Friday, February 5, 2010

Peers, Schmeers!

This week's Blog Cruise question is: How do you know if your children are keeping up with their peers?

My quick answer: Who cares?!

Now, to expand on that a bit - - -

When we first started homeschooling (hard to believe, but 11 years ago), I used Abeka curriculum.  I bought the "whole kit 'n caboodle" for kindergarten and first grade. We've come a long way since those early days; I've definitely become a more confident and much more eclectic homeschool mom!  But, in the early days, when I wanted to be sure to "cover all my bases", using Abeka's complete curriculum seemed the best bet. I never once worried about Ashley "keeping up with her peers".  Those who use Abeka know that it's a bit advanced.  I think their math program is at least a full year ahead of other programs - we found this to be true in the 2nd grade, when Ashley started at the local public school mid-way through the school year.  She was so far ahead in math that she was bored.

Several years later, when Gracie was asking to learn to read at the age of 3, I knew I wouldn't have to worry about her keeping up with her peers either.  She turned 4 in June, and we started kindergarten soon after.  Now, she's in 5th grade and will finish up the school year before her 10th birthday.  She excels in Math (Abeka) and holds her own with her other subjects as well.

Personally, I don't really care how my kids compare to their peers.  What I care about is how they compare to themselves.  That statement doesn't really make much sense, I guess. What I mean is that it only matters to me that my kids are working at a level that I know is the best of their ability.  Sometimes that means doing things that are above grade level; other times it means working below grade level (as needed).  These days, Ashley seems to struggle with math; while Gracie isn't a big fan of writing.  That may mean changing curriculum in the middle of the school year (which we just did for Ashley's math), or taking things a bit easy for now (and planning to push more later).  I have to remember that Gracie is only 9, so if she can't write what I think a 5th grader should be capable of writing, maybe that's because she should only be in 3rd or 4th grade.  So, we'll hold off and reintroduce things at a later time.

Here in PA, we are required to have our children tested in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade.  Two years ago, both girls hit those grades; so we had the required testing.  Both tested HIGH in all areas.  Gracie will require testing again this year.  Personally, I don't put a lot of stock in standardized testing.  I remember when Ashley took the test in the 5th grade - the history section was all about American history, while we were working through Abeka's Old World History and Geography that year.  So, though she wasn't learning what most PA 5th graders were learning, her history was hard stuff and she was doing fine with it.  The standardized test results didn't hold much stock for me - I knew she was learning, just not what was on the test at the time.

One of the great things about homeschooling is having the ability, as a parent/teacher, to cater to your child's strengths and weaknesses.  If you read no more of this post, that sentence is the most important.  Don't worry about "their peers" - rather, focus on your child.

6 comments:

Debra said...

Amen!

And I answered similarly. :)

Devildogwife said...

It's sounds like several of us feel the same way. **grin**

Angie said...

Sometimes I just need to hear things like that again. I have children that are behind their peers in many areas but just this year (sadly, 4 years into this) I have decided to quit trying to play "catch-up" and quit pressuring them to do things they just cannot do and just let them LEARN!

Michelle said...

I agree. It is about our own children and teaching what they need to know at the right time for them. :)

MaMa's Southern's Abundant Homeschool said...

Awesome!!!!! I agree totally!

Kristi said...

Love this post! SO true and such a great reminder! I needed an 'encouragement shot' today! :)

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