One thing I've become very against since homeschooling, is the labeling of "grades". Everyone is so sucked into this. When adults meet myself or my kids, they always ask "What grade are they/you in?" This drives me crazy. If we are talking about Brian, I say "he's 12." Then I get the weird look, and then, "So what grade does that make him?" Huh? He needs to been classed by the intellectual level that he's "supposed" to be at as determined by the government? That is so ridiculous it boggles my mind that I was never bothered by this before. So sorry, not my kids. They are people too! You didn't ask what grade I was in! You didn't ask how many college degrees I have! or whether I have a Masters or PhD! You just left me well alone or you asked me how old I was, which would prove to me how "smart" you are. If you are curious about my child's intellectual level, ask them some questions, engage in an intelligent conversation, that is, if you are capable of that yourself. (Uh oh, sorry, I'm starting to sound mean.)
So I'm now training the kids to handle this themselves, and at least Brian is getting good at it.
stranger: What grade are you in?
Brian: I turned 12 in August.
stranger: Oh, OK. (confused state here) So what grade does that make you?
Brian: I don't like to subject myself to a class system and refer to myself as being in one of those classes based on an intellectual level predetermined that I'm supposed to be in based on my age.
stranger: Nice to meet you. (still greatly confused, most likely)
I really came to realize this over the past 2 years because of my youngest, Charlie. I bought a video program called "Your Baby Can Read" when Charlie was almost 3. I would put the videos in every once in a while and Charlie could watch them if he wanted to or not. He loved them. He didn't watch them ALL the time or even by their recommended schedule, but he did watch. It would crack me up that one of the first words he would learn to read was "Hippopotamus". Seemed too advanced. 2 years later, Charlie reads anything and everything. I first realized how good he was when he was playing with my phone and pulled up the web browser and typed in "www.clubpenguin.com." Math is his other thing. I remember that he learned to count very easily and at 2 years old could count well past 100 - I had no patience to see how far he could go. He said a million, and I took his word for it! So, I bought a first grade Math book from Abeka and let him "play" with he. He LOVED it and since he couldn't write numbers at all, he would tell me the answers and I would write them mostly to just keep track of what he'd done. He's now 1/2 way through the 2nd grade book.
I've had people CRITICIZE this! "He's too young to know that stuff." Huh? Says who? If he has a passion for something, and wants to learn more about it, I'm going to help him learn it. I don't care how old he is. So it hit me, we have this set system in place for what you "need" to know and when you need to know it, and we place kids in "grades" depending mostly on their age. Then depending on your grade, you need to learn certain things. If you learn those things early and/or easily, you are "gifted". If you learn them later and/or with difficulty, you are "learning disabled". This makes it even more ridiculous! Just because a child doesn't care to learn that 2+3=5 when they are 6, doesn't mean they can't learn or won't want to for that matter when they are 7, or 10 for that matter! I'd say it's pretty hard to get through life without understanding basic math skills. Society demands it. John Taylor Gatto has pointed out that if you have 2 kids and one learns to read when they are 4 and the other learns when they are 9, when they are 14, you can't tell who learned early and who learned "late". So why the fuss on deciding what kids need to know when? I just don't get it!