Self-Doubt and Advanced Placement

There’s always crap going on in my life I don’t write about for various reasons and it sucks because writing is how I process things. I have written drafts I’ve never published (Oh, the draft folder on this blog is EPIC) but it doesn’t always help without the wisdom you all give me.

ANYWAY. Some of this crap has trickled into my life in ways unexpected. I’ve not been writing as much on social media in general lately and I think I’ve figured out why. It’s because awhile ago I wrote something on Facebook talking about some bullying my daughter was experiencing (Facebook is safe for more personal stuff as I limit my Facebook connections) and someone took that opportunity to message me privately using my status as an impetus to proceed to tell me how my involvement in another situation was actually me condoning bullying and they just couldn’t believe that ME OF ALL PEOPLE would do that.

The details of this are unnecessary, I’m confident I’m not condoning bullying in any situation, but the point is: Someone took something personal I wrote and twisted it around as an attack and it just shook me.

And lately? I’ve been filled with self-doubt because of this.

How much do I share anywhere? Am I strong enough to open these wounds to the world and then sometimes have negative fallout? I am very open about my struggles in many areas but maybe I shouldn’t be? Maybe if someone sees those vulnerabilities and realizes those are great places to attack, maybe I’m not strong enough for that?

And it has me constantly doubting anything personal I share lately. I feel good sharing it, but what if someone then says, Oh! Look, that’s obviously a vulnerability. Let’s use that to hurt her.

I wrote yesterday about anxieties and lists and how sometimes putting things on the “NEVER” list allows you to take them off the “WORRY” list and SO MANY of you assured me that you do the same thing and it was VERY helpful. But then, the self-doubt started and I began looking at that entry and my admission of vulnerabilities from the point of view from someone who didn’t care about me, and suddenly I doubted everything and I moved it to draft.

Actually, for a moment I thought about taking the whole blog down.

But this morning I’m fighting that self-doubt because I really would love to hear your thoughts on something.


My daughter got into a special magnet program here for academic achievement and they try to put some 6th graders from this program in Algebra I. Of course this means they would take Calculus as SOPHOMORES and who knows how many collge credits they’ll graduate with at that rate!

Now, ALL 6th graders in this program are in at least advanced 7th grade math, but some go to Algebra I which is advanced even for 8th grade. So basically she’s already guaranteed to be on an advanced math track, but the placement in Algebra I would put her on an EVEN MORE advanced math track and y’all? I told her I don’t give two flying shits about it.

And that is a direct quote.

I struggle with the idea of advanced placement. I was on an advanced math track and it caused me a lot of stress (I even pushed to get into the honors version of that track) when I was taking Calculus as a Senior – A LOT OF STRESS – and it gave me no benefit in the long run. What? It saved me a math credit? Well, I ended up changing my major so many times that I had so many wasted credits that saving me one math did no good.

Maybe if I knew for sure she was destined for a math career – maybe it would help? But I don’t. And I don’t want her to feel bound to any track just because of a test she took in 5th grade. I want her to be challenged, so if they put her in it I’ll support it, but I don’t buy into the need to start college with credits already accumulated. To me? 90% of the college experience IS ABOUT THE COLLEGE EXPERIENCE and I believe she will learn more taking a class in college than in high school. Not necessarily about the subject, but about academics and life and if she’s on a math track, meeting other freshmen on that same track is beneficial and skipping to sophomore or junior level classes as a freshman doesn’t not put you in easy friend-making situations.

So, I’m letting her take the test (I could have asked she not be tested and just be put in regular advanced math) because I want her to be challenged or she’ll get bored. But as she was stressing about the test last night I told her 100 different times in 100 different ways: IT DOES NOT MATTER. If you don’t get into Algebra I? You will be FINE, maybe even BETTER in my opinion.

What are your thoughts on Advanced Placement courses? ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO SETTING A KID ON A TRACK IN 6TH GRADE. Uggg. I just want her to not worry about college for a little while, is that too much to ask?

27 thoughts on “Self-Doubt and Advanced Placement”

  1. My mom felt just like you and she’s a high school match teacher. I skipped pre-algebra and I took Algebra in 8th grade and was offered geometry freshman year. Even though my grades were stellar, my mom made me take Algebra 1 honors freshman year (geometry sophomore year, trig junior, and pre calc senior year). She knew how important a strong algebra background is and knew that another year at the hrs level in high school would provide that; and she wanted me on the track to take calc in college because she felt that the university setting would offer a better and deeper calc background than our high school. And although I was mad at her at the time, i really feel she did the right thing. I ended up as a science major and while most of my peers couldn’t a remember a lick of calc by the time we needed it junior year for physicis; it was fresh in my mind because I had taken it recently.

  2. I will say this… Just because you come in with calc credits… Doesn’t mean you can’t take calc in college. I took A/B in highschool and started with B in college instead of skipping straight to C. It was nice to have some familiar material while I settled in to all the other big changes that college brings.

  3. Been there, done that. Not quite as early, but still early enough that it would have forced my kid to take calculus when he didn’t really need it. He has a natural aptitude for math, but no love of it, and we didn’t realize what it would do to him if he took classes earlier than most. (He was in a smaller private school at the time.) You’d think he’d get high school credit for algebra, but it didn’t work that way at this school. By their rules, he HAD to take 4 math classes while in high school, even if he wasn’t pursuing a field that needed higher level math. Just one reason we were happy to return to homeschooling, where he could get high school credit for his math classes taken pre-high school.

    I know it’s a little early for Nyoka to know what she wants to do, but you probably already have some idea whether she has a bent for science/techy things or the more creative career fields (Based on what you share about her, I have an idea which she leans to as well.). Perhaps that can be one of the deciding factors if she scores high enough to join the “fast track.”

  4. Just a thought from a lurker… 🙂 I took advanced placement math starting in 7th grade and eventually wound up dropping down to somewhat regular math (but still a grade ahead) in 11th grade. Then in 12th grade I took a college math class that allowed me to “place out of” math when I got to college. That meant I didn’t have to take any math courses in college, which I loved! And never did again. So just because Nyoka would be ahead in math, it doesn’t mean she’d have to continue along that math career path in college. If she winds up not being interested in a career involving math, taking college math in high school may even help her to take additional courses she likes in college, rather than required math courses.

    Also, I think it’s worth keeping in mind that you don’t have to look at the AP track as a permanent thing. No one judged me (to my knowledge) or gave two hoots about the fact that I “dropped down” from the super advanced math track to just the advanced track.

  5. For what it’s worth…my rising 6th grader (labeled as gifted in the state of FL) who has been in gifted classes since 1st grade, took a test last week for math next year called GEM (Great Explorations in Mathematics). His current teacher told the kids before the test that it is a very hard program and that they will have to work their butts off in it. Needless to say, that turned him off. He came home the day before the test saying he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be in that program, too much work, etc. Regardless of how he does on that test, he is guaranteed to be in Advanced Math. My comment back to him was that I want him to do his best on the placement test, and once we get the results, if he does well, we can decide what to do next. I did well in math until 8th grade, when I took a placement test for Algebra and was found lacking. My confidence in my math skills took a huge hit and I struggled all through highschool (claiming I was just not a math person, but really, just no faith in myself). My kid isn’t me, I know that, but I do worry that he will lose faith in his abilities. I also worry about struggling to get the work done, and added anxiety (he’s already prone to it). Here’s what I figure: the test has been taken–until we know the results, we can’t do anything. Once we do know, we’ll make a decision. If he takes the super advanced class and struggles, we will likely consider moving down to the regular Advanced Math. In this case, I’d let Niki take the lead. If she does well and wants to try the advanced class, let her. But be aware of her stress, and talk to her about these things. She is a smart young lady and the more you empower her, the better things will be in the long run.

  6. That’s very true – that if she just skips math all together (especially if she doesn’t like it) that it would avoid the problems I see in “Freshmen in Sophomore/Junior” level math. I didn’t consider the perks to keeping her on the track just to AVOID math all together! Which might be up her ally 🙂 I’ll keep that as a talking point for her, that this doesn’t bind her to a math track in any way! THanks!

  7. I have thoughts. And they may mean absolutely nothing but you asked for input. So… I think 6th grade is WAY to young for algebra unless you are a math lover/genius. I mean if math is your jam, go for it. But otherwise? I would wait at least a year or two. there is nothing wrong with being on track to take calculus as a senior. Does your school offer math past calc? I mean, what exactly do they do junior and senior year? If they don’t need to take math those years and then need to take it again in college – that’s a big gap. And, depending on major (things like engineering, physics, etc.), many colleges require you to take calc in college even if you got AP credit. The AP just goes to free electives. So, personally, I would want to wait.

    Now if math is your jam and there is a community college nearby, maybe take calc as a sophomore and take college classes junior and senior year. (If you school allows that.)

    ***Feel free to ignore all statements above. They are just the ramblings of a woman who may have weird strong feelings about such things.

  8. I am probably going to ramble here; forgive me.
    On the self doubt; I have dealt with that all my life and it has probably hurt me in the career field and life in general. Always afraid of making the wrong decision and always afraid I would step on someone’s feelings. This is probably a big reason I didn’t go through with a blog a year or so ago. I actually got an F one time on a paper that I wrote on “Why I would like to be liked by everybody.” Teacher in so many words told me that I would not be liked by everyone because of just who I was. A real punch in the gut. A lot of my bullying in early school years and Jr high school was because of my weight. The whole don’t talk to me crowd and sit by myself in the lunchroom. It was pretty cruel. After I lost weight it was amazing to me how I was treated from the same folks that bullied me. My whole life I always treated everyone the same; regardless!!
    On the advanced classes; I struggled with math my entire school career and In the day there were no real advanced classes. It was a real struggle for me on the benchmark to get into college then; the ACT!! I was ashamed of a 19 on the test and I went thru the Jr college route for 2 years before transferring to a 4 year school. I really felt pressure to do well on this test for sure and a lot of self inflected predsure to do well. I guess what I am saying is in my opinion kids are not allowed to be kids nowadays anymore because of all the pressure from society and academia to excel. Looking back I changed majors so much in college that advanced courses would probably hurt me than helped; maybe not. Everyone has there own opinion.

  9. 6th grade seems awfully early for Algebra I. Is there a middle track for math? At my Kids school they have regular, honors, and high honors math. I think that high honors has algebra I in 7th grade and honors has it in 8th. My friend’s child, who was a really driven & math-loving student, went into high honors in 7th grade and was extremely stressed out about it. She ended up dropping him back to honors the next year, so he kind of took the same class again. We ended up pushing for Sydney to be in honors, because she initially wasn’t recommended for it, which surprised us since she’d had straight A’s in math. It turned out the recommendation was based on the standardized test and she’d had to make it up, so her score wasn’t up to her usual level. Wesley is in honors too, and somewhat stressed about the volume of work. If it was my Kids, I wouldn’t push for algebra I so early. If the test gives her other options too then it is worth taking for that reason, in my opinion.

  10. I’m sorry someone went for your vulnerabilities like that. I hope you don’t take down your blog — I love checking in almost every day to see what you’re thinking about. You are such a thoughtful, kind, creative person that I wish I knew IRL! I have no other insights, but hope you keep on writing online.

  11. I was on an advanced math track young, too. I am pretty sure it was geometry in 6th grade and algebra 1 in 7th for me. I was definitely doing calculus and trig in early high school. For me, I was good at it, but I kinda ended up hating it because it was so difficult and required a lot of focused attention, which I wasn’t all that interested in giving (as a young kid!). The end result is that I capped out the math requirements early and I wasn’t required to take any in later high school or college (actually I think I had to take some math requirement, but I ended up with statistics, which was interesting). Anyway, the way I thought about it was getting math done early so I didn’t have to worry about it later. Not sure if that’s helpful!

  12. I’m seeing people bringing up career paths, so I’m going to throw in a few more cents.

    1. Math is a valuable life skill. It teaches you think through problems in an organized way and how to get from point A to point B. I don’t care if you are going to major in underwater basket weaving, critical thinking is a good skill. Now, math isn’t everyone’s *thing* and there are many paths to learning critical thinking and problem solving but I wouldn’t avoid it simply because you don’t think she will go into a STEM field.

    2. And, on that last point, don’t assume that a creative child won’t be interested in/go into STEM. This is a hot button for me. My mother didn’t believe that I would be an engineer until I had TWO degrees AND a professional certification in engineering. At that point, I had been working an an engineer for 5 years. It was really upsetting for a very long time that she was so unsupportive and it’s still a sore spot for me. I could have taken many paths, and yes, most of the others would have been creative/communication based paths…but I enjoy my career and I have a lifestyle that none of my other choices would have afforded me. Nikki sounds smart, organized, and determined. I have full faith that if she were interested in STEM that she would do well in it. We tell ourselves a lie that STEM requires some sort of nerdy-genius-loner. It doesn’t. It requires smart people who work hard, ask good questions, and collaborate well with others. (Plus, the math is really an entrance fee, I rarely use it in my day to day and when I do, it’s typically algebra and geometry. What taking all that does is unlock the upper division classes where you get to learn the really cool stuff.)

  13. “It’s because awhile ago I wrote something on Facebook talking about some bullying my daughter was experiencing (Facebook is safe for more personal stuff as I limit my Facebook connections) and someone took that opportunity to message me privately using my status as an impetus to proceed to tell me how my involvement in another situation was actually me condoning bullying and they just couldn’t believe that ME OF ALL PEOPLE would do that.”

    And while I’m on a commenting roll…I am so sorry someone did this to you, it was completely inappropriate and out of line. (There are several things that when people say, I sit up and take notice because it’s often a Red Flag that this is not a nice person and “I can’t believe you OF ALL PEOPLE would do that” is one of them.) Anyway, please do not let them scare you off posting. I greatly admire your willingness to be vulnerable and real. Especially in regards to things like mental health where they are too often swept under the rug.

    Situations like this are where “unfriend” and “block” become handy tools. (I know that seems harsh, but if that was their response to the situation I am thinking of, then it’s EVEN MORE out of line and inappropriate and I don’t think it’s harsh at all.)


  14. I’m lucky enough to be the mom of two great kids. My oldest was a good student but not in any honors or advanced placement classes. He was always into football and played from third grade through twelfth. He had a great high school experience, got a few small scholarships and went to the university of his choice. He changed majors three times and even had to transfer to a sister school to finish up because they were the only school that offered his degree. He is now gainfully employed and looking forward to moving in with his girlfriend this summer. He is also thinking about going back to school and completing another 21 credits for another degree to forward his career even more. Successful kid with no AP or honors classes.
    My second kid will graduate next Friday from high school. She has been in gifted, honors and AP classes since third grade. She is very driven, competitive, and loves to be challenged. She has so many academic awards we have filled a closet. She was courted by 113 colleges and universities, including all the Ivy League schools but she chose the same university her brother chose. She took a lot of STEM classes until her senior year when she announced she was really drawn to English and history. She also realizes that she may change majors several times before she graduates. She will get several scholarships but we’re going to have to pay for some stuff. I also know that she’s incredibly happy that her brother still lives where her university is so she’s taking her cat and it will live with her brother. (She is very shy and sort of socially awkward) Her cat and brother will be comforting for her. Yes, she will get some college credits for her AP classes and the tests she took but I truly think that if she hadn’t had the more challenging classes she would have been so bored she may have completely given up. This is a kid who HATED preschool because she was so bored. We ended up only sending her 2-3 days a week even though we had to pay full price. I cant imagine what she would have done as she got older.

    You have to parent your child according to her needs and it’s up to you and her to decide what she wants and needs to do. Don’t let thoughts of college get in the way for what she does now. They may change the rules by then anyway. Let her excitement and thirst for knowledge guide you.

    And just know for every person who is trying to beat you up (usually so they can feel better about themselves) there are at least 10 people who are supporting you. You keep being you.

  15. I am a 100% humanities/liberal arts kind of girl, and I managed to make it through Algebra in middle school. I think it was in 7th grade. It meant I was a ahead of the game in high school, and in fact, I did not have to take math my senior year because of it. Which left more time for AP English, Econ, a ceramics class and an internship! So it could work in her favor.

    And I can’t imagine anyone ever thinking that you would condone bullying in any form. They must have really, really misinterpreted what you were saying. And that’s not a reason to stop yourself from speaking.

  16. First, please don’t take down your blog. It is SO helpful to so many of us out here. Is that selfish of me? Probably, but I’m asking it of you anyway.

    Second, I am SO WITH YOU about the AP stuff. In my opinion it is ridiculous. I saw it DESTROY my daughter’s high school experience. She was so tied up in knots at all times because school was so demanding, that she had very little…and I mean almost non-existent…social life or even family life! And guess what? She quit college during her sophomore year!! What was the POINT of all that acceleration??? All it did was burn her out on higher education all together!

    Fast forward to my son. He is 12 and just ending 8th grade. That’s right, folks, he will start high school at 12 and graduate, and be off to college, at 16. He started K early, and then skipped 5th grade. You’d think that would be enough of an “advanced” track to satisfy his father…but Oh No. Daddy needs for him to get on the honors and AP tracks in everything. It has caused a giant rift between them that will likely never be mended. (btw: Dad and I split 9 years ago.)

    The way I see it, my boy is already two years ahead of everyone his chronological age. I couldn’t care two bits if he goes straight to the university of his choice from high school. If he needs to go to community college for a couple years to gain the credits he needs, SO WHAT?! Even if he WASN’T two years ahead…SO WHAT?! It is not a RACE, people. I agree 100% with what you said about how they would miss out on those freshmen experiences with people their own age if they were going straight into a Junior level math class as a college freshman. (As a matter of fact, I have copied that paragraph and pasted it into a document to use in the future with his father and grandparents, if need be. So, yeah, please don’t take down your blog!!)

    There is so much pressure to excel put on kids today, and it is leading to severe anxiety problems, eating disorders, cutting, drug and alcohol use. It is ridiculous and I won’t be a party to it. Their emotional brains aren’t ready for that kind of pressure yet, even if they are smart enough. They need more experience dealing with success and failure! There is more to human development than book smarts!

    I fully support you in your telling your daughter It Does Not Matter!


  17. I do think 6th grade is young to have to worry about your college career. It seems that more emphasis is placed on college careers at a younger and younger age. All that pressure is put on them for these tests. I always told my kids to do their best, but that these tests do not define who they are or who they will become. I never excelled on these types of tests and usually scored in the average range.

    I wasn’t on a math fast track in high school at all. I did have some honors classes and did well in math. But I didn’t even take Calculus in high school.

    In college I tested into the College Algebra and Trig class and then took the Calculus series. I went on to graduate cum laude with a BS in Math.

    I guess my point is that she can pursue math at a higher level without having to start algebra in 6th grade.

  18. To the algebra in 6th grade- a big Fat NO. I wise friend of mine once told me that she and her daughter were having a war over whether her daughter would take Algebra in 8th grade. Mom said no. It wasn’t because the daughter wasn’t gifted. Mom said that 8th graders didn’t have the maturity to take it, that they just weren’t in the stage of thinking to fully understand it. I was actually glad that my daughter wasn’t eligible at her school to take Algebra in 8th grade. She might have been able to do the calculations, but understand it- no way. She did bring up the subject of being with younger kids in Math several times, but so be it. So that being said , 6th grade is way too young for Algebra. I have several friends whose 6 graders were taking advanced math and were struggling. I told them that it was a maturity issue, not an academic issue. With time, as they matured, they caught right up. My “granddaughter” was not eligible to take advanced math in 6th grade. She took general math and was helping the other kids and being asked by the teacher why she wasn’t in the ore AP class. She took the higher Math from then on, and is now taking 2 math classes so that she will graduate this December, a semester ahead. Thats a lots of words to say please make her wait.

  19. I was on the advanced math track in junior high and high school. I did fine until I got to honors pre-calculus my junior year. As someone who struggled with anxiety and perfectionism, I couldn’t bear to get a C (or worse), so I dropped the class. That meant that by the time I got to college, I hadn’t had any math classes for a full two years. I ended up having to take a remedial math class to catch back up (which was no catastrophe, but cost me money for a non-credit class). When I finally got to calculus, learning from a college professor was a completely different (and significantly better) experience for me.

    The advice I give my daughter now is, if it can be undone, it’s not worth being upset about. Classes can be dropped and the track you are on can be adjusted, it can be undone. I worried about too many things that ended up not mattering at all, now I just hope to spare my girl from that same pattern.

  20. Hello. I’m the other Liz who loves stats also. I was gifted in grade school when it was locked down much more than today. There were 3 gifted students in grades school (the whole school). My parents didn’t push me an I dropped out of the program the last two years. I took AP classes in HS, but regret not taking Calculus, because I ended up taking it 3 times in college. My BA is in History. I fell in love with Computer Science after I graduated and went back for a MS in it. I have taken an absurd amount of Math, some of it for fun.
    My oldest son started 6th grade this last year. In our district, a kid can start high and drop down, but it is impossible to start low and go up into the higher level track. I asked my aunt, who was a middle school tracher, if we should put him in the higher level courses. There are 4 of them. She recommended putting him all 4, because she said that those kids come out different–more mature. My son is an average student. He has had some Algebra this year and could handle it. It was stressful at times. However, he was able to keep up and understand it. The goal is not straight A’s for our son. It is being challenged, learning, and continuing to love school.
    We’ve heard a lot about grit in the last few years. I stress with my children that I want them to fail and make mistakes, because it shows us where their holes are with learning and they grow when they are outside their comfort zones. My younger child hates mistakes, so that is a struggle. However, both will get frustrated and then get down to it, which is what we ask them to do. I tell them they can whine for a minute and then they have to get back to the work.
    Thank you for your blog. You are going to make mistakes. I make several a day. Continue to grow from it. This would be an extremely boring world if we all were perfect.

  21. Sorry for all the typos. I’m on my phone, so it is much more challenging.

  22. I say wait and let her just do the “regular advanced” class. She is prone to anxiety as it is, and who knows what else she’ll have in her life as she gets into 7th, 8th grade and beyond. I think she would probably be fine in the 6th grade class, but the stress might catch up with her later. And I wonder what happens to her during her junior and senior years of high school. In Tennessee, kids have to have at least one high school credit a year. That means even if they’re in Calc AB as juniors, they’ll have to take something senior year. Even if they doubled up in math for one or two years and have 6 credits of math by the time they’re juniors, they still have to take a math their senior year. So that can be tough, especially if they’re burned out by then.
    (As a former Alg 1H, Alg 2H and current Alg 2CP teacher, I can also attest to the value of maturity in students learning Algebra. We have some freshmen who repeat Algebra 1H and then double up the next year to be able to get to Calculus. It’s much better for them than stringing them through Alg 2 before they’re really ready and then them being behind or struggling the rest of the way through. We also have some freshmen who start in Alg 2H and Geometry H, which puts them on track for Calc AB as juniors and BC as seniors. But they don’t all end up sticking with that track. And some are truly gifted and love it and do great in BC. It’s hard to tell–and that’s when they’re THREE YEARS OLDER than Nyoka is now. )

    One more thought: I’m in charge of Spanish placements. We sometimes have kids who are borderline ready for Spanish 3H as freshmen. However, we usually put them in Sp 2H, not because 3H would be too hard, but because they won’t have a good enough base for when they get to Sp 4H. So that’s what I was trying to say up above–she might not have a problem next year, but it might be overwhelming once she’s on that track. And we all know that her sanity is not worth an extra math credit!

    (But it’s still amazing and cool that you have such a smart girl! Kudos for being able to revel in how wonderful she is and knowing that she doesn’t have anything to prove and letting her be a kid.)

  23. High school math teacher here. First, find out what your state and district math requirements are. Most require 3 years including Algebra 2, and one year has to be as a senior (kids who have taken Alg 2 but don’t want pre-calc or calc take personal finance or similar electives.) If she takes Calc as a sophomore, will she be required to take college level Calc II, III, and Differential equations while still in high school? Does you district offer dual enrollment for high school students with a local college? I advise many, many AP Calc students to retake Calc I and II in college, because AP is very, very different from college calculus. Also- I’ve seen a lot of kids who excel in math until they get to Algebra 2 or Pre-Calc, and they suddenly aren’t doing well. There’s a big jump in the amount of higher level and abstract thinking in Pre-calc and Calc. I can’t imagine many freshman having that level of skill, just because their brains aren’t there yet. How successful has this program been in your school district? How many 6th grade Alg 1 kids earn 3’s or higher on the AP Calc exam as sophomores? What are the options if she wants to slow down? I’d be really, really hesitant to have Alg 1 before 7th grade.

  24. Ahhh, 2 stories to tell you. The end run is you are right. Don’t give two shuts beyond that she is challenged.

    1-my older brother was bussed from our grade school to the Jr. high for math class. And again in 8th grade to take higher math. He ended up…running out of math to take in high school. He ended up a math major in college, and a jr. high math teacher, who took no math his sr year of high school because there was none to take.

    2-myself. This is science not math, but similar. I took the AP bio tests and tested out of a year of biology headed into college as a bio major. I did not take the AP Chenm test because I didn’t think I’d score high enough, who knows. My university wouldn’t put me in sophomore bio classes because I didn’t have the corresponding chemistry credits. So my choices were to take bio anyway or take no biology at all as a freshman bio major. I ended up splitting the difference and took the lectures but not the labs. I ended up with a Ph.D.

    Moral of the story, you don’t know at all whether math will matter in her career and college choices. But, a ton of credits in one subject may or may not help without complimentary credits in other areas.

    Also, I could have graduated from college a semester early, but by then I had figured out that those were totally the best years of my life and I did not want out early! That may have been the smartest decision of my life. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

  25. Similar situation here, about 3 years ahead of where you are now. Our oldest started 6th on the “regular” advanced math track. So now going into 9th/high school, the next course in line is considered ‘AP.’ But she also got herself into a special science program and that puts her in AP Biology. And she loves English and wants to start on the AP track there too. So, 3 AP courses her Freshman year, sounds like a nightmare. Counselors have told us, if she wants to do it, let her try – it’s a lot easier to go down a step, then to try and go up a step, which would mean skipping something or doing a summer independent study – gross. We’re also looking to opt her out of other things – she’s taking PE online over the summer, because school is weird these days and that’s a thing. She’ll also likely take American History the same way in a few summers.
    And I feel the same about all of it, don’t care, do what you want, don’t kill yourself over it, life should not be determined by things you do/take/decide upon when you’re 14. I also share the same sentiment in regards to standardized testing – no flying shits are given at my house, do your best but also, who cares.

  26. Longtime lurker and 6th grade math teacher here! My opinion on this is that a 6th grade algebra exists to satisfy high-strung parents. It is not for the benefit of the kids. Every year in my gifted classes I get two or three kids who are learning algebra in their after-school classes, but they still have gaps in their understanding of math concepts–and these are my highest kids. They still have some of those “Oh! Now I get it!” moments learning along with the “regular” high-achieving kids. Programs that go faster do so at the expense of going deeper. Highly advanced kids in a regular high achieving class (with a good teacher) are directed to explore the concepts more deeply and lead themselves to the next concept. I would only suggest going for a class like this if Nyoka is DYING to take it, or if the teacher is phenomenal.

  27. On the flip side of that… because I tested out, I didn’t have to take any math in college. Which I regretted to a degree when it came to grad school and stats, and even the stress of preparing for the GRE – those skills get rusty.
    But taking advanced math doesn’t have to determine everything about her future. And while my initial flashbacks were to how stressful advanced math was for me early on, I think this generation of kids is more ready for algebra because they’ve practicing it – even if not by name – from a much younger age. If she passes the test and enjoys math, why not? (I think the enjoyment factor is important.) Good luck!

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