Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Different Kind of Peer Pressure

Some homeschooling parents hope to limit their children's exposure to peer pressure, only to find themselves subjected to the grown-up version!

Families who homeschool are no longer as mysterious as they once were. Homeschooling is often in the news. Homeschoolers are winning spelling bees, outscoring public schooled students on standardized tests, and being accepted into the best colleges.

But what if your child isn't doing any of the above?

Homeschooling families have historically chafed at the assumption that children taught at home receive an inferior education or are socially inept. Now that homeschooling has become more popular, its reputation seems to have done an about-face! Those whose experience with homeschooling is limited to what they've read in the news often expect home educated children to exhibit model behavior and to excel academically.

This can put immense pressure on a homeschooling mother when she eventually realizes the vulnerable position in which she has placed herself. She, alone, is responsible for educating her child. If they fail, she feels it is her failure. Now, the definition of "fail" has been broadened. Studies show the average homeschooler outscoring public schooled students by 34 percentage points. If a homeschooled child doesn't excel in every subject, they have somehow failed to live up to expectations.

A recent thread on the Time4Learning Parent Forum was started by a mother with these concerns. Because she wasn't producing super achievers, she thought she must be doing something wrong. The feeling was increased by the expectations of her probably well-meaning husband, who had bought into the myth that all homeschoolers excel at everything.

Fortunately, the supportive community on the parent forum quickly stepped in to reassure her. Standardized test results are simply a snapshot of a student's ability at that particular point. Their performance will ebb and flow. Most children's school years are a combination of struggles and successes. Are you both doing your best? That's all anyone can ask.

When kids are having trouble with their school work, it's common for homeschooling families to consider putting them in public school. What's ironic is that public schooled youngsters who fall behind are often withdrawn from school so their parents can help them catch up by homeschooling them!

Although there are fathers who help with homeschooling, the duty usually falls to mothers. What about you, homeschooling moms? Are you feeling the pressure to raise perfect children?

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