Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Most of you know that we are a homeschooling family.  Recently, at our town's monthly homeschool meeting, a reporter showed up wanting to gather material for a story.  Today I received his list of questions by email, which I appreciated, as it allowed me to think about the answers.  After taking the time to write out my thoughts in general terms, I thought I'd go ahead and share his questions and my answers.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  My answers are italicized.

  1. How long have you been home schooling [my son]? He joined our family on Oct 2, 2007, so nearly 6 years, but not in the manner in which some may perceive homeschooling.
  2. What led to your decision to forego traditional elementary school learning for [my son]?  Initially, my and husband’s faith in God and our understanding of His instruction.  It is our job as parents to disciple our children.  This can get into a legalistic debate and one that I generally choose not to engage in.  Beyond that there are a multitude of reasons.
    1. Not following an arbitrary schedule- one that has been shown to be less than beneficial to the students it purports to educate.
    2. Wanting my son to enjoy the process of learning, since it is something we do for our entire lives, and what you call a traditional school situation generally doesn't do a good job of that.
    3. Wanting more than a “one size fits all” education for my child.
    4. Not giving a stranger the better part of his day.
    5. Not spending time after school doing homework.
    6. Not spending time after school un-teaching him bad habits he may have picked up.
    7. Not having to pack a lunch or subject him to what passes for food in the school cafeteria.
Most of these things we consider perks to our basic reason for home educating.  I could add to the list, but I think you’ll have a good idea from this list.

Before moving on down the list we need to define “traditional”.  Compulsory education in the US is less than 200 years old.  In my mind, that makes it the experimental way of educating, since the home version has been practiced for roughly 5800 years.  J
  1. Is your goal to home school [my son]. short term? Or long term? How long do you plan to home school [my son]? While I know it’s unwise to say “never”, we have no plan to send [my son] to any public or private school.
  2. What do you see as the benefits of home schooling vs. more traditional schooling methods? 
    1. Each year I shop the deals at the back to school sales to purchase items for Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child project.  This year I noticed a mother with 2 kids in tow crisscrossing the store to get the items on the school’s list of required supplies.  She looked very frazzled trying to find several items that apparently were not so easy to find.  I have no such list to fulfill.
    2. We can take vacations whenever we choose
    3. We don’t have to be ready for the school bus at 7:30 in the morning.
    4. We can spend all day learning about something we enjoy.
    5. We can spend all day doing nothing.
    6. We can change our approach if it becomes obvious the one we’re using isn’t working.
    7. My son can enjoy being a child-school assignments can be completed in a rather short time, giving him plenty of time to play.  Studies also show children learn when they’re playing. 
  3. Besides the monthly meeting at the library, what other activities allow [my son]. to interact with other children?  I notice you refrained from using the term socialization.  I read a statement in an article from a homeschooling mom on this topic that has stuck with me.  If you went to a public school as a child and tried to talk or pass notes during class and got caught, what was the teacher’s general response?  “You’re here to learn, NOT socialize.”  Homeschooling parents are asked this question a lot and I really don’t know why it’s so intriguing.  If socialization is the reason so many children go to public school then it’s no wonder the schools are failing.  Why does society think that grouping 30 kids together simply based on the year they were born and isolating them from society is normal, rather than what occurs naturally in life?  On a daily basis we interact with people of all ages-that’s normal. 
  4. Were you home schooled as a youth? No.  If so, can you tell me about that experience.
  5. Can you tell me about [my son] strengths and weaknesses as a student? What subjects do you teach him? Do you teach him alone? Or is there another adult in the house who teaches, or a tutor that assists?  My son’s strengths and weaknesses are not for public inspection.  My husband and I share the responsibility for teaching him and we make choices based on his individual needs.
  6. Please tell me about the structure that you use in teaching. Is it like a regular school day, with 30-45 minute classes, breaks, recess, etc?  Absolutely not.  J  That’s what I call “doing school at home” and not homeschooling.  There is no set schedule and that’s one of the benefits.
  7. Is this group of parents and students referred to as Camp Verde Home Educators?  The group is called that, though very loosely and informally.  There is no official group status, and I think “parents whose children are homeschooled” is a good way to define us.   If not, does your group have a name? Or are you simply parents whose children are home schooled?
  8. I realize that this is a lot of questions, so thank you for your patience. Is there anything I have not asked you that you would like to share?   Look into the philosophy of John Taylor Gatto, a 3 time teacher of the year recipient in New York, who believes public schools are NOT designed to educate the individual child.

 That was my short version of what I think.  What do you think?