My personal opinion on grade levels is that they are more for us grown-ups than for the kids. They help us group children; they help us organize and structure material; but they can hem in a child who may be ahead in one subject and behind in another. So, taking advantage of homeschool, we’ve definitely pushed the grade level.
But I would add one caution: a child who might be ahead in academics is still the same age at heart. Here’s what I mean, and what I’m learning in the journey. My six year loves learning, loves books, loves school. He’s pestered me nearly everyday of summer wanting to start next year’s work, and I keep putting him off. I need the break, and I know he really does, too (whether he thinks he does or not). He’s six and will be entering 2nd grade. But while he can handle the 2nd grade academic challenge just fine, he still has the stamina of a 6 year old.
For example, early this year I pulled an old A Beka reader from my stash of curriculum that fit just perfectly with our Tapestry of Grace studies. We were studying the Roman Empire during the time that Jesus lived and the reader was Growing Up Where Jesus Lived. Unfortunately, the reader was intended for the end of the 2nd grade year; but by the time my son would be at the end of 2nd grade, we’d be studying pilgrims, not the Roman Empire.
The vocabulary was challenging, but not too challenging for him. So, I decided to give it a try, knowing I could always use it as a read-aloud if it proved too difficult.
The morning I introduced this book, my son pounced on it excitedly—then he opened the book and saw the pages of text. It wasn’t the actual reading that discouraged him; it was the fact that there were lines upon lines of it. The layout, not the vocabulary, discouraged him. (Remember? 6 year old stamina)
So, I had an idea. We read the book together. He read a page, and I read a page. It was the most fun we’ve had with a reading assignment that I can remember. That book was more than a great history/Bible lesson; it was a great bonding lesson. It was the experience of coming alongside him during a challenge that really made the book memorable.
But one other lesson I learned was to remember not just what he knew but old he was when I planned his lessons.
As we homeschool moms find ourselves in the throes of planning a new year, I wanted to encourage you to go ahead and push the grade level if you need to, but don’t lose the fact that your kid is just a kid. Make the adjustments to fit both his head and his heart.