Homeschool. Not better than some public schools, not worse than. Just different.
Questions I Have Been Asked Frequently and Otherwise.
Why Do You Homeschool?
There in not a single reason alone that we choose to homeschool. I was first exposed to homeschool via living in Maine. There were a few families I knew who were successfully homeschooling and I was impressed.
Instead of taking Lamaze classes for childbirth my husband and I took Bradley classes. We were encouraged to make informed decisions and choices concerning childbirth; to be consumers of our experience. We were encouraged to take responsibility for ourselves. To not blindly trust the authority figure, but to trust ourselves through learning, information, instinct and work WITH the doctors as a team impressed us. We felt this applied to educational choices, too.
Later, my cousins Rebekkah and Rachel were successful in homeschooling their children.
As I was interested in attachment parenting,
homeschooling appealed to me. There was another experience that always
stuck with me. My mother would take me out of school to be with the
family; to have a family day. She resented when the school would want
more of an answer beyond “She is with me”. For reasons of truancy that
is all they needed to know. She made the comment “When your child is
born, it is not yours. It’s the states.”
I also started to look into the history of homeschooling and was surprised at what I learned. Here are two articles that encapsulates what I learned: Homeschool World and John Taylor Gatto.
We started, when Ms. D was three, to research homeschool and to attend seminars and workshops. We read various books including John Taylor Gatto (above), Jessie Wise and John Holt. I began to feel that we could continue to teach our child better than anyone.
Despite this, I enrolled my daughter in kindergarten. I volunteered. I liked the small town school very much. I liked the teachers. What I didn’t like, I knew I would never be able to change, even within the system: Having a boyfriend/girlfriend was cool and encouraged, wearing the right clothes was important. Girls’ social hierarchy was important and there was much discussion on how to navigate this. The pace was hectic; the children were moved quickly from project to project as they were just beginning to enjoy a subject. They lived by the bell. They learned that lining up and being quiet was “good.” Crowd control was the goal. Instead of obedience for one’s good the children obeyed so as not to get into trouble with an authority figure (usually the principal). A pivotal experience for me in volunteering was when I was helping a boy in Ms. D’s class to grasp a concept. I decided to present the information to him in a more artistic was to see if he could grasp the concept. It worked! It clicked! He was happy! I explained to the teacher and she was happy, but couldn’t keep that up when teaching him. He needed to learn like the others because she didn’t’ have the time and resources. This was a wonderful teacher. Very often we’d have conversations about how much she wanted to implement various methods but couldn’t because of state guidelines and school politics.At the end of the day, after I picked Ms. D up we’d have a few hours of time before bed. Usually three to four hours or so. This, while trying to make supper and talk to a tired child. Then to bed and all over again in the morning. Our time with Ms. D was a scant few hours a day.
I didn’t need much more convincing to realize homeschooling wasn’t for everyone, but was for us.
What About Socialization? (otherwise disguised as “How will she make friends?”/”How will she get along with other kids her age?”/How will she be culturally literate?)
Despite the fact your p.s. teacher probably said “This is not time for socializing, young man/woman!” when you think of public school you think of socializing with kids the same age. Whether that socialization is negative: being bullied, navigating the social hierarchy, making sure you have cool enough clothes/hair/electronics. Or the socialization is construed as positive: relating to authority figures, having friends, going to parties, laughing between classes. For better or worse public school is seen as the place we learn to navigate the world.
My feelings toward socialization kind of go back to the factory output of state schooling. The reasons public schooling came about. (see links above) For me, it’s always been a non issue and I am surprised at how often the “S” word comes up. Instead of harping on and on about this subject I will quote several wonderful sources that say it better than I ever could. Here is a quote from homeschooling.com. for the full article here is the link.
"Socialization is actually meant to prepare children for the real world,
which means learning to interact and deal with people of all ages, races, and
backgrounds," says Diane Flynn Keith. "In this case, homeschooling actually does
a better job of this because homeschoolers spend more actual time out in
Research supports this. According to Home Schooling and the
Question of Socialization by Richard G. Medlin, "Home-schooled children are
taking part in the daily routines of their communities. They are certainly not
isolated; in fact, they associate with--and feel close to--all sorts of people."
He continues, "Home schooling parents can take much of the credit for this.
For, with their children's long-term social development in mind, they actively
encourage their children to take advantage of social opportunities outside the
family. Home-schooled children are acquiring the rules of behavior and systems
of beliefs and attitudes they need. They have good self-esteem and are likely to
display fewer behavior problems than do other children. They may be more
socially mature and have better leadership skills than other children as well.
And they appear to be functioning effectively as members of adult society."
This and other studies support the irony of the socialization issue in
homeschooling that we have known for years, which is that traditional schools
are actually more on a path of de-socialization. In traditional schools students
learn to stay in a class to which they've been assigned and are grouped
according to age and academic level, and generally with students from the same
geographic area and socio-economic background.
So in a sense, as I like to
say, many people are homeschooling because of socialization reasons.
structure and reality of traditional schools are teaching students to be passive
and compliant, which can follow the children throughout life. Children can learn
to take abuse, to ignore miserable bosses or abusive spouses later on. In a
traditional school someone else usurps authority.
This is where
homeschooling comes in. Kids in homeschooling develop self-confidence and
self-esteem; they learn to deal with difficult people when they are
developmentally ready. When they are ready to go out into the world they know
they have choices, a foundation developed in homeschooling.
conducted by Michael Brady entitled Social Development in Traditionally Schooled
and Homseschooled Children, a Case for Increased Parental Monitoring and
Decreased Peer Interaction endorses this idea. Brady states, "There seems to be
an overwhelming amount of evidence that children socialized in a peer-dominant
environment are at higher risk for developing social maladjustment issues than
those that are socialized in a parent monitored environment."
words, socialization in homeschooling works better because children have more
opportunities to be socialized through the modeling of good social behavior by
caring adults rather than through peers, who do not know much more than they do.
Parents give their kids the skills they need to interact with other people and
also have the chance to protect their children.”
For anyone who is concerned about studies and statistics about homeschoolers, check out this study by the University of Michigan.
How will she learn about real life?
Aren’t you sheltering your child?
Does the state tell you what to teach?
Not really. Thanks heavens. The State of Maine does have certain subjects they wish to be taught to all children like: English, language arts, math, science, social studies, physical and health education, library skills, fine arts, Maine studies (in one grade between grade 6 and 12), and computer proficiency (in one grade between grade 7 and 12).
But other than that, we get to choose how we learn that information, when and with what methods.
At the end of the year we have the option to take a state test or have a certified teacher or a homeschool support group review our work. We however, belong to a non accredited private school and send an assessment and attendance chart to the administrator four times a year.
What Curriculum do you use?
Check out Our Curriculum and side bar links to give an idea of the hodgepodge we use.
Which homeschool method do you use?
We started following The Well Trained Mind classical method, swung over to unschooling, but then arrived comfortably at Eclectic Schooling.
There are many homeschool methods and Homeschooling Learning Network provides a great over view of each. Within these methods are other avenues of teaching. The Homeschool Curriculum Advisor breaks it down wonderfully, also.
What do you do all day?
Yes, well, that is my particular Achilles Heel question. Here is an idea, and let me tell you I haven’t covered ½ of it.
Bookwork Cooking "Rainy Day" Crafts
Playing instruments Board/Math Games Dishes
(note to self: In list of 'things to do' add 'figuring out how to post photos')
How can you stand having her home all day?
I find this the saddest and most difficult to understand question I have received. I think it’s born of the above question and the below question. I think it’s also born of a parent who has only ever had their child in public school. Having ones child home for the summer suddenly presents a problem of what do do all day in the face of constant interaction…and being worn out in the face of that interaction. When I first started homeschooling Ms. D (she was 7) and faced empty days on end, I was overwhelmed at how to keep her busy. But we found our groove. She found passions and interests that she wanted to pursue while she wasn’t doing book work. We found our rhythm. And now my question is “What would I do without her all day?” We have fun together. We talk. We play. We create. We have private time. We are silly. We tell jokes. We cook. We do laundry. We have alone time. In short, we live our life.
Do you have your own life?
I think that this means “Do you have a life beyond homeschool or do you have your own hobbies.” Well, homeschool is pretty integrated with our life. Learning doesn’t stop after the book work does. Do I have my own hobbies? Absolutely. I love to read, I love to write, I love to create. Just peak at the blog and you’ll see plenty. But the blog is truly only a small portion of our life. It’s full. And happily so. If I feel the need to “get away” and have some private time. I do. Trust me. I do.
Are you disciplined enough to homeschool?
That question is from my mom. It is a question that particularly pertains to me and rightfully asked. It’s pretty well known I am not the most disciplined of people. But then I asked myself: Was I disciplined enough to teach my daughter to walk, read, eat, play, explore, draw, create? Hmmm. Yes. And so am I disciplined enough to share her interests in reading, math, science, history, penmenship, geography et al? Hmmm. Yes.
I also find discipline comes with desire. Do I desire to teach my child? Yes, so I am disciplined enough to do it. I also find that “disciplined enough” means many different things to different people.
Are you as fascinating, interesting, witty, and the oh-so-cool hip momma in Real Life as you seem on your blog?
You have to ask?
Is it true your husband paints nude picture of you?
He does, that scoundrel. The problem is I am always asleep in these paintings. He complains he only ever paints our daughter and I when we are reading or sleeping as it’s the only time we seem to hold still long enough.
Do you believe the government knows what you think?
I’m not allowed to say. But pass the foil hat.
Lone gunman or conspiracy?
Heels or flats?
Always, always heels.
Got your own question about homeschooling or me (especially those!)? Feel free to contact me and in between cleaning, going to the beach, book work, and blogging, I’ll get back to you: email@example.com