Drop Your Schoolish Mindset So Your Kids Can Get a Real Education

It’s a well-known fact that schools are failing, so why on Earth do we keep trying to imitate them?

Advertisements
ID-10063803
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

America’s schools are failing. There’s no doubt that our educational system has entered a period of extreme crisis. Violence is on the rise, teaching to the test has become the predominant method, and children simply aren’t learning as well as they should be.

Why is this? Most people are unaware that the US educational model has remained almost unchanged in the last 150 years, when it was first instituted to train future factory workers. The current method of dry textbook learning, separation of subjects, and changing classes upon the ringing of a bell looks quite the same since the beginning of compulsory education.

For most of us, this means that we were conditioned for 13 years, at the very least, to accept that this is the best way- the only way- to get a proper education:

  • textbooks– often dry, monotonous resources which are almost impossible to pay attention to
  • subjects taught like an assembly line– a generic assortment provided to each and every student regardless of their need for, or interest in it
  • a pre-ordained allotment of time given for each subject– more time for the “important” subjects like math, language arts, science, and social studies; less time for those pesky “less important” ones like art, music, drama

Chances are, if you have made the decision to homeschool your children, you are well aware of the problems within the established educational system. You have taken it upon yourself to give to your children what no school can- an individualized, quality education.

Which leads me to the question at the heart of this topic- why do so many of us try so hard to imitate a school system which isn’t working? We take our kids out of school- or never send them in the first place and then proceed to purchase boxed curriculum, write timed schedules affording 45 minutes for math, 45 minutes for language arts, 30 minutes for social studies, etc., and we, in essence, try to replicate the very atmosphere we removed our children from in the first place!

Why??? Why do we do this? The most likely answer to that is what was mentioned earlier- we have been conditioned this way.

Homeschooling is our chance at allowing our kids to learn in freedom. I’m going to let you in on a little secret…textbooks are not the only way to learn. In fact, for many children- if not most- they are the least effective way possible.

What I want from you today is for you to take every notion you have about what education is supposed  to look like, toss it out the window, and start from scratch. I’ll tell you what I’ve realized that learning is supposed to look like:

  • A baby figuring out how to take his very first steps- without one single lesson!
  • A toddler learning his native language simply by being immersed in it.
  • A little boy who is so in love with reptiles that he can identify every single obscure snake he sees, merely by poring over book after book about them in his free time.
  • A teenage girl who is so enamored by cosplay that she teaches herself how to sew.

That is what true learning looks like. It’s more than having the ability to spout off facts on command, only to forget them later. It’s taking the knowledge that you’ve acquired and being able to apply it to real life situations- something that most people will never do with geometry proofs (which is why my daughter who is taking geometry does not have to do them).

I do strongly believe, however, that textbooks can serve a greater purpose. Some things, like math, can be easier to learn this way, but we need to remember that they are a tool. Textbook learning holds no more value than hands-on learning, or reading for pleasure, or crafting, or dancing, or wading through the creek, or grocery shopping.

Each of these examples are rife with learning opportunities. I’d even wager that the learning in these types of activities is learning that will be absorbed- something not too common with memorizing facts out of a textbook.

Some homeschooling families would probably be horrified at the fact that my 16-yr-old son only completed book work twice last week and none at all so far this week. But it’s so important to recognize that he accomplished so much more than vocabulary assignments during this time. He spent a lot of time at the creek, finding different critters, bringing them home as specimens to watch for a few days, and researching what they ate. He attended a choral concert and a volleyball game at the local middle school. He went to the roller skating rink and realized how much he enjoys it, so he’s been skating around the neighborhood, not even caring what people may think. He’s been taking pictures outside, trying to hone his skills as a wildlife photographer.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that textbooks would have been almost useless for what he achieved in the last week.

It’s time to take off your “school goggles” and replace them with your “life lenses.” The reason school doesn’t work is because it’s taken the life out of learning. It was doomed from the start.

 

There’s No Place Like Home is now on Facebook and Pinterest!

 

 

Why Should We Homeschool?- Part 6- Centrality of the Family

Children spend more time with their teachers than with their parents. Why do we let it continue?

ID-100169648
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Did you ever wonder why most parents of public school kids don’t question the fact that their kids are in school more than they are with their own families? The average school student will spend about 30 hours a week minimum in the school building. This does not include the endless after-school programs designed for test-prep, art enrichment, chess club, organized sports, and so on. Nor does this include the before-school breakfast programs or the hours many children spend at a child care center until their parents are done working, which- to me- is simply another type of school. Until everything is said and done, a good portion of children will not see the inside of their homes until after 6 pm, after which there will be a rushed dinner, an hour or two of homework, and quite possibly some unwinding in front of the TV before bed. The next morning, the cycle will begin again.

I’m not pointing the finger. I did the same thing when my kids were in school. I signed them up for every after-school program known to man, for fear they might miss out on something otherwise. I sent them to school early for breakfast because, hey, it was a lot easier and my house got quieter a lot quicker. I told myself that I was doing the right thing because…well…school is good, right?

But then once my children finally came home for the day, I’d be shaking my head, thinking, Why can’t my kids just get along? Why are they so wound up? Why won’t my middle schooler come out of her room?

When I began homeschooling, this problem was certainly not one of my reasons to pull them out of school. I still hadn’t seen the connection. In fact, I anticipated that things might get worse having the kids together all the time.

But I was wrong.

Things started getting better. My kids started playing together and soon became the best of friends. My daughter who never left her room initiated movie nights and marathons of TV shows and animes with me almost every day of the week. She’d follow me around the kitchen after she awoke every morning, telling me about her dreams and wondering what they meant. The chaos that I expected simply didn’t happen.

I eventually asked my daughter what had changed that made her actually come out of her room. Had she been going through a phase? What she told me was very straightforward. She said that after being in school all day, she was drained, but she couldn’t rest because she usually had at least two hours of homework. By the time she was finished, she was so tired, she would just lay in her room, vegging out.

Is this the kind of life we want for our kids?

I slowly began to realize that the root of the behavioral problems at home was school.

  • My kids weren’t getting along because they weren’t together enough.
  • They were hyper because they had been forced to sit all day long.
  • They were stressed, exhausted, and cranky, but it wasn’t because of being home. It was because of school.

Additionally, since my children weren’t with my husband and me very much, we were not as influential on them as we would have liked. If your kids spend 6-8 hours a day with their teachers and peers and only a few with you, who do you think they are going to emulate? If your kids have teachers and friends with the same values as you, it may not be so bad, but, how often will that be true in this day and age?

What will happen, inevitably, is your children will likely begin to look up to their friends and their teachers, instead of you, their parents. Where do you think the ‘My parents don’t know anything’ idea originated?

Family will soon become a mere nuisance to those who have learned through experience that there will always be other people who are around them more. Siblings will be brushed aside, parents will be ignored, and family harmony will be a thing of the past.

But none of this has to happen…

I learned the effect that schooling can have on children the hard way, but it was so worth it, because when my 14-yr-old rests her head on my shoulder during church, or my 16-yr-old says, “Bye, Mom! I love you. Love you, Dad,” in front of his friends, or I see my younger children happily playing together, I know I made the right decision.

Like I said before, I may not have started this journey because of our family relationships, but the Lord knows that, in this case, homeschooling was just what the doctor ordered.

 

There’s No Place Like Home is now on Facebook and Pinterest!

Lazy Day Links- 5/20/16

lazy day links
Image courtesy of porbital at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Welcome back for another list of my favorite books and links I’ve come across. Have a great weekend!

Favorite Blog Posts:

5 Reasons You Think You Can’t Homeschool, And Why I Think You Can (Read at Your Own Risk)– Generation Cedar

On the Quest for Homeschool Mindfulness– Simple Homeschool

Reason 252: This Is my Number One Reason– 365 Reasons to Homeschool

My Top Tips on How to Homeschool Young Children– A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Is Spiritual Truth a Matter of Opinion? An Open Letter to a Relativist– Natash Crain

 

My Older Posts:

Sorting Things Out: My Rant Against PA Homeschool Laws

Homeschooling in PA- It’s a Piece of Cake!

Maybe It’s Easier Than I Thought

The Unschool Experiment

Why Should We Homeschool?

 

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Books Worth Reading:

Instead of Education– John Holt

Weapons of Mass Instruction- A Schoolteacher’s Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling– John Taylor Gatto

The Book Thief– Markus Zusak

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism– Timothy Keller

This Present Darkness: A Novel– Frank Peretti

 

That’s it for this week. Enjoy!

Why Should We Homeschool?- Part 5- Political Correctness Run Amok

ID-100382736
Image courtesy of Suriya Kankliang at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I had originally intended to write about the centrality of the family this week. In fact, I had absolutely no plans to touch on the issue of political correctness at all because I assumed I had it well covered with my post on values. Unfortunately, however, I woke up Saturday morning to read in the local newspaper that our self-apponted king president had issued a decree which threatens to cut off funding to schools who do not allow students to choose whichever restroom or locker room they feel like using, instead of that which best fits their actual gender.

Despite my admitted dislike of the public education system, I never, ever in my wildest dreams thought that our school system would be reduced to nothing but a social engineering experiment by the leader of our country.  Our president has taken it upon himself to re-write truth and alter the moral fabric that has defined civilized society for centuries, and he is now enforcing it to the extreme in our very own schools.

Upon reading the article yesterday morning, I was fuming and, honestly, ranting and raving to my husband about it. He questioned why I was upset, because our children are homeschooled. I replied that I am anguished for the children in the public education system whose parents either can’t or won’t pull them out of school.

Obama claims his “decree” is to protect the rights of these students who suffer from a disorder that makes them feel like they were born the wrong sex. First of all, these people comprise less than 1% of the population. Secondly, and most importantly, what about the rights of everyone else?

What about the rights of our daughters and sons to maintain privacy in the most sensitive situations? Are you comfortable with the thought of a male student entering the girls’ locker room while your daughter is changing? I would surely hope the answer is no! This should not be allowed! Instead of focusing on the discomfort of 1% of the population, why not turn our attention to the other 99%? This is ludicrous.

Alarmingly, there aren’t even any limitations to this. Anyone can use the restroom of their choice. Anyone. There are no doctor’s notes or formal diagnoses required to be afforded this “right.” I’m going to say it again. Any student can do it- which puts children everywhere at risk.

The issue with Target is bad enough, but at least there a parent can accompany their children to the restroom. This isn’t going to happen in your children’s school!

And make no mistake that there is a political agenda to this. Think about it. Can a 16-yr-old say that they’ve always felt older and be served at a bar? What about Rachel Dolezal? There was an uproar when it was discovered that she had lied about her racial heritage and was a leader of the NAACP. She publicly stated that she identified as an African-American and gave her reasons. It was no use. Amidst cries of racial appropriation she was forced to step down from her position. For the record, I do not agree with what she did. I am making a point that simply because you identify with one group of people does not mean that you are one of them.

Why, then, is this self-delusion being forced upon our children by none other than our nation’s leader? Where do you draw the line? What is the real reason behind all this?

To be honest. I don’t know. But whatever the reason, I do know one thing. There can’t be anything good that will come out of this. The changeover from a republic to an oligarchy has begun. It has been insidious, and it has been making its way into our schools for decades now. The only difference is that it is no longer being hidden from the public.

How has this happened? We have been conditioned to accept it for decades. And where do you think this training has occurred?

I am pleading with you to give some serious thought to whether you’re willing to be a part of this. Do you feel safe sending your children to school, knowing what they now must face? Please, reconsider the notion that school is the only way to go. Your children’s futures and well-being depend upon it.

 

There’s No Place Like Home is now on Facebook and Pinterest.

Exploring the Truth Behind Homeschool Myths

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

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. 🙂

 

There’s No Place Like Home is now on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram!

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.

ID-100272527
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.

 

There’s No Place Like Home is now on Facebook and Pinterest! Like and follow for new posts!

Linking up with:

Monday of Many Blessings

Modest Monday

Thoughtful Spot

Hip Homeschool Hop

iHomeschool Network

Top Notch Tuesday

Tuesday Talk

Wonderful Wednesday

#OMHGWW

 

 

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
Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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?

 

There’s No Place Like Home is now on Facebook! Like my page and receive new posts on your newsfeed!

 

Linking up with:

This Is How We Roll

No Rules Weekend Blog Party

Family Fun Friday

Friendship Friday

Homeschool Linkup

Friday Frivolity

Family, Friendship, and Faith

Friday Features

Frugal Friday

Pin Me

Make My Saturday Sweet

Homeschool Mother’s Journal

Making Your Home Sing Monday

Inspire Me Monday

Happiness Is Homemade

Social Butterfly Sunday

Small Victories Sunday

Literacy Musing Monday

Practical Mondays

Mommy Monday

Mommy Moments

Monday of Many Blessings

Modest Monday

Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop

Hip Homeschool Hop

Top Notch Tuesday

Wonderful Wednesday

#OMHGWW

 

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.

 

*There’s No Place Like Home is now on Facebook!*

 

Linking up with:

Wise Woman Linkup

#OMHGWW

Sitting Among Friends

Homemaking Linkup

A Little R&R

Think Tank Thursday

Thriving Thursdays

No Rules Weekend Blog Party

Family Fun Friday

Friendship Friday

Homeschool Linkup

Friday Frivolity

Family, Friendship, and Faith

Friday Features

Pin Me

Homeschool Mother’s Journal

Making Your Home SIng Monday

Inspire Me Monday

Happiness Is Homemade

Social Butterfly Sunday

Small Victories Sunday

Practical Mondays

Mommy Monday

Mommy Moments

Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop

 

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!

 

 

 

Linking up with:

Think Tank Thursday

Friendship Friday

There's No Place Like Home

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!

There’s No Place Like Home is now on Facebook!

Linking up with:

Monday of Many Blessings

Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop

Modest Monday

Hip Homeschool Hop

Tuesday Talk

Littles Learning Linkup

Wonderful Wednesday

Wise Woman Linkup

#OMHGWW

Sitting Among Friends

Homemaking Linkup

Finishing Strong

A Little R&R

Thriving Thursdays