Grade Level Q&A

“A child's grade level is not up to the parent.”

Questions and Answers:

Q: My son just turned 5 in August. He is very smart and picks things up easily. Most programs for three and four year olds do not teach reading and math, so I taught him both at home because he was ready. He can read short sentences and add $6.49 + $6.49 in his head.

The problem is that he is just starting kindergarten. I know most schools will not want to put him a grade ahead. I have talked to the principal, and he seems sure that the kindergarten teacher will keep him challenged.

When I spoke to her, I got the feeling that she does not like to teach kids to read.

I feel like I have actually been home­schooling him, and wonder if I could give him a test and pass him myself into first grade. Is this possible? Or could I home­school for kindergarten and then have him go into second grade next year?

A: You definitely need to understand that parents cannot just advance their children a grade, home­schooled or not. It is basically up to the law or the local school principal. Every state has its own laws. Principals have a lot of power and discretion. If a parent can make a good case that a child is at the next grade level intellectually, skill-wise and socially many schools will allow skipping. Or, they might put the child in the “age-appropriate” grade and also in a gifted program.

When home­schooled children enter public schools, it is customary for them to be tested so they can be placed in the appropriate grade. If they are ahead, they might be promoted. By home­schooling your son this year, he could be ready for second grade next year.

Q: Some of the parents of my son's friends are very worried about their children being accepted by the colleges where they really want to go. Is competition for getting into college more intense than it has been in the past? How can we help our child get into the school we went to and that he longs to attend?

A: Competition for entrance into college is definitely more intense than in the past. There are several reasons why this is happening. A major one is demographics. There are simply more students in the seven through twelve grade levels. Plus, more students than ever before are now applying to college.

There is also the trend of students applying to many colleges. Some are applying to as many as 12 colleges, or even a few more. The trickle-down effect also applies to college admissions.

Competition at top-tier schools has become so intense that as few as 12 percent of the applicants may be admitted at some schools. Thus, the second and third tier schools are now becoming more competitive.

Your son needs to understand that good grades and high SAT and ACT scores matter now more than ever. In addition, it is very important to apply early to schools that have a rolling admissions process in which slots are filled as candidates meeting the entrance requirements are granted admission.

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If you are interested in reading more on this topic, please read: Home School­ing Facts.