The Scary Question, “What Grade Are You In?”
Posted by Hal in Homeschooling Boys, Raising Boys

It’s funny the things that throw you for a loop when you’re homeschooling.

Teach four grade levels? No problem.

Volunteer at the local food pantry with kids in tow? Got it.

Lead a field trip with a dozen parents and a hundred children of all ages? No problem.

“What grades are your kids in?”  <runs screaming from the room>

When we first started homeschooling, we’d dread that question. A sales clerk would ask, our child would look at us confused, we would jump in, stuttering, trying to explain that we homeschooled … and the innocent person behind the counter would look at us oddly.

That’s when we stopped to think, “What is this person actually asking?” Did they really want to know we’re way ahead in math, but slightly behind in language arts, or whatever? No! They’re just trying to show some interest.
What they are really asking is, “How old are you?”

So, we started coaching our children, “Honey, they just want to know how old you are. When someone asks what grade you’re in, just say, ‘Third,’ because that’s the grade someone your age would typically be in.”
Problem solved. If they remember. Hopefully …

But that’s not the only question that drives you crazy. “Are they all yours?” “Don’t you know what causes that?” and the ever popular, “I’d shoot myself if I had that many children!” are all favorites when we’re out shopping during the day. Not.

It helps to realize that most people don’t mean any harm. They’re trying to make conversation and they just don’t have any filters.

How do you handle it, though, when people ask questions you’d rather not deal with? What if they’re intrusive or too personal? What if you feel attacked?

We’ve found that people are a lot like chickens – they peck on those they perceive as weak. If you respond to questions with embarrassment or defensiveness, it just encourages them. On the other hand, if you fluff up your feathers and answer confidently, most people drop the offensive. Sometimes they’ll even change tone and agree with you. Maybe they’re afraid you’ll peck on them! Our friends over at Simply Charlotte Mason wrote a great article on preparing for dealing with those homeschool critics. You may want to read it before the holidays!

So the next time someone asks your child what grade they’re in and they stammer and look up at you, just smile really wide and say, “He’s ten and he’s doing so well in school!” – even if it’s been an awful week. It’ll get better. You know it.

Hal and Melanie Archway CroppedIn Christ,

Hal and Melanie

Sometimes this confusion about grade levels gets really pronounced about fourth or fifth grade. Why’s that? Because there is a whole lot going on in that kid’s brain just before puberty sets in! You can both survive it and make the teen years great if you understand what God’s doing in your child’s life … and how you can be the most effective parent you can be! Check out our Boot Camp 9-12, five live online sessions to discuss all the stuff we wish we’d known when our first was a pre-teen — you can get the recorded version to listen to right now!  CLICK HERE and find out more! 


Copyright 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by authors. Originally appeared August 19, 2015, in The Homeschool Minute™, an E-Newsletter published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. Read this family education magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices. For free homeschool information visit