Refusing to Compete

A recent discussion I had with some other homeschool moms irked me just a little bit. We were talking about high school plans for our kids, and one of the mom’s said to me “Your son is doing dual enrollment now isn’t he? Because I started my son last year and when he graduates he will have his AA degree.” The other moms all voiced their agreement that yes, their children too were taking dual enrollment classes, or had already started when they entered high school. My response was “My son is only a 10th grader right now, and honestly, I don’t think he’s quite ready for that yet. He’s still working on completing the assignments I give him and he isn’t disciplined enough for the workload. I figured I would wait until next year and then have him do some dual enrollment classes for his junior year.”

My response was met by silence and confused looks. Then “Well, don’t you want him to get as much free college as he can?” and “When he goes to college he will be behind the other kids who already have two years worth of credits”. “My son (or daughter) will be able to graduate with their degree at 19” etc. etc. etc. SIGH…..look, I am all for taking advantage of free educational opportunities. I am also all for people supporting their kids and pushing them to excel. However, I am NOT for the competition that seems to arise with some people when they start comparing their homeschool to yours and implying in some way that yours is somehow inferior or that you are robbing your child of some major opportunity.

I know my son. He is incredibly intelligent, but like many gifted students, he is also disorganized and not exactly a linear thinker. Right now he is still learning to manage high school and plan out assignments and figure out how to set a timeline so everything gets done. I think a big part of high school is preparing your child for life, so I want him to learn these skills because he will need them in his future. Therefore, I do not organize everything for him. He has a planner with his weekly lesson plans in it. We use MFW For high school (which I love) and I tell him it is up to him to refer to his planner and decide how to complete his work. We meet each week to go over what he has done, and if he missed something, he makes it up on the weekend. I do not spend every day breathing down his neck because I feel like, when he is an adult, I am not going to be there to “manage his day” and he needs to learn how to do that on his own.

He made great strides this year in maturity and has gotten a lot more responsible with his schoolwork. I think he will grow even more this year, and by 11th grade he will be ready to take on some dual enrollment classes. The thing that bugs me is, why is it so terrible if my son does NOT complete his AA in high school? What’s wrong with him getting a few college courses out of the way and then finishing up the rest of them when he is in COLLEGE? I understand wanting to give your kids a head start, but just because we aren’t doing things that way doesn’t mean people have to look at me like I have three heads!

I just feel like there is this big push for kids in public schools, homeschools, and private schools to do more and more and more than we ever had to do. Kids are still kids, just like when we were young. They have not suddenly become superhuman in the last two decades or so. If your child is motivated to complete part of college in high school (and I know some that are, and have done so successfully) than that is awesome!! But if my child is not motivated in that way, why should I push him to do something he isn’t ready for??

Homeschools are supposed to be unique to the families that create them. That means that my schooling will be tailored to fit my kids, and it won’t look the same as yours. That does not mean that one is better than the other, it just means that I know what my kids need while you know what your kids need. I hate the feeling that we are somehow in a competition with each other to see which child “achieves” the most. Achievement is a relative thing anyway. For some kids it might mean meeting certain goals when it comes to book learning, but for other kids, it might mean learning practical skills. If your child wants to start his own business after high school, you may be teaching him the skills he needs for that business. If your child wants to join the military, he may be working on specific things that will get him there. So, a crowning “achievement” for one kid could be completely different than it is for someone else.

Personally, I do not want to participate in the game of “whose child achieved more”. I am going to focus on giving my kids what they need from me. And I will congratulate you and your child when they achieve that AA degree their senior year, but I won’t feel bad if my child did not. My purpose is to raise my kids up for the Lord, to help develop their unique skills that He has given them, and to get them ready for life after they leave my home. If my son spends four years in college instead of two, that’s okay with me!

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