Just FYI for anyone looking for posts about updates specific to our home school, You can find that here: Raising Wild Things.
One of the many reasons I love homeschooling is that it lets my family work on our own night owl schedule. I am most productive during the late evening hours.
I worked today (my husband was home with the kids) and my kids spent most of their waking, daylight hours outside playing. But here we are, at eleven o’clock at night, everyone happily engrossed in their various projects, self included. I’ve been working on planning for the last couple of hours and as I look up and around, there’s a child drawing math problems on the dry erase board, there’s an art project going on at the dining room table, a documentary playing on TV and an impromptu mythology lesson in the kitchen. The house is calm, peaceful and full of activity.
Everyone will wind down and head to their various bedrooms soon enough. The 11 year old has already read a bedtime to story to the 7 year old, just because she wanted to share the story about the legend of the bluebonnet. Even the two year old is happily creating worlds with littlest pet shops and la la loopsys in the family room.
Having watched them earlier count by tens, correctly identify cardinal ordinal relationships, work math problems for fun, and read aloud to each other, I am once again reassured that they are, in fact, learning. That this is working and most importantly, my kids are happy and enjoy learning.
Homeschooling is a controversial issue. It evokes in some images of unsocialized, awkward and downright “weird” kids. Of religious extremists and isolationism, of parents bent of shielding their children from the “real world”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Of course, for others, homeschooling is just a fact of life. By now, many homeschoolers are second generation homeschoolers. It’s a trend that has caught on and it’s still growing.
According to the most recent statistics, 1.5 million students are being taught at home. The advent of easy and affordable internet access has increased the numbers. The explosion in homeschooling groups makes the idea of the unsocialized homeschooler an obsolete one. There are even homeschooling conferences for families to attend and a plethora of curriculum and materials to be had, often available used at half price books or through a local homeschool co-op.
Families choose to home school for many reasons. Some to avoid bullying and other problems that are rampant in our public school system. Some simply to give their children a good education because, let’s face it; our public schools just aren’t cutting it anymore. Certainly some families home school for religious reasons and so that they can teach their children the values they want them to have, rather than the ones they learn in public schools which, again let’s face it, aren’t always the ones the teachers are trying to instill. Many families who aren’t very religious choose to home school for many reasons and even families that are often have other reasons for choosing to home school.
There is no doubt that a much more individualized education can be found at home, and a much more hands on, fun one at that. Forget the text books and head to your local museum for some real world learning. Talk about shielding your child from the “real world”, that’s what schools do. The real world is all around us; it’s in watching the squirrels chase each other up the trees and watching the ants build their home. It’s in learning about careers by taking trips to the actual places, a bakery, a fire station etc. It’s in the act of learning by becoming interested in something then looking it up and learning about it for yourself. That’s an important life skill that often gets missed when we try to spoon feed learning to children.
For an excellent book on homeschoolers and socialization, try Rachel Gathercole’s book, “The Well Adjusted Child, the social benefits of homeschooling”.
Does your child need preschool?
Many parents want to know, does my child need preschool? In a word, no.
There is a trend in this country toward more and more structured education. More doesn’t equal better and more of the same doesn’t fix problems. In generations past, a sixth to eight grade education was the norm. Then came high school. Once having an associate’s degree advanced you quite well just as once a high school diploma ensured success. By the 1970’s it was a four year degree you needed post high school, and now we are hearing that if you truly want to succeed, you need six years post high school, a masters degree.
School keeps getting moved earlier too. First grade use to be just that, first. Somewhere along the way kindergarten was needed to ensure success in first grade. Then preschool came along to help you succeed in kindergarten. Now many public schools have three year old programs. Where will it end?
The irony of all this is that the advent of earlier and earlier structured education flies In the face of all the research. Research dating back to the fifties as well as the most current research, which all states that children do not learn through structured education at such an early age. Children learn best through unstructured play.
Think back to your own childhood. Do it now, lean back, close your eyes and think for a few minutes through your childhood memories. What are your favorite memories, the ones that make you happy? When groups of adults are asked this question, the answer are consistently memoires that have to do with outside play, friends, imaginative play, family trips etc. None of them have to do with workbooks, watching tv or even with adult led play.
Certainly a young child can be made to memorize and repeat the memorized material back, but that is not true learning. Children who start structured education earlier show gains initially over peers, but after the first few years, generally score BEHIND children who did not. Many of the countries that beat us on test scores for school children, do not even start structured education until age seven.
From Maria Montessori and Friedrich Froebel to Dr. Spock, the experts agree that what your child needs to learn and thrive is play.
In the fifties employee’s were given IQ tests and promotions were based on those. The results were not good. Turns out IQ in no way predicts leadership skills or success. What does? EQ has been found to be the best predictor of success. EQ stand for emotional quotient and emotional intelligence, as it’s called, is what is required to succeed. So throw the workbooks and flash cards out and teach your toddlers how to label their emotions and let them learn to explore and play. Give them a secure, safe, supportive environment full of love and watch them flourish!
One oft lobbed criticism of homeschooling is that it’s done to isolate and promote a narrow world view based on the family’s religion.
While this may be true of some homeschoolers, isolation is not the primary reason that most families choose to homeschool their children. Certainly, teaching your children your religious viewpoints, doctrines, values and beliefs is the parent’s responsibility and something that is going to occur with or without homeschooling.
If religious isolationism is the intent, homeschool isn’t needed. Parents can opt for a religiously based private school or even monitor closely who their public school children associate with outside of school hours.
Sure, some people choose homeschooling in part because it allows them more latitude and control in regards to what their child is exposed to. This, however, is not the sole purview of the religious. Many homeschoolers who would identify as non denominational, secular, atheist, agnostic etc, choose to homeschool, in part, to allow themselves this same latitude and control over what values their children learn and what they are and are not being exposed to (drug use, violence, sex, foul language to name a few and sadly, this isn’t just at the highschool level).