Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A short mild (non-rant) comment about home-schooling

Yesterday, I launched into a rant about education, specifically what might happen to public education if a voucher system gets implemented.

Home schoolers need a better statement on their behalf than my single comment that home schooling is TOUGH if you do it right. This is where I MILDLY do that. It's not under duress; So far, nobody has complained that I blah blah blah.  I have lots of friends who are able to home school, and they haven't complained about how tough it is, because if you are a complainer, you DON'T home school. The people who home school are the kind of people who ACTIVELY look for solutions, find them, and implement them.

Home schooling is TOUGH if you do it right. Here's what you HAVE to do, it's a state requirement: you have to have lesson plans which you turn in to the designated official in the public school system; you have to keep a log of the hours spent in direct instruction. There's probably a lot more, but those two things I know about.

You have to find and purchase books which cover the subject materials. That's probably easier to do today than it was 40 years ago; I know of two sources where you can get the package: ABEKA and Bob Jones. There have to be others, but those are the two I've had personal contact with. (note: 'personal contact' means I have seen the outside of a textbook in the floorboard of a car, or had someone tell me they used it.)

And you are probably going to have to adapt the curriculum. I attended a Mennonite church in the mid-80s, and they are a Peace church; no military service, etc. They home schooled their kids, and they had to edit the materials so that the martial aspects were removed. And if you remove something, you have to put something in its' place, which YOU have to invent.

And you are going to have to have MORE than passing knowledge of the subject material. Math wasn't your thing? Too bad! Deal with it! Anybody who has ever taught ANYTHING knows that you have to master material at a far greater depth than you teach it.

Home schoolers don't just teach their kids to read. They also teach them science, which includes chemistry and biology. That means they have to have a source for glassware, and microscopes, and chemicals, and frogs, worms, crawfish, and trays to dissect them in, and many of the chemicals can kill you dead if not handled correctly.

Home schoolers have to network in order to be successful. It's not just having a back-up plan for teaching; there are some group activities you don't want your kids to miss out on. Sports? Well, you aren't going to be able to provide your kid with a varsity football experience in home school, but you might be able to arrange some team sport activities if you network. (There are other options, of course: Little League, etc.) I have some wonderful, beautiful, talented friends who networked to provide their teens with a prom, field trips, and a high school graduation ceremony. I got to attend and participate in one of those, and it was breathtakingly beautiful.

So, this is not written to try to scare you away from home schooling if that's what you want to do. Instead, I mean it as an homage to those brave and persistent parents who make it work. I STILL believe the voucher system is a bad idea, but the LACK of a voucher system has not stopped determined and capable parents for providing an education for their kids. My hat (if I wore one) is off to them; I couldn't do it.

I hope that somewhat clarifies where I stand on the matter. Be at peace.

1 comment:

  1. I homeschooled in New Jersey. I did NOT have to submit to ANY official supervision.

    I have a PhD in Nuclear Engineering (plasma physics) and the LAST thing I wanted was to have MY children use the public school curricula which are devastatingly dumbed down to the lowest common denominator in NJ.

    Finding materials to learn from was not hard: real science textbooks, National Geographic materials and maps and issues, real literature (not school readers) in our wonderful public library...

    Gifted kids are badly served even by supposed 'gifted' programs in the schools (my sixth grader's experience when she insisted on trying public school for a year was to be allowed to create a brochure). There are better public schools in all states - but you have to live in the right school district and be very lucky.

    As a parent, look carefully at what you have in your children - and what education they will need to be adults on their own. Look carefully at your own skills and deficiencies. If the answer keeps coming back consistently that school is not the best way to educate them AND you are sure you can do a better job for YOUR kids, consider homeschooling.

    If not, do everything you can to prop up the deficiencies of your local schools. You can't just 'leave it to the professionals.' They're overwhelmed and underpaid, face budget problems, and mounds of paperwork NOBODY EVER LOOKS AT.

    At the end, when your precious children graduate from high school, and go to college or not, it is YOUR responsibility - and your last one under the law - to make sure your kids are ready for a changed and changing world, much more complicated than any in the past.