Some unfortunate homeschooled kids are upset when discovering that they, as specific individuals, must take remedial math when starting college. I get this – but why do these students not realize that this is also true for about half of those who attended government-provided and -managed and -regulated schools? This is not a reason for micromanagement of home education; it’s a reason for parents and students to take more responsibility.
Yes, students. If you are about to enter college, why haven’t you already taken more responsibility for your own education? Why are you asking the government to manage your life? The Internet has been available since about 1992. Kahn Academy has been on Youtube for many years. Libraries have existed for much longer. If you’re clever enough to bootleg stuff you maybe shouldn’t, you can find math videos, science videos, science books, all sorts of ways to improve your own education.
There is no evidence that government regulation improves home education, and many reasons to believe it gets in the way. Professional educators should be in awe of home-schooled students who start college at age 12 or 14. They should be asking how home education works so well, with so many un-trained and un-credentialed parents. They should ask how children are learning so much in an hour or so per day, instead of six hours or more.
My grandson was reading soup can labels in a grocery store. A woman came by, asked his age, learned that he was only 5 years old. “I teach 2nd grade,” she said. “None of my end-of-year students read as well as he.”
How was this possible? Well, he asked for help learning to read early. By four, he was borrowing books from the library and devouring them. Nobody ever told him to sit still and wait for his turn to read two lines from a “Dick and Jane” primer. By age 6, he was reading Harry Potter quite fluently. He is articulate and has a vast vocabulary, and a large store of knowledge.
Another grandson, at age 9, scored at the 18th grade equivalent on Woodcock Johnson math tests. His other scores were also well ahead of curve. Like many other home schoolers, my grandchildren test very well – even though they take exactly one test per year. They are 2nd generation home schoolers. They are never “taught to the test.”
Professionals, instead of throwing up roadblocks, should stop by and ask how we do it – and should listen carefully; should put aside their highly-trained prejudices.
Typical regulations are a terrible fit for home education. They are borne of misconception – that schools are already organized optimally, and should be emulated by home educators. For a profession which graduates so many illiterates, such presumption is odious. For example, what is this “180 days of attendance?” Do children somehow lose their natural curiosity for half the days of the year? Not unless their curiosity has been suppressed. Smart parents don’t do that. How about these lists of curriculum? For instance, “reading instruction.”. When a child masters reading by age 5 or 6 – and I mean masters it, so that 2nd grade professional teachers have to pick their jaws up off the floor – what is the point of demanding 8 years of “reading instruction?”
Why not just give children regular access to a library, lots of time for independent reading, and allow children to naturally converse about what they read, instead of trying to convert a natural, easy, effective, and efficient method into something which looks more like school? Bear in mind, it is the existing schools which consider “teaching every child to read by 4th grade” to be a high hurdle.
When parents and a few smart educators teach math in minutes and hours rather than months and years, professionals need to reevaluate the notion of “math class” five hours per week, for twelve years – especially when half of their graduates require remediation to acquire the most basic levels of proficiency.