I promised to share my top 10 list of things I love about home school. I discovered a new one today and it’s about “knowing” as I have so eloquently stated in the title of this blog.
When my kids were in school, I had concrete ways to “measure” their success such as their grades, conduct, teacher qualifications, child/teacher ratios and the reputation of the school they were attending. But if you had asked me at any given time, if I knew what they knew, I would have said, “No. Not only do I NOT know what they know, but I don’t know if they know it.” Somehow, I rationalized that this was okay. “They’re in a top private school and performing very well by their standards, so I am sure it’s all very fine”, I convinced myself.
In preparation for homeschooling, one must start by reviewing and analyzing curriculums. (Not easy, by the way if you are not from the world of academia). I now realize that many of the curriculums chosen by schools are “dumbed down” as my mom puts it. They are designed to move the average along at an average, state determined pace. And with California ranking in the lower tier of states for education, I am not sure that’s a great standard to be striving for.
I was really impressed with the quality of curriculum available for home school use and realized that with a few of those programs and my own creativity, the kids could be challenged to a new level. The bar had been raised, and with it, my own standards for “knowing”. I rediscovered my own love of learning, and according to my wise friend Tina, that’s the best thing we can hope to instill in our kids! I just hope it’s contagious.
In this process, two things have become very clear to me; 1] kids today are expected to know ALOT more than we were, and 2] prior to college, I had a very marginal education. I have no regrets. I am simply stating a fact. One of the joys of homeschooling for me right now is the joy of learning what they are learning so I know when they know it. In order to do that, I am relearning things I didn’t quite “learn” the first time around, and learning a plethora of new things I never thought I would—all so that I will know if they know. The testing of the “knowing” is unchartered water for me. And, as my children have told me this week, in no uncertain terms, I am not so great at the testing of the knowing. I’ll be working on that.
Schools devise a number of safety nets designed to catch those students potentially falling through the cracks. We even develop national government supported programs for this like “no child left behind”. In home school, the safety net is sharing their frustration when the learning is slow and seeing their face light up when they have mastered something well enough to KNOW it.
I have my curriculum plan, but when push comes to shove, we will go at our own pace until we KNOW!