There is a mystic around homeschooling. But, there is also a mystic surrounding the public education system. Many parents do not understand how to advocate for their children’s education. Just remember the David Gregory misspeak trying to tell parents and the society at-large what they could do to help schools. He is an accomplished news reporter, yet he is not clear how to approach education. Teachers are caught in the haze of federal standards and state standardized testing. Administrators are stuck in an industrialization education model as we approach the 21st century. Graduates from our nation’s private schools are being out competed internationally. So, homeschool families remind us that there are better ways to educate children. These ways involve flexibility, creativity and differentiation.
I, like many parents, looked forward to the day my children could go to school. My daughter and son were enthusiastic learners who were excited to start kindergarten. But, each time I took them to school, I was dismayed. My daughter literally cried in kindergarten from boredom. My son was so mathematically gifted that his teacher could not begin to envision his abilities to challenge him. These experiences threatened my children’s zeal for learning and put a ceiling on how much they would achieve.
I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I could homeschool my children. When I had to start looking for a job in another city, I again tried to find a school. Because I homeschooled, I had insights that many parents do not have. I knew how my children learned best. Oral style lectures prevalent in most classrooms were not the best way to communicate new information to my daughter. She comprehends quicker when information is visually modeled. Then she processes concepts logically and sequentially, so her auditory responses could cause some teachers to miss how deft and fluent she was after the concept was introduced. I also worried that my son would not be challenged to his capacity. The hum you hear as a computer runs because there is so much going on in the background typified my son. He was truly a kinesthetic learner whose mind was like a dual process computer. He was constantly in motion, calculating, synthesizing and the like. I fed him with active information. In the best interest of the children, I wanted them placed in classes where they would continue to thrive. School staff dismissed my requests that my children be placed with advanced learners. Therefore, I had them tested to verify their abilities.
While the test scores revealed a new set of educational challenges for the placing them in school, they confirmed the educational products that I had created and the way in which I used them was successful. My first grade son scored in the 99.9% percentile in math and achieved a 7th grade reading comprehension ranking. This prompted two public school administrators to suggest that I take him to a private school. They were not prepared to support the education needs of a child that advanced.
Administrators tried assuaging my concerns about my daughter receiving challenging work. They said she was like their other “gifted and talented” students. My third grade daughter had scored in the 98th percentile in math. While she was spelling was on grade level and her reading was on a 5th grade level, she could formulate 12th grade sentence construction.
Knowing my daughter’s keen ability to identify patterns, I used it to teach her how to combine sentences. Thus, when tasked, my daughter can put together complex sentences. Instead of solely focusing on mechanics and spelling lists, I wanted my children to understand how sentence structure helps us communicate. My children would encounter words in the context of reading and writing. Then, I used mini word walls that I created to practice spelling sounds and parts of speech when they were relevant. Like many homeschool parents, I designed resources to help my children attain their highest achievement.
My educational products tap into children’s creativity and link concepts with skills development. Because children learn through pretend play, I would often write educational plays and skits to make a concept relevant and engaging. Although I had coordinated educational programs, the performance of my children from homeschooling has fortified me that integrated approaches work and learning styles do matter. The more homeschoolers show success, we should apply these lessons learned to the broader education discussion. We have to create nimble infrastructures and provide teachers with the resources to address the variety of learners. Attempting to have every child fit into standardization is hurting our collective educational achievement.