School students become less engaged with each year they attend school, according to research conducted in a 2013 Gallup Poll:
The Gallup Student Poll surveyed nearly 500,000 students in grades five through 12 from more than 1,700 public schools in 37 states in 2012. We found that nearly eight in 10 elementary students who participated in the poll are engaged with school. By middle school that falls to about six in 10 students. And by high school, only four in 10 students qualify as engaged. (Read more at the Gallup blog post about student engagement).
Gallup concludes that an over-reliance on standardized testing, the neutralization of students’ entrepreneurial tendencies, little “experiential” and “project-based” learning, and the “lack of pathways” for non-college-bound students are among the reasons for the steady drop in engagement of students over the years.
The good news is that homeschoolers definitely can and do approach education otherwise. In fact, homeschoolers regularly indulge their kids’ entrepreneurial ideas, use all kinds of hands-on and project-based learning, and frequently prepare their kids for non-college vocations as well as for university. Homeschoolers in most states can also choose to avoid altogether or completely de-emphasize standardized testing.
This accounts for some of the success of homeschooling. Kids remain much more engaged, avoiding some of the risk of disaffection and disconnection as they become middle school and high school ages.
For example, parents who consciously use an Engaged Homeschooling approach do indulge their kids’ lemonade stands, dog walking services, photography and deejay services, lawn care businesses, and Etsy sales.
These parents realize that their kids’ engagement in these entrepreneurial activities will bring opportunities for reading, writing, research, arithmetic, creativity, problem solving, and social development.
Engaged homeschooling parents will also have their kids doing projects — from building tree houses to creating notebooks on dinosaurs to blogging about their bird watching and butterfly counts.
These kinds of learning activities build connection and help kids construct meaning. This is especially true when they are combined with one of the ultimate tools of engaged homeschooling — autonomy.