Saturday, May 30, 2015

Proof that HMH don't understand their target audience

Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt produce some of the best homeschooling courses out there--like Saxon Math. (Not because they developed them, but because they bought them out).

Here is proof they have no idea what they're talking about, though, when they try to talk to homeschoolers.  This is a paragraph from their homeschooling home page: "Summer is almost here, and as a homeschooler, chances are you’re looking forward to taking a much-deserved break from formal homeschooling. But you may also be worried about summer learning loss if you go long periods of time without a lesson." (

That was obviously written by someone who has worked with traditional education their whole life and has no understanding of how homeschooling works.

We don't worry about Summer Learning Loss. That's a public school problem. Our learning goes on all the time, in a less structured way as well as a more structured way. When the teacher lives with the students, life has a way of organizing itself so that learning is a constant, not an occasional activity. It's not like piano lessons that you stop doing and you forget. A lot of us go long periods of time without what they are thinking of as "a lesson" already! Homeschooling is a solid, good-quality education, but it doesn't look like they think it does for a lot of homeschooling families.

Plus, all the homeschool moms I know have a sense of what to expect, and we don't worry about it if it takes our kids 2 weeks to get into the swing of math again, for example, if we stop using the book all summer. It's not something we sit around and fret about like public school parents do.

Then, if you read the article (, you'll find a bunch of neat suggestions written by someone who sat down and said, "What could possibly be educational that families can do in the summer?"  Not a thing on that list is a new idea to homeschoolers. Those things are totally on our radar and used all the time. It actually comes across as condescending instead of helpful.  They are inventing a problem and then suggesting "new" and "novel" ways you've obviously never thought of to solve them.

I really wish they had "professional teacher" instead of "poor mom who couldn't get a 'real' career so she's homeschooling" in mind.  They would get a lot closer to reality.

They also advertise that their materials are accredited (who cares?! Most of us homeschoolers don't trust the system that accredits things, so having a curriculum "accredited" is actually a potential strike against it). And they carry books titled "Common Core ____{subject matter area}" listed in their curriculum options for homeschoolers. That's going to be a really hard sell for a lot of homeschoolers. A different title might help.

I don't know--should I email them and let them know? Or just let it slide? They dont' really care what homeschoolers think anyway. They're just after the sales.

UPDATE (6/10/15):  I was wrong. They do care about what homeschoolers think. They even contacted me to find out more. So I take that back--I am very impressed.

1 comment:

Oncilla Phoenix said...

You're right. We've been doing those things for years, plus none of us needs summer reading programs to get motivated to read. We just do that for the Lakeside tickets.