You are not alone. Every homeschool mom faces the fear of gaps – chunks of knowledge that are missing from her child’s education. But put those fears to rest and spend your energy on something productive. There is no need to spend time worrying about educational gaps because of these six realities.
1. Gaps are unavoidable.
Part of overcoming our fears is to face them. So come to grips with the reality: there will be gaps. No matter who, no matter where, gaps in education happen.
2. All students have educational gaps.
No matter if a child is educated in private schools, educated at home, or learns in a public school, she will still have gaps in her education. Sometimes homeschool moms think that public school children don’t have gaps because of a prescribed curriculum that the teachers use. Wrong. Gaps still happen among schooled students. Did you attend public schools? Do you have gaps? I certainly do.
3. Teachers are only human.
Have you ever compared yourself to a certified teacher and felt you came up short? You thought, “If only I had an education degree, my children wouldn’t have these gaps in their learning.”
Just because the school hires certified teachers doesn’t mean that gaps don’t occur. Some teachers can’t manage dozens of rowdy students, so the lessons are shortchanged. Sometimes teachers are gone on sick leave or maternity leave and a parade of ineffective substitutes try unsuccessfully to keep the momentum going. A degree or certification is no protection against gaps.
4. The amount of knowledge to learn is ever-expanding.
We live in the information age in which accessible knowledge increases exponentially every moment. How could one not have gaps with the never-ending amount of history, science, math, and literature that there is available to learn? Just consider the dizzying amount of information that the Internet puts at our fingertips. A human being could never keep up with all of the facts that are constantly coming to light.
5. Students will specialize.
There is a core of basic knowledge every educated person should know, but after that, most people specialize in a certain field that they are passionate about. It is unrealistic to expect your dentist to also be an expert on Greek history or to know how to speak Mandarin. As long as he is an excellent dentist, you are a happy patient.
So realize that if your child has gaps in his area of passion, they will eventually get filled in future years of study. The gaps in the other areas may stay there for a lifetime. But having gaps does not bar someone from being an educated or productive citizen.
6. Students will naturally fill in the gaps that are important.
If there is a gap that is truly a problem and not just an irrational fear, you are probably going to discover it before long. Once you know, you can take the time to fill it in. Math is a great example. If the multiplication tables are never mastered, math will only become more and more difficult. But when that gap is identified, it’s simple enough as a homeschooler to stop the normal course of lessons and backtrack to fill the gap. Often a mature student will pinpoint his own gaps and take the initiative to correct the problem.
Instead of worrying about what your child is missing, invest that energy into creating engaging lessons for the material that you will cover. Prioritize what you think is of utmost importance, and focus on those areas. Do those lessons with excellence and let the fear of gaps fade away in the excitement of today’s learning.