This is a hard one to explain to most people. Their eyes glaze over when I answer their question. My son is learning Algebra 1, studying world history, shop, home economics, life skills, biology, and agriculture. Other than math I couldn’t tell you what grade level he is really on. If he had stayed in public school he would be in 8th grade this year. However, he has done the community college English assessment and is ready to start Freshman English. Math would be “remedial” because we haven’t covered high school math just yet, well we are just beginning that journey.
Is grade level important?
I don’t really believe it is. I also don’t believe in standardized testing either, though we do have to do one at the end of the school year to stay in compliance. The purpose of grade levels is to categorize students based on a set curriculum. Supposedly they only advance if they have successfully completed the assigned course work. The problem with this is that the curriculum has to be taught to a certain level and there are students that are above or below that level.
There are some school systems that are now considering competency based education so that students can move on as they are ready to. The antiquated idea of moving through grade levels does not prepare students for their future. Compulsory education was started to ensure that people could read, write and do math well enough to work in factory jobs. Those jobs are few and far between now. Even in traditional trades traditional education methods do not help prepare our children for when they eventually have to adult.
How do I educate my son?
I use a lot of different methods and materials to create an atmosphere educational adventure and a life long love of learning. I include my son in these decisions. What? What? You let him help choose what he is learning? Most definitely! It helps keep his interest in things. For example, he is studying the Romanov dynasty as well as working on a research paper on Thomas Jefferson. Russia really became a world power on the tsars and tsarinas of the Romanovs. It leads into 300 years of European history from the end of the dark ages through enlightenment to WWI. Thomas Jefferson follows early American history.
What materials do we use? Books, the internet, libraries, vidoes. I have added curiosity stream and great courses to our cable bill. We have text books, work books, printed worksheets. All different kinds of things available for him to use at his disposal. We also have a great many discussions. Chores, preparing the house and outdoors for our farming aspirations helps with science, math, and life skills.
Robotics! OMG! You wouldn’t believe the mad skills that come from this adventure. Public speaking, physics, computer programming, math, software, professional graciousness, to name a few skills that are involved. First Tech Challenge is such an awesome program, allowing young people to find their place in the world of STEM.
All of this leads to a child who loves to just learn. He had a wonderful teacher one day describe him as a sponge. He really and truly is. He is gifted with the ability to remember easily. He looks at the world differently so he see things in a different light. He follows his interests with a variety of methods of learning. He will be successful at whatever he decides to do in life. Right now his eye is on becoming a biomedical engineer. We will see where life takes him.
Light, Love, and Peace