This picture really has nothing to do with what I have to say tonight, but I thought it was gorgeous, so enjoy!
We have 17 more days left before we begin our summer break. Once we have finished up our work we will meet with our evaluator at the end of May and I will turn in our portfolios to the school district before the end of June. When I turn in the portfolio, I will also submit next year's objectives for each of the boys... and I have a decision to make.
JT began his schooling path in the public school system. He attended K4 (pre-Kindergarten), Kindergarten, skipped first grade (after a momentous battle with the school district) and second grade. We placed him in a cyber-charter school for third and fourth grade and have now been traditionally homeschooling him for what we called fifth and sixth grade. By typical standards, he is a full year younger than most other kids in sixth grade due to having skipped first grade when in public school. As a homeschooler, grade level really has not affected the curriculum he has been using. I have never really ordered anything based on his grade level, I just looked for things that would fit where he was and what he was interested in studying. The only real reason, as far as I can tell, that I even need to call him by a grade level is for school district purposes. In PA, I need to submit standardized testing in 3rd, 5th and 8th grade. I also need to submit appropriate medical forms based on his grade level. Up until now, I just went by what grade he had been when enrolled because it seemed easier that way.
But I have a few reasons now to think that it might make more sense to start grouping him with his age-peers. First of all, we have found that many of the activities he wants to participate in go by grade level instead of age level. So far we haven't had too many problems getting exceptions to things where his younger age may make it appropriate for him to continue participating in something, but I am concerned that we are going to run into a problem next year with basketball. I am also having second thoughts about him being ready for college at 17 yrs 6 months. It may seem like early worrying, but I know that time is going to fly. One other issue that is directly related to the deadline to submit the objectives is that if he is a seventh grader next year, I need to submit objectives for secondary education instead of the elementary objectives. Not a big deal, but something I will need to plan.
In PA homeschooling, the parent sets the grade level. So by all the rules, I could very well say that he is a sixth grader again next year. As far as I can tell, that shouldn't be a big problem with reporting. I asked JT how he would feel if he wasn't a seventh grader next year and he was concerned that he'd, "have to do sixth grade work again." When I pointed out that the work he had done this year wasn't sixth grade work either, he realized it really wouldn't make a big difference. And as far as when he'd finish his schooling...in PA, you only submit a portfolio for homeschooling until the child's 17th birthday, so either way his required schooling would end at the same time. He could continue doing school work at home after 17, but I assume he will be taking classes at a community college or local university for most of his 'senior' year anyway.
So why am I even worried about making this decision? I guess because in some way it feels like cheating the system. I pushed and fought to get that grade skip for him. I even filed Due Process against the school system for failure to meet his educational needs! Suddenly saying, "You know what? I think we'd like to go back a year after all," seems wrong in some way. I know grade level means almost nothing as far as his education goes now. But it still feels like it means something. I've written 'pro' and 'con' lists a few times in the last week or so. I've written up time-lines to see what age he'd be at different points in his path if I change him or keep him where he is. I have asked advice from friends and driven my husband insane presenting the same arguments over and over again. I have swayed from complete certainty each way at least three times now.
Maybe by June 30th I'll know what I want to do... or then again, maybe I won't.