Friday, October 14, 2011

My Homeschooling Failures

Our eldest is not doing as well on tests lately as we'd like. In one class, for example, she has A+'s on every assignment, but her test scores . . . well, they're definitely not A+'s. We know what a bright kid she is. Hubby asked me the other night if she knows how to study for tests, which initially invoked a bit of resentment in me.

But as it turns out, that's a fantastic question.

See, teaching one-on-one, like in homeschooling, is a different game entirely than teaching a group in a classroom setting. When I taught my daughter History, for example, I knew the information and concepts I wanted her to understand. I tried to present them in a way that fit her learning style. We reviewed them frequently. When she clearly didn't understand something, we went over it again, usually in a different manner.

I knew if she understood the material or not -- and I didn't actually test her until I knew she understood the material. I mean, the goal was her learning the material, yes? If she didn't get something, we kept working on it until she did. Tests, for me, were not to assess her understanding -- I did that as I taught. Tests were just a written record to prove someday (if necessary) that the material had been covered successfully.

But when I taught 25 kids in a high school English classroom, I couldn't assess every student's understanding as I taught. There wasn't time to interact with every student individually and question them about the information. I assigned written exercises which often showed me which kids needed more help, but not always. Ultimately, in a classroom, it's the student's responsibility to take in the information and evaluate themselves to know if they're not getting it -- and then go ask for help. Unfortunately, by test time, it's already too late. The class is done with that unit and moving on.

So, no, I probably didn't teach my eldest how to learn in that situation -- when information is presented to you in a blanket one-size-fits-all fashion and you have to take charge of your learning and make it fit you, and get help when it doesn't. And I should have. I knew all along that she would eventually be going back into a factory-model education system, and I should have planned better for that. I focused on her learning -- but success in school these days is as much about working the system as it is about learning (a fact which I have bemoaned since my first year teaching).

Sigh! Every homeschooling mother has fears of putting her child in a "real" classroom someday and finding out she failed her kid entirely. So, I didn't fail her entirely. But I should have anticipated this problem. My bad.

1 comment:

Christine Henry said...

The great thing about who you are is you always try to find ways to figure out where something needs change and fixing it. Most parents don't get that far an just discipline their child without finding out what the problme is. You inspire me to be a better mom and love you friend!