More on grade levels

In the comments section yesterday Mariposa asked:

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

Interesting question — she has been uncomfortable being with much-older kids in a class setting. Of course, she has been uncomfortable in just about every type of class setting! She is pretty torn herself between wanting to do interesting stuff with older kids and wanting to blend in with a group of kids her age. (Thus the homeschooling thing, right? Then she can do both.)

We also made up the term “ungrade,” which Violet liked because it was funny and hinted that we didn’t follow a traditional grade system, but it seemed to puzzle people and sometimes even turn them off! (Such is our family sense of “humor” . . . ) I think most homeschoolers understand that you just are where you are. Our co-op this fall organizes by age (3-5) (5-7) (8-10) etc., which works well for us, since Violet will be at the young end of her group. Also, the courses are things like Spanish, drama, art, science, etc., so grade level really isn’t a huge issue for us. (Science is an understudied area for us — hence the co-op!) If we had to put her in a math or English class I’d be totally stumped. (And thank goodness we are not doing the elementary version of “social studies”!)

Honestly when we do group activities it is primarily for the social benefit, so I like to keep her with kids she’ll feel comfortable with. We’re lucky that we have hooked up with some very bright homeschoolers who are about a year older — that seems to be a good fit. Violet is a bit “spazzier” than they are, but I’m not sure if that’s personality or maturity. (Eggmaster might say it’s genetics — from my side of the family!) And she loves little kids too — she’ll play with anyone who’ll go along with her schemes!

Here is the truth: I am always paranoid that if I put down 4th or 5th grade for my 8-year-old someone out there is thinking “oh who is this overbearing mother trying to act like she’s got the world’s smartest kid?” I blogged about this last summer on the old blog. For whatever reason I live in fear of being dubbed a pushy parent, and that worms its way in to my decision-making process. I suppose I have to accept reality:

1. Some people have already decided I am a pushy parent who gets too worked up about her kid’s “difference.”
2. Other people are too busy dealing with their own kids to care.

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8 Comments

Filed under Gifted Ed, Gifted Heart and Soul, Oh Mother, Socialization, Why Homeschool?

8 responses to “More on grade levels

  1. I understand where you are coming from. I think if you said Violet was in 4th grade – that’s nine years old, right? – people might just assume she was nine. I also think that people are going to have their Opinions no matter what you say.

  2. I have the same worry. Just because I notice what my kid is good at and then try to figure out how to meet those needs, I worry that I’m going to be seen as “pushing” her. I try hard to lose that. It’s my issue, really, not hers.

    And I don’t think the issue is all about grades or age. I think the things expected of kids at those grade levels are often not very challenging. It isn’t like she needs to be doing stuff 2 grades up, but rather more challenging work AT HER LEVEL. Or doing it at a speed that suits her.

    Social studies is a good example. It is just superficial facts often done in a “fun” way on the assumption that kids aren’t really interested in history, geography, etc. But Tigger is REALLY interested in history. So we do a lot of history. And I’m introducing historical concepts (I blogged about this a while ago) and helping her engage with history in a meaningful way. They don’t do that with kids in any grade, unless you get a good teacher. So it isn’t a grade thing. It is a her interest thing.

    Does this make any sense? Maybe it helps you see a bit where my thing about literature was coming from. How do you engage a bright kid in interesting, challenging conversations that help them develop genuine interests?

  3. Wow. I can identify with all of those issues.

  4. Ditto what Mariposa said.

    I have been a lot more “out there” with Z’s grade level recently in our homeschooling group because I run a local group for parents of HG+ kids, because I have become a kind of go-to person on that issue, and because I feel like it just cuts to the chase about a lot of things that are helpful to know about Z.

    But we are thinking about moving and I can see myself being more circumspect there because it is a small town in the midwest and I am not sure how well they are going to respond to me saying my 6 year old is in 4th…

  5. Cher Mere,

    Just curious, what have you taught Z to say or does she answer the question?

  6. shaunms

    The other factor is, presumably, like all kids these kids do different things at different levels — but sometimes very different. I mean, if I went by averaged grade level as we tested them last year, I’d have to say Violet was in 7th grade — and that’s mainly because her science and “social studies” (!) knowledge base was only about 1.5 yrs. above grade level (which wouldn’t be meaningful at all in a traditional school setting), so it pulled the average down a fair amount. (If they had asked about the Middle Ages, however . . . )

    I try to imagine the looks on gentle inquirers faces if you were to say something like, “Grade levels are pretty meaningless,” no matter how innocently you mean it!

  7. Mariposa – Zoe says “We homeschool so we don’t really do grades”

    Shaun – I usually say the lowest grade level Zoe is working at. I feel like it is kind of a compromise between saying what grade level her age peers would be at and explaining everything.

    Actually I usually don’t give any grade level information but if someone is digging for all the details…

  8. No grade level issues here but I do find that I hedge on the subject matter we are covering in preschool. Citcat has known all the preschool content since she was 18 months. That said, she can memorize the most amazing things but she can’t even write the letters in her name. I’m focusing on teaching her how to write.

    The perception of other people annoys me. It seems that no matter what you do someone will find fault and think you are strange.

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