Tale of a reluctant homeschooler

I wasn’t going to post today, other than the few links I shared, but Deb from Let A Woman Learn just left a beautiful and well-thought out answer to the question, “What are your reasons for homeschooling?” Enjoy her story:

j0182834.jpgBefore the birth of my first daughter, I didn’t think much about education. My own education had been only what I had experienced and from that, I knew generally something was amiss but I wasn’t really clear as to what all “being educated” or what “having a good academic education” meant. At the same time in my life, I was going through a struggle in my spiritual life and faith, and I also didn’t fully understand what it meant to have a true, Christian education, or what exactly it meant to bring up children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Once my first daughter was born, all of this became a real interest and concern and God used it to make changes in my mind-heart. At that time, my husband was not opposed to government schools. He did well academically so he had very few issues with them. I didn’t want the government schools but couldn’t explain why. So we reached an agreement and decided on a small, private, church school for kindergarten. At the end of end of the school year, the administration announced that the school was closing. After thinking we had figured out what we were doing for her education, my husband and I found ourselves back at square one, needing to re-think and make another decision. We did agree to homeschooling for a year to see how it would go and thus began my “re-education” and the “official” home education of our two daughters.

Looking back, I have to admit now, it was more of an emotional, gut reaction for me rather than a well thought out, specifically defined decision. From a mother’s perspective, I just simply loved my girls and enjoyed being with them so much that I hated the idea of being apart so much. Through 14 years of home schooling and conversations with my husband, we’ve understood more of what I was reacting to and have found more specific reasons for our decision to home educate.

The reasons are all inter-related and of equal importance so it’s hard to separate them or value one over the other. The ones at the top of the list tend to be fundamental or foundational to the rest. They come down to the basic parenting responsibility, family relationships, individuality, academic, and religious reasons:

  1. More time together – to talk to one another, share interests, share thoughts and feelings, imperfections and struggles, activities and just being together and with extended family of grandmothers.
  2. Closer relationships – they’re my constant companions other than my husband, mother and sister, and friends at church, the socialization I prefer.
  3. Character & spiritual growth and maturity.
  4. Their friends are at our house a lot and we get to know their friends well.
  5. Freedom to educate my daughter the way I (we) think best, freedom in curriculum.
  6. Curriculum content – by law in our state we are to use a curriculum comparable to the government school but we want a Biblical content, so I follow it to a point then teach it the way I want, expand/add to it or delete, go ahead on concepts or slow down, we don’t really go by grade level only for certain situations.
  7. High academic standards, they can learn and grasp concepts yet balanced with their own time and speed.
  8. Curriculum methods, philosophies – how and for what purpose is important.
  9. Being able to know how to learn, find answers, study.
  10. Not knowing the teacher personally — giving my child to an individual I did not know was one of my biggest fears!
  11. Physical safety.
  12. Teacher and school accountability or lack of it.
  13. Parental involvement or lack of it, being prevented from being involved.
  14. Not wanting my daughters to disappear into the mass, one size fits all, not wanting wrong labeling, being able to develop individual gifts, strengths, interests — to become the unique person they are.
  15. Peer pressure, learning to be able to think for themselves.

coin.jpgEducating my daughters is my maternal (parental) desire, pleasure, responsibility and right — it’s parenting — in the way I think best for them as individuals and for our family, free from the government funding and regulations/restrictions. Academic and religious education is one for me, I can’t separate them — two distinct parts of the whole. Similar to a coin — two distinct sides, yet the one coin. I call myself a home educator of the eclectic, unstructured sort, using a combination of Charlotte Mason, classical, and Principle Approach. I’ve never been one to think that everyone should home school because I do or that they home school in the same way I do. It will be different for everyone and I tend to stay away from the individuals/groups that want everyone and everything to be identical. Homeschooling hasn’t been without struggles. There are better days than others. Days where we don’t accomplish as much and days where we do accomplish a lot. Right now we’re behind due to a lot of sickness but we work at it on the weekend and year around. Even with this it has been well worth it and I’m glad to be a home educator. If some one has an interest I would certainly encourage them to try.

This probably shouldn’t have surprised me, but I could not help but note how many of the homeschooling families in the discussion had not really planned on homeschooling their children and even thought that wasn’t something they would ever do to their children. How much we can change when the best interests of our children are at stake!

[tags]homeschool, homeschooling[/tags]

What are your reasons for homeschooling?

Dreaming [BIG] dreams asked, so I thought I’d turn the question over to my audience, who predominantly homeschools.

I would like to hear from any home schooling parents. What are your thoughts on my thoughts. Dumb? Normal? Anyone ever home schooled for a few years through elementary and then put your kids in school when they are older and have more of a foundation from you?

Is there curriculum for preschool kids? Four year olds? Of course I think my kid is super smart and could learn lots now, what could I do to “try” this out before he is actually ready for school???

Some time ago, Stan of Winging it asked me a question about the way I approach the socialization issue on this blog. My answer is probably the best summary I have for why we homeschool. The decision to start is frightening, or at least can be. I do not think I am alone in saying it was the biggest hurdle for us. In fact, I only consented to do it for a year to prove what a ridiculous idea it was…and I was never all that sold on sending my children off to kindergarten anyway.

None of her questions are “dumb” and there are certainly materials for teaching pre-K, although I personally am more in the “let them play” category. Good parenting is the best curriculum at that age, but I understand the desire for a book to follow! They are out there, and there is a blog linked in the list below she might find helpful, as well.

Anyway, feel free to share your reasons here, at dreaming [BIG] dream’s site or on your own blog. You may of course leave links to your thoughts, past or present in my comment box. Unfortunately, any comment containing links will be held for moderation, but they will get approved as soon as I notice them.

Update:  A link to a similar discussion at The Heart of the Matter.


In other news:

One reason I love blogging. Of course, I have no way of knowing whether he is who he says he is based on a comment and his email address, but I can marvel in the possibility. If you do not know who Stuart McArthur is, just scroll up from the comment to the entry. And if the subject fascinates you as much as it does me, there was even a follow-up post.

excellent2baward_5.jpgThis blog was awarded the Excellent Blogger Award, thrice over. A special thanks to Spunky Homeschool, Consent of the Governed and Home Spun Juggling. Now I’m supposed to nominate ten more people. Hmm…normally I think about this too much, so I’m going to select ten random blogs from my Google Reader.

    Joanne Jacobs, one of my favorite “edubloggers.”
    Preschoolers and Peace, a good site for dreaming [BIG] dreams to take a look at since she asked about preschool!
    Why Homeschool?, exploring the answers to the question their blog is named for.
    Let a Woman Learn, now I see why she hasn’t updated in my feed reader. I never changed the address after she moved!
    Classical School Blog, on a break due to an upcoming surgery for their daughter. She was diagnosed with an Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma, and is undergoing treatment.
    Amy’s Humble Musings, always a good way to start off your morning.
    Homeschool Comments on the Fly, for a bit of here and there on homeschooling.
    MInTheGap, some interesting discussion on being Christian in today’s culture.
    Freedom Thirst, another of the many blogs I read and rarely comment on. So here’s a little “link love.”
    Mom is Teaching, also a bit of here and there. News, links to good posts, teaching strategies…all sorts of good stuff.

That was the fastest I have every composed one of these things. I think I like random! And now I have a deadline to meet today so that you can enjoy the second edition of The Heart of the Matter when it publishes this Friday.

…and the Carnival of Family Life is posted. Today is your lucky day, if you are looking for lots of links!

[tags]homeschooling, homeschool[/tags]

Libraries and homeschoolers

j0409050.jpgFor an upcoming issue of Public Libraries, the journal of the Public Library Association, an interesting call for submissions has been issued:

Homeschoolers are a growing constituency for public libraries. Families choose to homeschool for many reasons: religious and political; their children’s learning styles; the quality of the public schools. Public libraries can provide a common meeting place for homeschool families.What programs has your library developed to assist homeschoolers? How have you developed collections in response to their requests? Do homeschoolers and their families present any difficulties?

So we as homeschoolers have officially become a large enough group to be officially catered to. Actually, travel companies, seeking ways to increase sales during the off-season, have begun looking at us too. Maybe once we are recognized by the market, homeschooling will finally be be more universally accepted.

In our library system, there seems to be one library which is focused on the homeschool community. That is where the little “So you are thinking about homeschooling?” seminars are held, it has most of the homeschool related books and it even has some of those “odd” items such as materials from Answers in Genesis. It is the only library with a homeschool magazine (Homeschooling Today) and it has little “unit in a bag” kits teachers and homeschooling families can check out for young children. The librarians obviously considered the needs and desires of local homeschooling families in their acquisitions and it is sort of nice to have all of these materials at one location. Although it is not the closest library to us, it is where we tend to visit simply because any time I do a search for a book of an educational nature, it is almost always available at that library.

Have you noticed your library specifically catering to homeschool families in your area?

Hat Tip:  Homeschooling and Libraries

NE legislature’s contempt for ALL parents?

Commenter John left an excellent response to my entry on Nebraska’s proposed anti-homeschool legislation:

    LB1141 is condescending and contemptuous to all parents; homeschool, private, parochial, and public. These limitations upon the educational choices proposed by LB1141 usurp a parent’s primary obligation, authority, and responsibility for the education of their children. This constitutes an attempt to redefine the State’s current level of parens patriae. The mere consideration and introduction of this bill is nothing short of an all out infringement and assault upon the liberties of the citizens of Nebraska. The State does not posses a higher authority than the parent.
    The legislature should focus instead upon repairing the disastrous mess the State has created within the current public school system. The members of the State of Nebraska Legislature instead should be considering ways to understand why private schooling, including homeschooling, has proven overwhelmingly to be a more successful method by which parents have chosen to educate their children. Consider the real possibility that the answer to this success lies within the parents and not the State?
    The burden of responsibility to show accountability of results is not that of the parents. Contrary to Senator Schimek’s assumption that parents owe some burden of proof to the State, the actual burden of responsibility falls upon the State to convince parents that the public school system is a viable option for their children. When parents believe that the system provided by the State does not meet their standards, needs, and expectations; current and effective alternatives exist. The results that the State has continuously shown through the public school system is the reason that the families of nearly 50,000 children in Nebraska exercise their liberty to choose a private school (parochial, private, or home school) for their children. These families do this with no additional tax burden upon the State, all the while continuing to contribute their portion of taxes to the public system.
    Perhaps now is the time to focus upon a few real pressing issues such as to the failure of public school system to provide a decent education to rather large segment of children enrolled and even consider vouchers to relieve the burden the State places upon the families who have opted out of the State’s public education system.

The legislature here does seem to have a general disdain for public education and has made a “disastrous mess” of things. Nebraska has a long history of local control, a tradition of which I am very proud. In fact, we must be doing something right, for while we rank 34th in per pupil spending on education, we rank at the top when it comes to measurements of academic success. A few years ago, however, a bill was introduced to force the consolidation of Class I schools. This was hotly opposed. It passed. The governor vetoed it. The legislature overrode his veto. It was put on the 2006 ballot and the people voted to repeal it. But it was too late. The schools had already been consolidated.

And LB1141 is not the only bill currently being considered by the education committee that deserves to be challenged.

A bill (LB987) introduced by Lincoln Sen. Ron Raikes would create the Quality Education Accountability Commission to ensure statewide testing, reporting, upgrading of standards and tracking of student achievement, which were put into law last year. It also would create a quality education accountability office that would be under the auspices of the governor. American Society for Quality

This Commission will be responsible for some of the most important decisions the state can make regarding education, and it will be completely outside of voter control. Even our elected State Board of Education which is currently charged with this task, will only be allowed to send three representatives to the Commission.

Members of our legislature are certainly condescending and contemptuous of parents, and it doesn’t matter where your children are educated.

For more on what is going on with the homeschooling legislation in NE, please check the links in my sidebar.


For more information on LB 1141, you can click on the category LB 1141 and find everything I have written so far.

[tags]homeschooling, homeschool, Nebraska, LB 1141, LB 987[/tags]

Just how different is a homeschool education?

thecover.jpgThe Colorado Independent has a special issue devoted to homeschooling. In it, you can find an interesting mix of stereotype and reality, laced perhaps with subtle mocking and a strange sort of intrigue. At least that is my impression after reading all the articles. The tone is best summarized by Anthony Lane’s conclusion of sorts:

Many homeschooling parents were enthusiastic to the point of contagiousness, and I saw the appeal of giving kids individual attention and the kind of nurturing environment that few, if any, public schools can provide.

The scarier part of parents controlling their kids’ education: It’s a largely unchecked phenomenon. In many cases, no one outside the family really knows what’s going on, and researchers say good statistics on homeschooled kids are hard to come by. Long Story Short

We are back to this idea that the most frightening part of homeschooling is not academics, not socialization and not even the possibility of fundamentalist whackos brainwashing children. Instead, the scariest part of parents exercising their natural right to direct their children’s education is the fact that we just don’t have good statistics. The state cannot peer into their homes and see what is going on. And we all know that the state is better at raising children than the family.

This raises an interesting question. One I wish the author had actually explored, for it would have generated a much more interesting discussion than the odd assemblage of old studies and objections raised by Rob Reich.

One of these things…
is not like the other. But at its core, just how different is a homeschool education?

And the answer, like so many other things in the homeschool community, is: it depends. Some families go out of their way to replicate the school environment. I did. For many of us, that wears off after a time, and for others it remains a solid consistency.

At its core, however, I believe the true heart of homeschooling can be found in this short statement which seems to puzzle Lane.

“I’m homeschooling so I can open up their world, not close it,” she says, offering a justification at once noble and vaguely paradoxical. One of these things…

So just how different is a homeschool education? I’ll start with the two Lane offered:

Individual attention.

Every child is unique, with his own set of strengths, weaknesses and interests. Because the parent knows the child intimately, the entire curriculum can be set up to challenge each child individually. Strengths can be developed and weaknesses minimized. Interests can be supported and used to further stimulate the child’s development. All of these concepts are discussed in education courses for teachers, but are of limited practicality in a room of 25 children the teacher meets on the first day of school.

Nurturing environment.

No one loves a child quite like his own parent. We make incredible sacrifices for our children on a daily basis, and this does not stop when it comes to education. While researchers speak of the “affective domain” and its importance in education, parents are naturally attuned to this aspect of their children’s lives.

Opening horizons

The thought of homeschooling “open[ing] up their world” is only paradoxical if you believe it means we never leave our home. But homeschool families rarely spend all their time at the kitchen table, memorizing scripture and practicing math facts. In fact, for many of us, integration between learning and life is a motivating factor for homeschooling. Our children are not locked away in a school, making a yearly field trip into the world. Instead, their community becomes their classroom.

Free to be different.

Perhaps the one characteristics that makes it most difficult to talk about homeschoolers in any sort of collective sense is also our greatest strength. Walk in to any public school in America and you will notice the obvious similarities. But each and every homeschool has the opportunity to be truly unique, set on different principles and following different methodologies. We are not molding children after the pre-set factory mold, but using our community resources to inspire our children to be their own person.

We are opening up their world, and tailoring an educational program to suit.

Update:  Valerie at Home Education Magazine takes a close look at the bias in the main article.  She even has a statistical analysis. (And if you read this, Valerie, my comment got eaten by your spam muncher again. I promise I’m not a spammer!)

[tags]homeschool, homeschooling[/tags]