Unfortunately, a fear that plagues many homeschool parents is the worry that their children may be falling behind in their learning. Where does this fear come from, what does it mean for a child to “fall behind,” how can we tell if this is a real concern, and, finally, what can we as homeschool parents do about it?
These are the questions we’ll address in this post. So, without lingering any longer, let’s dive in.
Why Are You Concerned About Your Child Falling Behind?
First, where does this fear that your child is struggling with learning come from? Well, especially if you’re new to the homeschooling journey, this worry can stem from an even deeper one — that you’re not doing enough to homeschool your child.
Perhaps because traditional schoolteachers are required to meet certain qualifications to teach, homeschool parents can feel concerned about not being smart or capable enough, not being able to compete with traditional schoolteachers, or simply not having the necessary qualifications to homeschool.
But, the truth is that you can homeschool your child. In fact, we at Classical Conversations® believe you are your child’s best teacher. You know their interests, passions, and learning styles better than any traditional schoolteacher ever could. What’s more, you can provide your child with individual attention and personalize their education to fit your family’s needs and values.
With that in mind, who could possibly be better a teacher to your child than you?
What Does It Mean to “Fall Behind” in School?
If parents are concerned about their students falling behind, they tend to think of “falling behind” in reference to their child’s peers.
Comparison is a deadly enemy of homeschool parents. It can lead us to think that we’re not spending enough time on Latin or science, not providing any additional schoolwork, or not pursuing more extracurriculars through volunteer opportunities, sports, or music lessons.
But again, we need to be reminded that we simply cannot do everything everyone else is doing. After all, one of the reasons you decided to homeschool in the first place is probably because you recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to education. Everyone’s educational journey is different, and because homeschooling opens doors to more freedom and flexibility, even more so is everyone’s homeschooling journey different.
With this perspective, perhaps “falling behind” isn’t the best terminology to use if your child is struggling in their learning. Rather, they may simply need to spend more time in a certain area or take a different approach.
How to Tell if Your Homeschool Student Is Falling Behind Academically
So, what if your child is really having trouble in their learning? How can you tell what subjects they might be struggling with more than others?
While some homeschoolers — especially classical home educators — can at first be put off by the idea of standardized tests, these assessments can be hugely beneficial in determining which areas you and your child ought to spend more time and attention on.
Instead of viewing standardized tests as another way the traditional school system quantifies students’ intellectual capabilities, you can view them as helpful tools. Like a compass, standardized tests can show you which direction to take your child’s learning. For example, if your child scores below average in reading comprehension, you can spend more time discussing literature together next year.
This idea of tests as tools is further explored in our post “Why Homeschoolers Should Take Standardized Tests.” If you are interested in using standardized tests in your homeschooling journey, be sure to give it a read!
And fortunately, taking standardized tests doesn’t have to be complicated for homeschool families. For example, Homeschool Testing Services offers accessible, online assessments for homeschool students to take in the convenience of their own home. You can easily administer both timed and untimed standardized tests, including popular ones like the Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP) and Stanford-10. Whether you are concerned about your child falling behind or simply wish to assess your student’s learning, learn how Homeschool Testing Services can help by visiting their website.
What to Do if Your Child Is Struggling in School
After assessing your child’s learning using a standardized test, what should you do next?
Well, there are multiple paths you could follow depending on your child’s test results. For example, say your student’s test score in math is below average. This points to something in their math education that likely needs improvement.
One solution to try is to spend more time on math studies with your child than you had previously. But, if you’re completely stumped on what exactly it is that needs improvement, and you used a standardized test offered by Homeschool Testing Services, you can participate in their Results Counseling service. Here, a professional will point you in the right direction to take your child’s learning based on their test results.
Of course, test results don’t just show us what subject areas need more attention. They also indicate where your child excels!
Let’s say your child scores highly in English. What should you do about this, if anything? One course of action would be to rebalance the time you spend on subjects if your family has been spending an inordinate amount of time on English studies and not enough on math (perhaps as indicated by below-average math results).
Alternatively, your child may just have a natural talent for English. In that case, the last thing you want to do is spend less time there and stifle their curiosity! Instead, encourage their passion for this subject by providing opportunities to hone their talent further. This could translate to encouraging them to read books outside their current reading level or assigning more creative writing prompts.
Not yet a Classical Conversations member and interested in our community-based approach to homeschooling? We’d love to hear from you! To learn more about us, click here.