I have an eleven year old who loves math. She devours workbooks, seeks out math related games and confidently tells me that math is her favorite subject.
Thing is, she’s a fifth grader working at a third grade level. And that is one of the things I love best about homeschooling.
We homeschoolers are proud of the accomplishments of homeschooled students. Whether they are olympian swimmers, star football players or just won the Scripps spelling bee, we pass around their stories as evidence of what homeschooling can do.
Honestly, most of us don’t have students who will enter the national spotlight for their academic or athletic achievements. Most of them are a little ahead or a little behind their public schooled peers. Many of them are both, excelling in one subject while struggling in another. I understand why we share the articles about exceptional homeschoolers, but is it really the focus of why we homeschool?
Homeschooling can allow children to reach their full potential and sometimes that means taking a championship. But it can do so much more than just allow the best rise to the top.
It can also give confidence to a child who struggles. In school, my daughter would be painfully aware of how far behind her peers she is in math. Failing grades, modified assignments and working with the low group would all reinforce that fact.
Ultimately she, like I did at her age, would probably decide she is just not a math person and give up trying.
Success in mathematics, however, isn’t really about innate ability. It is more about hard work, preparation and self-confidence. It is about not giving up when it gets hard. It is about all the things she is learning and that she loves about math . . . even if she is technically behind her public schooled peers.
At home, she can work at her level and at her pace without feeling like she is behind. She can bomb a test and know that it just means she needs to practice some more and try again. She can fail without feeling like a failure.
And that, more than anything else, allows her to keep trying her best and loving a subject that her test scores say she is struggling with. To her, it is just another problem to solve because no one has ever told her that she can’t. She has yet to develop a fear of failing.
The fear of failure is probably the strongest force holding people back from their potential. It’s not talent, or ambition, or ideas that stops budding entrepreneurs. It’s fear that can stop people dead in their tracks. And it’s stopped countless great businesses before they even begin. ~Business Insider
Have you ever consider what drives that fear of failing? And why it frequently becomes an issue in elementary school? Failure is not pleasant for anyone, but the two biggest factors leading children to begin to fear failure are:
- Not fitting in. The teasing associated with falling behind and failing at any given task can be overwhelming to a child, especially if they already lack confidence in a skill or subject.
- Pressure from adults. Children want to please parents, teachers and coaches. When the pressure is high, children become afraid of disappointing the role models in their lives.
Just by being homeschooled, my daughter escapes half the pressures which face a child who is falling behind. The other half — how the adults in her life respond — are almost completely within my control.
So she is behind in math . . . and still loves it. That is the freedom homeschooling provides.
Dana Hanley writes at Life Led Homeschool about taking a more relaxed approach to homeschooling which favors wisdom over knowledge, depth over breadth and joy over happiness. It hasn’t been an easy road. She lost a son in 2010 and has been working to recapture her vision for homeschooling after struggling through years of grief. As the Lord has slowly turned her mourning into joy, her heart has turned to sharing her journey to encourage other homeschool families whose hearts are struggling through the demands of homeschooling. You can also follow her on Facebook.