Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Do Kids Need "Friends Their Own Age?"

There is a long-standing myth in the gifted education community that gifted children should not be accelerated so they can "make friends their own age." Even educators who have had a considerable amount of experience with gifted children who have been accelerated successfully still believe children will only find playmates among those of their own chronological age.

I beg to differ. It's very common for gifted kids to play with older *and* younger friends, as well as friends of the opposite gender, even when the other kids would never dare. I've seen it in my children as well as myself. I've never had more than one or two friends who are the same chronological age as me. Still don't.

Friendships are based on mutual interests (social) and understanding (emotional), which have little to do with birth year. One of the signs of giftedness is a dry or adult sense of humor. Can you make deep and lasting friendships with kids who don't get your jokes? Or, worse yet, who only think bathroom humor is funny?

We've been grouping children into grades according to birth year for so long, the practice is no longer questioned, even though it makes about as much sense as grouping them into grades according to astrological sign. At least all the kids born under the same sign should have the same personality, right?


DrumsNWhistles said...

I was one of those "held back" because there was "concern" that I wouldn't fit in with older kids.

Balderdash. Instead I was laughed at and left out of everything, bored out of my mind and tuned out because I could finish assignments in a third of the time it took anyone else, and they took that personally. A little challenge would've been a good thing.

The Princess Mom said...

And a lot of challenge would have been better, I bet! It just burns me up when some well-meaning GT teacher says, "Well, you could let her skip first grade, but how will she feel when everyone else gets a driver's license before she does?" As if that had anything to do with anything. I wasn't grade-skipped and I still didn't get my license until I was 26. Maybe if I had been skipped, I would have had the confidence to get it earlier!