Better Than Average
© Beverley Paine
Often, in my reading on home education, I find the children mentioned are either all very 'gifted and talented' or have some 'learning difficulty'. The latter generally draws sympathetic comments, fails to help many such children. The first description, though, seems to echo a common misconception in the community, an expectation that homeschooled children have to do better than average to be 'okay'.
Although statistical research repeatedly demonstrates home educated children rating better on standardised tests, why does the perception remain that they all have to? It seems that anything less than 'brilliant' represents a failed home education system, whereas 'average' is an acceptable outcome from schools. Home educating parents keenly feel this pressure to perform better than teachers at school. Is it because home educated parents have to 'prove' their children are progressing educationally, whereas teachers and schools are by and large unaccountable? Unlike homeschoolers they don't face deregistration if they don't come up to scratch. Or is it the blind faith the community puts in the 'trained' professionals?
Sometimes home educating parents feel that others in the community are waiting for them to 'fail', and any perceived character flaws observed in the children will be blamed solely on the fact that they are home educated. Some home educated children excel in certain areas, but what about the children that 'lag' behind their same age peers, academically or socially?
Home educators agree that the education provided for their children can easily be superior to that offered elsewhere. There are plenty of people in the education system who would readily concur. It is only the people indoctrinated by the idea of one, singular 'school' education system that try to scrutinise home educated children to make sure that they 'measure up'. Their expectation for achievement is higher for home educated children than for the majority of schooled children.
This places unwarranted stress on home education. We, as home educators, know our children are better off, so why do we need to continuously prove it to anyone? Who are we accountable to after all? Other people, the school system, or our own children? We need to resist the urge to continuously 'prove' that home education is as good as, or superior to, school education, as this leads to stressful comparison and competition, and reinforces undesirable stereotypes in the community.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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