Exploring the Truth Behind Homeschool Myths

Yep. It’s time to address those pesky homeschool myths again.

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myths
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In this day and age, homeschooling, while certainly not considered to be mainstream, has gained some ground in credibility and acceptance with the general public. Despite this fact, however, there are still some pesky myths about homeschooling that just don’t seem to go away. Unfortunately, some of these myths are being perpetuated by well-meaning friends and family members. This is one homeschooler’s attempt to put these rumors to rest- for good.

-‘Homeschoolers can’t go to college.’– Yes, this rumor is still making rounds. In fact, the mother of one of my daughter’s friends decided to tell my daughter this was so. I assured my daughter that quite the opposite is true. Colleges are actively recruiting homeschoolers, and not just any colleges, but Ivy League colleges. While students in traditional schools have been learning how to follow directions and do what they’re told for 12+ years, homeschoolers have been busy learning how to think for themselves through self-directed learning, apprenticeships, and even entrepreneurship.

-‘Homeschooled kids don’t learn right.’– This is actually a direct quote from a family member to, again, my daughter. (Poor girl. People always seem to pick her to unload their grievances about homeschooling on. Interestingly, the relative who made that statement didn’t say it in front of my mother or myself.) I don’t really even know what this is supposed to mean. ‘Don’t learn right?’ Is there one right way to learn? If there is, let me in on it, because I’ll start training my kids on it stat. 😉 Whatever was meant, the notion that homeschooled kids aren’t getting a proper education is still quite common, despite all the evidence to the contrary. For example, my kids always used to sit outside and read to each other at our old house. Our neighbors would often be in their yard at the same time. This didn’t stop the husband from one day questioning my 12-yr.-old daughter about whether or not she could read. I’m not kidding. When she told him that she could, he went in his house, brought out a book, and told her to take it home and read it because he would be questioning her about it when he saw her again. We had a good laugh about it when she got inside, and we never really interacted much with him again. And she did NOT read the book.

It boggles my mind that people are so preoccupied with bashing the education that children receive at home. Just today, someone followed me on Twitter who seems to focus solely on criticizing homeschool parents and advocating for more state regulation of homeschooling. Sorry, buddy. I didn’t follow you back. The school district that we live in has teens graduating with a 7th grade-sometimes lower- reading level. Maybe people should start focusing more on that. As it stands, the logical conclusion is, if Ivy League schools are seeking homeschoolers, then we must be doing something right.

‘Homeschooled kids don’t know how to act around other people.’– I have to laugh out loud at this one. If you have any questions about the social interactions of homeschoolers, I invite you to come to my house at 7:30am and observe the kids walking to the school up the street. Bad language? Check. Fighting? Check. Screaming and carrying on? Check. Holding up traffic? Check. Inappropriate behavior? Check. Hmm…maybe they were talking about public school kids. Yeah, that must be it.

‘Homeschooled kids won’t know how to live in the real world.’– Newsflash: They are living in the real world. While most kids are learning about the world from textbooks while being confined between four walls, homeschoolers are learning about the real world by being in it. They don’t need to count money on a worksheet. They’re counting, and using, real money. Instead of learning about banking, they’re going to the bank. Instead of completing a reproducible about reptiles and amphibians, they’re going to the creek and finding the real thing. I could continue like this all night. Suffice it to say, if the real world is going to be a shock to anyone- and it often is- it will be a shock to those kids who only know about it through books and power points.

-‘Parents aren’t qualified to teach their kids.’- If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that…Actually, some people have gone so far as to call parents who choose to homeschool their children “pompous” for assuming they can do the job that teachers are trained for. People who take this stance simply don’t understand how children learn, and they clearly haven’t been versed on the history of compulsory school. The routines and methods practiced by public school teachers are simply not necessary in a home environment. As many a teacher with an education degree will tell you, they were mainly trained in classroom management and how to follow the script of a curriculum. Unless you are the parent of 20 children who are all the same age, this won’t be necessary.

Parents can be very resourceful when it comes to educating their children. If there is one thing that homeschool parents have that teachers don’t, it is love for their children, and that is the most important asset one can have, because love is the strongest motivation to strive for the best.

 

As the homeschool movement grows, it will become less and less of an oddity and will eventually be seen for the advantage that it is. Until then, however, it is up to us to lay these false notions to rest, and now is a great time to start. 🙂

 

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Why Should We Homeschool?- Part 4- Freedom of Choice

Join me for another installment of Why Should We Homeschool? Today I’ll be talking about the ten choices which are exclusive to homeschooling.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So far in this series, I’ve covered safety, personalized learning, and values. Today I’ll be discussing the freedom homeschoolers have to choose.

Choose what?, you may ask. I’m getting to that. 🙂 Since there are so many points to be covered today, I’ve decided to compile a list of:

Ten Choices Exclusive to Homeschooling

1. One of the greatest choices afforded to homeschoolers is when to school. While traditional school students are bound by the established school schedule, homeschoolers have the opportunity to arrange their days and years around their family’s schedules, or their own personal preferences. Most government and private schools operate around a late summer to late spring schedule (September to June) with a 12-week summer vacation. There are a great many homeschoolers who follow this schedule. My older children prefer to. But what of those families who cringe at the thought of so many months of school with so few breaks, followed by an extremely long summer break? They get creative! Some will operate around a 6-week on, 1-week off schedule with 6-week breaks at Thanksgiving/Christmas and spring/summer, as my younger children do.  Others may do 3- or 4-weeks on and 1-week off. Still others may not even do an official count of school days because, technically, homeschooled children are “in school” everyday!

Determining what time of the day is also a benefit to homeschoolers. Study upon study has shown that many children, especially older children, do not function well early in the morning. How have most schools reacted to this? By making school even earlier! High school students in our district must be in school by around 7:30 am, whereas when I was in school, our day officially started at 8:25. There was a recommendation for our schools to begin later, but most of the teachers protested because they didn’t want to get done at a later time.

As the primary facilitators of our children’s education, we are granted the sovereignty to determine when our days will begin and end. My younger children don’t start school work until mid-morning, followed by our older children who begin about 30 minutes to an hour before lunch. We then take a two hour lunch/chores break until 2pm, when it is time to read a devotional with my teens, who up until this time, haven’t even thought of their assignments yet. After the devotional I finish up any work the older children haven’t completed. My teens don’t even start their school work until about 8pm; sometimes much later than that. Since they are night owls, this is what works for them, so it works for me. You can read more on a detailed plan of our day here.

2. As the facilitators, we have the choice of what curriculum to use, or even whether to use one at all. Traditional schools have hundreds, sometimes thousands of children to educate. As such, they’ll typically choose whatever curriculum is cheapest and most efficient, no matter how it will resonate with the students. As parents, it’s easy for us to see that what works for one child may not work for another. There is such a vast array of homeschooling resources out there, that it can be overwhelming to a new homeschooler, but all the same, it is such a huge blessing, because brick-and-mortar school students do not have that luxury. There, if a student has difficulty with the learning style catered to in the text, they’re out of luck and have to deal with it. As the primary educators of our kids, we want our children to be genuinely interested in what they’re learning. We all know what happens when there is no desire to learn about something- it is quickly forgotten. The curriculum our family’s decide upon are those that will best meet our family’s needs, even if that means each child uses resources from different publishers.

3. Just as we choose the curriculum, we also choose whether or not to change it if it is not working. Similarly to #2, where I discussed the plight of a school student who does not mesh with the mandated curriculum, homeschoolers sometimes find that, while it may have seemed like the perfect fit at first, the chosen curriculum may not be the one for them, after all. Unlike the average student, homeschoolers are free to change resources anytime they choose to- the beginning of the year, the middle of the year, sometimes even the end of the year. In the end, our child’s education matters more than what books we use.

4. The homeschooling methods we choose are completely up to us. Traditional schools are acclimated to the auditory learner. Surprise, surprise- some children are not auditory learners. The only way public schools can deal with this is to place them in “special classes,” which often produces a stigma a child carries with them for the rest of their lives. There are just as many different ways to homeschool as there are families. Homeschooling will look different in each household because each family utilizes the methods and routines that work best for them. Some prefer a more structured, schoolish atmosphere. Others rely on reading good literature and real-world math or unit studies to fulfill their learning requirements. And still others may use life as their curriculum and not separate their everyday lives from their education at all. I’d wager, though, that the vast majority of families are like us, and use a giant mish-mosh of each of these. Again, our goal is to meet the needs of our children. And that’s what we do.

5. The topics covered in our children’s homeschooling endeavors are our choice. Conventional schools have set syllabuses for each year- certain subjects and skills are to be covered in certain years. Not so with homeschoolers. We have the freedom to allow our children who might have no interest in reading at the age of 5 to blossom and develop before forcing something on them they are not ready for. Or maybe our middle schooler has a passionate fervor for biology. Who says they have to wait for high school? To the flexible homeschooler, the answer to that is no one! Each child can learn about something when they are ready, and not a moment sooner.

We also have the option of taking the interests of our children and planning lessons around them. As I said before, children learn best when they are interested. Take advantage of it. My oldest daughter loves Japanes manga and anime. Allowing her the freedom to pursue her interest in that has led to:

– drawing and painting anime style characters of her own design using mediums
such as watercolor, chalk and oil pastels, acrylics, and gel pens

– taking flash animation, narrative illustration, and drawing and painting classes at
the local art school

– learning to sew in order to make her own costumes for the various conventions
she attends

– learning the Japanese language through Rosetta Stone, anime, and online
websites

– learning both styles of Japanese writing characters

– researching Japanese culture and geography

– creating a storyline for her own future online webcomic

I don’t think anyone could sufficiently argue that no learning happened there. 🙂

6. Homeschoolers have the choice of dropping everything for the day in order to pursue something other than school work. This could be anything from taking a walk to the playground to visiting a museum to even vegging out on the couch for a movie day. When you’re a homeschooling family, the world is at your feet.

*These last four are suggestions from my oldest daughters, so here’s their input!*

7. Homeschoolers can eat whatever they want, whenever they want. The current school system has classes packed in so tightly now that most students have to practically inhale thier food before the bell rings. Our lunch break at home is two hours long, and as for school lunches…need I say more??

8. Homeschoolers have the option of doing school in their pajamas. We often do. Looking out the window in the morning and seeing all the kids walking to school in their uncomfortable uniforms makes us love our jammie pants all the more!

9. Homeschoolers can decide where to do their work. No need to sit at cramped desks all day. Homeschoolers can do their assignments on the couch, at the table, in the yard, on the porch, at the park, at Grandma’s house- anywhere!

10. Homeschooled students have the option of working at their own pace. If something doesn’t make sense or just isn’t clicking, there’s no need to move on to the next chapter. There is no law stating that each textbook must be completed. As a matter of fact, there’s no law stating that we have to use textbooks at all. At home, we have the option of moving slowly through a difficult area and not surmising that our children are behind, simply because they took a week to learn something, rather than a day.

I know this post was super long today, and I thank you if you made it to the end! I’m just so passionate about encouraging future and current homeschoolers because, for every difficulty you may face, multiply that times ten and you’ll receive that many blessings! Remember to tune in next week, as I discuss how homeschooling emphasizes the centrality of the family.

 

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Sometimes the Best Teachers Don’t Need a Degree

Worried about your qualifications as a homeschool, or future homeschool, parent? Join me as I discuss the characteristics of great homeschool parents!

teacher
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Two years ago when my daughter was seeking a scholarship for a local art school, I had a somewhat uncomfortable conversation. In the midst of the interview, the subject of homeschooling came up. The registrar looked at me quizzingly and asked, “Do you have an education degree?” I replied that I did not; they aren’t necessary for homeschooling in PA. She grew completely perplexed and replied, “But how do you teach things you don’t know?”

This question caught me rather off-guard for two reasons:

  1. I had honestly never even thought about it, and
  2. Does having a degree automatically mean you know how to do everything?

The registrar is not alone in asking this question. In fact, the idea of a parent not being qualified to teach his or her children has crossed the minds of many would-be homeschoolers and scared them away from ever going through with their dreams of homeschooling.

Realistically, however, most homeschool routines don’t even remotely resemble a typical school day, so the qualifications needed in a traditional classroom are somewhat different than those necessary in an at-home setting.

My hope here is to encourage those of you who are doubting your ability to homeschool by listing the characteristics of a successful homeschool parent because, as you will see, they are probably nothing at all like the typical idea of what an average teacher looks like.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy.)

A great homeschool teacher will:

1.Receive questions with open arms. Unlike traditional school teachers who must often stick to a script, homeschoolers have the freedom of drifting away from a discussion or lesson if more intriguing ponderings arise. Just today I was reading Madeline with my younger children. A book that would normally take five minutes turned into a twenty minute discussion about Paris, old telephones, appendixes, scars, nuns, steamboats, and- my children’s favorite- retellings of their own experiences with hospital visits. A discussion like this would most likely not have happened within a school setting because of, among other things, time constraints, but at home we have the freedom to explore ideas with our kids as they arise. Questions are a blessing. Delight in inquisitiveness!

2.Encourage their children to learn how to discover answers for themselves. While it is, of course, necessary to help your children when the need arises, it is also so important to help children learn where and how to find resources for themselves. Although my children and I visit the library regularly, the other week I took them there for the main purpose of explaining the Dewey Decimal System to them and taking them on a tour of where to find specific types of books. Giving them opportunities to research online is also something that is necessary in this day and age. I know that many parents have mixed feelings about Google, but I consider it to be hugely beneficial to our learning endeavors.

3.Give their children plenty of time for exploring interests. Some of the most crucial and most important learning does not come from books, but from life. Learn to see the world through your children’s eyes, instead of through the schoolish lenses most of us possess, and you will find value in just about everything your children do. Keep in mind that the hobbies of your children now may well be training for their future. Kids who like to play school may become teachers, and those who insist on taking everything apart to see how it works are likely to be budding engineers. If your children are actively exploring life, there is no such thing as wasted time.

4.Have a plan for those occasions when they don’t know how to help with a certain subject. As the saying goes, the world is our oyster when it comes to information and resources in this day and age. The most common piece of advice for situations like this is to hire a tutor, but many one-income (and some two-income families!) simply cannot afford it. Thankfully, there are plenty of other options for getting help with those difficult areas. A short sampling would be:

-the library

-friends, neighbors, and family members

Khan Academy

-the good, old internet

YouTube

The options are really endless. Just keep an open mind about how learning happens, and you’d be amazed where the help can come from!

5.Let their children have a say in what they’re learning about. Think about it. Can you concentrate on something you have no interest in and no need for? Me neither. My older children all give input on what their learning plan will consist of. My oldest daughter loves psychology and will be taking it for a third time next year (her senior year). This could never have happened at our public high school, as they only offer one half-year course on it. Why force her to take a Social Studies credit that she’s never going to need in real life? It just doesn’t make sense. I guarantee your kids will put more effort into work they consider to be useful and interesting.

6.Know when something isn’t working and be willing to change it. Sometimes a particular curriculum may look phenomenal to us parents, but when our children set out to doing it, they don’t feel the same way. If your child is struggling to the point of tears or complete apathy, it’s time to ditch the book and move on. This is one of those other areas that homeschoolers have the advantage. Since public schools have limited budgets and slews of students to purchase textbooks for, they don’t have the option of doing this. While I certainly do remember trudging through those dry textbooks in high school, I don’t remember one important thing out of any of them. I know sometimes it may seem like a waste to discontinue something you paid for, but it is so much more important that your children can learn well. Unused curriculum can easily be saved for younger siblings (maybe they’ll like it!), sold to other homeschoolers, or even given away for free to a family with a limited income.

7.Drop everything they know about “school” and design a plan that works for their family. I want you to close your eyes and remember what your school days were like. Crowded hallways. Cramped desks. Bathroom passes. Ringing bells. Do you have a clear picture? Now, push that picture out of your head because homeschooling does not have to be like that. Observe your children. Take notice to how they do things and what they spend the most time on. Only you can decide what is right for your family. And I’m here to tell you that you may not get it right the first time. Or the second. Or the third. 🙂 All kidding aside, you will figure it out, and your children will thank you for it.

I was going to title this post “What Makes a Great Homeschool Teacher” but decided against it because, to many of us, homeschooling doesn’t feel like teaching. It feels like life. It feels like family. It feels like love. That is what it takes to make a great homeschool parent. Are you qualified?

 

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An Obliteration of Childhood

Five hard truths about the unintentional obliteration of childhood

childhood
Image courtesy of Poulsen Photo at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I recently overheard a conversation between two young mothers. One of them was complaining about the day care her three yr old attends. Her complaint? They play and do art projects all day, instead  of teaching the kids their letters and numbers.

I was taken aback. What exactly is wrong with that? That sounds like the perfect day for a child that age. But then she got down to the crux of the issue- the parents at that daycare expect their children- their very young children- to receive school-type lessons at this facility.

Which got me thinking…aren’t we parents the ones who notoriously lament how children grow up too fast? Perhaps we need to take a closer look at the issue and explore why this is.

Five Hard Truths about the Unintentional Obliteration of Childhood

We school our children too early. Everywhere you turn, you will hear people talking about the importance of Early Childhood Education, but just how important is it? Is it really necessary that children as young as three should be expected to sit down at a desk for several hours a day tracing letters and numbers? I don’t know about your children, but mine copy letters and words off of books, their siblings’ papers, and anything else they lay their eyes on without any prompting from me. They think it’s fun! In fact, my now six-year-old learned basic addition and several sight words at the age of four simply by being around the older children when they were doing their school work.

I realize that many preschools and Kindergarten classes do include fun hands-on learning activities, but, again, is it really necessary for this to happen in a classroom setting? Young children are superstars when it comes to investigating and exploring the world. As John Holt used to say, children are natural scientists. They do perfectly well at learning about the world when they are given the time, freedom, and opportunity to do so. If there is any way to quash their fascination with the world and their innocent wonder, it is by sending them to school where, instead of finding interesting things to do themselves, they begin to be told by someone else (presumably the teacher) what is important to know about. This eventually results in children who are apathetic, lethargic, and lack imagination because they, in essence, forget how to play and are used to doing nothing but sitting all day.

 

We overschedule our childrenAs if it isn’t bad enough for them to be shut inside a building for six hours a day, many children participate in after-school activities at the schools themselves, or they are kept busy with organized sports or other various engagements. Obviously, extracurriculars can be a good thing. It is when they get to the point of taking over your child’s life that it is time to take a step back and rethink things.

Schools are very good at organizing after-school programs, and many of them are wonderful, but again- how much is too much? Students are in school for a mandatory six to seven hours a day, and yet, many parents sign them up for these clubs and activities which will keep them confined in the school building even longer.

Let me be clear that I do not have a holier-than-thou attitude of someone who has never been there. When my kids were in school, I was one of the parents who signed my children up for every single activity I could because I thought it would be good for them. It wasn’t. It resulted in kids who no longer had time to be kids.

Studies show that children today are beginning to feel the same effects of anxiety as adults because of this culture of being able to “do it all.” Is it really worth it?

 

The peer influences in school are less than desirable. No matter how you raise your children, in school they are going to be around other children from homes with different moral standings than you. You may be able to shut off the cable at home, but I assure you that at school they will be exposed to everything you try to protect them from. They will see girls in short skirts who idolize the likes of Beyonce and Katy Perry. They will be around boys who, in their quest to be “grown-up,” will introduce your children to words and concepts their young ears are not prepared to hear. And if your child shows any signs of vulnerability or innocence, they may well be singled out and teased for upholding the standards you’ve tried so hard to teach them.

I recently had to stop allowing my children to play alone with a sixth grade neighbor boy who asked my fourth grade daughter if she wanted to “make out.” Kidding or not, these are NOT the influences I want my children to have. There will be plenty of time for them to deal with these issues when they are older. Right now, my hope for them is to allow them to enjoy being children.

 

-And don’t even get me started on technology! I get it. Technology is a wonderful thing, but is it really necessary for five- and six- year old children to own their own cell phones? I do let my younger children each have a one hour turn on my phone on the weekends, and even that often takes them away from opportunities to play outside or with friends.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone to a party or picnic where all of the kids sat in the house with their heads buried in their phones or tablets the entire time. Just last week my kids came home from a neighbor’s house and told me that the entire time they were in his yard jumping on the trampoline, he was in his house playing on his tablet.

Technology may be great for the economy, but it steals away childhood merriment and replaces them with inanimate pixels.

 

Sometimes we are as much to blame as anyone or anything elseHow many times have we scolded our children for simply doing childish things? Things that weren’t necessarily bad but, maybe, were loud or were interrupting our quiet time? By no means am I advocating to let children run wild. I’m simply pointing out (to myself as much as everyone else) that sometimes we have unrealistic expectations.

By the same token, how many times have we told our daughters that they might look nicer with just a little makeup? Or tried to push a more mature looking outfit on them? My daughter’s friend’s mother regularly buys her push-up bras and crop tops. I’m not suggesting anyone reading this might go that far, but it’s a great illustration in how far parents will go to “help their children mature.” Is it really so terrible if our daughters continue to play with dolls throughout middle school, or our sons are fascinated with Pokemon cards, instead of cars?

And is it reasonable to expect our preschoolers to play quietly all day with nary a shriek or whimper? Is it really so bad to have a house that may be noisy but is noisy with joyful laughter?  One thing that I need to remind myself (and my husband) of daily is that our children are children- not little adults.

 

If there is anything at all you take away from this post, let it be this:

Hold your children close. Cherish them. Protect them. Guide them. And most of all- don’t rush them into adulthood. It will come too quickly without your help.

 

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Just Let Your Kids Play, Already!

This was originally posted in March 2014, but it’s a nice prelude to my next scheduled post. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

There’s a disturbing trend happening in our culture today. In a world constantly chasing fame and fortune, parents have begun to prepare their children for this lifestyle at earlier and earlier ages. Gone are the days of teaching 4-year-olds how to tie their shoes and play with their dolls. The good ol’ days of letting your children run, explore, and use their imaginations is almost a thing of the past. We have now entered the Age of Overeducating Your Kids.

It’s a well-known fact that children are maturing at faster and faster rates these days, and adults everywhere solemnly shake their heads and click their tongues in despair because of this. But let’s take a look at one possible reason why this is happening.

Just a few generations ago, children were able to run and play and, well…be kids. Games of Kick the Can and street hockey were to be…

View original post 672 more words

Why Should We Homeschool?- Part 3- Values

“Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every American school is a school of humanism. What can a theistic Sunday School’s meeting for an hour once a week and teaching only a fraction of the children do to stem the tide of the five-day program of humanistic teaching?” -Charles F. Potter, Humanism: A New Religion (1930)

values
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Welcome back for the third installment in this series. In my first post, I addressed the issue of safety. The second was about the importance of personalized learning, and now today I will be discussing the issue of values.

There is a common misconception among most parents and education departments today that schools have the right to instill values in our children. This is, indeed, troubling as we take a look at the “values” being espoused in classrooms today:

  • Christianity being belittled and misrepresented
  • Birth control pills and condoms being handed out, many times without parental knowledge
  • The legitimacy of the traditional family being replaced with alternative curriculum
  • The enabling of known psychological disorders, rather than treatment

This is but a sampling of the types of behaviors common in schools today. The attack on Christianity, to me, lies at the very root of this problem. General principles of right and wrong that have been practiced since the foundation of this country are rapidly being replaced by a “do whatever feels good” mentality, and it is hurting our children.

There was an issue at the elementary school by our house last year, when a teacher was presenting a lesson on wants and needs. Upon asking the class for some examples, a little boy raised his hand and said, “We need God,” to which the teacher snarled back, “We don’t need God.”

What kind of a message are we sending to our children if we are raising them in one way at home, and then sending them to a place where they will often spend more time than they do with their parents, only to be bombarded with ideas contrary to the family’s? And I’ve heard the “school as a mission field” argument (which I plan on addressing in a future post), but that doesn’t cut it with me. There are adults who cannot handle the opposition they face everyday. Why would we expect our precious children to stand against it? Additionally, kids tend to look up to their teachers and value their opinions. Are you comfortable sending your child to a place that devalues your beliefs?

Let me make it clear that this is not a diatribe against teachers. I am well aware that many times it is out of their hands. Several years ago when my kids were still in school, two of the teachers, who I did not know at the time were believers, used to approach me after school all the time and ask me to confront the principal about what they felt were injustices but couldn’t do anything about themselves for fear of repercussions. Again, if adults are uncomfortable with the situation, how much more are the children?

If there is one thing you can be sure about, it is that schools are not religion-free. They are well-steeped in the religion of secular humanism, thanks, in part to the Father of Progressive Education himself, John Dewey, who was not only a Secular Humanist but a co-author and signer of the first Humanist Manifesto.

And it goes far beyond Dewey himself. Here are some more stunning quotes about our supposedly religion-free school system:

 

“What the church has been for medieval man, the public school must
become for democratic and rational man. God would be replaced by the
concept of the public good.”- Horace Mann

 

“There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there is no need for the
props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, then
immutable truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed,
natural law or moral absolutes.”- John Dewey, the “Father
of Progressive Education;” co-author of the first Humanist
Manifesto and honorary NEA president.

 

“I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged
and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly
perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity.
These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most
rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort,
utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in
whatever subject they teach, regardless of educational level – preschool,
day care or a large state university. The classroom must and will become
an arena of conflict between the old and the new – the rotting corpse of
Christianity…and the new faith of humanism.”- John J. Dunphy, “A New
Religion for a New Age,” The Humanist, January/February 1983

 

“Every child in America entering school at the age of five is mentally ill,
because he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our founding
fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in
a supernatural Being, toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate
entity. It is up to you teachers to make all these sick children well by
creating the international children of the future.”- Harvard Professor of
Education and Psychiatry, 1984

 

I could go on and on with examples like these, but I think you get the picture. Suffice it to say that schools are, indeed, teaching religion, despite what they say or even believe. Without some semblance of a clear indicator of right and wrong, our schools will continue to confuse and, inevitably, deceive our children.

Homeschooling is a valid path to instilling our own values and beliefs into our children, and this is not exclusive for Christians. No matter what your beliefs may be, it is your right as a parent to raise your children to reflect the beliefs of your family.

It is inconceivable, and a bit laughable, that the public education system has felt it necessary to trample on the moral values which are central in our lives. Let’s face it… they can’t even handle academics properly anymore, so why would they continue to take on more burdens for themselves? Unfortunately, I think we all know the answer to that.

The time has come for we, as parents, to take our children back. Government education has crossed the line once again, and it’s high time we do something about it. Who’s with me?

Join me next week as I look into the freedom of choice that accompanies the homeschooling lifestyle!

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Lazy Day Links- 4/30/16

Happy weekend! I hope you enjoy this week’s links and book recommendations. 🙂

lazy day links
Image courtesy of porbital at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As promised last week, here are this week’s lazy day links!

(Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy.)

Favorite Blog Posts:

Five Simple Ways to Ruin Your Homeschool {And What to Do Instead}– The Unlikely Homeschool

Dear Beyonce,– Beauty Beyond Bones

The Truth about Hospitality– The Art of Simple

Take Me to Your Dungeon Master– FIMBY

Simple Homeschooling: What My Kids Need to Learn– Generation Cedar

 

My Older Posts:

Translating Board Games into Educationese

Unlimited Gaming? Not These Unschoolers!

Small Steps Are a Big Deal

Going on a Road Trip? Ditch the Textbooks and Live Life!

Navigating the Red Tape- Part 1: How Do I Know What My Kids Are Learning?

 

Books Worth Reading:

Man, Myth, Messiah– Rice Broocks

On the Trail of the Nephilim, Vol. 2– L.A. Marzulli

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling– John Holt

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling– John Taylor Gatto

Angelopolis– Danielle Trussoni

 

I hope you enjoy. Have a great weekend!

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Why Should We Homeschool?- Part 2- Personalized Learning

Learning is not one-size-fits all, so why should your child’s education be?

personalized learning
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In last week’s post I addressed the issue of safety in public schools. Today I’m moving on from there to examine the importance of personalized learning as a means to a successful education.

Personalized learning isn’t something one usually thinks of when thinking about public school. In fact, as I searched for stock images to use for the photo here today, I simply typed in the word “learning” and found that almost all of the pictures that came up had something to do with desks, books, and classrooms.

Why is that? I’m going to venture a guess that when many of us set out to learn something on our own, we are not going to run to our desk, shut the door, and plop open a huge textbook. Yet that is the accepted image of what learning looks like because that is how it is done in school.

But what if learning doesn’t look like that for you? What if it doesn’t look like that for your child? Chances are, if they are in school, they are going to be singled out as “special education” students. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, you might say; and for those students who truly do have learning disabilities, it surely is not such a bad thing. But what about those students who are simply wired differently?

Mounds of evidence have recently been produced detailing the complex differences in how people are wired and how they learn. Indeed, there are people who thrive in a school setting- I was one of them- but to assume that all people should be able to do so does a great injustice to the millions upon millions of intelligent people who would greatly benefit from a different approach to education.

For those unlucky students who are singled out as “special education,” the harm done outweighs any good that may be done through the schools, no matter what the school’s intentions.

During my children’s time in public school, one of my sons was recognized (labeled) as being delayed in reading comprehension when he was in 4th grade. Naively, I assumed that the teachers knew what they were doing and agreed to an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) to help him with this. The help that he received was minimal, and the only input I received from one of his aides was that, “He understands better if it’s about something he’s interested in.” Well, duh. He needed an IEP to find this out? How many adults have a hard time reading about things they have no interest in, let alone a 9-year-old?

After about a year, I was informed that he no longer required assistance, but that they recommended that we keep his IEP in place, just in case. Again, I trusted that they knew best, so I signed another one. The following year I withdrew my children to homeschool them, and I received a letter from the school district stating that I needed to have a Special Education teacher approve his homeschooling objectives because of his IEP. (This is in the PA Homeschool Law.) I called the district and explained that, while the IEP was still in place, he hadn’t actually been receiving any special instruction because he no longer needed it. Since he still technically was listed as Special Ed., however, I did have to comply.

After about a year of homeschooling him, we moved, and he asked if he could try school again because he wanted to see what middle school was all about. I reluctantly agreed. The new school took notice of his former IEP and decided to start putting him in special classes again. I told them that this wasn’t necessary, but they said they would just try it for a while. A few months in, I noticed that he was bringing home reading homework that was equivalent to what I was teaching his 3rd grade sister who was four grades behind him. I resolved then and there to take him back out and homeschool all of my children through graduation.

I called the Special Education Department of our school district and told them I wanted his IEP removed. A few days later I received a phone call from his learning support teacher telling me that he wasn’t ready to have his IEP removed. I immediately informed her that he had received straight A’s, and I was confident he would do just fine. I also explained that he wouldn’t be coming back in the fall anyway because I was planning on homeschooling him again. She reluctantly agreed. (I’d like to add that she had to because the law says that an IEP must be withdrawn if a parent requests it.)

Shortly afterward I discussed this ordeal with a friend of mine who is a retired teacher from that district, and she told me to never allow the schools to label any of my children because once they are labeled, they are always labeled. This is obviously bad for the students but lucrative for the schools who receive federal funding for these programs. The more students with IEP’s, the more money.

The ill effects of our experience with the Special Education label have not ended. Years later, my son still considers himself to be unintelligent and slow because that is exactly what was ground into him during that period of his life. I am not saying this was intentional, but that is exactly what happened, nonetheless.

The stigma of school-sponsored labels has no place in a home learning environment. One of the most awesome things about homeschooling is the fact that we, as parents, have the autonomy to educate our children in the way that we see fit. If they do well with textbooks, then that’s what we can do. If they need to move around quite a bit, we can offer lots of hands-on activities with shorter stints of written work. If our children love to read, what better way to learn than by reading a good historical fiction or any other books written by people with a passion for the subject? As a matter of fact, children who love to read can easily be the least expensive children to educate because the library is free!

Understandably, schools cannot and will not tailor their curriculum to meet the needs of each individual student. It would either require far more resources than schools could ever have, or it would necessitate a complete overhaul of the entire government school system, and I think we all know the likelihood of that ever happening.

So as it stands, parents of children who are not flourishing in the school environment simply because of learning styles have two options. We can either go with the status quo and agree to have our children labeled for life, or we can bring them home and design a method of learning that will work best for them, no matter what that method may be.

Now tell me, which sounds like the better option to you?

Join me next week as I address the issue of including our own values in our children’s education!

 

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Think You Know Why Compulsory School Exists? Think Again.

“School is a twelve-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.”- John Taylor Gatto

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

“Schools teach exactly what they are intended to teach and they do it well: how to be a good Egyptian and remain in your place in the pyramid.” -John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

Every day millions upon millions of parents send their children off to school without a second thought. Schools are good, right? They’re there to educate the future of America, aren’t they?

What would you think if I told you that that’s not what schools were intended for at all? What many parents- and more than a few teachers- don’t realize is that compulsory schooling was not mandated to educate but to train obedient workers.

ID-10080211
Image courtesy of njaj at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Don’t believe me? How about some history?

150 years ago, during the Industrial Revolution, factories were popping up everywhere and people like John D. Rockefeller were desperately in need of workers to run them. Unfortunately for them, however, people weren’t looking for jobs. At this point in time, the vast majority of Americans were self-sustaining. They grew their own crops, built their own houses, made their own clothes and toiletries, and bought only what was absolutely necessary at the general store. Most children learned their skills from helping with the family or apprenticeships and only attended a one-room schoolhouse for the few months out of the year they were least needed at home. Compared to modern society, these people were much more resourceful than we are today because they did everything for themselves, and it worked for them.

Since Rockefeller, among others, was a wealthy man, he had much clout with the government, who certainly saw the benefits of what he was trying to accomplish.

Enter compulsory schooling, when children began to be required, by law, to attend school. Students were instructed in specific subjects for a set period of time everyday, regardless of how relevant it was to their lives, and they were expected to drop what they were doing, no matter whether they wanted to continue doing what they had started or not, and change classes at the ringing of the bell. Students were also conditioned to blindly obey commands, as this would be beneficial for the foremen of these factories. Individual thinkers were not needed nor wanted in this setting. Factory owners wanted obedient, hard-working employees who did not mind the day-to-day monotony of what they would be doing and who did not rock the boat.

You may be thinking, but that was 150 years ago.

When I first began to read up on this, I thought the same thing. But let’s take a closer look at some common practices and see how they just might reflect this Industrial-era mindset of not-so-long ago.

  • School uniforms (conformity)
  • Mass instruction regulated by the government (conformity)
  • Senseless busywork (obedience)
  • Separate subjects which are to end immediately at the sound of the bell in order to move on to the next thing (obedience, conformity)
  •  Singling out those who learn differently (conformity, elimination of individualized thinking)

Politicians love to talk about education reform- especially this time of year- but how sincere are they? Before any true improvements can be made, the true intention of compulsory schooling needs to change. And, honestly, I don’t think that will ever happen.

 

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