Doctors ask it. Nurses ask it. Neighbors ask. Soccer coaches. Family members. Honestly, maybe even you ask it! “So . . . what grade is your child in?” Oh dear. How does someone seeking to customize their child’s education answer this one? You might even hear yourself answering, “Well, now that’s a good question!” While our kids are certainly a chronological age (and on most good days, when you’ve gotten enough sleep, this is likely an easy one to answer), often when it comes to academic grade levels, our kids can be all over the place!
Maybe the reality that your child doesn’t neatly fit into a certain grade mold for all subjects is the reason you’re homeschooling in the first place!
Homeschooling offers you the freedom to meet your child where they are—which may be 4th grade in math, 6th grade in reading, and 3rd grade in writing!
So, when it comes to grade levels, keep the following points in mind:
Assess the Situation
Because you know your child so well, you probably have a good sense of their learning readiness based on your observation of their learning. If you’re not sure or suspect that your child might be above or below grade level, it can be helpful for you to use some sort of assessment tool. There are many tools—ranging in cost and complexity—that can help you do it yourself. (See the resource list below.) “Assessment tool” is just a test or checklist that helps you determine what your child knows or doesn’t. And, this may be all you need to help your child succeed. (More on this in Part 3 and in Testing and Evaluations.) However, you may choose to get some professional testing by an educational psychologist, school psychologist, or other evaluator for various reasons such as:
- You find your child is stuck and not progressing well. So, you might want to find out how they learn and look for ways to improve their performance.
- Remembering that learning is not just about intelligence, you may want to get more professional input regarding things like emotional issues, attitudes, motivation, self-regulation, behavior, and self-esteem—which all contribute to learning.
- Or you might use a more in depth assessment tool that alerts you to things you’d like to better understand. Getting a professional’s evaluation of your child’s results can often be helpful. (If you’re an HSLDA member, you can learn about homeschool friendly professionals in your area from our Educational Consultants.)
Really, the important thing is just that you have a solid understanding of your child’s strengths and weaknesses. We know you want to make a plan that is best for your unique kid, and this is an important start.
Resources for Assessing Skills Mastered and Readiness:
- Learning Objectives for Grades K–8 by Hewitt Learning are free, online, checklists of academic milestones for kindergarten through 8th grade (individual use only).
- 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy has an excellent chapter entitled “Who Should Learn What, and When.” This book provides scope and sequence information and will give you real substantial help in choosing curriculum. It’s well worth the price. 102 Top Picks will also help you find curriculum to support a biblical worldview, although it’s helpful to anyone looking for curriculum counseling.
- Teaching Children by Diane Lopez is a scope and sequence book that is based on Charlotte Mason’s methods. This book offers details, lists, and teaching tips for students in grades K–6. Although out of print, it’s
still available on Amazon.
Interested in learning more about what kind of placement testing and assessment tools are available to you? You can learn more in Part 3.
If you have concerns that your child is working significantly behind the average for his age, you may want to chat with one of our Special Needs Consultants and discuss your concerns with a legal representative for your state.
We are here to make homeschooling possible!