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How do others view homeschoolers?

>> Monday, August 24, 2009

One of the regulars over on the Sonlight Forums shared a thought-provoking, well written article today. It is titled College Professor Critiques Homeschoolers by Greg Landry M.S. I'll copy the article in its entirety at the end of my comments ... but I wanted to highlight a few of the things he noted about homeschool students that I think are "right on".

They are independent learners and do a great job of taking initiative and being responsible for learning.

I have found that most homeschool students I've encountered, including my own, are independent learners. I spent a few years teaching science labs in a homeschool co-op and for the most part, my students were motivated and didn't need me hanging over their shoulder every moment giving direction.

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.

This is, to me, an especially significant observation. For all the dire warnings and fears that folks have about homeschool students not being "socialized", this statement seems to imply just the opposite. Homeschool students seem to do very well in "mixed" age groups ... equally comfortable with peers as with those who are older.

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.


My kids have never seemed to have test taking anxiety, so this one surprised me a bit. Though it certainly doesn't sound unreasonable. Anything that is unfamiliar in life has the potential to create anxiety ... and many homeschoolers are "anti-testing". The good news is that this one is easy to remedy! It wouldn't be terribly difficult to add some "timed" testing to your high schooler's educational experience.

Many homeschooled students have problems meeting deadlines and have to adjust to that in college. That adjustment time in their freshman year can be costly in terms of the way it affects their grades.

I have, for years, encouraged folks to add "organization and time management" as a required skill to their academic schedules. It's always nice when you see the goals you set for your students pay off. This is one area that my daughter brought up soon after she entered her freshman year of college. She was amazed at all the kids who could not seem to manage their time and get assignments and projects in on time. As she was heading off to bed at night she would smile at all her suite mates burning the midnight oil to get the next day's work done in time!

Overall, a very encouraging article ... but offering challenges as well. I enjoyed the balance in the author's presentation, which can be difficult to find when reading through articles on homeschooling or about homeschoolers.

Article copied in its entirety below:

College Professor Critiques Homeschoolers
copyright 2009 by Greg Landry, M.S.


I teach sophomore through senior level college
students - most of them are "pre-professional"
students. They are preparing to go to medical
school, dental school, physical therapy school,
etc.

As a generalization, I've noticed certain
characteristics common in my students who were
homeschooled. Some of these are desirable,
some not.

Desirable characteristics:

1. They are independent learners and do a great
job of taking initiative and being responsible
for learning. They don't have to be "spoon fed"
as many students do. This gives them an advantage
at two specific points in their education;
early in college and in graduate education.

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.

3. They are serious about their education and
that's very obvious in their attitude, preparedness,
and grades.

Areas where homeschooled students can improve:

1. They come to college less prepared in the
sciences than their schooled counterparts -
sometimes far less prepared. This can be
especially troublesome for pre-professional
students who need to maintain a high grade
point average from the very beginning.

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.

3. Many homeschooled students have problems
meeting deadlines and have to adjust to that in
college. That adjustment time in their freshman
year can be costly in terms of the way it affects
their grades.

My advice to homeschooling parents:

1. If your child is even possibly college
bound and interested in the sciences, make
sure that they have a solid foundation of
science in the high school years.

2. Begin giving timed tests by 7th or 8th grade.
I'm referring to all tests that students take, not
just national, standardized tests.

I think it is a disservice to not give students
timed tests. They tend to focus better and score
higher on timed tests, and, they are far better
prepared for college and graduate education if
they've taken timed tests throughout the high
school years.

In the earlier years the timed tests should allow
ample time to complete the test as long as the
student is working steadily. The objective is for
them to know it's timed yet not to feel a time
pressure. This helps students to be comfortable
taking timed tests and develops confidence in
their test-taking abilities.

3. Give your students real deadlines to meet in
the high school years. If it's difficult for students
to meet these deadlines because they're
coming from mom or dad, have them take
"outside" classes; online, co-op, or community
college.
_______________________________

Greg Landry is a 14 year veteran homeschool dad
and college professor. He also teaches one and
two semester online science classes, and offers
free 45 minute online seminars..
http://www.HomeschoolScienceAcademy.com

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