My daughter (nearly 8 years old) was accelerated from NE and so has always been in with children up to 18 months older than her. This year, because she is moving into a Year 5/6 class (as a year 4) there will be some children turning 11.
We keep running into problems with her friendships as her older friends are allowed to do things that we have not yet allowed her to do due to her age. I'm struggling to know whether to allow these to happen when she goes on playdates/sleepovers or to remind the other parents that she is actually a lot younger and may not have the same freedoms/rules as their children. (Some of the parents are not even aware of the age difference).
The main issues we have come up against so far are: the type of tv programmes/movies they have been allowed to watch (or just the fact that their viewing was unsupervised and they were allowed to watch whatever they wanted) and to a lesser extent music.
The other main one is supervision. It is something that worries us as the older kids obviously have a lot more freedom and less supervision - eg, being allowed to ride bikes around the neighbourhood, swimming without an adult in the pool area, etc.
It is not practical for us to know intimately the parents of all the children she will be playing with, and I don't want her to be seen as a 'baby' for not being allowed to do some stuff, but I also don't want her safety (physical and emotional) to be compromised.
Gosh I really feel for you and I guess these are some of the issues that can come up with acceleration.
I don't have any answers for you but to the first point i.e. watching programmes/movies more suitable for older children, I find that when my ds goes to visit his friend (who has older siblings) he often watches movies that we wouldn't choose for him at home (as he is the eldest), so this is an issue that can come up for all children - not just those that are accelerated.
I feel for you because a lot of gifted kids gravitate towards older friendships. I have found my ds has a maturity, sence of humour and commonsence etc way beyond his years so in some situations he can handle doing the same as older kids, but for situations like not being supervised at a pool it can be very concerning - age does matter.
I think in this situation I would feel the need to have a handle on exactly what they are planning to do, and ask what sort of supervision would be provided.
Just another thing to make our lives a little bit more difficult!!!!
I feel for you too. My child is in the same situation as yours - with children up to two years older. She is completely capable of the work, is very tall, sociable and has interests that are 'older'.
When I was growing up, all my friends were much older. I attended 18th birthday parties of close friends from being 13, was invited to parties and socialized in a different way from my age group. With hindsight, it was a lot of fun, though it was not always appropriate for my age. However I don't think it is possible to let a child mix with older children all the time and then NOT allow them to socialize with their friends.
I am pleased that we have mobile phones these days! When those days occur for my child, her safety will be better than mine was!
Communication with other parents is the key here. I have always said to the other parents if my child is swimming "she isn't a very strong swimmer so needs supervision" rather than concentrating on her younger age (swimming is the thing that scares me most). My daughter will also often ring me and ask me if it is ok to do something when she is at a friends if it is something she wouldn't normally be allowed to do.
It is interesting to note that in social studies at secondary school they watched a R13 movie when my daughter was only 11.
Her teenage years start next month so I will see what problems that throws up when most of the girls in her class will be turning 15.
I was out socialising with adult and young adult friends at 11! Looking back, as neglectful as it seems on my mothers part (and it was due to lack of care and concern for my wellbeing) I am so very thankful now that I had that opportunity. Now as an adult where "all bets are off", it turns out that it is these relationships are the true friendships I made.
Yes I was doing a lot of socialising that was "age inappropriate" - but - and this is really a key point - friends acted as friends and watched out for each other and looked after each other generally - just not on the basis of their age.
Same with my youngest daughter in particular and for the most part I didnt interfere with that ..... but I did monitor and step in when absolutely necessary. BUT, as was true in my case, in some of those social circles, there was that same unwritten code that you watch out for each other .... and so I accepted those relationships even though, as a parent, at times I did struggle because it went against conventional teaching about what " good parents" allow. In hindsight I should have been more active in encouraging the some of those "age inappropriate" friendships the she chose of her own accord, rather than just being accepting of them.
Next generation down and I take a far more individualised approach.
I focus MUCH less on what I do or do not ALLOW and far more on who and how my grandson is as an individual - what his strengths and weaknesses are.
With gifted children being so very diverse, I really dont believe there is a 'whats best for gifted children' answer to many questions at all .... it pretty much comes down to the individual child and their own individual social/moral/emotional development.
'I have found my ds has a maturity, sence of humour and commonsence etc way beyond his years so in some situations he can handle doing the same as older kids'
Anon, I've heard lots of stories like this, of gifted kids being socially and emotionally mature for their age. I wish I could say the same of my daughter - unfortunately I don't think she has the same skills. It's hard to tell because I don't have a lot of contact with kids her age, and I don't get a lot of chances to see her interacting with the older kids in her class.
To be honest, this whole thing scares the crap out of me! I'm not at all sure we're doing the right thing with the acceleration, but I just feel like we're running out of options. I'm terrified of what's going to happen in the future, even if we make it through this year without any problems.
Does anyone know of anyone we can get advice from? We are in constant contact with the school, and they have been great, but haven't really had to deal with this situation before apparently, so although they are very accommodating, they don't really have any advice for us. We have seen a psychologist who recommended continuing with the acceleration but she obviously doesn't really 'know' my daughter. I just don't know what to do!
@ Nonny - maybe while you get to know her friends and feel confident about her being with them unsupervised you need to make your house the cool place to come so you can see how she reacts with her friends. I also wouldn't say my daughter is socially or emotional mature although she has a very strong sense of what is right and wrong. At 8 years old she was not allowed to go places without people I knew well.
What are your other concerns? Your daughter sounds like she has been accelerated about the same as my daughter - she turns 13 in year 10 so we are 5 years down the track.
Thanks country girl - I think that's what we're going to have to do this year. I'm not really a social person myself, so I've always struggled to have my children's friends over to play, because I don't feel confident interacting with kids other than my own OR their parents! I'm going to have to get over that though, so that I can keep an eye on how she's doing socially.
We've had a few instances with her going to friends' places where I haven't known the parents (only just briefly met them), and things have happened that I haven't been happy about. We've learned out lesson, and have decided we're going to have to be much more selective about where we let her go. It's so hard when they want to go and play at their friends' place and I have to say 'no'. I'm not sure of a good way to get to know the other parents well enough either, especially when it's a different child every other day!
I would love to hear how your daughter is coping that far down the track - socially and emotionally. Have you encountered any particular problems at intermediate/high school so far? Does she fit in, have good friends? Does she get teased? Do the others think she's too young/geeky? I remember when I was at school, the accelerated kids were often thought of as geeks and were not especially well-liked because they were younger and not as emotionally mature, so didn't quite fit in. The ones I knew about were boys though - I don't remember any girls, now that I think about it!
I can relate to you not having other children over as I am not a social person either - I love things peaceful and it is not ever peaceful with other children in the house. I usually let them cook and ice cupcakes or biscuits or take them somewhere (blackberrying, tadpole catching etc).
My daughter did her primary schooling right through to year 8 so didn't have to change schools for intermediate. She was also in a multi level classroom so age didn't really ever seem to be a problem. Secondary school has been very successful. Surprisingly all our concerns about her being so much younger have been unfounded. In fact, several of her friends are another year older. She knew 3 or 4 girls from one day school but otherwise everyone was new to her. She goes to an all girls school and so far everyone is nice (not nice enough to all be her friends but no nasties either). She is in the high achievers class so most of her friends are similar to her although she is the youngest. She doesn't worry about other people's opinion of her so I am not sure if others think she is geeky or not.
If you would like to make contact I have made my email address available.