What grade are you in? The most common question asked by strangers, or at least it seems like it when you are homeschooling. Whether you are at the grocery store or a family reunion, I guarantee this question will be asked of your kids.

I debated back and forth about whether or not I was going to be strict about keeping my children at a particular grade level. At first, I was dead set against not keeping my kids at grade level. Why? I was afraid they wouldn’t be motivated. I feared they wouldn’t be learning everything they were supposed to for their age. And, to be honest, I didn’t want to deal with the critics.

Once I thought about it though, I realized grade level does not have to be a burden. I know my children. I know what they need. If I see a weakness show up in math, then we rabbit trail from there and focus on getting that particular skill mastered. If my son is excelling in reading then not only do I push him quickly to the next level but I assign more activities that involve reading so he can perfect his skill.

Am I really going to go through every single worksheet in the math book if my daughter clearly understands the concepts? I’d rather just buy the next level up and go from there, regardless of her grade level.

Of course it’s a wonderful feeling when your five year old is reading at a fourth grade level but what about when your nine year old is spelling at a third grade level? Not so exciting. It can be frustrating when you child is not progressing in certain subjects but I am certain others have that problem. Public schooled kids and homeschooled kids alike.

Think about it. In public schools you have kids in advanced classes who are excelling above and beyond. Then, you have remedial classes for those who struggle. In high school, the smart kids have the option to take AP courses that count for college credit while right down the hall you have resource centers and tutors for those who aren’t right on par.

As homeschoolers, we don’t have to worry about whether our kids fit into a certain mold. Yes, there is end of the year testing in many states, but if parents are proactive in their child’s learning, then their
child will do just fine, if not excel, in these situations.

Not worrying about grade level helps you focus on your child’s needs and hone in on their weaknesses. If they struggle in writing, take a few weeks and do a creative writing workshop to get some practice in. If you realize that division is hard then skip the books and work on that for a bit. On the other end of the spectrum, if your child is in fascinated with the ins and outs of airplanes, do a unit study in addition to his other work. My son is an excellent reader so I actually assign him double the amount of what his curriculum suggests, unknown to him of course! It pushes him and he feels a sense of accomplishment when we is done. I would rather him accomplish something great instead of just “getting through” the day.

So I guess the next time my kids are asked what grades they are in, they’ll just have to answer, “which subject?” and I am perfectly fine with that!