Category Archives: Engaged learning

Gallup Poll: Students are Less Engaged the Longer They’re in School

Copyright © 2013 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved. The content is used by Engaged Homeschooling/Jeanne Faulconer with permission; however, Gallup retains all rights of republication.

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. Continue reading


Back from the VaHomeschoolers Conference

Thanks to all the folks who came out to the VaHomechoolers conference this weekend. During my Engaged Homeschooling session, I distributed printed handouts. To make it easy for you to read the articles and ideas I talked about, much of the information is included here on the pages of Engaged Homeschooling.

I’ll post soon about the Gallup poll on the level of student engagement in schools, which I mentioned near the beginning of our time together. I just got permission from Gallup to use their graphic here at Engaged Homeschooling. That’s the one where I had the whole audience stand up and then got a percentage of you to sit down, then another percentage to sit down, and so on — reflecting the percentage of students who become disengaged through elementary school, middle school, and high school, as determined by Gallup researchers. Look for that within a day or so.

I’ll continue to update, and I’ll start with responses to some of the questions you asked me at the conference.

I also enjoyed speaking about Phys Ed, Sports, and Homeschooling the Athlete, and presented a session called Homeschooling 101: Homeschooling for NON-Homeschoolers. After the session, I enjoyed following up with many of you, including some grandparents who came out to learn more about homeschooling at the request of their adult kids.

I was touched when one grandmom got a little teary, saying she wished she’d homeschooled her son — who is now homeschooling his own kids.

Thanks to those of you who shared your personal stories with me between sessions and asked your good questions after my talks. I always learn from talking with parents and kids at conferences, which helps me think of new ways to present homeschooling ideas.

Next year’s VaHomeschoolers conference: March 20 -21, 2015!

Homeschooling Kids with Attention Challenges

You can’t talk about engagement in learning without noting the huge number of children who are diagnosed with attention deficits in a school setting.

Alan Schwarz and Sarah Cohen, writing for The New York Times, report:

Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (read more of the March 31, 2013 NYT report on ADHD here)

They quote doctors who are concerned that normal childhood behaviors are being pathologized because children acting like children is not as conducive to classroom management as children “sitting quietly at their desks.” Continue reading

Paying Attention vs. Being Engaged

We hear it all the time — kids being told to pay attention. 

From an adult’s point of view, this really means — think about what I am telling you to think about.

And when kids don’t look like they are thinking about whatever is on the adult’s agenda, they are said to be “not paying attention.”

In a school setting, these kids may not fit common descriptions of engagement, such as those offered by school principal Ben Johnson, which I featured on my Rules of Engagement page. I think Johnson makes good points about what engagement can look like in a classroom, but over my years of homeschooling, I’ve become aware that kids can also be extremely engaged in learning even when they do not have the appearance of “paying attention” that adults expect.

I’ve also realized that looking engaged takes its own energy and focus, and that kids in a homeschooling setting can have the luxury of not looking engaged, if their parents allow for it.
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Will School Engage Your 5-Year-Old?

Notebooks, 17 centsMy mom was a teacher. My mother-in-law was an elementary school principal. And I was valedictorian of my high school class.

I’ve been told that to homeschool is “anti-school,” but my background made me about as pro-school as could be when I was a young parent. My older children began their educational careers in school.

But this testing thing was already getting out of hand about two decades ago in North Carolina when we lived there. The EOGs, or End of Grade tests, that were instituted at my kids’ public school at that time were one of the reasons I decided to homeschool. Not only did the tests have a negative effect on many children, but the practice tests my own kids brought home were riddled with errors of logic and fact — and they didn’t even address the things I felt were important in education, like critical thinking, inquiry, logic, and creativity.

Today, we get this — “A Very Scary Headline About Kindergartners” — a WaPo article which discusses an op ed written by two top level education administrators in Oregon, who are lamenting the “sobering snapshot” provided by kindergarten test results.

This kind of thinking has our educational institutions pushing formal academics to younger and younger children.
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