Sunday, June 1, 2014

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You don't have to homeschool, but you do have to take charge of your child's education

As a homeschooler you might think I would say that that the brightest family of kids I know were homeschooled.  I'd love to say that, but it is not true.  Now I know some really bright kids, and I know some families full of bright kids that were homeschooled, but the family with the brightest kids on my radar went to public school.

But here's the thing... The parents were completely in charge of their children's education.  The knew what the kids were studying at all times. They sat down with their kids every night and knew what their kids knew and what their kids did not know. And when the kids were done with the school issued work, they assigned them more.  The kids did public school by day, and they "homeschooled" by night.

I was privileged to hear one of the children speak in a church graduation celebration. He was already in college and addressed those who were graduating that year. As he told it, he and his siblings least favorite day was the last day of the school year.  Sure, they were glad they didn't have to drag into school each morning, and that they looked forward to the customary ritual of ice cream on the way home on that last day, but what they did not like is that the ice cream shop immediately preceded  the
drive to the academic book store.  On the last day of school every year, the mom purchased summer curriculum to keep their minds busy.  She may have purchased books to help them strengthen areas where they were behind, but she mostly purchased materials to broaden their education, and to help them get ahead for the next year.

It completely distresses me when people complain about what the school is or isn't doing for their kids. It is mostly because I  believe that complaining is a waste of time. If you don't like something, change it. I even believe a misguided and poorly executed change is better than doing nothing to improve the situation of themselves and their kids.

So while I highly recommend homeschooling when a teary eyed parent describes their child's lack of enthusiasm coupled with a teacher's low expectation, I don't insist on it. I do insist, however, that the parent step it up and get more involved with the child's education. Review every piece of paper that comes into the house and goes out. Check every bit of homework and review every wrong answer on a test together.  And when all that is said and done, don't forget to fill in the holes YOU think are missing and throw in some more work to broaden their horizons.

The most important thing to remember is that it is not the school's responsibility to look out for your child's best interest. It is their responsibility to look out for the best interest of the entire school.  That means the kids' education, the teachers' ability to continue teaching, the superintendent's pocket, and the government funding.  I guarantee you when you add all of those things up, what is in the best interest for the school is not in the best interest for your individual child.

Still, you can decide to work within that system and do a good job, but you have to be fully invested and in charge of your child's education for it to work.


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