Then we moved to another state. My daughter had a teacher for third grade that had two gifted daughters of her own, and she had studied gifted strategies. She immediately recognized Haylie's giftedness and she pushed her--hard. Haylie thrived. Her reading level increased dramatically, as well as her writing skills. When the students were asked to do a report on a famous person, after reading their biography, Haylie brought home a book that was written on a middle school level, not a third grade level and it was perfect for her. She learned a ton that year and was NOT on the same level as the other students.
It has been twenty years since Haylie was a first grader, but little has changed. My sister is dealing with the exact same attitude toward her highly gifted Kindergartener. She is completing the first grade curriculum for reading, but will be expected to do it again next year. She can add and subtract in her head, but she is not allowed to go on to first grade math. The teacher told my sister that by third grade, all students seem to catch up, so it will be ok.
So, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Do students really catch up developmentally by third grade, OR is that idea so entrenched in the teaching philosophy that we make it a self-fulfilling prophesy? Does not teaching bright kids on their level when they are in the primary grades, ensure that all students catch up? I decided to see if any research has been done on this wide held belief. I am still searching for actual research on the subject, but I did find the following articles that provide thought provoking information.
This is a great article by Carol Bainbridge that looks at this question from several angles. It discusses "hothoused children," or children that are drilled on letters, numbers, sounds, etc. from an early age, and then come into school ahead of their peers. Some of these students have had three years of preschool and lots of one-on-one time, but when they enter school, and have to learn required skills at a faster pace, they slip, and they are no longer ahead of the rest of their class. I acknowledge that this happens, but the second half of the article gives good information about how to recognize a truly gifted student.
Here is another article with one mom's opinion about early education and giftedness. The comments are well worth reading.
And just so you don't feel alone in your struggles...here is a page of "real" situations that parents have encountered while trying to advocate for their gifted kids...laugh or cry, it's your choice!