Ask a Homeschool Mom: How to Keep the Kids on Track
Welcome Back to Ask a Homeschool Mom! Each week, I’ll pick a question I have been sent in, and we’ll see if we can find you some answers! You can submit questions on Facebook, by leaving a comment on a post, or emailing me at [email protected].
This week our question comes from Jamie. She says:
“How do you make sure your kids are on track with their peers in case they go to school at some point? That’s my biggest fear.”
This is a really good question, and one I constantly wonder about. I *love* homeschooling, but in our house, we take it year by year, student by student. It’s working well for us right now, but that isn’t to say that in a couple years, we won’t be in a place where public school is back on the table as an educational option. I really want to Homeschool indefinitely, but, I’ll never say never.
If and when you send your kids to public school, they will have to be placed with tests, or an evaluation of what you have done already at home. So what can you do to keep the kids on track, and make the transition is as easy as it can be?
What is the “Standard”?
Before I get into how I really feel about what is important here, I want to note that there are a few ways you can keep track of what the kids are doing in the local public school. These resources are ones I personally use to help me form an idea of what my goals are for each child during the year, and give me an idea of where they should be:
You can see a “common” scope and sequence of study in american public schools in the world book.
You can collect the “What your X grader needs to know” series, which not only provides you with a good scope, but also information to help teach it (technically, this can be a curriculum in and of itself).
But That’s not Really What is Important Here
But I don’t think you’re really asking what the kids in school are doing, so you can copy it… because that’s not why most of us Homeschool. We’re providing a different flavor of education here, and that’s okay.
Every School is Different
Despite a push for a common curriculum across the country these days, the truth is that every teacher and every school teaches things a little differently. Some teachers will teach units in depth, and others will gloss over them. There is so much to learn, and not enough time to teach everything.
Content areas, such as history and science and without a doubt going to be where you will see this the most. Skill subjects, like language arts and math, are much easier to follow and avoid gaps in skills.
If you want an easy way to stay on top of the skill areas, you can try tests like the DORA (phonics, reading, vocabulary, spelling and comprehension) and DOMA (math) which are inexpensive, easy to give at home, and give instant results. I use these with my kids once a year to see where they stand, and they are especially helpful because they break down the results clearly- you can see exactly what the weaknesses are, and they even give you suggestions on how to improve them.
There will ALWAYS be “Gaps”
No matter how hard you try, and how much you stay on top of what the “standard” is, you’re always going to find that your child’s education has “Gaps.” There will be things that you just didn’t think to study, or your child forgot, or you glossed over because you were pregnant and had morning sickness during Joe’s third grade year.
The good news is, everyone has gaps. When it comes to content subjects, like science and history, there is no way for you to make sure you are right on track- like I said, every school, and every teacher is going to tackle these subjects a little differently.
So, What IS important?
If you are trying to make sure your kids stay on track with the public schools, with the possibility of someday sending your child, there are some things you should focus on.
You need to make sure your child has a solid foundation. This means that they have a solid understanding of language, and how it works. They should be able to read at grade level (at a minimum). Hopefully, along with their reading skills, they will be able to spell well enough to get the point across, and be able to write at an appropriate level for their grade.
Same goes for mathematics- they should have a solid understanding of basic operations and know their math facts.
You provide them with the foundation.
The idea is that you are teaching your children to learn more than you are teaching your children the content of the subjects. Learning isn’t about memorizing data, it’s about asking questions, and finding answers. It’s about the journey.
As a Homeschool parent, you want to strive to ignite that love of learning, and give them the tools they need to fan the fire. Do teach them content subjects, and let them follow their interests and passions as they learn more, but don’t fret too much about the gaps as long as the foundation is there.
When the time comes, and your child is back in school (or, off in the world as an adult) they will find that they have gaps here or there. However, the foundation will be strong. Ideally, you will have provided them with the ability to learn, and they’ll know exactly how to find the information they need to fill the gaps. They’ll know who to ask for help. They’ll know what they need to do. They will know how to learn.
And it really will be okay.
Do you have a homeschooling question for us? It doesn’t matter if you’re considering homeschooling, are currently homeschooling, or are just curious about the lifestyle. We’d be happy to feature your question here. Email us at [email protected], or ask on our Facebook Page.