by Carol Barnier
Are You Qualified?
Becca was so psyched about her decision to homeschool. She was a woman on a mission. She found a curriculum she liked, joined a local support group, and discovered loads of ideas on Pinterest. She ordered some great science kits, and even a microscope! Her kids were on board. Her husband was on board. It was actually a little…well, exciting. And then a woman at church asked a simple question that stopped Becca dead in her tracks.
“Are you qualified to teach your kids?”
Boom. All that wonderful momentum hit a wall. Becca felt like she’d been punched in the stomach. And she suddenly found herself thinking, “Maybe I’m not qualified to do this. I wasn’t even a very good high school student. Whatever made me think I could take this on in the first place?”
And crippling self-doubt took over.
I wish I’d been standing beside her, because my barely suppressed laughter might have at least diffused the tension in the question. I don’t mean to belittle the asker, because it’s a common enough misconception. But the more you know about the homeschooling model, the funnier the question becomes.
No One Knows Your Child Like You
About five years ago an idea burst into the popular culture lexicon, coming from the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. One concept he repeatedly suggested was that the difference between someone who plays around at a skill and someone who becomes an expert is a matter of hours. Ten thousand hours to be exact. That was the number that true experts in a given craft amassed. So when it comes to your child, by the end of the traditional school year, a public school teacher has spent a little over one thousand hours in your student’s presence, along with the presence of maybe another twenty-five other kids at the same time. This teacher would have to ride along year-by-year as your child’s instructor for the next seven years before she would hit the needed marker. You, however, hit ten thousand hours in a little over a year. Even if you pull out twelve hours a day for sleep, you still find yourself in expert territory for your child in a little over two years.
Yes, but isn’t a child’s academic success statistically tied to the education of the parents?
Here’s where it truly starts to become funny. If you’re talking about a public-schooled child, the answer is yes. The greater the educational level of the parents, the greater the scores of the child. The student’s achievements follow in lockstep, with the increasing educational achievement of the parents.
But if you ask the same question about homeschoolers, the answer is a bizarre and puzzling no. Kids educated in homeschools perform, on average, in about the same range regardless of the education level of their parents, whether we’re talking a college degree or parents who haven’t even finished high school. And what’s more, that homeschooler performance range is a good thirty points higher than the national average. Thirty points out of one hundred.1
If the first set of data on those public school kids was all we had, we’d be perfectly comfortable proclaiming that the more educated the parents, the greater the academic success of the kids. In fact, for years, people made that statement with great confidence.
But once the homeschooled student achievement data was presented, that statement couldn’t stand. In fact, it seemed completely disabled.
So what new conclusion can be drawn that encompasses both sets of numbers? Are ya ready?
A child’s academic achievement is tied to how much the parents value education.
Now for a public school student, that value is often represented by how far the parents continued up the educational ladder themselves. But for a homeschooler? How much more invested could a set of parents be? They’ve taken the educational bull by the horns completely. Whether they did or did not graduate from high school, had some college or even got a degree, they are extremely invested in the success of their child and their homeschool. They are, all of them, invested in what their children learn, how they learn, but more basically…that they learn.
By these standards, Becca is going to be just fine. Her investment in her children will carry the day. That one-on-one daily interaction is going to bring benefits to the process that Becca can’t yet even imagine. And her children will be responded to by someone who not only knows them better than anyone, but loves them as well.
Blogger Rachel Wolf states it this way: “In our family, there are no cracks for these kids to fall through.”
So, when someone asks you if you’re qualified to teach your kids, you can safely answer, “Statistically speaking, I’m the most qualified person on the planet.”
1. Ray, Brian D. ” Does Parent Education Level Predict Student Achievement? ” hslda.org. http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/ray1997/07.asp (accessed June 20, 2014).
Used by Permission: Originally published at http://hedua.com/blog/qualified-homeschool/
Carol Barnier is a homeschooler of 17 years, author of four books, mother to three children, and wife to one husband. She’s been on numerous radio and TV programs, and is a regular commentary provider on Focus on the Family’s Weekend Magazine radio program. Her objective is to have the wit of Erma Bombeck crossed with the depth of C.S. Lewis, but admits that on most days, she only achieves a solid Lucy Ricardo with a bit of Bob the Tomato. In 2004, she started www.SizzleBop.com. At Sizzle Bop, Carol Barnier and the thousands of members have dedicated themselves to finding those different ways of learning that work for distractible kids. If you want to find a bazillion ways to do this, see the many ideas on ourSizzleBop Blog. This is a place where that distractible mind (the child’s and the sometimes the mom’s) has community. Whether speaking about her first born son’s 13 surgeries, her homeschooling challenges, her family’s many ADHD challenges, or her own walk from being a God-denying atheist to the most grateful recipient of God’s amazing grace, this woman speaks from the heart. She knows why she knows what she knows. To learn more, visitwww.CarolBarnier.com and find out why her business cards read: Delightful Speaker, Entertaining Author, Adequate Wife, Pitiful Housekeeper.
Write a comment