Did you know this can be a very hard question to answer if you are homeschooling your child? The easy answer (well, the one we give them to hand out to relatives and others within the community) is to tell them what grade they would be in based on their ages. That makes the person on the other end feel better as it is something they can understand.
However, if you have read the book Understood Betsy or are a homeschooling mom, you know that grade level topic can be a tough one to overcome, even in our own public-schooled minds.
One of the things I have explained to my dd (age 11) is just because a particular curriculum has a number attached to it does not mean that is the grade is considered it. AO has years attached to it, but they absolutely do not coincide with a PS grade level. You see, using the Charlotte Mason method, you would not even start any kind of formal education with your child until they are age 6. That is 1st grade in the PS grades. And yes, it is a relatively simple year. That said, once you leave that year behind, it gets harder and by year 4, you are studying Plutarch's Lives, Shakespeare (the real plays, not the easy fun stories we did the first three years). You have added in Latin as well. Pretty sure most PS 4th graders are not studying all that (plus the rest of their lessons!).
Young M's reading and comp levels are out of this world. She astounds me sometimes (but cannot keep her room clean, lol! Kind of like Tim Hawkins says - well, he is 9, speaks Greek and eats bugs - what grade is that??). She does very well in her math when she takes her time and does not rush it (sometimes, like the rest of us she goes fast & makes mistakes because something fun is calling her). Where on earth would I put her in PS? I know lots of people send their children to PS for high school, but I just do not see that as a good option for any of my children.
G2 (age 8) is slower in his reading than his sister was at the same age (unless he is reading his Bible - he can pronounce words out of there that I have heard grown ups trip over!), but is running ahead on his math. I expected this with him given that he is male and will develope at a different rate than a female.
Young M can give me a narration from something she has read with no problem. G2 - well, we still do paragraph narration with him regularly. But, I know once he had narrated it, it is stuck in his brain for a long time. How do I know this? Because of the questions he comes back to me with days later. He dwells on things, turns them over in his mind and looks at them from all angles. When he gives me his thoughts about something, I make myself stop what I am doing and really listen - because I am apt to learn something from him. Sometimes I have to correct him on his conclusions, perhaps made incorrectly due to lack of information, but it is very, very interesting to hear how he came to his conclusions (and I know Exactly where I need to stick in that correction, if needed, lol).
How do you test or grade this kind of work? I know they are learning and learning well. I know, for the most part, they are well ahead of their PS peers. Oh, they cannot quote the latest Hannah Montana song, but I am quite okay with that because I know they are learning more important things right now - and not just history.
A few weeks ago, we were listening to a discussion on F2A and people were calling in to the show. The topic was the priest in Britain that said it was okay to steal from retailers if you were poor or really needed something. Anyway, something one of the callers said inspired Young M to tell me that in the book of Matthew, it said something relevant to the topic. I wish I had written it down because I almost drove off the road. I was flabbergasted that my 11 yr old got that out of the scripture and could apply it to this conversation we were listening to.
G2 has done similar things at Bible Study (I know pastor looked at him good and hard because the 8 yr old pulled out the gist of the scripture - and got it right. I think it surprised him a bit). This is the kind of stuff that the PS's do not care if my children know and would actually prefer that they not talk about it (let alone thinkreally hard on it), let alone test it. Yet it is the most important part.
I know there is more I want to say on this, but I am tired, the children are in from playing in the snow and the baby is asleep. I want to go rest my head for 15 min upstairs where the children are learning work ethic 101 - cleaning their rooms...heehee!