Homeschoolers shouldn’t miss this article, if ever doubting their home education decision. We don’t have to wonder why homeschooling is increasing.
The Daily Policy Journal‘s unschooler-on-the-job reports about some Idaho, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Oregon school activities:
What Homeschoolers Are Missing Out On Lately
In Turner, Oregon, an elementary school perpetrated on the helpless, impressionable young children carelessly left in its custody what can only be described as an act of unmitigated terrorism.
The post offers other stark examples of what homeschoolers miss out on in the public schools. That school socialization just isn’t worth it.
The Miami News Record - Powered by the News Record and You! posted an article from a mom who started home educating her kids six months ago. Kristen Hoover offered her experiences getting started, along with the results so far.
The ABCs of homeschooling: laughter, learning, bonding and togetherness
When we remodeled one end of our house into a classroom, our son learned how to hang sheetrock and lay laminate flooring. Our daughters are becoming quite the seamstresses, and that 11-year-old can make a mean pan of brownies. All of us are greatly enjoying our latest quest to find the perfect bread recipe. We’re already obsessing over seed catalogs and planning our garden. We used after-Christmas sales shopping to teach percentages. A trip to the hardware or grocery store is most likely going to involve a math lesson. I ran into a friend in Sears a few months ago who told me she had just seen my kids in the shoe department, and the oldest was quizzing her siblings on how to calculate the price of a pair of shoes that were 30 percent off. Of course, we are studying the curriculum required to graduate, but more importantly, our kids are learning how to function in this big ol’ world — most of the time, without a calculator.
As far as the socialization that the masses seem so concerned about, well, most importantly, we’re not concerned about it at all. Our kids are very involved in their youth and children’s groups at church, we have friends who homeschool, and we are also part of a homeschool group in Miami (MAPLE: www.facebook.com/groups/maplehomeschool/) that meets once a week. The kids still hang out with their public-school friends, and our oldest, contrary to the thinking of the total stranger who told our 16-year-old daughter that homeschooled kids won’t ever marry, is dating a wonderful young man (public-schooled, no less) and goes on dates and everything. Our kids can carry on conversations with adults, are polite and well-mannered, and seem to function just fine in society.
One family’s example of living and learning.
I have a few friends who homeschool their children, and I’m always amazed — at their patience and at their persistence. Somehow I just think that I would never be able to teach my own kids. Would they listen to me the way they listen to their teachers?
I had the same doubts when I started homeschooling. Watching the kids read, explore and grow helped me learn I didn’t need to teach so much as keep resources laid out in front of them to grab. They filtered out what didn’t work and soaked up what did.
From the article:
As Alex dug through a bin of toy cars, proudly displaying each “Cadillac de Ville” and “hotrod” he found, his mom noted that “They always bring something for Alex,” the youngest of the group. She said sometimes he plays games with the older children, but sometimes he’s happy to hang out with the adults in the room. An extraordinarily bright child who started reading at age 2, Alex knows every element of the periodic table and his favorite book to read is his mom’s dictionary. His parents let him try going to preschool, but it just wasn’t for him.
“(Homeschooling’s) not for everybody,” Faria said, “but it works for us.”
I can’t resist this story.
Catching some “air”: Homeschool students hit the slopes OTIS, Mass. (WGGB)
People ask what we do all day as homeschoolers.
What we do all day is take advantage of our community’s resources. The museums, galleries, libraries, mentors, our living history from local veterans, along with our great outdoors provide endless learning opportunities. Please enjoy the WGGB video. From one of the western Massachusetts participants:
Many homeschoolers are involved in their communities’ Boy Scout program, Girl Scout program and my particular favorite, 4-H clubs.
The Boy Scouts of America issued a Homeschooling Fact Sheet in their website sidebar.
Apparently, they’re perfectly aware of homeschool involvement in the scout programs.
Homeschoolers: Not So Different After All by Victoria Beckmann
The Century Times
Emma Button, a student who attended Century and is now attending St. Thomas, said, “Although I will be the first to admit that there are many strange homeschoolers in the world, I will also be the first to defend them. …most of us are normal teenagers.”
Many homeschooled teens are not as completely socially inept as some people seem to believe. Homeschoolers get the chance to interact with many different kinds of people because of their education, unlike publicly schooled students who, while at school, only have their peers and teachers to interact with. Button stated very accurately, “…Although you interact with far less people as a homeschooler, the people you do interact with are consistently genuine, mature, creative, and kind.” Also, homeschooling often gives students the chance to be closer with their families because they are around them more often. Button commented on this saying, “…your family is a lot cooler than you think.”
It’s the S-word again. This time from a survival and preparedness site:
Homeschooling socialization is by far the most major conflict in relation to homeschooling. The problem is that, by removing your children from the public school environment, you are depriving them of the social development offered by public schools. After all, it would be difficult for a child to develop social skills when they are not given the opportunity to interact with other children. As such, this remains as a huge homeschooling disadvantage.
All along I had been thinking it was one of the greatest advantages of homeschooling. Maybe… oh, I will let it go. It is in the rankings for Worst Headline of the week. Read it here.
Some positive thoughts on homeschooling socialization:
WRITE THESE LAWS ON YOUR CHILDREN: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling By Robert Kunzman
The book was released in August of 2009 and published by Beacon Press of Boston.
A Review by Susan Ryan, Illinois Homeschooler
In one of Robert Kunzman’s interviews with six “strongly conservative” Christian homeschooling families, a California homeschooling mom related her kids “get a lot of life, real life that goes on, that they don’t understand when they are separated for several hours a day.” She went on to explain that their family of nine children was able to spend valuable time lovingly caring for their grandparents as they reached the end of their lives. Whatever different views, philosophies and lifestyles any homeschooling family has, the incredibly diverse homeschool community can appreciate that, as Mr. Kunzman points out, “homeschooling is…woven into the fabric of everyday family life.”
Indiana University Associate Professor of Education Robert Kunzman’s name – and his quotes – have been floating into general homeschooling news over the last few months. Many homeschool advocates have been wondering what collective influence he has had, to be sought after so frequently in articles about homeschooling. (It is an odd feeling, as homeschoolers carry on with our busy lives and then discover that some unknown entity is talking about us in an authoritative fashion.)
Often, Mr. Kunzman’s feedback was requested regarding a perceived homeschool growth trend. The National Center for Education Statistics data is reported on his site with their supposed 74% homeschooling increase since 1999. He has developed an impressive Indiana University website called: Homeschooling Research and Scholarship. It gave a start to see that on a university link. (The University of Illinois has a homeschooling applicant section in order to study at the University, but not to be studied.)
Kunzman researched and analyzed the families who were located in California, Indiana, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont. Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) co-founders Michael Smith and Michael Farris, former Generation Joshua leader Ned Ryun, and a Teen Pact college student were also interviewed. The book offered observations and reflections on “four crucial questions that framed [his] homeschooling journeys“: “What do homeschoolers do, and why do they do it? Do children learn to think for themselves? What do they learn about the relationship between faith and citizenship? And how, if at all, should homeschooling be regulated?”
I found Mr. Kunzman’s attentive layout of each individual family’s qualities and schedule engaging, although he didn’t ever seem to take his professional evaluator’s hat off when stepping in the door. He asked the parents’ opinions of increased oversight of homeschoolers. The feedback seemed to be a resounding negative on more governmental authority. One California mom’s adamant rejection of more bureaucracy brought about his acceptance that some homeschoolers “who have learning difficulties would be having at least as much trouble in an institutional setting.” He maintained that “to assume outright that a parent-teacher is a failure because her child doesn’t meet a fixed standard at a particular age or grade level may be just as unfair as expecting a classroom teacher to have all students excelling in June, regardless of where they started in September.” That is a worthy concept.
Still, Kunzman proposes homeschoolers be subjected to those standards in his concluding chapter: “General consensus should exist on standards for meeting those interests.” (“Interests” are included as part of his first proposition that “vital interests of children or society must be at stake.”)
There is a societal disquiet across our communities concerning much of public school education and its standards. Naomi Wolf laments in a Washington Post article [‘Hey, Young Americans, Here's a Text for You’] that the federal No Child Left Behind Act mandates tests which “assess chiefly math and reading comprehension,” while civics and history education has gone astray. However, Kunzman calls for “basic skills testing” (reading and math) of homeschoolers, along with his third homeschool oversight recommendation that “an effective way to measure whether standards are met” be fulfilled.
Professor Kunzman also expressed ambivalence about the Home School Legal Defense Association’s teen civic education program called Generation Joshua. Kunzman observed that Generation Joshua has “genuine civic engagement.” While noting a 2006 National Assessment of Educational Progress civics assessment is distressing, in that “only 27% of high school seniors [were] scoring at or above proficient.”
Kunzman’s 2007 interview with former George Bush speech writer and founding Generation Joshua Director Ned Ryun occurred before Ryun unhappily exited from the HSLDA fold. The reason for that departure is one example that the conservative Christian homeschooling community is not in lockstep with HSLDA. Many draw the line when homeschooling rights are risked.
There was another case in point concerning the interviewed Tennessee homeschooling family who did not follow HSLDA advice. They were the only family in the book that had to deal with state social workers (“four or five different times”). The family determined they had “nothing to hide” and allowed the social worker into their home to chat. When asked if there was any follow-up to the visit, the reply was a negative, with the father’s comment that: “As a matter of fact, the last visit, the man opened up to me quite a bit about how he raises his children. He told me he smacks his children!”
The mother observed that was a touchy issue. This family had a “thin black rod about eight inches long” that rested on the table. They were also former neighbors of Michael Pearl, whose book “To Train Up A Child” is a deep source of dismay for many homeschoolers. Conversely, the Tennessee homeschooling father was inspired by the book:”I have never read anything more encouraging, more uplifting, more knowledgeable in homeschooling.”
When Kunzman returned home from Tennessee, he looked up Pearl’s book on Amazon and discovered there were nearly 700 [currently 859] reviews of the book. Many of the negative reviews were from dismayed homeschoolers not supportive of this type of discipline, and very active in the Stop the Rod movement.
Most homeschool advocates counsel to not let social workers or truant officers in the home without a court order. We recognize and agree with the author that “some public school officials and social workers do have a decidedly jaded view of homeschooling.” Abuse is unwanted in the homeschool community. That would include governmental bullying of law abiding families because they choose to homeschool.
That prudence should be understandable when homeschoolers’ educational base is located in the family’s private living space. The call for regulation by Mr. Kunzman and others thrashes the very opposition that these six families have to governmental interference. Ironic, isn’t it?
There seemed to be a definite agenda in this book that wasn’t favorable to homeschooling self-sufficiency. The last chapter is oddly named: Becoming A Public. The premise of Kunzman’s homeschooling concerns, framed in the first chapter’s last question regarding “Homeschool Regulation,” seemed to lead to this book’s foregone conclusion.
I’m also bewildered by Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews’ thought process in his recent Education column, 3 Smart Rules for Regulation of Homeschoolers, which focused on Kunzman’s book. Mathews’ position seems to be that unfavorable political winds could increase regulation and that we should do something about that by using the “sensible answer” of universal regulation as offered in “Write These Laws On Your Children.” Mathews also states, “Kunzman knows that many parents have chosen to homeschool for non-religious reasons, but focuses on serious Christians because they are the ones that public school professionals are most worried about.”
The concern about “serious Christians” is the theme throughout this book. Kunzman requested each of the six families fill out a General Social Survey to confirm their social, political and religious conservatism. There must be a survey or study sought out for almost every curiosity, while most homeschoolers seem to be holding out as the last bastion. Robert Kunzman reported that nearly a fourth of our homeschooled population don’t need to notify or verify educating their children. He asked HSLDA’s Michael Smith if their ultimate goal was to be a “place like Illinois where parents don’t have to report, register, anything.”
Kunzman’s propositions suggested that free homeschooling states (such as Illinois) “runs the greatest risk of neglecting the interests of children and the state.” His unease seems to be baseless and cynical, as he didn’t provide proof of such neglect. An imagined problem, that school bureaucrats need to oversee already established parental accountability, will kill what we live – and what we love about homeschooling. The former Social Studies and English high school teacher, coach and administrator describes a “triad of interests” (children, parents, society) as a concern of “advocates of regulation.” (‘Anti-homeschoolers’ is the term I use for homeschooling regulation advocates.) Even after hundreds of hours observing homeschoolers, Robert Kunzman either doesn’t understand the homeschooling way of life, or worse yet, he does.
If you build it, they will come.
Indiana’s Post-Tribune: Home-schooled children enjoy games, food, fun
By Donna Rettew, Post-Tribune correspondent
VALPARAISO — Jennifer Vanderstar of Valparaiso has fond memories of field-day competitions during her elementary school years.
The positive experience prompted her to stage a similar event this year for children, including her own, who don’t attend a traditional school. She and her husband, Matt, home-school their six children.
The first Porter County Home-school Field Day was conducted recently at Westside Park in Valparaiso. Vanderstar called it an old-fashioned day of mildly competitive games, food and fun.
Homeschoolers know if the community lacks some educational or social event, they can find all sorts of creative ways to make it happen.
It appears the first Porter County Home-school Field Day was a success.
“It was our first experience with field day, but it hopefully won’t be our last,” Vanderstar said. “We had so much fun and received such rave reviews about everything from many of the participants. The weather was perfect, the kids enjoyed themselves immensely and the food was a huge success.
“My favorite comment was made by a boy of about 9 or 10 years old who just came out of the public school setting. He said, ‘Home-school Field Day rocks!’ I think that says it all.”