ADHD, getting started homeschooling, homeschooling

Objections to “There’s No Behind in Homeschool” Answered

When I wrote “There’s No Behind in Homeschool,” I had no idea that within a few days thousands of people would read it and share it on social media. I also had no idea that saying “your child’s well-being is more important than your schedule or a test” would upset some people.

I wrote the post for one simple reason. I’m an administrator on a Facebook group for parents who homeschool special needs kids –most often kids with autism, bipolar, or ADHD. I regularly answer the question “What do I do when my child is behind in homeschool?” on my Facebook group. Instead of typing out my reasons why there’s no behind in homeschool each time, I decided to make a blog post and link to it when the question was asked.

Even though it was written for parents with special needs kids,  I believe the concepts still apply to “normal” kids, if there is such a thing as a normal kid.

And that’s how we got to this post.


Although the responses have been overwhelmingly positive, I’ve experienced three primary objections to my post.

  1. “You must only have gradeschoolers”|“This will only work for grade school”|“If you had high schoolers you’d not have written this.”|“What about high school/college?”
  2. “What about state laws?”|“Will you just let your kids fail the state requirements?”
  3. “I’m the mom so they have to do it anyway even if it’s emotionally or psychologically damaging”|“I have goals, and it doesn’t matter if they like them or not.”

Let’s address those objections one by one.  

I purposely kept the original post short for ease of reading, but we’ll delve into these in more depth now, since the post has received so much attention and since these comments need addressed.


1) “You must only have gradeschoolers”|“This will only work for grade school”|“If you had high schoolers you’d not have written this.”|“What about high school/college?”

Let me tell you a little about myself.

My husband and I are both homeschool graduates with ADHD and other learning challenges. He was homeschooled kindergarten through age 16 when he got his GED and attended Bible college, graduating at age 18 with an associates degree before he entered trade school. He is a plumber/pipefitter/welder today.  

I attended public and private school until the age of 8 (which was an altogether horrible experience). Then, my parents homeschooled me until 10th grade. In 10th grade, we tried private school again (which was again a miserable experience) and then I was homeschooled until I graduated from 12th grade at age 17.

My husband and I met at Bible college a few years later.  We both knew we were going to homeschool long before we had kids.

Our own experiences with learning disabilities –like being up until 10pm at age 8 or 9 trying to finish school work– and our own struggles –like loving to learn but not wanting to be force fed information– affected our educational philosophy.  

As of the time I am writing this post, I have two boys, one is 12 and the other is turning 15 next week. Both of them have learning disabilities that they inherited from their parents.  

So, to say that I would not have written this if I had high schoolers is inaccurate.  I currently have a high schooler in homeschool. I have used this method, this educational philosophy, to educate him. Furthermore, I myself was homeschooled in high school.

I’ve been involved in the homeschool movement since the mid-1980s. I’ve seen a lot —including the damage done by parents who pushed too hard.  night-1

Pushing harder doesn’t always help; most often it damages.

While it is true that some kids do not receive a sufficient education in homeschooling (this is incredibly rare), in my experience, it is far more likely that parents –fearing that their child will be one of those kids who have a insufficient education– push too hard and do not consider first the well-being of the child.  

Notice that I didn’t say “only consider the well-being of the child.” I said consider the well-being of the child first. You’d think that this would not be controversial, but in some circles, based on the responses to my blog post, it apparently is.

What about high school? Most kids, even many special needs kids, have matured by high school to the place that they can handle on grade work.  Many of them by age 12 or 13 are able to start filling in the gaps that occurred during the grade school years when they were emotionally immature and unable to do certain work without stress and potential trauma.

Case in point: my oldest son had pain in his hands when writing for many years. He had  underdevelopment in his muscles, which is not uncommon with ADHD, SPD, and autism children.  We did all his school work orally and worked on gross hand movements finally working to finer hand movements. He could write a sentence if I forced him, but with pain and great difficulty. It would take him about 10 minutes to write one sentence, and it hurt so much he would cry. It’s important to note here that he wasn’t just having a bad attitude. About age 12, he decided that he wanted to be able to write and spell. He asked me to work with him. At age 14, he corrects my blog posts and is designing his own board games including instructions.

Imagine the damage I would have done if I forced him to write at age 7 or 8 when writing caused physical pain.

Maybe your child doesn’t have physical pain. Maybe it’s that emotionally he can’t handle on grade level math, because it’s overwhelming.  If he’s young, he won’t tell you it’s overwhelming.  He’ll fight you and get angry, because that’s the only way he can communicate that it hurts.children

Emotional hurt is longer lasting and harder to heal than even the physical.  

If your child is still emotionally unable to handle on grade level work when he reaches high school, then you might need to look into your state laws and see what provisions are made for students who aren’t able to keep up.

If you have a child –like I was– who has learning disorders, it maybe later (into their 20s) before their brains mature enough that they can do college level courses.

But homeschooling is about doing what’s best for the child. It’s not about doing what’s socially acceptable. If socially acceptable was your concern, you’d have left them in public school.  

I saw a study years ago that compared a spiral approach to learning to a one year class with high school students in which all 12 grades worth of instruction was given. In the study, it was a grammar course if memory serves.  The high school students were able to learn in less than one year what the other students had spent 12 years learning because, when the high schoolers were finally instructed, their brains were mature enough to receive all the instruction at once. (I saw this study many years before we had internet, so I’m not able to provide a reference link).

My point is that –unless your child has a learning disability– by age 14 or 15 he should be emotionally mature enough to make up whatever was lost in the earlier grades. Therefore, college shouldn’t be a problem, if your child chooses to go.  (There are growing arguments in favor of not attending college due to the changing landscape of business and education, however, at this point in time, it is still considered the norm.)

If, by age 14 or 15, your child is not able to make up the difference in his education, then you should look into the possibility of developmental delays or learning disabilities which, like in my case, can easily go undiagnosed because of the child’s high intelligence and coping skills.   


2)“What about state laws?”|“Will you just let your kids fail the state requirements?”

Those who ask this question seem to have not read or not thoroughly read my original post. I’m not criticizing. I’m as likely to skim an article as the next person.

This is what I said in the original post:

“Some state laws will dictate what must be done when. I am not suggesting that you disobey your state laws, but rather that, as much as it is possible you allow your child to learn at their own pace in as natural and unforced way as you possibly can.”

I live in state with very laxed laws. If you live in a state that dictates what must be done when, then you have a two options: move to a state with fewer restrictions or try to work within the laws of your current state.

Even if there are things that must be done at certain times, you still most likely have freedom about how you teach and how much you push. You have a choice between

a)  standing at the kitchen table and yelling at your child because they’re taking 4 hours to do math or

b) sitting beside them and working  one-on-one or

c) spreading that one-on-one work over 3 hours with 20 minute or half hour breaks.

Do whatever you need to do for this experience to not leave lasting trauma and not leave your child hating school and all forms of learning. Choices b and c work toward this end.  

As I discussed in point 1, you need to know your state laws and especially how the state laws make provisions for struggling learners. Make use of those provisions if you need to.

I know families who have moved across state lines and the dad drove two hours to work every day, keeping his job in their hometown, so that their children could be homeschooled in a state with fewer regulations.  

The options are truly limitless, if you’re willing to make the sacrifices.

But above all, put the child’s well-being first.  

This is truly not a radical concept.  


3)“I’m the mom so they have to do it anyway even if it’s emotionally or psychologically damaging”|“I have goals, and it doesn’t matter if they like them or not.”

We all have goals for our kids, but our goals need to be less important than their emotional and psychological health.

If you decide that your goals are more important, not only is that incredibly selfish, but it is incredibly damaging.

I quite frankly find it disturbing when any parent says “I know I’m damaging my children, and I don’t care.”

If your schedule or your pride or your goals are more important than the well-being of your child, maybe you shouldn’t be homeschooling.  

I’m the last person to say that someone shouldn’t homeschool (I’m hesitant to even write that), but that statement displays such a level of arrogance or narcissism that it indicates that you do not have the child’s best interest at heart and that perhaps the child’s would be better if he were educated by someone else —unless you can reevaluate your priorities.  

Anytime a parent says “I know I’m hurting my child, and I don’t care,” that raises huge red flags for me. Huge red flags.


Homeschooling was started (revived, really) by people who believed that formal schooling (book learning) should wait until the child was 9 or 10 years old.  You can see more about that concept in the book School Can Wait. In that context, my position about “There’s No Behind in Homeschool” is not far-fetched.  It is in keeping with the ideals and goals of traditional homeschooling and reflects what homeschooling has stood for over the past few decades since its revival.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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9 thoughts on “Objections to “There’s No Behind in Homeschool” Answered”

    1. I’m glad you found it! Feel free to ask questions if you have them. I’m happy to answer questions and offer encouragement. Homeschooling is hard sometimes, but it’s worth it.

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  1. I read the original artical and then saw the link to the follow-up. I have a 17, 13, and 11 year old. We decided to homeschool before we had kids. When my oldest was younger I felt the pressure to keep up with public schools. It was a very bad decision. Within the first few years she couldn’t handle the load. My daughter would literally break down crying, which made me feel terrible, so I started searching online and read a blog post very similar to what you have written and it changed everything for us. I then realized I was doing opposite of why I started homeschooling to begin with. I wanted a no pressure learning environment for my kids. I have maintained that philosophy ever since. I appreciate both articles. I have had to defend homeschooling to family, friends and even strangers. It all comes down to what your end goal is. Kids are graduating from public schools without being able to multiply and divide nor can they write a decent paper. There are remedial classes in community colleges for public school graduates. I want to make sure they learn what they need to know without any pressure. In order to do that, I’ve had to step away from some concepts and go back at a later time. We’re all homeschooling for different reasons, but we have one reason in common…our children.

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  2. I have a 15 year old Freshman. She’s very bright, but processes more slowly and likes to really learn the material. So, we are covering fewer subjects per year. My question is what if it takes 5 years to get all the high school coursework done? What will colleges think?

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    1. Hi Lisa, great question! First of all, realize that the public schools are turning out students who are way behind and not even educated in basic English grammar. Depending on your state laws, you mighy be able to let her graduate at age 18 without all the standard public school classes.

      [My state allows that. I graduated without advanced math classes and I’m no worse for ware because I don’t need them for my job as a homemaker and my husband’s teaching the children math if it’s above my level. I also had undiagnosed dyscalcula. Dyscalcula made math (still makes math) very challenging for me.]

      She may also be able to graduate early by getting her GED. Then teachers at the college won’t expect her to be as far advanced. My guess is that if she’s got even an 8th grade education she’s going to be *above* many of her public school peers.

      Keep in mind that kid’s brains keep maturing into their 20s, so as she gets older these things should be easier for her.

      I don’t think she needs to do 5 years unless your state laws dictate that. Let her do 4 years, learn as much as she can and then go into college and continue to learn.

      Even if she did 5 years in high school, I’m not sure if the college will care. They’re going to care about what courses she’s taken not what age she is. Many colleges understand that homeschoolers consider grade levels fluid. Find one of those colleges who want homeschoolers and there shouldn’t be an issue.

      I hope that makes sense. Feel free to ask more questions if you have them. I’m happy to help.

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      1. One other additional thought is to look into your state laws and see what provisions they make for struggling learners. Every state is different. You may find answers there.

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  3. Hi Sarah,
    Maybe you could offer some advice for my situation? I’ll give you a little background, I’m a Christian who shares your views ( I’ve read a couple of your articles). I have adult ADD, migraines, headaches almost everyday, anxiety, I’m tired all the time. I have two kids (teen and preteen), one’s special needs and one has ADHD. My husband’s a good man with a good heart but is very logical and expects me to keep up with and exceed main steam curriculum standards. His intentions are good but we often have “heated discussions” about this. I pray a lot about this and am trying to be respectful about his fears about the kids “falling behind” but he doesn’t budge when I try to explain. He’s really quite a logical fellow ( which I appreciate in other circumstances but not this one 😜). Any advice?

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    1. Hi Dawn. Thanks for your question. I would be happy to try to help you. I had a whole answer typed up and WordPress ate it. Gah. Anyway, take two.

      I am a homeschool graduate and my father was not in favor of a laid back method of schooling either. My mom went to bat for me and tried to get him to alter his expectations. We didn’t know about my ADHD or dyscalcula back then. She was able to convince him to alter some things as I got older, like I didn’t take advanced math. It was very hard for me that I was expected to keep up. I understand why you’re concerned and applaud you for trying to do what’s best for your kids.

      I’m a big proponent of wives following their husbands as scripture teaches. I created a flowsheet that explains this more. I’ll try to link to it.

      Homeschooling isn’t commanded in scripture so you don’t have a biblical basis for going against his wishes in this issue. It would be simpler if it was. Some people believe that it is commanded in scripture and would say do it anyway. But I don’t believe you can back up homeschooling –let alone a certain method of homeschooling– biblically.

      My advice is to approach him with a petition. Like you would a school principal or a judge. Be calm, rational, and respectful. Don’t approach him when you or he are upset. Wait until you can discuss it calmly.

      This method of homeschooling is logical. It’s just not normal in the view of mainstream America (but neither is almost all of what Christians do: binge drinking, casual sex, etc are all normal to America but rejected by believers). The only people who don’t see this method as logical are those who refuse to see it. This (apprenticeship style education) is a well documented method of education historically. For more info on that see my post about homeschool socialization being superior to public school socialization. Perhaps he’s unaware that this harkens back to earlier tried-and-true methods of education before the Industrial Revolution.

      You are the parent with the special needs (ADD like me). I recommend that when you go to your husband with your petition you say “I’m the parent who has the same problems as these children. Please trust me to know what’s going to be best for them and least damaging. Would you please trust my judgement?”

      Don’t get angry. Make your request and pray that God will change his heart about this issue.

      Another important point is that not even the public schools expect special needs kids to be on grade level. He may not know this. But if you put them back in school, more likely than not, they’d end up with an IEP or some other educational adjustment that would allow them to learn at a slower pace and with extra provisions. Ask him to just allow you to do the same thing the public schools would do if your child was going there. Print off articles about IEPs. Maybe find contact info for people you can pay to create one. They would make recommendations for altered expectations based on your child’s individual needs. That’s all you’re really asking for. You don’t have to hire one, but it would add credence to your argument.

      The difference is that in the schools the IEPs are rarely actually followed because the teachers don’t have the ability to tend to the needs of the individual child. This is why homeschool is better.

      This idea of catering the education to the child’s needs is really not a new concept. The public schools even acknowledge that it’s ideal. They just can’t do it in their setting with so many children.

      So to recap: Get all your data together. Pray as you do for your husband to have an open mind and you to be clear in your expectations. Write down your points ahead of time so you don’t rabbit trail. Approach him respectfully not because of him but because of his position and the clear commands in scripture. Explain in a plain unemotional way when neither of you are upset why you want to do it this way. Pray that the Lord will bring him to the same conclusion.

      If not, try to compromise. For example what’s he the most concerned about? If it’s that they have advanced math and science then try to accommodate his concerns.

      The more respectful you are, the higher your chances of him listening in my experience

      Also, if you’re on Facebook, I recommend the group Homeschool moms with ADD/ADHD. I’m an admin. It’s a great group of ladies.

      I hope that this helps. I’ll pray for you as you approach him.

      Feel free to ask more questions if you have them. I am happy to help in any way I can.

      Blessings,

      Sarah

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