Why does school-at-home get a bum rap? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-09-2012, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry if this has been covered before, but I missed it somehow.  :)

 

So basically, I get that there are a lot of different options for homeschooling.  Whether it's Waldorf, unschooling, classical, religious... I know there's a lot, and many families mix and match through the years anyway.  But I often hear on these boards and other places that homeschooling is not (or should not be) school-at-home.

 

To me, school at home means having some set curriculums, unit studies, circle time maybe, manipulatives... Basically things you would be doing in schools but done your own way, at your own pace, incorporating whatever topics you want to teach, in your own order, spending as much time as you need on a lesson, taking field trips together, etc.  Why is this frowned on?  It does seem a tad "artificial" to have to prepare units, print off worksheets, etc., but I see a lot of advantages to it as well.  There are a lot of resources out there, and you can pick the topics you want your children to learn, and go at their own pace.  It's an improvement over regular school IMO because you're not wasting time on all the administrative tasks and can fit a lot more learning into the day - and you also can customize what's important to your family.  You can impart your own values to your kids, give them more opportunity to interact in daily life, etc.  And in my particular case, we can incorporate my home countries' curriculums as well as American ones, stay computer-free for a little while longer, and wait for another year or two to start the academics (reading, writing, math skills) that they're pushing onto schooled kids earlier and earlier.  But, we are setting up a school room that looks suspiciously like a small kindergarten classroom, though a bit cozier.  I planned out our curriculum already, have a set calendar, we have some worksheets, etc.  I'm happy with where we are and I'm sure other people have their own comfort levels, which is great.  I'm just, again... curious as to why school-at-home seems like such a negative thing to a lot of people.

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Old 08-09-2012, 04:28 PM
 
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I'd like to know the same thing. If someone wants to have a school style classroom at home, mcgraw-hill textbooks, a set schedule, and a flag on the wall they say the pledge to every day then more power to them! Not many homeschoolers take it that far but I don't see anything wrong with having something similar to a classroom as a designated learning environment in your house, if we had an extra room that's what we would do.

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Old 08-09-2012, 04:45 PM
 
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As an unschooler,I feel if I'm doing school at home, then why not just send my child to school. Homeschooling opens up so many possibilities to tailor the education to the child's needs. And most children need more time to be active and creative than school allows
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Old 08-09-2012, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As an unschooler,I feel if I'm doing school at home, then why not just send my child to school. Homeschooling opens up so many possibilities to tailor the education to the child's needs. And most children need more time to be active and creative than school allows

 

To play devil's advocate - if a parent is making up their own curriculum (as in, not buying a pre-packaged one, but considering what topics they want to teach... even if they then use lesson plans for those topics etc that schoolteachers might use) then isn't it still tailoring to their child's needs?  For example, I have a feeling we're going to be doing a lot of geography - a subject I think U.S. schools don't do a great job with generally speaking.  (Not a lot of time devoted to it, etc.)  And if a child had an interest in xyz I can't imagine NOT pursuing that interest with them.

 

And... one of the benefits of homeschooling is that the actual lessons can be condensed (at least in the early years... I'm not even thinking of middle school or beyond) into short blocks without the administrative stuff of school, the transportation, etc.  There is a lot of time saved during the day that can then be devoted to free play, activities, creative pursuits, etc.

 

I'm still interested in hearing your p.o.v. more, so please don't think I'm being contentious.  I'm genuinely curious - and not stuck in my opinion.

 

 

ETA - As far as why not just send your child to school, there are still a lot of factors that can be involved.  The school culture might not be what your family desires to be a part of (such as really materalistic students bullying kids who don't have access to label clothes) or too much screen time for kids, or constant testing, or large classes with no individual attention, or a lack of incorporating spirituality into studies, or too much time on homework... or whatever else...

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Old 08-09-2012, 06:55 PM
 
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What you describe is more "eclectic" than "school at home" IMO.  To me, "school at home" means you pick a formal curriculum for every topic, do formal lessons, quizzes and tests, and have a set school day, perhaps with a schedule for when each subject is done.  

 

I know people who do "school at home" and it works fine for them, but I think that a whole lot of people start with "school at home" when they start homeschooling because they don't fully realize the other possibilities, and look back on "school at home" as "that awful approach that didn't work for us".  If it were more intuitive to start with one of the other approaches, then that approach would probably be the one that lots of people hate.  

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Old 08-09-2012, 07:30 PM
 
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I think it is because so many people choose HSing because they dislike the style of set lessons, learning by the bell (a term, BTW, used by those who dislike the style) etc.

 

It is a game of terms, but I would say that if you time/ change/ plan lessons according to interests and abilities and levels you might be drifting to a more "relaxed" style.  People who use the term school-at-home (usually detractors) are referring to a style that is led by the parent (exclusively, usually, just like school) and what they feel needs to be taught and when.  

 

In my personal experience meeting people, the only people who come close to this are HSing for simple religious reasons.  They have no problem with the manner in which schools teach, just that they strongly disapprove of the curriculum, or, more positively, feel that religious teachings belong hand-in-hand with a curriculum.  

 

Most people I have met in general (including folks for whom teaching their faith is a strong motivator to HS) are actually more relaxed, using a curriculum, making lesson plans, etc, but always with a child's particular needs in mind.  I would not say these people are doing "school-at-home".  

 

But, like I said, it is a game of terms.

 

So, probably you are reading negative things about "school-at-home" because it is a term usually used by those of us who dislike the style (as far as I know).  Get past the term, and you will see that MOST HSers homeschool the way you are describing.


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Old 08-09-2012, 08:29 PM
 
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I wouldn't consider what you described as "school at home."  I consider "school at home" those homeschoolers who follow their local school's curriculum and basic structure to a T.  The only difference for them is doing it at home and maybe it takes less time since there are only a few kids.  I would say you're taking advantage of the opportunity that homeschooling gives you - making it your own!  Whether you are more structured with a curriculum or lean more toward a relaxed or unschooling approach, I think this is what is valued by homeschoolers - we can do what works best for our kids and family.  If you follow the school's example, then you may be missing out on some of the key advantages of homeschooling.  Still, if there are homeschoolers out there who like that approach, I would think that maybe it's what works for them.

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Old 08-09-2012, 09:10 PM
 
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I have negative feelings about "school-at-home" because I imagine people who do it are incorporating a lot of the things I dislike about school.  I imagine their kids spend most of the day doing school and they stick to a rigid schedule, so they spend a lot of time inside even on beautiful days, they don't spend as much time skiing and skating and hiking and playing in the river as we do, and their kids don't have as much time to collect insects or build with Legos or make up their own games.  They go through their whole purchased curriculum in order, doing every worksheet and assignment, even the ones that aren't helpful or interesting.  Their kids spend a lot of time doing boring work meant to show what they've learned, rather than interesting work that is actually a learning experience.  (And they rarely get a chance to learn new things without having to do some kind of related assignment.  They can't just read and think about an interesting topic; they have to write a book report or take a quiz or make a model or something.) Their kids have to learn about whatever topics their curriculum calls for them to learn about that year, even though there are equally valuable topics they could be spending time on that they would be more interested in.  They spend a lot of time on relatively unimportant details like state capitals or definitions of literary terms like "theme," "setting," and "plot" while neglecting critical thinking skills and curiosity.  That's my idea of school-at-home.  But your idea might be something completely different that I wouldn't actually be negative about.

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Old 08-09-2012, 10:14 PM
 
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To me, school at home means having some set curriculums, unit studies, circle time maybe, manipulatives... Basically things you would be doing in schools but done your own way, at your own pace, incorporating whatever topics you want to teach, in your own order, spending as much time as you need on a lesson, taking field trips together, etc.

 

I don't think it is wrong to be more schooly in the way you homeschool if it works for your family. I don't think it is wrong for people to send their kids to schools either.

I would not actually consider what you describe to be school at home. I think of school at home as strictly trying to recreate a school atmosphere, grades, tests, record keeping, schedule and firmly set curriculum at home. The style would not deviate much from what a school is doing in order or content. I think of that style as highly structured and narrowly focused.  I don't think of it as following the child's pace or being tailored to the individual children.

 

What you describe sounds much more relaxed than school at home to me. I would call it eclectic.

http://eho.org/homeschool_prep/article.asp?articleid=1&resourceid=69


Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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Old 08-09-2012, 10:23 PM
 
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I think I'm repeating what others have already said.

To me 'school at home' means following a preset curriculum (local school district's, or packaged) and following it blindly without regard for the child's interests or needs. It also means to me that you rarely go anywhere and have a very structured day. That is what goes on at school (understandably they have 30+ students making tailoring difficult or impossible). I would consider a tailored program different from school at home, even if you feel you need to buy Saxon Math or whatever. And lingering over a lesson because it is enjoyable makes homeschooling rewarding (for me).

I agree that there are still benefits and reasons for homeschooling, even if you are doing school at home. My son has food allergies and it would have been difficult to have sent him to school. Then there are bullies. One family I know had a severe bully issue and did school at home rather than allowing their daughter to be beaten up on bus every day.

I just feel that, if you're stepping out of the box to homeschool you should go a step farther and tailor the program to fit both you and your child. But maybe to you that counts as 'school at home'. For me, it doesn't.
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:53 PM
 
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I started out thinking we were going to do school at home - and I was excited about all the fun and creative things we could do within that format.  I soon found out, though, that what we could do was actually a lot more exciting and fulfilling than the kind of things I'd been envisioning. Here's an article I wrote years ago that tells a bit about that, and has comments from my son and his dad about how they experienced it. And here's one I wrote after cleaning out our stacks of educational materials when my son headed off to college: Reflecting on the Value of Materials and Classes. We didn't think of what we did as school - it was just a way of life that involved exploring and learning and enjoying. When my son applied to colleges, his essay described how fortunate he felt to have been able to grow up in that kind of environment and to have had the opportunity to build the confidence that he was capable of learning whatever he wanted to know about.

 

I think the freedom to explore one's own way of learning is something a lot of us have come to value so much that we feel school-at-home puts unnecessary procedures and demands into the picture. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we've mostly been brought up thinking we learned what we did because of the way it was taught in schools - but we forget that there have been a lot of things in our lives that we learned on our own without all those trappings, and so we automatically want to try to duplicate elements of school. We grew up thinking school was wholesome and necessary and somehow made us into competent, educated, adults - when actually, we could have grown as competent and educated in other wholesome ways without all that time in the classroom and in homework, and we could have found that we had our own learning styles that worked better for us than some of the ways we were made to learn things. 


Getting sleepy - so I'll stop before I ramble on too much.  wink1.gif    Lillian
 

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Old 08-10-2012, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the awesome replies, guys!  It's given me a lot to reflect about.  I'm sure that as we grow as a homeschooling family we'll be adapting what we do and seeing what works for us and what doesn't.  But these responses have given me a lot of things to think about, regardless.  :)

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Old 08-10-2012, 08:55 AM
 
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School at home to me means using standardized curriculum. We chose to homeschool our dc primarily to offer them an individualized, creative, inspiring education that utilizes higher quality materials and literature instead of worksheets and textbooks. We still use a curriculum, and have a set rhythm for the day, but we don't use standardized curriculum and standardized testing.

I believe there is an important distinction. That said, I've known plenty of new homeschoolers who initially felt more comfortable using their local public school curriculum and resources, including online classes, for that first year. After that, many end up using other resources, but it did help build confidence that first year of homeschooling.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:21 PM
 
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I agree with everyone else-- you're not describing school at home (at least, to me).

 

The people I know who do SAH are at their desks at 830 and are there until 330, with a break for "recess." They stick to the work/text books no matter how boring they are, because that's what they are supposed to do.

 

To me, its not very personal-- not something I really want to do.


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Old 08-16-2012, 08:51 AM
 
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Lillian--thanks for those links. I'm thrilled to read reflections from people on the other end. My kids are 2 and 4. :)

 

I'm a former high school teacher. I have taught "school at home" to various students for various health or discipline reasons. It isn't something I want to do with my kids even though I made it interesting for my students (they said at the time). I'm in a weird position with regards to schooling. I don't know how I will handle it all yet. But my kids are 2 and 4 and I believe academic instruction shouldn't start till 6 so right now it is all theoretical. I plan to choose whether or not we use curriculum of some kind subject by subject and year by year. I will probably just use the term "eclectic" but I hope to keep formal curriculum to over 12 years old (Algebra is easier with a curriculum) or something where the kids ask for a formal structure. Mostly I will make up my own curriculum because I'm fully trained at doing so.

 

I lean strongly in the unschooling direction but I believe that children need scaffolding and support. I think that most people have a hard time figuring out "Ok, I want to be able to do _____ what are all the steps" in a way that is easily accessible to young children. That's my judgy-kind-of-jerk opinion based on the people I knew growing up. I was extremely gifted in a family of people who were mostly illiterate. It was hard. I want my kids to be taught how to learn rather than be told constantly that they are stupid for not knowing how to do activities that are far too advanced for them. I have baggage.

 

We'll see how it goes, right?


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Old 08-16-2012, 12:54 PM
 
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Lillian--thanks for those links. I'm thrilled to read reflections from people on the other end. My kids are 2 and 4. :)

 

I'm a former high school teacher. I have taught "school at home" to various students for various health or discipline reasons. It isn't something I want to do with my kids even though I made it interesting for my students (they said at the time). I'm in a weird position with regards to schooling. I don't know how I will handle it all yet. But my kids are 2 and 4 and I believe academic instruction shouldn't start till 6 so right now it is all theoretical. I plan to choose whether or not we use curriculum of some kind subject by subject and year by year. I will probably just use the term "eclectic" but I hope to keep formal curriculum to over 12 years old (Algebra is easier with a curriculum) or something where the kids ask for a formal structure. Mostly I will make up my own curriculum because I'm fully trained at doing so.

 

I lean strongly in the unschooling direction but I believe that children need scaffolding and support. I think that most people have a hard time figuring out "Ok, I want to be able to do _____ what are all the steps" in a way that is easily accessible to young children. That's my judgy-kind-of-jerk opinion based on the people I knew growing up. I was extremely gifted in a family of people who were mostly illiterate. It was hard. I want my kids to be taught how to learn rather than be told constantly that they are stupid for not knowing how to do activities that are far too advanced for them. I have baggage.

 

We'll see how it goes, right?

 

Sounds quite realistic. To make decisions in advance about how the unknown - the future - is going to be causes all too many people to put themselves in a state of frustration. Taking everything as it comes is going to feel ever so much more relaxed and natural. Have fun!  Lillian

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Old 08-16-2012, 03:01 PM
 
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Most HSers I know who are definitely "relaxed" consider what I do to be "school at home".    We do it at the kitchen table.   It is directed by me.  I use grade levels.   We start pretty early in the morning, fully dressed.  From 3rd grade on, there is written work produced for every subject (not every subject every day though).  Some days it does take from 8:30-3:30, and some days we are done at 12, depending on the pace of work, but it will usually all get done.  BTW, we are not a religious family. 

 

I do feel that I am exercising a lot more freedom than public school would allow, or public virtual school where I would have to use their plans, materials, answer to them, and have the kids receive grades from them.  I pick materials for each subject, matching what I select to the current level and learning/working style of the kid (we have two).  I skip plenty of pages if they are repetition that the kid does not need, or just covering something that I think is unnecessary.  And if a kid needs a lot more time and a lot more repetition that I had originally planned, we just take the time and do that.  If I don't like the way the materials cover a point, I skip their page and cover it in my own way.  Depending on how the day is going, I may add more work or decide to put off  some things for the next day if we have reached saturation.  I don't give tests or quizzes because I already know that they are learning.  I don't grade things - I sit with each child and rework mistakes as they go along.  If I am trying to use something that just does not work for that kid, I ditch it and find something that works better.  In language arts, I mix things up a lot - we use a large variety of stuff !  It keeps it fresh and interesting.  I do not forge ahead with materials that none of us like. 
 

I consider what I am doing to be school at home, but with a very flexible structure.  It's all customized to each child, can be changed on the fly as needed, and leaves a lot of time for non-schoolwork activities (Spanish class, Gym'n Swim, OT, a social co-op, violin lessons, little league baseball, Legos, Bey Blades, Minecraft, art projects, shooting hoops and reading).  I enjoy the freedom that we have and all the things that there is plenty of time left over for - and I also enjoy the structure and organization of the school work, the kids learning to apply themselves to their work when required, and having something tangible that shows their progress as the year goes on.


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Old 08-18-2012, 08:28 AM
 
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When I think of school at home I think of more programs like a virtual academy a program which to some degree invites the "system" into your home. This can be a good fit for some I transationed from traditional school to homeschooling through such a program.. I dont think of these programs as PURE homeschooling though because you are having to agree on someones else teaching plans. 

 As for what we use umm I have no idea, I pick my own stuff much is Classical based some is Catholic based but I don't just buy one boxed set.. We follow a general daily schedule that I taylor each week based on our overall plans changing intrests  and ever changing academic challanges. A portion of that day includes sitting at a table and me working one on one with her.

 

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