Saturday, April 03, 2010

Questions for Homeschoolers

 Tracy at beyond the pale has some questions for homeschoolers. Go to her blog and answer them by posting a comment to her post.

Obviously I can only answer these questions as they pertain to my family. Homeschoolers are a diverse bunch.

1. Why do homeschoolers choose homeschooling? Do the kids get a say in this choice?
We choose to homeschool for several different reasons. First my eldest son was way ahead of his class. His fourth grade public school teacher suggested I homeschool after she had spoken to the principal about promoting him a grade level and was told the School Board wouldn't sign off on it as they had a vested interest in keeping children in school for as long as possible for the "funding". We also did not agree with the Mandatory Public School UNIFORM policy the School Board implemented. And yes, my kids did get a say when we decided to homeschool.

2. How do HSers (homeschoolers) know they will be good at homeschooling?
How do you know you will be good at anything? Parents of preschoolers probably have some idea if they would be good at homeschooling. Have they successfully taught their children how to behave? Do they enjoy spending time with their children doing educational things?  If so they will probably be successful homeschoolers. For those with children already in school they can ask themselves how they fare with homework? Do they enjoy helping their children with their homework? Do they enjoy spending time with their children? While homeschooling isn't like "doing homework" some of the same personality conflicts and frustrations would occur in both activities. 
3. What are the benefits of homeschooling?
OK, This one has LOTS of answers and I am sure to leave some out. But a few of the benefits. My eldest son was able to start college at 16, since homeschooling allows you to move at your own pace. Homeschooling allowed us to take several fabulous vacations as we weren't tied to the public school calendar and could travel when the opportunity arose. We were able to spend more time together as a family. The kids were able to pursue subjects they were interested in that were not offered at the public schools in our school district.
4. Okay. Seriously. If parents are stupid — as in, not all that bright from an academic perspective — should they homeschool? 
Talk to some public school teachers most of them will tell you they didn't do that well in school. In fact a majority will tell you they were B & C students, not the high achieving A students.
5. If parents are stupid, do they know they’re stupid and shouldn’t homeschool?
You don't seriously expect an answer to this question do you? 
6. Or are the available curricula (check me OUT) so amazing that they render anyone a teaching genius, so it’s okay if you start out dumb — or dumber?
I am choosing to assume you mean a parent may not have knowledge pertaining to a certain subject.  I think it is perfectly permissible for Homeschooling parents to learn along with their kids. For example I learned Japanese along with my children by using Power Glide.
7. What does a HSing parent do if they don’t understand something they’re supposed to teach? I’m serious here. I could never teach, oh, calculus, for instance.
  • There are homeschool co-ops where parents who do understand calculus will teach your child calculus while you teach something that you are proficient in. 
  • If you have the money you can hire a personal tutor for your child. 
  • There are online courses your child can take. 

8. Why does it seem a disproportionate number of homeschooled kids become obsessed with Ren Faires and crossbows and Celtic music and pan flutes and penny whistles, etc.? 
Wouldn't know as none of the homeschoolers I  know are interested in these things. My kids obsessions are Digimon and Halo.

9. Uhm, is there a pan flute and penny whistle curriculum? 
Not that I know of.
10. Do many homeschooled kids think TV is the devil and therefore don’t watch it?
NO!!!!!! Since we don't have Cable TV (a decision based on finances) my kids usually prefer spending time on the Internet to TV viewing though. We also have a large selection of DVD's.

11. Where/how/in what ways do homeschooled kids hang out with kids other than their siblings?
For younger kids homeschool groups usually get together for park days and field trips. Older kids hang out with their friends at the same places public school kids do; the mall, Internet cafes, sporting events, the movies., each others homes, etc.

12. Do most homeschoolers belong to a network of homeschoolers who share their “worldview”?
No, We belong to an inclusive homeschool group, Parent Educators and Kids (PEAK).

13. If so, how do homeschooled kids get exposed to other worldviews and learn independent thinking skills?
Even the homeschoolers who belong to exclusive homeschool groups are out in their communities.  They use public libraries, they shop at local stores, they eat out.
14. I mean this question quite sincerely because I don’t know the answer, but is there such a thing as a secular homeschooling curriculum or does most HS curriculum contain religious elements?
Yes, there is secular homeschooling curriculum available. If you want a boxed set you can use Oak Meadow, Calvert, K12, etc. I personally loved creating a personalized study program and picking out textbooks in which case you can select from a wide array of textbook publishers including the same ones the public schools use.

15. Is homeschooling an anti-culture choice or a hope for a better educational choice or both?
In our case it was a better educational choice.

16. Does a HSing parent really have to come up with 5 or so hours of lessons every day? How do you handle the disparity of ages in children?
Honestly there is so much to learn, and when you are really enjoying the experience 5 hours flies by. My children are pretty close together age wise (22 months) so it wasn't really a problem. I did some classes with both children, in subjects where their abilities were further apart I worked with the eldest in the morning and the youngest in the afternoon.

17. Do homeschools offer Christmas, Valentine’s, or Sadie Hawkins dances? What about senior proms?
Some homeschool groups do. It all depends on what is important to the members of the group.

18. How do boys and girls learn to interact with each other?
You have to be kidding! The same way public school students do.

19. What about sports teams, drama clubs, etc.?
My children took part in recreational soccer, there are various other recreational sports children can participate in. Some of the larger homeschool groups have their own sports teams and drama clubs. There are also community theater groups homeschoolers can join. Many museums offer educational opportunities which homeschoolers are able to utilize. My children took an Art History Class for Homeschoolers at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art.

20. If you homeschool, would you do it again or recommend it to a friend? Please explain your yes or no.
Having successfully completed our homeschooling journey, both my children are in college, (My eldest son is working on his Masters and my youngest is a college freshman) I certainly recommend homeschooling as a valid educational choice. My only regret is that I didn't homeschool from the beginning. If I could go back we would have been a homeschooling family from Kindergarten.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why Homeschool: Homeschoolers in the News

This was one of the interesting submissions to this weeks CoH Why Homeschool: Homeschoolers in the News. Drop by The Homespun Life to read more Carnival of Homeschooling Submissions.

I agree with Janine here I doubt if Jarred Mitchell Harrell had attended public school or private school it would have been mentioned in this article. I would also like to know who did the so called homeschooling and when.

You would have thought his bizarre upbringing mentioned in this article would have been of more interest.

Mississippi court records describe a bizarre series of events that found Jarred and his sister bounced between their mother and Harrell (their father) for parts of their young lives.

Annis got custody of the children. Harrell got them back three years later following the events outlined in a judge’s 1990 order in the case.

Shortly before the Harrells separated, she was working as a secretary for Joe Newman, a married, eccentric local inventor. The two became lovers with the knowledge of Newman’s wife, while Annis still had custody of the children, the judge’s order states.

In February 1989, Newman publicized what the order states is a 17-page “news release” in which he announced he was married not only to his wife, but to Annis Harrell and her 8-year-old daughter. The order does not indicate why the release was issued or how, but the order says Newman described himself as a prophet of God and that his wife believed him, among other things.
 Alerted to the public statements, state child welfare officials sought to take the children from their mother, who officially married Newman in September 1989. During a court hearing in the custody matter, Newman said his marriage to the daughter was spiritual, not sexual, and that he would debate with God whether to consummate the marriage, the order states.
Annis divorced Newman and tried to get her children back, though a judge called her attempts manipulative and refused. But in 1993 about five years after Harrell got the children, he gave them back.


Figures in Motion will be giving away two copies of Dinosaurs on the Move - by Cathy Diez-Luckie just leave your information on the contact page to enter.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Recommended Geek Dad's How to Teach Physics to Your Kids

Worried about teaching Physics to your kids?
However, as luck would have it, I recently got the chance to interview Union College physics professor Chad Orzel. Orzel is a blogger, a dad, husband of fellow sci-fi/fantasy fan Kate Nepveu and owner of a very intelligent German Shepherd mix named Emmy. And thanks to a couple of entertaining dialogues with Emmy about the mysteries of quantum physics, Orzel is also author of a new book called How to Teach Physics to Your, How to Teach Physics to Your Kids, Mar 2010
You should read the whole article.