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How do you make acceleration decisions with confidence?


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I am constantly second-guessing my homeschooling decisions (curriculum, level, etc.) because of what other people say and what I read online. For example, I decided on Sonlight K for dd. Nearly everything I've read online (on Sonlight forums and on the curriculum board here) points toward Core K being better-suited for 1st grade because it's just too much for a kindergartner. Well, I went with it anyway, and much to my surprise, it's too easy. We're just coasting with it, really.

 

So now I'm AGAIN re-visiting the idea of starting Ambleside Year 1 early. Again, there's this "Do Not Use Before Age 6" warning sign everywhere I look on the website and on the e-mail groups. But when I look at the books, I can't see any reason why dd can't handle them. She already knows how to narrate (another "no-no" before age 6 according to Charlotte Mason purists), she reads on at least a 4th grade level, and her attention span is marvelous (for books, anyway).

 

How do I know what's right for MY child?

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First, once you have a nice long history of getting advice that doesn't work out, the advice stops appealing to you. Of course that can take a while...

 

Second, if you keep an eye out (again, for a while) you might find someone whose advice does work out really well, and reliably. I've got a friend with a DS a year older than mine and with similar strengths... I kept running into her in different places online and realized that she was basically a year down the road in the direction we were going. Now that I've found her, I can run ideas past her and get a really good BTDT take on it all.

 

Third... this is one of the reasons I'm glad we got testing done. It's not the reason we chose to test, but since we did anyway, it reminds me just how far out of the box we are and that it's not all in my head. That alone gives me more confidence to make decisions that are similarly out of the box.

 

When you ask for advice, you're going to get answers from how things worked out for other kids. If your kid is significantly different in any number of ways, the advice is going to be of limited value -- you really can't say how it's going to work for your kid based on someone else's (and I'm not saying that just about gifted kids - really, no two kids are entirely alike!) You have to start with your own kid and what you know about her. If she narrates well, reads well, and has a long attention span, then who cares what anyone else says? You know your kid, and you're the one that's going to be there keeping an eye on how it goes. You can't get any more certain without trying it. And at worst, it doesn't work out and you change plans. Right?

 

Honestly, other than expense I don't see any downside to trying something. No one is going to be permanently traumatized by trying something that doesn't work out. I can certainly make an argument for not pursuing something that is already not working, but if you're keeping an eye on things and if you're willing to change plans, then go ahead.

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Don't forget about SL's 18 week guarantee! If you aren't past 18 weeks of materials, you can return everything for 100% refund. (You have a year to START, and can USE 18 weeks of materials. . .the rest should be in resalable condition.)

 

If you can, return it and get Core 1. I used Core 1 w/ my 1st grader and it was lovely and easy. She could have done Core 3 this year as a 2nd grader no problem. (I have all the cores 1-7, lol) but Core 2 will be fine as well.

 

Also, be sure you have the most advanced reader option for the core, if appropriate. That makes a world of difference!

 

HTH

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When I make curriculum decisions, I usually make them based on my big girl's cognitive age instead of her chronological age. In regards to Sonlight, the online advisor thought I was a nut for even considering P 4/5 science for a (then) 3.75 year old. What did I do?? I went and bought Science K! And she is thriving and loving it!

 

I was also considering Core K for her as well but decided that the IG schedule was way too much for us right now. But I wasn't "worried" that the age ranges were higher than her age.

 

You know your child best no matter what age label is on the materials.

Edited by MissKNG
clarification
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You do what works for your DC and ignore age recommendations.

 

My curriculum list for my 5 yr old for this fall, even just listing the major core areas, was far enough out of the box to have the Umbrella School asking me if I was SURE I knew what I was doing. And this is an Umbrella school which, for elementary, accepts almost anything (I know one person who has listed "Field trips and library books" as her sole curriculum for science and social studies for K-8, and that's passed muster). Apparently Core 1/2 with Advanced 2 readers just was too much for them to accept without challenge :glare:.

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I found that when my younger son was in K and 1st that it was really difficult to make curriculum decisions and when I finally did, things would only work for a few months and then I was back to making decisions. Part of the problem was that while much of the material would be easy, some of it was not. There were holes in his knowledge that I needed to fill somehow but it was rough going finding them.

 

One thing I did when he was in K that ended up really helping was to give him the K12 language arts placement test (he placed into their 2nd grade program at the beginning of K) and then actually use the materials with him--all strands--for about 4 months. That way I found out what was too easy, too hard, just right. The next year for 1st grade, I was able to make LA decisions much more confidently, though we didn't find a really good fit with most LA resources until 2nd grade.

 

For math, we jumped around quite a bit during that period as well. Again, a similar issue with having many things be too easy and occasionally coming upon a brick wall. We went from Singapore to RightStart to Saxon and back to Singapore. We have stayed with Singapore now since the middle of 1st grade (he is entering 3rd this fall).

 

Since that rocky K-1st period where I was struggling with finding the appropriate level, my focus in 2nd grade turned to finding resources that didn't suck the joy out of learning for him. For language arts, MCT and Mosdos literature are working. For math, Singapore accelerated to two times normal speed and not using the workbook seems to work. For science, just this summer we've moved to a middle school science program which is finally meaty and challenging for him. For history, he is on level with SOTW and loving it.

 

So all of this is to say that you are at a difficult period. It takes a while to figure out where your child is and how she learns best. And they change very quickly at that age. What works well for two months may suddenly be too easy. But, at least with my son, we did find a level and pace that seems to work. For now, at any rate!

 

People who make statements about age are talking about average age, not about particular children. You know what is best for your child, and if you make a mistake, you'll find out about it soon enough.

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How do you make acceleration decisions with confidence?

 

I don't! :lol: I just keep trying until something fits. I am constantly doubting what I decided to do. Sometimes it is too easy, some day I might pick something too hard, and sometimes it is just right! I am making a big leap in curric. with my son this year and I am not sure it will work out. If not, we will just take it slow until it does or we will push it to the side for a while. It won't hurt him to realize that there are challenging things out there to learn as long as I don't let him get frustrated!

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You know your decision was right when your child is working at the material, getting it, enjoying it, being stimulated by it, happy.

Your decision was wrong when the child is bored, unwilling to use the material, overwhelmed, unhappy.

You know your child best and can make a good prediction whether she is ready for a particular curriculum. You might still discover after you have started using it that it was not the right resource - but that can happen for any kind of reasons, such as just not a fit to the learning style, and does not need to have anything to do with level.

Go ahead and disregard all "age level" designations. My kids are consistently above grade level - at age 10, DD read on 11th grade level according to her school's test (she stilll went to school then), my 11 y/o DS is working on algebra now. That's 2-3 years ahead of what the public school grade level box says :-)

regentrude

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You know your decision was right when your child is working at the material, getting it, enjoying it, being stimulated by it, happy.

Your decision was wrong when the child is bored, unwilling to use the material, overwhelmed, unhappy.

 

 

:iagree:

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I've found for us, we just don't use much graded curriculum. 2 curric that have worked very well for us are Singapore Math and MCT. Everything else is ad hoc pieced together. We do loosely use Story of the World, but we generally go deeper and simultaneously cover American History in a hands on way. I just follow the kids reading and interests levels for reading and lit choices. We also belong to a homeschool book club. Science is just books, hands on stuff, and experiements. We also do as many field trips as we can to get exposed to science and history. We've been lucky to have been to D.C., the badlands, black hills, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico in the past year and a half.

 

Every time I try to buy something targeted to a certain grade it doesn't work. Even if it is many grade levels ahead. The content is shallow and the work is dry. This has been especially true of science. MCT is open ended enough that it can work for kids coming from lots of different places and levels. Singapore has enough challenge to it that it challenged my kid who conceptually understood fractional operations at 4 and algebra concepts at 5 to keep him out of algebra until now. And now he has the writing skills, patience, and problem solving experience to move forward with confidence (I hope anyway! ;-)

 

Our first year was hit and miss and my oldest did 3 grade levels of math that first year (we started at grade level and let him go). Going into my 3rd year, I feel like I've found a groove with my oldest. Still figuring out my youngest. But she's well ahead of grade level too, so I'm pretty relaxed about it! :-)

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We find something that works, then just move on to the next thing. I don't care what age it is targeted to ! I love to read on blogs and such about other children similiar to my own. See that other parents are doing what works for them too.

 

Of course I learned about a million years ago or so it seems, that no one knows my child as I do. So no one else it qualified to make decisions for them.

 

I have a barely 4 year old that is loving every bit of Core K. We are reading other books as she went through Readers K , 1, and 2 Reg while he was still in the pre-K packages. And I want to be able to order Int. 2 with Core 1, although he is past them in reading it will still be good practice. And I can save them for his sister. I see his sister following in his foot steps.

 

Trust that mommy instinct !! HUGS

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I found that when my younger son was in K and 1st that it was really difficult to make curriculum decisions and when I finally did, things would only work for a few months and then I was back to making decisions. Part of the problem was that while much of the material would be easy, some of it was not.

 

:iagree:

You know your decision was right when your child is working at the material, getting it, enjoying it, being stimulated by it, happy.

 

Your decision was wrong when the child is bored, unwilling to use the material, overwhelmed, unhappy.

:iagree:

 

It takes a fair amount of trial & error but eventually you'll get better at predicting which things will probably work and which things probably won't. And how to tell when the curriculum that was working now isn't :tongue_smilie:

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I really struggled with this during K/1 (especially for my first and oldest), my other children were much easier all the way around. Now, I'm struggling again.

 

Part of it has to do with ds starting into puberty, part of it has to do with his personality, part of it has to do with emotional/maturity things.

 

Most of it has to do with not wanting him to be bored, and not wanting the expectations to be so high that he becomes overly frustrated and decides to "quit."

 

And then there is the "me" factor -- this looks/sounds sooo good! Would (a) be better than (b)?

 

There is really only one person I can truly talk to about my children, my mother. She is a LOT like my oldest son -- and she has given me the confidence to go with my gut (which is to slow down and hang back, add another year to our planned schooling, and let him mature a bit). She is still dealing with the bad taste she had from being pushed, always feeling a bit dumb (even though she was not). It was an age/personality/maturity thing.

 

My oldest daughter is more like me, very confident, dedicated, thorough, serious -- and I find I don't struggle with her at all. My younger son just would prefer to play -- but thus far hasn't exhibited the same personality/maturity issues as my oldest. We will re-evaluate each year. (All three are working 2 years "ahead" in LA and Math.)

 

We'll see how the youngest two develop

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Wow, thanks so much for all the great replies! I'm so glad to hear from others who have been in the same boat.

 

I can't return the Sonlight because I bought it used. That's okay really because dd likes the books. I just don't think it's a year's worth of material! We didn't buy the readers either because I knew that was pointless. She takes the read-alouds and reads them herself, though I then insist on reading them to her so we can discuss (and because I like to read to her!).

 

I think I'm going to take the Sonlight read-alouds at her pace. If that means we finish "My Father's Dragon" or "The Hundred Dresses" in one day instead of 2 weeks, so be it. If she wants more than two pages from the Usborne Encyclopedia, then I'll give it to her. Then whenever she finishes, I can start Ambleside with her.

 

On a slightly different note, any suggestions for grammar? We're doing FLL, with a lesson a day instead of 3x a week, but she's already starting to complain about the endless proper nouns/common nouns discussions, and I see rebellion ahead.

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Go ahead and disregard all "age level" designations.

 

:iagree: Also, let your child go at the pace they want to go. Last year, when DS was 4, all I was gong to do was attempt to teach him to read and work on some numbers. As you can see from my siggy, he did considerably more than that. We have been back to school for two weeks and I am spot on with my choice of curriculum and levels. (Except for our reading curriculum - (level was right, curriculum was wrong) but we tried it for two weeks before I bailed and got something else.)

 

It took most of last year for me to finally get a handle on his levels so it does take time.

 

I know that others (except on this board) would look at what we are doing and think we were crazy. However, it works for us and that is all that matters.

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When I am looking for curriculum, I often look at programs that people can easily use to teach to multiple children. If you can teach children of different ages, then it will likely be easier to tweak the program for a gifted child. (One reason we chose TOG. We can go with higher level reading and lower level writing but easily make adjustments without changing the program if we placed her incorrectly.)

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Ditto on getting multi-level curricula. People generally don't ask questions when I tell them we're doing Mystery of History, because it's a K-12 book. Otherwise, I try to keep my mouth shut about what we're doing. We have subjects that are 2-3 years advanced. We have some that are 4-5 years advanced, and we have one subject that we dropped entirely about a year ago because it's pretty much mastered. When people hear you skip a grade, they're thinking "oh, you must be near the age cut-off" or "oh, you must have a bright child". When they hear you're all over the board, they either say, "I'm SO GLAD I found someone like you! I was so scared to talk about my child!" or they'll say "Oh, you're one of THOSE moms" (either in word or with a look).

 

I'm confident. If people genuinely want to talk about what my kids are doing, I'll tell them what and why and how. If not, I walk away.

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I have had a hard time, for a long time, coming to terms with the fact that my kids WERE just so far out of the norm that typical curriculum suggestions/warnings didn't fit us at all. I REALLY thought people over on the Sonlight forums were off their rockers. The curriculum, I thought, was nowhere NEAR as challenging as they were all proclaiming.

 

Fast forward a few years and I finally have a measuring stick for my dc. Ds went to a small private school last year that, I've been told, is academically advanced. A grade skip did not challenge him academically. I was, and still am, speechless. My kids just don't seem that far out of the norm to me. (They have been surrounded by friends' kids and cousins who are all similar.)

 

I hardly EVER ask for curriculum advice any more. If I do, I try to ask here.

 

I agree with the PP who mentioned getting advice from friends with similar kids. Certain friends have been LIFESAVERS for me in that department. :D

 

Just FYI -- We used Sonlight Core 1 when ds (a history LOVER) was 5. I can't tell you how many people tried to dissuade me! I don't regret it. It was the right thing for that child at that time.

 

People on-line (and even IRL) give advice based on what worked for *their* children. Always remember that you know your child best. (And what could it hurt to try it? If it doesn't work out you can always return it.)

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Another suggestion about choosing curriculum...

 

When you're online asking "what do you think I should use for my ___ year old?" You're going to get suggestions that match the typical grade level. Instead, ask "I'm looking for a math curriculum that would work for a ___ grader who is (strong/weak) in (area or topic). What would you suggest?" When they start asking you about your child, they'll refer to grade level. If they mention age, ignore it. Say older or younger if necessary, but don't say an age. :D

 

Doesn't work in person, I know. :glare: :rolleyes:

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On a slightly different note, any suggestions for grammar? We're doing FLL, with a lesson a day instead of 3x a week, but she's already starting to complain about the endless proper nouns/common nouns discussions, and I see rebellion ahead.

 

I went through the table of contents, looked at all the lessons, and scheduled only the lessons that introduced new material, or that had what I considered useful review. I wrote out which lessons we would do so that I could easily see what to do next. All those lessons on nouns are particularly tedious. I think we are skipping less as we get further into the book.

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I did two lessons today, and sort of paused in the script, giving her a chance to fill in the blanks herself. This time, instead of griping about having to learn about proper nouns again, she got excited because she was the one to make the connection. Two lessons a day may work for awhile, we'll see.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Our 3rd year into homeschooling I decided I was tired of "piece-mealing" everything and wanted a boxed curriculum. After having looked at many, many choices I decided on Sonlight. As I was making the decision as to what Core, I asked, online, about Core 3 for a 3rd grader. As has been mentioned previously in this thread, many responders told me that Core 3 was pretty 'advanced' for a 3rd grader. I went with it anyway. The material worked just fine, although I began to realize halfway into our year that dd might have some learning challenges.

 

I did Core 1 with my ds (who was 5 at the time) last year, along with 100 Easy Lessons. Worked out just fine and he now reads at about a 2nd/3rd grade level.

 

I think we'd all agree, and encourage you, to follow your "mother's intuition". HTH!

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