Many parents worry that homeschooling may leave their children with knowledge deficiencies compared to their traditionally schooled peers. But let’s take a moment to challenge that perception. In today’s episode, we’ll explore the idea that education gaps are not exclusive to homeschooling. In fact, they exist in all educational settings but homeschoolers have a pretty unique opportunity in how to deal with those gaps.  Listen in.

Homeschooling Enables you to Consider the Gaps in your Child’s Education

Do you worry about gaps in your kids education?  Though this is a real fear our reasoning is often not logical.  Every child I know, including myself who went to a Christian school, and my husband who went to a private school has gaps.  There are many reasons why gaps appear in a child’s education but outside of homeschooling circles we don’t question them.  My husband is a poor speller and I have very little knowledge about geography or science and yet we have grown into functioning adults in society.

What makes us stress about gaps?

The fear and anxiety surrounding gaps in education can stem from several factors. Here are a few reasons why parents feel anxious about acknowledging the possibility of gaps:

  1. Comparison:  When we compare our homeschooling with traditional schooling we automatically feel anxious.  I know it comes from wanting what is best for your child – but if you have chosen to homeschool – you need to know (deep in your heart) that your opportunities are different – and how you educate will be different.  You can’t compare apples and oranges – they are just different.  
  2. Definition of Success: We live in a society that values and celebrates certain aspects of education – and define doing well (compared to others) as success.  We may have come from a family that defined success as academic achievements, (I know my husband did).  We need to be deliberate and counter-culture to redefine what success looks like in our family.  Yes, we want to do well in our learning – but can that be broader than high grades in traditional subjects.  If we are going to optimise our homeschooling opportunities we need to think this one through and get rid of mindsets that drive you to standards that are not healthy for your child. 
  3. Disappointment: This is an uncomfortable one to talk about but it has to be said.  We can easily project our disappointments in our own education experience onto our decisions about our kids education.  We want something better for them.  And sure, of course we do.  But remember – every person has gaps in their education.  Not just you.  Everyone so pull back from pushing your kids just because you’ve had a bad experience, and instead look to see what it is your kids need to do life well.  Pursue that.  
  4. Worried About What the Grandparents (and Others) Think: The opinions and judgments of family members, including grandparents, and our friends is a big one.  I don’t know why people randomly ask homeschoolers what they are learning, or if they know their times tables, but they never ever ask a public school kid.  But we can’t let other people’s reactions make us do something that isn’t the best for our kids.  We need to be clear that we are educating our kids – it might look different but it is still a solid education. Support and encouragement from family and friends is great, but if we don’t have it we should sacrifice our kids education just so other people think we are doing a good job.

It’s important to acknowledge that these anxieties are valid and understandable. However, when we pause and think about what is really going on, if we think about what education is, and why there are gaps we can move on with confidence knowing that our kids are learning and they will be okay.  

 

A Mindset Change on Gaps

Early on in our homeschooling journey I initially came to think that I had to accept that there would be gaps in my children’s education (like I said – everyone has gaps) but after a year or so I started to have a slightly different perspective. 

It isn’t that I have to accept that there will be gaps, that my children won’t know everything, or won’t excel at everything, the issue for me to grasp was that I have the opportunity to choose the gaps – or rather, choose where there will be no gaps.

There is so much to learn that there is no way we can cover it all (which is why we have to accept there will be gaps!) but because I have the opportunity to create an individualised education for each of my children, taking into account the whole child, I choose what to focus on and what to minimise in our studies.  

To do this I consider each child’s physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, moral and practical life skills.  I take into account their strengths and weaknesses, their interests and passions as well as the uniqueness of our individual family – there may well be gaps but not in the areas where each child needs to excel.

Quote: Individualised homeschool plan means we work on the areas that will benefit each child.

So if you are homeschooling let me tell you know – your child will have gaps in their education.  And that is okay.  But what I also really want you to understand is that you have the opportunity to teach your child to excel in their strengths, and grow in their weaknesses.  You have the opportunity to teach your child the things they need to do life well.

I remember Josh complaining at me for some of the things I kept on him about.  You are just picking on me, he said, you never talk to Jessica about this.  My reply – I’m not picking on you – I’m helping you to grow in an area you find hard.  Jess doesn’t find this hard.   We were working on his gaps, in an area that was important.  That being said he has massive gaps in his mathematics which we didn’t attempt to try and fill.  But at the same time he has extensive knowledge in history, apologetics and philosophy.  Each of my children have gaps – but they are all different gaps because each of my kids are different.

So next time you get anxious about the potential gaps in your child’s education, pause, and ask yourself if you are covering the important things for each of your children – if there are gaps in those things you need to spend some time in reassessing how you spend your time but we don’t need to be stressed over gaps outside of that parameter.  We need to be committed to growing our children in the specific areas that are important.

Heart-focused Action Step

The things I want you to think about today is a little more about the subconscious thinking you might have going on.

What do you think about gaps?  Do they stress you?  Are you making decisions because you are afraid of gaps in your kids’ education?  

And then have an honest think about those 4 reasons that make us worry about gaps that I mentioned at the beginning:

Comparison

Expectations

Disappointment

Social Pressure

If any one of those things are driving you to make certain choices for your family then things are not good – they are not healthy reasons to do homeschooling in a certain way.  So you’ve got to catch yourself, and change what you believe and what you tell yourself is important.  

Get help today

If you want to talk about how you handle gaps, and the decisions you are making in your homeschool then I have two ways I can help you.

You can email me – happy to have an email conversation, back and forth as you process what you need to go forward Contact me form.  Or you could book a complimentary Jump Start video call. Learn more about coaching here. 

 

You have a different opportunity – don’t waste it!

We started homeschooling because we wanted to spend time with our kids, be an influence on their beliefs, and values and include our faith in their every day.

But it didn’t take long to realise that one of the biggest benefits was that we could create an individualised education for each of our children – helping them to focus on their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

Other benefits were that we were able to help them enjoy their talents and passions, and gave them time to build strong relationships both in the home and in the community.

Homeschooling is different than Schooling – we have different opportunities. Don’t limit them by copying how schools do education.

Have you found these benefits in homeschooling? What has impacted your kids or family life the most? Share your experiences and insights below!

If you need to make a shift in what you think about homeschooling – consider the workshop: Deschooling for a Strong Homeschool

What words will you choose when your child struggles?

We know the Bible verse – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it use will eats its fruit. Proverbs 18:21.

We teach it to our kids – telling them the importance of live-giving words. And yet do we take it to heart ourselves.

There are consequences with the words we say (and tone too to be honest).

and some days we just need this reminder!

We need Patience when Teaching

There is no sunset clause to our teaching and training – there is no due date. We just keep on training. That is our job description as a parent.

It takes patience, perseverance, grace, gentleness, self-control.

Thank you Jesus for helping me grow in those things so I can be the best mum for my kids.

Keep calm – keep parenting!

What makes you worry about Gaps?

We may be worried about gaps but the truth of the matter is: Every person has gaps in their education.

Everyone.

There is too much knowledge and too many skills to learn for any one person to know it all. We all have gaps.

Though the benefit of homeschooling is – your child is not caught up in a classroom instead, you have the responsibility to focus on what they need to do life well. They are the things you should be teaching your child. And when you do they will be proficient in the important things for them.

Does this help you see gaps differently? Let me know if this is a hard one for you.

Further Reading:

Help my Child can’t Spell:  We all want our children to spell well but sometimes it is just hard for them. I’m sharing 7 tips that helped in our family.

Homeschool Learning is a Process not a Product but there is a Balance:  We need to focus on the process of learning but not ignore the benefits of finishing a product. A finished project is worthy of celebrating.

How to Help your Struggling Student when they get Behind: When we realise that we have a child with learning difficulties (be that a diagnosed issue or a struggle to understand things that their peers seem to get) we have to put ourselves on a steep learning curve so that we can find helpful ways to encourage our children instead of reacting to them being ‘behind’.

Saying “I’ve already told you once!” is not training our kids:  Training is a long term project –  it will not be over and done with just because we told our children something once, or even twice.

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