I have been homeschooling for years. One of the first things I hear from people when I tell them I homeschool is that my child must be brilliant or a genius. While they are smart, they are no geniuses. They excel in certain things and struggle in others. This is actually quite normal. However, there is a constant comparison between homeschool children and everyone else. The perception is that they are smarter. Today I want to honestly answer the question, “Are homeschoolers smarter?”
Are homeschoolers smarter?
Let’s look at the statistics
“The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.)” – National Home Education Resource Institute
That seems great!
Or does it? When you look at the bigger picture this isn’t always a point black success for homeschooling. When you look at the numbers for public school children versus homeschool children there are a few things to consider.
When looking at Public School Children in the statistics
- Are there un-diagnosed educational delays? – Sometimes educational issues can get overlooked in the school system. This will make a very intelligent child look unintelligent on a test.
- Is the child a poor test taker? – Some of the brightest kids I have ever met sit down to take a test and lose all memory of what they were studying. If there are children factored into the statistics who are poor test takers you are getting an invalid result.
- Does the child have parental involvement? – There are many children in the public school system who have zero parental help. Whether parents are working, illiterate themselves, or don’t care there are quite a few children who will receive zero help. How do we factor these children in? They are still intelligent. They just didn’t have the resources to learn the way they could have.
- How overwhelmed is the school system? – There are some incredible teachers out there who work hard to teach the children. However, with class sizes rising and parental involvement dwindling it can be difficult for teachers to cover everything. If you have a room full of discipline issues how much time do you spend teaching well?
When looking at Homeschool Children in the statistics
- What resources are available? – Many times homeschoolers have more learning resources available to them because their parents provide them. With more resources will a child learn better? Will the information be retained longer?
- How much attention do they get? – Many homeschoolers get one to one teaching or at least class sizes of much smaller ratios than that of a public school child. With this added attention it’s easier to teach concepts and work past difficulties.
- How is the child being taught? – There are many ways to homeschool. The ways the child may be educated can have a lot to do with how they perform on a test. If a child is being taught in a way that translates well to test taking then they will exceed expectations. If not, they could really struggle.
So who is really smarter?
When you really break it down, I don’t think you can say that one child is smarter than another based solely on testing. Unless you are able to look at the child as a whole taking into account their strengths and weaknesses your data will always be wrong.
There really aren’t smarter children. Everyone learns in a different way and has strengths in different areas. To sum up, the whole of a child by how well they test is doing them and society a disservice. Not everyone is made for tests. Furthermore, to say that one group of children is smarter than another because of the environment they are educated in is a very uneducated assumption.
What if instead of quantifying children by our test scores we measured them against their own strengths and weaknesses?
What if we didn’t use test scores to make us feel like better parents?
What if children were able to learn without fear of a test saying they didn’t measure up?
What do you think?
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