We recently received the following email from Annalea and it seemed like an excellent question that might prove of interest to others of you. With her permission, we’re sharing it here.
> I’m new to your company, and am transitioning from a very unstructured unschooling approach to something more structured. I have an 11-year-old son who is very bright, catches on quickly to things, reads voraciously, but has been unschooled. I’m looking at your complete curriculum packages, and am thinking I might choose the 5th grade package for him . . . but I’m not sure exactly how to make the decision. I don’t want to get something that will overwhelm him, or something that would be too easy. Do you have any guidelines for choosing curriculum packages in this type of case?
Math is the one area that I would be most concerned about finding the right level for. Have you done any of the placement tests with him? You’ll find the 5th grade one at the bottom of this page: http://www.timberdoodle.com/Teaching_Textbook_Math_5_p/830-050.htm Then just test up or down a grade as needed until you find the perfect fit for him.
Most of the other subjects in 5th grade are designed to be flexible, either to a student who’s never done that subject before (Daily Geography, 6-Trait Writing) or to a variety of grades. (Apologia Science, Language Lessons)
There are 2 things I would consider changing though. If he has never done Building Thinking Skills 2 I would suggest that for this year. It is designed for grades 4-6, and while we have it in 4th grade it is so foundational that it would be worth replacing Critical & Creative or just adding that.
Second, you might consider starting with Sequential Spelling 1. It isn’t babyish but since Sequential Spelling uses their own unique approach he will find it makes more sense if he starts with book 1.
> I’ve also been thinking about beginning some test prep work with him. I saw that you have the Spectrum Test Prep books, and was wondering what level I might try him out to start with. I also have younger children, and have been thinking that maybe having him “observe” while I work with them might be a good way to see where his skill set lies or is lacking. Does this sound feasible, or am I dreaming? While I’m not new to homeschooling, I am new to books along these lines.
In our home testing days were a novel break from the routine, and ice cream was always served in some form at the end of the day. Because of that we all enjoyed testing a lot and generally looked forward to it! Having him help younger siblings is an excellent introduction to testing. When he is ready to try it himself I would consider having him complete Spectrum Test Prep 4th grade. That will give both of you an idea of subjects to emphasize over the next year!