Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Homeschooling Mistake #3


I would venture to guess that most homeschooling moms have spent time in a classroom. Even though I was homeschooled for six years by my parents, I still spent seven years glued to a desk watching an infernal clock ticking oh, so slowly!

But I got an even better advantage for, despite announcing how much I hated school on the first day of kindergarten, I spent four and a half years as a teacher before coming home to raise my own children.

Now, I have what they call "School Fever". It's like Spring Fever, only it happens every August. I start to smell those bouquets of sharpened pencils. I pull out Maps and Charts and draw Wall Calendars on Poster board. And, I write out elaborate lesson plans that I know I will never, ever follow!

Then, right about now (February) I start groaning about all those good intentions from August and wondering whatever became of them!

You may be thinking: Her oldest daughter just turned six, what does she know about this? Well, we've been "doing school" for three years-- at least. (I know, poor Joanna!)

That brings me to today's title: The Mistake of School Simulation.

Does it seem a little ironic to you that we remove our students from a classroom environment and then try to recreate that environment for them at home?

Recently, a friend gave me a box of activities that a friend of hers didn't need. This box was chock full of laminated critters teaching consonant blends, time, etc... You know, the same stuff our teachers used to give us to catch our attention or occupy us when bored. Then my friend told me that the lady who created those items so carefully, drawing them out, cutting, laminating, adding brads when appropriate, and etc... had only lasted a few months in homeschooling.

I didn't mean to be rude and honestly tried hard to suppress that laugh, but looking at the box in my hands I knew exactly why she had given up homeschooling!

This lady (like so many other homeschoolers) was trying to simulate a classroom experience for her children. She wanted the bulletin boards, the activities, the maps, the marker-boards, the calendars, etc, etc, etc... just like her classroom. And, in her mind, she was a failure if she couldn't produce it.

Think about it: the only reason we need bulletin boards in a classroom, is so everyone in the room can see them. When you have a few students, this is unnecessary! Another purpose of bulletin boards is to impress the parents with the subjects being taught, when and if they should chance a visit. When you're homeschooling, that's never a problem.

Now, I love maps. As a teenager, my bedroom wall was decorated with maps. I've got nothing against them (or bulletin boards, for that matter) but I'm trying to press a point.

If we're going to try to simulate a classroom "experience" for our children, then we shouldn't be surprised when discouragement hits right about now. But what is our goal? To educate our children for the glory of God, or to recreate an environment that we've been told is the only key to learning?

If you answered the latter, then you might want to chance a glimpse at some public school SAT scores...

Other articles in this series:
Homeschooling Mistake #1
Homeschooling Mistake #2