“What grade are you in?”
When this question is posed to one of my kids, they often glance up at me for guidance. And then I stand there and think for a moment, which must look really ridiculous—Who can’t remember what grade their kid is in, especially when that person is their teacher?
The curriculum we use is no help. All three kids are following a middle-school life sciences program, and our history program is written for middle schoolers too. My 1st grade son is doing second-grade math, but also plays math games in a weekly class with kindergarten kids. My oldest is in a writing program with kids from about three different grades.
But, that doesn’t mean they are all “beyond” their grade. My oldest, a fifth grader, is finishing last year’s math program, which is technically a fourth-grade book. Same with grammar. But, when we started this year, rather than close the books we had been doing in June, I chose to roll them over and actually finish them, even if it took all year to do it. But, that doesn’t mean it was an easy choice.
I worry that by “falling behind” a year, she will be at a disadvantage when she hits the high school years. Then again, isn’t it more important that she master the basic skills before she moves forward? I think most teachers would understand the value of the latter even if the school system pushes the former—we found this out when we joined MAVA, our state’s virtual public school, for 8 weeks this past year. Their insistence that we keep “moving forward” even when the girls got stuck on a concept was one of the main reasons we quit.
But while I’ve heard many, many families talk about how their third graders are doing “fourth grade math” or kindergartners are reading “third grade books”, I don’t hear as many admitting that their children are below grade level in any subject. Are we embarrassed? Afraid we’ll be judged as bad “teachers”?
What about you? If you homeschool, do you use grade level as a basis for the curriculum you purchase? Will you move on to the “next grade” in September, even if you didn’t finish this year’s books?
Are you quicker to offer that your child is “above grade level” in certain subjects than below? I sure am. But I wish I didn’t care.