When I was in first grade, we moved to a new state and a rural neighborhood. One with horses in the backyard – not in our backyard of course, but other backyards, up the street, not far away.
My dad had a temporary assignment, we knew that. Which made our assignment temporary; we knew that, too.
I liked the school and made friends easily. After several months, I skipped a grade. Then another grade. My first day in third grade math class, we were told to turn to the chapter on long division. And like everyone else, imitating everyone else, I turned.
It might have been a chapter on long division. Then again, it might just as well have been a chapter on the Pythagorean Theorem or a Shakespearean sonnet in Mandarin Chinese.
I did the only thing possible. I asked to go to the bathroom. And on my way up the aisle, I looked over everyone’s shoulder. Most were making notations of no sense at all, but one girl was copying, neatly with her number 2 pencil, the problems exactly as they appeared on the page.
Well, is that all there is to it? What a relief. I went to the bathroom, pretended to tinkle, then came back, copied the problems, and turned in my worksheet.
That afternoon I spent at the doctor’s office. It seems in those early years, my sister and brother always had pneumonia or asthma or scoliosis, and my mom and I spent hours and hours in waiting rooms. That afternoon, my mother taught me long division. I didn’t find the concept intuitive or interesting, but after hour 2 or 3, the lightbulb came on. Dimly, perhaps.
During the lesson, maybe I got impatient, maybe mom got impatient, but how impatient can you get, really. You’re in a waiting room.
That was my first and last experience with homeschooling. My mom must have done a decent job. At six or seven or whatever age I was, during that year, I made the cut. I stayed in third grade. I was in a tunnel with a flashlight. But you don't care if the batteries are weak when you know the tunnel is short and the exit is near.
In other words I didn't get demoted. Until we moved to a better school district.