Sometimes I visit Science Daily and click around until I find something fun. Recently I found this: Homeschool kids are leaner than kids who go to school. And I thought to myself, of course this is true.

Because homeschool parents are more involved with their kids, so their kids don’t eat junk food. And homeschooled kids do more of what they are interested in – like running and jumping and rolling around – and kids who are engaged what they are doing don’t eat because of loneliness or depression. So it’s not like homeschooling makes kids thin. It’s that the kind of parents who homeschool are also the kind of parents who don’t have fat kids.

(Sidenote on fat kids from the site Jezebel: According to Google analytics examined by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz at the New York Timesparents are two and a half times more likely to Google “Is my son gifted?” than they are to search for “Is my daughter gifted?” Guess what are they searching about their girls: “Is my daughter fat?” So maybe all those people who are worried about fat girls should homeschool them.)

The same is true of test scores. Homeschoolers routinely test higher than school kids on standardized tests but it’s because you can get through three years of school math at home in less time than it takes to get through one year of math in school. So the test scores don’t say anything about homeschool except that learning math takes time and school wastes a lot of time.

The bottom line is that rich kids test higher and poor kids test lower. This is even true for dumb rich kids and smart poor kids. Also, half of all public school kids are from low-income families, which means the other half is mostly the middle class and rich people don’t really use the public schools. So it becomes easy for homeschoolers to test higher than the public school kids because the best test-takers are not even in public school.

Yes, there are exceptions, but when you look at data about whether should you homeschool, you’re not looking for exceptions, you’re looking for general rules.

So the research about how homeschoolers fare in tests is meaningless. You’re wasting your time comparing test scores.

If you want your kids to go to college, you can get them to college. If you want them to test well they can test well. But you have more pressing decisions to make. Do you want to send them away for eight hours a day or do you want them involved in family life during that time? Do you want them to be told what to learn or do you want them to self-guide their learning?

What you really need to focus on is how when you choose to homeschool, you are choosing a value system. And it’s clear to me that the value system in school works against the value system I want for my family.

71 replies
  1. MBL
    MBL says:

    Holy written-in-a-hurry Batman :D . . . I’m not going to take on the missing and transposed words here, but the “leaner” link needs the final “l” removed for it to work.

    I that article, the researcher went in with the premise that hsers would be heavier than tcers. Did they ever look at any of them? I noted the difference very early on one day when a group of us were at the zoo. We go all the time, so since it was a gorgeous late Fall day, the kids 18 months to 15 years, spent most of their time on the playgrounds. The school groups came tearing in like rampaging rhinos and didn’t get to stay very long. The differences in physique and behavior was noteworthy.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      Dear Penelope, please oh please add an edit option to my comments. There is nuthin’ like commenting on typos and then opening and closing your next paragraph with them.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        I like the poetry of typos in a comment about typos. It’s the paragraph form of onomatopoeia :)

        Penelope

  2. Niels Teunis
    Niels Teunis says:

    I had never thought about this, but all of a sudden I find myself back during the first days of seminary where students were on average quite a bit heavier than I was used to in the rest of my life. And now it is starting to make sense to me.

    Church is after all a lot like school. You get told what to do, what to believe, what to think, a lot. Services, in the “successful” churches are well programmed and you come in along for the ride. There is little joy, dancing, even the emotional moments are often well programmed in advanced (insert reference to sad family history here, the blueprint of a sermon seems to say).

    It is the lack of self-reliance and self-expression that connects the two.

  3. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    Interesting. I guess I again am “different”….we experienced a “homeschool” kind of setting last week when the school was closed every day because of the weather and it struck me how my child was incessantly (and I mean, like every 30 minutes) asking me for snacks. At school, they have to eat at lunch and that’s it (I pack her lunch). So… not sure how that fits with the study. I know the plural of anecdote is not data…

    • Judy Sarden
      Judy Sarden says:

      Hi Gretchen. You remind me of my law school professors – always taking the opposite position. But that’s good, it keeps the dialog interesting as long as everyone is respectful. This forum would be boring if everyone thought exactly alike.

      To your point, I homeschool and my kids graze all day. But to Penelope’s point, they don’t eat junk food. They are young (5 &6) but I keep within their reach healthy foods like fruit, raw veggies, hummus and string cheese. We have a light breakfast and leftovers or a sandwich for lunch. They drink water when they are thirsty. They help themselves to whatever they want, whenever they want it. Despite eating all day, they are in the lower 50% for weight. They also have time to play during a good part of the day and are involved in sports. Homeschooling allows them to graze and play more than the typical schooled kid.

      Most fitness experts will tell you that its better to eat several small, healthy meals during the day than to have three huge meals. So maybe its not a bad thing that your daughter wants to graze.

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        well, the link between school and homeschool and kids weight is not as clear cut – average person-weight in many Western European countries is considerably lower then in the US. Switzerland is particularly low, France is pretty good too – in both countries 98% of kids are attending school, in Switzerland usually half a day or 3/4 with few afternoon classes, in France usually the whole day. Eating culture certainly plays a role, and if I remember correctly, middle class families are also on average lighter than working class, which goes with the trend that probably more middle class families homeschool than working class family who just about make it.

        • Rea
          Rea says:

          Now I get to be the contrarian. The data actually shows that people who “graze” all day end up consuming more calories overall (http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/089533003769204371) . Even if the calories are healthy calories, if they’re still “extra” calories, these people will still end up overweight. Kids who graze probably don’t because they move like crazy.
          Not to mention the fact that constant eating is associated with a higher likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes (every time you eat results in an insulin response. If you eat only 3 meals a day, 3 insulin responses. If you eat all day long, constant insulin responses, which causes the beta cells in your pancreas to burn out quicker).
          At any rate, I homeschool. My kids get a snack in the afternoon, after quiet time (around 3 or 4). Other than that, if they tell me they’re hungry, I recognize the truth: they’re bored and need something to do.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Hmmm, maybe she is getting more physical activity while at home since she doesn’t need to sit still for long stretches like at school? That’s one of the perks!

      • Gretchen
        Gretchen says:

        Of course she enjoys being home with me, who wouldn’t? I enjoyed not having to commute to my office and being home as well…however, that’s not reality for all the days of the year anymore. I have to go to the office (I don’t consult from home anymore…) and she has to go to school. She also enjoys going to school…after she went back, a few days later she brought home her folder of completed work with marks on it and was proudly showing me all her “4s” (the highest score) and talking about the projects she did. I just think both scenarios would be alright and not all school environments and curricula (I know some are against having a curriculum at all) are so dreadful. The child is excited to learn and seems to be learning, based on what she shows and tells me.

  4. Niels Teunis
    Niels Teunis says:

    Gretchen, it might mean that your kids are so happy to have your attention for a longer stretch that they are milking it. Not exactly how you’d want to see their joy expressed, I know, but if it is one week, I don’t see the harm in it. I am sure that with more of your attention, they will find other ways to get satisfaction than by having snacks. It takes a little time to figure out what you want if you are out of practice.

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen says:

      No, I actually think she was just bored. See, I had to WORK while she was home, so, sadly, she still didn’t get loads of my attention, but, she was playing independently and working on homework…so, maybe a real homeschool situation would have been more structured=less bored.

      The point about Western Europe (they are VERY “schooled” there…) is a good one.

      I think the jury is still out on grazing vs regular meals, actually. Just because you’re eating a regular meal, doesn’t make it a “big meal”…

      • Commenter
        Commenter says:

        I think the Western European version of “very schooled” would be a big improvement on ours.

        Take the German model: Only school during school, over by midday, kids go home for lunch and don’t come back. For the most part, sports and arts happen elsewhere.

        Only the minority of kids who go to Gymnasium (10% in 2000) even continue past 10th grade. The majority of kids finish with 9th grade in Hauptschule and it’s on to apprenticeships.

        The way you count it, Gretchen, is this more school or less school than the American system?

        • redrock
          redrock says:

          yes, school is certainly different, the French model is a full-time school, Germany is moving more towards this model. The 9 year school (Hauptschule) has lost a lot in reputation, and now for the most part houses students who have failed in the two other tracks (10 year Realschule, and 12/13 year Gymnasium). Students who only do the 9year Hauptschule have a very difficult time to find a suitable apprenticeship, the usual route to an apprenticeship is at least 10 years of schooling. The percentage of students in the “gymnasium” is currently something like 30-40% with local differences. The Gymnasium ends with a direct qualification to attend University. There are other paths with different kind of schools but the very streamlined and tiered structure with an early decision point for most students at age 10 or 11 greatly benefits students from higher income/higher education families.

          • Commenter
            Commenter says:

            I hear you, Gretchen. I just wanted to point out, that recent erosion of the model notwithstanding, there are actually a lot fewer hours (and certainly a lot less babysitting) involved in school in some European countries.

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        To be clear, you weren’t “homeschooling” last week. It was probably more a vacation, with some homework, kind of a deal. :D

        How does your daughter behave on the weekend? If she doesn’t try to graze then, then it may well be an attention thing since, if you don’t normally work when she is there, that is a major difference between last week and other time that she is at home.

        Being on the school’s schedule trains your daughter’s body to function according someone else’s schedule. Maybe her natural inclination is to have more frequent meals. Have you asked if she gets hungry at school? Did she eat more overall those days?

        Regardless, I don’t think you could possibly have an accurate picture of what your hsing life would actually be like were you to consciously choose to have your child at home with you for the long haul.

        I think your daughter is 6 or 7. . . I would be pretty concerned if she could focus throughout the school day, but couldn’t maintain engagement on her own for longer than 30 minutes without direct supervision. Again, what are weekends, vacations, and breaks like?

        We have some commitments, but are very loosey goosey beyond that. I don’t know if that is the mostest bestest way to do things, but my 8 year old can occupy herself like nobody’s business. Sure she needs assistance with materials and things and sometimes recruits me for her plays and performances or as a student for her art classes, but she gets really engaged in things which works for us. Regarding food, some days she grazes and on others I have to remind her to eat. I think that just goes along with growing children. She is off the charts tall, so we may well have more than our share of “I’m staaaarving” days.

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          She was entertaining herself most of the whole day…just asking for a snack doesn’t mean she’s not playing and doing her own thing…she does that most of the time and has done so since about 3, as I’ve always consulted from home and had no childcare…

          She doesn’t complain of being hungry at school and often doesn’t even eat all of the lunch I pack (though she does eat her before sport snack).

          I realize it wasn’t an exact homeschool environment (at least not the kind *I* would have if I was homeschooling) but it sure seems like it could have been an “unschooling” environment. Lots of book-making (and I don’t mean betting on horses), Minecraft, building with Lego, some snow play in the yard, etc.

          My point was, at home where food is available all the time, any kind she wants, she’s going to be wanting it more…both my husband and I are the same way and I think most people would be that way…

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            And I know you may say…well *you* said she was bored…but I mean bored as in the same way when I am puttering around at home, reading, surfing the web, hanging out, I’ll snack more than if I am deeply engaged in work or some more intense project…when foods around and you’re hanging around, you want to snack (at least some people…I guess it’s our family…)

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            You’re right, I did misinterpret “bored.” Around here, when we are engaged in something, food kind of slips our minds. But when puttering starts in or transition time comes, the munchies aren’t far behind. I guess I was just wondering what was different this past M-F if her behavior was noticeably different than her weekend norm.

            Oh Gretchen, Gretchen, Gretchen, it is time for a paradigm shift. When you wrote “Lots of book-making (and I don’t mean betting on horses)” I immediately thought “betting on horses—think of the possibilities! Probabilities, statistics, ratios, animal husbandry, how weather conditions could affect the results, entrepreneurship, field trips to Vegas, Atlantic City, Louisville, horticulture for growing mint, distillation for making Bourbon, segueing into the House of Bourbon of Navarre and France–Oh the places we could go!!) But book binding sounds fun too!!

            Seriously, if you ever were to even consider considering homeschooling, don’t assume you can really know what your days would look like. Well, based on my experience anyway. Having only one child, I was kind of worried about finding things to do with other people. Here, at least, there are an overwhelming number of HSing opportunities going on all of the time and the community is so welcoming. I never dreamed that I would have to be vigilant to keep from over committing us. But here we are.

            I’ve noticed that you are new to commenting here, so I’m not sure how many back posts you have read. But there is one that you might finding interesting–in some form or fashion–about Summer not being a way to “test out” homeschooling. I haven’t read it recently, so I make no promises. . .

            How’s your weather now? We are still under “Snow Emergency” street conditions but the “Wind Chill Advisory” expired a few hours ago, so “yay!!” Right now it feels downright balmy with a wc of -5.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            Weather’s OK…45 today! Tropical!
            Look, if I lived in a place with shitty schools…or I had more money or a more amenable husband, I’d totally homeschool. I dig it. I just don’t dig the across the board criticisms of school…the school here is really good. Not bad enough for me to homeschool. I almost wish it was worse…to give me a reason. But such as it is, everyone would think I’m crazy. Also, when I talked to my husband about it, he asked…would you be doing it for her or for you? And, well, I couldn’t honestly say it wasn’t mostly for me. Sigh……

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            I completely understand where you are coming from. We live 2 blocks from a “great school” with a wait list and insane taxes. I had to at least try it since we were guaranteed a K slot and wanted to meet people in the neighborhood. Telling other parents that I was pulling her was an affront to many people. But at least I didn’t have to worry about people suddenly wondering if I was crazy. They already suspected . . .

            Thank you for elaborating on your situation. I couldn’t tell if you were a naysayer or maybe testing the waters. If you were in the “never gonna’ happen” camp, I was going to warn you to step away from the blog because the more you know it really does make less and less sense to buy into public education as it now stands. As a recent post stated, you really may not know all that is going on with your child in school–no matter how involved you are. So you may need to take action quickly once you do know. I’m now getting the feeling that you could/would do that, if necessary.

            I can’t remember who posted it, maybe Karelys, but she posed the question to her husband as “why SHOULD we send him to school?” School is so ingrained that most people don’t automatically question why on earth should they hand over their 5/6 year olds. I honestly don’t think a parent should have to justify wanting to be the one to guide and instruct their own child. The life navigation/people skills that we get to be a part of is incredible. So many things happen on a daily basis that I can’t imagine outsourcing the handling of. And don’t get me started on the Lord of the Flies things that aren’t handled by adults at all.

            Ah well, it’s late and I need to go move the cars to the other side of the street so they don’t towed or plowed in.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            Yeah…I am not sure how I got started reading the blog…I think I started on the business side and then noticed this side. What strikes me is how effed up (sorry, Penelope) someone could be and still think they can dispense advice and have people taking it. PT is insightful and interesting and has some good points…however at the same time, some of the advice (both on the business side and homeschool side) seems off to me. Of course, I can take it or leave it…but I’m stuck by the “followers” who are all like “Oh thank you for that wonderful post!” (You’re having a breakdown, in debt and crashed your car, but I’m going to follow how you live…of course!…) The links seem cherry picked and often out of context to make her points only… Anyway, its her blog and its clearly successful. I think it may be best for me to just read if I wish but not comment, as I find it interesting anthropologically but certainly don’t like the sense that I’ve wandered into a cult meeting and am being evangelized.

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            So sorry if I’m coming across as trying to convert you. It is just that I enjoy the people watching here too and you are an interesting specimen who is easily engaged! Also, I write not just to you, but to others with the same mindset as you–you are legion :D — since this is such a broad forum.

            The more comments you read here, the more you will understand that most people form their own opinions. Many began their journey long before PT ever thought about homeschooling. Most here are open minded and constantly adapting their philosophy and methods as they go. Usually, the core values stay the same, but, like most vibrant and thoughtful people, there is plenty of room for expanding ideas and different vantage points.

            There are also many styles of communication—but all tend to be shockingly respectful. All the more surprising given the emotional minefield that is mindful parenting. My style is, clearly, touchy-feely INFP rambling anecdotes with far, too, many, commas.

            Sure a number of the links are crap. I don’t usually point them out , but do end up going down rabbit holes to either verify that they are crap or find some validity to their premise.

            Also, PT is a “forgiveness is easier than permission” kind of person, and she gets stuff out there. What you do with it is up to you. And it takes a massive amount of courage to put some of things out there that she does. For that I have great admiration and respect. Do I sound like a disciple? Who cares, I use my initials for pete’s sake. I invest a staggering amount of time and thought in this blog with no monetary compensation for my stunning, insightful, masterful prose. But there is no risk and I am constantly challenged to consider my position on things that weren’t on my radar–but should have been.

            I love the fact that many people can read the exact same thing and not read the same thing at all. Everyone has their personal lens through they filter everything. Different things resonate or jump out at people based on where they are in their lives at that moment. Heck, I have a different take-away from things based on my blood-caffeine level.

            Gretchen, if you decide to read but not engage, could you pretty please for me just post a little “I read it.” comment so I will know it can be done? I’m really, really trusting that you can read my responses in the utterly witty and charming spirit in which they were written!! :D

  5. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    The only response that Google should give to the person who searches “Is my daughter ugly” is this: “You are a horrible excuse for a human.”

  6. Linda Lou
    Linda Lou says:

    The biggest challenge we’ve had with homeschooling is figuring out how my son can get enough exercise. He liked PE and recess and gym time after school. We tried Boys & Girls Club but now he refuses to go. So now we’ve started going to a health club as a family. Kids don’t play in the neighborhood very much anymore and we don’t live on a farm. Yes there are organized sports but let’s be real there’s not much exercise in a soccer practice, not compared to the several hours a day that boys are hard wired to need. Since pickup games fell out of fashion, boys do not get enough exercise, whether they go to school or not.

    So yes he’s not chained to a desk any longer and he can jump around the house (which creates its own issues because we work from home) but there’s no place to run and no kids to run with.

    • Kirsten H
      Kirsten H says:

      I hear ya, Linda. Winter months in Minnesota can be tough for outdoor exercise. My 11YO will go sledding and winter hiking, and he plays in the snow a bit. When it’s warm he will ride his bike 15 miles, no problem, and I think I see the beginnings of a distance runner (like his dad), but he doesn’t like team sports (introvert), and my health club requires kids be 12 to work out. I think he’s taken to attempting parkour in our family room when my back is turned.

      However, he hasn’t gained any weight in the year he’s been home, and I have to think it’s because he isn’t made to sit at a desk all day. Sitting is the new smoking, as they say.

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        This is kind of weird to post here, but if you are near Minneapolis, the Plymouth field is domed and kept at 55F for the winter and has some homeschool hours. It is an astro turf type soccer field with bounce houses and is $3 for a few hours.

        • MBL
          MBL says:

          Oh, and since I am striving for 50% of the comments on this post to be from me . . . I know some people here who have installed climbing walls in their basements. We have a trapeze/swing/hammock thing that is set up in a door frame. Parkour in the Parlor could become a craze, though.

    • Judy Sarden
      Judy Sarden says:

      That is unfortunate. I live near the great southern city that was paralyzed with snow and ice just two days ago. However, at this moment I am at the park where over the past hour, my kids have played a pickup game of soccer as well as two games of tag with different set of kids. Pickup games of all kinds are still quite popular among the elementary school crowd around here. All we have to do is show up at the park and the kids do the rest. I guess you have to be more creative depending on where you live.

    • Alison
      Alison says:

      Both of my boys do swim team which is year round (indoor). They also have the option of a junior running club. Our Parks & Rec offers a homeschool PE class 1x per week during the school year. We also got a pass to Skyzone (indoor trampoline) for the bad winter days. When they are bouncing off the walls and no one wants to go outside, I take them to our gym’s indoor track and we run or walk for an hour or so… Hope this gives you some ideas…

  7. MBL
    MBL says:

    “Of course she enjoys being home with me, who wouldn’t? ”

    If you have to ask…

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist based on your previous comment below!! :D

    I think this is one of those vase/face, old lady/young girl things. At first you can only see one version, but once you see both, you can’t unsee either. And you can’t believe you had trouble seeing one of them in the first place. When you write “was proudly showing me all her “4s” (the highest score)” most people would see that as awesome. Many commenters here would see that as a red flag. She is learning external motivation rather than internal. I agree that we tend to need to respond to external stimulus. But, I think that we should be able to choose what we are motivated by from a young age. Schools indoctrinate it and when we are older it is hard to unlearn/unsee it or even question it at all.

    Two days ago, my 8 year old asked what “got an A” meant. I was horriproud that she didn’t know. I explained it to her since I think she needs to know how most people live, but want her to continue to learn for the sake of learning and what doors it can open for her. In general, she doesn’t care about speed for the sake of speed if there is no payoff. But if there is something that she wants that she can get by “winning” then she is all over it and is a focus machine.

    I am NOT saying, “Oh Gretchen’s poor, poor daughter is ruined for life. It is so very sad that her mother doesn’t love her very much.” :D But I do believe that your daughter may be an excellent candidate for going at her own speed learning. If by some miracle she aligns perfectly with the school’s timeline, then that is awesome for y’all!

    When you say that taking her out of school (I don’t say “keeping her home” since 2 or 3 days a week we are on the go with museums, zoo, aquarium, co-ops) isn’t a reality. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be. Just that it isn’t at this moment. If you do end up seeing both the vase and the face, you may well suddenly also see ways to make ditching school a reality.

    YMMV

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      UGH! Again, edit button please!!

      This was supposed to be in reply to

      Of course she enjoys being home with me, who wouldn’t? I enjoyed not having to commute to my office and being home as well…however, that’s not reality for all the days of the year anymore. I have to go to the office (I don’t consult from home anymore…) and she has to go to school. She also enjoys going to school…after she went back, a few days later she brought home her folder of completed work with marks on it and was proudly showing me all her “4s” (the highest score) and talking about the projects she did. I just think both scenarios would be alright and not all school environments and curricula (I know some are against having a curriculum at all) are so dreadful. The child is excited to learn and seems to be learning, based on what she shows and tells me.

      Posted by Gretchen on February 1, 2014 at 6:11 am

      Which now makes my “your comment below” thing above. Oh dear.

      • mh
        mh says:

        Horriproud! Heh.

        We visited family in September for a big wedding and I had that clenching feeling, because when asked by nice relatives what grades they were in, my kids looked at me with that, “uhhhh… ” look. I had to fill in. Luckily the boys figured it out fast and learned what to answer.

        Which also tells me that many of my respected and honored relatives don’t know how to begin a conversation with a child. So it goes.

    • Judy Sarden
      Judy Sarden says:

      Love “horriproud.” I’ve also had to try and explain the school grading system to my son. I’ve avoided his questions about how he scored on his standardized test because I don’t want him focusing on the score; I prefer that he focus on putting forth his best effort.

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        Heehee. I saw someone use “embarabrag” once, but that didn’t quite fit, so…

        Last year my 7 year old was doing an online thing that was about earthquakes. You had to take the tests to move on to the next chapter. One answer listed “D all of the above,” but she didn’t think that was right since she interpreted it as “above ground” given that the question was about what makes a structure more stable. She knew that “C underground pipes” was correct–in addition to “A” and “B,” so she was confused. It is really eye opening to see her interpretation of things that “seem” self explanatory. I love that I get to witness these things. And ensure that she isn’t laughed at for her “stupidity.” We did get a little chuckle out of her “genius” though! (Errrr, THIS would have been an example of an embarabrag if I had’ve included the fact that program was designed for use in middle schools. ;) )

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          Sorry, understanding the paradigm of the test itself and that “all of the above” would NOT mean above ground is normal and important. Either people don’t have a good command of the semantics of the English language or they’re being smartasses.

          • Judy Sarden
            Judy Sarden says:

            What a harsh response to a 7 year old’s interpretation of an above grade test. My son often interprets written questions in ways that I find baffling considering his level of intelligence. But I find that if I ask him to explain his reasoning, in many instances the question and answers were poorly constructed or my son has applied his broader knowledge of the subject matter ( outside the reading on which the test is based). His misinterpretation of the test rarely has anything to do with not having g co.ma d of the English language and never I volvws him being a smartass.

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            Judy, it is so reassuring to see that you “get” it. I found her response utterly charming. Dude, she had never encountered the phrasing before and it was designed for 11-13 year olds who had been “taught to the test” for years. You are absolutely right, knowing or seeing too much can be a disadvantage above a certain level in some situations. When it happens with my daughter, she ALWAYS has sound reasoning. I am so, so grateful that she can see the humor in the mix-up and doesn’t take it as sign of a character or intelligence flaw. Because it isn’t!

            I am actually also reassured by the original comment. Confirmation that there are, no doubt, still teachers out there with the same beliefs validates my decision to keep her from that. And makes some of those looong, hard days easier to take.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            Really, not being harsh, but being real…and re-reading the item about the multiple choice…why wouldn’t the child, knowing answers A,B and C were right make the (normal) inference that D “all of the above” mean what it commonly means. I don’t think the child should be berated or that she’s stupid, but I do have to say, it’s a little odd. I think being able to infer what someone (something–the test) is asking is a true skill that’s not unimportant, either. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch for someone to understand English this way. “All of the above” would not be an answer about something above ground. That doesn’t make sense…”all of the above…” what? That’s a non-answer except in the context of the test, clearly meaning A, B and C!

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            Actually, it could have been that she knew for sure that the pipes and one of the other things were true and wasn’t sure about the other. I really don’t recall since it was a year and half ago. I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t that she thought for sure one of the others was wrong, so your reasoning still stands. I just remember being intrigued by her interpretation and imaging that other kids might laugh at a situation like that and a teacher might think she was being a smart ass, even if nothing was said.

            I still think it was a fun glimpse into her mind.

            She definitely hasn’t always cared how other people interpret things. When she was 6, I was talking to someone at her school about that very thing, since I was worried about it being a problem. The specialist suggested saying “that was unexpected” since I didn’t want to use the word “weird.” I wasn’t sure if she would buy it. And she didn’t. When something came up and piped up with “that was unexpected” she thought for a moment and said “But isn’t it our differences that make us who we are?” And I haven’t used that phrase since.

            I do want her to know where “the box” is so she can make an informed choice as to whether or not to factor it in and consider the consequences of eschewing it. But I definitely don’t want her to live in it. And I will continue to appreciate her, as she (at 5) has called ” my own cute little way of” saying/doing it.

            Das ist alles.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            I love how in touch you are with your kid and analyzing this. I didn’t mean to be awful. Anyway, mine is a little bit of an oddball herself and I don’t think that will ever change…and I do like it…but I also like how school and being “force” not to be weird all the time and to conform a little is good for her (to be clear, she enjoys it and shows no indication of feeling bad or made to feel like an oddball/outcast, etc…I’ve gone to the classroom, had lunch with her, etc. and its a nice mix of kids… I just think our particular school has room for weirdos, too…and there’s a lot of sensitivity about bullying and stuff (besides, she’s into martial arts which automatically makes her a dork, but a dork that nobody will pick on…)

          • mh
            mh says:

            Gretchen is not raising an Aspie.

            Just saying. I’m not either, and probably neither is Judy. But interpreting phrases literally is very common among Aspies — as is not understanding sarcasm.

            In fact, I could make a strong case that the lead character in the movie “Enchanted” would be rated as an Aspie because of interpersonal communiction.

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            mh, now that Gretchen has outed her daughter as quirky, I was going to mention the Aspie thing. I thought about it earlier, but know that once that is out there, then suddenly everything is “oh, well that’s because of . . .” It is definitely one of the hardest things for me trying to decipher if some crappy behavior is Aspie, problematically gifted, possible adhd (no diagnosis other than the apple/tree thing), age, hunger, fatigue, sensory, or just being obnoxious.

            We already had the sarcasm thing taken care of before I knew she “couldn’t understand it.” Around me, it was a necessity for her survival. Just before I realized she probably had Asperger’s when she was 5, I said something and she cocked her head and asked “do you mean that or are you being sarcastic?” I said, “actually, I was being facetious” which I then explained. 2 months later I realized she might not “have gotten something” (since you know she most likely was an Aspie and “it was beyond her”) so I said, “I was just being sarcastic.” “Actually Mommy, you were being facetious.” Touche.

            Often when I do mention Asperger’s to someone who has interacted with her I get the “Oh, she’s one of those mothers who shop for the diagnosis du jour…” When I asked for an ADOS evaluation, the school said she absolutely wouldn’t meet the educational standards for it based on what they had seen. It was only once a specialist really looked at her did they acknowledge she might need some accommodations. What they proposed on the last day of school was utter crap so I just didn’t send her back the next year. Problem solved.

            I’m not in denial about “potential issues.” It’s just that I have a special, special snowflake who can’t be pigeonholed. :D

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            Gretchen, I am totally not trying to equate your daughter’s situation to mine and am just relaying our experience. I was hoping to use school to outsource conformity training, but for us, the price was too high. I know she “could” have fit in, but the cost of her creativity was too high of a price to pay. As Judy alluded to, my daughter was trying to answer questions with life experience and personal observation and they were teaching copying facts from a story. I appreciate the need for and benefits of teaching reading for comprehension, but I just hate that there is not enough time for celebrating sharing of their diverse experiences. I feel certain nearly every child there was just bursting to share their own story. They could do some of that in K, but 1st was down to brass tacks.

            Her school was certifiably bully free (yeah, right) but there was definitely some teasing when my daughter went from K to 1st mid-year. I was, ostensibly, “completely on top of things” and didn’t find out what was going on until the last days of school. She totally knew the difference between when certain kids were teasing her and when they were being sincere. It was a total shock to us as to how big of difference there was in the wileyness of the 5/6 year old class witnessed one Friday and the 6/7 year old class on Monday.

            Again, just our experience.

            Awesome on the martial arts!!! We tried it when my daughter was 5 (too young in her case) and it was sensory/coordination overload! This was pre-OT, so she might like it now, but I haven’t done anyone more than look into it every now and then.

            How long has your daughter been participating?

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen says:

      “Many commenters here would see that as a red flag.”

      Somehow I knew this would be mentioned…I didn’t want to preemptively say anything, but sure enough…

      Grades matter. They just do.

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen says:

      “I do believe that your daughter may be an excellent candidate for going at her own speed learning. ”

      I also think my daughter could probably be forced to learn *faster* than the school’s pace, which seems a bit light and easy to me and which she probably would if I was schooling her, because I am a hard ass bitch… (For example, I am much more particular about how she completes her homework and insist on proper spelling and writing neatly…see…maybe I shouldn’t homeschool…hahahaha) But, what’s the rush, I skipped 3rd grade, but I ended up taking 10 years to finish college!

      • Gretchen
        Gretchen says:

        Oh, and sorry for all my disjointed replies, but they kind of dissect different ideas…

        “She is learning external motivation rather than internal.”

        I think the line between external and internal motivation is not clear cut. For example, I somehow am motivated to work extra hours and do a better job than I probably have to to keep my job because I have this weird pride in my work and ownership of it. There’s just an average raise system at my job and everyone does reasonably well and gets in the same range of raises, so I don’t really NEED to excel the way I strive for, I just do because that’s who I am. At the same time, I like to feel like I am beyond reproach should someone choose to scrutinize me…just in case. I don’t know. I think that’s a combination of internal and external motivation. I was traditionally schooled. I think life for upper middle class kids like mine (I grew up working class) is so easy they may not be internally motivated to do much without false hardships imposed on them (see the other post on the different marketing of schools where the discussion talks about people being inherently curious or not…) and so… we make them go to school? Who knows!

        • MBL
          MBL says:

          I have struggled with perfectionism my whole life. But, until I turned 40, wouldn’t admit that I was a perfectionist because I wasn’t perfect. How’s that for effed up?

          “Do your best” can really mess up a multi-talented kid whose best could be pretty spectacular. But it can’t be done in all areas at all times. “Do your best, with balance” is so much more healthy.

          The hardest thing for me as a parent is to not contaminate my daughter with my issues. My husband tends to get a LOT done, but some of it is pretty shoddy–by my standards. I take a really long time to get going since I “know” it has to be perfect and drive myself (and those around me) nuts with details that no one else cares about, but I can’t not do them. When I shovel the sidewalk, I will use the ice chipper and get every. single. spec of ice off. I have this “would I let my grandmother walk here” test. My husband gets out there and gets it done–but it takes everything I have to not head out there and “do it right.” Even if his standard is better than our neighbors’.

          I say this to try to convey that I DO get where you are coming from, even if we may be polar opposites on some levels. Are you perchance an ESTJ? I’m gettin’ a TJ vibe for sure. Probably an STJ. It’s just that in my case, a lot of my “that’s just how things ARE done” comes from my ESFJ mother. My INFP self for sure knows how I think things SHOULD be done to be optimal–but I have way too much respect for the individual experience and believe that the answer is almost always “it depends on the situation.” This makes my life much harder than it could be, but there you have it.

          It is super hard for me stick to my overall belief that my goal is to help my daughter (probably and NTJ) be the best version of who she wants to be rather than my vision of the best version of who I think she could/should be. She has a VERY strong sense of self that is maddening at times, but I need to remember it will serve her well later on. If I can just live through it in the meantime.

          I post this all of the time, but–when my daughter was 4 she was headed down the perilous path of perfectionism. I read Carol Dweck’s Mindset and nipped that puppy in bud. But it is still hard to find the sweet spot of striving for excellence, understanding that what people think does matter, while accepting that sometimes good enough is good enough.

          I concur. “Who knows!”

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        Assuming we are still having fun:

        “because I am a hard ass bitch… (For example, I am much more particular about how she completes her homework and insist on proper spelling and writing neatly…see…maybe I shouldn’t homeschool…hahahaha)”

        Okay. You win!

        “I skipped 3rd grade, but I ended up taking 10 years to finish college!”

        Oh wait, my mother refused the school’s request for me to skip 1st because I had a Summer birthday. I took 11 years to finish college.”

        I win! I think.

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          Ha! I wish it hadn’t taken me so long, but I had to pay for it on my own and I had a kind of meandering lifestyle in my 20s…

          As far as the MBTI, I am consistently I XX J and the N/S F/T parts vary from time to time when I take the test, never significantly more or less either…so I don’t even know what that means.

          I’mt he type of person who prefers to be alone but knows how to schmooze. CAN take charge but doesn’t really want to. CAN work well with others but prefers to work alone. I can fake being open minded, but I am really not so much… and my T seems to be overcoming my F as I get more into atheism/freethinking. Anyway, enough about me…. Thanks for engaging.

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            Good stuff.

            Might I suggest you take a quick little MBTI right now and base it on the last week. Maybe a 20, but even the 4 question test should do the trick. I going to early call ISTJ. I’m pretty sure your F meandered off on its own in your 20’s!!!!

            “Thanks for engaging.”

            Right back at ya’.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            Last year at about this time (coincidentally!, I’d saved the test in my gmail…) I tested ISFJ, today just now (before I posted) I tested INTJ…

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            Thanks for posting.

            I would have thought you were more S “present” and “reality” then N “possibility” and “future.” I like this game!

  8. Judy Sarden
    Judy Sarden says:

    Gretchen

    I knew that I recognized much of my old self in you. I am an ISTJ who has mellowed with age. I think having two kids back to back and being married to an ENTP has also helped mellow me. I’ve always been a conformist with a bit of a non-conformist streak, which has grown with age, so perhaps taking the leap to homeschooling was not as big an issue for me as it seems to be to you.

    I have learned to accept and embrace the fact that lots of people, including my kids, think differently than I do. So I am trying not to impose my own personality on my children and let them be themselves. I want them to know how to behave appropriately in social and work situations but I don’t need them to be conformists. And I certainly don’t want them to be “forced” to behave like the popular group at school as their sole means of avoiding bullying.

    Just to let you know, like you, I believe my kids need to cover certain subjects (I wrote a guest post about it on this very blog). So I cover traditional subjects with my kids but, thanks to the folks on this forum, I approach the subjects in a non-traditional way. It works much better for us than my original “school at home” approach but I am by no means an unschooler.

    Like you, I also believe that kids need to be able to take tests. But that is a skill that can be taught just like anything else. A child who is allowed to study subjects deeper than the text book requires, and who is accustomed to answering questions in an essay or oral format, will always have trouble with the constraints of a multiple choice test. My son struggled with his standardized test because it was the first time he was exposed to multiple choice testing. My daughter, the workbook queen, knocked the test out of the park. So now I know that I need to work with my son so that he can acquire test taking skills. No big deal.

    With regard to telling the child to do his or her best, I tell my kids that I expect their best effort in everything they do. Because I am with them all the time, I know what they are capable of doing. I do push them to do their best while watching their sense of internal motivation grow. And I make them do stuff they don’t want to do. :)

    I don’t accept sloppy work from them. If they make mistakes on their work, I have them go back and review the whole thing and identify and correct the mistake on their own. So you could call me a hard ass, too.

    On the other hand, they have lots of freedom. They get to play a lot. We follow interests, read lots of books, play video games (I even play with them sometimes), take lots of field trips and have activities outside the house pretty much every day. We travel. They have teachers, instructors and coaches other than myself. They are not “sequestered” in the house by any means.

    My point, Gretchen, is that it doesn’t matter what your personality type is. You can homeschool if you wish. If you actually started doing it, I dare say you would change your style at least a couple of times as you get to know your daughter better. I agree that there are some people who shouldn’t homeschool and some situations that simply warrant against homeschooling but you sound like you would be just fine.

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen says:

      Thank you for the thoughtful post. I wasn’t saying I couldn’t homeschool because of my MB type…just responding to the other comment…and my joke about being too demanding of her work, I think that would be fine for homeschooling, too (and I would probably mellow, at this point, I sort of play the tiger mom to the school’s easygoingness). I know I could do it (homeschool)…if husband was on board (he’s not) and I was the kind of person who didn’t believe in having retirement money or sending my kid to college (I am) and if the school here was crappy (it’s not)…but…not enough (any) of those things are in alignment for me. I often actually feel a little sad and wistful that I can’t because I love spending time with my daughter. I’ll just leave it at that.

  9. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    Interesting comments. I’ve always firmly believed, and been validated through various psych courses I’ve taken, that people are born with their personalities and they can’t change them, maybe modify them a bit, but not completely change them.

    I’m more of an Enneagram personality gal than I am MBTI, but I’ve always been INTJ for the last 16 years. On the enneagram I’m an 8 with a 9 wing and that has always been so much more closely associated with explaining my personality than MBTI.

    Just interesting reading the dialogue on personalities because as an INTJ I’ve literally amassed way too much information on the subject because it interests me.

  10. david
    david says:

    very nice article. Especially enjoyed comment linking obesity to boredom in schools. Only problem with article is it does not mention that children have the same rights as adults.

  11. Katie
    Katie says:

    “It’s that the kind of parents who homeschool are also the kind of parents who don’t have fat kids.” I agree completely! It has nothing to do with homeschooling. I teach preschool and, sadly, the truth is that most (though not all) of their parents seem so stressed out and too busy to care much about what they pack in their kids lunch boxes. They usually do make some type of effort to achieve a balance, but a homeschooling parent would have no reason to give their kids Lunchables, Cheez-its, Teddy Grams, etc. on a regular basis. I think it is also partly the “Mommy guilt” – parents feel guilty leaving their kids all day and pack them little “treats” that they might not get at home.

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