National Exam Results Give Clues

I report on global and national exam results taken by children in the public and private schools to help drive home the point that homeschooling can help those commited to gaining knowledge succeed. What I would like to do today is take clues from the public and private school systems and point out ways homeschoolers can be confident they are gaining the skills needed to succeed in higher education and today’s workforce. It is hard for me to read year after year that public and private high school seniors are failing to gain the critical math and reading skills they need to lead productive lives. How is it possible that only 25% of high school seniors are performing proficiently or above in math and only 4 in 10 in reading, as reported in 2013 test results? If you are currently homeschooling or considering it as an alternative please know you can do much better than this and enjoy the process.

Reading is a critical skill which affects all other areas of study and therefore is a cornerstone for gaining knowledge our entire lives. How best to help your child start off in the right direction and learn to enjoy reading? A crucial step is to not forcefeed reading at a certain age but to take clues from your child about when and how to help them gain this skill. The three learning styles; auditory, visual and kinesthetic can all become enthusiastic readers but the journey to learn this skill is very different for them. Prior to helping your child learn to read please determine your child’s learning style, as this will save time and eliminate much anxiety. Discussion on this subject is too lengthy for this blog but my book outlines how to do this and what I learned by having children of each learning style in our homeschooling family. Once your child does start to learn to read do not be afraid to let them progress by reading nonstandard materials. A child who loves comic books can read these for hours but the same child given a typical elementary school reader will visibly disconnect. Once your child gets a taste for reading they will branch out and see that reading is enjoyable. One of the number one comments by public and private school children is that reading is not fun. I had a four-year-old that would read the ingredient label on his favorite yogurt everyday and this simple pleasure led to a love of reading on scientific subjects, which then expanded into many different areas. Probably one of the most crucial items to increase critical thinking when it comes to reading is discussion of what has been read. This helps a child learn to interpret what they have read and then figure out how it pertains to the world and their own lives. In a homeschooling family with several children this is also a great way to share knowledge across subject lines and in turn generate discussions where your child learns to formulate opinions and then back them up with facts and data. This ability is key to helping your child develop self confidence, which is probably the number one skill any person needs for success and happiness.

I have learned over the years that more new homeschooling parents fear teaching math than any other subject because they feel they lack upper level math skills. Believe it or not this exhibited fear by a parent or guardian is enough to put the idea into a child’s head that math is hard or not fun. Therefore, please do not say you hate math or did poorly in math while in school because this affects your child’s perception of the subject from the onset. To date I have not met any homeschooling family who after earnestly trying failed to help their child acquire skills  in upper level math. With the availbility of online courses, tutors and junior colleges any child can achieve skills in calculus and beyond if they desire. Math scores in the 2013 national testing of public and private school children was far worse for those children not taking a math class beyond Algebra I, underscoring the fact that acquring upper level math skills can pay dividends. Another way to grow a love of math in your child is to help them see that it is a part of everyday life. This idea can be started when they are young by including your child in projects around the house from cooking to landscaping and don’t forget keeping track of money earned by doing chores or part time jobs. Also point out times when you child is using a math skill and they are not even aware of the fact. Simple tasks like sorting and arranging toys or keeping score while watching their favorite sports team is using math.

As always remember our children learn by the examples we as parents and guardians set for them.

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