Homeschool Benefit: Focus on the Stuff that Matters

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He was absolutely brilliant. A perfect score on the ACT. Throwing the class curve by consistently being over the 100% mark. Winner of the honors Science Award. His notes were impeccable and neat.

"The other student to win the Science Award this year couldn't be more different. His notes are illegible. His process unorthodox." And with that, they called me to the stage.


As one who was determined to beat the grade game, I did not fit the mold of boys who score higher on tests than girls but get lower grades in class. I did just fine on both... but I didn't take the ACT. I got the same score on the SAT as my brilliant counterpart, so I'll just assume I would have done just as well on the ACT too <cough>.

But when I read about the grade gap between boys and girls and the ways classrooms are not optimized for both sexes--as demonstrated in Why Gender Matters--I feel sorry for my public schooled friends. Homeschooling allows us, as parents and teachers, to accommodate our children's needs, allow them to excel in their strengths, and give them time where they struggle. In other words: We can focus on the stuff that matters.

Handwriting? Important. But is it more important than Luke's interest in Science? Reading? Essential. But does Luke have to master it this year?

As homeschoolers, we get to pick our battles. May you have wisdom as you set goals and determine what matters and what stuff can wait.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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  1. Julie

    (I don't know if this comment fits with this particular post, but if it doesn't, then it fits with another of your posts about educational philosophy so I will go ahead and stick it here.) I have been researching different philosophies about education, partly because I enjoy studying it, and partly because my oldest son is entering 1st grade this year and I want to make good choices about his education. I really like Sonlight's focus on education instead of indoctrination, which I see as a problem both in public and Christian schools. I have been reading about classical education, and in some ways it seems good--logic and reasoning skills are definitely important. But the more I read about classical philosophy, the more I dislike it. It seems that the focus is to stuff a child's brain with facts that he is unable to truly comprehend, and then later on he should be able to take those facts and use them to form opinions and arguments. I learned in psychology class that children are not supposed to be able to think abstractly until they are in upper elementary; yet my five year old seems perfectly capable of comprehending abstract thoughts he learns about in books, and coming up with some very wise answers. To me, it seems dumb to force my son to memorize information he has no interest in, and does not even understand, and wait until he is older to begin to teach him why that information matters, and how to think logically. I guess that is why I am drawn to literature-based education; books help my son to digest the information, analyze it and draw conclusions, rather than just memorizing. Somewhere I read that Sonlight is considered "relaxed classical" education; I was wondering how people at Sonlight would view the classical movement in homeschooling, and in what ways they agree or disagree with its methods? (If there is already a post about this, you could just link it, but I typed in "classical" on Sonlight's page and didn't find anything.)

  2. Julie, I often tell people that I'm qualified to speak about other homeschool approaches as I didn't use them myself [smile]. However, we do have a brief discussion about the "Great Books" and "Classical" approach to homeschooling as part of our 27 Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight article. Check out reason #23: Sonlight may not be a good fit for you if you want a program that focuses on the "Great Books" that are part of the "Great Conversation." Hope that gives you a glimpse into our thinking behind this.

    If you were looking for something different, please let me know. Thanks for reading!


  3. Julie

    Thanks--that does answer my questions! I read the 27 reasons a couple of years ago, but since then I've been reading about other methods and forgot about what Sonlight said.