My middle dd starts back to school in a couple of weeks, and I'm mildly concerned about her placement at the upper end of a split-grade class this year. Normally I'd sit back and watch and see and stay optimistic, but she's now in high school where it gets a lot trickier to adjust courses and classes part-way through the school year. I'm wondering whether her default placement is really the best situation for her.
She's 13 with a November birthday, starting 9th grade, and with our cut-off that makes her the youngest 9th-grader. But she attends an extremely small K-12 school with just 45 students in the Upper School division (7th-12th grades). She would be in a split class of 7th, 8th and 9th-graders for the four main academic subject areas. Electives are all multi-grade, covering the entire Upper School.
When she entered school last year from homeschooling, she was well ahead of the school curriculum so she was placed a year ahead in three of the four core academic areas, as well as in a couple of elective courses. Last year she was in an 8/9/10 split, so it was easy for her just to work with the 9th-graders for those courses. She still didn't find much challenge, and easily earned the top mark in 9th grade math and science. This next year she'll be the only student in her classroom working on 10th grade material, so she'll be basically just doing computer-assisted independent study in a corner of the room. Social Studies (i.e. History) is the only course taught within the 7/8/9 classroom that she'll be learning alongside others. Math, science and English will be 10th grade level.
I'm wondering if it wouldn't make sense to ask that she be placed in the 10th/11th/12th grade classroom this year. Her brother (whom she relates to like a peer) and two out of three of her closest friends are there. She would have to do 9th grade Social Studies by working independently. But I think it makes more sense to do one of four courses independently in the older classroom than three of four in the younger classroom.
She enjoys school, it comes easily, she is serious and goal-oriented, top of the class and doesn't get stressed: she actually digs exams, for instance. And while she hasn't explicitly asked me to advocate for an advanced grade placement, I think that's only because she figures it isn't an option. She does keep saying "I wish I was in Grade 10" and moaning about not being able to go on the Grade 10 field trip to the Shakespeare fest (because although she'll be studying Macbeth in her English 10 course, she isn't "in Grade 10" where the field trip is integrated into the schedule).
My reservation, of course, is the age mix. I've always really liked multi-age learning, but even I can't help but wonder if maybe this is too extreme? She'll be the youngest by more than a year, and because of a demographic bulge of seniors, almost half the class would be three to three four years older. But they're pretty good kids, especially the 12th-graders, and the 10th-grade girls. And I honestly can't say the same about the 9th-grade girls!
Dd13 hasn't been tested for giftedness. Her older siblings were both tested at age 14/15 and ID'd as HG/PG. Eldest dd did very well with a grade skip. I'm pretty sure my middle dd is similarly gifted to her brother, though with a more school-oriented work ethic and learning style. The school has been really easy-going about adjusting her course placement to meet her needs. I don't particularly want to put her on track to graduate a year early; she's got her sights set on a medical, biology research or veterinary field, and I think she'd do best not to rush through her schooling but to broaden her interests and her learning while that's still possible. She's a year ahead in some subjects, but I think that will just allow her time for more electives and more AP-type stuff. So I'm thinking not of actually adjusting her academic level in anything, but just asking the school to give her a classroom work environment of older, more advanced peers for this year.
Any thoughts from interested bystanders much appreciated!
Edited by moominmamma - 9/5/12 at 3:50pm