As a homeschool parent, your primary goal is to provide an excellent, above-average education for your child. To meet this goal, your responsibilities include self-accountability – to yourself as a teacher, and to your child as a student who is depending on you to provide them with a top-notch education that adequately prepares them for the future.
The concept of “homeschool accountability” holds multiple meanings for different people. When asked, many homeschool parents would equate “accountability” with “answering to the state,” or “telling us what we can and can’t teach our kids,” or “forcing my children to take standardized tests that don’t recognize their individual learning styles.”
For purposes of this article, I’m not talking about any of those negative ideas of accountability. If you take the state out of the accountability equation, there’s a lot to be said for self-designed homeschooling accountability. Accountability to your teaching model, to yourself as a parent/teacher, and – most important – for your child as a student looking to you for guidance and a successful future as an adult.
Accountability Can Help You Meet Your Educational Goals
One of the most common assumptions that undermines the success of home educators is that every parent is well-qualified to home school with no outside support or accountability measures. It is important that home school parents realize they have the power to decide when they need support and if they need to create an accountability structure that best serves their child(ren).
If you’re a parent who is seriously considering homeschooling your child, you should perhaps ask yourself whether you can answer “yes” to the following ten statements:
- I promise to never take the easy way out to teaching extra challenging academic materials.
- I do not require outside accountability to stay on schedule and meet deadlines.
- I will never tolerate academic mediocrity just because my child is frustrated.
- I will always be objective in evaluating my child’s academic progress.
- I will never be too easy or too hard on my children as students.
- I am good at evaluating and buying homeschool curriculum products.
- I am skilled at planning course objectives.
- I have the time to both parent and teach – and do both jobs well.
- I am willing to ask for help from professionals to determine whether my curriculum plan is workable.
- I am able and willing to keep thorough academic records that colleges will accept.
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you might need some outside assistance from a professional educator to establish adequate “accountability standards” for your homeschool activities. (SOURCE: https://www.homeschools.org/accountability)
Kids Often Want Structure and Accountability
While researching this article, I came across a blog entry written by a mom who discovered her oldest son was not adapting well to the “no-accountability” homeschool model she had created for him. She felt positive that the home education program she had designed was meeting the legal requirements of her state, and she was “was confident that the children were learning and engaged and relatively on par with their peers.”
Despite her positive preparation and confidence, she learned that her son “craved completion and progression.” He asked her for deadlines and goals, but at the same time, was not completing the work she assigned to him.
“I could assign deadlines or page numbers,” she wrote, “but we both knew that they were arbitrary.”
What this mom learned about her son is that, in terms of being confident about what he was being taught, “He wasn’t convinced until he could compare himself to traditionally-schooled student that he had learned anything during our homeschooling years.”
What this parent learned provides a great lesson:
“Conventional school isn’t the only way to achieve outside accountability if your child needs it. Co-op classes (formal or informal with a small group of friends), a tutor, online courses or even a family member taking the time to teach a subject to all of your children can impose reasonable deadlines that don’t seem so pointless.” (SOURCE: https://pahomeschoollaw.com/challenge-accountability-homeschool/ )
4 Ways to Help Teach Your Homeschool Child Accountability
One of the great things about being a homeschool parent is that you always know you’re “not doing this alone.” This week I read numerous blog entries by parents who had a lot to say about accountability and homeschooling. One of the best ones I read was posted at: https://mamaofmanyblessings.com/accountability-homeschool-children.html
I’ve taken the liberty of paraphrasing the great tips she provided:
- If your child finishes their work at the speed of light, check what they’ve done. It’s possible they either didn’t understand the assignment or have not done what they were assigned to do.
2. It’s a good idea to check your student’s work closely. If you’re grading their work, do so regularly. If you grade daily, you catch problems quickly before the mistakes become a habit.
3. Create a schedule for each student that shows what they did for each class each day. Also create a “master schedule” for yourself. Enter what each of your homeschooled children do every day and then check their work at the end of the week to be sure they’ve done what they say they’ve completed. Also keep track of field trips, days off, guest speakers, outdoor activities, etc. This will make any reporting your state requires easy to complete.
4. Schedule a “weekly meeting day.” If you are homeschooling more than one child, meet with each of them individually. Compare schedules and notes to be sure lessons they were supposed to have completely were actually completed. Talk about problems they might be having and things they might want to study that aren’t already included in your academic plan.
Accountability is not a new topic in either public or homeschool education circles. As a homeschool parent, the most important thing you should remember is that a combination of positive relationships, a positive classroom environment, reasonable routines, and student accountability, all contribute to being able to maintain a great homeschool experience for your children.
Remember – as the parent/teacher, you have the responsibility to hold your students accountable for their educational progress. To expect any less would be a dis-service to your students and to their future.