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  • Homeschooling

    Heh... While not entirely separate from our desire to homestead, my wife and I have decided to homeschool our son next year. We've talked about it since before our kid was born, but this school year made the decision MUCH easier. Over half of this school year was spent on nothing but test preparation for the state standardized testing. I've always thought standardized testing at certain grade levels were a good thing until I saw the horrible abuse that was occurring in my son's school. Luckily, he had a great teacher and, of course*, he's a bright kid, so he did well despite the intense pressure from the school administration.

    I decided to bring this up because the topic was touched in the faith vs. medicine thread. I'd love to see other people's opinions on the topic. This is probably going to be one of the hardest things I've ever done, and I'm in a backup role to my wife's lead! Most of the curricula and support groups out there are aimed at religious homeschoolers, so my desire for a very secular education is just making things that much more difficult. We're very close to settling on the Sonlight curriculum, as it has a surprisingly worldly leaning and is easy to remove the christian lessons.

    So, I'm throwing myself out there as a discussion starter. I've got thick skin. Tell me what you think about this!
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  • #2
    Re: Homeschooling

    Cing, in your case, I think you'll have no problems. You're a smart guy with a good level head on your shoulders. I'm sure that you're going to teach your son the appropriate things hes going to need to learn for future educational purposes.

    See, even though I was a teacher, I really do favor homeschooling if it can be done right. This is hard though, because a lot of parents cant find that balance between disciplinarian and caring parent. Its one thing when your child's teacher calls you and says "your son hasnt done his homework for a month and is failing my class" and you can hammer down. Its another entirely when you are the one giving the homework AND having to make sure it gets done.

    As far as standardized testing goes, a lot of it is crap. Florida and Texas are some of the worst with it. Most of the testing isnt for the students benefit anyway, its for grading the schools (which works backwards from the way it should anyway). If you're going to homeschool, remember that the state you live in might require that you provide SOME standardized testing to your child to make sure they're reaching the appropriate scholastic levels for advancement. Also, keep in mind that most colleges are going to require some sort of standardized test to be taken in order to even be considered for acceptance (generally the SAT/ACT).

    The only problem I have with home schooling is that most parents who choose it (as cing pointed out with a lot of the curricula having religious lessons built in) use the schooling as an indoctrination course for religion, as opposed to a purely educational endeavor. They call it home-SCHOOL for a reason, as opposed to home-RELIGION. In my opinion, those two have relatively little to do with each other, unless religion is being discussed as a basis for study in philosophy or theology (and by theology, I mean the study of religion, not study in religion. theres a difference between teaching someone to understand and appreciate religions and teaching them how to be a good christian/muslim/jew/buddhist/etc).

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    • #3
      Re: Homeschooling

      I like the idea of homeschooling if you're willing to put in the time to really prepare all of the lessons well, and your kid has some kind of social outlet (clubs, sports, whatever). This can be more challenging than you might imagine it to be. I dated a 6th grade math teacher for a few years and helped her prepare lessons for her students. 6th grade math is not hard stuff, but coming up with the best ways to get 11 and 12 year olds to understand certain abstract mathematical concepts is hard. Definitely pick up a well-designed curriculum.

      As far as curriculum goes, there are ones that don't target specifically religious homeschoolers. http://www.greatbooksacademy.org/ looks particularly good to me, assuming the material is good, mostly because it contains a liberal arts enrichment course that covers great books, classical literary works, introduction to classical languages, and introduction to philosophy and logic. Also, it doesn't contain any of the Bible studies or religious stuff.

      http://www.greatbooksacademy.org/cur..._overview.html
      Last edited by sordavie; 05-19-2009, 06:37 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Homeschooling

        You've got my vote. And almost my envy. I like mentoring, but I can see how this is gonna be a lot of work.
        Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

        snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

        Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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        • #5
          Re: Homeschooling

          Homeschooling, if done for the right reasons, is good. Meaning if done to isolate the child from the world it will probably fail at both isolating and education.

          Sordavie is correct. The best teachers have a good lesson plan. Even if it is just in their head they know what they want to teach and in what order. They understand why one subject is taught before another.

          I also recommend looking at Saxon Math.

          It was developed by John Saxon and I worked for the company before it was sold. I have used it to help my daughter learn math, and she has big difficulties with math. It is effective because it focuses on basic math principles and the lessons are structured so that the student are always reviewing previous material. It avoids the holistic learning approach found in some modern math programs. I think that is a very good thing for younger math learners as what they really need to know is the basic. If the kid has a knack for math they and you will know and can investigate it further.

          Saxon is also a favorite of homeschoolers around the world.

          Harcourt bought Saxon in 2004 and I don't know if it is still as good as it once was. I do know that some of the primary authors stayed for at least two years so that is a good sign.

          *Edit. I see sonlight has Saxon as an option. Good sign.
          Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
          - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
          - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
          - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
          - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
          - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
          - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

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          • #6
            Re: Homeschooling

            @Cing

            Have you ever lived "off the grid" for any length of time. Say more than a week?
            Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
            - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
            - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
            - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
            - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
            - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
            - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

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            • #7
              Re: Homeschooling

              I know how your son feels. I'm stuck in the standardized test loop at the moment (just finished a Biology HSA; a graduation requirement. Two down, two to go). I know my middle school constantly failed the Maryland School Assessment and lost funding due to it. We had test prep every week. What annoyed me most was that it seemed that we were no longer learning material then being tested to assess knowledge; but that we were simply learning to score high marks.

              I never had an issue with high marks. I remember the school principal even approached my group of friends (the ones who score high on the tests) that we were to show up on the testing day and that it was the only day of the entire year that actually mattered. I even saw my music class, the class I lived for all day give way to once a week math prep. It was a terrible thing to see. The intent of standardized testing is good, but it killed the music and the arts, and eroded gifted and talented programs, or watered down their curriculum so that it was essentially a remedial class. The school district is even in the top 20 biggest and wealthiest counties.

              I envy your son more then you know, and I know that you will do him good.

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              • #8
                Re: Homeschooling

                The current state of education and obsession with test scores infuriates me.

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                • #9
                  Re: Homeschooling

                  I can only really speak for Florida's schools, but I'm pretty sure that this is how it is elsewhere as well:
                  Florida has a set of standardized tests, exactly the ones everyone hates, called the FCAT. These scores are used in only one fashion: punitively. Test prep takes months, during which time, as cing and drbeat both pointed out, much of the actual learning stops. If a student doesnt pass the test, the student is remediated specifically FOR the test, not for any specific area of learning he/she is deficient in. In addition to that, the collective scores of the students are compiled to "rate" the school on a standard A-F grading scale. The schools that receive the top ratings get extra funding, the schools that fail have their funding cut, creating a further black hole that said schools sink deeper into.

                  Standardized testing is dumb. The old SAT I, which is the test I took to get into college, as well as many of the other people here did, is widely hailed as "a test to see how well you take tests". Only being tested on literary and mathematics? Ridiculous. You cant gauge someone's knowledge based on that. Finally, the college board realized this and started up the SAT II, which most schools now require 2-3 sections of in addition to SAT I scores for admissions consideration. The SAT II covers a broad range of topics and isnt just limited to the standardized scan-tron fill-in-the-bubble question format. There are essay and short answer questions, so these have to be graded by actual teachers and not just machines, very similar to advanced placement tests for college credit. IMHO, it was the best move they ever made.

                  One of the main reasons I'm so pro-homeschooling is because of the simple fact that the current educational system, in its wild dysfunction is essentially a revolving door for kids. 30+ in, 30+ out, day in, day out. The only time a student gets any kind of really personal attention from a teacher is if a.) the teacher is a GOOD teacher and is willing to put forth the additional effort to help the student and b.) if the student is doing poorly in the class to merit said attention. With homeschooling, nobody is going to know the kid better than the parents do, so it will be significantly easier to tailor a teaching style and seek outside help if a serious problem or learning deficiency arises.

                  More often than not, its the kids who get home schooled who wind up excelling in the academic world far more than their traditionally schooled classmates. Hell, there was an article on CNN the other day about a 13 year old who was home schooled and just graduated college. 13. Damn.

                  As EGG said though, you have to make sure the kid gets interaction with the outside world or else things can go horribly bad on both ends.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Homeschooling

                    How old of a kid are we talking about? How long does homeschooling typically last? Does a typical homeschooled kid go to public highschool once they are old enough?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Homeschooling

                      Thats entirely up to the parents, Random. I know kids who were homeschooled from kindergarten until the graduated at a high school level. I know kids who were only home schooled until 5th grade. I know kids who started being home schooled at the high school level. So in Cings case, it would be entirely a family issue to decide.

                      Also, as far as how long it lasts, that is also dependent on how the kid does. As I pointed out there was just a 13 year old in the news who was homeschooled and just graduated from college. So if the kid progresses quickly, he could potentially only go to school for 5 years and be a high school graduate.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Homeschooling

                        Goes without saying, a dedicated parent can offer a child a better academic education in a one on one learning environment.

                        My public schooled ass observations of home schooled people I have known over the years is they never learned the interpersonal skills and defenses that are part of growing up with people their own age. Of course there are many bad characteristics picked up from other kids, but those are the some of the same characteristics adults exhibit in collage and the working world. Having no experience or simply being green to whats going on, puts them in a position to be taken advantage of. And they have to learn the hard lessons later in life when there is more to lose.

                        When I see my 5 year old niece make friends with another 5 year old. It's obvious that an adult could never connect on that level. I was an only child and could not imagine my life without the adventures I had with my school aged friends.

                        If I decided to home school I would try to get other parents on board and start a small school at the house.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Homeschooling

                          I was homeschooled 5th, 6th, and 7th grade, and loved it. I played youth sports year-round and had plenty of friends in the neighborhood, so it wasn't socially retarding. Of course, I only did it for three years, so... it also helped (with social development) that we moved a lot growing up, so K-4th, I was constantly meeting new kids and learning how to fit in.)

                          By the time 8th grade rolled around, it was decided I'd go back to public schools. It was mainly because my mom wasn't comfortable teaching as the lessons became more cerebral (algebra, philosophy, literature, etc)... I suspect it was also for social reasons as well - since the social needs of a 14yr old are a LOT different than that of a 9 yr old.

                          Oddly I don't remember much about it. We had a books and tests and stuff that we had mailed to us. I remember having to take tests and mail them in to the company for grading. I think technically, I was enrolled in some official school... maybe? <shrug> I don't remember breakfast.

                          Anyway - once I returned to the public school system, it was a breeze. I knew most of the 'in' boys from sports.. and being the new kid in school is pretty cool when you're that age - plenty of attention ;) ;) Educationally, it was pretty easy as well. I was in mostly "honors" level classes, but it was never really hard. I think it was just the pace was so much different. At home we'd go as fast as I could keep up basically. Here, someone else always had questions... they basically taught to the slowest kid in class.


                          Congrats cing, great choice. You guys will definitely be happy. Oh and yeah, you should see if there is a homeschool group in your area. I remember going on field-trips and doing science fairs with other homeschoolers around where I lived. (I think most of the kids were from our church and other churches in the area)

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                          • #14
                            Re: Homeschooling

                            Right now we're planning on putting him back in public school for high school. There are just too many things that a real school and a large student body offers that we would not be able to provide by homeschooling. Depending on how much his academics are hurt by this, we might continue to supplement with our own lessons or college coursework, or we might just let him take a few years off to prep for college if he decides to go...
                            Become a supporting member!
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                            • #15
                              Re: Homeschooling

                              I hated public school. Never was "social" and even now am a wallflower even at a geek party. Was always picked on. I switched to a private fundie school when I was in junior high, which let me mostly study the harder subjects on my own, and had the added "benefit" of burning religion out of me. (I was always a skeptic, anyway.)

                              I interpret "socialization" in public schools as learning how to avoid getting picked on. Yet no one was teaching self defense, and I was always last picked in sports (demonstrating my frailty), so that was kinda pointless. You might as well send people to a 3rd world country with corrupt police and tell them it's to learn how to avoid criminals.

                              Those who support public health care might want to look at public education as why a lot of us fear putting health care in the same hands.
                              Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                              snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                              Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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