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What About Gaps in a Homeschooled Education?

I sometimes hear homeschool skeptics wonder “What about gaps in a homeschooled education?” I mean, parents can’t teach a child everything he needs for success, can they?

Gaps in Homeschooling

What if a homeschooled child doesn’t know a needed skill, like standing in a line (homeschool kids are notoriously bad about “clustering”), taking notes, or citing sources in a research paper?

I would like to answer this question with a true story.

When I was a 7th grader in public school in the 1970′s, I was very bright, always made straight A’s, and was often the subject of ridicule for being “so smart”.

One day in English class, the teacher asked the class a question pertaining to the months of the year. I can’t recall the exact question, but it must have been something like, “What month comes 2 months after April?”

As per their usual custom, the kids in the class started jeering me to come up with the right answer. Only this time I didn’t. Because I didn’t know it.

The teacher called on me by name. “Connie, tell everyone what month comes 2 months after April.”

“I don’t know.” I replied honestly.

“You don’t know?” questioned the teacher.

“No. I don’t have the months of the year memorized.”

This sent the class into howls of laughter, and the shocked teacher told me that it was something I should have already learned years before.

So, I went home that day and asked my mom to tell me the months of the year as I wrote them down.

And 5 minutes later I had memorized the months of the year. BOOM. DONE.

THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the answer to “What about gaps in a homeschooled education?”. And also the answer to “What about gaps in ANY education?”.

Yes, there will be gaps. Yes, my oldest had never done a research paper when one was required of her at a homeschool co-op.

But she came home, looked up how to cite sources, and applied that. BOOM. DONE.

My hope for my children is that learning will be a lifelong process. I hope they are like this 90 year old friend who is currently taking a creative writing class.

I hope they spend the rest of their lives filling in gaps.

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Comments

  1. You are so, so right Connie!

    And let me say this. I have learned more about World History this past year teaching it to my kindergarten twins than I learned or retained in all of my school career. I am serious.

    Some days, I learn just as much as they do.

  2. AMEN! I was a homeschooled child, with gaps in my education, math being one of them. I took a class in college, and BOOM. DONE. I had Algebra II down pat. It just took a teacher other than my Mom teaching me for me to “get it.” And that required college course? I still don’t use it. But I know it. Homeschooling is about learning, not facts. It is about teaching children how to learn, why to learn, and what to learn. The facts are a bonus. If you teach them those three skills, they will never lack for the ability to learn and adapt in any situation, and isn’t that more of an important skill than carting around useless information you don’t need, and then losing it, because you don’t use it?
    Although I will warn you, this hunger for learning can (not always will) result in some very annoying habits later in life such as:
    Spending over half of a “historical movie” on their notebook/ipad/smart phone looking up facts to see if the movie “got it right.” Or just to further research the subject of the movie, and their life/that time period.
    Blurting out useless facts in the midst of a conversation with the introduction of: “I read somewhere, that…”
    Getting increasingly frustrated with the halfhearted English that is on display on facebook, twitter, etc. You know, with things like, too, to, two, Your, You’re, etc.
    These aren’t habits limited to homeschoolers, but they can happen frequently to them. :) In my case, my husband (who was schooled in the public school) once found them “quirky” but now they are more like “Put Google away! I just want to watch this movie!” Haha!

  3. I totally agree, I felt like I educated myself at home after spending all day at school bored and learning nothing,(I felt this way while going to school) now I homeschool because my kids where bored in an accelerated private school. At least now they learn “something” new every day and I am not paying a huge tuition just to hear “nothing new today” It is sooo boring.

  4. Excellent! As a homeschooling mother of 9, I have found that when my children want to learn something and find that they need some certain information, they are motivated to learn it very quickly!

  5. lol, great post! I was in public school until the end of 6th grade, then homeschooled 7th to graduation. I was homeschooled specifically because of the poor quality of education – despite getting straight A’s! And, I can look back and say, “Most of what I remember learning, I learned when homeschooled.” Homeschooling does work!

  6. I agree that if they are taught how to learn, they can fill in the educational gaps. As a friend told me, “Every educational system has gaps, but you can’t afford to leave gaps in their character training.”

  7. I’m not a homeschooling parent, but I know that there were gaps in my own education. No school is perfect. I admire any mom that can homeschool their kids! Just stopping by to welcome you to the Social Fabric Community!

  8. I agree for the most part, someone who has been taught to learn will often be able to fill in any factual gaps in their education. And I am definitely pro-homeschooling, I am planning to homeschool my children starting next year. That being said, my experience as a college professor has shown me that some students do have gaps that have disastrous impacts on their experience at college. I had one student who had never been required to write an essay before coming to college, she’s a very bright girl, but she dropped out because she couldn’t handle the work load. I had another student who was never taught that copying and pasting from the internet without any kind of citation is plagiarism, a rather large gap with potentially serious consequences. All I’m trying to say is that homeschooling is not a magic bullet; the teacher and student need to put the work into developing skills such as reading comprehension, clear and organized writing, citing sources and meeting deadlines for the student to be prepared for college or a career.

    There were many other home-schooled students who were very well prepared for college, just wanted to point out the type of gaps that can be very problematic for students who are college-bound.

  9. My thoughts exactly! I didn’t learn to read a clock until 7th grade and I still use my fingers for my multiplication tables. I certainly had gaps in my public school education. Those gaps have not stopped me from earning my masters degree, teaching college courses, or from homeschooling my own children. Gaps are to be expected. We are always learning more. (I’m determined to learn my multiplication tables along with my kiddos.)

  10. Great article and so true! I see my job as teaching my children how to learn, not memorize every fact under the sun. I have friends that were public schooled that cannot learn on their own. They need someone to tell them it in order for them to learn something new! It is such a handicap!

  11. And there you go… ;D It is times like these that I wish my Mom was on facebook or read blogs. She continues to be the one person in the world who does not think I can teach my children effectively. Everytime the subject of high school comes up she gives me this LOOK… Like I’m lying to myself and everyone when I say I can and will homeschool through high school.

    Connie, you became my hero, my standard and my example. When you graduated your daughter and she landed a full scholarship…the wind all went out of me. We CAN do this. I will perservere, and we could accomplish that too. <3 Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  12. Janelle Dunn says:

    Amen! And, thank you.

  13. Graduated from High School without ever having done a “research paper” despite being in advanced classes. Got away with not doing a research paper for most of my college career. Never did an official ‘MLA’ style essay (because it’s crap and no one uses it but educators) in college because I was a writer and I just used the style that my publisher would have asked of me. My son is 11, wants to be a doctor. Our curriculum is entirely focused on that. He will probably never learn MLA style from me, but he has already started doing ‘research papers.’

  14. Let’s talk about the gaps in public education. I am a product of public education, graduating from high school in the early 70′s when education was somewhat still educating students. I, also, have a BA–mid 70′s. Including both public school K-12 or college levels; the Civil War & any events following were never, NEVER covered in American History. I was old enough to be able to follow the Vietnam War era. I missed carpet-baggers, WWI, WWII, Korea Conflict and any other event of that time period–over 100 years. That’s a BIG GAP!

    I learned about that interesting period of time when I taught my children at home.

    No one seemed to mind that I missed out on all those important years in my history. Where are the parents’ who point out what the public school students are missing? Oh yeah, they are home schooling their own children and learning right along side them.

  15. Praise God! BOOM. DONE! LOVE this! Thank you. It is what I have been saying for a long time and you put it so succinctly. :0)

  16. So true! As adults we find ourselves learning new things ALL THE TIME. Most of which we never learned in our 13-18 years of formal education. Learning how to learn and desiring to learn are the best gifts we can give our children!

  17. MY gap in education came about by going from public school, where they played only games, to a private Christian school where they already knew how to multiply by the second grade. I cried nearly everyday when I came home from school, mainly because I had a bad teacher. My mom started teaching me at home from the third grade on and I quickly excelled in my studies. I am dyslexic so she had to learn how to teach me. The only thing I was lacking was math skills. After doing the standardized tests and found out all I was lacking was math, I tested out at a fifth grade level in all the other subjects, we skipped fifth grade and went back to preschool level math. I did all five years in one school year; we didn’t really do summer vacation. When the next year rolled around, I was fully ready to start sixth grade right on schedule. Back in the 80′s it wasn’t exactly illegal to homeschool, but it was still frowned upon by a lot of people. My brother and I hid every time the truant officer came to our door. It was kind of scary, but Mom felt she had a moral obligation to teach us at home. She said she’d send my brother to school a happy, good kid and every evening the school would send home a little hellion (pardon the language). Being dyslexic, having her teach me at home, the way I needed to be taught, was the best thing that could have happened to me. I intend to homeschool my future children someday as well.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Before I go through the free test-taking resources available online, let me say that I’m an “unschooler” at heart.  I love learning being just a regular part of life and I think that most gaps in a homeschool education can be taken care of pretty easily. [...]

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