Gap Year before high school

@SJ2727 my daughter switched to DE at 15. As it happened, she was the only younger student in every one of her classes. She worked well in group projects, made friends, and tutored her classmates. She availed herself of office hours and got to know her professors, and she was added to the college’s honors program, where she was invited to present at their symposium. She continued in her ballet classes and three types of gymnastics competition teams. She volunteered at a senior center. In short, she got along and enjoyed her time with people both older and younger than herself and missed nothing for it. I’m not even sure the ages of my friends and coworkers, but I’m certain they’re not all within a year or so of me, and I’m not sure why people find that to be so important for teens.

I guess I’m just getting confused as to what the need to undo earlier acceleration is for if you end up putting the kid in CC a couple of years later anyway. Anyway I’m not sure that’s directly related to OP’s question, whose goals seem to be to want the kid back in the public school system after a gap year, and seeing as genuinely curious questions are now just getting defensive replies (“over a million people do it” isn’t an answer to the question) I’m done here. I do hope the OP’s son has a successful year. The question about whether this gap year, however organized, is actually something the son wants rather than just his parents’ decision based on their ambitions for him, still hasn’t been answered as far as I recall.

This is a lot of maneuvering for a small chance at a D1 sport. Does he want to do an additional year of high school? Will he regret it if he’s not able to do a D1 sport in college?

Well that wouldn’t be an issue for the OP’s son, since she plans to enroll him in PS for 9th-12th, so he would be staying with his same-aged peers throughout high school.

But it’s very common where I live, and I know lots of people whose kids have started CC at 15-16 with no issues. Parents who feel their kids wouldn’t be ready for that would presumably just keep homeschooling if PS wasn’t an option. Or they could do online college classes. My son wasn’t able to find any CC classes that he wanted to take that also worked with his competition schedule, so he ended up doing a couple of online classes. My daughter will probably start CC classes next year as a HS junior.

As for extra-curriculars, there are a lot of co-ops and other homeschooling resources in CA and in most states where homeschooling is popular. We have a huge co-op here, where both of my kids have taken chemistry and A&P (with extensive labs), taught by an experienced teacher with a biochem degree. They also offer lots of clubs and activities like Mock Trial, Model UN, multiple drama groups, chess club, Teen Retreat, Outdoor School, community service projects, and various other teen groups. Kids can (and do) continue with many of those activities even while taking CC classes. D is involved in multiple co-op based activities, plus dance and gymnastics, and she just spent several weeks sailing with another homeschooling family who spends part of the year on their boat. My son’s ECs revolved around his sport, including summer volunteering, coaching, and 20+ hrs/wk training year round, plus extensive travel for national and international competitions.

Would he have “chosen” to be accelerated as a 4 year old if he’d known it could prevent him from achieving his athletic goals? Obviously he didn’t “choose” that — his parents did. So why can’t they, and he, together decide to undo it? If he still doesn’t make D1, at least he’ll know he gave it his best shot, instead of always wondering how things might have been different if only his parents hadn’t put him in school a year early. And given that he is already competing at a level that is “beyond varsity level,” he may have more than a “small chance” at D1. And an extra year to mature as a student may improve his academic stats as well. If he is targeting elite schools, D1-level athletics plus top academic stats opens up a lot of options.

There are literally thousands of high school athletes in the US whose parents redshirted them before they even started school, enrolling them in K as 6 year olds. There are many many homeschooled athletes who “repeat” a year sometime before HS, and many other athletes who either do a “super senior” year or a gap year. It’s not uncommon for college athletes to turn 20 (or even 21) during freshman year. This kid just wants to be a NORMAL 18-19 year old college freshman, with a shot at D1 athletics, and people are acting like this is the worse idea they’ve ever heard.

What we’re wondering is what the student thinks about it. OP hasn’t said. Committing to an extra year of high school may sound good to a 13-year-old and it might be great if the physical growth and athletic ability leads to the D1 outcome they’re hoping for. It may not be so great to the 18-year-old who still has to do a 5th year of high school even if the sports thing doesn’t work out.

Isn’t the same true for all those kids held back from kindergarten? You can’t predict how they will feel at 18, just make the best decision you can at the time, with the student’s input.

No. Kids who start kindergarten at age 5 instead of 4 still only attend for 13 years. OP’s son will attend for 14.

People do this here, late redshirting. They repeat a grade in private school, and either continue in private or move back to public. They don’t take a year off from school.

The 5 year olds are likely in some kind of semi-structured preschool. This 13 year old will likely be in some type of semi-structured program. Learning occurs both inside and outside of all types of schools at all ages. Some don’t even attend kindergarten. Some accelerate or repeat. All kinds of possibilities.

And colleges also have so many options-some use credits to graduate in 3 years, some take 5 or even 6 years for a bachelor’s, some now have 5 year joint plans for a masters or CPAs-lots of variety these days, a good thing.

My daughter was in this same position. She didn’t repeat but I still think she should have. the academics were fine and she kept up fine, but if she’d been with the class a year younger, she would have breezed through. Yes, she was a little bigger when she was 14 (a sophomore) than she was at 13 and a freshman, and sports would have been easier for her to shine, but it was the social aspects that were the hardest for her.

As a freshman, she had no choice but to hang out with the other freshmen because there were no students younger than her in the high school. We moved when she was a sophomore (mid year) and almost all her friends were freshmen. Some were actually older than her because they had Sept or Oct birthdays while she had a December one. When her sport was in season, she traveled freely between friends in the grades, but when it was off season she migrated to the younger kids, kids her same biological age. When the older kids went to the R rated moves, she couldn’t go. They could drive but she couldn’t. I was more strict with a 16 year old (no prom party at the beach) than I might have been if she were 18.

I don’t think OP’s only reason for wanted to do a repeat is athletics. It’s ONE reason, but there are others too.

Although my DD was in 4th grade when we did this, we did it and I am certain it was the right choice for her. D was in K when we moved to a school district that moved her up to 1st because her birthday fit their cut off and she was academically ready. It worked. Although there weren’t many students younger than her, I can still remember at least 3. Moved again summer after she finished 4th grade and in new school district she didn’t meet the cutoff - but was eligible to enroll in 5th because she had just completed 4th. While she was handling the work okay, she wasn’t an academic star and in new school district, she would have had kids over a year older than her due to “redshirting” being very popular here. So we homeschooled and called it grade 4b. Homeschooling worked so well we continued another 2 years and I eventually enrolled her in 7th grade. She actually plays a club sport with her classmates and would have been playing with those the grade younger based on age if we hadn’t “readjusted” her grade level.

I would totally support OP’s proposal for a “gap year” as long as she calls it something like grade 8b and allows her son to pursue what interests him academically. Yes, she will have to register him as homeschooling student, but it sounds like it might be the right thing.

I asked a friend of mine about this who is a baseball coach. He said that rules vary by state but in our state (not California) the “redshirting” must be done before the student begins 8th grade or the student loses a year of eligibility in high school. He suggested contacting California’s high school athletic organization to discuss California’s specific laws regarding high school eligibility. If California even allows 8th graders to redshirt, then the student must meet California’s laws regarding homeschool. Also, NCAA has its own guidelines for home schoolers, although he said they start in 9th grade.

that’s a good rule to know, tutu. In our state, you can’t turn 19 before August of your senior year in order to participate in sports your senior year. That rule hurts many immigrant students :frowning:

our youngest is truly the youngest in her grade. I have many times thought about having her repeat 8th grade at a new school or private school and then start high school at a new place. because . . . . she’s so young! I’m not excited about her being in HS at age 13. It’s a maturity/social thing; not D1 sports or academics or etc.

she thought about it for awhile; but has refused, saying she would be bored stiff repeating 8th grade. So . . that was that. But OP, if your kid is interested, and willing, and you find out and follow all of the rules and details and it would work, why not?

@tutumom2001, I don’t think that rule applies in CA. I am in California, and I know a family who did this exact thing. Their son was a baseball player with a June birthday, so young for his grade and a late developer. He finished 8th grade and then enrolled in a different school district and repeated 8th grade. It was NOT for academic reasons, although it was the child who wanted to repeat. He then went to private school for high school. It all worked out for him. He was recruited for a high level D1 baseball school. This is an issue that many parents don’t consider when they put their 4 year olds in K. Sometimes being really young is not an advantage and it is more complicated to undo an early acceleration.

Folks, the OP’s question isn’t about homeschooling.Her stated goal is to make sure her child has an extra year to grow so that he is more likely to be able to play his sport in college. The merits of homeschooling in general are a separate topic.

I can’t imagine that parents would even think to worry about playing D1 sports when they are deciding whether or not to put their 4 year old in K. My young neighbors worry about the cost of childcare, the quality of various Pre-K programs and the distance between the center and their workplaces, the vacation schedules and whether the parents have enough days between them to cover the time off, and the child’s interest in reading, ability to sit, vs. needing a lot of unstructured run around time, etc. Not to mention that K programs have certified teachers and aides in the classroom who have passed background checks and are fingerprinted- vs. some of the informal Pre-K programs who hire people off the street for “assistant” positions, some of whom have early childcare experience and certification and some who do not.

Worrying about preserving sports eligibility 13 years later seems like the very definition of a high class problem.

@Massmomm, the OP’s latest plan is to home school her child.

The question a lot of people are posting about is whether there are any impediments to this plan in CA.

A little research yielded the following information:

In California, “No student whose nineteenth (19) birthday is attained prior to June 15 of the prior school year shall participate or practice on any CIF team. A student whose 19th birthday is on June 14 or before is ineligible.”

Regarding whether 8th grade graduation starts the clock ticking on high school athletics, it would appear that enrollment in 9th grade is the official start: “A student who first enters the ninth grade of any school following the student’s completion of the eighth grade in any school may be eligible for athletic competition during a maximum period of time that is not to exceed eight consecutive semesters following the initial enrollment in the ninth grade of any school. Said eligibility must be used during the student’s first eight consecutive semesters of enrollment at that school or any other school.”

These are taken from