Five Areas Where Your Kids Could Use Some Home-Schooling

The American education system frequently gets criticized for being inadequate. But debates on how and where we should fix it go on and on, without visible improvements being made. Each administration tries their hand at fixing it; maybe they'll get that part right some day. In the mean time, you can help supplement your kid's public school education in key areas where the system leaves them lacking.

1. Computing - This is the gravest shortcoming of public schools. In reality, even though they have had computers for some time, public schools do not teach computers - they teach typing, using a computer instead of a typewriter! Help your kids by having computers and Internet at home, and encouraging them to explore on their own. Remember, they'll have to deal with these machines their whole lives, and almost certainly in every job they work at.

2. Math - You probably saw this coming! American public schools just seem to drop math half-way through, never getting to the interesting parts. Math classes revolve around rote calculation, doing pages and pages of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division - and nothing else! Even into senior high school, they barely get introduced to the higher math subjects before getting thrown into the world of college. You'll at least need to bring up basic algebra and calculus concepts. Take an opportunity to find the fun in math wherever you can - for instance, nature's beauty can lead to a love of fractals, and origami is a good way to learn some geometry.

3. History - This is a shocking deficit! Quiz your middle-schooler and you'll be appalled to discover that they have no idea who famous people are or what landmark events are about! American schools seem to have abandoned history as a concept, period. In its place are fuzzier subjects like "world studies." Take the time to explain historical references wherever they pop up, because if you aren't doing it, no one will.

4. Practical science - American schools are great for teaching you the typical broad encyclopedia subjects in science like biology and astronomy. But for some reason, kids always seem to miss out on day-to-day science applications, such as why your car has a hard time starting in sub-zero weather or why it's a bad idea to mix bleach and ammonia in an enclosed space. You'd be amazed at how many people reach adulthood without ever having found out that one bit of information that would have saved them trouble...

5. Life skills - American schools used to teach things like "home ec" and "consumer science," but now the education budgets just don't seem to allow for it. So it falls to you to prepare your teen for adult life. Teach them how to manage a bank account, pay bills, figure price-per-ounce at the grocery store, stay safe in a risky neighborhood, cook for themselves, and other sorts of mundane details. Probably the best way to handle this is to take them with you when you run errands.