College Professor's Opinion of Home Education

Greg Landry M.S. posted some general observations about home educated students from his years teaching in college.

Excerpt:

2. They handle classroom social situations
(interactions with their peers and professors)
very well. In general, my homeschooled students
are a pleasure to have in class. They greet me
when the enter the class, initiate conversations
when appropriate, and they don’t hesitate to
ask good questions. Most of my students do
none of these.

2. They come to college without sufficient
test-taking experience, particularly with
timed tests. Many homeschooled students have a
high level of anxiety when it comes to taking
timed tests.

I can see that taking timed testscould be a problem. When I test my kids, I have in my head the amount of time it should take them to finish, but I don’t usually share that with them, because they’ve not had any trouble finishing in the required amount of time. Perhaps knowing that there is a time limit causes enough anxiety to make it difficult to concentrate on the test. I’m thinking I’ll have to do some timed testing to see how they handle that.

Does anyone else have some comments about the strengths and weaknesses of your own home education program?

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Charlie's picture

Susan, I teach SAT courses, and sometimes homeschool parents will ask me questions about how to prepare. Many homeschoolers can be disoriented simply by tests not being in a familiar format. If a teenager has never taken a "bubble sheet" multiple choice test, then they are going to be at a disadvantage compared to students familiar with the format. Anxiety will go through the roof if they encounter something unexpected on test day. In the case of standardized entrance tests, students (of all kinds) should make sure to get lots of practice with the test.

We may not be entirely thrilled that this is the case, but students need to be familiar both with content and testing strategies to do well.

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ChrisC's picture

Charlie wrote:
In the case of standardized entrance tests, students (of all kinds) should make sure to get lots of practice with the test.
i wasn't homeschooled, but i took both the act (twice) and sat (once). there are books with practice tests for both of these exams. some of the books have flash cards and other teaching aids, but i didn't use those. what was really helpful was the short introduction and strategy guide at the beginning and the practice tests. i practiced sections at a time, each with their own proper time limits, and one saturday (just like the introduction recommended), i practiced the entire test.

a real course with a teacher like charlie might be even more helpful, but the books are easily purchased or borrowed from a library.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

In Ohio, we are required to submit an evaluation of some kind for each child every year we intend to homeschool. I've chosen to use the CAT. While I find this very annoying (I have to pay for the tests and the grading) it does give them practice with timed tests. Perhaps they've caught this attitude from me, but they don't take these tests very seriously. They hold them up to the light to see if the dots will make a discernable pattern, and they complained this year about the stupidity of the questions. I tell them with each section that they need to be done by a certain time, but I don't think I've ever clearly expressed to them that it is a 'timed test'. I just wonder if that would make any difference in how they perform. I'll have to experiment with this next year- and I'd like to find a test that I can afford that provided them with an actual challenge.

I've been able to speak with many professional teachers about the strengths and weaknesses they encounter in their students in general and homeschoolers in particular. There were quite a few that didn't know whether or not they even had any homeschoolers in their class, but once they thought about it, they could name a few they suspected of being homeschooled for the reasons that Mr. Landry pointed out- they were more engaged and ambitious, but seemed a bit uncomfortable with rigid schedules. But that sounds like so many kids I know that are not home educated... it seems to me like some people overthink this too much.

One of the benefits of home education for us is that is does relieve one of a huge measure of the kind of stress and anxiety found in the average traditional classroom. We focus on learning without the usual distractions, and find ways to make it very enjoyable, even when it is challenging. For instance, our 10 yod is doing Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance for math, and our 12 yob is doing Algebra 1 with a CD based program called Teaching Textbooks. We are reading Do Hard Things together at breakfast, using So- I believe they are being stretched intellectually, and they have a rich social life- so it seems to me that they will adjust to a college classroom just like they adjust and adapt to everything else.