What Grade Are You In?

Why is this a question that people assume homeschooled kids should have an answer for? Aside from government education camp this question is irrelevant to an individual’s life and actually even in that system, grade level doesn’t correlate to age for all students. It’s a sorting and tagging question that has more to do with funding than age or ability.

If you’re 8 and in the third grade but you can’t read, have ADHD, autism or any of the other “disabilities” you bring in extra funding to your indoctrination center. If you’re 8 and in third grade but are reading at a college level you get to go to the “gifted and talented” class which also brings in more funding for your center because these two groups need specialized teachers. Really? I can’t google that and teach my kid or show them how to learn something on their own? We live in an age where 90% of what we want to learn is available free online.

Here’s an actual conversation with my 11 and 12 year old.

Man, “What grade are you in?” (he knows we homeschool)

Kids – blank stare

Me asking the man, “Grades are a false construct to sort children for funding in government schools. What grade are you in?”

Man – blank stare – then, “I guess I’d be in 43rd grade.” he subtracted 5 from his age 🙂 “I never thought of it like that.”

From kindergarten to 12th grade you’re tucked into a system that has no relevance outside that system. Maybe something is wrong with that type of system?

Should children be sorted by ages? This isn’t just how government schools decide kids should be placed neatly by born on date but churches and ironically even homeschool co-ops. How old are you? Eight? Okay you are assigned to group three.

How do adults organize themselves when they have the freedom to choose who they associate with? By ability, interest,  jobs, projects etc. Go into a gun store or a quilt shop and spend the day. You’ll see people of all age groups wandering in and having discussions about a topic they love. Some to impart what they’ve learned to those interested in learning and the people new to the activity get to learn from people who actually love their topic. This is true learning and teaching, when both sides are interested. The rest is force and yes I force my kids to learn certain things.

Why can’t we allow children the same freedom? If children had the freedom to associate with the people who lined up with their interests the severe bullying epidemic would decrease dramatically. “School environment” is currently the number one reason to pull your kids out of school.

When a person of any age is forced to participate in a group and they have no skill they’re going to get harassed. It’s part of our evil nature to pick on the outsider to make ourselves feel better. When 30 kids are in this situation with one adult the harassment can be brutal. Especially when those “kids” in highschool are 19 or older.  One teacher can’t watch all of those kids and see each harassment that for some kids builds into years of psychological terror about going to school. For which their parents say, “You have to learn how to get on in the world with other people.”

In San Antonio we have “post highschool, highschool” for kids over 19 that haven’t graduated. It’s a self paced, flexible time schedule for working students and they help them “recover credits” so they can graduate. Hmm, if that works why don’t all highschools offer a self paced learning option starting at 9th grade? After dropping out of highschool a number of times for various reasons (mostly boredom) I finished 2 years of highschool in about 3 months, primarily through testing out of subjects I already knew. Like two years of highschool history done in a week based on multiple choice, true/false tests that I only needed to get an 80% on to pass. At 18 this further ingrained the stupidity of the government school system.

Maybe ask yourself if you would enjoy the day you’ve subjected your child to? Would you like to ride on a bus full of people who ignore each other while on their head phones? Would you enjoy being told when you can and can’t go to the bathroom? Would you enjoy being seated next to someone who harasses you? Would you enjoy being terrible at math everyday because you’ve been forced into the “age/grade” category? Would you enjoy being in a reading group where you’re super excellent but all you hear is you’re bad at math? And then if you complain that must mean something is wrong with you, you’re not fitting in, now you get labeled and medicated!

Children desire freedom just as much as adults do. They want to be with people who enjoy what they enjoy. Just like you. Don’t rob them of that by forcing them to get stressed out in their born on group!

The joy of homeschooling is watching happy homeschool kids play. On a given co-op day at our house kids will be swimming, playing legos, tinker toys, riding bikes, chatting, running around being goofy and it fluctuates during the day not based on age but based on interest. While there is some age separation its based on interest and ability. For poetry memorization all ages gather to listen, unless you’re 2 and aren’t interested in being quiet 🙂 For latin challenges it’s divided by ability, so if you want to be with the “older” kids you have to study harder. Older kids could be one 8 year old who’s really good at memorizing up to 16.

What grade are you in isn’t just a challenge for government schools but also for homeschoolers who are so indoctrinated we think that’s a must! How do we turn this tide away from grade stamps to initiative, ability and interest groups?

Yes, there are things your children need to learn about life and educationally speaking like math and writing but can you design a better process for them so they can learn the basics for the things they have no talent for and excel in the areas they enjoy?

Remember you decided to have your kids, live like you actually wanted them.

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