Why My Kid is Smarter
I don't mean to brag, but I receive compliments on my kid all the time for two things: his intelligence and his good character. Many parents around the time their kids turn into teenagers are biting their nails hoping for the best. I don't worry. I know my kid is comfortable enough in his own skin to hold his own out in the world. I attribute both of these compliments to a simple fact: I have chosen to homeschool him.
Before getting into a discussion of the Canadian study that supports what homeschool parents already know, I'd like to offer a few reasons why that I believe that homeschooled kids perform better on tests and why they tend to be more intellectually inclined.
First, homeschooled kids don't learn to hate learning. In the public school environment, with the system of punishments and rewards, the fun intrinsic to learning new things about the world around us is diminished. Instead, public school needs to demonstrate an adherence to a certain body of knowledge. If your kid finds that he or she is excited by the study of the solar system, there's no room for that in the classroom once the class has moved on. Sure, the student can pursue the study in his or her *free time,* but when the student is homeschooled, the student could get as in-depth about this study as he or she likes.
With one-on-one instruction, students excel. There's a reason parents hire tutors for struggling students – the one-to-one ration works when it comes to learning. When there is only one (or a handful) of students, there is more attention focused on knowing whether a student understands material or not. If the student doesn't understand something, the parent-teacher can then stick on that topic until mastery is obtained. In the classroom, this is not possible. Teachers need to cover a set curriculum over the course of the year. The converse is true as well, if a student demonstrates mastery quickly, there is no need to have him or her study that topic longer.
I'm an eclectic style homeschooler. I combine the best of both worlds from classical and unschooling philosophies. This may seem like an oxymoron, but I think history is best learned chronologically. My son loves the classics of literature (and no, Shakespeare does not scare him in the least). At the same time, by putting the responsibility for learning in his hands, he has learned to set his own goals (including learning Chinese) and to manage his time. These are key skills homeschoolers are likely to have.
Homeschoolers don't learn to fear tests. They learn how to learn about anything. Even if my son doesn't know what something is, he knows how to find references that will support his learning about that subject. These are key skills for lifelong learning.
The Canadian Study
The Canadian Study, originally reported in The Canadian Journal of Behavioral Health, followed 74 students – 37 were homeschooled and 37 attended public school. The findings showed that while public school kids would test at grade levels, homeschooled children far above grade level. Generally, the homeschooled children would perform at least half a grade ahead when it came to math and two grades ahead when it came to reading. This may sound great – why wouldn't it – but there are some things to keep in mind.
Homeschooling is Not about Competition
When you're homeschooling your child, please try to avoid comparing him or her to other kids! Even if you're teaching a fourth grader reading at a 10th grade level, but his or her friend is reading on an 11th grade level, do not look at homeschooling as a competition. If you start treating learning like a game to be won, for most children, this will take the love of learning out of the activity. When it becomes about besting the members of your homeschooling group, you're losing focus on the real goal: Making sure that the student has the tools he or she needs to be a successful adult.
Really, that's what all schooling is about – it's not about who crosses the finish line first. It's not about who is smarter – your kid or the kid living down the street going to public school each morning. It's about making sure that our children have the tools they need in order to get along in the world. It's good to set goals. It's unhealthy to use your child as a pawn to boost your self-esteem.
Not All Kids Progress at the Same Rate
Don't freak out if your child is "behind" where you think he or she should be. One of the reasons that you're choosing this method of education is that it allows for greater flexibility. This means that you can cater studies to your child. If he or she struggles in spelling, but excels in math, then you can adapt to that! That's the beauty of it. You also have a better understanding of his or her strengths and weaknesses (everyone has them). Don't push your kid just because you want to be ahead. Make sure that at every step of the way, you're focused upon helping your child receive the education he or she needs.
What do you think? Are homeschooled kids smarter? The Canadian study suggested that this was true only in structured homeschools, but do you think unschooled students can also perform well if given a chance?
- Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1336260
- Krasny, Jill. (Sept. 15, 2011) "Canadian Study Finds That Homeschooled Kids Are Smarter Than Public School Students." Business Insider.
- Villarica, Hans (September 14, 2011) "Study of the Day: Home-Schooled Students Score Higher on Tests." The Atlantic.