Tuesday, August 24, 2010

But... How Do You Know?

Every time someone starts asking me questions about homeschooling, there is one question that always - ALWAYS - comes up.  Something to the gist of...

"But how do you know your kids are getting what they are supposed to?"

I was recently in the middle of one of those homeschool conversations, and the person was genuinely interested.  Questions were coming one after the other as they reconciled their own school experience with what I was telling them, but the question eventually came.

"But how do you know?"

I gave my usual about how I'm with them all the time so I know what they do and don't do, their strengths and weaknesses, yada yada blah blah blah, which is all entirely true.  But it wasn't until the car ride home that the real answer came to me.  What I should have replied with is,

"How do YOU know?"

77 And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.
78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—
80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.
The way I understand this, if I am teaching my children, I will be blessed to understand the things I need to to perform my mission as their mother and as their mentor.  Likewise, in doing my part, I will help them learn what they need to know and understand for their missions as well.

I can't tell my children what their mission is any more than the school can.  But there's a difference - at school they have all these tests of what kids at certain grade levels are "supposed" to know at that point.  At home I may not have all the state tests, but I am with my children daily, I know and love them as individuals, and what the schools say my children need to know isn't important to me.  What is important to me is that I know that each of them has a mission in life to fulfill, and that I have the amazing opportunity to help them prepare and work towards that mission.

When my second son was struggling with math one year, the daily homework was a variety of review problems.  I talked to his teacher about getting practice problems on things they were studying in class so I could help him learn and review it at home, and was surprised at how mystified the teacher was by the idea.  Turns out, the regular daily homework was getting them ready for the end of year test.  Rather than focusing on mastering what they were learning right then, they were worried about preparing the kids for the test.

I know what my children are getting because I can take all the time I want to help them master the things they are learning.

At school, also because of those tests, the teachers teach less and less of the "extras" that don't fit in the realm of those tests.  My children have time to learn any of the extras they like, and they want to, and they do.

How do you know what your children are being taught?

I am in my children's classroom every day. I know what their textbooks teach.  Did you know that because of theophobia, plenty of textbooks teach that the pilgrims came to American because they were mad at the king, or just because they wanted to?  The fact is, they came because they wanted to worship God as they chose, because in England, they couldn't.  It was a religious decision, pure and simple, but in schools, religion isn't allowed.  I can testify about God's hand in history or science or literature or anything anytime I want to.  I can share the testimonies of the Founding Fathers and Christopher Columbus regarding God's hand in their efforts.  I can compare scripture stories and principles to other things we learn.

I'm not sharing this to say our way is better than sending your children to school every day, but so you can think about the same question every homeschooler gets asked.  I believe it is equally important for all parents.

So... how do you know your kids are getting what they are supposed to?


  1. Involvement is the answer whether you homeschool or send them to school. Close one-on-one time and quality family time are the answers to that question! :)

  2. I love your answer to this question. Agreed that it is one all parents should ask.

  3. And I just put them all back in public school...

  4. I am COMPLETELY stealing your comments and committing them to memory for any time anyone asks me that question!
    You are incredible..