Some people are concerned that homeschooled children will have gaps in their education. This is another area where definitions can be helpful. Exactly what does someone mean when they say that homeschooled kids will have gaps in their education? Not even Albert Einstein knew everything.
Homeschool parents should make sure that their kids learn the essentials. They should also make sure that their kids know how to learn, so that they are equipped to continue learning their whole lives long.
In Washington, we are required to teach “occupational education, science, mathematics, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, and the development of an appreciation of art and music.” That is much more than my relatives in the public school study. Even though foreign language isn’t required, we include that subject because it is important. PE isn’t required, but we include it under “health.” I’m not seeing any gaps here. On the other hand, the local public school superintendent was in the newspaper last year defending his decision to ignore the law requiring a minimum amount of PE for public school kids – they have too many other things to teach the kids and he didn’t think that obeying the law was in the best interests of the kids.
I have nieces and nephews in four different public school districts. If the school offers only one foreign language, then that is the language that they take if they want to go to college, regardless of what they would like to study. Homeschoolers seek out a curriculum for whatever language(s) they want to learn. My kids wanted to play the violin, so we found a violin teacher (and a viola teacher, and a flute teacher, and a piano teacher…). Kids are out of luck if they attend a public school where the music teacher can’t teach the instrument they want to learn. If budget cuts mean that the public school discontinues the school band, kids don’t get to play – homeschoolers frequently form their own bands and orchestras. Public schools frequently offer algebra and general science to freshmen, geometry and biology to sophomores, algebra 2 and chemistry or physics to juniors, and pre-calc with chemistry or physics to seniors. That is as far as ps kids can go in math and science. Homeschoolers can do algebra in seventh grade, getting in two additional years of math. Doing algebra two years earlier means that they can do biology two years earlier, giving them the opportunity to study marine biology, AP biology, AP chemistry, and AP physics in high school – or any other science that they want to explore. Few public school kids get to do that.
In short, kids in a classroom-school are limited to the course catalog that the school offers. Kids who are homeschooled do not have those limitations; they find a curriculum or tutor to explore any subject that they want to learn. WHO has gaps in their education?