Is Homeschooling Hard: The Pressure
"You educate a man; you educate a man.
You educate a woman; you educate a generation."
Most women would read the above quote and feel empowered, but as a homeschooling mama, having the education of the next generation on my shoulders feels like a ton of pressure. I'm responsible for teaching my kids to read and write. I'm laying the foundation in basic math that will serve as the backbone for their understanding of subjects like algebra and chemistry. I could spend all day every day teaching the history of the world and barely scratch the surface. My degree is in music education, not elementary education. I'm a HORRIBLE speller! I still remember being eliminated from the second grade spelling bee in the first round after studying for weeks. (The word? Squirrel.) With the broad requirements set forth by the state of Texas, I’ll admit that at times I feel as though I am floundering. I am constantly wondering if I'm doing too much or too little. Are my children learning all that they should? Are they “behind” other kids their age? How will I know? Will I know before it's too late?
The Silver Lining: The Possibilities
Because homeschooling parents are in control of their child's education, the possibilities of what it can include are endless. We are not bound by the confines of someone else's standards or beliefs or what is required to pass a test at the end of the school year. We are able to learn what we want, when we want, how we want. You’ll notice that in Texas, science is absent from the list of required subjects to teach. We do a LOT of science. With one that wants to walk on Mars and another that wants to be a volcanologist (pretty sure I didn't know that word even existed until Isaac started checking out volcano books from the library!) you better believe we include science. With the ability to tailor the boys' education around their interests, we are able to ensure that we keep them interested in the learning process.
Some homeschoolers find the affrimation they are looking for in the form of tests. Many, such as the IOWA Tests are offered online for a small fee and some states place previous years assessment tests online for free. You can use the tests purely for informational purposes or as end-of-year exams. Since standardized testing is one of our major reasons for opting out of the public school system, we don’t go this route. I do refer to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills benchmarks, but mainly out of curiosity. Right now, I try to remain focused on making sure that we learn something new everyday and that the boys enjoy learning. I feel strongly that if they do, then they won't hesitate to seek out information on their own and giving them the skills and confidence to find answers to the questions they don't understand and to solve problems they are faced with is one of the most important things that I can teach them.