Skipping Grades for Gifted Children

The American school system puts students in grades based on age. However, for a some students, being with same-age peers in the classroom might not be the best option. Dr. Susan Assouline discusses her work as an expert in ‘academic acceleration’:

One effective way to help talented students remain intellectually challenged and engaged in school is to have them skip a grade. Research shows that about 1 percent of students grade-skip. Students can skip grades at any level, and they can even skip multiple grades. Grade-skipping has led to many concerns. In particular, concerns have been raised related to students’ social adjustment and emotional health.

We are scholars of gifted education. Our research – A Nation Empowered – shows many advantages to grade-skipping for talented students. However, students skipping grades need to be socially and emotionally ready for it.”  – Dr. Susan Assouline 

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Matt talks with Dr Susan Assouline, director of the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. Dr. Assouline earned her PhD in Education at the University of Iowa where she is currently a Professor of Psychology.

Instilling Grit in Kids

Why is America so obsessed with making sure we instil grit in out kids today? Dr. Paige Gray joins the Matt Townsend Show to illustrate why we want to make sure our kids our tough:

“As someone who specializes in children’s literature and cultural attitudes toward childhood, I’ve been interested in this insistence on fostering grit. I’ve also taught writing and literature over the past year to West Point cadets, who, it seems, must learn how to acquire this somewhat elusive quality. But I can’t help but wonder if we’re talking about grit in an unproductive way. And maybe one of the problems is that it’s presented as a concept: abstract, indeterminate and somewhat magical or mysterious.How can we define grit, or the idea behind it, in a way that means something? What if we’re not framing the discussion of grit in the right way, since grit can mean something entirely different for a kid living in the Chicago’s South Side than it does for a kid living in the suburbs?” -Dr. Paige Gray

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Matt talks with Dr. Paige Gray, who is currently teach media and literature at Fort Lewis College and advising the student publication. Her research considers the intersection between children’s literature and journalism. She’s a published journalist and academic with a forthcoming article in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly. She also has articles in Children’s Literature and Bookbird. America is built upon the achievements of those who had true grit. But Children’s Literature expert Paige Gray warns that America’s near obsession with grit might have some potential pitfalls. Dr. Gray discusses her article “What’s behind America’s insistence on instilling grit in kids?”

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Allowing your Children to Fail

Ever seen or heard someone who sounded like a “helicopter parent”?  It’s all too easy to overshadow your kids with too much concern and too much help. Jessica Lahey says that when you back off, you’re giving your kids a chance to succeed or fail, which is the best thing you can do for them:

“I think a lot of it comes down to temperament. There’s a lot of research done on children who have parents who are highly directive, and guide them in every step of their lives. Those children usually end up with ‘learned helplessness’, or they choose to be helpless because they know mom and dad will always be there to rescue them. Those kids don’t develop the ability to push through hard times. When you take those parents away from those kids, they’re a lot less likely to push through problems because they’ve never had to develop that skill. The kids who succeed the most are those who have parents that are there for them, but they aren’t directing them in every little thing. They let them make their own mistakes, and through trial and error, they are able to overcome hardships. These are the kids we refer to as ‘resilient’. They have an ability to adapt.” – Jessica Lahey

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Matt talks with Jessica Lahey, the author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. She is an educator, speaker and writer. She writes biweekly Parent-Teacher Conference advice column for the New York Times and is a contributor to the Atlantic. What do we learn from failure? Jessica Lahey, suggests that the best parents learn to let go so their children can succeed.


Join The Matt Townsend Show, Weekdays 9am-12pm ET on BYU RADIO (Sirius XM Channel 143) or

Ways We Sabotage our Children’s Success in School

It’s so easy to want to do everything for our kids sometimes. We just want what’s best for them, right? According to Heather Johnson, constantly vouching for our kids can sabotage their success in school:

“Sometimes we are so worried about what other people are going to think, that we don’t let kids make their own decisions. You don’t want to be the parent of the kid who’s behaves poorly in school, or the kid who is failing biology. But you need to let them make those mistakes. You can’t let other parents’ opinion of you or your child influence how you parent your child. In order to let our kids progress, we have to let them make decision on their own, and teach them correct principles.” -Heather Johnson

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Join The Matt Townsend Show, Weekdays 9am-12pm ET on BYU RADIO (Sirius XM Channel 143) or

Coaching your Child Through Anxiety and Worry

Trying to calm a child from their fears and anxieties is no easy task.

Studio 5 Contributor, Dr. Matt Townsend, shares 5 ways to help bring your children back to a calm state.

The ABC’s of Character Building for Parents


Children that have different personalities, different strengths, and different interests can be a challenge to parents.

Dr. Matt Townsend, Studio 5 Contributor and Relationship Coach, helps the parenting process by discussing the ABC’s of character development.

Dr. Matt Townsend's Web Site