Defeated by High Expectations

Today I learned from my sons part-time preschool teacher that he is extremely smart academically. He’s 4 and can read sentences, knows how to spell small words etc, etc… but… his hand writing isn’t very good. His letters are two big and sloppy. My son is 4 and he has bad handwriting… was I surprised? Yes. But not the way you may be thinking. I was surprised, not that my sons handwriting was sloppy (I homeschool so I’m aware) but that this was even an issue. I nodded and said I would work on tracing more and using scissors and I smiled and I got in my car and that’s when my brain clicked back on and I started to think and wonder…

Why are public school’s expectations so high?Don’t get me wrong I’m all for having expectations for my kids. I expect my 4 year old to have manners, to be kind to others, to try his best, to have good listening ears. I expect him to still have an eagerness to learn after the elementary years are over. I don’t expect him to stay seated for more than 20 minutes without getting wiggly butt, I don’t expect him to write his letters in 1 inch lines that are always legible. I don’t expect his cutting skills to be immaculate, all of that will come with time and patience.

A little background on our schooling plan. When we decided to homeschool full-time about 6 months ago I had already put my sons name on the waiting list at our public school’s preschool. So when I got the call about him getting in I was a little apprehensive because of our homeschooling decision but my husband and I prayed about it and decided that since we wanted to eventually do a hybrid homeschooling plan that we would go ahead and start part-time preschool and see how it goes. And all in all it’s been great. His teacher is awesome and the activities they do are fun and its only a total of 4 hours a week and I homeschool the rest of the time.

Until this latest update I’ve been pretty happy with how it’s been going but now I’m feeling a little stumped. While we were talking I immediately felt deflated, not only as a mom but a homeschooler as well. When my brain clicked back on in the car, all that deflation went away and I felt frustrated. Frustrated at the school system for making me feel so defeated. Frustrated that my child and his abilities are lumped together with 10 other kids his age and they are all expected to go at the same speed. All kids excel in different areas, kids do not learn the same. While my child excels at reading and is more visual, another child may do poorly in that area but excel in hands on activities such as writing. Knowing all of this, again I have to ask the question why does the school system expect so much?

There are so many studies showing how preschool and kindergarten in the US are getting it wrong (and public school in general) less recess, more academics when in all actuality it should be the reverse. Here are a few articles I love on the subject and what caused me to ultimately choose homeschooling.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/09/01/the-decline-of-play-in-preschoolers-and-the-rise-in-sensory-issues/

http://www.woodlandadventurers.org/news/forest-kindergarten-finland

http://www.onlinecollege.org/2011/09/13/15-key-facts-about-homeschooled-kids-in-college/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pauline-hawkins/my-resignation-letter-teaching_b_5160721.html

All that being said, I have some great friends that are great teachers in the public school system and my son’s preschool teachers are great teachers. So my concerns don’t fall on those awesome teachers out there.There are a lot and they don’t get enough credit, that’s for sure. I am questioning the school’s expectations only because they do not make sense to me nor do they make sense to impress on my little ones. We actually moved to a great school district to make sure that if we don’t homeschool through high school that they will be in good hands. And I’m hoping that the expectations they have in high school will actually be something that is attainable. Please, before I get any haters out there, research for yourself, check in and see how many expectations your little one has to meet to move on to the next grade. I’m only looking at elementary so please to do not chastise me for coddling my old children. All that I want is for my children to be excited about learning throughout their schooling years. I don’t want them to have so much pressure to live up to their peers that they lose that joy and that love of learning.

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12 thoughts on “Defeated by High Expectations”

  1. maybe there’s another issue and you might miss it… many students with dyslexia show signs of dysgraphia, including having illegible handwriting and taking a long time to form letters and write assignments. is his skills level? is he as good with math? reading/comprehension? ADD/ADHD and dyslexia have been found to be related…i’m not trying to be a doomsayer or hating…i wasted $30 going to college and only failing because i’m “number dyslexic” and algebra is totally out of reach… so i’m just suggesting his handwriting may never get better and maybe there’s other issues…as astudent in a public school law requires them to assist with testing, etc.

    1. He can read great and only 4 so I think his level is right on. I’m not trying to totally dismiss his teacher but knowing him and his levels in other subject I think writing is just not his strong point and he is only 4 haha. Something that I will definitely keep an eye on though for improvement. I will say every 4 year olds handwriting I’ve seen is pretty big and sloppy but I guess we will see if improves with time and practice. Thank you for your comment, definitely something to keep in mind.:)

  2. Public schools expectations are way too high, it’s awful. Children will learn at their own rate and they need a lot of practice. A 4-5 year old’s handwriting will definitely be messy. They are just learning how to do so. This is partly why I hope to homeschool my children because I don’t feel public schools touch on all the important things, yet put emphasis on things that don’t matter at the moment.

  3. He’s four. He will go at his own pace. Excelling in one area shouldn’t cause the school to wonder why he doesn’t excel in all areas. My four year old recognizes patterns easily…can she read yet? No. You have nothing to be ashamed of. 😊

  4. It’s easy to be defeated as a mama and teacher when we hear things like that. But be encouraged, and take one day at a time.

    I felt the need to put great expectations on my eldest when we started homeschooling years ago, thinking I had to copy school at home. Home education sees education in a different light, and allows for our perspectives to change on how to educate the whole child. You’re doing a great job, so don’t let the system get you down. He’s only four.

    I’ve switched a lot of my thinking to working on observation skills in the natural world around us and being able to narrate what is observed, really seen. Living and learning and playing and experiencing the great outdoors is a place a four year should, and probably wants to be in the whole scheme of education.

    He is working at his own pace, and he’ll get there. Your patience, enthusiasm, creativity, and love will see him through whatever twists and turns in his education are ahead.

  5. ps to my last epistle (ha!)…
    I’m thinking I should qualify that we do indeed still have high expectations of our home educated learners….just different great expectations than the system.

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