It’s a common question: “What grade are you in?” My boys usually look at me with a confused look on their face and I do my best to answer. It’s one of those things that isn’t really a homeschool myth for us. We really have no idea about grade levels here and I’m okay with that. In fact I did it on purpose.
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Why I Don’t Focus on Grade Level
Schools have to have a system of organizing students so they have grade levels. It helps them to create a system of moving your children from the start of school until graduation. Even within that system you will find children functioning at, below and above grade level. Homeschooling is no different. My boys are all over the map skill wise. They are at or above where their peers are for certains and they each have their struggles.
I tried the whole grade level thing for a while and found that it had some really negative consequences for my boys. They would feel less smart than other kids because they struggled with something. No matter how often I explained to them that we all have our strengths and weaknesses nothing helped.
So last year I just decided I wasn’t going to deal with grade levels anymore.
What I Focus on Instead
If you noticed our homeschool curriculum choices for this year one thing may have jumped out at you. None of the things I’m using have grades on them. I love that! For my boys I prefer to focus on forward progress instead of completion of grade levels or perfection. They are still expected to work hard and do their best work. But they are allowed to work at their own pace.
For a while my oldest really struggled with math. No matter what I tried to use and how hard he worked things just wouldn’t click for him. I knew that he would get it eventually and because we homeschool he has been able to work as slowly as he need in math and continue forward in his other subjects. There was no reason for me to hold him back in reading or spelling or history simply because he hadn’t memorized all his math facts yet.
At the end of each quarter and the end of the year I sit down with my boys and look at the progress that they made. When it came to math instead of focusing on all the things that my son hadn’t mastered yet I would point to him all the things that he could do now that he couldn’t do at the beginning of the year. I watched this past year as my son dropped the burden he’d been carrying over math.
When I sat down with him to go over the math plans for this year he was excited to get to work. He smiled and said “I’m just going to keep working hard mommy. I’ll get it.” This is what it is all about progress not perfection.