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Why Our Son Skipped Second Grade

After months of keeping the process and decision private, it seems funny that I am here writing this post.

The journey I am about to describe began over five years ago when our son was two…

…but it seems people are only focused on the decision that we made less than three months ago, a decision five years in the making…

…which is why I am writing this post. At this point, it is important that I start talking more openly about our decision. Furthermore, I believe strongly that our story will help parents struggling with challenging behaviors from their gifted children.

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Our son always exhibited strong behaviors that seemed to be driven largely by food and sleep.

{If you feel like you’re in the same boat but don’t know where to begin, check out the Behavior Quick Reference Guide to help you identify a good starting point.}

As he grew older and his brain continued developing we began to widen our scope to help our son manage these strong behaviors (which – by the way – we view as gifts and opportunities. You can read more about this mantra here: Why My Child’s Biggest Challenges are His Greatest Gifts.)

Without a diagnosis, we took on the challenge through parent coaching and cognitive behavioral therapy.

We also visited with numerous psychiatrists ranging from a woman telling us our son was as typical as they come to a man who met my son for 45 minutes and gave us a prescription for Ritalin. We even spent a day in the ER after a dangerous and scary few hours with my son.

Over time, we learned extensively about the gut biome brain connection. More on that experience later in this post. We understood how the microbes in the gut speak to neurotransmitters in the brain directly impacting mood regulation and behavior.

Related Read: What to Know about Child Development

Gut to Brain Connection

The Gut to Brain Connection

We cleaned his gut over a 14-week protocol under the guidance of a wonderful pediatric nutritionist. This process was eye-opening by the way. Until we cleaned up his belly, my son was actually unable to absorb important minerals like iron and zinc. News Flash – keeping the gut intact is more than simply adding an off the shelf probiotic to your daily regimen.

During this time, we received eye rolls from our pediatrician when asking for certain blood tests. She claimed that in her 25 years of practicing she had never seen a child with low zinc. Her assistant even had to look up two of the tests I requested from their office.

So, after years of this educational journey, numerous therapy sessions discussing our son’s emotional and social needs, dozens of hours of testing across an array of developmental aspects, and extensive conversations with our son’s teachers and school specialists, we did it.

We made the decision to accelerate our son to 3rd grade. Our 7-year-old son would now be in 3rd grade among 8 and 9-year-olds. The decision was a relief in many ways but then we moved onto the next challenge – our messaging. Our son and his older brother (in 4th grade) had to answer many questions from classmates. My husband and I had to answer to other families. Our school administrators had to answer to families. Our messaging had to be in line and had to take the “less is more” approach.

So, as I mentioned above, at this point now that the ocean has calmed a bit, I recognize the importance of talking more openly about our decision in order to help the 1000s of other parents struggling with challenging behaviors.

Deciding to Accelerate a Grade 

The decision wasn’t an easy one but neither was the process to get here.

The decision was not black & white and, in fact, involved dozens of variables.

I am always surprised when someone says, “What about him socially?” as if that obstacle had never occurred to me.

The fact is that we have been struggling since our son was two years old and our decision was not made lightly and not made because he is a “genius”.

Sure, our son is smart but he also was unhappy, continued to have explosive behavior at home, was depressed, was becoming increasingly impulsive, was unable to connect with kids his own age, and was becoming less and less engaged in learning.

I felt like we were losing him and he was only six years old.

What most people don’t know is that we pulled him from school for days to work with him and to test him.

We spent thousands of dollars and over 8 hours testing him on all planes of development.

We met with pediatric nutritionists to balance his gut biome.

We spent two weeks outpatient helping him with “coping skills” in cognitive behavior therapy.

The kicker was when our neuropsychologist explained to us that every year he gets at least a dozen families coming to him about skipping a grade and only once in the past three years has he recommended grade acceleration (and that child was our son). Our 7-year-old’s brain was operating 2 & 3 years ahead of his peers across all aspects of measurement.

Our son’s school had never accelerated a child so the conversation was careful and intentional about whether this decision was not only the best for our son but for the school.

We also have a learning plan and are supplementing across the board at home.

The reality of the situation with our son (as it is with most children) is that a decision such as this one – to skip a grade – was part of a much bigger protocol to help guide him to find passion, to find meaning, to connect with the world, to be more joyful, and to appreciate all that this often difficult life has to offer.

Additional Resources

To read more about our journey & learn about resources that helped us along the way, check out the below:

Let me know your struggle. Maybe I can help…

Marnie

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