Motivation & The Home Education Curse (Part 5)

Helicopter shadow.We’ve been looking at a book entitled SAT Perfect Score: 7 Secrets to Raise Your Score by Dr. Tom Fischgrund. Fabulous book with fabulous insights into the lives of 160 perfect SAT scorers and their families. Only one student in the study was home-educated.

Dr. Fischgrund actually makes the following statement about home education not being an advantage in SAT performance:

“The 7 Secrets will reveal that homeschooling doesn’t offer an advantage–and may even be a disadvantage when it comes to doing well on the SAT.”

Then there was the statistic which stated that less than 1 percent of perfect score students are home educated. Those were the only two sentences on home education in the entire book. Of course these sentences ate at me.

Well, I vowed not to sleep until I got an explanation from the author about his outrageous comment. Okay, maybe I didn’t literally lose sleep over it, but I definitely couldn’t accept his statement without an explanation since as a home educator I knew what it took to raise perfect SAT scorers–I had perfect scorers living in my house!

So I did a search on the Internet for the author. I ended up contacting Dr. Fischgrund by e-mail and asking if he had time to go over some material from his book with me. I told him up front that I am a home-educating parent, formerly a professional educator. That didn’t seem to scare him, so he gave me his phone number, and we set up a time to talk.

Talk we did! It was an interesting hour-long exchange of ideas and thoughts, and I was very grateful that he took the time to discuss not only his book, but also educational theory with me.

In our discussion, I found out why it is that Dr. Fischgrund feels that home education is a stumbling block to raising high achievers who score brilliantly on the SAT—and I strongly concur with his explanation.

Would you like to know the reason why home education may actually be a hindrance to raising perfect scorers?

Hint: he used the words “helicopter parents”in his explanation.

His experience with home-educating parents has indicated to him that home-educating moms, especially, tend to hover over their students, helping them way too much and not forcing them to work hard and get out of their comfort zones. Sound familiar? He and I talked about the micromanagement factor and how harmful it can be to the motivation of middle and high school kids.


Our conversation turned to the fact that 90 percent of perfect scorers came from intact families. I asked the obvious, wondering aloud why having a mom and dad who had not been through divorce was so pivotal to these students’ achievements. Dr. Fischgrund discussed the importance of having a two-parent family where Mom plays a specific role and Dad plays a specific role in the children’s lives.

You can probably see how you and your spouse contribute very different yet equally important components to the family unit. The stress and upheaval of divorce drastically alters the support structure of the family, the very structure which is designed to provide the stability that enables children to function normally. Remove that supportive, secure environment, and children are distracted at best.

If you have been or are divorced, I don’t mean to discourage you. Remember, there are exceptions to every rule. Understanding your children’s need for your time and attention, as well as for a strong sense of security, is the first step in repairing the breech in the family foundation. Peace in the home is extremely important to children’s growth and development.

Tomorrow I’m excited to talk much more in-depth about Parenting techniques.

[1] Tom Fischgrund, PhD, 7 Secrets, p. 44.


About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


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