Considering Homeschooling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 06-28-2002, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A couple of weeks ago I met a woman who homeschools and had a great long talk with her about it. And for the first time I really considered homeschooling as an option for my kid. He is only 7 months old, so we have a lot of time to make schooling decisions, but I tend to plan ahead!

One of the things I like best about the idea is not sending my beloved baby off to a public school where he won't get the love and attention he needs and deserves (not to mention the kind of education I want him to have). In theory I really believe in public school and I don't think they get better if everyone bails on them, but in reality this is my baby we're talking about!

The woman I met talked about how her kids learn at museums and parks and get to study what interests them and it just struck me that sounds like a wonderful life for a kid! When I asked her about socialization, she said, "Sure kids get 'socialization' at school, but it's a pretty icky socialization." She is so right! She said her kids hang out with a diverse bunch of other kids, all ages mixed together, and they really seem to respect each other.

Here are the questions/concerns I still have... The big one is that I don't feel smart enough to teach my child! The homework my neices and nephews bring home from public elementary school is hard for me sometimes (darn fractions!). I did great in school, went to college, but I'll be damned if I could teach algebra. Or chemistry. How do you do it? Are all you homeschoolers proficient in all this stuff, or do you learn alongside your kids, or do you find someone else to teach them things you don't know? What about higher "grades"? I can imagine teaching simple math through baking or music or something, but what about trigonometry??

What if we start out homeschooling but then decide (or our kid decides) to go to school - how hard is it for homeschooled kids to adjust? How hard is it for homeschooled kids to get into college?

Finally, I worry that at some point I'm going to want a break, maybe do more school myself, maybe work a little. How many of you successfully incorporate a little school/work of your own into the mix? We do better on one income than we thought we would, but it might be nice someday...

ps: Any books you'd reccommend?
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#2 of 11 Old 06-28-2002, 05:55 PM
 
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Here are the questions/concerns I still have... The big one is that I don't feel smart enough to teach my child! The homework my neices and nephews bring home from public elementary school is hard for me sometimes (darn fractions!). I did great in school, went to college, but I'll be damned if I could teach algebra. Or chemistry. How do you do it? Are all you homeschoolers proficient in all this stuff, or do you learn alongside your kids, or do you find someone else to teach them things you don't know?

My oldest just finished "kindergarten" so it isn't a problem yet, but I have learned a lot with him already. I think most homeschoolers do learn right along with their kids, which is great. Once your kid can read by him or herself, they don't even need you to "teach" them at all- they can read it for themselves. I'm sure as the kids get older, dad will take over the higher matha nd science and we will take advantage of community college courses (many homeschooled high schoolers do this)


What if we start out homeschooling but then decide (or our kid decides) to go to school - how hard is it for homeschooled kids to adjust? How hard is it for homeschooled kids to get into college?

I think homeschoolers adjust better to al kinds ofl situations because of their real life upbringing, as for getting into college- many colleges are now actively recruiting homeschoolers, and lots have systems set up to make the application process easier for homeschoolers.

Finally, I worry that at some point I'm going to want a break, maybe do more school myself, maybe work a little. How many of you successfully incorporate a little school/work of your own into the mix?

Wee haven't gotten there, yet, but I know lots of families that do it very successfully. I think there is a myth that "homeschooling" requires sitting donw at a table with your child doing "work" for 6 hours, and it is just not true.

ps: Any books you'd reccommend?

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Homeschooling and The Well Trained Mind
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#3 of 11 Old 06-28-2002, 07:06 PM
 
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I am having so much fun learning alongside my dd. It also amazes me at how much easier it is to learn when you are free to learn in a style that suits you and at your own pace. For example in school if they move on without and you still don't understand the concept (especially in math) you can be pretty much screwed for the rest of your life or untill you finally get it nut then your still behind.

There all sorts of resources out there that can help you teach and it is fun looking at all of them and trying them out. You will also be surprised at how easily kids can teach themselves. It really isn't that complicated as your teacher made it seem. teaching a class of 30 students is very hard. Teaching 1 or 2 not so very difficult mostly easy.


I think it would be easier to homeschool and do other things because you could work your life around the other things instead of fighting for the same hours of every other mom. Pick a time that is convient to your boss/teachers and do school stuff where ever it fits. , whatever day it fits on.

Homeschool kids do really well getting into college and from what I have seen do pretty well adjusting to school. The math program we are using would make it hard for her to adjust but I don't plan on sending her ot school anytime soon. But if this is something you are pretty sure you might do you can just follow a course that would keep them steady with thier class mates and the trasition should be almost seemless accidemically.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#4 of 11 Old 06-29-2002, 12:25 PM
 
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A homeschooler "Single" Mom I know uses a curriculum that uses video tapes. He son spend the day at grandparents house and all they do is make sure he doesn't cheet on the tests. Mom grades all his papers at night. I think it is Abecca.

With upper grades you can use this type of video tape system for just one subject eg. algebra, trig etc..
It costs more that way but might be worth it for some subjects that you struggle with.

My Dad homeschooled me and my two younger brothers from 5th grade and he learned right along with us. Usually for kids to learn something it is explained very simplely and adults can pick it up quit well.

I like the idea of using community colleges. Here in MO. the laws are relaxed enough that for upper grades we my do some PS integrating. We'll see, we have about 10 years to decide that yet.
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#5 of 11 Old 06-29-2002, 01:00 PM
 
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There are a lot of different ways to homeschool.

One math program (Math U See) includes videos for the parents to watch before having the lessons with their child. Many parents, esp those who don't feel confident with their own math background, love this program.

Some families divide subjects and each parent teaches the subjects they understand better. It really doens't take that long for dad to teach math (or whatever) after he gets home from work.

I know two kids who started out homeschooling and then swithed to school. The same reasons that the parents had homeschooled in the first place were still issues, but the kids did fine. The biggest issue for both where the poor socialization of the other kids.

Eventually, I figure my kids will take classes at the Junior college.
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#6 of 11 Old 06-29-2002, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all your replies! You've given me lots to think about...
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#7 of 11 Old 06-29-2002, 03:25 PM
 
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There are all sorts of ways to homeschool, you don't necessarily have to copy what is going on at school. We're unschoolers. I don't teach lessons, and I don't necessarily know much about what my son is doing (current obsessions are designing fantasy buildings, a long-standing animal obsession that has moved up now to researching pre-historic mammals, Harry Potter and similar fantasy books, and fishing, none of which I'm an expert on, but he's quickly becoming one, lol) I'm teaching him how to find answers, the basic skills to discover and pursue what he wants (reading, writing, math skills, library and research skills), the stuff that will allow him to teach himself all that he needs to know. The basic premise of unschooling is that you cannot MAKE someone learn anything, just like you can't make your infant eat or sleep when he doesn't want to, lol. The desire to learn in a child is HUGE, and they will always surprise you by how much they do, and what they're getting out of it.

Don't forget, too, that ps curriculums are needlessly complicated, in order to make the whole process of learning more intimidating and mysterious. You wouldn't pay for it (and we all pay for ps in some way or another) if you thought you could easily do it yourself. When I took ds out of school, I looked over a copy of the provincial standards, 4 seperate volumes of educational gobbledygook, I found that I couldn't understand what even the kindergarden expectations were. Luckily my sister is a teacher, and translated the educationese for me. I discovered that two whole pages of point form, nearly imcomprehensible, text, translated as "the child will be familiar with numbers, and number concepts, high, low, more, less, etc." Since most kids learn those concepts real quick the first time they share cookies with another kid, lol, the only point of the over-complication of the concept, was to make it look so difficult that only a qualified teacher could teach it. You learned how to count, how to read, how to write, right? The single hardest skill that any human being will master is to learn to communicate in their native language (learning a foreign language is tough, but learning the framework of communication itself is a whole lot harder.) You and almost every human being alive has managed to master an incredibly difficult and complex skill, with no formal lessons, no "schooling" in speech, simply by constant repetition and reinforcement. Everything a child can learn after that is incredibly easy in comparison.

Schools break down skills into small little compartments, and teach them in isolation from the larger skill itself, a bottom up approach that rarely works for anyone (think of learning how to drive, or cook, these are complicated skills that require a combination of approaches, and a "multi-mode" (a nice little education-ese word that really just means, doing it in different ways) to accomplish, but very few people get extensive formal lessons in them, and in fact, it's pretty well impossible to teach without hands-on experience. Can you imagine spending two or three years in a class studying the different kinds of pots and pans, or learning about the history of highway construction, before you're ever allowed to see a kitchen or a car? Pretty silly, but that is how math is taught in schools. Arithmetic, basic compuational skills, algebra, geometry, these are all tools, they have a purpose, but they are taught in a vacuum.

I failed algebra miserably in school, thought I was just stupid, could never learn it. I kept asking the teacher "yeah, but what does it DO?", the teacher would always say something like "it gives you this answer", never answering my basic question (I now suspect that those math teachers didn't actually know of any practical applications for the skills they were teaching.) The subject was taught as a completely abstract thing, something that to me had no purpose, so I couldn't wrap my head around it, I didn't have any reference points, I couldn't tell if my answer was correct, or a complete stab in the dark. I didn't understand algebra until I took a trades-prep course in electrical work. Algebra is very important to an electrician, you have to be able to calculate voltages, wattages, amps, etc, figure out how much wire to get, allow for safety factors, etc, and algebra is used to figure a lot of this out. Suddenly, when I wasn't figuring out an abstract quality (x), but a material thing (feet of copper wiring) it all made sense. I could tell if I made a mistake (if my answer was 13,000 feet if wire for a garage, I knew I did something wrong in my calculations, LOL), I had a frame of reference, and I discovered that something that I feared for 15 years, something that I thought I was just congenitally incapable of doing, was really very, very simple. Then I got really pissed off at all the math teachers that I had had in life who had never given me a straight answer.

Anyway, this is getting long, but I really urge you to read some books by John Holt (How Children Learn is a good one) and John Taylor Gatto (Dumbing Us Down should be required reading for all teachers) and Alfie Kohn (Punished by Rewards should also be required reading), do some reading in how children learn (NOT education books, but real child development and brain theory books), and do some research on different homeschooling methods (there are loads, but about a dozen major systems.) And no, it doesn't have to be overwhelming, you are homeschooling too, you are learning how to be your child's primary teacher/role model, a job that began at birth, and for which you are uniquely qualified. You may chose to put your child in a formal learning setting after all, but you will have done it with full knowledge of the situation and knowing that you have made a reasoned choice.

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#8 of 11 Old 06-29-2002, 10:57 PM
 
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Q-How do you do it? Are all you homeschoolers proficient in all this stuff,

A-No I am learning right along with my kids.

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#9 of 11 Old 06-30-2002, 09:30 AM
 
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I think a great "starter" book is The Homeschooling Book of Answers by Linda Dobson. It answers all your basic questions, and its good to have around for all the friends and family who have questions about your decision.

Great replies here, BTW.
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#10 of 11 Old 06-30-2002, 03:52 PM
 
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I recommend The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith. This is the first book I read about homeschooling and it changed my whole outlook on homeschooling. It sounds like your friend that you talked to uses some unschooling ideals (having her kids learn from museums, parks and gets to study what interests them opposed to studying from books and what mom or dad thinks they should learn)

I would say the majority of homeschoolers as you see here aren't proficient in every subject. Who is? What I have found in my personal research and readings on homeschooling is that alot of moms realize that it is not necessary for every person in the world to be proficient in every subject. There can be experts in every field and if that field does not interest you then why it is necessary for you to know everything about it, KWIM? For example, Lotusmama's example on algebra and electricians. Unless you are interested in electrical engineering or another field that utilizes algebra regularly, algebra will not be of interest to you and you will not be motivated to learn it. But once an interest for it is sparked, you feel the need to learn it and all of sudden you can and it is easy for you.

So what I am trying to say in a roundabout way is that kids (and adults) will learn what they need to and want to when the time comes. Hmm...this didn't really answer your question...
It is just basically one aspect of the unschooling/homeschooling philosophy. Something I think public schools fail to recognize.
If when your son is of age and wants to learn chemistry or algebra or calc he will if he is truly motivated. Some homeschoolers get ahold of a couple textbooks and sit down and just absorb it or they may attend a local community college.

Homeschoolers find it very easy to get into college. Universities prefer students who have a love for learning and can be fairly independent in their studies Homeschooling allows for both of these.

If you decide to put your son into public school after a few years of homeschooling, I am sure he will adjust just fine. In the book I recommended above, some kids did just that. Some kids did have a few gripes though. Having come from an environment where they could come and go and as they pleased, they felt a bit caged (bad word) when they had to wait for a bell to leave or were treated as if they weren't responsible enough to go to the bathroom without permission from the teacher. Some felt like they couldn't go at their own pace.

edited to add: I still believe that some homeschooling is better than none. If anything, your son will benefit from a few years of being allowed to explore the world at his own pace and his love for learning will not be squashed at such an early age. Once this is firmly in place, going to public school should not be as harmful as it would be (in my opinion) if your kids had always been there.

Last question--Since homeschooling is sooo flexible, you could work part-time in the home or outside of the home and still make it work easily. If possible, you could schedule your day around your husband's schedule so that your children never had to use childcare. Homeschooling doesn't take all day like public schooling does so it should work just fine.

Sorry so long...got carried away Good luck
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#11 of 11 Old 07-02-2002, 05:01 PM
 
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These are wonderfully thoughtful posts ...

Other books to recommend, about any phase of HS'g, are appreciated ...

- Amy
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