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Is ‘Good Enough’ Good Enough?

09 Nov

Just recently I was speaking to a lady who is in charge of enrolments at a highly sought after private high school.  She was relating how she often has to turn away homeschoolers who academically can not compete with their peers.  Her concern was that their mothers seemed shocked to discover it.

The research states that homeschoolers academically outperform their schooled peers, why then, I wonder, are schools not seeing the evidence that numerous studies have found?  Perhaps some of the applicants were from families who had struggled with homeschooling and were putting their children back into school.  But these families wouldn’t be shocked that their children had fallen behind.  That’s probably one of the reasons they were returning to school.  My concern is that perhaps homeschoolers are relying on the homeschool research and believing that the very act of keeping their children at home will ensure academic success.

Are we really giving our children a good education if we homeschool for an hour or two in the morning out of a workbook or two??  Are two or three school days a week enough?  Should we even be asking how many hours a day it will take?  Don’t these just scream – I only want to put in the minimum amount of effort – or – I have more interesting things drawing my attention away.

Home is definitely better than school.  Our children are happier, they are safer and our family bonds are stronger.  But homeschooling doesn’t guarantee academic success.  Our children are not immune to a poor education.  The promise of a great education is dependent on the effort we put into it.   It requires a huge commitment and it’s definitely not the easy option.  Yes, home is the best place to receive a great education.   But I think we need to remember that it won’t just happen by avoiding school.

People will probably point out that homeschooling isn’t just about academics.  It’s true that academics is very important to those who one day hope to enter tertiary education.   But I’d suggest that every child is worthy of a great education, and not merely one that is ‘good enough’ for a non-academic career path.

My hope is for homeschooled children to receive a great education, so I’m putting my heart onto the page to urge homeschoolers to take their responsibility seriously.  It may seem obvious, but I think the reminder is good, “Homeschoolers have to homeschool”.  Please embrace the opportunity that homeschooling presents.  Your children are worth it.

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11 responses to “Is ‘Good Enough’ Good Enough?

  1. Susan

    November 9, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    What a timely post Tracey. I’ve just been mulling over these same thoughts and have come to the conclusion that there is much mediocraty (sp?) in the Australian homeschooling world. It seems to me that a good many familes don’t see the point in pushing their children to excel and it’s almost socially unacceptable to do so. The tall poppy syndrome is alive and well even amongst homeschoolers. OUr children deserve the best. Not as good as what their schooled peers get, nor even marginally better but the best we can offer. Our kids may not appreciate it today, but one day they will. Let’s not let them down (although I know I could do much better). Sorry for the long comment!
    Susan

     
  2. Erin

    November 10, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Tracey
    I’ve been mulling over this myself lately, reflecting back on my hs years as my first moves onto the next step in her life journey. I would have to agree with you (and susan). At times I have been guilty of not expecting enough myself. I would say from observing, listening and reflecting across Australia, often more a problem of excelling in some areas and possibly behind in others.

     
  3. Tracey

    November 10, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I think it’s a good reminder for ourselves too. Homeschooling is a full time job. It’s not that quaint little thing we do after we finish this baking, this cleaning, this whatever distraction. We have to give it our all even when we don’t really feel like it. Just like parenting. We can’t just stay in bed because we don’t feel like feeding the baby or attending to the quarreling kids.

    I think we rely on the old ‘time efficient’ statement too much. Believing we can get this homeschooling thing over and done with by morning tea and have accomplished more than schools. But why do we default to the easier option rather than thinking, ‘Boy we can learn so much more than is possible in schools in the same amount of time’.

    I fear that homeschooling is too much about avoiding the evils of school, rather than embracing the blessings of homeschooling. It’s sad.

     
  4. Corrie

    November 10, 2011 at 11:47 am

    What a great post Susan! I have been discussing this with my hubby recently. I have been shocked by the number of homeschooling families who seem to think that ‘just being around their parents’ will educate them! Of course it will educate their character and emotions, but what about their academic potential. I have been criticized many times because I believe in being consistent in a 5 day a week homeschool routine (of course there are exceptions), and I have knocked back some opportunities from friends because they continually take away from academic learning time. Thank you for your post. Well said.

     
    • Corrie

      November 10, 2011 at 11:48 am

      Sorry, I meant great post Tracey! Ooops!

       
  5. Sheryll

    November 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve been feeling so convicted about this lately. I feel I have been putting in minimum effort, that there are too many other things to distract me. It’s too easy to let the day get away from us until there is no time for school. So I have been pouring my energy into plans for next year, and stepping it up a notch (or two or three!) for the rest of this year. My oldest is just seven, and my others are four and two. Plenty of time to turn things around. Exciting and daunting. It’s so easy to get the impression from homeschooling blogs that it’s all fun and games (especially if you are just starting out with preschoolers) and not see the other aspects. It is a huge commitment, and one I have been taking too lightly.

     
  6. Charlotte Mason in the City

    November 11, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I observe in my homeschooling community that it’s considered “uncool” to care about academics. What I think some of these “cool” families neglect to notice is that learning academics is fulfilling and even, dare I say it, enjoyable. 🙂

    There seems to be an idea among some homeschoolers that if you work with your children on academics, you are coercing them or forcing them. There does seem to be a trend to scoff at schoolwork in the homeschool, and I see lots of pats on the back for saying, “my child just isn’t interested so we don’t bother.”

    I didn’t homeschool because I want to push my child into Harvard, but I still think academics are a worthy pursuit, and I do think it’s my job as a homeschooling parent to prepare my children in not only the academics but in the self-discipline that goes along with academics.

     
  7. Tracey

    November 11, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I totally agree. Homeschooling ‘apparently’ has to be ‘fun’. So much of the ‘popular’ curriculums are full of games and mummifying chickens. It’s so time inefficient (and pointless I’ve learned). The purpose seems merely to lure the children’s interest into the subject.

    I don’t ask my boys to be interested in number facts or memorising the countries of Europe. I just require it and work on training those bad attitudes that creep in. Funnily enough, once they have memorised the ‘boring, not fun things’, they seem to find a lot of enjoyment in knowing and using them.

    Self-discipline is something I want my boys to learn too and it starts with doing things they don’t want to. When a child drags their feet about schoolwork or says they won’t do it, then academics isn’t the biggest problem. Parenting and discipline is. Most kids will try the ‘I don’t want to/I’m not going to’ thing…regularly…but if we just say, ‘Oh well, let’s try a more fun curriculum’ the lesson the kids learn is ‘I can get my own way with a tantrum’.

    Perhaps that’s where the minimalist homeschooling style comes from. Mumma don’t really want to do it so let’s go to the park instead. Mumma seems to need a little of that self-discipline we were talking about.

    Oh I’ve written a blog post about fun and work if you’re interested in reading it:
    http://homeschoolblogger.com/littlemen/2009/08/why-does-quotworkquot-particularly-bookwork-have-such-a-negative-reputation/

     
  8. April

    November 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Great post! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading all the comments. I too am sick of “fun” being the main focus in homeschooling. Yes, definitely an excuse for the parents lack of self-discipline… Achievement in academics is extremely rewarding, I’ve witnessed this with my children. Love, love, love this post 🙂

     
  9. Tracey

    November 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    I’m so glad everyone has liked the post…so far. I really thought I would get eaten alive. I was bracing myself for the worst. Phew! Hehehehe. Clearly I’m preaching to the converted hard working folk. Nice to see I’m in such good company.

     
  10. Sarah

    November 30, 2011 at 1:40 am

    I know this is a late comment, but I just wanted to say I really enjoyed and agreed with this post, and wish it could be handed out to home schoolers everywhere. My mother home schooled her kids here in the United States. She and Dad pushed us to excel academically, and to make full use of opportunities like Debate Team and Math Team. All three of us graduated from good universities, have solid jobs, and continue to love learning and reading on our own. Most of our friends also received very solid academic training in their homes, but several families fell into the trap of assuming they could build solid character in their children and that they needed little else. The children were delightful people, good friends, and hard workers, but after years of receiving all their instruction from poorly written “character books” with random notes on math or scientific ideas they truly struggled with writing and math and had to do a great deal of catching up when they joined our home school groups competitive clubs in Junior High and High School. Thank you for encouraging families to do their best, rather than just enough!

     

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