I Have No Idea What Grade He Is


People don’t usually ask what grade the Engineer is in.  He’s pretty obviously a little kid.  They assume (correctly) that he’s in kindergarten.  And for my sanity I just say kindergarten if asked.  The problem isn’t what grade he’s “in,” it’s what grade-level work he’s doing.  And that, my friends, is a completely different story.

He keeps astonishing me.  Just when I think he’s settled on one general range he says or does something that lets me know how wrong I am.

In fact, the only thing that I’m completely sure about is that he is NOT kindergarten level.  Nope, he’s way above that.

I figured out that doing math practice was boring for him because he’s already done with basic addition and subtraction.  He hasn’t mastered it,  but he’s familiar enough with it to be bored.  We’re still working on subitizing (instantly recognizing numbers by groupings) but he’s almost mastered that too.  So much for that tens frame I made for him…

The other day we inadvertently started basic division and multiplication.  He figured out how many superstars he had by grouping threes together (reward chart: 3 little stars = 1 superstar.  Rewards are 3,6, or 12 superstars to redeem rewards.)  Later we figured out how many days it would take him to earn 20 superstars (at his current rate, 10 days or less. He’s motivated!)  It was a challenge for him but he did great.

I could go on and on: a long list of things he’s mastered or knows well enough to pass.  You would probably be bored.  I’m bored!  I’m not saying all this to brag about my smart kid – heavens knows what I would give for some “normal” in my life!  I’m saying this: it’s impossible to know what he needs this week.  And forget doing lesson plans for the year, or even the month, because he gets the concepts really quickly and I have to adapt and adjust.

Here’s the problem: I have no idea if we’ve covered the basics well enough to advance, but he’s dragging me ahead with him anyway.  At some point, a missed lesson will bite me in the butt and we’ll have to go back and cover short and long vowel sounds or whatever.  I confess, we missed doing that completely (and according to Common Core standards that’s first grade anyway, meh.)

I need a K-12 curriculum.  Not because he’ll do it, because goodness knows he’s bouncing through content so fast that he’ll burn through a book in a week.  Nope, I need something that I can refer to and make sure we’ve covered most of the stuff at some point.  I have a list of goals and guidance, but it’s for Kindergarten.  Not Kindergarten reading, 3rd grade math, 7th grade earth science, and so on all at the same time.  Welcome to asynchrony!  It’s fracking exhausting!

We talk a lot about gifted kids needing to feel challenged in an academic setting.  Well, let’s just take a minute right now and point out how difficult it is to figure out what challenge they need at any one specific moment.  Because what they need is like a target painted on a Cheetah’s butt when it’s sprinting away.

It’s not like he can tell me “hey mom, I need a textbook on division, I’m done with addition.”  He doesn’t know what the next level is, and frankly, neither do I because I’m so darned frazzled just trying to keep in range of his abilities.   And if it’s difficult for me, the parent who’s teaching him and observing him every single day, how much more difficult would it be for a teacher in traditional school?  Difficult?  Impossible!

Add asynchrony into the mix and the level goes up exponentially.  How do you track progress when he’s all over the board?  How do you keep all the levels organized in your mind so that you can challenge your kid?  This whole thing has been a huge learning curve for me too.

I’m feeling very scatterbrained.

I’m lost.  I’m swimming in an ocean of uncharted depths and I’m trying to keep up with a speedboat.

Worst, I feel like I’m failing him.  We homeschooled him to give him that supportive, challenging environment that he needs.  If I can’t pull things together (ha!) and figure out where he is and where he’s going, I can’t give him that challenge that he needs.

I’m probably stressing too much.  He’s having fun.  He’s learning.  I’m adjusting what I’m doing to try and meet him where he is.  I guess that because I’m an organized, weird kind of old-school homeschooler that this unschooling/child-led thing is making me feel really frazzled and unprepared.  And after all, he’s in kindergarten.  I’ll repeat that for emphasis – KINDERGARTEN!  So I shouldn’t be worrying about division, the reproductive system, and how to make a conveyor belt, right?  {sigh}  Wrong.

I think our end-of-year evaluation is going to raise some eyebrows.  “You studied what?”

Yup, we sure did.  And he loved it!


  1. Ahhhh , . . the challenges of our own inner dialogue as homeschooling mamas!! I have these exact same thoughts at least weekly as I try to figure out what each of my kiddos needs. One thing that’s worked really well with Math for us is to keep plowing along at whatever fast pace my kiddo wants, allowing him to use calculators or whatever else he needs to keep engaging with new concepts, but then have days where we just play math games that solidify the math facts that he gets too bored with to master. Works for us! Oh – and my oldest is 11 – he is now old enough to let me know what the gaps are and then we catch up on the knowledge he’s looking for. Just the other day he goes, “Mom, I know nothing about geography. Like, where’s Kentucky? I think it’s a state, but maybe I’m wrong? Can we learn geography please!” Ha! So, there’s time and he’ll let you know! 🙂


    • That’s so awesome that he was able to tell you what he was missing – and that he wanted to fill in that gap! Sounds like you’re doing it right 🙂 Math games work really well for us because he doesn’t realize it’s school. Somehow that makes it more fun? Who knows, I certainly don’t understand how his 5yo brain works!


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