Friday, February 5, 2010

The Comparison Trap


The TOS Crew Blog Cruise question this week asks,  "How do you know if your kids are keeping up with their peers?"  I believe I answered this pretty well in last week's post- "Each family is different and needs to find what fits them, what their children need to learn that year, their own homeschool vision."  I don't see the need for pushing our kids to meet an arbitrary system designed by someone who does not know them.  If there is a definite learning disability, that will become clear.  But does it really matter if they learn American History in 4th grade while the school system teaches it in 3rd?  What if my son is working in 4th grade level math but 1st grade level reading while in 2nd grade?  Do I brag on his achievement or hang my head because his reading level doesn't match up?

I have had children who learned to read at 4 and children who learned to read at 8.  I did fall prey to the comparison trap with my late readers.  Oh my goodness, my child is sitting in Sunday School class unable to read while everyone around them can, how humiliating.  There's the evidence of my failure for all to see. They can all read now and most enjoy it.  Did it harm anything more than my own pride that they learned at their own pace rather than "keeping up with their peers"?  Not really.

I try not to worry about if they are keeping up with their peers.  Setting individual goals and seeing individual progress seems to be a more productive and valuable way of homeschooling.  This allows them to excel in strong areas and take a little more time to work on weak ones.  It keeps learning enjoyable and helps ease frustration for both mom and student.  

I have not perfected this yet myself.  My philosophy stands but my reality falls to the comparison trap too often.  Usually this either creates too much pride (if they are doing well) or too much despair (if they are lagging in an area).  Neither is healthy for me, my children, or my homeschooling.  So I will keep plugging along and try to keep my focus on what my family needs, not on what everyone else is doing.

4 comments:

Debra said...

Lori --

Oh, you were so much more honest than I was. Reading your post makes me feel like I sounded like I have it all figured it out. I think I need to go make a comment on my own post now too!!!

Because yeah, I say the comparison thing doesn't matter. But way too often, I don't feel that way. Mostly on the bad side. I feel wracked with guilt when they don't keep up. Not always, but far too often.

Laura O said...

Lori ~ I think you summed up my post in far less words! The Comparison Trap often comes up and grabs me if I'm not careful. And, it happens in different areas of life than my kids (e.g. other people's seemingly perfect lives.)

Laura O from the Crew

Michelle said...

I agree. Yet I too sometimes fall into the comparison trap. I am much better than I used to be, though. I touched on facing that temptation within my own post, too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting...I will be back again to read more on this topic.

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