plugging along — and a grade-level question

Victoria is much better today — she did wake up with a strange rash, but her fever is down and she is totally ravenous. (As you might be if you didn’t eat for 10 days.) The Dr. imagines the rash is a side effect of the fever. She was feeling well yesterday, too, so we let her friend who lives across the street come for a visit, but that turned about to be a disaster. Luckily Violet also likes this little friend, so we let her stay and play while Victoria came inside and snacked and generally groused. I think she was crushed that the visit she was really looking forward to (“This is going to be the Best Playdate Ever!” — actual quote) was such a disappointment. The little friend has a brand new baby at home, so I wanted to let her stay and give her folks a little break.

Still, we had a nice day. We have a different airco in the window, so we are not totally melting, and I had time to clean up — I’m not sure I vacuumed since Victoria got sick! We are back on geometry, which is a lot of fun — basically problem solving. Violet has some insecurities about the problems, so I try to help without helping too much. When a diagram says “ABC is a straight line,” find angle d, and she is at a loss, I will read it aloud — “ABC is a straight line — that tells you all you need to know to solve the problem.” Violet: [screws up face, looks pained] “Ohhhhhh, wait . . . I think I know . . . oh . . . so a straight line is 180 degrees right?” [To which I say, “well, is that right?”] I swear, I am fulfilling all my critics’ expectations — this kid can be so paranoid about mistakes and so eager for me to tell her she’s doing well.

She is impatient about finding intermediate steps too. I tell her, “If you can’t figure out how to find the angle they’re asking for, see what other angles you can figure out.”

I am planning to pull out the Singapore Primary Mathematics 5 Challenging Word Problems book–it’s designed for “capable students” to use problem-solving skills (as distinct from reviewing facts). It has a set of Practice Problems for each of 15 general areas relating to the Level 5 Singapore curriculum, and the a few “Challenging Problems.” From the intro:

If you cannot solve some of the challenging problems, do not be disheartened or disappointed. They are more challenging than the usual problems.

Uh, OK, thanks.

Actually, the book looks designed for students to use independently, like as in-class “enrichment,” but in a good way. I have a sense this is going to be a good book as we move away from the operations emphasis of elementary math and into logic and more complicated equations. Once we get through what we have left of level 5 I think we’ll go back and do the Challenging Word Problems book for another few weeks review before heading to level 6. That should have us starting right after we get back from DisneyWorld. (but more on that another day!)

Speaking of levels, if you have stuck with me this far, what do you homeschoolers with “accelerated” learners do when asked, “what grade?” For a social inquiry, I often say something like, “We homeschool, but a kid her age would be going into 3rd grade.” But as we sign up for various activities with our homeschool group (fall is coming!) we sometimes have to fill out the grade. For things that are not specifically gifted-oriented, I have started saying 4th grade, a 1-grade skip. If she were in school that’s where she’d be–if she really goes back to school someday I’d plan on a 2-grade skip, but I don’t think our school would have agreed to that by this point, and I don’t want her with kids a *lot* older than her. For things that are gifted/accelerated, I either call for proper placement or go with her chronological peers.

I like to have a flat answer, because I don’t really want to get into our life story with every museum administrator or ticket office. But I feel a tiny bit dishonest saying 4th grade, even though it’s true that the grade-skip was in place before we left. Probably I worry too much about this stuff.



Filed under Curriculum, Family Fun, Gifted Ed, Schoolday Doings, Socialization

7 responses to “plugging along — and a grade-level question

  1. I think they are more concerned about age appropriateness. So I’d stick with the 4th grade if that is genuinely where she would be were she in school. For people who are just asking because it is code for how old, I’d just say her age.

  2. I am so glad Victoria is feeling better! What a relief that must be to you.

    I’ve never been asked the grade question. We mostly get, “not in school today?”, and the occassional “how old are you?” If I was asked … um … I’d have to decide on an answer depending on who had asked and what context they had asked in. Probably for a stranger making a casual enquiry I’d say something like, “we’re homeschooled so we don’t really follow grades.”

    Answering a fellow homeschooler is different, and there I might use the “asynchronous” word and say Rose was in a couple of different grades. For a friend I might be tempted to give the long (true) answer! But it would have to be a really, really good friend.

    If I’m joining her up in a group and they insist on a grade level, I tend to average it off at 6th grade. Its only partly accurate, but it gives an idea that she’s accelerated without going into the whole asynchronicity thing. If people want to make a big deal of it, better they do so before she joins the group.

  3. That is a difficult question and one we struggle with. What does Violet think?

  4. shaunms

    I started answering your question but it got so long that I’m making it a post.

  5. Hi, Shaun,

    Did you send me an e-mail?

  6. I am glad Victoria felt a little better. Poor kid.

    I feel like we get asked what grade Z is in every other day! What we say is “We homeschool so we don’t really do grades.” Then I would say she is 6. If they persist sometimes I say “well she does advanced work and she is in dfferent grades for different things.”

    Although today when Z’s Dr. asked me why I homeschool I said “Because at home Z is allowed to learn at her own speed. She is doing 4th grade and up.” I felt that was such a good reason that she would leave it alone. But she did ask me the “S” question.

  7. shaunms

    Did you say, “We prefer to keep her away from other children and limit her exposure to fresh air and sunlight to alternate Sundays?” *wink*

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