Monday, December 27, 2010

Home Schooling

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm fairly anti-home schooling.  That may be a bit of an understatement, actually.  I think that home schooling is often used by parents to keep their children away from the world and in a bit of a bubble longer, and I generally don't think that's healthy.  It especially bothers me, as a Christian, when Christian families home school in an attempt to keep their children away from any non-Christian influences.  I just don't think that's Biblical.

However, a dear friend of mine told me she may be home schooling her daughters.  I still don't think it's the best choice for most people but I have compiled a list of things to realistically consider when deciding to home school or not.

1. Do you (the home schooling parent) have enough time and energy to invest in this?  Teaching is a full-time job.  Remember that.  Full-time.  You can't do it justice if you treat it as any less.

2. Do you have any experience teaching?  Being good at something is not enough.  Many people are good at things and totally incapable of teaching them.  Do you know any teaching strategies?  Do you know how to communicate ideas and facts in a way that will help your child or children learn effectively?

3. Do you have a curriculum?  Do you know anything about the curriculum or anyone who has used it?  Do you have all the material for the curriculum?

4. Do you have a plan for your children to meet other children?  Preferably children outside of their own racial/socio-economic/religious groups?  This, in my opinion, is one of the most valuable services of public schools.

5. Do you have a plan for your children to learn to work with other children?  Not just their siblings.  In school, children learn to work with people they may not like, may not understand, may not get along with.  This is an important life skill.

6. Do you have a grasp on all the subjects you will be teaching?  In addition to teaching skills, you must understand the subjects.  This is much easier with younger children and harder with secondary school, where most teachers specialize in one subject.

7. Can you handle being around your children all day every day with no breaks at all?  This is too much for many people.

8. Are you willing to get professional help (teachers or tutors with the appropriate experience and credentials) if needed?

9. Are you willing to put in the time and effort to make sure you're meeting all your state's requirements?  If home schooling high school students, are you willing to make sure you are meeting the requirements for college entrance?

Teachers, any more things to think about?

One year ago: A Beautiful Christmas in the Ghetto

Three years ago: Payment Received!

Four years ago: Butterflies!!!


ondrauh said...

I think you make many excellent points! As a credentialed elementary teacher with 12 years of classroom teaching experience, I would NEVER consider home schooling any of my 3 children (pre-K, 1st, 4th). There is no way I could cover all of the material that should be covered and I think it would be absolutely exhausting to undertake this endeavor. Socialization is such an important part of school, also learning from many different teachers with different styles and areas of expertise. As a mother, I can enrich my children's education in many ways, without taking over responsibility for it! We can read together, research things they are interested in, take fun and interesting day trips. etc. I will always leave the actual teaching to the classroom teachers, only stepping in to provide additional assistance when necessary! :)

Elizabeth Willard said...

I have a slightly different take on this, I agree and disagree. Homeschooling your children can be very bad, If you don't make the time, do the research, plan, and assess your children in accordance with state standards on somewhat of a regular basis. However, my mom homeschooled both of my brothers, because one brother was going to be retained one (to repeat 3rd grade) and the other was struggling in 1st grade due to a siezure disorder. My brothers and my mom joined a homeschool group that met once a week that was comprised of 15 or so kids (all ages and races)two of the parents were to plan a lesson or activity (one for older kids, one for younger kids) each Friday. These varied from art, science, math, etc.. They took field trips together and even did out door school together. I remember my mom attending Homeschool fairs to buy her curriculum for the year that she had researched thouroughly before hand. Also, my mom knew that even if you are homeschooled, you can participate in public school activities,so both of my brothers attended PE classes once a week, band classes, and even attended science classes that were things my mom didn't feel adequate covering herself. Homeschooling is a personal decision, but you are absolutely correct in that it is a full time job. Don't do it unless you understand what you are getting yourself into and are willing to put in the time it takes.

B said...

Elizabeth - your mom could answer all my questions in the affirmative! If you're going to do it, that's the way to do so.

Ruth said...

My Mum considered homeschooling me when I clashed with the school system (she was a trained primary school teacher) but made the decision not to based mostly on the fact that even when I was under 10 we didn't get along well enough for her to have me as a full time student as well as daughter.

On a different note, the new New Zealand curriculum is very flexible (vague even) and accessible to all online:
Yes, that's it, just one page, that's the curriculum. See for learning area statements which then have links for strand information.
There are slightly more in depth guidelines (see the achievement objectives on the left hand side) but educators are free to write their own if they want to. Could make it easy, could make it hard.
Of course, by the time National qualifications kick in (about age 15) everyone is teaching to the test, but there's nothing new about that.
But I digress.
I'd homeschool if it was right for me and my child/ren but I'd also have them participate in team sports, solo sports, guides or scouts, and I'd actively seek out a home-school co-operative for both their and my benefit. And if they were eligible, the One Day School for Gifted and Talented also takes home-schooled students.

LindsayDayton said...

As a former elementary school teacher, the question I would like to ask parents who home school their children is this:

Would you remove your child's tonsils? No? If you haven't been trained as a teacher, what makes you think you can teach?

The obvious point is that for some reason, a medical doctor's education is something that is revered and gladly paid for (for the vast majority).

With teaching, on the other hand, the training that we underwent and experience that we have is seriously undervalued.

B said...

that is the best point. guest post from you?

Anonymous said...

Every time I struggle to explain something in my son's homework, I apologize that I'm not better at it. He says -- my teacher is better. And I agree, pointing out that she (up until now in 4th grade, it's always been she) gets plenty of practice from year to year and with different kids, so she knows the sweet spot.

I can't imagine my son not having more influences in his life (including a teacher or two I haven't been in love with). Of course, we made sure he never knew when that was the case.

Susan said...

Points 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 make no sense to people who have actually homeschooled. You don't need curricula or any experience as a teacher, you don't have to know any of the subjects your children want to learn, nor do you have to care about state standards.

1. Homeschooling is not a full time job. It is a way of life. When you homeschool your life is not divided into learning time and play time. I was riding a chairlift with a friend's son during a school day. He wanted to know how long the run was. I didn't know. He sat in silence for a while and then asked if I would time how long it took us to get to the top on the next ride. He then set about estimating the speed of the chairlift. He told me: "If I know how many seconds the ride takes and how many feet per second the lift moves I can figure out how long the chairlift is. The run goes mostly under the lift so it will be approximately the same as the length of the chairlift." He was nine years old at the time.

2. Learning out of school is so different. You don't need classroom management skills to help your kids learn. My kids don't like me to teach them anything. They want to teach me. They get passionate about a subject and read lots of big thick books on it and talk me into letting them get beehives or quail. We go on a hike and they point out all the native plants and their medicinal uses. My oldest daughter tries to teach me Latin.

3. Curricula--you certainly don't need them. You can use them, of course. My kids prefer to take an assortment of classes outside the home or via internet and then read and travel. We just go to the library and check out an absurd number of books and books on tape and listen and read our way through the ones that we like.

6. My children vastly prefer to learn things I know nothing about. Older homeschoolers regularly use online and community college classes. In our area there are oodles of classes available to homeschoolers on everything from Shakespeare to Quantum Physics.

7. Classes mean that you don't have to be around your kids every day. My biggest problem is having enough time at home with my kids. Between instrument lessons, kayak polo, Latin, physics, reading group, biology, Japan studies, chemistry, ceramics classes and park days. I often feel like I only see them in the car as we drive from class to class.

9. In our home state of California homeschools, like private schools, are not required to adhere to state standards. State standards give people the misguided idea that there is some discrete body of knowledge that children must master. The reality is that there is more out there to be known than any one person can possibly learn. It matters far more to me that my children learn how to work hard and how to delve deeply into a subject that interests them, than that they acquire any particular subset of knowledge.

I think great teachers are great. I am glad that there are so many of them out there in public and private schools all over the country. I don't think teachers and homeschoolers need to have an adversarial relationship. Schooling and homeschooling are simply very different.