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"Don't even worry if you're doing enough ..."


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I'm listening to the recording of the speaker for our last homeschool group meeting and she just said something I thought was interesting:

 

"A lot of homeschool moms worry if they're doing enough. The official rule is, if you cover 80% of the text/curriculum for the year, then you're doing enough. BUT, that's just at the high level. Before you get to the high school level, don't even worry about "enough" or whether you're doing enough. Don't even worry about it!"

 

First of all, I'm curious if anybody has heard the "80% rule" before, and whether you would agree with it.

 

 

But more than that -- that comment triggered something I've been thinking about recently anyway:

 

It seems like often in the homeschooling community in general (not so much this forum specifically) people are always encouraging each other to "relax" and "not worry" and "what you're doing is enough." I've even heard comments like, "If your kids can read and write and add and they love the Lord, then you are doing enough."

 

It sometimes almost seems like The Official Homeschool Encouragement Chant.

 

Anyway, my kids are still fairly young. And I wonder (especially if you have older kids): Do any of you feel like you relaxed too much? Do any of you think, "Yeah, you know we didn't do enough, and it's caused some definite problems. If I could go back, I would have pushed more, not relaxed more!"

 

If so (or if you know someone who says that), what did that look like, why do you regret it, and what would you have done differently?

 

But for example: In the speaker's comment: What happens if you don't worry at all if you're doing enough with your twelve and thirteen year old ... and then they get to high level, and you truly weren't doing enough, and then they really do struggle with high school?

 

Or is that very unlikely as long as you're not being blatantly lazy or negligent?

 

So I guess what I'm sort of asking is, Do you agree with that advice, and to what extent, and why or why not?

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I can tell you that I worried all the time about whether we were doing enough when I had all 3 kids at home. I felt like a real slouch compared to many women on these boards and my real life homeschool friends.

 

When my oldest went back to school for 9th grade, she said school was easier than homeschooling. She goes to a good college prep public charter school where she's taking all honors classes this year and will be taking 5 AP classes next year. Maybe we didn't do everything we wanted to accomplish while she was homeschooling, but it's not holding her back.

 

My middle dd has mild LDs. I was worried sick about her going to high school this year. I worried most about writing and algebra. She had A's in both English and Algebra for the first semester.

 

I am trying to stop worrying about whether we're doing enough with our dyslexic 9 yo whom we still homeschool. :tongue_smilie:

Edited by LizzyBee
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Well, I'd agree with his comment if you're the type who DOES worry about doing enough. Because that indicates you're already engaged in educating your kids to the best of your ability. I'm sure there's a subset of homeschoolers which this comment is NOT aimed toward, who might be called slackers, or just trying to do the minimum, if that.

 

Most people on this forum do not fall in that category, IMO.

 

I'm very interested in my kids staying on track with, and performing to the best of their ability in math and language. I'm not all that worried about how many science facts or social studies dates they forget. They ultimately have to re-learn that stuff anyway at a higher level. So as long as I've familiarized them with the topics, and taught them what goes into the science process, or how to research a paper, I don't know that the intensity of these subjects matters as much as we seem to believe.

 

My fourth grader was totally bored with American History this year, so we ditched it in November when he asked to do something about ancient China, which we're doing as a unit study. (followed by India and Japan) I WILL have him write a "state report" since many fourth graders learn to do that. But I'm not worried that he's falling behind in history.

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As always, much depends on the child. Some kids can skate along for years, then rise to the occasion when it's time. Others need that consistency from early on.

 

Other than occasional middle-of-the-night panic attacks, I didn't worry too much. ;) I've always been pretty laid back and my kids are doing fine, so I wouldn't change anything.

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It's the 80/20 rule, and yes, it is popular and applied to many situations.

 

Still, if I weren't worried, I'd just pop them into public school. =)

 

I think it's nice she's trying to get others not to worry, but we will still try our best. I will not stay up all night pulling out my hair with worry, since I actually believe loving God, kindness, physical beauty, a good work ethic, and several other things are just as valuable as intelligence. A lot of people will disagree, and I'm okay with that! Intelligence is great, but it's not everything.

 

That said, my kids are freakin geniuses. ;-)

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I tend to worry about things. Homeschooling is no exception.

I take the advice more to mean "don't give yourself sleepless nights and don't make yourself sick with worry". I don't take it to mean not to care.

 

A lot depends on people's goals. I have spoken to homeschoolers who are very laid back and truly do not worry; the unschool and have said they are perfectly fine if their kids choose not to attend college. These families have a different worry threshold that ours: my DD has strong academic interests and would like to attend a selective university - so of course I worry about preparing her ;-)

 

OTOH, I don't worry myself sick - all I have to do is compare to their peers in public school. As long as mine are way ahead, I can relax a bit.

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Well, I'd agree with his comment if you're the type who DOES worry about doing enough. Because that indicates you're already engaged in educating your kids to the best of your ability. I'm sure there's a subset of homeschoolers which this comment is NOT aimed toward, who might be called slackers, or just trying to do the minimum, if that.

 

 

Yes, I think the comment assumes that you're doing your best and working hard to provide your children with the best education you can. Also, sometimes it's important for us to not let our worries get in the way of being an enjoyable person to be around. If we're worrying so hard that we grump and order instead of being cheerful, that's counterproductive.

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I don't agree with 80% rule and I don't agree with "it's all good as long as they can read and write and do everyday math" approach (figuratively speaking, of course; I don't know many people who would actually think so - but it is rather "symbolizing" of a certain minimalist approach to education which I could never understand, even if I can accept it as somebody else's choice, as any other thing in life).

 

I do agree with the principle that you should not beat yourself over the details, obsess them, panic about it and overall harm youself psychologically about it, especially if that results in a tense atmosphere at home. I even agree with a purposely more lenient approach in the early years (not well into logic stage, though...), and I am going to put physical and emotional well-being, a good home atmosphere and a focus on health and happiness before formal academics and a focus on success any time, so in that context, the formative atmosphere of the early education is just as important as the actual content.

 

Much of it depends on the actual child, the family, their culture and worldview, values, etc. Some kids are easier to teach, some are harder; some need more time, some need less; some are more mature, some less, and thus some need more oversight and nagging and some barely need any; some have issues which obviously take priority over academics, while some don't have; some are the type of personality that thrives with challenges and high expectations, while the same results in anxiety in other ones, who need more hand-holding, more feeling of security and acceptance before they go through an academic "spurt"; some kids have considerable plateaux while some follow a more linear line of intellectual development, etc. A lot of it is just awfully hard to "prescribe" as situations are so different - each one of us usually speaks as a result of their intuition, which is then a result of knowing their particular children.

I'm with a more stringent group personally, so advices like that usually make me feel ":confused:", but to each his own.

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"A lot of homeschool moms worry if they're doing enough. The official rule is, if you cover 80% of the text/curriculum for the year, then you're doing enough. BUT, that's just at the high level. Before you get to the high school level, don't even worry about "enough" or whether you're doing enough. Don't even worry about it!"

 

First of all, I'm curious if anybody has heard the "80% rule" before, and whether you would agree with it.

 

 

 

We're doing a virtual school this year through the ps for my older two. They are only required to finish 80% of the LA, math, and lit. Everything else only 60% is required to be finished by the end of May. That completely blows my mind and we will finish everything 100% - we may not get it done by May, but we have access to the program through the summer and we will finish it.

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I agree with the advice if it was appropriate to the target audience. I disagree if it was not. :)

 

I've also noticed there's a lot of "don't worry" advice on the forums. I always wonder how people know whether they are giving good advice or bad in situations where they don't really know whom they're talking with! That's also why I only ask for advice on-line when I need to sort out what I think (people's responses may or may not apply to my situation, but they usually push my thinking a bit further on a given issue). For advice that I actually intend to follow, I ask folks who have real access to my life and what's going on.

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Well... I'm not a relaxed homeschooler, but I do try to be a relaxed person and encourage others to be relaxed people as well. What I mean is that I try to get the curriculum we have chosen not just "covered" but comprehended well. I don't take the schedule, the subjects nor the assignments lightly. There are deadlines. There are grades. I don't think 80% is enough. I've never heard of that. In my world 80% is barely hanging on to a B, and that's really not what I would want to teach my son to aim for. You aim for your best, not 80% of your best. I know my ds has an amazing amount of potential. I believe every child does. As his mother, it is my job to nurture his potential and help him find ways to express it, explore it and expand it. If I modeled 80% by being 80% of a mom, what does that say about me as a person? I will give my all, and I ask that he make the effort to give his all to his education as well.

 

However, I don't get uptight about all of it either. I do not push push push my kid when I know he's trying his best. I don't raise my voice. I don't demand more than he can give. I don't punish him for getting something wrong or for not being able to finish something. I'm open to negotiating what gets done in a day or a week or even in a whole year. I try to see ds's opinion in matters of his education, as I believe he is old enough to take some ownership of what he is going to be learning. I will go a long way to accomodating his unique interests as long as he can agree to meet me on the necessities. We all have good days and bad days and inbetween days. As long as I can see that he's giving it as much effort as he can at the moment, then it's all copacetic.

 

Do I worry that it's enough? Of course I do. I'm human and I have self-doubts and even though I know in my heart and in my head that homeschooling is the best option for him, I will always wonder if it's really enough. When I am truly honest with myself, I even wonder if I am enough of a mother to him. Then I look at him and see what a kind and intelligent young man he is becoming and I get over my self-doubts -- for the moment. I am human after all. :blush:

Edited by Audrey
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I have heard of the 80 % rule and while thats what they do I like to finish the book if possible. Sometimes not finishing means you miss out on some good stuff. If I need to I will carry stuff over into the next school year so that we can finish.

I think that the Don't Worry mantra is valid in the context that your children are receiving one on one tutoring rather than having your attention divided between many students. They are always learning something for sure where as some children in the classroom have a tougher time understanding something and can't get the one on one attention until they do .It doesn't mean go to sleep it does mean notice what they are learning and don't stress

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There is a balance: doing enough and not sweating it. If I could go back, the one thing I'd work on more would be handwriting. It's so hard to improve once habits are formed! I'd be diligent to sit there and model the correct formation, critique and offer points to improve, and do this every single school day.

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OP, I see parents that freak out all the time when their kids are not in the top percentiles. If their toddler is not reading they worry, if their infant is not speaking clearly they worry. I think the windows for performance do start to close as children get older, but there's a good reason the windows are still pretty wide. It's because we all mature and become more capable at different rates. When I say "relax" I mean, "your child is still well within the normal range. It's okay."

Well... I'm not a relaxed homeschooler, but I do try to be a relaxed person and encourage others to be relaxed people as well. What I mean is that I try to get the curriculum we have chosen not just "covered" but comprehended well. I don't take the schedule, the subjects nor the assignments lightly. There are deadlines. There are grades. I don't think 80% is enough. I've never heard of that. In my world 80% is barely hanging on to a B, and that's really not what I would want to teach my son to aim for. You aim for your best, not 80% of your best. I know my ds has an amazing amount of potential. I believe every child does. As his mother, it is my job to nurture his potential and help him find ways to express it, explore it and expand it. If I modeled 80% by being 80% of a mom, what does that say about me as a person? I will give my all, and I ask that he make the effort to give his all to his education as well.

 

However, I don't get uptight about all of it either. I do not push push push my kid when I know he's trying his best. I don't raise my voice. I don't demand more than he can give. I don't punish him for getting something wrong or for not being able to finish something. I'm open to negotiating what gets done in a day or a week or even in a whole year. I try to see ds's opinion in matters of his education, as I believe he is old enough to take some ownership of what he is going to be learning. I will go a long way to accomodating his unique interests as long as he can agree to meet me on the necessities. We all have good days and bad days and inbetween days. As long as I can see that he's giving it as much effort as he can at the moment, then it's all copacetic.

 

Do I worry that it's enough? Of course I do. I'm human and I have self-doubts and even though I know in my heart and in my head that homeschooling is the best option for him, I will always wonder if it's really enough. When I am truly honest with myself, I even wonder if I am enough of a mother to him. Then I look at him and see what a kind and intelligent young man he is becoming and I get over my self-doubts -- for the moment. I am human after all. :blush:

You said it much better than I can.

 

It's not that the academics are not important. It's that being tied up in knots consumed with worry is not healthy and will not help you hs. I agree that 80% is not enough, BUT I do think that as long as you exceed the minimum requirement you can stop beating yourself up over it... if that makes sense.

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I wonder whether this (the 80% assumption) is a feature of US textbook design. For relatively linear subjects, like maths, the textbooks I have used seem to assume that you have studied the previous year in its entirety. Both Singapore Maths and Galore Park maths have reminders of previous work rather than comprehensive review. I always just did each book to the end, starting a new book whenever in the year we finished the previous one.

 

Personally, I'm glad I didn't relax. Calvin ended up choosing to skip a grade when he entered school. We had to work through the summer before he started school, but there wasn't a great volume of work to cover and he's found it easy to slide into class.

 

Laura

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I wonder whether this (the 80% assumption) is a feature of US textbook design. For relatively linear subjects, like maths, the textbooks I have used seem to assume that you have studied the previous year in its entirety. Both Singapore Maths and Galore Park maths have reminders of previous work rather than comprehensive review. I always just did each book to the end, starting a new book whenever in the year we finished the previous one.Laura

 

It's been a long time since I've been in school, and textbooks do vary, but overall I'd say no, US textbooks are not purposely designed so that you can skip the last 20%. Is there review? Yes, there is review, but not always a thorough reteaching of the concept, or the concept is taught at a higher level (and thus more difficult if you've never encountered it).

 

I'm always surprised at hearing people say that public schools 'never' finish the texts for the year. That certainly wasn't my experience (of course, my experience was 20+ years ago!), and it didn't seem to hold true for the more recent experience of my nephews. And we're in Louisiana, which is not exactly known for its academid rigor.

 

I always wonder why home schoolers don't simply continue with the unfinished book when they resume school? If anything, it makes more sense to me to test out of the beginning chapters of a new book, rather than skip the ending chapters of an unfinished book. If they can't test out, they need those chapters, whether they finished the prior book or not.

 

I'd also add that true unschooling is a completely different approach, not at all the same as not completing textbooks because you don't have time.

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I don't worry about my son's education, but I do think about it a lot. I want more than the 80%. Part of it is a fight against genetics, we can both be lazy if we don't have a goal in mind.

 

I tend to use a broad brush to cover topics, but I require an understanding. This is the last year we aren't giving grades and I am a little stressed of how to implement grading in some areas. I think there are many ways to get more than 80% out of your dc and it requires constant readjustment on my part.

 

Each day we are building more of the foundation that will take my son into high school level work. Some days I think we're doing all right, other times I think the waves of puberty washed away everything we've built.

 

I don't want my son to achieve 80% success in life, I'm selfish, I want more for him. I've gotten by on minimums most of my life and it can be a pain in the patootie. I also only have one child. I can't call guinea pig on him and hope to do better with the rest, I get one shot at this. There is an urgency to get it right the first time. But "right" looks way different than it did when we started homeschooling. Thanks to many of the posters here I've learned to relax about the way to homeschool, yet still keep the bar high enough to make us stretch.

 

Today is a good day, we're learning, he's learning and he laughed. Don't always get that on a Tuesday and don't always find that in a textbook.

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I'm with Audrey and Ester Maria on this one and as a classical homeschooler, I've been absolutely raked over the coals IRL by other homeschoolers for having high standards. That said, it is generally not stressful for our children to meet our standards as we try, when not being provoked by that 14 year old boy who thinks because he's beginning to argue rhetorically THAT EVERYTHING SHOULD BE AN ARGUMENT, to diffuse stress and teach them the skills necessary to meet the challenge. There is a lot of humor in this house so all in all, we come across as relaxed to the children even though the standards are high.

 

But, so much depends on family dynamics, children's learning abilities, health, etc. and the beauty of homeschooling is tailoring the education to the child.

 

Faith

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I would like to offer another take on the 80%. Whenever you see "textbook=curriculum=must cover in year", it begs the questions:

Who decides what material warrants inclusion in a textbook?

Is it a sensible goal to cover the whole book?

Would the student benefit more if one focused on a subset of chapters and spent more time on those, maybe supplemented with other sources?

If the student does cover the whole book, will he have retained the material long term? For what percentage of the material is it essential to cover it well enough that it is retained long term, and what percentage is for surveying purposes and exposure only?

 

These are very tricky questions. the answers depend on the subject (obviously, a math book that is part of a series within a linear progression and prerequisite knowledge needs to be handled differently than a stand alone course)

 

Sometimes a thoughtful decision has to be made to NOT cover the whole text. I wrestle with this every year. I am a college instructor and teach different introductory physics classes. One of my courses is an algebra based course for life science majors. I have made the conscious decision not to cover certain topics contained in the book. I know the time we have available, the level of preparation of my students, and the goal they have. So, we spend a lot of time on a thorough understanding of certain basic concepts at the expense of other, not so essential topics. I believe that for these students, a thorough work on the basics is more important than a superficial exposure to a lot of topics that will remain unrelated and forgotten.

I have to make similar choices for my classes for science majors (of course we cover a lot more). But almost nobody covers the whole textbook. There is too much material and a year is too short to thoroughly understand everything. Very few instructors try to, we call it the "drinking from the firehose" approach- they think if the douse the students in lots of material something will be retained. That does not mesh with my teaching philosophy.

 

So, my point is: all curriculum constitutes a selection of the possible material. Just because it is included in a textbook does not mean that I must cover it all.. "Covering 80% of a textbook" means absolutely nothing; it can be a superior education if the student has understood everything about those 80% and retained long term - or it can be mediocre at best if the student has passed weekly "tests" but not made any connections to other fields of his knowledge and forgotten the material promptly.

Just because a student has worked through a whole book does not mean he has mastered and understood what was covered (just like being enrolled in a class and having attended lectures for a semester says absolutely nothing about the actual learning).

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Well... I'm not a relaxed homeschooler, but I do try to be a relaxed person and encourage others to be relaxed people as well. What I mean is that I try to get the curriculum we have chosen not just "covered" but comprehended well. I don't take the schedule, the subjects nor the assignments lightly. There are deadlines. There are grades. I don't think 80% is enough. I've never heard of that. In my world 80% is barely hanging on to a B, and that's really not what I would want to teach my son to aim for. You aim for your best, not 80% of your best. I know my ds has an amazing amount of potential. I believe every child does. As his mother, it is my job to nurture his potential and help him find ways to express it, explore it and expand it. If I modeled 80% by being 80% of a mom, what does that say about me as a person? I will give my all, and I ask that he make the effort to give his all to his education as well.

 

However, I don't get uptight about all of it either. I do not push push push my kid when I know he's trying his best. I don't raise my voice. I don't demand more than he can give. I don't punish him for getting something wrong or for not being able to finish something. I'm open to negotiating what gets done in a day or a week or even in a whole year. I try to see ds's opinion in matters of his education, as I believe he is old enough to take some ownership of what he is going to be learning. I will go a long way to accomodating his unique interests as long as he can agree to meet me on the necessities. We all have good days and bad days and inbetween days. As long as I can see that he's giving it as much effort as he can at the moment, then it's all copacetic.

 

Do I worry that it's enough? Of course I do. I'm human and I have self-doubts and even though I know in my heart and in my head that homeschooling is the best option for him, I will always wonder if it's really enough. When I am truly honest with myself, I even wonder if I am enough of a mother to him. Then I look at him and see what a kind and intelligent young man he is becoming and I get over my self-doubts -- for the moment. I am human after all. :blush:

:iagree::iagree:

 

Beautifully said!

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"Covering 80% of a textbook" means absolutely nothing;

I agree - maybe it would be better to speak in terms such as, "doing 80% of the originally planned course, from the point of view of the actual content as a reasonable unit". I'm all for skipping various activities, fluff content or even unnecessary reviews in textbooks, which I suppose makes me not do 100% of it - but a whole "sensible unit" is covered.

 

I suppose that I disagree with the 80% rule in the sense that I dislike "cutting off" from what's a "unity" of a kind, a reasonable "matrix" of a certain area.

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I'm listening to the recording of the speaker for our last homeschool group meeting and she just said something I thought was interesting:

 

"A lot of homeschool moms worry if they're doing enough. The official rule is, if you cover 80% of the text/curriculum for the year, then you're doing enough. BUT, that's just at the high level. Before you get to the high school level, don't even worry about "enough" or whether you're doing enough. Don't even worry about it!"

 

First of all, I'm curious if anybody has heard the "80% rule" before, and whether you would agree with it.

 

 

But more than that -- that comment triggered something I've been thinking about recently anyway:

 

It seems like often in the homeschooling community in general (not so much this forum specifically) people are always encouraging each other to "relax" and "not worry" and "what you're doing is enough." I've even heard comments like, "If your kids can read and write and add and they love the Lord, then you are doing enough."

 

It sometimes almost seems like The Official Homeschool Encouragement Chant.

 

Anyway, my kids are still fairly young. And I wonder (especially if you have older kids): Do any of you feel like you relaxed too much? Do any of you think, "Yeah, you know we didn't do enough, and it's caused some definite problems. If I could go back, I would have pushed more, not relaxed more!"

 

If so (or if you know someone who says that), what did that look like, why do you regret it, and what would you have done differently?

 

But for example: In the speaker's comment: What happens if you don't worry at all if you're doing enough with your twelve and thirteen year old ... and then they get to high level, and you truly weren't doing enough, and then they really do struggle with high school?

 

Or is that very unlikely as long as you're not being blatantly lazy or negligent?

 

So I guess what I'm sort of asking is, Do you agree with that advice, and to what extent, and why or why not?

 

Let me share something :)

 

I always worry we aren't doing enough or going fast enough to "keep up" with the "Joneses" (hmm think I butchers that spelling and I mean PS by that too).

 

We have had a rough road the last few months. I haven't been getting my act together and ds2.5 makes it a little difficult to always do everything.

 

But here is an example (and dh and I were talking about this earlier). Waiting isn't bad. My dd has blown through MUS Epsilon in the last 2 weeks. I am not kidding. She has taken the tests and not missed any. I have gone over concepts and it clicks with her. So we have one more test and on to Zeta, and we shall see how she does with that.

 

She has done similar things with Latin, LA and writing. She just gets it now. Granted she is 13 but we haven't done regular, steady school in two months.

 

I have found the same for ds8, not on the same level. He is still working slow compared to his sister but working faster than I would have thought given the break we have had.

 

All this to say that I don't sweat it anymore if we don't cover everything all the time. They *will* get it.

 

Going slow isn't bad. The more mature the student the easier (ime) is it.

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I would like to offer another take on the 80%. Whenever you see "textbook=curriculum=must cover in year", it begs the questions:

Who decides what material warrants inclusion in a textbook?

Is it a sensible goal to cover the whole book?

Would the student benefit more if one focused on a subset of chapters and spent more time on those, maybe supplemented with other sources?

 

 

This, to me, a thoughtful consideration like this is completely different from "Wow, we really fell behind this year; guess we'll just skip the end of the book!" I think that saying covering 80% of a book is enough is a dangerous blanket statement, much like "it doesn't matter what you do, it will be better than public school."

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I agree - maybe it would be better to speak in terms such as, "doing 80% of the originally planned course, from the point of view of the actual content as a reasonable unit". I'm all for skipping various activities, fluff content or even unnecessary reviews in textbooks, which I suppose makes me not do 100% of it - but a whole "sensible unit" is covered.

 

I suppose that I disagree with the 80% rule in the sense that I dislike "cutting off" from what's a "unity" of a kind, a reasonable "matrix" of a certain area.

 

But even for an originally planned course, it may be necessary to make corrections during the year that could result in not covering a certain part. Whenever I begin teaching a new class, I have plans, a syllabus, assignments - and then often realize that there is no way to get through all the material that I consider necessary AND at the same time to make sure that the material is well understood and retained by the students (talk about the difference between what is "taught" and what is "learned".) Often I do not know beforehand which material will cause the students big problems - I can guess, but until I try teaching it to the specific group, I won't know for sure (and then this may be the same for next year's class, or they may be having trouble somewhere else). So I may end up having to choose between spending the time to get them to understand this particular issue and not covering something else- or moving at the originally planned pace and having the students not understand part of it.

 

Of course, I can adjust next time by only including the material that i was able to cover in next year's "originally planned course" - and be able to cover 100% of that. Which looks better - but they have not learned more than the ones who got the "80% of original too ambitious syllabus";-)

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Of course, I can adjust next time by only including the material that i was able to cover in next year's "originally planned course" - and be able to cover 100% of that. Which looks better - but they have not learned more than the ones who got the "80% of original too ambitious syllabus";-)

I agree that there has to be certain flexibility, that things change and that it is often futile to insist rigidly on something "because I planned it, no discussion". :tongue_smilie:

 

But I mean 80% with regards to a - I don't know how to word it better - sensible unit, which is somehow "rounded" and most importrantly, allows for proceeding in the discipline or related disciplines later... A bit like a "matrix", shall we call it, which is not really "complete" without all of the substantial parts, even if it may be totally complete without all the exercises, illustrations, examples, etc. Much of the education is accumulative in nature, so skipping some 20% somewhere, if it's substantial and needed to proceed within the broader discipline, can actually have an undesirable effect (now, "skipping" it because it hits certain cognitive blocks with the student or is just better postponed for later, is a whole different thing) - I suppose that's mainly what I had in mind.

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I think the 80% rule is one of many homeschool legends, along with "the students really only get 20 minutes of teaching per day," "the schools aren't really teaching anything," etc. I have shared before that I have some friends who were really burned by those assumptions when their dc entered school later.

 

I do agree that it often seems to be the official homeschool motto. It is appropriate advice for some homeschoolers (the ones with 4 hours of daily work for a 4 yo, for example,) but not for all. That's why I think caution should be used before telling it to a room full of homeschool moms.

 

I haven't been relaxed at all, and I still see places I could have done better. I can't imagine how guilty I would feel if I had listened to all the chanting voices at conventions and in most homeschool books. I have friends who did listen to the advice and now are very sorry.

 

I also think a lot of homeschool "figures" want to be published, want to sell their wares, and want to be booked to speak, so they say what appeals to most people: "you're fine, just relax, don't try so hard."

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It seems like often in the homeschooling community in general (not so much this forum specifically) people are always encouraging each other to "relax" and "not worry" and "what you're doing is enough." I've even heard comments like, "If your kids can read and write and add and they love the Lord, then you are doing enough."

 

 

 

I think there is a couple of things going on here.

One is that homeschool mums do tend to worry too much because we don't have a whole huge structure behind us with peer evaluations and all that to tell us we are doing enough or our kids are doing well enough. Its hard- we are on our own and its so hard to know (hence these boards which can often make you feel you are not doing enough too but at least we are inspiring each other and providing perspective).

 

But then there is the other side.....here in Australia, the education system is not fantastic but its not too bad either (in world rankings its well above the U.S. I believe). My 15yo son has just gone to school and no, he had not done enough in maths to be able to coast. He is definitely not ahead- every day is new concepts for him. But I did try and its not a strong subject for him, and they are moving fast.....in all honestly I feel I did everything I could, and he IS doing ok and he is actually quite happy with himself......but I know that if he had been more conscientious, he could be doing better. It was very difficult to get him to focus and work hard. (Hence being at school now).

 

I know some people homeschool for religious reasons and they probably feel that its enough to read and write and love the Lord, but i would say the majority of us here are also valuing a good academic standard and I good education, way beyond that.

 

It also depends a lot on your kids. If they never lost their love of learning- they will probably still get by even if you go off on rabbit trails and never finish the textbook. But if you have a child like mine who was burnt out and lost his love of learning and his self confidence...you have to work at it.

 

The great thing about homeschooling is that you can do your bookwork and still have time for other things. My son is finding out that going to school takes up most of his life now, especially with homework, and he is feeling the loss of his free time keenly.

 

Worrying doesn't help- and I know I was driven by fear and anxiety in the early years which in retrospect, we could have relaxed more and followed more rabbit trails and taken more field trips. But I do want more for my kids than to be able to just read and write! I am glad we established a regular routine early on and through that, managed to attain a good standard and give them a solid and broad and deep education. My dd16 is appreciative of it and knows she was lucky...ds hasnt got to the point yet.

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Well, I have graduated 2 already and my third is a senior, so graduating in May. I always worried that I wasn't doing enough or wasn't doing it right. And I still do with the little one.

 

I told a mom the other day "the day you think you have it all figured out and are doing it right is the day you stop doing it well." What I meant was that all the second guessing of ourselves means we care and are concerned and want the best we possibly can for our kids.

 

Linda

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I think the 80% rule is one of many homeschool legends, along with "the students really only get 20 minutes of teaching per day," "the schools aren't really teaching anything," etc. I have shared before that I have some friends who were really burned by those assumptions when their dc entered school later.

 

I haven't been relaxed at all, and I still see places I could have done better. I can't imagine how guilty I would feel if I had listened to all the chanting voices at conventions and in most homeschool books. I have friends who did listen to the advice and now are very sorry.

 

 

 

Yeah, that's exactly the kind of thing I was wondering.

Could you please elaborate on that some? Thanks.

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I'm listening to the recording of the speaker for our last homeschool group meeting and she just said something I thought was interesting:

 

"A lot of homeschool moms worry if they're doing enough. The official rule is, if you cover 80% of the text/curriculum for the year, then you're doing enough. BUT, that's just at the high level. Before you get to the high school level, don't even worry about "enough" or whether you're doing enough. Don't even worry about it!"

 

First of all, I'm curious if anybody has heard the "80% rule" before, and whether you would agree with it.

 

 

But more than that -- that comment triggered something I've been thinking about recently anyway:

 

It seems like often in the homeschooling community in general (not so much this forum specifically) people are always encouraging each other to "relax" and "not worry" and "what you're doing is enough." I've even heard comments like, "If your kids can read and write and add and they love the Lord, then you are doing enough."

 

It sometimes almost seems like The Official Homeschool Encouragement Chant.

 

Anyway, my kids are still fairly young. And I wonder (especially if you have older kids): Do any of you feel like you relaxed too much? Do any of you think, "Yeah, you know we didn't do enough, and it's caused some definite problems. If I could go back, I would have pushed more, not relaxed more!"

 

If so (or if you know someone who says that), what did that look like, why do you regret it, and what would you have done differently?

 

But for example: In the speaker's comment: What happens if you don't worry at all if you're doing enough with your twelve and thirteen year old ... and then they get to high level, and you truly weren't doing enough, and then they really do struggle with high school?

 

Or is that very unlikely as long as you're not being blatantly lazy or negligent?

 

So I guess what I'm sort of asking is, Do you agree with that advice, and to what extent, and why or why not?

 

I relaxed too much with grammar and math basics. Ds was just so resistant so I kept thinking he wasn't ready. Well, he's 14 and doesn't know parts of speech beyond noun, verb, adjective and adverb. But then, again, I don't remember anything beyond that so it's probably not a problem. He's in an Algebra class this year and has struggled because he still doesn't know his multiplication tables completely and missed some very important foundational concepts. Of course, he's learning them now and he's also learning that my guidance is valid and important.

 

It's been a learning experience for both of us, but I wouldn't say it has been extremely detrimental to him. He's had to work harder, but maybe that was his walk in life.

 

I don't let him quit trying now, though. I make him see each Algebra problem through, sometimes I have to work each step of the problem right next to him, but I want him to learn to persevere even though something is hard. That's the main lesson that I feel I neglected. Anyone can learn academics later in life, but perseverance and determination are easier learned younger, especially when the consequences aren't very high.

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When I think of "relaxing" it's more like.... "stop imagining that your child will be living in a van down by the river if she never finishes Pilgrim's Progress." Not, "throw the books out the window and watch some tv. Sesame Street's on... that's educational enough."

 

:lol: DH and I use the "van down by the river" too. Love your perfectly concise explanation and :iagree:

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"If your kids can read and write and add and they love the Lord, then you are doing enough."

 

I haven't read through the responses yet but I wanted to comment on this from the OP.

 

I agree with this vision of elementary learning technically (assuming that add generally means all 4 operations) but would add in the character quality of perseverance also and perhaps memory development.

 

However, I am NOT a relaxed homeschooler. My standards of reading and writing are very high. When I read a statement like that I don't think "just" reading and writing like that is some easy no-brainer course of study. I think OF COURSE reading and writing and lots and lots and lots and lots of it. Because THAT is the foundation of all learning and knowledge and thinking.

 

I am not overly concerned with what my younger children know about history or science. I am not neglecting history or science (except with my 1st grader). But I am certainly not a slave to its content. I USE the content of history and science to develop reading and writing skills and thinking skills. And it is these skills that are preeminent, not the knowledge. When we read a passage about Elizabeth of Hungary like we did today, the primary emphasis is not that my student memorizes who she is and what she did and where she fits on the timeline. My primary emphasis is can they read and comprehend a passage and boil that passage down into a readable summary. Can they think through what should be included and what should be left out and write it up correctly? Now along the way I know they are remembering things and making connections and I point out connections when they appear. So the work is doing double duty. But I'm not going to sweat it if we don't get around to certain topics or certain people. So in that way, I might seem relaxed to those who worry about covering the proper content in the proper order.

 

I don't get overly concerned with math until the 4th grade and even then I'm more concerned with the ability to persevere and to learn. I picked my K-3rd grade math program based on it's ease of use and low price tag. I'm taking my youngers through it and I do not care one whit what they retain. I just want some exposure to numbers and other math concepts that we'll delve into once they hit Saxon 5/4. That's when I test. That's when it's for mastery. Now in my experience this simple exposure does start solidifying the 4 operations in the memory. But I'll hit it hard in the 4th grade. My 8th grader is doing well in Algebra I and my 7th grader is doing well in Algebra 1/2. So sometimes when I wonder if I should do more (although there is no time to do more, really). I see my older guys being successful and know that my way is working well and meeting the goals that I have set up.

 

I do want my young students to develop their memories and start storing lots of good stuff in there. But I do not put history and science lists in their memory banks at the elementary level. I am most concerned with their language and their spirits. So we memorize poetry, Scripture, and our catechism. We memorize quite big chunks of it. This is extremely more valuable to me than "facts." And that might not be the official "classical" way of it. We did do Classical Conversations at home with the Foundations guide a few years back but I just did NOT like memorizing facts with my young students. So I chunked it for poetry and have never looked back.

 

We also do Latin young but that enhances the reading/writing/thinking/memorizing/persevering that I are my goals for my young students.

 

Now to see what others think on the topic. :001_smile:

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I think it depends on the person (the parent, that is). I think I relax too much. I really am pretty easy-going with homeschooling, much more so than many people here. When I read an article like the one you quoted, I know I need to ignore that advice and get myself in gear. Ramp it up a bit. It's not about pushing my kids, it's about pushing me.

Edited by gardening momma
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I am not a relaxed home schooler.

 

I should have insisted on more and better writing when my olders were younger. I should have worked harder on early math with my oldest. I shouldn't have wasted years trying to get support from a support group that really had no support to me as a mother or a christian or an educator.

 

My biggest qualm with this platitude is how unbelievably useless and frustrating it is to someone who might actually appreciate some help or who actually has legitimate concerns. How almost derogatory it is towards having ambition, goals, and planning. Like you are harming your kid by having high expectations and a schedule?:confused: it isn't like I expect or even care if people educate the way I do, so I don't understand these comments.

 

The funny thing is, I don't consider myself to be educating for harvard, but I absolutely don't think it is an impediment to educating for heaven. In fact, I sorta think that's a bit insulting to Christians.:001_huh:

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To me the 80% thing depends entirely on your student and the materials you are using. For example, roughly 20% of a main stream intended for schools publication is review. Say the first 20% of the next level covers the last 20% of the previous level. Sure some could skip that, some need the review. But there are some materials that truly should be done entirely, IMHO, either because they are not designed based on a previous or future year material. Or if you know a child is struggling, it might be very temping to ditch that last 20% and just. Be. Done. But tempting as it is, that might be a child that really needs to trudge along. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have never ever taken a break from math. Every bit that sticks gets looser and looser the longer the break. But when I was younger and newer to home schooling, I didn't have that hindsight and I didn't have enough awareness about the various methods and options.

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I'm a worrier by nature. I cannot stop worrying.

 

On the one hand I feel like there is some truth to the "relax and don't worry thing". I really think sweating each and every detail is pointless. Worrying that we finish a particular book by a particular date, for example, is rather pointless. It gets finished when it gets finished. So long as we keep plugging along that is what is most important to me.

 

But on the other hand I know people who literally do NOTHING. I don't want to find out how that is going to work out for them. I'd never do nothing. It isn't in my vocabulary.

 

It all sounds like silly pointless advice though. I don't think anyone needs to kill themselves to do a good job, but it takes effort. It isn't always easy. Hard work is part of it. And I think it is a good thing to always reevaluate what you are doing.

 

This is exactly how I feel. It's a constant, ongoing internal struggle for me. I was beating myself up over it today, in fact!

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First of all, I'm curious if anybody has heard the "80% rule" before, and whether you would agree with it.

 

Inge Cannon made the 80% statement when I attended her transcript boot camp. She had a qualifier though - the 80% rule is true with programs designed for public schools. If a program is designed specifically for a home school, the author most likely intended the student to complete the entire program.

 

She did not mention grades lower than high school that I remember.

 

From my observations of the materials we have used that were designed for a school setting, it holds accurately. For example, in PHSE Life Science, the entire last part of the text is devoted to the environment. Is this life science? It certainly is an application of it. Is it information required for a basic understanding of biology? No it isn't. In PHSE Physical Science, the last section of the book is devoted to electricity & magnetism. Really cool topics, but when you look at the information presented, it is covered in most science programs around the 4th grade. In both of those cases, the sections can be skipped without compromising the integrity of the course.

 

With the math programs I have seen, I think it is true that either the first or last sections of a text could possibly be skipped. The first when there has been no break in the students' math program or if a studentis particularly familiar with the skills reviewed. The last section because it presents information that isn't necessarily part of the course, but might act as a "teaser" for student who work ahead. An example would be the new Horizon's Pre-Algebra course, which covers graphing inequalities & functions and permutations & combinations within the final ten lessons of the program.

 

It seems like often in the homeschooling community in general (not so much this forum specifically) people are always encouraging each other to "relax" and "not worry" and "what you're doing is enough." I've even heard comments like, "If your kids can read and write and add and they love the Lord, then you are doing enough."

 

 

I think this is true in many cases. The older a student gets, however, the more material there is to cover & for me it is harder & harder to say that.

Anyway, my kids are still fairly young. And I wonder (especially if you have older kids): Do any of you feel like you relaxed too much? Do any of you think, "Yeah, you know we didn't do enough, and it's caused some definite problems. If I could go back, I would have pushed more, not relaxed more!"

 

If so (or if you know someone who says that), what did that look like, why do you regret it, and what would you have done differently?

 

But for example: In the speaker's comment: What happens if you don't worry at all if you're doing enough with your twelve and thirteen year old ... and then they get to high level, and you truly weren't doing enough, and then they really do struggle with high school?

 

Or is that very unlikely as long as you're not being blatantly lazy or negligent?

 

So I guess what I'm sort of asking is, Do you agree with that advice, and to what extent, and why or why not?

 

None of the things I wish I hadn't relaxed on are academic subjects. I do wish I had required more consistent quality of work and a regular school schedule at an earlier age. These things are definitely causing problems now that we are staring at high school next year. In retrospect, some of the materials we had contained a bit of what I saw as busy work, but in fact, while not academically demanding, the tasks would have been valuable from the perspective of teaching a study skill (time management, breaking large job into small tasks, etc.). Therefore, I think I would look at some materials more closely and determine if that was an underlying purpose of an assignment before I disregarded it.

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I'm a non-worrier and I agree with your speaker. I've been at this 10 years now and it pays dividends to relax.

 

To me homeschool is about going at just the right pace whether that is slow or fast - but if you are going at the right pace then you don't need to worry about where they are because they are always on their way to getting where they need to be.

 

And edit to add: Why homeschoolers still believe that they must complete a grade level each year is beyond me. If it takes two then it takes two. If you don't complete a text and you like the text, then just pick it up again in the fall. Who are you competing against? In my opinion - individualized pacing is just about the most important advantage of homeschool, why would anyone throw that away?

Edited by ColoradoMom
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And I wonder (especially if you have older kids): Do any of you feel like you relaxed too much? Honestly, I do. Do any of you think, "Yeah, you know we didn't do enough, and it's caused some definite problems. If I could go back, I would have pushed more, not relaxed more!"Absolutely.

 

If so (or if you know someone who says that), what did that look like, why do you regret it, and what would you have done differently?I fell into the "unschooling" trap and rolled with it for about two years-with the exception of math and language arts-but even then I jumped ship too much.

If I could have a re-do, I would have put more time into researching both my dc and my learning styles, read more books about the why's, philosophies, and how-to's of hsing.

I would have never, ever changed math curricula like I did. I would do what I am doing now-using a traditional math spine and supplementing with a conceptual curriculum. I would have started out gently in K-3, but practiced CONSISTENCY with what we were doing. With everything else, even if I would have spent a little more time regularly on subjects like writing, my dd would be in a much better place.

I messed up by starting out full throttle with TWTM, and freaked my dd out with Ancient History and memorization. She shut down, and that is when I turned to US.

Sticking with somewhat of a consistent scope and sequence, with some variance would have been much better than flying by the seat of my pants. Thinking through and being INTENTIONAL, even developing a rough plan and statement of expectations and goals would have made a huge difference.

My regrets boil down to our situation now-having a dd start HS next year, being behind in math, way behind in writing, and feeling low in confidence.

 

But for example: In the speaker's comment: What happens if you don't worry at all if you're doing enough with your twelve and thirteen year old ... and then they get to high level, and you truly weren't doing enough, and then they really do struggle with high school? Remedial. Even though we are a spring and summer away from HS, we are working hard at damage control. It's horrible. I shed tears almost everyday. I come read these boards, and feel like I have failed my dd.:crying::sad::o

 

Or is that very unlikely as long as you're not being blatantly lazy or negligent?

 

So I guess what I'm sort of asking is, Do you agree with that advice, and to what extent, and why or why not?

I used to believe that garbage, but now that I have an 8th grader, no way. I do believe there are some dc that could sit all day reading about math and other subjects, playing games, and going on field trips all the time-and they would still be all set for HS. That, however, is the exception. Even with my 3rd grade, quirky dc, I am working hard at staying consistent with the basics, and going about it much differently than I did with my oldest. Don't get me wrong, I still don't think it is appropriate for me to push my dc beyond their developmental readiness, but that doesn't mean that I resort back to just reading out loud, or completely stopping the train, yk?

 

Sorry for the ramblings...soft spot....

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I have one senior, going to his first choice college, one junior who went to public school this year (a school in which they can take all community college courses; other public, private, and hs students can take 2 at most), and a 7th and 8th grader.

 

The 80% of the textbook is a reference to what is considered a complete course in a typical school. Sometimes, it's like 75% of it. I wouldn't make a big deal or philosophical issue of it one way or the other. It's just helpful to know what is considered "just fine" in other setttings. (I am not one who disparages everything done in public schools; if some people are, fine. I use what happens in public schools as one thing to compare our progress to.)

 

I am neither "relaxed" in the sense of "don't worry about it" nor am I compulsive about stuff. I have a sense of where my kids are aiming (and where they should be aiming based on their abilities) and I make sure we're on a trajectory that can get them there. We do standardized testing on a yearly basis, which is one measure of how they are doing. By the time they are in high school, we begin practicing with the PSAT, ACT, etc. so that when the time is upon them, they'll be ready for the tests that count for college admission. The early testing in 9th and 10th grade lets us know if there is something that needs more attention. I make sure that they can write really well. And in high school, we select a course of study that will prepare them for where they want to be in life.

 

To me, it's all about trajectory: knowing where you are aiming and paying attention to whether you're on track to arrive there. I believe it's responsible to track that. So there are times we can relax, and times when some butt needs to get kicked (mine or a kid's).

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I don't agree with 80% rule and I don't agree with "it's all good as long as they can read and write and do everyday math" approach (figuratively speaking, of course; I don't know many people who would actually think so - but it is rather "symbolizing" of a certain minimalist approach to education which I could never understand, even if I can accept it as somebody else's choice, as any other thing in life).

 

I do agree with the principle that you should not beat yourself over the details, obsess them, panic about it and overall harm youself psychologically about it, especially if that results in a tense atmosphere at home. I even agree with a purposely more lenient approach in the early years (not well into logic stage, though...), and I am going to put physical and emotional well-being, a good home atmosphere and a focus on health and happiness before formal academics and a focus on success any time, so in that context, the formative atmosphere of the early education is just as important as the actual content.

 

Much of it depends on the actual child, the family, their culture and worldview, values, etc. Some kids are easier to teach, some are harder; some need more time, some need less; some are more mature, some less, and thus some need more oversight and nagging and some barely need any; some have issues which obviously take priority over academics, while some don't have; some are the type of personality that thrives with challenges and high expectations, while the same results in anxiety in other ones, who need more hand-holding, more feeling of security and acceptance before they go through an academic "spurt"; some kids have considerable plateaux while some follow a more linear line of intellectual development, etc. A lot of it is just awfully hard to "prescribe" as situations are so different - each one of us usually speaks as a result of their intuition, which is then a result of knowing their particular children.

I'm with a more stringent group personally, so advices like that usually make me feel ":confused:", but to each his own.

 

:iagree::iagree:

I don't belong to the Draconian Homeschooler group for nothing. :D It is the type A in me.

My oldest, while we had serious personality clashes from day one, is a dream to home school. She likes me to choose what she does and schedule it out and off she goes without complaint. Of course, she is in 9th grade now and it took many years to get her to work so well so independently but, that was my goal right? To teach her how to learn.

Our youngest is a whole different story. I am still trying to figure out what is best for her in 4th grade now. I school her differently than her sister and it feels less stringent but she is so different a student. Yet, she too, can go off and learn something new on her own and often will.

I guess one of the joys of doing what we do it we are able to work out the best situation for our children. But 80% doesn't work for me and I take it way to seriously to "just relax".

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