Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Homeschooling

Most of you know what homeschooling is. Homeschooling was the original type of education children received before public education came about in the 1800’s. Parents taught their children in their home, or if they were rich enough, tutors were brought in. While public schools exponentially improved the education level of the United States, some parents still choose to teach their children at home.

WHY HOMESCHOOL

The reasons parents decide to home school are more numerous than I can list:

  • Schools in their district are not up to their standards
  • Desire to protect their children from unwanted outside influences
  • Children need more personal attention
  • Religious reasons
  • Family reasons

Many parents feel their children are too young to be in public school, and that strong emotional ties and development is effectively forged only in the home. Some parents feel that they can give their children a better education at home. Whatever you believe, it’s important to take into consideration your child’s needs. Homeschooling is something that can be adapted to your child, your family, and your lifestyle.

METHODS AND CURRICULA

Homeschooling is very flexible for both the parent and the child, something very appealing for both parties, and a wide variety of methods, materials, and resources can be used. Some states, like Washington, have an online curriculum for homeschooled students. Districts may also have resources available, and some even allow homeschooled students to participate in sports, art, drama, music or other extra-curricular activities. Public libraries often serve as a major resource for parents and children. Homeschool-centered companies offer packages that include curricula and books. These different resources can be combined together to create a customized program for children, according to what they need.

MISPERCEPTIONS VS. REALITY

Common misperceptions about homeschooled children exist. Some believe they turn out socially awkward, but research has shown than homeschooled children, especially those homeschooled during elementary years, have a far higher self-concept and were more involved in their community. These studies support that the best place for children to learn is with parents in the home, not in the public setting.

Some believe a homeschool education is inferior to those who are publicly educated. However, numerous studies show that homeschooled children have test scores well above the average scores of public school children. Because homeschoolers score better on tests such as the ACT and SAT, they do not have problems getting into colleges and universities. However, it’s still important for parents to keep meticulous files of their child’s work.

PROS

  • Parents have control over their children’s education and influences.
  • Children develop a more secure relationship with their parents.
  • Education can be customized for each child.
  • Children are protected from early negative and social influences.
  • Family values and religion can be a central part of the child’s education.
  • Children can work at their own pace.

CONS

  • Parents must take the time to carefully plan out their child’s education plan.
  • Children may not have access to the same technologies available at a public school.
  • Parents need to plan for some socialization for their child.
  • Children may not have access to the same extracurricular activities.
  • Children can be too sheltered.
  • Education costs come out of the family budget.

There are many other pros and cons, as well. If you are interested in homeschooling your children, then you must weight each of the pros and cons for each of your children.

OTHER RESOURCES

If you are interested in homeschooling your children, please contact your local school district to learn what you need to do. Often this means signing a Declaration of Intent and following a suggested curriculum. It’s very important to meet the educational requirements for your state.

I found the Wikipedia article on homeschooling to be well-referenced. You can also check out these resources:

Also, if you check out your state K-12 education website, you will probably find some state-approved homeschooling information you can look at. There are also a variety of books you can find under “homeschooling” at Amazon.com.

CONCLUSION

There are many valid reasons that exist for homeschooling children. They form closer bonds with their parents, they score higher on standardized tests, and they have a more secure self-concept. However, this is a decision that needs to be made with careful thought and planning, according to the needs of your child. Not every child is best served by a homeschooling education, and for the most part, public education is good. Whatever you decide, have confidence that your choice is the best one for your family and your child.

21 comments:

Forward With Fun and Faith said...

I love that cartoon picture! I think it is important to dispel the myths of home schooling being a negative option. What I want to know is how do you make it work with multiple aged children (different grades and babies/toddlers)? And, What can the overall cost of it be from online curriculum, family educational vacations, etc.? And, how do you get in contact with other home schooling families?

Tannie Datwyler said...

I think this was very well worded JeriLynn. I like these posts because they make me examine my feelings about education and they help me to reconsider my thoughts.

I like how you talked about dispelling the myths. However, keep in mind that for some families those myths are reality. I have met some VERY strange and socially awkward home school children. I have also seem MANY home school children who are not taught approriately. They have educational gaps all over the place (though admittedly, that happens in public school too) Many parents are NOT up to stratch and will not do their child's education justice. As Laura said a while ago, home school can be done properly and it can be done improperly - it isn't a catch all. Home school is a good option for some, but for the masses I don't agree.

My reasons for not wanting to homeschool my kids are not for social or educational reasons though. I KNOW I could teach my kids very well at home and I KNOW they have many opportunities to socialize, so I am not concerned there. My reasons are what I listed before - although I know that public education is super flawed and does not by any stretch of the imagination meet my standards, I still can't pull my kids out of public school. I believe in the American dream that you can do anything. I want my children can be an example and a help to other children. I am not afraid of outside influences because I can teach them at home what is right and I know they can withstand what is out there. I want them to be in the world but not of it.

Now, granted I don't want to throw my kids to the wolves. I know public school can be a dangerous place and I'd like to protect them as much as possible, but I don't think that homeschooling will necessarily do that.

I also don't like what you said about home school children being closer bonded to their parents. I don't think that is necessarily true. What if the parent is seen as a teacher and disciplinarian and RARELY as a confidant? What if the homeschool situtaion (for some people) actually causes a breach in the relationship with the child? I don't think those things are co-related. I can have just as strong of a relationship with my children (especially if I am willing to put in the effort to help them with their learning at home to suppliment the public school setting) if they go to public school. Quality time is more important than quantity.

I agree that many schools are not up to par. But, as a parent I can suppliment the learning at home.

Two questions - Why personally do you want to homeschool you children (if you don't mind answering)?

Secondly, how far do you intend to home school your children? All the way through HS? Who will teach all the difficult science and math curriculum in secondary ed? Where will you get experiment materials for science class? I just ask because teaching Calculus is beyond me and although Richard could do it, I am sure he will be too busy with church callings and trying to give our family a living.

Just some thoughts. I hope I don't offend you. I know you aren't the type that gets offended. We both have strong opinions though and I just want to make it clear that I am not trying to be rude. I'm just trying to be realistic and get a picture of home school.

Spring said...

I've done a lot of research on homeshooling and its pros and cons. Another huge pro that everyone states is freedom. If you homeschool no one is saying your child has to be "here" everyday from 8-2:30 and if you miss 11 days, etc. You're family has the freedom to function how they want, as a parent you are still the one who has the most say over where your children are and what they are doing. You can take family vacations when it is convenient for your family instead of the highly saturated spring break, winter break, etc. You have lots of family time which is so important; you do not have to squeeze family time into the evenings and weekends.

I love that with homeschooling you can figure out what your children’s learning styles are and tailor their learning to that so they can be most successful. For example, you're teaching your child about the country and states and they love football so you have him put on a map which state each NFL team is in. You're child loves polar bears, so they are able to do a research paper on that which makes it very exciting for them and that knowledge stays with them longer because it's meaningful to them.

I am seriously considering/most likely going to homeschool my daughter starting in the fall instead of her "going" to kindergarten. In anticipation of this decision I've already been teaching her things that she is supposed to learn in kindergarten and it has gone really well.

Something that everyone says in retaliation to the idea of homeschooling is, "Oh, but what about socialization. You're child must go to public schools to be socialized." If you don't take any steps to have your children interact with other children this could be a problem. But, if you do have a "plan" a homeschooled child can be very well socialized and be socialize in a way that you want. Instead of sending them to school were they will be surrounded by children and hear things and see things that other children do whether or not you like that, or they pick of sayings or mannerisms from other children good or bad, you are able, as a chaperon, to see how they are interacting with their peers (during sports, dance, study groups, play groups, partys, etc.) and afterward talk to them about it. "I really liked the way you were working with Sarah, you discussed your ideas and listened really well." or "That wasn't kind or polite to say that to John. We need to be sensitive to other people’s feelings and shouldn't say things like that." So, you are socializing them and grooming your child and helping them be most successful in that aspect as well as educationally.

Parents, as the persons who know the needs of their children best, should be able to choose what kind of education their children receive whether it is public, private, charter, homeschooling, etc. Each has their unique strengths. This great country was founded on the freedom to choose. It's frightening to me to see or hear people say that there is only way one a child should be educated and the people who are saying this, the majority of the time, are the ones pushing public schools.

Tannie Datwyler said...

Spring - I totally agree with you about socialization. You couldn't have said it better. I don't think that homeschooling causes lack of socialization in most cases. I like how you said that you can be more of a guide when you home school.

I also totally agree that choice is important. If you go back to my comment on the preschool post you will find that I said that exact thing. The only ones that hold the answers to how to educate your children are you, your husband, and the lord (if of course you are religious).

I don't think there is ANYTHING wrong with homeschool and charter school (or the other choices we will discuss). As I said above, I like these post because they help me to think about my reasoning and they also open my mind a little bit more.

I am pushing public school, yes! But not because I think that it is the ONLY way to educate. I have said this SEVERAL times that I think there are other ways to educate children. Please don't tell me that I am for ONLY public school - that is not true.

Let me explain why I push public school so much. 1 - Not a lot of people on this blog seems to be defending public education, so I really feel like I have to say what I feel. 2 - I feel like all the dedicated parents are giving up on public education. If they do public education will fail and then it will leave a great deal of our population in ignorance. I don't push public school because I think it is the best option for everyone, I push it because I think it is the best option for our nation. Does that make sense?

PS - JeriLynn, I forgot to mention. I LOVE LOVE LOVE how you listed so many resources. You not only believe in home schooling but you are out there making it happen for parents. Thank you! I also must say that knowing you, I know you can pull it off - you are amazing.

Okay, enough chatter and being confrontational. I really like these posts, I guess I am just argumentative about this.

Tannie Datwyler said...

Oh yes, and keep i mind that this is coming out of the mouth of someone who lives in Utah and has never lived anywhere else - so perhaps my opinion would be different if I didn't live here.

When I said, "all the dedicated parents are giving up on public education" and that I'm "the only one defending public school" I am sure that isn't true. It just feels like it. :)

Oh yes, I also liked Jeri how you mentioned religion being part of the curriculum in homeschool, that is also a nice point.

Okay, really SHUTTING UP! SORRY!

Kelly A. said...

While I fully agree that parents and the Lord are the only ones who know what is best for each of your children and everyone has a right to do what they feel is best for their children, I have to say, Tannie-you are NOT the only one who supports public ed!! I DO!! You just seem to word things so much better than me and always seem to comment before me! Forgive me for not being good at formulating my thoughts.

Tannie Datwyler said...

Oh Kelly - I know that you do!! I guess I've just been a bit surprised by how many of my friends are thinking of other choices in education. Which is FINE! Like I say, it has just surprised me.

Megan said...

Jerilynn,well worded post! I have often thought of doing home schooling, but know I am not up to par to do it all on my own. I don't have the knowledge for math, science, or secondary languages if my child wants to take one.

However, my SIL was home schooled for much of elementary school with several other families who rotated which day they were in charge of the lesson and that gave her the socialization and those parents who felt they were better at one subject then another could take it on.

I also like the idea of religion being able to be a more integrated part of your curriculum if you home school. I know there is seminary out there, and depending on where you live it is offered during the school day, but it would be nice to be able to take part in religious discussions no matter the subject content we are discussing.

Tannie, I too am totally for public education, I just happened to luck into a good job with a charter school:). And I completely agree with you regarding the parent/child bond comment. I don't think home schooling would necessarily strengthen the bond more than if a child was involved with another form of education.

Erin said...

I think the reasons I am choosing public school over home school have a lot to do with what Tannie said- that I can supplement my children's education. I learned so many things from school because I had so many different teachers with their own life experiences and knowledge to teach us from. I had some teachers who could give us perspective from living in a different country and learning first hand about others' cultures, some teachers who knew all about the business world, some who knew music. My mother is a very very intelligent woman and could teach us anything. If she didn't know, she could read about it and find out, but she didn't have the first hand knowledge like my teachers did. No one can be an expert in every field. She did teach me many valuable things that I could not learn from school though. This is a reason I don't really agree with the idea that public school results in a bunch of sardines - or students who turn out exactly the same. I think that if it is done correctly and supplemented with parent involvement and parent teaching, public school can bring out different interests and gifts each student. Especially in high school when you get to pick your electives based on your own interests. I really like Megan's SIL's idea about families rotating their lessons. It scares me to think about my kids learning everything from just me and my husband because I know there are so many people out there who know different things than us. I guess I really do believe the fact that it takes a village... :)

The only thing that makes me consider home schooling is that I want to protect them from the evils of the world. I just feel that the best way for me to do that for my children is to teach them to make good decisions for themselves before I send them out there. I don't think for my family the right thing would be to shelter them, because they will have to face it eventually one day. I want to emphasize the ME and MY family, because I know that it's a decision between the parents and the Lord, and that everyone's answer will be different. Every kid/parent combination is different with different needs. If the right choice for your family is home schooling, more power to you!

I also agree that it's a myth that home schooled kids don't' have socialization skills, because lets face it, even some kids in public schools have a hard time socializing.

I do think the very most important learning comes from a child's parents and that it starts when they are babies. Nothing can replace that.

Roeckers said...

I think when we are discussing public versus homeschooling we need to remember we all need to do a bit of homeschooling. Being involved with my daughters class from time to time and discussing her education, her public school teachers have all said the same thing. Your child's education can not progress without a little homeschooling! To what degree you want to take it is up to you! Encouraging your child to work on extra workbooks, conduct science experiments, go on educational "field" trips as a family, simple read a book a day, count how many rolls of toilet paper you have left and weither or not it needs to go on the shopping list, or involvement in "interest groups" can only further their classroom experience.

If you home school you can also request some help from the public education system to provide "extras". Often times they will allow a child to attend a few classes each week ie. Gym, art, or a language class. If you decide to home school look into Co-ops where you may combine classes with other homeschooled families once a week for socialization and to get ideas from other parents. Coops are great for drawing upon one another's strengths, as parent-teachers.

Megan said...

I love the remarks from the above comment and Erin's about learning at home! And the commenter from above is right, I remember having a girl in my math class in high school who only came for Math, and Spanish classes other than that she was home schooled.

JeriLynn said...

Thanks for everyone's comments! Wow, I'm surprised they showed up so quickly. I had a really difficult time writing this post.

Tannie, I will answer your questions. If I homeschool, it will be at least through elementary, if not through middle school. Also, there are a couple political reasons I don't want my kids in public education, especially if we stay here in WA. This is a really liberal state, and such philosophies are learned in school, not at home. At young ages, children learn to follow what their peers think is cool, too. I don't want my children learning that marriage between same-sex partners is the same as marriage between a man and a woman, and that philosophy is being taught in states like Massachusetts. Also, remember my post about Al Gore's speech on Cognizance Today? (http://cognizancetoday.blogspot.com/2009/02/some-things-i-hope-youre-aware-of.html) That kind of bull is being taught to our kids as doctrine, and the government is only encouraging it. Also, teachers like this one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f39Juf8rgo) make me very wary of public education.

That said, I was a very socially awkward girl up until high school. I did a lot of wierd things, and I got made fun of a lot. Going to public school didn't change that I was flat out WEIRD. I also admit that I thought homeschooled kids were strange.

Also, it's a possibility that Jay and I won't live in the US, and it's even possible we'd be in Africa. I might send my kids to private schools then, or I might teach them from home. With all the moving we could do if we stay in the military, homeschooling would be more stable for them.

I am not flat-out against public education. Your post, Tannie, almost convinced me I was wrong, which is why I had a hard time writing my article. Thank you for your comments!

Tannie Datwyler said...

Your post on home school was so convincing too Jeri! It really made me think hard about home schooling. I appreciate your thoughts so much and I respect you a great deal.

Thank you SOOOOO much for answering my question. I know what you mean now about "political" reasons. Like I said, I live in Utah, so if we live in another state it could be different..... who knows.

Erin - I loved what you said. It was well worded and made a lot of sense.

I also really liked the comments from Roeckers - WOW! Great thoughts and so true.

Beth said...

My mom homeschooled my younger brother and sister since they were in 2nd grade. Our family just had too many frustrations with the public school system (which I won't go into right now).

I was homeschooled for 6th and 7th grade but went back to public school for 8th grade because I wanted some structure. (The transition wasn't too hard)

I am pregnant with my first and I fully intend on educating him myself until he's old enough to decide for himself.

I'm a teacher right now and my class has a lot of "high risk" kids - we have to spend most of our time working on behavior modification because it's not being learned at home. For the kids who are good and ready to actually LEARN, it's just a big waste of time for them.

mistybown said...

So, here's my only thing with home school. In the instances that I have dealt with, it seems that the kids that were homeschooled are not able to keep up with their peers (academically) that have been in the regular public school. Not that they couldn't keep up eventually, it just seems that they were so far behind when they came to me. Granted, this one child in particular had like 3 sibblings and they were all different grades & they were all homeschooled. So, that comes into the whole question about how do you do it with multiple children in multiple grades? It juse seems to me that even though some parents really want to homeschool their children and truely have their child's best interest at heart, maybe they just aren't qualified for the job (despite all the resources out there)? I know that sounds harsh, but it's difficult enough to manage 25 kids of the same age & about the same ability even with a background in teaching, now make it 3 or more kids of varying ages and varying abilities and throw in the parent not having any background in teaching. I just don't think that is doing your child the justice they deserve.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally against homeschool, I just think maybe some parents should rethink their options because maybe there's a better choice for their child, academically speaking only. Despite having a background in teaching, I don't think I'd homeschool my kids BECAUSE it's difficult enough to work with one child let alone a couple who are all on different levels and different abilities.
I hope I don't offend anyone with this comment!

Spring said...

It's been my experience that public school teachers have a jaded view of homeschooled children because the public schools often get the homeschooled "rejects", for whatever reason homeschooling didn't work for that child or family. The successful homeschooling children are in the HOME learning. So, obviously previously homeschooled children who are now put back in the public school system are not an accurate sampling of whether or not homeschooling works.

A few people have asked how you homeschool children of different ages. Schools break curriculum up and assign it to different grade levels. So for example, a fourth grader might learn state history, and a fifth grader would learn US history. But, homeschooling families can teach all of their homeschooling children state history one year and then US history the next. You don not have to be a certain age to learn US history. Math and perhaps reading are subjects where your individual children will be working on different things.

I’m not trying to change peoples minds who are for public, charter, or private schools I simply DO NOT want good people who are feeling that home schooling may be a good option for their family to feel discouraged by some of these comments. I am 100% for school choice.

Tannie I appreciate the passion that you have, the desire that you have for public schools to be better, and your obvious love and compassion for all children.
You say you are for choice but in the preschool post you said:
“As a former public school teacher I am against private and charter schools as a whole.”
To say you are for school choice but against private and charter schools as a whole is contradictory.

I respect the desire you and other school teachers have to make public schools better. It’s very admirable. I just don’t think your philosophy for doing so is working. If I have time later tonight I’ll leave a comment on what I think would make public schools better, because I think it’s frustrating when people disagree with a solution but don’t give an alternative one, but I have put children to bed. I appreciate everyone’s comments and know that the blog readers and authors of this blog are good God fearing people that want to do what is right.

Tannie Datwyler said...

You are right, I did say "I don't agree as a whole." And that is true. I think for 90% of children public school is going to be the best option. I don't think it is a contradiction to then say that I agree that choice is important. Because I DO!! Choice is so important and you shouldn't be swayed by anyone or made to feel bad by my opinion. My choice is public school, and I was just stating why.

You are also right with what you said in regards to public school teachers having a poor view of home school children. You are right - we do get the kids who it didn't work out for. I think Misty had a point when she said, SOME parents need to rethink (not you or JeriLynn or other people who know they can do it). If you are determined to do it and you know you can do a good job - GO FOR IT!!

You are right, no one should feel discouraged about their choice. And I am sorry if I made anyone feel like that - it was NOT my intention. I just wanted to voice my opinion.

I also would love your opinion on how to make public schools better. You said you don't think my philosophy for making public schools better is working. Well, I don't even think I voiced it. I just stated that I think many fabulous parents are giving up on public school and it therefore makes the public school setting more difficult to fix/improve. I didn't say anything about my ideas for change - so I don't think it is accurate to say my philosophy isn't working when I'm not even sure I have one yet as to how I want to help public schools come up to stratch (though I think about it a lot and will work toward that goal when my kids are in public school).

I can't say enough good things about Jeri's post - she almost had me convinced to give home school another look. She backed it up with excellent sorces and did an overall wonderful job. I'm sorry again if I came off as sounding REALLY negative. I guess I just wanted to play the other side.

Jared and Delia said...

I am so excited about this school week. Honestly...because I myself am a product of public education and pretty much everyone I know is as well, I have never considered going a different route for my children. With only about a year left to make a decision for my son, this education week forum came at a great time. I am seeing more and more the benefits of each type of schooling. Thank you everyone. There is a lot to ponder over.

Erin said...

Jsut another thought - I think one of the great advantages to homeschooling is really great flexibility. I have often read on thepioneerwoman.com. It's a blog of a woman who lives on a cattle ranch, therefore far away from the city and the schools. She started homeschooling her children for the reason that it took a lot of time out of their day just to travel. Now that she home schools them, they help work the cattle in the morning and they can do their schooling in the afternoon. That works perfectly for their family. She has also mentioned before that her older children really help the younger ones (not even on purpose) because they are used to being in a learning environment together.

JeriLynn said...

Courtney, sorry to leave your questions hanging! Yesterday I had a lot to do!

One suggested method for teaching various ages was through unit studies. I'm sure you know what that is, but I'll explain for those who don't know. Actually, I'm just going to copy the segment on it from Wikipedia:

"For example, a unit study of Native Americans could combine age-appropriate lessons in: social studies, how different tribes lived prior to colonization vs. today; art, making Native American clothing; history (of Native Americans in the U.S.); reading from a special reading list; and the science of plants used by Native Americans.

Unit studies are particularly helpful for teaching multiple grade levels simultaneously, as the topic can easily be adjusted (i.e. from an 8th grader detailing and labeling a spider’s anatomy to an elementary student drawing a picture of a spider on its web). As it is generally the case that in a given "homeschool" very few students are spread out among the grade levels, the unit study approach is an attractive option.

Unit study advocates assert that children retain 45% more information following this approach."

As for prices of curriculum, I'm not exactly sure. All the sights I found required me to sign up, and to be honest, I'm not in the mood for that right now! :)

Thanks for everyone's comments and questions and (yes, Tannie) challenges! It's good to hear all sides of this debate!

Courtney said...

Tannie- Great point about the father being able to do the math stuff but making the point...Is he really around and able to devote the time to it. I know there are a lot of online home school classes that are set up a lot like college. They watch a lecture/lab for there teaching portion. So I guess, maybe, you could think of that like a normal school day and then dad helping with clarification/one-on-one time with homework?

I have heard of home schooling groups having each family trading off teaching in the higher ed subject areas that they are better at (English vs. Math).

One of the scariest things to me, despite feeling qualified with a teaching degree, was teaching everything and feeling like I would really have to “do my homework” and prepare in so many areas. I mean, I feel like I can barely get stuff done around the house let a lone plan lessons every evening for my children. What was comforting to me is how far home schooling as come. There are SO MANY resources, packets, online programs out there that make it so all you have to do is implement and learn along with your child!

Beth/Megan - Thanks for your "real life" input. It is always good to hear personal experience.

I loved everyone’s comments about tailor there education. That is one of the most appealing things about home schooling to me. Not being caught up in "behavior management" and teaching to the "low" vs the "high" students. That was always one of my biggest frustrations teaching was that I could never meet every child’s needs low or high. I also love thinking of incorporating more "field trips" to really experience learning first hand while not having to worry about a budget and taking time away form the "classroom."

THANK YOU SO MUCH everyone for your insight and thoughts. This discussion has helped me greatly.

ALSO, I would great encourage everyone to go to the "homeschoolcentral" site and read some studies and articles about SOSICALIZATION, LEARNING, and TEACHING TO MULITLPLE AGES as a whole. My husband and I have been doing a lot of research on homeschool and found these studies very helpful!

Jeri – Did you see the first post of questions? I would love your input…or anyone else too!