We left public school because it was not set up for mixed age grouping nor willing to do a single-subject acceleration. In addition, a double grade skip would not have been enough for some subjects. This is what lead to our homeschooling adventure. We ran into several community places that were awesome with our son. They didn’t care about his age but rather where he was functioning. Some of the museums even group classes by grade level functioning, not age. Many places have mixed age groupings. This was perfect for us. One of our favorite places was also very flexible with our son. Although they had suggested age ranges they let our son into the higher aged classes. However, apparently that has ceased. In addition, none of the homeschool coops or private schools will allow our son to take algebra or high school sciences this fall because of his age. It doesn’t matter that I have evidence (testing from SAT 10, individualized achievement scores, grade placement exams, and program completion documentation).
We know that although some of the staff at these places get that our son needs more than what is offered at his age, they have to deal with the parents of the older students and potentially some teens who don’t think it is fair for my son to be there. We dealt with this attitude in the public school and it was a contributing factor to turning to the homeschool route. We continue to see this attitude with some of the co-ops and some within the homeschool community. However, what people don’t realize is that my son is the one, who, in essence being punished by being denied access to classes he is fully capable of succeeding in.
The good news, I have found the algebra program we will be using this year (a combo of online and books). This program also has Algebra II and geometry, but I might need to hire a tutor or find a college student to assist. This will buy us at least another year before broaching the local community college for math and science. We know which community colleges are willing to work with either early entry or dual enrollment. We have other parents of gifted children who have done this battle ahead of us and have taught us what to do. We were actually hoping he’d be a tad older, but we are accepting the fact that we only have one or two more years before we really need to pursue the community college for math and science classes. Maybe we can buy ourselves more time with online classes as this area is growing exponentially in offerings.
We thankfully have found alternatives to the other classes he wanted for cheaper via online tutorials and lots of books. Plus, we already owned the materials they were going to use and have already been tinkering in those areas. In addition, the money saved and now the lack of time commitment from those classes means more travel opportunities this year. This too will provide great learning experiences. We are definitely taking advantage of the flexibility of homeschooling now before he starts at the community college. However, it doesn’t change the disappointment felt. We are learning, this is part of what it is like to have to deal with asynchronous development and a child who needs significantly higher grade levels than his age level.
No matter how much people think he needs to only be with children his age, they do not know the research on gifted education nor gifted development. Many do not understand that children my son’s age don’t have the same interests or knowledge as those older students and adults he seeks out. We know from experience, our son can handle some subjects and conversations with adults and college students. He needs and thrives from them. As adults we don’t work only with those our same age, live with only people our same age, or only interact with people our same age. Such restrictions on children are misguided. Mixed age interactions prepare for the real world. Thankfully for homeschooling, if one place is no longer an option we find alternatives. And, we have a gifted community online that can support and guide us. We also have some local profoundly gifted friends who have paved the path with several area colleges. We refuse to hold our son back.