School placement issue: math - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 01-29-2013, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So my homeschooled just-turned-10-year-old would love to do math at school next year. She loves group-based learning, at least when it's at her level. Our local K-12 public school has been very good about including homeschooled kids in their program part-time.

 

She finished ~7th grade math about a year and a half ago (using Singapore Primary Math). For a year or so afterwards I just let her drift with her math being non-curricular, interest driven and unstructured. She didn't do much. She occasionally made use of a book called Challenge Math, intended as enrichment for gifted middle-schoolers, but just in small spurts. Then about two months ago she started talking about wanting to try school for math next year. She wanted to try out the curriculum they use at this school at home to see if she liked it, so our homeschool liaison teacher got her a bunch of different levels to look over and she decided on the level that matched what she had been doing, the 8th grade program. Despite a 3-week break over Christmas she's now about half-way through the course. It seems to me to be at almost the right level: quite easy, but the demands and format are a little more high-school-ish than she was used to in Singapore and Challenge Math, so she's having to get used to that. So far she's not using the textbook at all. Everything is either completely intuitive, or review, or so simple for her that the very brief example problem given before each set of workbook problems is sufficient for her to get it. I have no doubt that she could handle the 9th grade course without needing to do the 8th, but it would be more of a challenge, and at this point she's enjoying the ease.

 

The question is, if I do approach the local K-12 school about including her in a math class next fall, what level do I ask for? I think the options are primarily 7th grade and 9th grade. (I should say that we're in Canada, where math continues to be math throughout high school, rather than being divided into separate algebra, trig and geometry courses. Every year in the curriculum contains a progression through a variety of mathematical topics. So there's no issue of her meeting up with a mono-diet of quadratic equations next fall or anything.)

 

7th grade would be a two-year skip, though she's "old for grade," having a January birthday in a place with a Dec. 31st cutoff, so she'd only be 13-14 months younger than the next-youngest couple of kids. She already has one good friend in this grade and a number of casual friends. Of course the curriculum would be an easy repeat of stuff she's already been managing handily for a couple of years. At least it would be a different workbook, though it would be one level back. 

 

8th and 9th grade math would likely be combined in a split class next year. She doesn't have any close friends in that class, though one of her good friends, a homeschooled 12-year-old, may be doing 8th grade math there, but she is acquaintances with most of the other kids, and has casual friendships with a couple of them. Since she will have completed exactly the curriculum the 8th graders will be doing, I can't see asking her to fill in the same workbook all over again. It would make sense for her to do 9th grade. She'd be in with the same group of kids either way. It would mean three consistently-scheduled hours of class a week, plus homework. The combined class would have about 18 kids.

 

Her social affinities run old. She gets along well with kids her own age and younger in small groups or one-on-one, but has little tolerance for the catty and/or chaotic group behaviour of tweens. Her siblings are all teens, and she much prefers to hang out with groups of teenagers rather than the 10-12 set. Unlike my older kids who were fiercely autonomous and perfectionistic, this kid deals well with structure, challenge, and failure. She's resilient as heck, cheerful and socially gracious.

 

All logic tells me to push for her in the 9th grade math course next year. How hard a sell do you think this will be? It's a full four years ahead of where she "should" be by age, and she's never been in school before. Her current math work is being overseen and marked by the school's high school math teacher, because he just happens to also be our homeschool liaison teacher. He knows her abilities and understands her social preferences and maturity. But he's a junior teacher in this district, and the principal, although willing to allow subject acceleration in compelling cases, has made it clear that she is fairly wedded to the idea of age-levelled education. 

 

Have any of your kids been accommodated for radical subject acceleration? How tough a sell was it? Assuming I can get the school to agree, are there potential pitfalls I'm missing here?

 

Miranda


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#2 of 6 Old 01-29-2013, 11:19 AM
 
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We really haven't had a lot of luck with group instruction and math for our kids. My youngest is the more ambitious one in math. His school accommodates him by letting him do all his math work online (he has a teacher... she oversees, helps when needed and gives him regular tests to make sure he's getting what he should online.) Of course, this isn't what your DD is looking for. If she wanted to work alone, she'd do it at home. It's just at DS's middle school, advanced algebra (which is basically algebra II without getting credit for taking algebra II) is the highest physical class they offer.

 

We're also in a pickle because of this. In our area colleges are no longer counting high school maths taken in middle school for admissions (except for algebra I.) DS is in 7th grade and about a to move into Geometry and then Algebra II in 8th grade. However, if he finishes those 2 maths in middle school, they won't count towards admissions on his transcript. He'll still have to take at least 3 years in high school to qualify for college and most of our schools simply won't have enough maths available for him to meet that requirement. There are ways around it (like going to the community college) but it is a real complication in our area.... probably not in yours.

 

All that said, we have, in general, found it pretty easy to justify the need for math acceleration to staff. It's not a difficult thing to test and it's easy to create a paper trail on it. There tends to be little to no group work and so the concerns about age difference don't seem as high. We just have had complications on availability.


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#3 of 6 Old 01-29-2013, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

His school accommodates him by letting him do all his math work online (he has a teacher... she oversees, helps when needed and gives him regular tests to make sure he's getting what he should online.) Of course, this isn't what your DD is looking for. If she wanted to work alone, she'd do it at home. 

 

Thanks for your input! You're right that the availability wrinkles don't come into play here. It doesn't matter when you complete courses here, and there are university math courses available on-line through the public school system for kids who have outstripped what is locally available and want more math for whatever reason. 

 

I'm not sure dd necessarily wants group instruction per se. What she wants is a group environment -- a classroom of fellow students working somewhat in parallel -- and regular accountability to a teacher and a course structure. At this school in the "high school end" (which starts either at 8th or 9th grade depending on the way the student numbers make up combined classes for the year), the kids tend to work more at their own pace: at group tables, but not necessarily on exactly the same stuff. The teacher circulates between tables and students, offering help as needed. Sometimes there's whiteboard instruction for one group of students or another, but a lot of the learning is self-paced and self-directed. That's the model she's wanting, I think. Her siblings have thrived in it, and she catches glimpses of it when she's in the school for various reasons.

 

Your last paragraph is particularly encouraging. :)

 

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#4 of 6 Old 01-29-2013, 12:40 PM
 
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What you describe sounds like what my DS has. He does his math online but in a classroom with 13 other kids (6th-8th grade.) All these kids are working on whatever level they are at and share a teacher. DS really likes the atmosphere and does have people he likes to sit next to. Sounds like that sort of situation would be something your DD would like. I guess the question is does she want to be working at her own level next to 7th graders or 9th graders? Frankly, 7th graders are horrid, even the good ones.... particularly 7th grade girls. I'd personally rather be next to 9th graders lol. 


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#5 of 6 Old 01-29-2013, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lol, definitely agree with you about 7th grade girls, and so does my dd!

The 7th graders get direct instruction, though. Only te high schoolers get the flexible self-paced thing.

Miranda

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#6 of 6 Old 02-01-2013, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So as of this week they are letting her join the 7th/8th/9th grade beginning Spanish elective. She is really enjoying it, and is fitting in beautifully, even with the paired dialogues and group projects. Academically it will be an easy class for her (and for the others), and they're all on an equal footing, just starting with the language. (She had asked about this last fall, but the schedule didn't work, but suddenly some elective classes got rearranged, and it slots beautifully into her week.) So she'll have a semester with next year's 8th, 9th and 10th-graders prior to us grappling with the issue of social fit in an 8/9 math class next fall. 

 

If she still really wants to do Math 9 when the end of this school year rolls around, I think we'd be able to make a very strong case for that if she has clearly thrived in the Spanish elective and then writes the 8th grade math final exam, scoring well.

 

Miranda


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