How Homeschooling Is Like Rock Band

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So, did that title get your attention? I mean Rock Band (as in, the video game for Wii, Play Station and X-Box) being like homeschooling? Now you think I’m crazy, right? Well, bear with me a minute.

I was playing Rock Band a couple of weeks ago on my “weekend retreat” without the husband and kiddos. It was then that I decided to try playing the guitar on medium instead of easy, as I had been doing. I did okay for awhile, but then I came across this one song that had “split notes.” I could play green/red, green/yellow, and yellow/blue, but I couldn’t do red/blue at all. Red/blue requires the “guitarist” to be able to use the middle finger and pinky while getting the ring finger out of the way.

Apparently, my pinky doesn’t move independently of my ring finger. It appears to be a package deal.

So this song was going along and I was doing fine until those red/blue notes came up. By the time I could get my fingers in the right position, that part was over and my rhythm was off from trying to look down at my fingers instead of at the screen.

And, that part kept coming up over and over until I finally failed out of the song. Every time it would come up, I would find myself thinking, “If only I could slow the song down long enough to learn to do that part. If I could just take a minute to figure out how to do it, I’d be okay.”

How often do kids in public school think that? They come to a concept that is difficult for them and, if they could just slow down for awhile until they figured it out, they’d be okay.

But, they can’t slow down. The rest of the class just goes barreling along and the kid who’s struggling just keeps getting farther and farther behind until they finally “fail out,” all the while knowing that they’d be okay if they could just slow things down for a minute.

In Rock Band, when you fail out, you have the option of practicing the song. Once you go into practice mode, you can slow the song down to 90%, 80%, all the way down to 50%. You don’t have to practice the whole song, either. You can choose to practice only the section that you’re struggling with.

In my case, I slowed the song down to 50%. Once I had the hang of how to get my ring finger out of the way, I went up to 60%. Each time I had the faster speed figured out, I would move up. Now, those red/blue notes are still difficult for me, but I can do them and I can make it through the entire song without failing out.

Doesn’t that remind you of homeschooling? When we homeschool, we have the opportunity to slow down when our kids hit a rough spot or encounter a difficult concept. They can continue on with the rest of their studies at 100%, but they can slow down on the difficult parts until they get it. Once the concept is mastered, the homeschooled student can jump back into the game at 100%.

There is no need for a homeschooler to ever “fail out.” That’s one of the many things that I love about homeschooling.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Great analogy! This is basically one of the main reasons that we started homeschooling.

    When I asked our oldest (who was in a general ed. classroom with a one-on-one aide as he has high functioning Autism) why he thought homeschooling was a good idea (prior to us starting), I expected him to say that he wanted to play video games all day. Instead, he shocked me by saying, “School just moves so fast, Mom. As soon as I finally start on something, the teacher says it’s time for something new. I just want to finish things at home.” Poor guy — he just needs to slow down the songs too!

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