Saturday, March 23, 2013

Homeschoolers & the Common Core State Standards

I might seriously regret this post. If it suddenly disappears, you'll know that  I'm a scaredy cat
I tend to avoid controversy.

Over the past few weeks, I've encountered a series of comments (blogs, facebook, the web world) in which some homeschoolers criticize publishers (homeschool) who are updating their materials to reflect the new Common Core State Standards (aka CCSS).

I sorta don't get it.

Let me clearly state that this has nothing to do with my feelings about CCSS. That's another post. Which I won't write. (See I'm a scaredy cat.) 

It does have to do with my reflections as a homeschool mom. And yes, as an educator. But primarily as a homeschool mom to my kids. For the record, I have 5 kids. The kids' total experience in both worlds:

Cumulative years in homeschool: 18
Cumulative years in public school: 27 (higher because one child went entirely to public school...otherwise, it's pretty balanced for the other kids)

During that time, I have also taught classes in BOTH homeschool and public school. You might say that makes me just dumb enough to open my big mouth qualifies me to speak.

As a homeschooler, I feel a responsibility to have at least some sense of what my children's peers are studying, and what is considered above/below/on target. I'm not going to get all freaky about it. But when I walk into a homeschool store as I did this summer, and hear a parent ask the resident expert about how the CCSS will affect homeschoolers, I expect the expert to at least know what the CCSS is. (And in the conversation I overheard, the homeschool rep had NO. CLUE.)

Why do I want to keep abreast of the CCSS as a homeschooler? For our family, the following comes to mind:
  1. My children may not always be homeschooled. Circumstances can change things in a heartbeat. If your children are public schooled and you are reading this, also note that it could happen in the reverse for you. I used to say I'd never homeschool. (#beforeIhadkids)  I changed my mind because of a given set of circumstances. I now know many homeschoolers & public schoolers who've suddenly had to consider the opposite for a myriad of reasons: health, economics, job status, etc...  And again, it could go either way.
  2. My children will eventually meet up with their peers. Be it in middle school, high school, college, or the job market, they will eventually meet their peers. Even if I don't follow the same exact content plan, I do want to know what it is and whether they are ahead/behind/on target.
  3. My kids do have to take a standardized test. Over time, I'm guessing that all standardized tests will have to move toward CCSS content for financial reasons. (Since 45 states and D.C. have adopted it, I doubt that the market outside that group will be viable.) While testing is never a big personal motivator for what I teach, I think it's unfair to my kids for me to not have some idea of what's coming.

But back to the CCSS and publishers...

It seems unfair to criticize homeschool publishers for being responsible. Any publisher who keeps up knows that the CCSS is here. If they know that over time, homeschool students are likely to be held to those standards in testing, they are leaving themselves pretty vulnerable to not cover that content. It's also important to note that the assessments coming down the pipe are going to be different than what most of us are used to in standardized testing--rote thinking and fill-in-the-bubble. Apparently, kids will actually have to think.

If publishers don't cover CCSS, there is a decent chance that the students they serve will do poorly in comparison to their peers...and eventually, their business will end.

Be kind. I scare easily. ;)


  1. I am sure you agree that most people's anger is just fear. Generally homeschoolers don't want to be told what to do. And the CCCS purports to tell us what to do. But, that's the continued beauty of homeschooling. If you don't want to use a particular curriculum, don't use it. But someone else might need it or want it, and that is also his/her right.

    I, too, have had kids in and out of public school at various times, and that might change in the future, too. So, I always want my kids to be kept up with what their peers are learning ... JUST IN CASE. I don't stress about it. I don't push them beyond what they are able to do. And I don't hold them back if they are ready to move on. But, I just pay attention. Like this year, my two are in 3rd grade. I know that generally third graders learn multiplication and cursive handwriting. So, we are introducing those this year. But, we will be doing them next year, too, even though they are fourth graders. Oh, and my 7 year old is doing third grade work this year when according to public school she should be in first grade.

    Again, anger is fear. Always.

    1. Nicole, you are totally right.

    2. And I look smart ... I called it the CCCS instead of the CCSS. :)

    3. If I didn't even notice, what does it make me look like? LOL!

  2. I applaud you for saying what you did. As a charter school teacher in a state that doesn't use CCSS (Texas), and probably never will, I still keep up with CCSS because it does affect me as we get students transferring in and out at all times. I also keep up to date so I can see where anything I create would apply in other states. There are some big differences once you get into middle school but I think it's important for all educators to be aware of the standards of the world around them.

    Jennifer Smith-Sloane

    1. Jennifer, that's a really good point. I've never thought about this from the perspective of a teacher coming from a state that doesn't use CCSS. More food for thought!

  3. As a classroom teacher-turned-home-schooler, I have always been amazed at how fearful some home schoolers are. Yes, "something" might happen that effects our home school freedoms--so become aware, and vote when possible to preserve those freedoms. But in the meantime, if God woke you up this morning and gave you the opportunity to homeschool, go do it. Do the best job you can with resources you have. Commit your children to God's care, and then leave them there!

    1. I've never felt fearful about losing hs freedoms. Never. In a strange twist, I'm more concerned about those who are so fearful that they feel the need to incite fear in others...and then the inevitable result when so many are made to worry.

      But TN, maybe you've hit on a key point...perhaps I am not fearful because I'm a teacher-turned-home-schooler. Education is my profession. If my kids needed it and I was able, I would figure out a way to school them. Fear just doesn't stick. If education was not my background, maybe it would.

      Thanks for your comments!

  4. I also live and work in a state that has not adopted the Common Core. I teach the Common Core, NCTM standards, and state standards to my students (future teachers) because they need to know all the current thinking regarding math education today. Virginia has spent so much time and money on their state standards and assessment system that I don't see them adopting the Common Core any time soon. However, that doesn't mean the teachers here shouldn't look to common core states and teachers for resources. As with any new curriculum, there are good and bad aspects. For example, I love the emphasis on mathematical practice. These take the NCTM Process standards much farther and give teachers strong examples of what it means to think mathematically. Every teacher of math (homeschool or classroom) should look closely at these and encourage these practices.

    Ultimately, this document tells us what to teach and not how to teach. I get that publishers have jumped on the bandwagon, but selling resources is their bread and butter, and when a large state like California adopts, as well as NY and most others in this country, they have to take notice. Whether teaching at home or in a school, we all need to use the practices we know work best, regardless of the curriculum that inspires them.

    Sorry for rambling!
    Bookish Ways in Math and Science

    1. Tricia, you put it so eloquently! :) Thank you for posting!!

  5. I am scared as my child is legally to have to start school in a little under 2 years. Where I live the schools are terrible. The teacher to student ratio is roughly 1 teacher 50 students. The schools are in between large plots of farm land and can not expand. They have teachers pushing carts around and sharing class rooms. Gym teachers and football coaches, who can barely spell with spell check enabled, teaching math classes. I went to these same schools, and feel I graduated more from the bookstore and library then from the school. I guess my question is what is the legality of homeschooling? I have heard some horror stories of parents getting fines and jail time for homeschooling. My god-daughter's parents were told they weren't allowed to home school without a teaching licence, and since they receive public assistance(food stamps,tenncare) they would have no choice but to send her to public school.

    1. Hi John,
      Every state has its own homeschooling laws/requirements. Just google your state and "homeschool laws" and you'll find everything you need to know.


Thank you for leaving me a message. I love comments almost as much as I love chocolate! And I do LOVE chocolate. :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Blogging tips