Is It Time to Abolish Truancy Laws for Good?

Yesterday morning as I read of yet another threat against a school in a neighboring district after a middle school student in our own was arrested for bringing a loaded gun to school last week, the issue of truancy laws came to the forefront of my mind.

Should schools have the authority to enforce school attendance when they can no longer guarantee the safety of their students?

I can’t help but find it a bit hypocritical that school districts with frequent incidents of violence can still threaten parents with fines and/or incarceration if their kids miss too much school. It just makes no sense to me. Shouldn’t the parents have the authority to make this decision, especially in light of the rise in school violence recently?  Continue reading “Is It Time to Abolish Truancy Laws for Good?”

Why Should We Homeschool?- Part 12- Teachers Are Starting to Give Up

Well, today we’ve finally reached the end of this seriesIn all honesty, I could probably continue on for months with this theme, but I’ve reached the point where I know that if all of these reasons won’t help someone make the decision to homeschool, nothing will.

By now my dislike of the public education system is no secret, but what I really want to convey right now is that that aversion does not extend to teachers. Most teachers- current and former teachers- I know are selfless, caring individuals who truly want to help children succeed in the world. A great portion of them have a genuine affinity for children and only desire to to be a positive influence in their lives. Continue reading “Why Should We Homeschool?- Part 12- Teachers Are Starting to Give Up”

A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers-Weekly Highlights- 4/21

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

It’s been about two years since I’ve written a weekly review post, and there has been one major change since then- we no longer identify as unschoolers and have settled in as relaxed homeschoolers. While unschooling can and does work for many families, the lack of structure and direction created some chaos in our lives.

I’ve learned a lot from our stint with unschooling, however, and feel that while some book work is necessary, it is hardly the most important part of our homeschool. Having said that, I’ve decided that if I am going to resume these review posts, for the most part I will not be focusing too much on our seat work and will instead focus on the parts of our weeks that I truly consider to be either highlights or developments that made this week different from the last.

Since I know so many people are curious as to how homeschooling can work with ten kids in the house, I have written a post that better addresses the technicalities of our daily routine.

Now on with the show!

A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week has been one of those weeks that we really let life take the lead and backed off a bit on doing much structured learning. Our week started with two of my children taking their state-mandated standardized tests. (One on Monday and one on Tuesday)

We are really blessed in that our state only requires standardized tests in grades 3, 5, and 8 and in that my children were able to do these online at home, but it did not take away the stress that both of my children felt from doing them. After having one child in tears and another loudly complaining that she hates “school.” I am dreading having to go through this again with two more of my children next year.

While I’d be perfectly happy if we never had to see another test like that again, it was so refreshing to watch my son outside playing with the water table during his breaks. It just absolutely reinforced my beliefs in the benefits of homeschooling, because how many school children get to do things like that during their testing time?

Earlier in the week, Sunday to be precise, I went out to get the newspaper and found a headline glaring at me, stating how unsafe our city’s schools are. Apparently our school district had almost 3,000 incidents of violence by students that had to be reported to the Department of Education in the 2014-2015 school year alone. Add to that the fact that during that school term, the police had to be called 500 times and students were arrested 300 times. And the cherry on top was the story of a third grader who wrapped his hands around another child’s neck during breakfast in the cafeteria, and it turned out that this was the child’s 14th discipline report in seven weeks. Again, all I can say is, hallelujah for homeschooling.

Wednesday I helped take my disabled brother to a doctor’s appointment, so we actually did not do anything school-related that day at all. It was a well-timed break, though, after the stressful testing days. The rest of our week has been mainly activities-based, which is how they like it. Since I break my kids down into three groups in our homeschooling routine, I’ll do the same here to give you a picture of what was accomplished this week.

The Littles- Ages 7, 6, 4 (and sometimes the 2-yr.-old)

We’ve been reading the book Lentil this week and did some accompanying activities from our FIAR curriculum, such as mapping, coloring the US flag, and learning some shading techniques for an art project. We also talked about uniqueness and jealousy and worked on some character trait issues.

The Big Kids- Ages 11, 10, and 8

We’ve been reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone together, and the kids have been reading books from the Encyclopedia Brown series because they work well with the research/reference unit study we’re doing right now. We’ve been practicing looking for information using library resources and actually took a field trip there today, so that they could choose books for their upcoming reports and better learn how to tell the difference in the placement of fiction and non-fiction books on the shelves.

As an aside, I’ve got to say that I was horrified when I found out today that a young boy was assaulted in the men’s room of our library. Our library. Add to that the fact that our mayor is being investigated by the FBI for bribery charges, and you’ve got a pretty clear picture of the state that our city is in right now.

Anyway…

The Teens- Ages 16, 16, and 14

My oldest daughter has been reading a modern English version of Dante’s Inferno, while my younger daughter just finished The Book Thief. My son isn’t much of a reader, so he’s just been reading through some non-fiction books about WWII from the library and taking some notes from them. The three of them actually did get the vast majority of their assigned work done this week since they mainly do it on their own (with exception to math, of course- sigh). Otherwise, my oldest daughter’s been painting quite a bit with her acrylics. She hopes to sell some of her work online in the future and has been working at perfecting her artistic style. My son has been out and about with his friends quite a bit, bike riding, playing basketball, and watching a volleyball game at the middle school. My younger daughter has been going through a phase where I pretty much have to force her to come out of her room and get some fresh air. She does go for walks with her sister and me, and we’ve been lamenting the fact that the cherry blossoms have already turned green! Sniff.

The Oldest- Age 22

Okay, I know he’s technically the 11th kid I’ve mentioned and the title of the post is “A Tale of TEN Homeschoolers,” and I know that he isn’t homeschooled (he’s actually in college), BUT I felt like I had to include him because he’s still one of my children, and, with all the editing and proofreading I do for his college papers, sometimes I feel like he IS my 11th homeschooler.

He has been having some issues recently with conflicting responsibilities because he has a huge workload right now for school, and he also has some classes he needs to take for the army (he’s in reserves) because he’s supposed to be going to Germany this summer for some training thing. (I don’t know the technical term). Hopefully, he’ll be able to figure something out that will satisfy both needs.

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And that’s about it. I’m looking forward to a beautiful weekend and can’t wait to see what next week will bring!

How has your week been?

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Why Should We Homeschool?- Part 1- Safety

Join me in the first installment of my series, “Why Should We Homeschool?” as we address the issue of school violence.

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(Image courtesy of Prawny at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

As providence would have it, I awoke today with the plans to write this specific post today and, upon reading the front page of our local newspaper, found that things are, indeed, as bad as I have been saying for quite some time now. According to this report, our local school district reported nearly 3,000 incidents of violence just last year alone. Of these 3,000 incidents, the police were involved 500 times and students were arrested almost 300 times. Again, this occurred in one school year.

Lest you believe these incidents are few and far between, this is not the case. Whereas teachers of yesteryear had to worry about “serious” infractions such as gum chewing, talking in class, and speaking out of turn, today’s teachers are faced with the threat of assaults against them and their other students, sexual assaults (unfortunately, we have had several of these in our district- some including the assaults of elementary students by other elementary students), weapons being brought to school, drugs, bomb threats, and far too many more to list. Suffice it to say, sending your children to school everyday is a risk.

In fact, the very first line in this article tells of a third-grader who became so angry at another student that he wrapped his hands around the child’s neck, as if to choke him. As sobering as this may seem, what was reported next was even more startling. This was the child’s 14th discipline report in 7 weeks. My question is, why was he still even allowed in the school?

This story is not surprising to me. Several years ago when my children were still attending public school in this district, my daughter, who was in 2nd grade at the time, would come home everyday telling me tales about a boy in her class who would hit the teacher and rip her jewelry off of her, run around the classroom dumping out all of the bins of books, and would cause the entire school to be put on lockdown over and over again. My daughter, a good student who absolutely adored her teacher, would come home worried sick everyday and, frankly, afraid, because all she would ever hear was the teacher screaming at this boy day after day. There was no learning happening. It was quite impossible. Yet, the school did nothing about this situation.

The final straw came when my daughter arrived home to tell me that this child had thrown a desk that day and hit her on the leg with it. That was it for me. I called the district and asked to speak to the superintendent. I was told that I had to go through the chain of command, starting with the teacher. Since I had spoken to the teacher several times about this because I was very sympathetic to her, I called the principal. I was given the explanation that they had to “follow certain protocols.”

What?! Protocols?? Why does it seem that the disruptive students are being catered to while all of the other children are being terrorized everyday? This should.not.happen.

Interestingly, about a week later my daughter informed me that she hadn’t seen this boy in a few days. I believe he was gone about a month, and when he came back, my daughter said he was a completely different child. I suspect it was my phone call that jump-started the disciplinary action to be taken, but why was that even necessary? It was quite obvious the child was violent and disruptive, yet the administration dragged their feet on doing anything about it.

And, again, unfortunately, this is not exclusive to our district. Read any newspaper at random, and you are likely to see at least one school incident reported several times a week.

What bothers me the most is that parents are aware of these situations, and yet they unhesitatingly send their kids off to school everyday without a second thought. Is the compulsory school mindset so ingrained in the minds of these people that they are failing to see the problem?

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(Image courtesy of fantasista at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Homeschooling provides a safe alternative to these dangerous situations. Kids who are placed in stressful situations are less likely to learn anything when they have more important things on their minds- like making it through the school day unscathed. Additionally, the amount of time spent reprimanding these disruptive students is taking precious class time away from the children who actually do want to learn.

Parents of homeschoolers are often accused of sheltering their kids from the “real world.” If sheltering our kids means keeping them safe from harm, then okay. I’ll take that label because this is one parent who will not gamble with the well-being of my children by placing them in these precarious situations.  That is one risk I will never be willing to take.

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Join me next week when I address the issue of personalized learning in the homeschool environment. Thanks for reading!

 

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