Yup. I said it. And I know I’m going to pay for it (comment away, angry Facebookers), but I really think that homeschooling parents should love the Common Core. Now, I’m not for tests that make your children cry or ridiculous worksheets. I never have been. In fact, those who know me know that I rarely embrace traditional education practices. But that’s not what the Common Core is. At its heart, the Common Core is a beautiful document, sharing a vision for basic competencies for ALL children in this country. It provides school districts with a comprehensive list of what students should know so that no one has the “we didn’t know what to teach” excuse (though it certainly doesn’t address the “we can’t afford it” reality). The Common Core standards are an attempt to make sure that EVERY SINGLE CHILD is given a basic set of skills to help them move through life.
What most people hate is not the Common Core Standards, but the way in which these standards are being perverted across the country and the testing that many students will have to endure. Much like the Bible or the Constitution, a document that is beautiful at heart can be used to support all sorts of ugly causes. And, unfortunately, education is a lucrative industry and no one wants to be left out of the new Common Core money that districts are obligated to spend. This means anything from textbooks to worksheets to testing to apps. Learning With Meaning has even created a Common Core aligned math app and we promise you, our goal is to make your children laugh… not to make them cry. We know that the Common Core can also be fun and we set out to prove it.
Ok, so as a homeschool parent, you child is probably not going to be subjected to tests that confuse them or worksheets that make you angry. You get the best of the Common Core – a set of guidelines for specific skills your child should probably be proficient at. That’s it. How you teach those skills is up to you. Last year, we undertook a building/gardening project and incorporated several 2nd and 4th grade Common Core standards into our project. This fall, we built a trebuchet and again, incorporated several 3rd and 5th grade standards into the project. Believe me, there was nary a worksheet involved and my children only cried when they had a blister. But, at least I had a comprehensive set of guidelines on what information I should try to share with them, written by experts who know a whole lot more than I do about what is appropriate for students at a given age.
Homeschooling can be scary at times. You doubt yourself, you wonder if your kids are getting enough of what they need and you worry about how different your classroom is from a traditional one. My kids have not learned much about being quiet, raising their hand, or walking in line. But, by knowing the Common Core standards, I know where they are at in relation to their peers without having to put them through a single standardized test. So do yourself a favor and just have a look at them. You can use the standards to guide decisions on what you teach them, not how you teach them – that is up to you.