I’ve been a public school educator and administrator for more than a decade, so you may be surprised that when parents ask for my advice about education, I often suggest they allow their children to leave school. Education reform is happening today, but it’s slow and often ineffective. Parents need to do what is in the best interest of their children, right now.
For some this means working hard with a school to adapt to meet a child’s needs. But many schools are rigid and don’t believe students are entitled to a customized learning experience. For these parents the best option is often to leave school behind and empower children with the freedom to learn what they want in the way that is best for them.
Here are the twelve most compelling reasons for leaving school behind if your child is not finding success and happiness there.
1. Learning is customized not standardized
• In school learning is standardized to what someone else says is best.• At home learning is customized to what the child and parent feel is best.
2. Associate with those you enjoy rather than those who share your birth year• In school students are grouped by date of manufacture.
• At home children can choose to be with those whose company they enjoy.
3. Freedom to learn with their tools• In school students are often banned from using they tools they love to learn with — such as a cell phone.
• At home children can learn with the tools they choose. For many children technology open doors that schools slam shut.
4. Socialize with those who share your passions not just your zip code• In school students have little opportunity to socialize and even when they do it is generally confined to those with whom they’ve been grouped with by year and geography.
• At home children have the opportunity to socialize and make global connections with others of any age who share their talents, passions, and interests.
5. Real life measures are better than bubble tests• In school we measure students success with bubble tests and response to prompts.
• At home we measure success by what children accomplish that matters to them. Some teens like Leah Miller have developed their own personal success plan (see hers here). She sets her goals and then assesses her success in meeting them.
6. Don’t just read about doing stuff. Do stuff!• In school students are forced to sit at desks all day reading and answering questions about stuff other people do.
• At home children don’t need to spend their time reading and writing about what other people do. They can go do stuff.
7. Travel when you want• In school they tell you when to go on vacation and families hop off to crowded destinations together.
• At home families can decide when travelling works best for them and also get better rates.
8. You are more than a number• In school the only things students have to show for their work are numbers and graphs known as report cards, transcripts, or data reports.
• At home children often put together meaningful portfolios that can be reflected upon and powerfully capture and celebrate learning. This can be done at school, but it rarely happens as little time is left for assessment and reflection after testing and test prep.
9. Do work you value• In school students do work someone else wants for someone else’s purpose.
• At home children can engage in meaningful work for reasons they determine are important.
10. Independence is valued over dependence• In school students are dependent on others to tell them what to do and when. They spend their time as compliant workers and are discouraged from questioning authority.
• At home children are encouraged to explore, discover, and develop their own passions and talents and given the freedom to work deeply in these areas. They know how to learn independently because they are interested, not because they are told to do something.
11. You don’t have to waste learning time with standardized tests• In school students and their teachers are spending a large percentage of their time preparing for tests and testing even though test have little to no role in real life. My last test was more than a decade ago. How about you?
• At home children have the freedom to enjoy learning without the burden or stress of testing. Although many children and parents have been trained to believe testing is a necessary evil in school kids who have the freedom to learn without testing are doing just fine and exploring their passions as grown unschooler Kate Fridkis explains in her article that reveals how we can learn successfully without testing.
12. No more meaningless worksheets and reports• In school students often complain they are forced to do meaningless worksheets and reports that have no real purpose or audience. In fact these worksheets and reports often actually suck the joy out of learning. Think about it. When was the last time you read a great book and thought, “Wow! I want to write a report or fill in a worksheet.”
• At home children can do work that matters and has meaning. If they read a book they love they can hop online and discuss it with other people who’ve read it or publish a review for Amazon. If they want to learn something they have an unfiltered world of resources (inaccessible in many schools) at their fingertips to do so.
Parents of Generation Z have woken up and realized that the industrial model school’s of today are preparing their children for a world that no longer exists. They know that those who receive outdated, classroom-based instruction will end up with the rest of the young people Occupying Wall Street and beyond.
However, there is another option! Home educating families are onto something. The children of these families will grow up as adults who know how to take ownership of their learning and their lives. They will be empowered with the ability to attain satisfaction and success in life and career.
What are your thoughts on the current public education system? Does homeschooling sound appealing to you?