Hi! Thanks again for sharing your homeschool questions with me! In these Homeschool AMA posts, I’m sharing with you some of the great research I’ve had fun with while writing Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling! For several weeks, I’m answering YOUR questions. Got something on your mind? Catch me on Facebook, join my email list, (where I share so much more real-life stuff!) or contact me here. Whatever you want. I can’t wait to talk with you personally!
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Ok, here’s this week’s “Ask Me Anything” (AMA, as they say):
How does one not feel like a failure as a homeschool mom when other moms have children going on missions trips, writing, reading, and spelling well at age 6 while your 7 yr old isn’t reading, or their children graduate college at 12 and speak 4 foreign languages fluently.
— C., Texas
This is one of the top 10 questions I was asked to include in the book. In fact, I cover this extensively in chapter 15, so look for it there (unless maybe that chapter was re-arranged in editing).
So, sadly, I can’t tell you all of what that entails (my publisher wants you to read the book, right?). But I can try to give you assurance right now.
You are doing enough.
That’s the short answer.
Let’s take the question apart:
“Other families go on mission trips. “Great for them! You are serving God right where you are, in your “Jerusalem.” (Acts 1:8) Teaching your children about God and his love for them in your home. Serving in your local church. Reaching out to your neighbors. Encouraging your friends. Your missing right now is right where you are. Hey, maybe later you can go on a mission trip or send your children. Maybe not. But your mission first and foremost is right where you are.
“Other moms have children … writing, reading, and spelling well at age 6 while your 7 yr old isn’t reading.” So what? I’m serious. So, so, so what? Your child is “normal” (which is, I know, subjective. But I’m talking about the standard accepted rate of learning). This is all about childhood development. Children learn to read and write sometime between age 5 and 10. Really bright students that go on to achieve much academically. With that range, it seems like a lot of children achieve that milestone around age 6, you are right. But not all!
I had two that read well at 4 but didn’t right well until 6 or 7. I had another who didn’t read well until 7 or 8. There was no difference in their understanding and capabilities by middle school. I have one right now who is 8 and loves to read, but she’s not that great at it. I’m not worried in the least.
My research bears this out: many learned researchers consider this broad range the average experience of children. This is one of the difficult things about standardized learning like you see in classrooms: children who are not mature enough to read and write are passed along, struggle, and become discouraged with learning.
We as homeschoolers cannot put that pressure on our children. The strength of homeschooling is tailoring learning to the child’s growth and development.
Now, I need to put a caveat: if you feel like something is “off” or you wonder if your child has a learning difficulty, go get her evaluated. You will either find the help she needs OR assurance for yourself that everything is a-ok.
“Their children graduate college at 12 and speak 4 foreign languages fluently.” I am against early graduation. I explain in detail in the book how I came to this conclusion. I was really curious, because who doesn’t want to raise a genius?
Like the reading rate, most teens don’t mature toward adulthood that fast. Not many preteens are prepared for adult responsibilities and the adult material necessary for learning at the college level. Or if they do go through college, they likely don’t have a deep understanding of the material and experiences they have gone through. This isn’t just my opinion; the research into child mental development bares this out.
Besides, why are we rushing a preteen to adulthood?
I raised two teens that could have graduated 1 or 2 years early. I did not let them. My husband actually put his foot down when I was tempted, at first. And I’m glad he did. Actually, one of them could have waited a year longer. Mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity is the most important.
Why are you homeschooling? The answer to that question gives you … your answer.
Who cares about speaking four languages fluently? Not me. Blessed be the ones who can do it and use it. I’m sincerely happy for them.
You are doing enough. Your homeschool is enough. Do what is best for your own child and keep your eyes on your own homeschool.
Have you ever been discouraged by the achievements of other homeschoolers? Ever been tempted — like the rest of us — to compare? How do you handle it?
Share with us in the comments!
I talk about this SO MUCH MORE and give scientific reasons to back this up in my upcoming book Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. It’s my prayer that will give you comfort that you are on the right path.