No One Ever Asks Them To Do Math

It never fails that my children seem to be put on the spot to demonstrate what they know when we get together with other people who are not homeschooling, didn't homeschool, or know nothing about homeschool or us (but happen to think it is their business to know why my children are traveling across the country in the middle of the month instead of at school where they "belong").  Usually this happens in the form of being asked to read.

Regularly during our travels, Aidan was asked to read for other people.

Now, Aidan is a decent reader.  He reads on a very appropriate level for a seven year old.  Maybe he would be in a top reading group in a classroom, maybe he wouldn't, but I have no concerns about his reading.  As my dear friend Lisa wrote in her Christmas letter this year, we are in a marathon not a sprint.  Aidan is not, however, a voracious lover of reading (at least to himself, he loves to listen to others read).  By the end of our vacation I had almost let others convince me that this is a problem.  Side comments, requests to have Aidan read for them, comparisons, and the list goes on.

They wear on Aidan and they wear on me.

It may be my own insecurities (in fact, I'm certain that it is), but it comes to a point where I feel that support of homeschool is conditional.  That others will support us as long they can personally assess that I am teaching enough.  Support seem to hinge on my children being normal, average, or preferably above average.

I also noticed that this classification seems to be defined almost exclusively by reading.

This obsession with reading is clearly a reflection of the current culture of public schooling.  Reading is everything in the public schools.  Children in the primary grades can spend up to three hours or more, just on reading over the course of their day.   That doesn't leave much time for anything else.  Children in the public schools likely spend more time on reading alone than we spend on all of our subjects.   Children in Kindergarten and first grade have home reading practice and worksheets touted as "practice homework".  Why?  Reading is important and necessary, but why has learning to read taken over as almost the only marker of primary learning?

Because if they can't read, they can't take the test.

As a homeschooling mom I have not only insecurities, but also areas of pride.  I am proud to say that my children read at or beyond grade level in 8 official hours of "school" each week.  I am proud to say that those 8 hours are devoted to far more than just reading.  I am proud of the unique accomplishments, knowledge, and skills that my boys have earned by learning at home.  I am proud of the relationships that we have built through homeschooling.

I am proud that the true test isn't pencil/paper, but life.


Jenn said...

Great post! We only started homeschooling in September, so we are still "new" to it. Whenever my inlaws are over, they always ask the kids "What did you learn today?" It always bugs me, because I know it is there way of "checking", to make sure I am teaching them.
Because I am still new at it, I obviously have many insecurities, and often wonder if I am really doing the right thing, and if I can really teach my kids.
I think it is SO important for us homeschoolers to support each other, especially because as you stated, many others only offer us conditional support.
I like how you said it is a marathon, not a sprint - so true! And you are bang on with saying that the TRUE test is life! :)

Lisa said...

Well said Heidi! And how true that all those times, even as innocent as they may be (although not always) play on our insecurities. But truth be told, the school here may be learning very different things than the schools by you. And just because a particular *schooled* child is able to recite some presidents or other such fact, doesn't mean that your kids know any less. There are likely things they know that the *schooled* kids don't. And besides, it's not so much about the info we can plug into them and they can spill back out but to instill that love of learning!

Kristin said...

"As a homeschooling mom I have not only insecurities, but also areas of pride."

Perfect timing on this post. My husband and I had this exact discussion yesterday and I was explaining to him about all my insecurities and pride when it comes to homeschooling. We had just spent a weekend with his family, and truth be told, we are the "odd" ones in the family because we homeschool. That is something that I have been dealing with and my desire to prove myself (and have my children prove themselves) has really been an issue.

We will be finishing up Kindergarten material and starting my 5 year old on 1st grade material soon and when we told certain family members that, they were shocked. But in our defense, my daughter already had a jump-start on much of the K material so we actually didn't do a lot of it. I don't feel like we rushed her at all, and even though she "finished" Kindergarten in 4 months, she knows her stuff and is at all the benchmarks for her age. So why not just continue on with the next level?

Anyway, my husband and I were just saying how we feel like the "problem" in our family's eyes has now gone from "are we teaching her adequately" to "are you rushing/pushing her too much". It just feels like we can never win.

But I am convinced we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and we are proud of the things our daughter has accomplished. We are doing the best we can and we have to stop caring so much about the opinions of others and focus on that.

So thanks for this post. You nailed it!

Angie said...

Great observation of our public school culture, Heidi.

Continued blessings on your schooling! And thanks for sharing things here.