the day. Whatever the case may be, you may be trying to determine if you should place your child in the advanced class or not.
Initially, it probably seems like a no-brainer. Giving your child any advantage in their education (giving them an upper-hand) should seem like something that you’d want to do no matter what. It certainly makes a lot of sense logically that you’ll want your child to be the best that they can be. However, not everything is as simple and clear when you take a step back. Below are several of the things you should consider before saying yes.
How much added pressure are you adding?
If moving your child into an advanced program means that you’re going to be adding a bunch of additional pressure to your child, it may not be worth it. Stress will come as your child grows older and moves into college and the workforce. Starting them out early with a bunch of additional stress just to get ahead may actually backfire on them.
Not every advanced class will add additional pressure to your child. You need to figure out what will really be expected of your child, and if there will be a bunch more work that your child is expected to complete. If you can’t find this out, then you may not want to put them into the program.
What are the consequences of not succeeding?
While you should absolutely believe that your child is going to succeed in the advanced class or program, you should still figure out what happens if your child doesn’t succeed. Is there an easy way to get out of the advanced class if needed? What affects will it have on grades for your child? This is specifically important for older kids whose GPA has a fairly large impact on where they can get into school.
If there are no major negative consequences, and if your child will not be shamed or pushed too hard (see the first question), then it can absolutely make sense to put your child into the program. Failure is good for kids, but if there will be other negative impacts down the road, you should be helping them navigate through what those consequences will be.
Will your child have to move schools?
Some advanced programs are only available at certain schools in your district. This is because only the most advanced kids (those that test into the class) are able to get into the class. This may mean that your child will have to move schools to join the program. This can add additional stress for both you and your child.
Your child will be moving to a new school, trying to make new friends, all while working in a harder class. The compound effect of this can be extremely negative on your child. You’re also having to drive further (most likely at least) to get your kid to school - that means leaving earlier and picking them up as well. It’s more time you’re spending getting your child to and from school.
Moving schools is something that children do every year, but that’s generally out of necessity due to a move. Changing schools is always tough for a child, so make sure to consider the impacts this may have on them.
What will they really gain?
Trying to figure out what they will really learn and get ahead on may be difficult to do in advance, but it’s probably worth the time to try to figure out as much as you can. It’s possible that they will simply be getting ahead by a few months compared to their peers - there’s really no reason to put your child in the advanced class with the added stress.
There needs to be tangible evidence for what they’re going to get ahead in. Learn as much as you can about the program.
What will they miss out on?
Spending more time going to a different school, or spending more time on homework will invariably lead to less time for your child at home or for you as a family. Will school work impede on their physical development and activity because they’re so focused on trying to do better in school? Will they not be able to play with friends because they’re too busy?
There are a lot of different activities that your child can miss out on because they’ll be so busy with school work. They may come to resent having to spend so much more time with school - ultimately the opposite of what you want for your child. Trying to get them ahead now may actually put them behind in the long run.
There are a lot of things to consider when putting your child in the advanced class. Don’t be afraid to say no if it doesn’t make sense - sometimes it simply doesn’t. Your child will turn out completely fine if they don’t take the opportunity when they’re still young.