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What time does Homeschool start, anyway? May 28, 2006

Posted by table4five in Uncategorized.
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I just spent about two hours going through all the blogs at ClubMom. Some of my very favorite blog peeps are there, like Dawn and Kristen and Becki King, and some new blogs that I really enjoy. But here’s the thing: there are four or five homeschooling blogs, which is fine, but I just didn’t realize how many different alternatives there are to traditional schooling:

The Charlotte Mason Method-reading books from original sources and spending lots of time in nature.

Classical Education-A Liberal Arts education that includes lessons in Greek, Latin, and logic.

Distance Learning-Using companies and schools to provide educational materials. Like school, except without the going.

The Montessori Method-This method advocates observing children, removing any obstacles to learning, and giving them real, scaled to size tools to use.

Cottage Schools-The one I understand the least. Basically, these are “mini schools” that provide Homeschooled kids with classes in certain subjects. Like going to school part-time.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with Homeschooling. While I suspect that most families choose it because it allows more religion to be included in daily learning, or because they don’t want their kids socializing with the “wrong” kind of people, I absolutely believe everyone has the right to choose what kind of education their children receive.

However, I do have to question whether or not the education a child receives as a result of some of the more alternative methods of homeschooling will translate into an ability to handle college, or life in the working world. Should a child really be allowed to decide for themselves how and when to study, or whether to study at all? What happens when they get to college? I know none of my professors ever wanted to “observe” me and then allow me to choose for myself what to study. Won’t these kids have a hard time transitioning into a set schedule of classes and subjects?

And what happens when they get their first job? Are there employers who give their employees a choice of which report to write first, or whether they should return a client’s phone call or take a walk outdoors first? I don’t want to believe that all Homeschooled children are automatically going to be shunted into religious service, although I would guess that even at Seminary there is a curriculum that must be followed.

The few Homeschool resource websites I’ve looked at make an effort to address the issue of Socialization. Is it necessary for kids to have certain social experiences? Is it important to a person’s upbringing that they attend football games and Homecoming dances, participate in co-ed P.E. classes and have Senior Skip Day? Do they need a Prom?

I know there are all kinds of carefully coordinated activites and groups for Homeschooled children. And maybe they will even have an opportunity to meet other kids from other socioeconomic backgrounds. Maybe they will meet poor kids and rich kids and handicapped kids and kids whose parents are divorced or alcoholics or serving in Iraq. Maybe they will meet Jewish kids and Muslim kids and kids who spend Sunday watching cartoons. Maybe they will meet kids whose parents are fast-tracking them to Harvard with extra S.A.T. practice and Advanced Placement Classes and community service projects that look good on a transcript.

On the other hand, Homeschooled kids will be less likely to start smoking pot and drinking in the seventh grade, right? Less likely to get pregnant because they slept with their boyfriend after school, yes? I can’t deny that keeping kids at home where you know what they are doing will certainly keep then safe from temptations. But how much sheltering is good for kids, and how much is preventing them from understanding what the rest of their peers are going through?

I don’t know why this topic gets me so worked up. Whether or not someone Homeschools their kids has no bearing on me, or my family at all. I just know that whenever I read a description that starts with “So and so is Homeschooling her four children…”, I wonder, why?

Here’s more information on the education of folks like Ben Franklin and Abraham Lincoln:

“The general historic foundations of home education originate with the informal education systems that existed in many parts of the world before the rise of publicly-run schools in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The usual situation in rural areas before 1860 was that most children were taught farm chores and rudimentary arithmetic and spelling. Reading and writing skills were not highly valued. Occasionally some families would pool and hire a traveling tutor, usually a young Yankee like Stephen Douglas. In exchange for room and board he would provide a few months schooling for the children in the group. In this fashion Abraham Lincoln acquired about 18 months of schooling.

Famous figures who are considered to have been homeschooled received that kind of education because that was what was available. Attendance at school was made compulsory in only a few states by the mid-19th century. In 1872 education for all children aged 5 to 13 was made compulsory with the creation of “public schools”.

Update #2: This post got a mention at Mom’s Daily Dose, the ClubMom blog written by Amy (also of Amalah.com). Holy Shit! Amy Storch read my blog! AAAHHH!

Update #3: Keep those comments coming! I just had a great one from a Catholic Mom who homeschools who has an Atheist neighbor who homeschools. I’m serious when I say this is something I want to know more about. Not because I’m considering doing it myself, but because I genuinely want to know more about people and how they live. I’m just nosy that way I guess. So please share your story!

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Comments»

1. EvaRob - May 29, 2006

This is interesting…as a teacher I wonder a lot about homeschooling…

2. Meghan - May 29, 2006

We have a family friend who decided to homeschool her three children. This alone is no big deal, but this woman did not graduate high school. I have issue with people taking on the task of educating the next generation when they haven’t finished their own education first. There is a reason that teachers go to college and have to earn their teaching certificate.

3. mothergoosemouse - May 29, 2006

Elizabeth, I think you asked some excellent questions. I understand from anecdotal evidence that homeschooling can work quite well. I know that it would not work well for me.

4. DancesByMoonshadow - May 29, 2006

There are a lot more homeschooling methods than you listed. It is growing in popularity at a phenomenal rate. The biggest reason (I think) that people homeschool, regardless of their religious beliefs, is dissatisfaction with the public school system.

Homeschoolers have a higher rate of college acceptance than public schooled children. Homeschooled children do better in college on average, than the average public schooled child who attends college. There is wealth of resources available to anyone who would want to learn the facts. I’ve been reading on it for two years.

How good is it for kids to LIMIT their exposure to peers of their own age? Homeschooled children who are deliberately socialized (with the exception of those who are doing it in strict religious fanaticism) get exposure to a much more varied spectrum of other children with regard to age, background, and interest. Maybe it is in part about sheltering… but it is also about exposure to opportunities and diversity that your average public school grade classroom cannot touch due to restrictions in budget, teaching to the lowest common denominator, and not being able to accommodate different learning styles or need for different styles of discipline. Many homeschool children also participate in sports at the public schools (ps homeschoolers still have to pay taxes for public schools) and also in Michigan are entitled to participate in all of the extracurricular opportunities at the public school, like co-ed PE. Do they need a prom? Good God, there are plenty of public schooled children who were no so priveleged.

Do employers give you a choice of your activities? Most employers of professionals (we were talking colledge educations right?) do in fact EXPECT that their hires are able to prioritize for themselves. So yes, my experience is that all of my employers have given me the choices you listed. Are public schooled children encouraged to self prioritize or think critically as they are herded like cattle through the hallways between systematic programming sessions?

Also, you cited methods in the top of your post, but then listed potential issues with “unschooling” in your arguement. Most unschoolers even have some structure in their day, even if it is child guided based on interests. PS I am a supporter of child guided education as it keeps kids interested in learning. But, I would not choose “radical” unschooling for my own.

Ah well. To each his own? Only time will tell? The greatest minds of our past, of ingenuity and intellectualism, were homeschooled. And our leaders today? Did most of them attend public schools? Or were they similarly sheltered in private schools?

Just some counterpoints. Of course the topic gets you worked up, it is hot topic. Especially in a culture as we have in the US where the majority of the population things that it is their place to control how other people live their lives.

Peace.

5. kittenpie - May 29, 2006

I wonder the same thing – not only would it make me crazy, but I don’t believe that even as a librarian with a masters degree, I am as qualified as a teacher. Yes, I could read and follow a curriculum, but I lack training in pedagogical theory. And yes, I could read up on that too, but I also lack practical experience, the resources and support of other teachers, access to professional development opportunities that teachers have, quality assessments, etc. I think it can be very isolating, although I know that many homeschoolers will pool their kids together for some subjects or to get in some PE activities or field trips. And I do have the same feelings about how hard it would be to hit the reality of a more structured environment afterwards with little or no time for adjustment. Perhaps these are the future work-at-home telecommuters or entrepreneurs.

Anyhow, novel aside (good topic!) – wanted to drop by and say hi and thanks for visiting over at Life of Pie. I am always happy to see new readers!

6. Java Junkie - May 29, 2006

I’m very much in line with Dancesbymoonshadow’s line of thinking. I found out most of what I know about home schooling from a client I had when I lived in Grosse Pointe. Her children were two of the best educated, most well-rounded and open minded children I’ve ever met. They were creative, outgoing, intuitive, considerate, and observant in a way that I’ve never, ever seen a child schooled in a public school system. Naturally this lead to curiosity on my part and questions ensued.

Many, many, many times I’ve considered home schooling Lou. If I weren’t ill, I would in a heart beat. The public education that he has received lacks in so many areas it’s depressing. His science teacher – THIS YEAR (8th grade) told him that Death Valley was below sea level and dry because “maybe they built levies there” because, according to her, dry ground below sea level does not exist without levies. She also told him that the human liver does NOT regenerate itself and that they do not do live donor liver transplants. His SCIENCE teacher.

His art teacher is so mean that children last year actually locked her in a closet on one occasion and put paint thinner in her coffee on another. About two months ago my son’s vice principal called to tell me that my son was indeed NOT carrying a gun to school as had been reported (WHAT?!?!?) He went on to explain that because my son likes a certain type of music (The Ramones, etc.) that he was targeted for a horrible rumor that he, and a couple others that liked that same genre of music, were “planning a columbine” started by one of the popular/cheerleader type girls when they were learning about Columbine in health class because she thought it would be funny. Lou actually had a girl at school scream “please don’t kill me! please don’t shoot me” at him when he was getting into his locker between classes – and mean it! I had to bring him home for the day to remove him from that sort of harassment. But the real shocker was that the principal and the local authorities had been “investigating” and had questioned Lou without my knowledge for two weeks before I was made aware of ANYTHING, including the rumor. What kind of education and socialization values does this teach I ask you.

Lest you think it’s the school system he’s in, let me assure you he’s one of the better ones in the area. Previous to us moving to Toledo he was in the Grosse Pointe school system which is one of the best funded public school systems in the nation, yet in all of my son’s years of public education I have only ever believed him to have 3 teachers that had any kind of real concern for their students or knowledge of the subjects they taught.

I’m not a religious fanatic by far. For me home schooling would be about the best way to make the most out of the years of education my children have an opportunity to receive before heading on to college. I think it’s a sad shame that the people I have spoken with about home schooling that have a negative opinion about it have it based on rhetoric and a lack of real information and actual facts.

I want to assure everyone, though, that it’s not at all my intention to insult any of you that believe in the public school system at all. I just believe that, just like there are a limitless number of personalities on this planet that we should not limit how we educate our children to a one size fits all method.

7. radioactive girl - May 29, 2006

My mother in law has been asking me for years to home school my kids. I have 4 kids and cancer, so it is not in the cards for me. I don’t feel like I know much about homeschool versus traditional school, but I do know my brother was homeschooled for a few years and had no trouble in college immediately after that. I don’t feel I have the patience with my own children to teach them, even though I did great as a Kindergarten teacher in a private school before they were born. Interesting topic, and I can’t wait to read all the comments!

8. Lanna - May 29, 2006

I am so commenting on this, but am working on making it sound good and rational (well, and I have a muddy toddler in the shower, but still). 🙂

9. Lanna - May 29, 2006

Okay, I don’t know rational this is, so I apologize ahead of time. 🙂

First, for those of you curious about homeschooling, I suggest reading a few books available out there that might help explain why 2million+ kids are currently being homeschooled in the US. One of my favorites is “Dumbing us Down” by John Taylor Gatto. It’s an older book, but the public school system hasn’t changed much in the last few decades. Gatto is a teacher/educator who worked in New York (Brooklyn I think?) for a long time. I can find more titles if you’re interested.

Dh and I had not-so-great public school experiences. Dh learned everything outside of school (except for shop class), and just happened to be tested on part of it in school. Since dh learned it all on his own, he remembers a bunch of it to this day. My schools… well, I didn’t know what a verb or noun were until I was 14 and taking French. Seriously. Only reason I can spell is because I learned how in a school in Nevada (not Washington). I only ate one or two meals a day during my freshman and sophomore years so I could be skinny – I only got to a size 9 in a school of popular size 1-3 stick figures. SIL got death threats at her 2nd (out of 3) high school. And honestly? The schools in our area (we’re not even 2 hours away from where I grew up, so I knew kids from up here) haven’t changed a lick. There’s just more kids in them.

What happens when they get to college?
IME, they do better. They’re more interested in what they’re learning. For them, learning is still fun rather than a chore. They’ve had a chance to really figure out what interests them, and most likely won’t change their majors half a dozen times (as was the norm at my college – I changed mine 3 times).

And what happens when they get their first job?
They do fine. They show up, do the work, clock their hours and go home just like everybody else. I would hope that the parents have taught them responsibility and having pride in their work, etc. Which, really, should happen regardless of who’s schooling/educating them.

But how much sheltering is good for kids, and how much is preventing them from understanding what the rest of their peers are going through?
There’s definitely a fine line. The hs’ing folks I know are all about checking everything out and experiencing things. Not shutting the kids in the basement to read book after book after book (well, unless the kid wants to). But they also have a chance to *experience* life. Whether it’s helping out at harvest, doing Meals on Wheels, cleaning/cooking, attending story time at the library, hanging out at Starbucks, seeing and experiencing historic sites rather than just seeing photos, etc.
But really, how much of what their ‘peers’ are going through do you want your kids to know? Do you want your 14yo girl to have a (14yo) friend who’s mad because her boyfriend paid for his ex to get an abortion and didn’t tell the new girlfriend about it? Do you want your 14yo girl hooking up with a 20yo college guy? And that girl and her friends having ‘sleepovers’ at each other’s houses where they really spent the night at their boyfriends houses? Do you want your 15yo boy to be disappointed and teased that he can’t do soccer like his friends because your family doesn’t have the money to pay for all the equipment? That was my high school life and friends.

Anyway, some of the people we hold as American icons were homeschooled. Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, etc. And don’t even get me started on how biased and incorrect school textbooks can be…

10. Dawn - May 29, 2006

GREAT POST E – and Amalah linked to you, so you will be getting TONS of looks.

I am a teacher by training and education. I Could homeschool Emily. I would never do so, for I feel that the school systems we have chosen for her have been great. Now, that being said, she was in a private independant school for three years. We paid a great deal of money to insure that she was recieving the type of educational foundation that her father and I valued.

This year, she transitioned to Public school. While there are issues that I don’t adore, I feel that I can balance those at home ( remember my “pass that dish of Opression columbus day post?) Emily gets a very broad view of history because her father and I feel it is important. While I could control all of her educational exploration if I were to homeschool, there are lessons in coping with others that you don’t care for, how to behave in a group and other issues which I could not expose her to in the same way as she gets in school.

I think the bottom line is that every family needs to weigh what is important to them. We paid 15,000 per year for three years because the base of what she got at her private school was worth it to us. ( It was a Howard Garner Multiple Intelligences school)

I can supplement the things I value into the curriculum of her public school.

11. Nancy - May 29, 2006

Great post, Elizabeth — and the comments are fascinating too. I look forward to coming back to reread them once more traffic comes through (and it will, I am sure.)

I am the product of public education and have parents that were both educators in the public schools, so my bias has naturally been toward public schools (just because that’s my area of experience and familiarity.)

My approach would be like Dawn’s — I would expect that we’ll keep our kids in public school, and strongly supplement their school learning with home-based “life lessons.” I don’t believe that education is the role of any one group or another (parents vs. teachers) but that it’s a shared responsibility among family members, educational institutions, and community.

That said, I think if homeschooling is conducted for the purposes of exposing the child to as many diverse ideas as possible — letting them choose a field of study, ensuring they have strong experiences in the practical as well as academic, using the world as a clasroom — it can be wonderfully done.

Unfortunately, I have seen it too often being used as a way to shelter the child from the “undesirable” aspects of a particular public or private school curriculum. My parents’ best friends’ son and wife are very conservative religious people who have been unhappy with the teachings at their local private Catholic elementary and thus decided to homeschool to (and they will admit this point) control the view of religion and life that their kids hear. That’s where I get nervous about it. It’s absolutely that family’s right to let their children learn in what way they deem appropriate, I just wonder what it will mean for the kids to shelter them like that.

That said, our babysitter is a very smart and mature 17 year old who has been homeschooled. I have no doubt that her mother instilled the proper experience and lessons to help her succeed — at this point Meghan (babysitter) is very self-directed and accomplished. So I believe that can work well too.

It’s not an option for our family — I don’t see myself as a teacher, and we do strongly believe in the public education system — but I do respect the people who have the commitment and determination to make homeschooling work for their families.

Sorry about the novel here. 😉

12. jennster - May 29, 2006

did you see that amalah linked to you in her daily dose? rock on sista~!

13. jennster - May 29, 2006

ps- i guess you did know cause i read your update. LOL

pss- i just remembered that there was this really socially awkward guy that used to ride the train with me.. and we all wondered why he was so different. when we found out he was homeschooled until college, we all breathed a collective “ahhhhhhh” like it all made sense. like being homeschooled gave him a reason for being a social tard. but i wonder how different he would have been, had he socialized with his peers on a daily basis? and i am NOT saying that all kids who are homeschooled are bound to have social problems, cause hell- i don’t really know anyone, other than him, who have been homeschooled. it’s the only example i had. and well, i figured i’d use it. i wouldn’t homeschool blake ever. unless i was scared to leave the house for some reason. and well, that would just suck/.

14. Undercover Angel - May 29, 2006

I used to homeschool Tiger. I started homeschooling him because he was having a hard time with the public school learning environment. He wasn’t learning, and was becoming more and more frustrated everyday. He was in Grade 1 and was threatening to kill himself if he had to go back to the school. When a child that young threatens suicide, you know that there is a major problem.

Before I started homeschooling him, I read everything I could, and received a lot of helpful information from my local Board of Education. They actually sent me the forms to join the local homeschooling associations and the legal associations as well.

I found that Tiger flourished in a homeschooling environment. He was working far ahead of grade level because we were able to cover so much more material in such a short period of time (I only had him to teach and not 30 other students which is often the case in public school settings.

Moreover, during the time that he was homeschooled, the frustrated, depressed and angry little boy disappeared. In his place was a very happy little boy who was eager to learn and start “school” each day. He was so happy during that time period and we became so close.

Tiger never lacked for socialization. We included socialization in his curriculum per se. He went regularly to homeschooling functions to meet other homeschooled kids, and he had his brothers and sisters and kids on the street to play with.

Unfortunately, I had to stop homeschooling him. My husband and I had split up, and suddenly I was a single mother with four children. It was with a heavy heart that I enrolled Tiger back into mainstream school.

Tiger has not adjusted to being back in mainstream school at all. He is constantly having problems that require me to go to the school and bring him home. Most recently he managed to get himself suspended for five days. I’m getting frusrated and he’s getting frustrated. I think some kids are just not able to learn in an actual school environment. The anger and frustration that he is often sent home from school for, do not appear at home.

Now that Jake and I have been together for a year, I’m thinking about homeschooling him again. I just keep remembering how calm and easy going he was. How can I keep sending him school when it so obviously upsets him.

Homeschooling isn’t for every child or every parent, but sometimes it just works…

15. Elizabeth - May 29, 2006

Angel-Thanks for sharing your story. You sound like exactly the kind of parent who should Homeschool. I’m sorry that he’s not doing well at Public School, and I hope you and Jake can work it out.

16. Anonymous - May 29, 2006

The idea of homeschooling is really cool in my opinion. As most mothers, we’ve seen how smart and inquisitive kids are just naturally.

Most of the mom’s I see teach their kids so much about whats important, Id just like to see more emphasis on that kind of teaching in school. Being able to take the time to explain something in a one-on-one with a child. Or going out in nature.

If there was a community place, or a homeschooling network of moms that work part-time. And the other part-time shared in childcare and teachinmg duties.

I see that as very possible and just natural, not “wierd” and doesnt have to have ANY catholic/religious bent.

If I homeschooled, I would study all religions and spirituality, nature and history.

I live in Brooklyn, NY, so it may be a different story if you live in another kind of place. Community here is easy to come by.

17. Java Junkie - May 29, 2006

Angle, I think you sort of hit the nail on the head without even trying. Children, on the whole, learn better from a 1 on 1 experience then they do in the over crowded school systems. Now it’s not for everyone. Unfortunately today’s economy necessitates 2 income households a fair amount of the time, some parents don’t have the patience, others are very happy (and wonderful parents) maintaining careers along with their family life. But it is my FIRM belief that if there could be one teacher for every student, public, private or home schooled, the differences in not only the amount being learned but the attitude towards learning would be incredible and unimaginable.

18. Melissa Wiley - May 29, 2006

Elizabeth, I appreciated your post and responded to it on my ClubMom blog. I’d love to continue the discussion if you’re interested!

Melissa Wiley
The Lilting House

19. Dana - May 30, 2006

Interesting post and comments. The socialization question always puzzles me, slightly. Actually, I’m not entirely sure what is being asked as many of us homeschoolers are pretty adamant about “socialization” being what we aim to prevent. It has nothing to do with exposure to others. I would tend to argue that the public schools fail in this miserably. The students are held in the same desks, day in and day out, with almost zero time for social interaction. Lunch time is about the only time kids can talk anymore, and that is pretty short and rushed. Recess is being eliminated in many schools…so when does this “socialization” occur?

As to why I mention being against “socialization” here is an old post on this common question:
http://gottsegnet.blogspot.com/2006/04/what-about-socialization.html

Just as a small point to one of your commentors…I think parents are very well-equipped to teach their children, without the courses in pedagogy and methodology. You know your child like no other person in this world. You know when he gets something, you know when he doesn’t. You know what catches his attention and what is going to be harder for him to focus on.

I’m certainly not saying everyone should homeschool. I believe strongly that the parent has the authority for educational decisions for their own child. Like I said, you know your child like no one else, and only you are qualified to make those kinds of decisions for him.

But that is another issue that I struggle with…now that federal courts have ruled that the parent has given up their rights when they drop their child off at the school door.
http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:N2viMl3hAUIJ:www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/E8695945B7C6F6B5882570AD0051320A/%24file/0356499.pdf%3Fopenelement+parent+right+school+door+federal+judge+tx&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=8&client=firefox-a

20. Snide - May 30, 2006

I imagine it would be difficult to get accurate numbers to compare home schooled vs public school. One item in particular that would tip the figures towards home schoolers is the fact that anyone who would choose that path for their children already cares about what kind of education their kids get. Parents who care about their kids education will naturally have kids who do better.

I have oft wondered if it were possible to separate out all the kids whose parents didn’t really care how their kids did, and you could compare what was left, how the public vs home school would look.

21. madge - May 30, 2006

Great post, E.

I know my daughter would turn into a serial killer if I homeschooled her.

She’s incredibly social and gets twitchy when she hasn’t played with other kids in a while. I know there are resources for socializing the HS kids, I just cannot imaging it would be enough for my daughter.

That and I could never teach her math. Or science. Or patience. GOD. Maybe I should rethink this whole parenting thing…

22. Elizabeth - May 30, 2006

Madge, that is exactly why I couldn’t homeschool unless it was really necessary. I have NO patience. Nathan has a math learning disorder, similar to dyslexia except with numbers, and not only do I not have the patience, I don’t have the experience either. And sometimes Ryan brings home THIRD GRADE math homework that I don’t get. So yeah, my kids are better off at public school.

23. Java Junkie - May 30, 2006

Snide, while I do understand your comments and where that might be coming from but as a parent who cares a great deal about my son’s education I still find public schools, in general and especially in the post-elementary schools, lacking considerably.

Every teacher my son has comments on how bright he is. His social studies teacher is “amazed” at how on top of current events and how well informed on our past he is for his age and his math teacher marvels at how quickly he can calculate equations in his head.

However, despite how involved with his education I have been, here at home AND with his teachers, every marking period we hold our breath waiting for his report card just hoping he’ll pass. This has been for the last two years. So far this year I’VE set up two separate meetings when I was told that parent/teacher conferences were only for children doing poorly. I’ve called his team leader (in his school children are divided into “teams” of teachers. If your child is on team A, he will have this set of teachers while team B has a different set) on numerous occasions, and on several occasions and in various ways assured that each of his teachers had my email address and knew I could be contacted via phone 24/7. I stressed that due to my son’s disability (he has NLD, which is similar to dyslexia only doesn’t involve written text) it was of the highest importance that they contact me immediately if they were having difficulties of ANY kind with him. They’ve never once made the initiative to contact me.

The marking period before last I was informed that only the children that were “having trouble” in school were being set up for conferences and that my son did not have a conference scheduled. While I took the initiative to set up a meeting anyway, stating that simply because my son wasn’t failing didn’t mean that I wasn’t interested in how he was doing, where his strengths were, where he could use a little help, or what his accomplishments for the year were, I was being sent his report card via mail. When it came to my home it had 3 F’s and 2 D’s. Let me type that again, 3 F’s and LOW 2 D’s – but according to the school’s Principal’s office he wasn’t “having trouble.” When I did meet with his teachers and ask them why a conference wasn’t set up when clearly he WAS having trouble they simply answered that so many of the children, for the last 2 years, had 4 – 7 F’s that all of the time slots for conferences were taken up by the time they got to Lou. While I understand they have a limited amount of time for conferences, they ALL had my phone number (cell AND home) and my email address. I had called his team leader 5 times within a 4 week period. Not once was it mentioned that my son was struggling with PASSING HIS GRADE.

His troubles were self induced and through guidance and some cooperative effort (finally) on his teachers’ part, Lou now has 2 C’s and 4 B’s in his classes. But my experience has been that short of attending classes WITH my son there was no further involvement that I could have possibly had, or attempted to have, with his teachers to assure that he was getting a good education and clearly that wasn’t even enough. It was made obvious that I simply could not/can not count on ANY kind of effort to be made on his teachers parts AT ALL.

Now my son has a notebook that he has to take to each teacher each day who has to sign it next to his list of home work and assignments for that day indicating that indeed that is the work he is responsible for. If he returns home without a signature or more, he has to write 10 sentences for each class missing a signature which increases by 5 exponentially. This had to be added later because he would routinely “forget” to get most of his teachers signatures and no other encouragement or action taken by us changed that outcome.

I digress completely. But I wanted to assure that AS a concerned parent I have written letters to the board of education, spoken with the superintendent of the school system, had multiple conversations with his teachers AND the vice principal of the school and yet the education my son gets while in school lacks in insane amounts. Unfortunately, due to long term illness I really don’t have any other choice. THANK GOODNESS my son finally matured enough to see that he needed to be concerned about his own education and understand that learning is one of the greatest gifts in life and should never be squandered. My heart breaks for the children who are “normal” kids and do “normal” kid things and yet have become so disenchanted from learning by the public school system that they’ve simply stopped caring.

Sorry for yet another novel but this issue is something I’m EXTREMELY passionate about.

24. Stephanie - May 30, 2006

I was homeschooled all 12 grades. I can say that it was a success for me. And for alot of people I knew. Success depends on the teacher. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. It takes alot of determination and work. There is alot more to homeschooling than you have lumped in your post. I know that I transitioned more smoothly into college because I knew how to study and take notes without someone leading me by the hand.

I know that at least in WI, where I was taught, the pulic schools welcome you into any extra curicular activities you want. Sports, extra PE, school dances, prom, school ball games, driver’s ED. Mostly because they get more money from the State if you enroll because you are a ‘student’.

I had friends, a after-school job, a spot on the swim team, and did plenty of teenager things.

I was given the chance to go to high school and I choose to stay home schooled. I was given every opportunity to go to prom and I choose not to go.

I just wanted to post this comment, not to combat your post, but to add to it. Homeschooling can be a very possitive experience. And there are bad stories too. Just like public school does. I just hate how there is one horror story on the news and all homeschoolers get lumped together in a bad rap.

25. Elizabeth - May 30, 2006

Stephanie, thanks for sharing your story. Was there a “horror story” on the news involving homeschoolers? I wasn’t aware.

26. Rebecca - May 30, 2006

Anonymous wrote:

I am a Catholic homeshooling mother of four. I wanted to mention that most homeschools reflect their family’s religious and moral beliefs or lack thereof. If a family does not practice religion in their home, naturally their homeschool would not have a religious bend/flair to it. Our neighbors, homeschooling parents of five girls, are athiest. They do not choose to teach their children any type of religion but are open to the children choosing one of their own some day.

In our home, we celebrate the Church’s feasts and holidays as well as all the secular ones. The kids really enjoy this aspect of our life and enjoy being Catholic.

They also have a firm understanding of other religions such as Judaism and Islam.
Whether or not they ever choose to practice those religions, I want then to know that there are many different religions/philosophies in the world and that people are all different.

Tolerance is very important to learn, don’t you think?

27. Elizabeth - May 30, 2006

Rebecca, yes I do, and thanks so much for sharing both your story and your neighbor’s. It is good to see how homeschooling is used in all different types of families. Your kids are lucky to have such open-minded parents when it comes to religion.

28. Becky - May 30, 2006

We weren’t expecting to homeschool when we started, partway through our eldest’s first grade year at the public school in the nearby town in highly rural western Canada where we live. My husband and I had each loved our very different school experiences — mine at a private school in NYC and his in the same school as our daughter — and wanted the same for our three kids. But we found when our daughter was in first grade that she was at least a year ahead of her classmates and the teacher’s and principal’s solution was to “let the other kids catch up.” That attitude on top of a two-hour round trip on the bus (when we live all of 15 minutes from town) made us start looking for alternatives, but in rural western Canada, there aren’t many. Certainly no private or charter or magnet schools, or even another choice of public school. Even had it been a possibility, the prospect of skipping a grade didn’t hold much appeal; the more we looked at the provincial curriculum, the more underwhelming we found it. It certainly isn’t anything that would prepare our dual-citizen kids for the small New England liberal arts college their mother intended, or even get their feet in the door. The public school system around here, sadly, seems to be more the filling of a bucket than the lighting of a fire — that love of learning flame we want to ignite in our three kids.

Of course, there’s not a lot of diversity at schools around here either (and frankly, I don’t remember that much at my fancy schmancy wildly-expensive-even-back-then private school), and our homeschooling lifestyle, where our family’s schedule and not the school’s sets the pace, allows us to make weekday trips to the nearby big city and even take five weeks after Christmas every year to visit with my family in the West Indies. Not every family’s experience, of course, but worth considering for everyone who doesn’t live an a larger urban area.

Of the two best books that have most informed our family’s homeschooling, one isn’t even on the subject at all. “Hold On to Your Kids” by Gabor and Mate is a fascinating parenting book and sociological study as well, and the chapter on socialization was a revelation. The other is “Family Matters,” by “Snow Falling on Cedars” novelist David Guterson, who at least at the time he wrote the book was a high school teacher as well. Good stuff.

There have been a lot of surprises in our homeschooling journey, most of which involve discovering that the advantages aren’t all academic. One of the nicest for me has been finding just how many other secular (even politically liberal) hs’ing parents are out there.

By the way, I don’t consider myself the world’s most patient person, but if I could toilet train three kids, I can probably do anything…

29. Elizabeth - May 30, 2006

Becky, it’s stories like yours that are making Homeschooling sound better and better! If only I wouldn’t have to teach my kids High School-level Math, I could probably do it!

30. TB - May 30, 2006

Congrats on getting picked up by ClubMom!

I have always thought that homeschooling more than one child of different ages would be nearly impossible just because one would always ahead or behind. Besides, I barely made it through algebra myself, how can I expect to teach it to someone else. Then there’s the interaction and socialization aspect that I think homeschooled kids would really miss.

Great post! I’m not even a parent and you’ve got me thinking.

31. jes - May 30, 2006

Since I don’t have children yet, I can’t really respond from personal experience to this post. However, I can say that I’ve always said I’m going to have to homeschool my children if only because I can’t seem to get ANYWHERE on time. I’m afraid their schools will expel them for constant tardiness.

32. Elizabeth - May 30, 2006

Jes-Yeah, that’s a problem for me too! Even though we live two blocks from the school, I have to drive my boys at least a few times a week so they will get there before the last bell rings.

33. JP - May 30, 2006

I’m glad to read about what sound like really committed, innovative, and smart homeschooling decisions, because in my own experience, homeschooling has not been a positive. For the past ten years I’ve been a supervisor of student workers in college libraries — four of them, in different parts of the country — and in every one, I’ve had at least one homeschooled college freshman apply to work for us. In each and every case, it’s been a disaster. They weren’t comfortable interacting with their peers, they couldn’t handle criticism (constructive, job-training-based criticism) without tears or defensiveness or anger, and they were unable to understand the supervisory hierarchy of their jobs.

When it was just one student — the first one — I chalked it up to the fact that she’d been homeschooled by her grandmother, and had a different sense of the world, as a result. But then, each year, there’d be more of them… with the same problems, the same issues, which their public schooled peers did not have.

It may be that I was just hit with anomalous students, or that only the ‘problem’ kids self-identified as homeschoolers and I had homeschooled kids I never knew about who were perfectly great employees… and I hope that’s true, because it sounds from the comments here that many people who are homeschooling their children are aware of these pitfalls and looking ot avoid them.

Which is all by way of saying that we should all care about the quality of our public schools, and the quality and approaches of homeschooling families, because we all live in this society, and the successes and failures of any educational process will affect each and every one of us — whether we have kids in the system or not.

34. Silvermine - May 30, 2006

I’m thinking of homeschooling (if I can juggle life around enough to manage it! Right now I’m the sole breadwinner, and dh is going back to college… but I don’t think he has quite the right temperment right now to homeschool our son… I mean, our son would proabably learn everything there was to know about building lego trebuches, but not sure if he’d learn anything else. :D)

I’m agnostic, so it’s not about religion for me. I think it’s more about my son being smart, and remembering how hard it was to be smart at school. People didn’t understand me or like me for the most part (so I’m not really too sure public school socialization is the end all, either!) and I was rarely challenged academically.

Also, I think school is a bit of a waste of time. I’d rather have him spend less time waiting for things, and more time playing or learning. I wish I’d had more time to take specialized classes with real instruction — like maybe a drawing class, or dance class or something — but I think there really isn’t time for that after a day of regular school.

I remember a lot of my education I got from my own reading at home, or from my parents. I just had to go to school, too. 😉

35. halloweenlover - May 30, 2006

Great post, Elizabeth. I go back and forth on this issue too. I’m impressed to hear that home schooled children often do better in college, because that was not what I expected.

36. Karen - May 30, 2006

I always wonder about it too- not because I would want to, but because it’s an interesting choice people make. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t do it very well- I need a little ‘me’ time. and like you said- don’t we all need a little confrontation in our lives? some people have very valid reasons, but others confuse me. interesting post. ususally blog posts about homeschooling are all for it. I try to stay away & not comment, since it’s none of my business. but now- does it really mean you kid won’t have sex or do drugs? I doubt it.

37. Becky - May 30, 2006

Just a few more thoughts…

If only I wouldn’t have to teach my kids High School-level Math, I could probably do it!

Now see, if I had had to start right away with high school math, I’d have been cooked! But we started with first grade and every year we move ahead gradually (and with a great math program that makes SENSE). Math was one of my least favorite and least successful subjects — I’m old enough to have been a victim of the New Math in the early 70’s — but I’m actually revelling in the chance, finally, to learn math properly. Not to mention the fact that you can always “outsource” some subjects, like high school math or science, either with tutors, or DVD or online curriculum. The curriculum options available in all subjects now are staggering, and the secular stuff is growing 🙂

However, I can say that I’ve always said I’m going to have to homeschool my children if only because I can’t seem to get ANYWHERE on time.

Not having to deal with the school’s schedule, especially getting my daughter ready to get on the bus at 7:45 a.m. and being able to have piano lessons after lunch instead of after school hours, has been thoroughly liberating for us. Whenever we’ve had late nights — out of town friends visiting, going to a play, stargazing — it’s nice to be able to get a bit of a later start or even (shh…) do math in our jammies 🙂

we should all care about the quality of our public schools, and the quality and approaches of homeschooling families, because we all live in this society, and the successes and failures of any educational process will affect each and every one of us — whether we have kids in the system or not.

Very, very well said, JP. May my kids be lucky enough to encounter someone like you at the college library…

I need a little ‘me’ time.

This describes me and a lot of my homeschooling mother friends, especially those of us who are introverts homeschooling extrovert kids. And I’ve found that because with just my three kids we can cover a lot of ground in a lot less time than a whole classroom could, that leaves a fair amount of “down time” for me, while the kids are playing on their own, or reading, or watching a video/dvd, or at piano or art lessons or swim club…

I’ve also found that all the time my husband and I spend with the kids, not teaching per se but more teaching by example, has turned them into marvelous people who are an easy delight to be with.

38. Queen of Carrots - May 31, 2006

My husband and I were both homeschooled all the way. We even did distance-learning for college. He now works as an investment accounts manager in a Fortune 500 company; before I became a SAHM I was general counsel for a think tank. Our parents, though very nice people, would probably fall into the scary religious camp from the perspective of many of your commenters, but they still did a fine job of empowering us to get along in the real world.

School (which I have had fleeting encounters with) just seems a highly contrived, unnatural and inhuman environment. And as a prospective HS mother myself, I have to say that algebra has GOT to be easier than potty training.

39. Queen of Carrots - May 31, 2006

Oh, and I wanted to add in response to JP: Yes, there was probably something of a self-selecting issue. The normal HS grads I know do not go around announcing their educational background. It would be more likely to come from those raised to regard HS as the One True Way and themselves as superior to all lesser beings.

40. Melissa Wiley - May 31, 2006

I have always thought that homeschooling more than one child of different ages would be nearly impossible just because one would always ahead or behind.

TB, if you’re trying to use a school-like curriculum for each kid at several different grade levels, that can certainly be a challenge (although many families do pull it off); but lots of families find it easiest to study certain subjects all together and adjust up or down depending on each child’s abilities. For example, history: my five-year-old, who is just barely in the Bob Books stage of reading, can tell you an awful lot about the ancient Greeks and Romans because she has spent so much time listening in while I read to her older sisters. She plays with Legos or playdough while I read aloud from our history books, and she soaks up the stories like a sponge. She is learning Latin and math the same way–really! When her 7 yr old sister practices math facts, the 5 yr old chimes in. Similarly, the 7 yr old (and 5 yr old) listened in when the 10 yr old and I read Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT, and both the younger kids were hanging on every word and will now tell you eagerly all about the play.

A literature or history based approach involving a lot of read-alouds makes it easy to include many children at different age levels. What often happens is that the very atmosphere of the home becomes suffused with constant learning. Instead of having “school time” take place during a few set hours of the day, someone is always learning and exploring some subject or other. Education happens at the dinner table, in the car, on the couch. Kids learn fractions by making cookies and doubling the recipe, that kind of thing. It’s experiental. We call it a “lifestyle of learning.”

41. Hornblower - May 31, 2006

I don’t know why this topic gets me so worked up.
It may be a sign of some cognitive dissonance. Whenever the emotions kick in like that, we need to ask – why is this? Give it time and consider things like “did I like my schooling?”
“am I allowing myself to honestly reflect about my experiences of school or my childhood in general?” or perhaps
“do I wish I could homeschool my children but am afraid to even consider it because…..?” or
“do I secretly think homeschooling mothers are better mothers because I know I couldn’t stand it?” or
“I was a good student and liked school and now you’re implying that school’s not important. Does that make my success less valuable?” or, or, or….. there could be 1000’s of assumptions or beliefs which are in conflict here.

Have you read John Taylor Gatto’s essays? They’re what got me into exploring homeschooling.
The 6 Lesson Schoolteacher:
http://www.cantrip.org/gatto.html
NY City Teacher of the Year Acceptance Speech:
http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/john_gatto.html

42. Mel - June 1, 2006

Hey, look at me! Comment #41!

I school-at-home my 13-year old twin boys. We withdrew them from the public school classroom after fifth grade and enrolled them in a virtual academy in the same district.

One son had been bullied mercilessly for two years, but never told us until a year into school-at-home. His disposition went from irritable and crabby to helpful and agreeable.

The other son was lagging behind due to what I believe is Attention Deficit Disorder and some other undiagnosed processing issues. He was being left behind and I knew he’d really fall behind in middle school.

They had a little too much socialization, in my opinion, and came out of school pretty damaged. Two years later, they are both doing well, though one still struggles with attention and processing. They go to P.E. at the YMCA, play with six other neighborhood boys, have friends at church and seem to be adjusting well to adolescence. I have no regrets.

My 8-year old son goes to public school and is thriving there. He’ll probably stay put. He’s well-suited to a public school education, both intellectually and socially.

My daughter is only 3, and I’m not sure what I’ll do with her. I have time to decide.

And there’s my story! And comment #42! 😉

43. ablondeblogger - June 1, 2006

I’m a homeschooling mom of three. I think so many people have stereotypes about homeschoolers that drive me nuts. Like we’re all granola eating hippies who live in the mountains and keep our kids locked in closets!

My kids are social butterflies, well-adjusted and well-educated.

I’m a fun-loving, laid-back mom and do not sew all of our own clothes or grow all of our food (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

My children are 16, 9, and 5. I think homeschooling them is one of the best decisions I ever made.


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