Anyone with kids will inevitably meet someone in public and be greeted with the question, “so what grade are you in?”. I can recall squirming in my skin when that happened to us. Gifted education can really take a student on a different journey.
I think it’s important to know that when someone asks your child what grade they are in, they aren’t actually asking what grade they are in. They are really making small talk and wondering how old they are. It’s up to you to decide who you let in on your secret… or if it’s a secret at all.
Our answer took many forms over the years, especially as we got more comfortable with the place Elliott was in at any given time. The answer also depended on the person asking. If it was just some random person at the grocery store, the answer would typically be, “Oh, I’m 7!”. Or, “I’m homeschooled”. Sometimes, if Elliott was in the mood, he would say, “It depends on the subject!”. That always raised some curious eyebrows. I typically let Elliott answer the question exactly how he felt best to answer it any given day.
How much time we want to put into these conversations is up to us. If you or your child aren’t comfortable sharing, you don’t have to! If it was someone we were interested in developing a future relationship/friendship with, we might go a little further into the answer while still guarding it a tiny bit. When random-person-in-public is making small talk, they don’t expect to get into our life story either. Sharing their age or that they are homeschooled typically is sufficient. Only a couple times did someone dig further in for an expedition.
Once Elliott started college full time, we took pause and reflected on how to answer this question. We wanted Elliott to know he can be just who he is without having to hide anything. We knew there would be questions and some people who think that we are bragging or doing wrong by him. While radical acceleration is rare, we certainly aren’t the only ones. You just don’t hear a lot about it. Part of advocating for our community is sharing our journey and taking the taboo out of it. This helps people to see that every person can be on their own journey and that it’s ok to be proud of who you are! It can also help open doors for other kids that need acceleration as well.
Today Elliott is proud to answer, “I’m a junior at the University of Minnesota!”. He’s earned that answer and we’re very proud of who he is!