“What grade is your kid in?” The question dreaded by many homeschool parents! How do you answer that? By reading level? Math book? What about just saying their age? Maybe say what grade equivalency it would be in the public school? In the end it doesn’t matter what you tell the random stranger, what matters is whether your child is working at the right level for her.
I think it is safe to say that one of the big reasons parents are drawn to homeschooling is the flexibility for their child to work at their own level in each subject area, rather than trying to fit into the generic mold of public school. Your child might be nine years old, reading at seventh grade level, doing fifth grade math, and writing only short sentences. So, what grade level is this child at? Do we need do define a grade? The important thing is whether your child is gaining new skills, learning new information, being appropriately challenged, and making progress.
Ideally, we want to see all subject levels around the same. Sometimes seeing how low one skill level is, shows us that we need to spend more time developing that one. Sometimes it’s because a student really excels in one area (often it’s reading), and it makes the other subjects appear to be lacking. Academic skills will advance and develop at different rates. Attention span will also affect the rate at which a child advances. If your child isn’t ready for formal schooling at six, don’t worry. Keep working at their pace, and they will catch up when they are ready.
I recommend taking each subject one at a time. Reading determines a lot of the student’s progress in other subjects. In the first few years of schooling it is normal to have to do the majority of the reading and instruction for the student as they build their reading skills.
As your student moves forward in all subjects, allow her pace and skill to determine the curriculum level. Typically, students are ready to advance just one level at a time. You can work through it quickly, and even skip parts, but don’t skip levels without accurately assessing their knowledge of the content, and skill.
It is important that math levels are not skipped. If the student can demonstrate mastery (90% accuracy or higher) of the content being skipped, then I would go ahead and move forward. If she is not able to test past that level, I would just allow the student to work at an accelerated pace, or to move on quickly.
The level for content-based subjects (history, social studies, science, language, and art and music appreciation) should be determined by the age and maturity level of the student. You may find that even though your eight-year-old student can read at a twelve-year-old level, it doesn’t mean that they are ready for the content of the curriculum.
In the end you want to consider your child’s age, maturity, and skill level. Until you reach high school, you don’t really need to worry about “grade level.” Work where your student is at, and look for consistent progress forward.