Dear Savvy Homeschooler-
My mother-in-law is a teacher at a public school and when I told her I was considering homeschooling my kids she told me that when formerly-homeschooled kids come into her classroom they are always behind. I obviously don’t want my kids to fall behind academically, so how do you make sure they receive an education that is on par with their peers so they can get into the college they want?
Dear Falling Behind,
First, I would like to ask your mother-in-law how many homeschooled students did she know personally that came back into her classroom that were all behind. Did she know maybe know a couple personally or just hear about kids coming to school and being behind? Either way, it doesn’t classify EVERY homeschooled kid as being “behind.” I put behind in quotations, because what does behind mean? Does it mean that your child isn’t learning everything that a child might be learning in a public school classroom? Then sure, they might be behind. But did you stop to think that a public school student might be behind too? Are there not classrooms with student’s that don’t know how to read or understand math concepts being taught? Are there students that just study to pass a test, but aren’t really retaining any important information? But if testing is your gauge for success, then there are plenty of statistics done that show that homeschoolers test higher on average than public schoolers.
Here’s some food for thought: It just might be possible that homeschool kids are learning things at home that might not be being taught in the classroom, like the constitution or the bill of rights. These are things we’ve discussed as early as kindergarten in our home, but is the kindergarten up the street teaching those things? Probably not. So yes, there might be gaps in my third graders education because the third grade classroom that he could be currently attending is learning about cloud formations, but we learned about the periodic table of elements. Maybe during fourth grade we will study the weather and cloud formations. Do you see what I’m getting at here? In our home we study what we want to learn about, not what the state tells us we should be learning.
So unless you want to create a classroom setting in your home, check with your local school district to see what each grade is learning, then have individual lessons for several hours each day with each child that year, then go for it. But I can almost guarantee that you are setting yourself up for burnout and failure and almost definitely ruin the love of learning in your child/children.
As for your concern with you child getting into college, there are TONS of homeschoolers that have gone on to college. Colleges are actually seeking out homeschoolers because they are self-learners and highly motivated. A lot of public schoolers have had all their education spoon fed to them and don’t know how to learn for themselves and come to college not knowing how to learn or study, whereas homeschoolers have been learning that way their whole lives. A lot of colleges don’t even require a high school diploma or GED. It just requires the SAT or ACT and a portfolio of their work in high school. And the cool thing about the ACT is you can take it as many times as you want till you get the score you want. So if college is the goal of your homeschool student, then go for it! Nothings stopping you!
I think the hardest part of homeschooling is stepping out of the public school mindset that we have all been fed our whole lives. We feel we have to learn X,Y,Z at ages 5,6 and 7 because they will fail in life if they don’t. We feel we have to be sitting at our desk for 6 hours a day to learn anything because if a child is in school for 6-7 hours a day then they must be learning that whole time…which is a BIG FAT LIE! We feel that if our child is not around 30 other children their same age for most of the day then they will be socially backward. Another BIG FAT LIE! These misconceptions are SO, SO hard to break out of, no matter how long you’ve been homeschooling for. If you were not raised in a homeschool family, then you probably attended public school, so that is all you know as the norm. Why would you think anything else would work? Especially when so many rumors have been spread about the homeschool realm. And why wouldn’t a public school teacher feel extra strong about homeschooling? I get it! Their very profession is being challenged. But there are lots of teachers that have quit their chosen profession due to seeing from the inside just how broken the system is and chosen to homeschool. What does that say? I’ll let you decide for yourself.
But the simple answer to your above questions is: Could your child be behind? Maybe. If for some reason you have to put them back in school, will they be able to catch back up quickly? Yes. And can your child still get into college? YES!