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Is homeschooling for you?

 

Many educators are strongly against the homeschooling movement, bemoaning that playing teacher is like playing doctor ... something better left to the qualified. I agree that teachers probably do know a lot more about curriculum, instruction, learning and motivation than the person on the street. I also agree that if you live in a bad school district, committed caring parents can probably do a better job. Many homeschooling advocates complain about the lack of value, ethical and character education in the schools. Caring, involved parents can teach their children these values through the situations they face in school.

 

I am going to present "against" and "for" considerations in the hope to spur some discussion on this topic.

 

Against

 

- Lack of socialization and possible sheltering from diversity and the real world.

- Lack of state and national standards. (Depends on your states, most states have some requirements).

- Waste of property tax money. (We pay for the schools).

- No conclusive research that demonstrate homeschooling provides an advantage over public schools. Most reports are anecdotal.

- Parents are possibly unqualified as educators.

- Possible lack of format in terms of curriculum, goals and structure.

- Possible lack of honest assessment tools.

- Families may not have access to the professional knowledgebase and resources available to schools and educators.

- Families may not have the skills to recognize, diagnose and create specialized learning plans for children with learning disabilities.

- If there is poor state oversight, there are opportunities for abuse and neglect.

 

For

 

- Negative peer pressure in the schools.

- Able to provide values and character education the schools cannot due to liability / "PC" issues.

- Avoid unengaging lessons, and overwhelmed teachers due to an overstrapped, bureaucratic and underfunded system.

- Important religious or family values absent in the school system.

- The school district where you live is not so hot.

- Cannot afford private education, and do not want public education.

- Less disruptive for a family that travels a lot due to work or other reasons.

- Greater commitment level and one on one.

- Kids can learn more efficiently than in the school system as they can focus more intently on problem areas, without the class being left behind, or can move ahead without being kept back by the class.

- More dynamic / flexible - can capitalize on opportunities ... family develops a lifestyle of learning ... for instance the hurricanes off Florida at the moment provide an opportunity the school is not willing to take due to their curriculum.

 

There are ways to work around many of the problems, such as on-line and neighborhood communities that allow kids to interact in virtual classrooms, or sports clubs that allow kids to interact extramuraly. It is also possible to employ tutors for key subject areas.

 

My own opinion is that if you are considering this, you really have to do your homework. It is a lifestyle decision. I have seen it work very well, so I believe it is a good thing, but I have also seen kids who do well on the standardized tests, but are not as wise to the world as public school educated kids are. in addition to education, laundry, lawn mowing and such household stuff still need to be done, and parents still need to earn a living. I like the idea that you have this choice, and in my experience it is generally not frowned upon.

Edited by Teacher

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Thanks Teacher, very informative.

 

And quite apt as we have some SA friends who recently decided to go the homeschool way with their 3 kids (all elementary age) and we have been having this pro - con discussion with them.

 

For the record I am 'against' homeschooling as I believe that the social learning curve is not as steep as it should be at home and I firmly believe that the importance of facing, responding and participating in social behaviour is as important as academic achievment.

 

Also how do you develop leadership skills at home. And I dont think that participation in sports (like little league or T-ball) will provide it because we tend to place our kids with the children of our peers (same background, living conditions, financial standing etc.) whereas in a public school our kids are confronted with a wide spectrum of personalities, backgrounds etc.

 

I also believe that you have to have the occasional run-in with the playground bully or the real mean teacher. Life throws us all sorts of obstacles and where will mom and dad be one day when there is a mean boss or a derogutory co-worker?

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No conclusive research that demonstrate homeschooling provides an advantage over public schools. Most reports are anecdotal.

I beg to differ Teacher. This organisation makes it their business to defend and research all aspects of home schooling. OK, I realise that there is probably a lot I do not understand, not being in the US and all, but there are extensive research reports on the HSLDA site for those who want to read about it.

 

Our experience of home schooling was that it's not for the feint hearted. The parent that takes the lead in it has to be dedicated to the concept, and armed with lots of patience. ;)

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Thanks for pointing that out Hendie. That is great information. I guess what I was trying to say is that the research cannot prove that home schooling is better than the public school system in general ... specific public schools are better than specific home schools, and vice-versa. Make sense? ...

 

If anyone has any first-hand experience of home schooling, and the process of starting it all up, creating a curriculum, getting your program approved by the state, and so forth, please feel free to contribute your insight to our discussion.

Edited by Teacher

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One of the approaches to home schooling is to make use of online high schools. This is particularly advantageous because you have approved and accredited and well designed curriculum, are taught by qualified teachers, and have more opportunity to ask questions, and get good thought out answers than in a classroom. You are not disrupted from your learning by the unmotivated jerk who creates crafty interruptions to classroom activities to "play for time" and avoid working. Also you have more liberty with the schedule ... teenagers go through hormonal and biological changes which make them afternoon people (not morning people) and are better served by attending school later in the day.

 

Here are a couple of links I found:

http://www.flvs.net/

http://www.homeschoolacademy.com/

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I have been VERY much against the concept of Homeshooling for many of the same reasons stated here. However we experienced the public school system in Boston for two years and decided that we will go the alternative way and started home educating our only daughter after we moved to Indiana. That was in the fall of 2001 - 3 school years and may prayers and tears and laughs later, we are STILL home schooling. From my own experience I would like to comment on some of the statements made.

 

Against

 

- Lack of socialization and possible sheltering from diversity and the real world.

 

Our daughter is on a swim team - she sees kids EVERY day from different backgrounds and of different age levels. She also started with a special Phys Ed program at the local YMCA shortly after we started H/S There are 3 other girls who 3 years later are STILL her best friends - they don't see each other on a daily or even weekly basis anymore, but they share a common bond that is precious. The REAL world is out there - NOBODY can escape it.

 

- Lack of state and national standards. (Depends on your states, most states have some requirements).

 

No. There are institutions that offer standardized testing and one can know on what level your child is at the end of every school year. Our daughter tested in the highest percentile ranks for 7th grade in June.

 

- Waste of property tax money. (We pay for the schools).

 

We pay for lots of things we don't use. In fact ALL of a nonresident alien's tax money is wasted, since we cannot vote on matters that concern us.

 

- No conclusive research that demonstrate homeschooling provides an advantage over public schools. Most reports are anecdotal.

 

Probably my biggest fear - that after all the years of H/s our daughter might not be accepted to a good college - only time will tell.

 

- Parents are possibly unqualified as educators.

That might be true, and one can only teach what you know? NOT so - I've learned a lot over time and it's a continuous learning curve, and there is LOTS of help online, at the local library and from other H/S parents. What I do know is that NO teacher will ever love our child as much as we do.

 

- Possible lack of format in terms of curriculum, goals and structure.

 

That is part of the life skills that we can teach our kids. Goal setting, time management and structure. We work on a schedule that can be followed to the minute, or set aside for a day or more when the opportunity to learn something different suddenly arise. We used a curriculum designed for the computer for 3 years. This year we switched and although it is a LOT more work for me, our daughter is very happy with the more interactive way of learning from text books and videos. Her attention span is better and she is more motivated.

 

- Possible lack of honest assessment tools.

 

The assessment tools come with the curriculum, it depends on the parent to apply them and if one has the interest of your child at heart - which you should have since you H/S - you will be strict and point out mistakes in love.

 

- Families may not have access to the professional knowledgebase and resources available to schools and educators.

 

Any librarian should be able to help you, the local library down the road sees us at least twice a week, sometimes during school hours, sometimes in the afternoon. And they know what we are looking for and where we can find it. Inter-library loans make material available too, that would otherwise not be accessible.

 

- Families may not have the skills to recognize, diagnose and create specialized learning plans for children with learning disabilities.

 

A parent will know when a child needs help - looooooong before the teachers notice it in a class of 20+ students. If not - then both need help <_<

 

- If there is poor state oversight, there are opportunities for abuse and neglect.

 

In the 3 years I haven't had anybody knocking on our door to check in on us. Neglect can take on many forms - "depriving" a child of public education should not be seen as one of them. There are more abuse in public schools from both teachers and students alike that can harm a growing child than neglect in a loving home environment. Most parents H/S because they want what is best for their kids - not to cause them harm. I have seen all sides of this spectrum and yes, there are parents who think they are educating their children, while all they are doing is preparing them for a life of marrying too young and having children and home making. You will find kids like this everywhere - even in public schools.

 

For

 

- Negative peer pressure in the schools.

 

Don't think peer pressure is limited to public schools - it's everywhere - even on this forum amongst adults.

 

- Able to provide values and character education the schools cannot due to liability / "PC" issues.

 

Our biggest concern was the way in which certain theories are presented in school - not recognizing and honouring God - we have a Christian based curriculum that we follow, which will not be found in public school.

 

- Avoid unengaging lessons, and overwhelmed teachers due to an overstrapped, bureaucratic and underfunded system.

 

Most definitely YES

 

- Important religious or family values absent in the school system.

 

Yes, I've answered that above - nothing surpasses family values, good moral standards, based on biblical principles to a believer in Christ Jesus. For those opposed to this belief - we all have a right to our own opinion.

 

- The school district where you live is not so hot.

 

the High School up the road has 2500 students - not one person who we've met ask twice why we H/S when they hear where we live.

 

- Cannot afford private education, and do not want public education.

 

Yes, I would love to send our daughter to the Christian school nearby - it's just too expensive for a one income family at the moment.

 

- Less disruptive for a family that travels a lot due to work or other reasons.

 

It was a motivation in the beginning, but now we are pretty much settled, but still prefer the home system.

 

- Greater commitment level and one on one.

 

Yes, and that interaction is very valuable - and for in case you think a child learning all by herself is not up to pranks - I got locked out the house a couple of weeks ago with an apple and a bottle of water to keep me going for 15 minutes. It was planned to be longer - but I out smarted my student <_<

 

- Kids can learn more efficiently than in the school system as they can focus more intently on problem areas, without the class being left behind, or can move ahead without being kept back by the class.

 

Yes, we've seen that over and over - lots of time goes wasted in school - we can cover content in a day that would take a week in school.

 

- More dynamic / flexible - can capitalize on opportunities ... family develops a lifestyle of learning ... for instance the hurricanes off Florida at the moment provide an opportunity the school is not willing to take due to their curriculum.

 

In actual fact I do believe that all parents H/S to a certain extent, because most parents will take the hurricane example to discuss this with their kids. Most parents teach their children life skills and educate them in some way, helping with homework and maybe research for a project. But some parens prefer to take H/S ALL the way and that is when a family develops a lifestyle of learning. We see every opportunity as a learning experience, and it should actually be the case in most families, whether their children are H/S or in public school.

 

We can discuss the topic at length and we will not reach a point where we all agree. I've shared my opinion here from personal experience. I used to be one against the concept - one will never know if you don't walk the mile in another's shoes. I do believe that we all do what we consider in the best interest of our children.

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On the comment about playground bullies. Once again - you find those everywhere - they operate in different areas and sadly once a playground bully, always a playground bully - it even carries over in the workplace. H/S kids are not as protected as you might think. It's just that their academic environment is not disturbed by kids who don't have the same quest for knowledge.

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Thank you Esme for your vaulable and appreciated contribution to this discussion. The goal for this thread is not to try reach some kind of conlcusion, but to explore pros and cons and figure out whether homeschooling would work for you. I am grateful for your "real" experience ... and you follow up post acknowledges a big problem in the traditional public school classroom; that is the problem of disruptive behaviour, which places the good kids at a disadvantage.

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I have to say that H/S is a lonely road - not for the child as much as for the parent. Very few people realize the value of personal education and we are confronted with a lot of critism on a daily basis. I cannot recall one incident where I advised a friend to take his child out of public school. Yet we are advised often to put ours back into the school system. Their reasons being because she will miss out on her prom, or other social events. Fact is she does have a couple of good public school friends and often goes to sport events and such. Her comments - "I really don't want to be a part of all that everyday of my life just to be a part of the 'school spirit' once in a while." The high school would allow her to take some classes, just to have her as part of their swim team - she's not interested.

 

On the question of support groups, I can write a book. Usually these groups are meant to be an extension fo the H/S classroom. All the kids have in mind is to socialize, which often happens. So I cannot understand why support groups are not planned as social gatherings in the first place, rather than hiding behind some educational topic or elective. We have joined and unjoined several groups in the past. In the end it takes too much time out of a daily schedule and believe me when I say no two H/S families have the same outlook. We all do things differently and according to whatever plan and curriculum suits us best. The danger is also to become so involved in all sorts of other activities, support groups and online classes, that there is little time left for schoolwork.

 

Not one year passed without some valuable lessons aout the pitfalls. As Hendie said it's definitely not for the fainthearted and the minute you stop worrying if you are in fact doing EVERYTHING the right way - that is when you should get really worried. I still have a lot to learn and at the moment I'm just happy that we are enjoying the curriculum, working together as a team and feeling blessed that we live in a state where people who H/S are not looked upon as the outcasts of this world. Even our Education department in Indiana has a section for Homeschooling on their website.

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In PA (and western NJ) homeschoolers are not looked on as outcasts either ... but both these states have laws that set standards and requirements ... essentially, anyone who feels the urge may not be qualified by the state to homeschool their kids.

 

As for your other comments ... there is no silver bullet ... any teacher will tell you that, but with experience you develop a "toolset" ... and know what approach to use in a given situation.

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nothing like reviving an old <_< topic, but thought if anyone needs encouragement to pursue the option of homeschooling I would love to share. We are in our 10th year now and although there have certainly been bumps and hills along the way, we are happy with our choice and have two (I think) well adjusted socialized kids :lol: There is so much support available in the US from groups to curriculum .

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I just don't have the patience I'm afraid...

 

I believe that kids need a break from their parents, just as parents need a break from their kids too. I send mine to school so that they don't seek their break away from home at friends' homes all weekend. :P

 

I commend those who homeschool. Just not for me though.

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nothing like reviving an old <_< topic, but thought if anyone needs encouragement to pursue the option of homeschooling I would love to share. We are in our 10th year now and although there have certainly been bumps and hills along the way, we are happy with our choice and have two (I think) well adjusted socialized kids :lol: There is so much support available in the US from groups to curriculum .

 

Been at it for 8 or so years here and wouldn't change it for the world ;)

 

It just blows me away at how much support for it there is here. But then again, it has been popular since the 70's/80's.

 

As to curriculum, they have one of the largest h/s conferences in the country, at Orlando every year, and if you are not careful you'll lose your family's annual budget there in one swoop - a HUUUGE exhibition hall dedicated just to curriculum. I have to be truly disciplined or I get into big trouble from the boss :lol: :whome:

 

When we started down this road in '99 there were a few groups scattered here and there in the city. Today, there are hundreds of activities dedicated to h/schoolers - from co-ops (I teach kindergarten once a week at one, my older kids do Chemistry - taught by a former highschool p/s science teacher - drama - they have put on 2 plays this year - art - digital photography mostly, with loads of field trips to the beach, parks, rivers, etc - literature - Last of the Mohicans (poor blighters, I DETEST that book), Huck Finn, with Great Gatsby to be started in 2 weeks' time - and logic - kid has the makings of an attorney :lol: All this for basically free - parents just have to put in some time either teaching, helping in class or cleaning up afterwards and all you pay for is a small sum toward the utility bills and towards the supplies that are used) to choirs, any and every sport under the sun, sculpture, painting, paintball, drama, etc..etc...

 

Two of the kids in my class go to another co-op on a different day and they were rattling off and showing me the major bones of the body a couple of months ago. They're studying anatomy, age 5 :ilikeit:

 

It has gone 'mainstream' here, and is growing by leaps and bounds in Europe. I think the fact that many of the initial 'pioneer' children are today educated professionals has had something to do with it. It used to be either 'tree-huggers' or 'those crazy Christian people' who did it, but today there are literally thousands of secular homeschoolers and growing by the month from what I've seen across the net.

 

My kids are well-adjusted, extremely social kids (if I did not curb their social lives, we'd get absolutely NO academics done - they go to Proms, Valentine dances, etc.), entrepreneurial, in fact, they've had the time to discover and pursue their life-interests from a young age. Great kids if I say so myself :lol: :ilikeit:

 

Ever read the book, 'The Well-Trained Mind' by Susan Wise Bauer? I call it my h/s bible ;)

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Well, I've always said that it's personal choice, but I do feel that parents who go the Home Schooling route should prepare themselves....take some courses during the summer for each subject they're going to teach in the new year...or something like that so that they know what they're teaching their kids.

 

And....no I'm no match for home schooling. I got totally stumped on 9th Grade Algebra during our vacation in Cape Town, but thank the good stars above her Uncle was able to help her. Was freaking Greek to me...then again Math was never one of my favorite subjects... :lol:

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Wow this is an emotional topic, and one that has positive solutions both ends.

 

My sister, who is still in SA, has 3 sons. Her eldest is 19, he is Autistic. She decided to take him out of special school as she felt he was at a disadvantage. The entire family try to persuade her that for his specialized education it would be better to leave him at the special school. She chose to ignore everyones plea's. This child has the learning capacity of a sixth grader and at 19, stands no chance of achieving anything in SA. She has another son aged 12, very very bright little boy, and another one who is 4. From what I understand it is not monitored the way it is here. She has nothing in writing to prove these 3 kids have even attended any kind of schooling and in my opinion she has stolen their right to be educated where they can at least have some kind of certificate to show for it.

 

Her children are introverts, have no social skills whatsoever, and do not understand what healthy competition is.

 

So, there's my two cents worth, this is the closest i've ever got to the issue and i'm strongly opposed to it. I do realize however, that i'm basing my decision on limited knowledge.

 

Dee

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