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sea_mommy

Please help--Hold ds back?

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**Please don't copy--I will likely delete parts**

I'm having a really hard time right now trying to figure out what to do and thought that I'd reach out here.  Please be gentle with me--I'm feeling pretty fragile right now.  

I'm going to give lots of details so that I can get good advice, but please DON'T copy as I will likely delete/edit.

We live overseas have a 12 year old son who is in 6th grade and has always been homeschooled.  We live in a more remote area, but for 7th grade we have the opportunity to enrolled our son in a homeschool co-op type of thing.  

Our son has REALLY struggled with math this year and the co-op does math one year ahead of what we had previously scheduled to do (they do pre-algebra in 7th grade instead of pre-algebra in 8th grade, which is what we'd planned).  We've been trying to move him through faster, but he has always struggled with math and it's been hard.  Then he took another test in a different subject today and totally bombed it. 

I feel sick and my husband feels concerned about moving forward with the co-op.  (On a side note, we're planning on having him take a test for Dyscalculia this summer when we are in the States).  My husband thinks that it might be best to have him REPEAT 6th grade.  Because of the math and other subjects but also because of other things (maturity).  I, honestly, don't know what to do.  Honestly, I just feel sick and have been crying all afternoon.

My husband feels like he would benefit from repeating 6th grade.  Not many people would know because we live overseas, so I don't think that he would have much "social stigma" about staying back.  I can see how he might benefit from repeating the year and it would definitely reduce the stress in regard to our relationship with him.  I'm just afraid of . . . messing him up.  I already feel like I've failed.

Does anyone have any advice?  I would greatly appreciate it.  

 

Edited by sea_mommy

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KIds, even those in school, are all over the place academically.  They aren't defined by ages or grades.  They are people who function at their own level.

I am not a co-op person, so from my perspective, I would not alter what I am doing with my children or evaluate their individual abilities based on what a co-op is doing.  I homeschool so my kids can do what works for them, not for others.  My kids call themselves in grade whatever based on their age, but what they do for school is specific to their abilities.  I don't use grade leveled curriculum, so curriculum does not define their level, either.

Having an opportunity to join a co-op does not mean you have to.  Does the co-op have non-core academic classes he could take for fun (art, music, PE, etc)?  I would not make decisions about what grade my child is in based on what a co-op is offering and if they weren't offering other classes, I would look for other ways for my child to have an outlet (Scouts, clubs, sports, etc)

In terms of his math, I would not try to move a child struggling with concepts faster.  That is likely to backfire and just leave him further confused and behind.  I would focus on just working daily.  Maybe make math a 45 min/day school yr subject but also a 20 min per day non-school day routine.  Try talking about topics from multiple different perspectives.  Spend time doing spiral review.  Perhaps switching curriculum or using 2 different alternating curriculum running at the same time will help him solidify understanding.

What are you currently using and what has he used in the past?

(Also, some kids struggle with brain fog during puberty.)

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I could have written your post.  Right down to location, lol.

We DID end up repeating 6th.  It was a combination of things, but honestly was the best choice for him.  He needed growth time.  We also had him repeat algebra in 9th (after taking it in 8th) with a different teacher because he got it, but didn't quite get it, kwim?  He did okay, but not well enough to move along the path he wanted, so he repeated the course to be more solid.
The big difference is we had a flexible co-op in middle school.  He had teachers there that had a decent age span in any class and kids could move fluidly in and out of courses based on their interest.  Nobody knew or cared where our kid was working at home, and over time his brain settled, made some leaps, and he ended up finishing middle school right where he should.

This co-op doesn't sound like it is working for you, to be blunt.  If it's rigid enough to be lock-step, then you may want to discretely look for/set up private study groups or do live online classes so your kid can thrive instead of feeling like the worst.

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

KIds, even those in school, are all over the place academically.  They aren't defined by ages or grades.  They are people who function at their own level.

I am not a co-op person, so from my perspective, I would not alter what I am doing with my children or evaluate their individual abilities based on what a co-op is doing.  I homeschool so my kids can do what works for them, not for others.  My kids call themselves in grade whatever based on their age, but what they do for school is specific to their abilities.  I don't use grade leveled curriculum, so curriculum does not define their level, either.

Having an opportunity to join a co-op does not mean you have to.  Does the co-op have non-core academic classes he could take for fun (art, music, PE, etc)?  I would not make decisions about what grade my child is in based on what a co-op is offering and if they weren't offering other classes, I would look for other ways for my child to have an outlet (Scouts, clubs, sports, etc)

In terms of his math, I would not try to move a child struggling with concepts faster.  That is likely to backfire and just leave him further confused and behind.  I would focus on just working daily.  Maybe make math a 45 min/day school yr subject but also a 20 min per day non-school day routine.  Try talking about topics from multiple different perspectives.  Spend time doing spiral review.  Perhaps switching curriculum or using 2 different alternating curriculum running at the same time will help him solidify understanding.

What are you currently using and what has he used in the past?

(Also, some kids struggle with brain fog during puberty.)

 

1 hour ago, HomeAgain said:

I could have written your post.  Right down to location, lol.

We DID end up repeating 6th.  It was a combination of things, but honestly was the best choice for him.  He needed growth time.  We also had him repeat algebra in 9th (after taking it in 8th) with a different teacher because he got it, but didn't quite get it, kwim?  He did okay, but not well enough to move along the path he wanted, so he repeated the course to be more solid.
The big difference is we had a flexible co-op in middle school.  He had teachers there that had a decent age span in any class and kids could move fluidly in and out of courses based on their interest.  Nobody knew or cared where our kid was working at home, and over time his brain settled, made some leaps, and he ended up finishing middle school right where he should.

This co-op doesn't sound like it is working for you, to be blunt.  If it's rigid enough to be lock-step, then you may want to discretely look for/set up private study groups or do live online classes so your kid can thrive instead of feeling like the worst.

 

*please don't copy*

Thank you for much for your replies.  Our big thing with wanting to try the co-op is that our ds doesn't have any English speaking friends.  We live in a remote area and he speaks the local language well, but we see within him the need for friends who also speak his native language.  The co-op only offers 3 subjects (math, science, and English), but he would get to do it English with some kids that are already his friends (though he doesn't see them often).

There are no other options as far as friends/co-ops where we live.  

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I understand.  I do think meeting his need for heart language friends is important.

heres an option:could he join the co-op as a sixth grader next year, but you keep him as a seventh grader in your school.  You could explain that different places do math at different times(maybe show him online)English and science tend to be fluid at that age without regard to books and topics. This would also address the social aspect.

 

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Does he have to take all 3? Can he take just science and English?  Is the coop so rigid that he has to go into the same grade level classes across the subjects?  Can he go into the 7th grade science and English but their 6th grade math? What are these kids in the coop doing outside of coop?  Can you meet with these families in some other avenue? Social time after the coop ends for the day? 

We lived overseas for a while and our oldest only had friends who spoke the local language. English was only spoken in our home.  But, I didn't see a need in him to speak English with his friends bc he had good friends even if they couldn't speak English.  Does he have local friends?  Is the issue friends or just having English speaking friends?

 

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One thing I hear from parents who hold their kid back a year: BEST DECISION EVER! 

Without knowing your child, at all... if he is struggling now, he will most likely struggle later. If he is immature now, he will most likely mature differently than his peers. If he is not confident now, it is likely that his self-esteem will take a hit being an environment where he struggles both academically and socially.  Kids, mostly boys, who have been held back seem to do much better in the lower grade. However, most of that applies to kids who are in school 5 days a week. A coop that meets once a week might not have enough impact to make a bit of difference. 

Think way ahead... he could start his freshmen year at college at 19 instead of 18. For a young man, that extra year of maturity can be significant. 

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31 minutes ago, freesia said:

I understand.  I do think meeting his need for heart language friends is important.

heres an option:could he join the co-op as a sixth grader next year, but you keep him as a seventh grader in your school.  You could explain that different places do math at different times(maybe show him online)English and science tend to be fluid at that age without regard to books and topics. This would also address the social aspect.

 

Unfortunately the co-op is only for 7th and 8th grades.  

 

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30 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Does he have to take all 3? Can he take just science and English?  Is the coop so rigid that he has to go into the same grade level classes across the subjects?  Can he go into the 7th grade science and English but their 6th grade math? What are these kids in the coop doing outside of coop?  Can you meet with these families in some other avenue? Social time after the coop ends for the day? 

We lived overseas for a while and our oldest only had friends who spoke the local language. English was only spoken in our home.  But, I didn't see a need in him to speak English with his friends bc he had good friends even if they couldn't speak English.  Does he have local friends?  Is the issue friends or just having English speaking friends?

 

*Please do not quote*

The co-op is something new, for people who live in remote places so it is pretty small.  Our son would be in the "2nd" year of it's existence.  The program works so that the kids fly to another location for 1 week out of the month and then do their work at home the rest of the time, so there is really only social time during that week.  They have said that there could be some flexibility in the future--he could repeat pre-algebra when in the 8th grade.  If this year of math proves to be too difficult. he could do a "study hall" math time and work on his own math (that we would teach otherwise).  

He does have local friends in our village, but they are few. 

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24 minutes ago, lmrich said:

One thing I hear from parents who hold their kid back a year: BEST DECISION EVER! 

Without knowing your child, at all... if he is struggling now, he will most likely struggle later. If he is immature now, he will most likely mature differently than his peers. If he is not confident now, it is likely that his self-esteem will take a hit being an environment where he struggles both academically and socially.  Kids, mostly boys, who have been held back seem to do much better in the lower grade. However, most of that applies to kids who are in school 5 days a week. A coop that meets once a week might not have enough impact to make a bit of difference. 

Think way ahead... he could start his freshmen year at college at 19 instead of 18. For a young man, that extra year of maturity can be significant. 

What about holding back in later grades?  I've heard this for early elementary, but don't know anything about holding back later elementary.  

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1 minute ago, sea_mommy said:

What about holding back in later grades?  I've heard this for early elementary, but don't know anything about holding back later elementary.  

I would hesitate if you think it might impact his self-image.  You can always add a 5th yr of high school or gap yr at 18 if you think he isn't ready to graduate from high school.  But he might be.  They change a lot between 12 and 18.  

Flying out and being there for a week sounds like something way outside my world of reference and equally sounds like something he needs.  Could he try the pre-alg class and then work with them to make a decision as to whether or not they feel he is understanding and either stay in the math course or work on math independently if they dont? Or move down an entire level if he isn't working on par across all of the courses?  Do you have to commit now or can you let them help assess his level and work from there?

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I’m not sure if this is an Australian thing but here there’s quite a bit of repetition between grade 7 and 8.  (I think because traditionally that’s been the move to high school so it allows for a settling in period and adjustment for kids from different primary school backgrounds).  If it’s the same there it might be worth keeping him with the current grade knowing he’ll have a chance to catch up.  If us education is quite different to that it might be useless advice.

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Is he unhappy socially?

I lived overseas at that age and did not have an English speaking friend. It wasn't a great period of my life socially, those years are hard for a lot of kids, but as long as I had at least one friend I could spend time with things were OK. Not ideal, but I don't think I suffered specifically from the lack of a large number of friends or lack of a friend who spoke my native language.

As far as holding him back in grades, I've done that with several of my children and so far it has been entirely a good thing. One way to present it rather than repeating a grade would be to stretch out 6th and 7th grades each by half a year--so, continue with sixth grade through December of this year and start 7th grade in January. 

Edited by maize

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4 hours ago, sea_mommy said:

we're planning on having him take a test for Dyscalculia this summer when we are in the States).  My husband thinks that it might be best to have him REPEAT 6th grade.  Because of the math and other subjects but also because of other things (maturity). 

I think you can't know the answer to grade retention till you get the evals to know what you're dealing with. Retention for academics, just in general, is not an evidence-based practice and in fact there are significant arguments against it.

I can tell you that my dd, very bright, was at the young end of her grade (spring bday) and I felt like would benefit from some bloom time. She had ADHD and there were just a bunch of small things adding together in my mother gut that said it would have been good for her. But she was DETERMINED to go and go she did! After being in college a year, she called me up was like MOM I GET IT NOW, THAT'S WHY YOU WANTED ME TO STAY ANOTHER YEAR. So it all worked out, but sometimes you can't hold them back overall even when you're right that they need more time for some things.

Now take my ds, with his ASD2 and more significant needs. He has an IEP and I can legally keep him in the system till I forget, 20 or 21. He's on the older end of his grade anyway, so he's 10 1/2 as a 4th grader. He's going be adjusted almost certainly and not graduate till closer to 20. That will be for his good, because the best way to continue access to services it to keep him in that system with the IEP and the funding. 

I think you have separate questions.

1) how will the ds do in the co-op. Sometimes a dh will be seeing things or identifying with traits in the dc and they're not quite putting it into words. I think these evals you get this summer could sort out a lot for you. You really don't know the *extent* of what you've got going on. If I could suggest, if social skills are on the table, expand your evals to include an SLP to get done pragmatics (SLDT, CAPS, whatever), the Test of Problem Solving, narrative language (TNL or dynamic), etc. It won't be expensive but might give you a lot of actionable information. Psych evals tend to be sort of conceptual and people are like NOW WHAT , lol.

2) what he needs for math to go well

3) whether he can do partial enrollment at the co-op and skip areas where he needs specialized instruction. It makes NO SENSE to enroll someone with a disability who needs specialized instruction in a group class taught by a person not prepared to provide that specialized instruction. 

4) whether he needs more bake time. It's separate from the academics question. Doing algebra 1 in 9th is NOT a deal breaker, and if you try to adjust over a non-essential and discourage him, you will actually decrease his motivation and likelihood of graduating. Grade adjustment CAN be appropriate, but there should be multiple factors, not just one thing like math. There are plenty of kid who do algebra 1 in 9th and are FINE.

5) whether he'll fit well in ANY of the classes at the co-op if they're this aggressive and inflexible on academics. It could be there are other tacit expectations or whatever that are going to make the whole set-up hard.

6) Whether you'll regret signing over to volunteer, unqualified teachers, someone who was progressing well under your specialized, 1:1 instruction. It's a year you can't get back and it's a really important year frankly, one it sounds like you're not wanting screwed up. At the very least I would NOT place him in their math. If they have 1:1 or 1:3 tutoring with a qualified math tutor, that would be acceptable. Otherwise you must make sure he receives adequate instruction. You don't want to be losing that year. 

When I did a co-op like that with my dd, I used them only for electives. Well that's not true, she did a writing class with them. They had core classes, but I had her do yearbook, art, other things. Gave her the experience of the social without getting our academics off-track.

Edited by PeterPan

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Ok, so I'm seeing you posted that it has a travel component. So you have a bunch of issues there.

-If he is having problems, can he self-advocate? That's both maturity and personality and whether the extent of the problem is beyond his paygrade to solve.

-whether he could do non-disability subjects there and do YOUR assignments. I don't see why he has to do their math just because he's there. He can be assigned a study hall and do his regular math from you.

-whether he WANTS to do this. 

-whether it's safe. Not to be morbid, just saying. I guess it's sorta like going to camp. I'm in the trust no one camp anymore, sigh. Safety can be from s*xual abuse but also just emotionally safe in being prepared to deal with comments about his disabilities. He has no clue even what they are and no experience self-advocating. He's pretty young for that. Has he been away before? How has he done?

For my dd, self-advocacy is a big deal. Kids don't want to look different, so they'll try to work without their accommodations, etc. and struggle. He's going to be SO NEW to whatever diagnoses he gets that he really hasn't had a lot of time to get comfortable in his own skin.

You could ask them flat up what their ability/plan is to handle SN and accommodations. That age, 7th/8th was when my dd got her evals, and we immediately began using the right words and telling her to demand the right accommodations. And you can say demand is not nice, demand is not christian, but demand is how it works. If you won't fight, you're going to get bowled over by the people who say attention is a sin problem, you should just try harder, let us see how he does before we do those things (=watch him fail), blah blah. Now maybe this place/org won't be like that, but it's SO common. My dd is still fighting in college, even when the law is on her side. It doesn't really stop, sigh.

Edited by PeterPan

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I'm seeing they're going to offer math/science/english, and they will all be in english. What will they do the rest of the day? Surely they'll play, watch movies, something, I don't know. It sounds really fun, and your logic on wanting him to have more time speaking english makes sense. I would tell them you are getting evals and may need accommodations, specialized intervention, or an alternate plan for the math. 

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When my older two were in school we were counceled to hold them back a year and we decided against that.  It has been the right decision for our family.   I do know it is a difficult decision.  My daughter was pretty bad at Algebra and repeated it the summer between 9th and 10th grades.  I do not know what happened, but she went from horrid grades to mid to high A's and she did it all in 3 months.  She still hated math, but after that she got through.  I also saw both of my older kids really advance and mature in 11th grade.   

I wonder about letting him be in 6th grade for the sake of the coop but you count him for 7th grade in your home?  That gives you options for the following year after seeing how it goes for a year.  

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Our experience living overseas was the same as 8fillstheheart, friends are friends no matter what language they speak. We also had a similar philosophy on grade level, it's just a number on paper. It does not define your child or your success as a homeschooler.

Does your son look forward to this co-op as the highlight of his month or does the schoolwork make him anxious? Is he concerned about his mathematical abilities as compared to his age mates? Is he generally happy the rest of the month with his friends in the village or is he pining the entire time for English speaking friends? Has he lived overseas all his life? Does he know what a third culture kid is? Does he just need contact with other third culture kids? His answers to these questions would weigh heavily on my decision on what to do in this situation. And I would try very very hard to find his honest answers to these questions. I would be very careful about how I ask the questions if it were my child so that he doesn't pick up on any real or perceived bias from me. I want his honest answers, not what he thinks I want to hear.

If he really does crave contact with English speaking friends, could he talk to online friends? Maybe friends from the US or other places you all have lived? Cousins or other relatives? Maybe join an online group for third culture kids? It seems you have internet access so it shouldn't be too hard for him to email as much as he wants, should it? Then maybe something like Facetime or phone calls as often as your situation will allow? Then he can take full advantage of the gift of homeschooling, working at the pace he needs to work at and ignore grade level designations AND still have an English speaking social outlet whenever he needs it. You could even have him write snail mail letters if he wants, yes it will take an inordinate amount of time for the mail to get back and forth but it is always fun to send and receive mail.

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The usual American sequence has students in prealgebra in 8th grade. Unless he is required to take their math at the coop, I would not worry about it. Repeating an entire grade over struggles in on subject is doing to be a slippery slope downward. My son had to do algebra 3 times to get it. Even so, we are going over it again this summer. No way would I ever tell him he is not allowed to continue to learn in other subjects because of his struggles with math. That would be a punishment, not productive in any way.

 

Being IN school or in a coop is more about socializing than about testing. Okay, so public school is generally just about testing, but humor me. If you hold him back a year and then he goes and is much older than the rest in his "grade" then it will defeat that point too.

Edited by Janeway

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Not knowing enough about your son, I would be inclined to let him go and do his own math in a study hall, since they have offered that.  Maybe he would not be the only one.  Do they have a tutoring option?

Or - just because they call it pre-algebra, that does not mean it is math he cannot do.  Isn't pre-algebra mostly just basic math with a fancy name?  Maybe try the materials at home and then decide.

Edited by SKL
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It's unclear to me, has he already been attending.  Does he fly out by himself to these sessions?

In first post, one of the reasons you mentioned holding him back is maturity.   I would have serious hesitation over an overnight camp because I don't trust anyone.  But if your son has maturity issues and is very innocent, I would not be inclined to send him to camp with full fledged junior high kids.  It's crazy we have to worry about other children being predators,  but it happens.  I would only let the child attend if he was at the top end of the age bracket.

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I feel strongly about this, and I'm usually alone in my opinion, so I'm going to say it but I will not post further about it.

"Grade level" is irrelevant for homeschooled children. It is an artificial construct used by today's campus-based schools as a way of grouping children of approximately the same age, so that it's easier to adjust teaching methods and whatnot. It is not based on maturity or anything else. People who write textbooks assume that children using a third grade textbook are approximately eight years old, and so they write it to that level of maturity, and it's typeset and page-laid-out assuming that the children reading it are approximately eight years old.

Homeschooled children are not in grades. They are ages. They have no one else to be compared to, and their instruction is based on themselves, not a classroom. On those rare occasions when it's necessary to put a grade level-label on a homeschooled child, it should be based on his date of birth and the cut-off date where he lives; e.g., in many states, children who are six years old by September 1 would enter first grade. So when a child is six, in the fall of that year he would be "in first grade." The next year, he would be "in second grade" and so on.

If your ds is behind academically now, that doesn't mean he will always be behind academically. If he is immature now, he will surely not be immature forever. If you muck around with his "grade level" now, what will you when he's older and he's all caught up? and more mature? I have had *multiple* conversations with people over the last 30 years, both IRL and online, who adjusted their children's grade levels on paper and it came back to bite them, sometimes painfully.

Since grade level is irrelevant, and there is a possibility, however small, that dinking around with "grade level" on paper can be problematic, I see no reason to do anything except continue working with the academics but continuing to have him at the "appropriate" grade level on paper.  FTR, if y'all have him listed as 12 in the 6th grade, he would already be a year behind on paper (depending on when his birthday is); holding him back (on paper) another year would have him graduate two years behind his age peers. *I* would not do that.

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Wow, what a unique situation! If I were in your shoes...

I would go ahead with the co-op. Any teacher should be accustomed to the fact that kids are all over the place academically. If it turns out that the academics are a complete bust, then maybe you can repeat 7th, thus getting 3 years out of the co-op experience. There is a decent chance, however, that it won't be nearly as bad as you fear.

Also keep in mind that depending on the program, prealgebra may look very similar to the 7th grade math you had planned.

I think for now that the social opportunities this co-op provides outweigh the worries about academics. As his parents, you guys have obviously weighed the pros and cons of this unique co-op. At 12 years old, I would also take your son's opinion into consideration. If you all want to go forward with this, I would not let his math struggles get in the way. Deal with those, get testing, find out about accomadations, etc., but don't let it be a deal breaker. That is only one aspect of what will hopefully be an overall wonderful experience for him.

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22 hours ago, Ellie said:

 FTR, if y'all have him listed as 12 in the 6th grade, he would already be a year behind on paper (depending on when his birthday is); holding him back (on paper) another year would have him graduate two years behind his age peers. 

 

Given that the most common age cutoff in the US is that kids should be 5 by September first for kindergarten entry, children in most American schools will be 11 when entering 6th grade. Which means that almost all 6th graders will be twelve by the end of the school year. Some will turn twelve the first week of 6th grade!

It's the end of the school year. 12 is the normal age for 6th graders. The only ordinary exceptions would be the minority of kids with summer birthdays. 

Also, grade level is most definitely relevant when kids are taking grade leveled classes away from home, which is the situation the OP is discussing. Though I agree with a previous poster that there is likely a lot of variation in math achievement levels among seventh graders in the co-op and teachers should be prepared to deal with that. Your son might be just fine in the pre-algebra class (curriculum labeled 7th grade and curriculum labeled pre-algebra typically have a lot of overlap).

Edited by maize
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