We live outside the U.S. and are unfamiliar with the different grade levels. How do we figure out which grades would be appropriate for the ages of our children?

In general, children enter kindergarten at five years old, and first grade when they are six, so you can calculate grade placement in higher grades based on that. It is also a good idea to consider the content of each grade when determining where to start a child in the upper grades. See K-12 grade overviews and High School course overviews to help you decide which grade to choose when you are trying to balance content with what has already been studied.

While most children begin the formal schooling of 1st grade at age six, we encourage families to consider each child individually when making the decision about when to begin kindergarten or 1st grade. In the Waldorf community, it is common for children to enter 1st grade at age six and a half or seven, while in public school, many first graders are only five years old. The idea behind the practice of delaying first grade is to allow children more time to mature physically before asking them to bring their awareness to the focused work of academics, and many families using Oak Meadow follow this practice. Other families look for signs that their child is ready for reading and writing, and they begin 1st grade at that point.

Of course, it often happens that children seem to fall in between grade levels, making grade placement more challenging. When this happens, it helps to consider whether or not a child is eager for new challenges and enjoys striving to master difficult material; if so, the higher grade is appropriate. If the child prefers to have plenty of time to master and review material, the lower grade makes more sense. You can find more good information about grade placement on this page of our FAQs. Remember, every child is different and you know your children best!