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What is school useful for? - Page 2

post #21 of 107
I send my kids to a semi-public/semi-private English medium school in Hong Kong.

I see so many benefits... my kids are 11 & 13

My kids have learned so much from their various teachers, who are not only expert in their fields, but also in their teaching methods. Their *full-time job* is to teach and intellectually stimulate my kids.

I work with my kids a bit after school (and after I get home from work) and supplement things - but still, I doubt if on my own I would have given my 11 year olds an assignment like this:

"The Emperor Hadrian and Qin Shi Huangdi - compare and contrast. Who was the "greater", and why".

I am not an expert in art, but their art teachers are. They are learning to work in mixed media and also history of art.

I am not an expert in music, but their music teachers are. They have taught the students in my kids' school to read music, and to enjoy many different genres of music.

I am not much of an athlete - but their PE teachers are and in addition to being exposed to games I've never played (rounders, cricket, rugby) and those games I have (soccer, field hockey, basketball) they have developed some skills and understanding - so they can better know what they want to do. If it weren't for school, DD would not be playing field hockey after school.

Math - I've forgotten most of my algebra & geometry, their teachers have not and were probably much better at math than I EVER was.

Same w/ sewing, Spanish, Mandarin, drama, etc.

Sure - I suppose if I home-schooled I could hire teachers and tutors to do a lot of that, but because I send them to school, the school organizes it.

So, despite some issues (what parent ever thinks their kids' school is perfect) I am mostly a fan.
post #22 of 107
There are different kinds of diversity -- one of my DD's friends mother is a CPA, another is an air force officer currently deployed. There's really no getting around the fact that most homeschoolers live pretty much the same way and that homeschooling a child straight through presents a limited view of the possibilities in life.
post #23 of 107
On a personal note, another thing I find school incredibly useful for is simply having someone other than dh and me manage my school age child's education. Of course she could learn all those things at home, but it is a big, time consuming responsibility. At the end of our time homeschooling, I finally realized that I don't want to spend my days dedicated to the education of my school age child.

For a toddler/preschooler it is different (and I do stay home with my 3 yo) because the child still needs a lot of close supervision at that age. But at school age, my dc is absolutely fine going to school without me there. People who have chosen to spend their days doing that job can do the job, and eventually I can spend my days doing jobs that I really enjoy in addition to caring for my dc.

And, yes, dd's school is far, far more diverse than the large, local homeschool group.
post #24 of 107
surprisingly, I find public school dads to be more involved in their children's education than homeschool dads, who tend to view education as "mommy's project."

My kids attend a traditional school and there is something to be said for consistantly working away on a skill subject such as math or writing or even PE.

I cannot beging to explain how much I enjoy spending time with other women based on my own interests and not just the fact that we have kids the same age in the same acitivity. For the most part, homeschooling is very isolating for the mommy (it wasn't just me, you can find those threads all the time on mothering). School is being part of a community.
post #25 of 107
People have mentioned alot of good points.

Queen of the meadow----you are not selfish. My dd has SPD and Pica and I do enjoy a break from her. It is not because I love her less. BUT ANYONE that spent 24/7 with her for 5 years would like a little break.

I live across the street from the school and I am involved and volunteer alot.

I enjoy having one on one time with my younger child.

I don't have the attention to homeschool.

I would feel too isolated.

I like school events.

I like her teacher.

She learns different rules.

She makes different friends.
post #26 of 107
My kids benefit from school because:

- They have learned to speak read and write another language

- They have, or are in the process of, mastering another environment. This gives them loads of confidence. My older son is an introvert, and I think it gives him a lot of pride to explain how school works to my younger, more extroverted son.

- Some teachers are great, some are fine. They learn to roll with the punches.

- They are diligent and hard-working in school. I wonder if they would be the same way for me.

- I've made friends. The school families are a big part of our community.

There have been bumps along the way, but I am happy with the small, local language immersion school my boys attend.

Hope that helps, OP!
post #27 of 107
I agree with pretty much all of the positive points above.

I'll emphasize or add a few we've found:

- I was an ed assistant and did a lot of training around education in my 20s, so you would think I would be a good candidate to homeschool my son. In fact, I've learned that his teachers overall really do have years and years of experience and expertise that I never chose to develop. I think I needed to mature in order to understand the difference between enthusiasm and experience. Now I could argue that that experience is not necessary to teach my child and in some ways it's not. But I daily am really glad for it.

- My son learns not only from his teachers but from his peers. Of course some of that becomes fart jokes too, but overall it's quite amazing to watch him soak in what the other kids are learning.

- The diversity of experience is great. I recognize that homeschooling can be very diverse too, but it would still be constrained by our family imagination, or by those people we choose to listen to. I would not, for example, have chosen to do a unit on the human body at 4 but my son loved it.

- I really do believe that kids have different needs and learning styles and that these change over time; the more teachers he has with different approaches the better I think. Sure, some of them won't be as good a match as others - but at least that will change.

- I find I really enjoy being the parent. Sure, part of our family experience is that we learn together. But there is a nice balance in not trying to make our family be "everything" and just let it be the family.

- My son gets the joy of being the expert in things we don't know about.

- In choosing to trust our community more and not see our family as barricaded against negative forces to the same extent that we used to feel it, I think we've ended up giving our son a bigger world and I'm glad for it. Part of what we value is adaptability and not always aiming for perfection. It is hard to get to that level of trust though.
post #28 of 107
Our experience is that my children's public schools are deeply rooted in the community, and folks tend to be fairly passionate about school issues here, both educational and financial. Of course there are some pros and cons to that, but the end result is that I often feel that my kids really belong in the larger community by viryue of their schooling. That's a huge plus to me.
post #29 of 107
Originally Posted by Dandelionkid View Post
A simplistic question but I can't seem to come up with much. I am obviously biased because I homeschool (though I am open to school at some point in the future- hence this question ) so I was hoping for others perspectives. When you get right down to it- what is school useful for? What do you think your child will gain that they might not at home?

I feel that schools main purpose is to prepare children for the workplace with a secondary result of a child understanding societies expectations.
What is school useful for?

The first and primary use is for learning .

My dc have learned and are learning interesting, fascinating facts and opinions. They have developed critical thinking skills and logic and analytical abilities.

They've been fortunate to learn in open, diverse environments from teachers and peers who have motivated and encouraged and challenged them.

They have had access to technology and resources that would have been expensive to replicate at home. My DS attends a specialized regional arts high school. He has excellent musical instruction every day, and once a week he has a private lesson with a professional musician. He hasn't had to purchase an instrument - he has one on loan from the school at home for practice and another to play at school. It would cost us a fortune to provide this level of music education at home. Yes, we could afford it - but the fact that we don't have to means we can do other things as a family that I also consider educational - attend theatre shows and festivals, travel, participate in sports leagues....

I'll echo what others have said about diversity. It's woven into the fabric of their lives. They don't occasionally visit an ethnic neighbourhood or eat an ethnic food or watch a foreign film. They go to school with children from all over the world who speak dozens of different languages and whose families have had all sorts of experiences. When a topic comes up in civics or history, chances are someone in the class has personal experience to relate. It's wonderful to observe these children together - those new to the country and those whose families have been here for generations - as they become the next generation to work and govern and contribute to this country and to the world.

I don't see a problem with preparing children for the workplace and teaching them about society's expectations. Do you think that's a bad thing? I want my children to be prepared and to understand the world they live in. I also want them to be open to new experiences and different ways of thinking and to think independently and make their own choices. Public schooling hasn't interfered with any of these things - in fact it's helped develop them.
post #30 of 107
It gives me a break?

(I'm serious... though there are a lot of wonderful things about my kids' Montessori program, this came to mind first b/c it was a rough night!)
post #31 of 107
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
There's really no getting around the fact that most homeschoolers live pretty much the same way and that homeschooling a child straight through presents a limited view of the possibilities in life.
I agree with the PP who said this may be regional... I'm a long-time, homeschooler and former public school teacher in a number of different states and districts, and current schooling parent (long distance, anyway), and my experience in the large cities where we have lived really doesn't bear this out. I think this may be because many homeschooling groups in large metro areas draw from a larger area whereas most public schools draw from one specific neighborhood where people tend to be from similar socioeconomic groups.

I think Rain has benefited from daily contact with the same group of adults and kids at her school - I think she feels like part of something, like a group member, and that's been good. I suppose some kids get that from a homeschool group - we did when she was small, but not since she's been 8 or so.

She has also learned to build close relationships with people she might not have otherwise become close to, just because they are there every day. I guess that's a kind of diversity - there were kids like this in her life as a homeschooler, but she was freer to avoid them most of the time.

Some of her teachers are really good... and some aren't. If it wasn't for the language learning thing, I think she would be better off taking college classes in the areas that interested her than going to high school... which I guess is school, too. Still, it's been fun for her to learn from people who share her passion for stuff like American literature, and her Russian history teacher has really inspired her to learn more.
post #32 of 107
I'll play!

FTR, I'm very homeschooling friendly and have been involved with our local homeschooling groups. Some of my best friends are homeschoolers !

That said, our small private school works for us for the following reasons:

Belonging: The kids get to belong to a group (class) in a way that they don't with extracurricular classes like dance, art, etc. They see the same kids every day and most of the same kids from year to year in the school environment. Kids drop in and out of dance class (which is also very important to my girls) and while they love it, they don't have the sense of belonging that they do with school. I participated in homeschooling enrichment programs with my dd2 when she was a preschooler and it's not the same.

Independence: Relatedly, kids get to develop a sense of independence within the safe borders of their class. This is especially important for my dd1 who even at almost 9 still has a fair amount of separation anxiety. She can stretch her wings at school in a way that she wouldn't be able to if she was homeschooling with me. The sense of belonging in her class at school provides her a safety net, but allows her to grow in a way that would be more difficult for her if I was available to cling to.

Leadership: Dd1 is now in the oldest class in her school and she takes pride in being one of the leaders of the school. Her class interacts with the younger kids and shows them what they can do.

Bigger Group Projects: In school, I know my kids are pushed to work harder on bigger projects than I would push them at home. I am an introvert and I don't gravitate to large gatherings, but I recognize that there is something galvanizing about the momentum and energy of everyone working toward a common goal or toward individual goals within a group. Think of a sports event (not necessarily school related) and the excitement of rooting for the team, or an election, or even an event like a movie premiere. It has an added level of excitement when everyone is involved and energized and screaming for the touchdown or applauding the speech, or camping out for tickets. It's the group experience that contributes greatly to making it special. For example, my dd1 has been working on a heritage project with her class. The kids are all working on their own family trees and bringing in family recipes and photos, etc, and binding their own family heritage books. This is certainly something we could do at home as homeschoolers, but it wouldn't have the same oomph that it does when it's part of a larger group. Often they work on big group projects as well such as a play or a school newspaper.

I'm still open to homeschooling and we may go back to that at some point (when the money for private school runs out), but for now for my kids this school is really a great fit.
post #33 of 107
We found school useful to learn about what our son needs for a learning environment. He did not 'fit in' at school at all. He is a very social child, no matter who's around he wants to talk, talk, talk. He also can't sit still, and was constantly trying to move about the room.

Because he wasn't diagnosed as having a learning disorder or being on the Spectrum, he didn't have an IEP, and the school he attended couldn't handle him. So he was sent home nearly every day with negative reports.

We got tired of diciplining him for things that were just who he is, because it wasn't fair to anyone. He was learning, don't get me wrong, great grades. But by the schools expectations he had 'poor behavior'

So we're homeschooling now.
post #34 of 107
School is useful for lots of reasons:

- My kiddo adores her classmates and teachers (she's only in preschool, but she loves, loves, loves it!) and gets bored staying with DH and I.

- Her teachers have different backgrounds from DH and I so they come up with really interesting, creative ways of teaching that we would never think to do (an example is that her teacher did a unit on gravity and used a Foucault pendulum with a paint brush tied to the bottom to teach the kiddos about motion, resistance and gravity- DH has a PhD in physics and we would NEVER have thought to do such a simple, instructive thing).

- DD meets people that she would not otherwise know and is exposed to things that she would not be if she didn't go to school. We try to be diverse, but most of the people we interact with share our political views and educational background (regardless of their ethnicity or cultural background). She meets and interacts with children whose parents are religiously and politically different than us and that kind of diversity is really important to us.

- I feel that it's really important for kids to have different adults in instructing roles in their lives- school provides this.

-School allows me time to pursue my goals and interests and it shows DD that women can choose from many careers.

- I don't feel confident that I could teach DD everything that she might need and believe it takes a village to do this properly. DH and I both have advanced degrees, so this isn't specifically about education. I'm concerned that I would not be able to teach things like history and social studies impartially in way that's appropriate for a small child. I also don't want to push her too far towards our interests and areas of expertise, if that makes sense. She might be really talented in something I'm terrible at, like art or engineering or foreign languages, and I wouldn't want my handicaps and hang ups to keep her from excelling in one of these subjects.

- We have the resources to choose from some truly excellent schools.

- It teaches kids to be well rounded and learn things that they would rather not do. I think it's incredibly important to learn what you love as well as what you don't love. It's important for college and ultimately for a career. School provides this.
post #35 of 107
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
  • DS enjoys school.
  • At school DS gets to be more independent. If mommy and/or daddy are available he "can't" do XYZ. As soon as he's in a room full of other kids all doing XYZ for themselves he will also do it for himself.
  • He learns/hears/sees a different perspective/perception/point of view from my own.
  • He gets to meet children and make friends independently from me.
  • I get 3 hours each day to run errands, relax, work, etc.
  • School helps fill out very very active DS's day.

Also, my ds has never allowed dh or I to "instruct" him in a straightforward way. I swear if I homeschooled him he would never have learned to read and write. I think he needs professional teachers to teach him how to learn, if that makes sense.
post #36 of 107
What a lot of PPs said. My oldest is in Kindergarten at the local small public school and he loves it so far.

DH and I do a lot of informal education of our boys (teaching counting by playing dungeons and dragons or card games, teaching chemistry by cooking, reading and writing interspersed with everyday life, etc) but we see the school as covering the baseline - we can feel free to explore interests as they come up because we know that the school is going to make sure the kids have the basic skills covered (or let us know if they don't).

I am not a professional educator - I do not know what the standards are for kids at different ages are.

Also, DH and I just flat out do not have the time nor energy to do it all ourselves. We co-own/run our own business - while we are actively engaged in our kids' education, we cannot be in charge of it, AND run a business that employs/offers health insurance/career paths for 13 people, including our own family.

They may not do things the way I would do them in an ideal world, but the education they are getting is more than good enough for my kids to attain the level of skills/knowledge required to become functioning and successful adults.
post #37 of 107
Originally Posted by hhurd View Post
Also, my ds has never allowed dh or I to "instruct" him in a straightforward way.
One of my DDs was fine with me teaching her until she turned 12. Then, Oh my.

Her teachers LOVE her. She is a great student at school!
post #38 of 107
Obviously, all schools are not created equally...but with that in mind.... When I think of some of the schools I have considered sending DS to, some of the things he would gain could be:

a new language (at a German immersion school)

access to a small farm complete with animals (at a public school you have to join the lottery to get into)

an AMAZING arts program (at a private arts based school)

a curriculum that largely incorporates the many museums of a large city - including spending a lot of time in the museums (public school)

at any of those schools - the social outlet he needs, access to more materials and supplies than I could buy, access to teachers that have expertise I don't (and I have a multiple subject teaching credential and taught K and 1st, but have seen amazing things that dedicated art or music or science teachers have done), structure, a sense of community, social learning

I agree that it is sad, but true, that some (maybe even many?) schools really do just prepare kids for the work place (and, actually, they don't even really prepare them well often times). School doesn't have to be that way, though. In many places, there are other options.
post #39 of 107
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
surprisingly, I find public school dads to be more involved in their children's education than homeschool dads, who tend to view education as "mommy's project."

My kids attend a traditional school and there is something to be said for consistantly working away on a skill subject such as math or writing or even PE.

I cannot beging to explain how much I enjoy spending time with other women based on my own interests and not just the fact that we have kids the same age in the same acitivity. For the most part, homeschooling is very isolating for the mommy (it wasn't just me, you can find those threads all the time on mothering). School is being part of a community.
As with all things I think this is one of those Your Mileage May Vary situations. My experiences for example are opposite to yours.

We had my eldest in school for K and gr 1 and the "community" wasn't nearly as real as the one that has developed around our family during our homeschooling years. The women that I have met homeschooling have challenged me and helped me grow in ways that amaze me and I have found it has expanded my world and social circle in far more meaningful ways than interactions at the school play ground or parent teacher councils ever did.

Our homeschool group is far more diverse religiously, economically, ethnically than the neighbourhood school my son attended and my kids get a chance to experience a family's culture in ways that could never have happened in the local school because the relationship to the family is different.

We also have an active group of Dads and grandads who run everything from the lego mindstorms club to the chess group to skating and art lessons, who sit on our coordinators group and attend the homeschool meetings.

Between our homeschool group and our social circle my kids know women who are business owners, professors and musicians, an electrician, a bioethicist, a computer programmer, a medical researcher, a doctor, a part time lawyer, a pilot, a police officer, just to name a few, and dads who are nurses, primary school teachers, stay at home dads, child care providers.

As for the OP I think schools can have a profoundly positive affect on many children. I had a very unstable homelife growing up and school was a lifeline to me. I had some incredible teachers who cared for me and opened up my world in ways that never would have happened otherwise.

For children whose parents are unable (for whatever reasons) to create community, seek out diversity, enrich their children's education, help them make connections, expand their world, schools and teachers can have the capabilities to do those things. Whether they do this for the majority of their students is another discussion entirely.
post #40 of 107
well, I guess I would ask the OP (I haven't read the replies)

What is any community good for? Because a school is just the people in it.

Our school is a community and one focal point where we touch the world-- just like our church, or our co-op, etc.

We homeschooled and I could spend hours and tons of dollars and not come up with what my kids get at the public montessori school they attend. It is *his*, not something I am trying to construct for him.
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