We Said “First Grade” But We Meant “Kindergarten”

A while ago, I posted our curriculum plans for “first grade”. On paper, this year was definitely “first grade” for Vivienne – first grade reading, first grade math, you name it. HOWEVER, we learned something important: everyone in the whole wide world groups children according to grade level and not age, so our sweet 5 year old would technically be bumped up with the 6 and 7 year old’s in all other activities. Until, of course, she begins her second grade work this Spring, at which time she’d join the great-big 7 and 8 year old’s… all the while, she’s very much just a five year old with many, many “just five year old” ways.

So, we decided to call this year Kindergarten, regardless of how far ahead or behind she may be of the typical “Kindergartner”. It finally dawned on me, that our entire homeschooling life will operate on this principle: she will always be working at her personal pace, and we can’t keep shifting her “grade level” to match what she is – or isn’t – achieving academically.

It only took her a few days to reverse the habit of saying “I’m in first grade!” To saying (for one more year), “I’m in Kindergarten!” just as she is. It hasn’t fazed her one bit. This way, she is with the Kindergartners in Sunday School – exactly where she should be. Sure, she is probably reading more fluently than some of them, but they are probably accomplishing other things that she still needs to learn. I’d much rather her stay with her appropriate age-level, than be rushed ahead.

Down the road, I do not want her to think she is in 11th grade, begging to hang out with the 11th graders because she is “doing some 11th grade work”, but is only 14 or 15 years old. At that point, she will just be a sweet little ninth grader, thank you very much.

SO, we take a deep breath and learn a valuable homeschooling lesson that you probably knew all along and were praying I’d understand before too long. Thanks for the prayers. We got it! 🙂




8 responses to “We Said “First Grade” But We Meant “Kindergarten””

  1. Anne Avatar

    I love that we’re able to ‘tweak’ what our kids are doing according to whatever stage they’re at – regardless of what a system has ‘graded’ them.

    Blessings to you in your journey. Oh, and whether you’re new to it, or have been at it for 20 years… it’s constantly a learning curve. I’m guessing if you asked real ‘pros’, they’d say the same. All we know is that we’re doing what God asked of us – to bring our children up for Him. So many fails along the way, but we seek His blessing on all we do. Praise God that He’s a merciful and loving God…

  2. Tracey Avatar

    We will begin homeschooling this year and you most likely just saved me a lot of questioning and concern. What a relief! 🙂

  3. Janel Avatar

    Tim Hawkins does a cute comedy routine about this. His punchline: “The kid knows Greek and still eats bugs, what grade is that?” After 3 boys and a girl, who are all over the grade spectrum for their individual ages, I completely agree!

    I haven’t worried about labels too much for the last 16 years. And they’ve grown up just fine, bugs and all. : )


  4. brenda Avatar

    Oh Janel, I forgot about that Tim Hawkins routine. I nearly fell out of my chair the first time I heard that! It’s SO true.

    My girls are NOT ahead. In fact, I had “retro Kindergarten” on purpose. I wasn’t interested in pushing them when they weren’t ready. But I’m noticing, as my oldest is 11 (5th grade) that she is ALL over the place. Ahead in some things, “behind” in others, right on the money….there isn’t any way to compare her “grade level” with public school. No way at all.

    So, she’s 11. I try to say that more than 5th grade. But yes, for outside events, she’s a 5th grader.

  5. In His Grace Avatar
    In His Grace

    This is the exact thing my husband and I are trying to figure out right now. Our oldest turned 7 in November but is doing 2nd grade work – not because we are pushing but because she has flown through the Kindergarten and 1st grade work. We homeschool year round (so that we can take off time when Daddy is home more often) so as our children get done with one thing, they just move onto the next. But you’re right…it’s a hard thing to explain to the general public. Definitely a homeschooling thing:) Thanks for addressing this issue!

  6. Heathahlee Avatar

    My son was already reading by the time he was four, so we decided to go ahead and put him in 5 year old kindergarten at a VERY small private school so that he wouldn’t constantly be in trouble because of boredom. Turns out he was in trouble because of boredom anyway. 🙂 Hence…we now homeschool. Anyway, we drove ourselves and our children’s ministry crazy by constantly saying he was in this age level, but that grade level. Ugh. We have just this year gotten him in the same age/grade level with Awana, which means he’s had to work extremely hard to finish four years of work in three years. Had we the chance to do it over…I think we might. : )

  7. martha Brady Avatar

    you are very wise to keep her w her age group. i was “skpped” a grade and never really recovered. I was very advanced in reading but not so much in coordination. i also grew slowly and developed late. i felt like a freak with kids all a year older than i…and often i was immature in ways that had nothing to do with intelligence.
    one of our daughters was tested for a gifted program in her school b/c her reading level was so high. there was some talke of skipping but we felt that b/c she also was weak in coordination, it would be more beneficial for her to help some of the poorer readers in her class by listening to them read aloud. b/c she loved to read, she still grew that year in her reading ability, learned to appreciate the fact that it was a gift that not everyone had vs. something to be proud about. that year turned into a good one for her in developing areas that weren’t all academic. she still grew academically but also learned to help others around her.
    It is something we also need to consider when teaching our children and choosing the things that will be in their lives. Are they learning to look outside themselves?

  8. Donna Avatar

    Hi Laura,

    It took me some time to learn this lesson myself. I started my middle son in kindergarten early because he was ready. Two years in, it got to a point where he was ahead in most subjects, but not quite up to the accelerated level in a few others. Plus, I started him in CCD according to “regular” schedule, so he was always one grade in CCD and another in “school”. After asking myself why it even mattered, and whether or not I even wanted to rush him ahead, I stuck with the grade appropriate for his age. I too let my boys progress at their own pace. We school year round so we don’t have an official start and end, so they move to the next “grade level” in each subject at different times. Whenever they are ready. Love it this way.

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