We're still waiting for Fiona's first dental gap to appear. She has a very wiggly lower incisor that she is determined will fall out before the Olympics are over. I'm not sure why this time-line is important to her, but she's shooting for it anyway.
This post is about a different type of gap, the kind that happens when you blissfully ignore the curriculum outcomes by grade and allow your children to learn by way of curiosity, passion and serendipity. When you don't teach your Grade 5 kid all about Canada's pioneers and the solar system, instead allowing him to delve deeply into the history of science, physical and organic chemistry, ancient worlds and the origin of man. I wrote this on a message board in response to a parent who was asking "What if your homeschooled child ends up entering the school system at some point? What do you do to ensure he doesn't have serious gaps?"
When you read those scary studies about what school students actually know (like that 60% of American high schoolers can't find Japan on a world map) you start to appreciate that most of what is taught at school is not actually learned in any permanent meaningful way. There may be all sorts of impressive things on the curriculum outline, but only a portion of that is actually taught by the teacher, only a portion of what's taught is actually absorbed long enough to produce an acceptable unit-end test result, and most of that which is regurgitated on the test is not retained for longer than a few weeks at most. So to my mind it makes absolutely no sense to fuss with "what they're supposed to be learning" according to the school curriculum outcomes. If my kids only learn 80%, or 50%, or even 30% of what's on the Grade 5 science and social studies school curriculum, but they truly learn it because it's stuff that has meaning for them and is motivated by their own interests, they'll probably be farther ahead in the long run, with fewer 'gaps' than kids who supposedly covered it all in Grade 5 but then had most of that learning fall out of their heads after the chapter tests.