Home Education Magazine
November-December 2000 - Articles
Questions and Answers - Laura Weldon
Unschooling and Portfolios, Back to School?
Back to School?
"My ten year old daughter loves homeschooling, but my 13 year old wants to go back to school. I honestly think she just would like to meet boys. She can't even tell me what attracts her to school since she hated it so much in second grade that she used to cry every morning. Should this be her decision or should I insist on keeping her out?" - Cheryl Martin, St. Louis
? "Listen, talk, and find compromises! I think it's generally a mistake within our culture to think that school is the only place to go to learn, socialize and solve all our problems. It's not the only answer and it's one of our jobs as homeschoolers to find the alternatives or to create them ourselves!" - Karen M. WA state
? "When one of my daughters turned 13, she wanted to go back to school. She begged and pleaded. We let her go to ninth grade in Sept. We nearly lost her. She got into the wrong group and we pulled her out again a few months later. If I had to do it over again, because of our experience, I would have gotten her involved in a support group, a church group, a community group, but not the public school group! She feels the pressure from society that this is where you go to gain a social life and meet boys. We need to show our youth that in the real world there are other healthier choices to meet people! The daughter I speak of is now 19, and very much aware of how her decision to go back to school was not a wise one." - Michelle Howe
? "I have always found when working with other families in this situation that Mom and Dad know best. Keep her at home. It takes a little more creativity to keep her in the direction that you know is best for her when she is not a completely willing partner. I have seen kids do their best to fail homeschool so their parents would be forced to send them back to school...usually just quietly letting them know it won't work and then continuing on that path works, though it can take a bit of time and patience and a lot of calm perserverance! This is especially true if she wants to go back mainly for the social factor. We have all seen the "negative socialization" of those who remain in school. Go back to why you homeschool your girls to start with. Make sure she is able to meet and interact with others (her age, older, younger) that you approve of as much as is reasonable (our boys are all involved in church, 4-H, & homeschool group) but realize that her education and building strong roots is more important than for her to star gaze at boys and spend 7 or more hours a day with people of only her own age." - Diane, Palm Bay, FL
? "Ask your daughter to write a "point paper" outlining why she wants to go back to school:
-weighing the pros and cons of the decision
-what courses she would like to take
-how much time she would spend 'away from life & doing school work'
-the financial cost of attending school
-include interviews from students in public schools--what their world is really like.
She might also include alternative ideas to public school. The process will help her think through the decision, quantify her reasons and is great writing practice.
If her main desire is to meet peers, suggest she look into community programs such as university or junior college level courses geared to homeschool teens. These options could be a part of her point paper. She also might want to visit the school she thinks she wants to attend." - Anne L.
? "My 13 year old daughter is considering going to school, too, after a lifetime of unschooling. We, her parents, would prefer her to continue with homeschooling, but we think we understand her desire to go to a school too. She is, in effect, looking for herself, and looking in places outside the home. She is looking for a place, outside the family, to belong. She is entering a time of her life in which she needs independence, but contrarily, also needs to know that her family is still there for her. And we suppose it's about time for us to let her explore without "Mommy and Daddy" hanging over her shoulder. We reckon she's responsible enough to start making these kinds of decisions, and that it's a natural phase of life for her. Our solution: we will tell her she can attend school as long as she: 1. remains communicative with her parents about how her life is going, 2. tries it for at least a full year (ie no backing out just because she's having difficulty adjusting). If she wants to quit after the first year, she will certainly be welcome to homeschool again." - Kellye Just, Georgia
? "In response to sending the 13-year-old to school, I've been through this. I let my child go, but I told her it was mandatory that she stick it out for the year. She wasn't going to be hopping back and forth. She claimed to desperately want to go. It took her two weeks to be upset, and a month to beg to come home. We sympathized with her distress, consoled her that the year would pass quickly, and assured her that we'd be happy to have her back next year. Homeschooling is her privilege, not her right. She had tried to make my life miserable before admitting what she really wanted - public school. I'll tell you, we got back a changed child, who'd do anything to stay at home!" - Dee B., Roundup, MT
? "Perhaps you could sit down with her and discuss the pros and cons, your feelings and hers (if she'll tell you), and then allow her to make that decision. At worst, she'll change her mind and return to homeschooling, with the knowledge, however, that you trusted her to make rational decisions on her own.
The reasons we homeschool is to instill in our children the capacity and the courage to make their own decisions. We hope that as they decide more and more things for themselves, they will make better choices. In this way, they won't be thrown into the wider world at 17 without having practiced decision-making." - Theresa
Unschooling and Portfolios
"As an unschooler, how can I prove through the state mandated portfolio review that my eight year old son has advanced to the next grade level?" - Linda Z.
? "Keep a journal of daily activities and have a teacher, certified in your state, sign it. You could outline major activities that you feel needs the most attention in the front on a separate piece of paper. I would copy the journal, not give the original. I would also include out of the home activities and include photos. I carry a camera and journal. Not for state requirements, but for posterity." - Michelle Howe
? "We take pictures of everything our children do: catching frogs, building with legos, practicing piano, baking bread, cutting firewood, getting together with friends, whatever. When it is portfolio time we sort them into piles for each child, then categorize them into what schools call "subject areas." Our phys. ed section shows each child having fun playing golf, rollerblading, swimming and so on. Our science section has pictures of each child exploring the natural world, making their own kitchen concoctions, even making a space shuttle out of cardboard boxes. The pictures are pasted onto pages separated by category. We put a caption under each, add any things we have saved such as drawings, poems, hand-outs from nature programs, fliers from places we've visited, and voila! we have an impressive portfolio. It also makes a wonderful keepsake for each child, a reminder of what is best about unschooling." - Lauren W.
(c) 2000, Home Education Magazine
November-December 2000 - Articles
HEM General Information
Subscribe to HEM