The thing is, I don’t see myself as teaching more than one grade. What is a grade? Teaching kids common stuff at a common age. Unless you are a homeschooler with twins, triplets, or quintuplets, you don’t have kids with common ages.
What is the value of teaching geology in grade 5 and astronomy in grade 2? Addition in grade 1 and subtraction in grade 2 makes sense, but addition and subtraction are found hand in hand. Some kids come into school reading chapter books, some are struggling well into elementary school. Kids are vastly different in aptitudes.
In a homeschool scenario, with our one to thirteen children, we simply engage our kids where our children are at.
When we bring our kids to the science center, zoo, aquarium, or educational place, they ask questions, but they ask different questions. They have different background knowledge. Different curiosities. When we sit down to explore a new lesson on geography, or history, or do experiments, watch a documentary or listen to a musical piece, they engage differently.
Say whaaa? It can’t be that easy. Yes. Yes it can.
Sure, there are differences in maturity. Sure, there are differences in comprehension. Sure, there are differences in thinking approaches. And aptitudes and interests.
But there just is no average kid in an average grade. Anywhere. And since you have only made four (like us), or three or two or thirteen…you only have to learn your kids, and engage your kids.
Grades might be an effective strategy in teaching many kids at one time if all kids were average. But there ain’t no average kid…no average people.
My husband discusses economics with them as a group, explores unusual math concepts as a group, like Fibonacci’s sequence and other stuff I don’t know. Occasionally, they present concepts to each other, when their dad or I are unavailable, or just because they think an older siblings ‘gets it’.
If we present them with science experiments, they easily do those together. With the addition of our fifteen year old’s on-line science class, our daughter has led a few discussions and experiments with the youngers. I’ve learned a lot about weather prediction and physics laws from her.
Wowsas, the youngers are advantaged.
Hang with your kiddos long enough, and you’ll see your nine year old answer questions or share tidbits that your sixteen year old doesn’t know. Your twelve year old can answer math questions your fifteen year old doesn’t know. Because they are different people. With different aptitudes and curiosities.
In order to understand each of your children, you can explore different learning theories.
Classical education theory suggests there are transitions in thought life of children in different ages. These are guidelines, not fixed ranges (because there ain’t no average kiddo.)
Around the GRAMMAR STAGE (grades 1-4), children are able to absorb huge amounts of information, but most are not yet able to make abstract connections between the facts they are learning.
Around the LOGIC STAGE (grades 5-8), kids are connecting ideas to form a solid basis for further communication.
Around the Rhetoric Stage (grades 9-12), kids learn to really use the information, details, and patterns that have been building to analyze and communicate ideas on a deep level.
If you want to learn more about this theory, click here…
I’ve equally found useful information from John Taylor Gatto and John Holt, both veteran school educators turned unschoolers. In fact, I have been challenged about what an education is as I have read from these two teachers. What they have to say about learning, children, and education… well, I’ll show a taste of what I’m talking about…
Unschooling, classical education and every learning theory in between informs the parent how they might understand their children.
If we really want to know how our kids think and how they learn, we simply engage their interests and their thoughts, watch them, ask them their opinions, then see them flourish.