It seems like every time I turn around I hear another homeschooler asking, “Are my kids on grade level?” After all, we parents want what’s best for our kids…how can we measure how they are doing if we don’t use some sort of standard?
Taking full responsibility for your kids’ education is scary. What if I goof up? What if I leave out something important and they go through life in ignorance of Shakespeare or unable to get a job because they can’t spell or figure out percentages?
We all want our kids to grow up to be successful, fulfilled adults, right?
So, when your 2nd grader is still counting on his fingers or your 3rd grader is spelling because “becus,” you might begin to feel a bit anxious. What if they never get it? What if there is something really wrong here? What if I’m a bad teacher? What if…? You fill in the blank.
I won’t lie to you. Sometimes there really is a problem when a child seems to be underperforming in particular areas (and I have talked about learning challenges in the past).
But more often our children are just being the unique individuals that they are. And sometimes that means you have a “2nd grader” who reads at a 5th grade level, spells at a 3rd grade level, and does arithmetic at a 1st grade level. Oh, and he still writes all in caps.
Ack! Well, he is a young 2nd grader…if he were in public school, he’d actually be in 1st grade…should we hold him back?
Should we hold him back?
This is what was going through my mind the other day. Maybe we pushed Peter too early. Maybe we should hold him back.
Hold him back?
Think about what that means a minute.
I couldn’t hold my child back. Even if I wanted to.
Part of the reason I educate my children myself is because I know that it’s impossible to fit them into those neat little boxes. “2nd grade” is a label that goes onto a form to the state. It’s something the bank teller understands when we make small talk. It’s an easy comparison for the grandparents.
But my son isn’t really a “2nd grader.” He’s an individual who works at his own level in each area and improves his already existing skills. It is helpful for me to know that arithmetic is a challenging area for him. Yes.
But if he’s having difficulty in one area or another, the answer is not to hold him back. It’s to find out what he needs to move forward.
Sometimes that means reviewing some concepts or exploring them in a different way because something foundational is missing. Yes. But as homeschoolers, I can do that without “repeating 2nd grade.”
Don’t be disheartened if your child is not on “grade level” in one area or another. Comparisons can be helpful, yes! They can show us where more work needs to be done, but when we use them as a yard stick to beat ourselves with when our children don’t seem to make the grade, that’s not helpful.
Your child’s education is constantly developing with him as an individual. In some areas, he will improve as he matures. A concept that seemed impossible for him to understand a year ago might be child’s play to him now.
In other areas, he’ll need more support. If he seems a little behind in some way, this is a gift to you to help you see where you can help him, not a reason to give up.
Learning is a life-long journey, something that I’m still doing and I’m sure you are, too.
Did you ever worry because one of your children wasn’t on grade level?