How are we who homeschool our children to know if our child is behind? What are the benchmarks? What is the standard?
The unfortunate thing is that we tend to immediately gravitate to our own public school experience (at least, those of us who were in public schools). And so we look first at the age (and/or the state-assigned grade level). Is my nine-year-old performing in math at the same level as the nine-year-olds in public school?
But the question behind the question is the one that more deeply needs to be answered.
Is my child behind?
Behind who? ... Or, behind, according to whom?
I will say, it is odd to have grown up in the public schools and take it for granted, on assumption, that the way they have it setup is the way it ought to be.
Fourth graders should know how to do this, this, and this by the late spring/early summer of the school year.
And our trained response is to make sure our children know how to do this, this, and this by the late spring/early summer of the school year. And often enough, if they don't, our reaction is pull out our hair, feel guilty, assume there is something wrong with us as a teacher, or with our child and his or her development.
But is that the purpose of us homeschooling our children? Do we pay all this extra money and take all this extra time so that we can imitate a standard of a system that at its core is so deeply in contradiction to our philosophy of education?
Our goal is, and always should be, to train our children to be disciples of Jesus! And nowhere in Scripture will we find that if our child cannot do this, this, and this by the time they're nine or ten years old, then there is something wrong.
We do find that the person or "standard" that says at the outset, "There is no god" is foolish (Ps. 14:1). And we also find that those who keep company with such people or "standards" are likewise just as foolish (Ps. 1:1-6; Prv. 13:20).
So, perhaps we shouldn't immediately turn to that system to validate or confirm to us where our child should be and what he or she should be able to do at what age.
Does that mean there are no standards?
Absolutely not! But let God be the standard!
Are we teaching our children to know and love God and to keep His commandments, to love their neighbors, and to grow in the grace of the gospel (Jn. 17:3, 14:15, Mt. 22:36-40, 2 Pet. 3:18)?
Yes, those things are hard to measure at times. But our answer for that needs to be: perseverance, not: turn to the state.
The God who knitted your child in the womb (Ps. 139:13) is the same God who has planned for his or her every developmental movement (Ps. 139:1-4). Lean on Him. Trust in Him for how that development looks and how long it takes (Prv. 3:5).
But let us not use an arbitrary system - familiar, though it may be - and possibly provoke our children with false standards of where they should be at a given point in their lives (Eph. 6:4).
Rather, let us continue the course of pointing our children to Jesus, teaching them about Him, the world He created and redeemed, and how they relate.