As homeschoolers, we are often worried if our child is where he or she should be in terms of what their public school peers are learning. But do homeschooled kids need to keep up with their public school peers? I think no...and a little bit yes. Here is food for thought.
Homeschooling is an Individualized Education
When you choose to homeschool, you get to make the choices that are best for your child. You can also choose the education that is best for them. You individualize your child's lessons so that they are right for them. The public school model is a one-size-fits-all education. It can often leave kids behind, or not challenge those that are advanced. Your child may be far ahead of his peers in math, but a little behind in language arts skills. Being at the same level as public school kids may hold your child back or push them beyond their ability. In order to individualize your child's education, you can't really move at the same pace as public school students.
Public School Kids Are Being Taught to Take Tests
Family members, or even complete strangers, often quiz our homeschooled children. And let's be honest, this is a bit irritating. In our public school system, teachers have to teach kids to take tests. They regularly give standardized tests and measure their students' accomplishments by their grades on these assessments.
As homeschoolers, we have the ability to measure progress in different ways. We don't always test our kids. Because our kids are learning differently, their benchmarks are different and what they retain or forget will vary greatly.
Steady Progress is Key
When it comes to giving your child the best education possible and measuring progress, it’s best to measure them against themselves and not anyone else. You want your child to make steady progress and to be learning and mastering the skills they need.
Often, when kids are in a classroom, the teacher moves on before everyone gets it. Even though it looks like all the kids are on the same level, that is not always the case. When you homeschool, your child doesn't have to keep up with the rest of the class. They can go at their own pace and keep track of the progress they are making.
Take Note of Huge Differences
While homeschooled kids don't need to keep pace with their peers completely, you should take note of certain benchmarks in their development and abilities.
If you notice that your child is well behind or struggling with a concept that other kids their age seem to have mastered, you need to look into it. Sometimes it's hard to tell if they are just developing and learning differently, or if there is cause for concern. When you know where their public school peers are, it helps you recognize if your child needs help or special attention in any area.
So does your homeschooled child need to keep up with their public school peers? Yes, in that they need to develop at a steady rate and make progress with their education and skills. But they don't have to be learning at exactly the pace as their peers or learning the same thing at the same time. Homeschooling is an individual education, specific to your child, and you can measure them against their own progress and not anyone else's.
About the Author
Krista is the homeschooling mom of 3 boys. After 13 years she has learned the value of chilling out, going with the flow and keeping homeschooling fun! She is the blogger behind Far From Normal where she hopes to encourage parents and homeschoolers, and inspire a life lived happily outside the box!