Saturday, July 26, 2008

HOMESCHOOLERS, HELP ME

When I "published" my previous post, I was actually a little nervous because I knew I would step on some toes. I knew I would offend some readers although; I also knew I'd offend very few readers because...well...I HAVE very few readers. That's one good thing about having a teeny tiny little blog with a teeny tiny number of readers; you can write almost anything you want and nobody will know about it. I have often wondered if publishing a very controversial post would bring people out of the wood work and make my comments reach double digits. Trouble is, I can't think of anything REALLY controversial. Probably because I'm afraid of confrontation and don't really want to make anybody mad at me.

Anyway, in an effort to show homeschooling mothers everywhere that I do respect them and I would love to know more about their choice, I would like to ask some questions. Keep in mind that these questions are being asked in the most respectful of ways. I am neutral in my asking. I just want to learn your viewpoint. Because the best way to come together with somebody with whom you might disagree is to learn their side of the story. And I just want everybody to get along. I don't want tension on this blog of mine. I don't like blog tension. I don't like blension.

So, home schoolers, please answer my questions in the comment sections, or leave a link to your blog so I can read all about you.

Ok here we go:

1. What was your motivation for homeschooling? Was it based on religious reasons? Was is it based on curriculum - did you want more freedom in choosing what your children were being taught? Was it based on socializing - wanting to have more control in the people with whom your children came into contact with? Was it based on logistics - the nearest school being 20 miles away? What made you finally decide to go this route?

2. Don't hate me for asking this. How to you handle socialization? What steps do you take to make sure your children are around other children and adults? Are you active in a home school group? Do you spend a lot of time at church activities? Maybe you utilize the local Y for activities and they meet friends there?

3. Do you use the public school system for any part of your child's routine? Some children here come to the school for band or chorus, or maybe for science class. Do you send your child to the public school to take advantage of any of their programs?

4. Do your children begin and end school at the same time each day? Do they have a strict schedule, at least as far as waking up and reporting to the school area of your home? If not, when/how will you transition your children into following a more rigid schedule - awaking at the same time each day so that they can follow a routine outside of the home like for college and work?

5. How many spelling bees has your child won? Oh, I'm kidding. We all know most of the recent national spelling bee winners have been home schooled children. I just wanted to throw a little funny in there?

6. Do you have a sense of humor? It's probably a little late for me to ask that but...

7. Where do you find your curriculum? Do you shop for it and order it? Do you create your own?

8. Do you have any worries at all about teaching your teenagers the higher level math and sciences? I, for one, could not teach chemistry to my children but I could probably teach them calculus. Is this a concern for you?

9. What bothers you the most about the reputation home schoolers have? What things do you hate to hear people say about you for your choice? I really hope you don't say that it's my previous post.

10. Be honest, do you, at least in your mind sometimes, judge those of us who choose public school? Do you ever think we are making a bad choice for our children? Are you vocal about that disapproval?

11. Is "home school" one word or two? I've seen it both ways. With spellcheck, it shows it as ONE word when used as a verb, but two words when used otherwise. Please enlighten me.

Um...that's it. I look forward to your responses. And if you have any homeschooling friends, send them on over to weigh in.

35 comments:

Jody said...

Ok since it was a long post so I just answered your questions at my blog http://homeschoolmoments.blogspot.com/ . I hope that helps some :).

Ami said...

I came here from Jody's blog.

I wrote about why we homeschooled for my blog ages ago, here's the link, http://amimental.blogspot.com/2006/11/why-we-homeschooled.html
Ami. Mental.: Why we homeschooled

At the time, I was more worried about my son than his social skills.
Turns out, social skills aren't a problem. When a kid is being taught manners and attitude at home instead of by a peer group who may not really have a clue, they seem to do fine.

There are lots of posts on my blog with the tag homeschooling, and if you were to read them all, you'd probably learn more about homeschooling than you ever really wanted to know.

What's funny is, this year, my youngest has decided to attend the local high school.

So I guess I'm technically no longer homeschooling... except of course, she will still be learning outside the institution, too.

Jody said...

I am glad you liked my post. I knew you were just curious and not putting me down for homeschooling :). I enjoyed answering your questions. I hope it helped a little :).

Alasandra said...

You can find my response here.
http://alasandras.blogspot.com/2008/07/my-response-homeschool-debate-and.html

Doc said...

My responses
http://docsdomain.net/blog/?p=874

Karen said...

Sorry, I don't have a blog to link to, so here's my long answer.

1. What was your motivation for homeschooling?

Primarily a desire to give my children more to do with their time than to be stuck in school being held to the speed of the lower end of the class. Their dad and I both developed a number of bad habits that way.

I was also very intrigued when I first came across the concept. My first thought was that it would have been perfect for me.


What cemented it was my time as an education major. I know there are some really good teachers out there, but frankly, my classmates scared me. Many of them weren't competent to be doing college level work and were working very hard to avoid improvement.

2. How to you handle socialization?

Very well. ;)

We do things several times a week with a local HS group that is much like an extended family. We also participate in activities with other homeschool groups, the very active local library and an assortment of odds and ends.

I think our socialization is pretty good, and is certainly much more diverse than the local schools.

Our local groups have:
- wide socio-ecomonic range
- diverse array of religions (including none)
- multiple races and ethnic groups (sometimes in the same family)
- single parents, married parents, domestic partnership parents and more
- adopted kids (same family adoption to overseas adoption)
- kids with various disabilities
- primary homeschooling adults include moms, dads, both parents
- vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, omnivores seriously allergic people
- people who have spent their entire lives locally and people who have lived all over the world

My kids have learned that all sorts of people can learn to respect each other and talk about difficult topics in ways that actually involve communication. I think we've got socialization covered pretty well. :)

3. We don't use the public schools at all - it's not an option here anyway.

4. We don't have a fixed schedule. I'm not worried about it. I managed when I had one and when I had a very variable schedule. One adapts to what one is working with. Or not. Getting up to be to high school for 7:25 am did not make me better at it. First period was a waste, no matter that I pulled A's in those classes. (see above about learning bad habits - or is that a skill?)

5. No spelling bees. I have homeschooled kids who aren't super spellers. :) We do exist.

6.Can you survive kids without a sense of humor?

7. I am an educational hunter/gatherer.

8. No worries about finding resources for anything the kids might want/need. While I've got an eclectic background myself, one of my goals is to help the kids learn to find their own resources.

If you can do calculus, you would be fine with highschool chemistry - it's really not hard. - says the geek :)

Besides, if they're going to put the work in, they may as well do it in a way to get college credit. I hated having to take a college class that was a repeat of my high school work. (see the bad habits bit again)

9. Pet peeves
-when people assume I'm Christian because I homeschool
-when the type of Christian homeschoolers from your previous post avoid me because they've found out we're not Christian

10. I don't judge non homeschoolers. I do get annoyed when people who haven't ever given their own choice a single thought start giving me a hard time about mine though.

I have friends who have public/private schooled kids, friends who have different kids in different options and friends who have crossed from one way to the other. My take is that this is the least of things to build a friendship around.

Do I think some people are making a bad choice for their kids? Yeah, sure. About a lot of things, LOL. That doesn't mean I'll rag on them though. Life is too short. As a good friend says, look for the joy.

11. Personal choice, though most people I know use homeschool.

I find it helps to differentiate it from all of the "home-school" initatives, and discussions about a student's "home school." Besides, it's easier to type. :)

HW said...

Karen -
I will respond to you here since you evidently don't have a blog.
Thanks for your input.

My children's socialization may be a little more limited than the list you posted - I don't think they know any vegan or vegetarian families :)
Other than that, I love it when kids have a wide array of friends, and I'm glad my kids do as well.

And no, one cannot survive kids without a sense of humor - another good point.

Thanks for dropping by.

Mommylion said...

If you ask it, they will come.

I wrote my answers in a blog post. :)

Krista said...

My Reply :o)

Robert said...

I don' normally read your blog, but I came from Doc's Blog and I answered your questions on mine.

Toni
(I had to use my husband's gmail account to log in. I hate that it requires this, but there ya go. My blog is actually here: www.electricbarbarella.homeschooljournal.net)

Beaner said...

You weren't just satisfied with your ONES of readers were you? You HAD to pull out the controversy and get into the double digits huh? ;)

HW said...

Beaner-
Yeah, and I hate controversy. I really don't want anybody to be mad at me.

But what should we tackl next? Maybe breastfeeding...?

Baudelaire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adso said...

Thank you so much for asking and being willing to hear and consider the answers of other people. I'll be glad to answer your questions.

1. What was your motivation for homeschooling?

Primarily, our motivation for homeschooling had to do with the fact that our child was a very early reader who read at the 2nd-grade level by about age two and a half. It became clear that some kind of accommodation was going to be necessary in school, but we weren't sure if we were going to get any kind of meaningful differentiation or whether we'd get written off as "THOSE parents," i.e., horrid hothousers.

When we spoke with the assistant principal of the school for which we're zoned, his attitude was clearly quite condescending -- he flippantly said, "Well, if your child is readin' at the fourth grade level by the time they're in kindy, we'll just get the fourth grade books."

Um. Sure. What will you do when our child hits first grade and is reading fifth grade books? Your school only goes UP to fifth grade.

Naaah -- it was clear that they had no real plan and no real intent to differentiate. Rather than beat our heads against a wall trying to get subject acceleration or a grade skip, we just decided to BE the school. Red tape's easy around our house!

2. Don't hate me for asking this. How to you handle socialization?

In the course of the week, our child deals with other kids often, actually--at the library, at the gym child care, at our religious service, or through family. We're also active in a homeschool group that meets once a week for homeschool science, which is a mixture of ages from 7-12.

At the risk of angering some of your readers or you, I think socialization is a problematic issue, but maybe not for the reasons you do. I don't think it's a stretch to observe that kids often bully each other or communicate attitudes that are...well, let's say "problematic." It's a problem for everyone, homeschoolers included, but I think it's exacerbated when they're with other kids for a huge portion of the day with only one teacher or a teacher and aide to mediate or observe. Teachers can only hear so much and do so much -- and that's not a diss on teachers, just a truth about human beings. I think it's healthier if kids have some exposure to other kids, but not as much as they do at school, and under more supervised conditions until they're older and more mature all around.

3. Do you use the public school system for any part of your child's routine?

No, not really. We may consider high school in a few years, depending on the principal's willingness to consider having an exceptionally young student.

4. Do your children begin and end school at the same time each day?

It's not as much "schedule" as it is "routine." We wake up and eat breakfast and then do most homeschooling stuff in the morning. We've found that morning works best for teaching, especially harder-level concepts such as logic or mathematics, and that the afternoon works better for hands-on projects such as science or music. However, some days, we'll really become interested in pursuing a science topic and leave history until tomorrow, for instance, or we'll get passes to the museum to see the "Crime Scene Insect" exhibit. It's routine, but has inherent flexibility.

You asked, "If not, when/how will you transition your children into following a more rigid schedule - awaking at the same time each day so that they can follow a routine outside of the home like for college and work?"

I'm fairly sure that won't be any more difficult than any other child who's learning to do the same thing when s/he first goes to kindergarten -- and in some other ways, it'll be easier.

5. How many spelling bees has your child won? Oh, I'm kidding. We all know most of the recent national spelling bee winners have been home schooled children. I just wanted to throw a little funny in there?

Actually, although this makes me look like a candidate for the "Our Homeschool Family" video, version 2.0, our child WOULD like to participate in the National Spelling Bee, for real!

6. Do you have a sense of humor? It's probably a little late for me to ask that but...

*Snort* Hope so!

7. Where do you find your curriculum? Do you shop for it and order it? Do you create your own?

Yes.
Sorry. Just being humorous. Seriously, though, a great deal of the curricula we use has been found through a wonderful company, Rainbow Resources, which is a company that sells an enormous variety of homeschool curricula at substantially reduced cost. Their catalog, with extensive reviews of the materials' positive and negative traits, is one of the main sources we use for simply finding stuff.

Often, if we've been having an issue or problem with an existing curriculum, asking around on the Net has led to some fabulous suggestions. We also use a high school distance education course through a major university for our child's English/language arts study.

8. Do you have any worries at all about teaching your teenagers the higher level math and sciences?

Yeah, that is a concern -- specifically with higher-level math and science. I'm hoping that the HS principal is receptive to an accelerated student, but if s/he is not, we plan to use distance education or private tutoring.


9. What bothers you the most about the reputation home schoolers have?

That we're all fundamentalist Christians who are teaching our kids that dinosaurs were planted in the earth by Satan to trick us into EEEEEVIIIIIL.

What things do you hate to hear people say about you for your choice? I really hope you don't say that it's my previous post.

Luckily, I think most of the time, people tend to say negative comments out of my hearing, to be honest.

10. Be honest, do you, at least in your mind sometimes, judge those of us who choose public school? Do you ever think we are making a bad choice for our children? Are you vocal about that disapproval?

I don't judge the people who choose public school nearly as harshly as I judge public school itself. Full disclosure time: I am also a full-time public school teacher who splits homeschooling duties with my spouse.

I went into teaching because (not surprisingly) I love teaching -- and it's the same reason, among others, that I became a homeschooler: it was a natural extension of my parenting. However, I've come to believe that the system itself has serious flaws, and that ultimately, it's not designed to do the one thing it should be devoted to doing heart and soul: educating all students. Instead, public school has a boilerplate, factory-line mentality that forces too many kids into an intellectual Procrustean bed that's either too short or too long -- and the result is what we see: that they lose interest and motivation, that they don't see a connection between school and life, and that they don't care about what they're learning.

As far as the parents, I think that with only a few rare exceptions, we all want to do well by our kids. Homeschooling isn't for everyone and it's not a panacea for the world's educational ills. I'm first to say that no, not everyone can or should homeschool. For some kids, public school is a godsend -- and I'm not just talking about impoverished kids from undereducated families, either. In short, the education needs to fit the child, not the child the education.

11. Is "home school" one word or two? I've seen it both ways. With spellcheck, it shows it as ONE word when used as a verb, but two words when used otherwise. Please enlighten me.

I usually say "homeschool."

Um...that's it. I look forward to your responses. And if you have any homeschooling friends, send them on over to weigh in.

I will!

HW said...

adso-

Thanks for your input. I appreciate your insight. And I especially appreciate your respectful responses.

Alasandra said...

Number 5 didn't offend me I just couldn't think of a clever response. My eldest son who is an awesome speller didn't want to participate in spelling bees because according to him he has to see the word written down to know if he spelled it correctly. My youngest son prefers spelling words out loud but didn't want to participate in spelling bees although he was very good at them when he was in public school, and made to participate in them.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Karen said...

I debated the food choice/necessity thing, but our group does do a lot of holidays and group potlucks, so it really is an issue of diversity they need to deal with.

We want to provide a space where the families who have kids with celiac and/or allergies can relax at events, so it really did become a socialization issue.

Not to mention lessons in recipe substitution and label reading. :)

I think that some of the things that my kids get from homeschooling would have been provided in the past through tighter communities with bigger families. I know that was the case for me, even though I was an only.

I didn't worry about socialization going in because I grew up in a active neighborhood with kids going to 8 different schools (K-12). School was never the center of my world for friends and activities, so it never occured to me to think that not going would be an issue.

cheerreader said...

You can read my answers here http://schooldownthelane.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/why-i-homeschool-redux/

-Jen :)

Sunniemom said...

*10. Be honest, do you, at least in your mind sometimes, judge those of us who choose public school? Do you ever think we are making a bad choice for our children? Are you vocal about that disapproval?*

I am just going to answer this question, because IMO it is a very misunderstood aspect of home education. I am going out on a limb here and be completely honest about how I personally feel about this.

I didn't choose home education as a 'rejection' of public education, but I do feel *some* disdain towards our current public schooling dynamic and toward *some* PS and private school parents, but I'd like to explain why.

First, I believe the system itself needs to be overhauled. We are using a system developed 100 years ago to educate children in an age of technological advance that is significantly different culturally and economically than it was in the 1800s. After reading articles and resolutions by the truckload, I believe groups such as the AFT and the NEA are not interested in making changes to the system that would give more freedom and choice to families. IMO, they are focused on maintaining and expanding their power base on the backs of taxpayers and children.

Also, we have so much more information about child development that is flat-out ignored in favor of traditional classrooms and obtuse grading methods. This makes no sense to me.

As far as PS parents go, the only time I really feel frustration is when parents choose public school as the default without even momentarily considering *any* alternative. They don't ponder on the individual needs of their individual children, they don't investigate the school or the teachers, they don't know what curriculum will be used or which educational methods will be employed in their child's education. If you ask them the origins of the grading and point system, they have no clue. They don't even know how and when and for what purpose public education got its start.

If a parent makes decisions about their children's education armed with information and eyes wide open, planning on being involved in every aspect- from becoming knowledgeable about the materials that will be used as well as developing a relationship with their child's teacher, then that's great- absolutely- go for it- whether it is public or charter or private schooling.

I do get irritated when a PS parent starts asking me questions about home education as if I couldn't possibly have given it enough thought or I'd never have made such an insane choice, "How can you stand to be with your kids all day?" is my favorite question)- but then if I ask them questions about public education, their answer often is that that is what the schools are for and they 'pay' the professionals handle their child's education. Oh really- and how professional is your child's teacher? Where did they receive their training? How many schools have they been in and what's their teaching track record?

Many home educate because they asked those questions and more. Some make points about the PS system because they really just want other parents to ask those questions too- not to coerce them into homeschooling, but to help open their eyes to issues they may not be aware of.

And of course, some people are just jerks. Period.

So there's my answer to that question. I hope you can accept it in the spirit in which it was intended- not to be a blanket condemnation of any particular group of people or educational method, but to say that if we as parents don't start asking the right questions about education, kids are going to be the ones who suffer.

Shaun said...

I answered your questions -- at length! -- on my blog.

Also, I think Sunnie Mom makes some great points about where some of the annoyance with PS parents comes in -- the attitude that somehow you aren't thinking your choice through, or that the willingness to spend the day with your kids is somehow weird or sick. My PS friends tend to have given a lot of thought to their school choices (we have a *lot* of choices here with magnets, charters, language immersion, not to mention the private/religious schools), so at least we understand each other there.

HW said...

Sunniemom-

Another good point.

We happen to be parents who put much thought into the education of our children starting at about age 3 for each child. I am very involved with my children's learning, even as they learn outside our home. I wonder, in fact, if some teachers might say I am TOO involved as I have never hesitated to discuss my concerns. Fortunately, our concerns have been addressed to our satisfaction and our children have thrived where they are. I think the parents you speak of - those who choose public school without any thought - are parents who might not put any thought into most aspects of their parenting. Some parents take the easy way out in a lot of things.
Thanks for dropping by.

Robert said...

Heidi

I responded to your comments on my blog. I wanted you to know that I am not angry at you at all nor do I feel you asked "stupid questions".

:)

Toni
(www.electricbarbarella.homeschooljournal.net)

patience said...

Great questions, I answered them for you at my weblog. http://thewindknitter.blogspot.com/

Blessings :-)

Dawn said...

Great questions and a lot of fun to answer! My response is at my blog.

Thanks for this...I can't wait to dip into all the other homeschooling moms'blogs.

Dawn said...

Adso said:

"That we're all fundamentalist Christians who are teaching our kids that dinosaurs were planted in the earth by Satan to trick us into EEEEEVIIIIIL."

I forgot that one! Though you know, there's a little bit of truth there. There's no quest greater then the quest to find a homeschool science curriculum that's free of ID or creationism.

Obi-Mom Kenobi said...

These following are links and answers for your questions, from my perspective.

Motivation:
http://obimomkenobi.wordpress.com/2008/07/14/im-running-out-of-tricks-here-or-why-we-started-homeschooling/

Socialization:
http://obimomkenobi.wordpress.com/2008/06/27/listen-i-cant-get-involved/
And friends from all walks of life. This is, seriously, the very least of our concerns as homeschoolers.

Use public school system at all:
No

Schedule:
Changes to adjust to our lives' other needs, but generally daylight hours.

6. Humor:
Absolutely essential.

7. Curriculum:
Some shopping, some created. Games, books, a few videos and TV shows. All quality materials, except for the crap.

8. Higher level skills worries:
No, we have plenty of experience finding additional help for specific educational topics outside of the house, as needed.
And don't forget...
http://obimomkenobi.wordpress.com/2008/05/23/if-you-spent-as-much-time-practicing-your/

9. Homeschooler reputation:
I hate people assumed that I'm a Bible-waving, dogma-preaching, evolution-hating religious fundamentalist out to protect my son from the world.

10. Judge public school parents:
http://obimomkenobi.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/only-a-sith-deals-in-absolutes/

11. "home school" one word or two:
http://livetolearnmom.blogspot.com/2006/03/unschooling-to-me_31.html


To sum it up:
http://obimomkenobi.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/for-over-a-thousand-generations/

Moses said...

Here:

http://thefaithfulpenguin.blogspot.com/2008/07/homeschooling-questions.html

Meg_L said...

Interesting,

My responses are on my blog:

http://getinhangon.homeschooljournal.net/2008/07/28/questions/

Frankie said...

http://kitchentablelearners.blogspot.com/2008/07/making-rounds.html

Lance said...

Good questions. I'll have to come back and answer them when I have more time. :)

Perhaps not the best place to ask this (and I understand if this comment does get posted), but one question that has been on my mind recently is this:

If you are a Christian parent and you are NOT homeschooling, why not?

I've read a number of blogs about "why we homeschool", but not many articulating the concerns of those who choose not to. Would love to get some honest thoughts and a healthy discussion going.

If you have the time and the inclination, feel free to drop a comment on that topic here:

http://www.homeeducateinthesunshinestate.com/blog

Thanks and God bless,

Lance

silvermine said...

My answer on my blog:
http://freeinquiryathome.blogspot.com/2008/07/homeschooling-questions-answered.html

Ruby said...

Answered on my blog
http://heytherefancypants.blogspot.com/

i enjoyed answering the questions.

JadeMerie said...

http://hwoolard.blogspot.com/2008/07/homeschoolers-help-me.html

my answers are here. Thanks for posting this, it made me think :)

Dazy Nay said...

Our responses are here:

http://awrinkleformybrain.blogspot.com/

Thanks for asking.

Daryl said...

My wife can't leave a comment here because her gmail account is tied to her private blog instead of her public homeschool one. She asked me to post the link to her answers for her.
http://magicandmayhem.homeschooljournal.net/2008/08/24/homeschool-poll/