Homeschool Myth #1–They Are All Geniuses!

Looking back to when I started homeschooling, I can’t believe how many of the homeschool myths that I bought into.  Even though I probably wouldn’t have admitted them out loud, I can see that many of my frustrations during the early years were due to my own misperceptions (or is it misconceptions? I always get those two words mixed up.)

My oldest daughter is a very bright young lady and, as an only child for a few years and an early bloomer, she learned to read at age four. I patted myself on the back. “You’re such an amazing homeschooling mommy.”

With my second child, I figured we would repeat the same success. So in Kindergarten we did the same work.

Still no fluency in reading.

Hmmm….

I pressed harder.

First grade came and went, and she was still struggling to sound out one word at a time.

Second grade came; I was sure that this would be the year she would take off with reading.

Nope. We were still stuttering and  stammering through those beginning Kindergarten readers.

I felt like a total failure. I knew that reading was so important to her academic success, but it just wasn’t penetrating.

I worried; I fretted; I am sure that my daughter picked up on my frustration.

In the third grade, I told myself, “If she doesn’t have it by the end of the year, I am having her tested for disabilities.”

Finally, halfway through the third grade, the light bulb over her head clicked on and she was reading. Currently, she performs in school exactly on grade level. She’s not a brilliant scholar, but she is a solid B student.

Looking back, my comparisons to her older sister were unfair. My younger daughter has always been a little “behind” in growth and maturity.

I was taking too much credit for my older daughter’s early academic success, which in all likelihood had nothing to do with me. And, I was taking too much responsibility for my younger daughter’s struggles.

My kids are what they are. God gave them talents and abilities. My job as an educating parent is to give them the opportunities to learn. How they process and take advantage of those opportunities is up to them.

As a homeschooler, I can push and press my kids to work above their grade level, but if they don’t have the cognitive abilities to do the work, I am wasting my time.

You know, often in the homeschooling community, I hear moms talking about the grade level of their kids. They’ll say, “Well, he’s supposed to be in the third grade, but he’s doing mostly fourth grade work.” (By the way, this is one way of spotting a novice homeschooler. Experienced moms are over “grade levels.”) However, I seldom see moms advertising that their fourth grader is doing second grade  work.

It’s all too easy to fall into a prideful attitude about our kids’ abilities as homeschoolers. (I’m blushing right now, because I was that mom blabbing on about my oldest daughter’s grade level. Bless the homeschool moms who put up with me!)

As long as you are diligently tackling schoolwork every single day, try to put aside that grade level angst.  Whether your child works above grade level, below grade level, or right on target, try not to stress too much about their learning level.

If your child is “behind”, don’t panic.

Remember how your babies and toddlers went through growth spurts.? One day they were fine. The next day, nothing fit!

Kids’ intellectual growth often works the same way, especially in elementary school.  They will develop in fits and starts. Usually, by the time they hit middle school, they are all working around the same level.

Also, keep in mind that much of middle school is simple review of arithmetic, the introduction of more complex grammar topics, and learning to read more difficult materials. Most middle school curricula are designed to ensure that the child has a firm grasp on the basics before they move onto intense high school material.

If you can get your child working at middle school level by the time they are in middle school, it won’t matter if he learned to read at age 3 or age 9.

There are many bright, advanced, brilliant homeschooled kids.

There are many average homeschooled kids who excel because they have individualized attention and the ability to work in a way and at a pace that they enjoy.

There are just as many average kids who are  working exactly at age-appropriate levels.

And there are plenty of homeschooled kids who are performing a year or two behind what their public schooled peers would be doing.

They are all fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.

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