Mom-to-Mom Support/How quickly can my bright son advance through the grades?

How quickly can my bright son advance through the grades?


We have been using CHC materials for the past year and truly enjoying them. I am constantly amazed at the “simple” approach of the materials and how they can fit so much learning into such a gentle lesson!

My question is, I started academics at a very young age with my oldest son. Partly because it seemed like the logical thing for me to do at the time, partly because I had never heard of anything negative about starting early until recently, and partly because he was sincerely interested and wanting to learn. He has done well and would probably be considered “accelerated.” He is five now but ready to start your second grade core materials (math, spelling, grammar, etc). We are just finishing up the first grade ones now and they are really too easy for him. However, he is starting to cause problems during lessons. 

He resists sitting down for lessons, complaining he is too tired, he needs a rest, he wants to take a break or save it for later, etc. Quite often I will ask him to complete a page of, say, My Very First Catholic Speller, and he’ll stare off into space or doodle on the paper instead, even though the material is very easy. At this point I think I could flip to the last lesson of the book and he could spell every word without trouble.

I do want him to have a thorough phonics background though, nor do I want him to get so far ahead that the materials are too mature for him. I will try to work through a few addition problems with him and I feel like I have to coach him to the answer every time—and it’s not like he doesn’t know how to add! It gets to the point where I feel my frustration taking over and I start to get very annoyed with him.

I don’t understand how a child who catches on so quickly can be so resistant to doing his lessons. Is he burnt out? Is the material too boring? Is it just a discipline issue? I will admit to pushing when I should have backed off when he was younger, but I have learned to back off now. We do less than 2 hours of work, four days a week. Thanks for your help.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for your question!  It is possible to start school early if the child seems ready.  However, if you do start school early it is important to keep in mind that your child is still also a five-year-old.  While he may be ahead academically, he may still be a five-year-old emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  It is unusual for a child to be ahead in all areas of development.

For instance, five-year-olds have shorter attention spans compared to that of seven-year-olds.  It is difficult for them to sit for long periods of time.  That is why in the pre-school and kindergarten programs, the actual seat work is less than an hour.  The problem with having him in the older grade is that academics are more demanding, requiring more seat work time, as well as longer concentration effort.  This is difficult for your son to deal with at his young age.  Because of this, you need to be aware that he is going to have difficulty sitting for long periods of time, as well as have a shorter attention span than what the academics might require.  You also have to keep in mind that his memory bank and comprehension level will be somewhat slower as compared to that of a 2nd grader.

Your son sounds as though he is very very bright, which is wonderful.  We definitely don’t want to see him get burned out, especially so early on.  In addition, when he sees that you are frustrated, he is going to feel that frustration, as well.

Because it sounds as though he is getting burned out, I would ease up on the academics for a while, and incorporate into his day more fun, age-appropriate activities that use music, movement, and exploration of his surroundings.  Because of his age, I would definitely keep academics to less than an hour.  You can still keep him ahead academically, but I would definitely give him plenty of time to grow into a six-year-old.

As I have said before, if children are ready for school, then by all means start them off.  However, it is important to keep in mind their actual age while you are doing this, and proceed with caution.  It’s important to go at their pace, but you also don’t want to leap too far ahead.  I think when you have very intelligent children, it is better to provide them with multiple enrichment activities, rather than pushing them through the actual grades.  Most children will have problems down the road if they are advanced more quickly than they are ready.

God bless you and your family!

Laura Corrigan

About Laura Corrigan

Laura Corrigan is a mother of five. She was homeschooled through high school and received her teaching certificate from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She has also homeschooled her own children.