Low Standards and Mediocrity Among Homeschoolers

I talk to homeschoolers every chance I get to learn about their process, their curricula, their activities, and structure. I join homeschool groups. I’m already researching different methodologies and philosophies in homeschooling. I am deciding between homeschool and private school, and I want to be prepared to homeschool.

But for every homeschooling family that rigorously teaches all subjects and have children at or above grade level, there’s two more with children below grade level…..AND THEY DON’T CARE AND THEY JUSTIFY IT!

So often I hear people say that their children technically read two grade levels behind or are 7 and can’t count yet, but why do public school standards matter and their kids are still getting an education.

Yeah, right.

Today a woman posted in a homeschooling group that she started her son in private school, pulled him out to homeschool, and after homeschooling for a year plus, he is now not only not making progress, he is behind. She says she thinks the problem is she has twin two year old boys and she gets so distracted and has to watch them so much that she can’t focus on her older son’s education. She wanted to know what she should do. I said to put him back in private school, wait til her twins are older and ready to do school themselves, then start over again with homeschooling and pull her older son back out of school. Many moms of many children were saying that you can easily homeschool with many children. I said that although some moms of many succeed in providing a good home school education, many do not. Their older kids spend more time helping mom wrangle the younger ones and helping her with laundry and lunch than they do studying. If she feels overwhelmed by her twins, she shouldn’t feel bad about delaying homeschooling til they are older. Even many moms of one and two find homeschooling difficult. With twin two year olds it would be extremely hard.

Then this woman starts in on me talking about how she has five kids and she does a great job homeschooling them. At first, as I start to read what she has written, I am impressed. To successfully homeschool five kids is an accomplishment that not everyone can pull off. It is easier for her if all her kids are school age now, as they seem to be, but it is difficult nonetheless.

Then I read the rest of what she says. She says how sure, her kids are not at grade level for public school, but that it doesn’t matter and they are getting a great education.

If your kid is not at or above grade level for public school, your homeschooling is not successful. Your child is not getting adequate instruction. Public school is not difficult. It does not set the bar high. Even though there are as many kids in public schools that aren’t academically inclined as there are kids who are gifted in that area, most kids who flunk in public school do so because they aren’t interested and didn’t try (or have some really off the wall, bad home situation) – not because it is difficult. The majority of even the least scholastically gifted kids pass. They are at grade level.

If your kid is not at public school grade level or above it, you are failing. What is the point in taking your kids out of public school supposedly for a better environment and education if you are going to let your fourth grade read like a first grader? If they spend more time watching their siblings than they do hitting the books? Public school grade level is not some unattainable goal. It is basic, the minimum knowledge and aptitude a child of a certain age should have. I’m not saying you have to follow the curriculum of the public schools. You can teach American history when they teach world history, and world history when they teach American. You can add subjects like botany and geography. But with reading, writing, and math there are standards that should be met. The basics should be the minimum of what is covered, sufficiently taught, and practiced.

It is disturbing that many homeschoolers do not seem to care much about…well…school. I am a firm believer that the state needs to stay out of a parent’s right to educate their children as they see fit. Parenting shouldn’t be in the realm of the state. I don’t want any regulations. Most of these homeschoolers feel the same way. But then they turn around and give their children a substandard education and low standards. It puts their children at a disadvantage, and hurts the cause of homeschooling. What better argument is there for state interference in homeschooling than homeschool parents leaving their kids 1,2,3, or even 4 years behind on skills and knowledge?

For people who have children of special needs, homeschooling might look very different. A child with special needs may not be able to stay up to grade level, and successfully homeschooling a child with learning disabilities might look very different and a lot slower paced than teaching a kid without them. But if your child isn’t learning disabled, they should be at or above grade level.

If this woman was the only one I came across who took this attitude I would just think she was a random flake. But I hear this all the time. Of  course it isn’t all homeschoolers. My babysitter is a homeschool student and she is starting nursing school at 15 years old. Some of them are hardworking, dedicated families who emphasize knowledge, success, and achievement. But many more talk about the importance of being “relaxed,” of not having any competition, of “letting kids be kids.” How it is okay if your third grader can’t subtract? Will these children’s bosses be relaxed? Will their babies just relax and decide not to need care and feeding around the clock because these kids have grown up thinking they can just relax? And how is keeping kids away from competition a good thing? Life is competition. It is filled with competing for jobs, honors, accolades, wealth, and a mate. Not everyone gets a trophy. These kids aren’t going to get to live in some utopia. And kids being kids? The time for that is after school, on the playground. As much as kids need to be kids, they also need to be taught to grow up. Education is necessary and there is no excuse for keeping your kids home and then allowing them not to be educated.

I really hate it when homeschoolers treat the school part like it borders on the unnecessary.