Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Home Schooling.

I will be the first to admit I literally know ~nothing~ about home schooling. So as I ask these questions, they are definitely all stemming from my assumptions.

My biggest question is why would anyone want to be home schooled? I can see some reasons, like school is too far or the school absolutely sucks monkey assholes. Or maybe if the kid is a troubled teenager.

But if those things weren't an issue, I don't get why anyone would even ~want~ to be home schooled?

I moved a lot as a kid, every 1-2 years until 9th grade. So I've been to lots of different schools. I've also been in lots of different "cliques" too. I think that was the most eye opening part of my moving a lot was to see how I could fit in virtually anywhere. In one school I would be lumped into the majority of kids. Then I remember in 8th grade, the first girls I met ended up being the geeky girls and there I was for the entire year. And then in 9th grade, I was accepted by what you would consider the cast of the movie "mean girls" and I was ultra popular. (which, sucked! I hated being so mean to others all the time.) Until 10th-12th, I found myself, so to speak, and was a skater girl who listened to punk rock.

So even though I was in lots of different groups growing up, I always liked the social aspect of school. How to home schooled kids get to experience this? How do they learn to deal with the drama and heartbreak that comes with school? How do they get to experience something as simple as the Homecoming dance? Or, on the opposite side, how do they learn to manage their disappointment from not getting invited?

I just feel like I would have missed out on so much if I had been home schooled.

But then again, I don't understand what the pros of homeschooling really are. Maybe the pros would outweigh all of the cons wrapped around the social aspect.



~Jess said...

I am a public schooler, as is my brother, my younger sister (15 now) is homeschooled.

Most parents and kids just don't wake up one day and decide to be homeschooled. For most parents it's a decision made well before "schooling" begins. It's not a matter of whether a child chooses it, but more what they are used to.

My husband and I plan to homeschool our own children (if they ever decide to show up).

As to your questions about the "experiences" of public school: My sister is more active and has more of a social life than I ever did. She's involved in the homeschool soccer/basketball league (which covers a large area of where we live), she's in the homeschool theater group, as well as the homeschool orchestra. She's also involved in different community groups (theater, youth group etc). She is by no means deprived of friends or social experiences. Kids are kids, whether or not they're homeschooled, they can still be nasty and clique-y.

To me, I feel that the majority of what I experienced in school wasn't positive, and had/has a lot to do with my self-esteem issues and my own life choices (caving to pressure).

I know about 20 homeschool kids (ranging from 8-20) pretty well. They are some of the best kids I know. They love learning, they love the freedom of being homeschooled, they're more disciplined and polite than the majority of other kids I know (I'm not saying these things don't exist in public school). However, where as in a public school environment you see a lot of negative (attitudes, reactions, pressure etc) I don't see them in the kids that I know that are homeschooled.

I think the experience of school hurts some kids a lot more than it benefits them. They submit more to outside pressures (other kids, trends etc). They're afraid to be themselves and try new things, because they worry about what others think of them.

I'm in no way saying that homeschooling is perfect and wonderful, for some people it is not the answer. I see a lot more homeschooled kids who are successful and extremely well rounded and well adjusted adults, than I see public school kids.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions or anything else let me know :-)

Io said...

I'd like to do what some of our friends do - an educational co-op. There is a small group of kids that have their own little school with parents and (since the parents are all college profs/spouses) interesting guests for their "school."
Of course, it helps that they're not all religious like a lot of homeschoolers.

I live in an area where the public schools are some of the nations worst, so unless you can do private, it's awful.

Also, I used to be a private teacher for a high school girl from Israel who wasn't getting what she needed from the public school because she was between ENL and regular classes. She went back to Israel after she graduated.

tammy said...

I have a friend who homeschools her two girls. They are part of a home school co-op of about 150 kids. DIfferent mothers/fathers will teach different subjects (i.e. the fitness instrutor mom teaches P.E and health).

The only time that they are 'alone' is when they are doing the two days at home.

They have even done class trips to PA and Washington D.C. I really think that the girls are very well rounded and around peers all the time. The 15 year old is already a junior in high school. Personally, they are some of the smartest kids I have been around.

I really think there comes a point when the parents realize that their particular child would benefit more from home schooling.

If we ever end up with children and we are still in Dayton, I will NEVER send my kids to DPS. When the school superintendant speaks just as poorly as the kids, the system is broken.

Meredith said...

Well I don't homeshcool and used to be a public school teacher, but my brother and his wife do homeschool. The reason they do it is so they can be in charge of what thier children learn. They want to have religion tied into the schoolwork. My neices are part of homeschool groups who take field trips and stuff together for social interaction.

However I do think my neices are VERY sheltered and I hate it when the 6 year old tells me "going to school is wrong and not part of God's plan". I also don't really understand how parents think they can teach their kids as well as a teacher who spent 4 years in college learning how to teach. The other problem I have seen is a lot of time parents start out homeschooling and then later on (middle school or high school) send thier kids to public schools. The kids don't know that they have to do work when the teachers say and they have to do things in certain ways, because at home they always did things on thier own schedules. But to each its own right?

As am Air Force brat who also moved around a lot I agree with you about the experiences. My brother however had a tough time in school (was bullied) so maybe that has to play? I am not sure.

MrsSpock said...

I probably would have benefited from homeschooling in middle school (perhaps I wouldn't have tried to off myself in the 7th grade then), but my mother would never have been up to the task of teaching at the level I needed.

That said, high school was 1000 times better. I have no desire to homeschool my son, but I know that the traditional educational approach does not work with every child, and that option should be open. My youngest sister did better going to a nontraditional school with a student to teacher ration of 1:5.

DCat said...

It's funny you bring this up as I just had this conversation with my mother. Being the protective grandmother that she is she thinks my daughter should be home schooled to protect her from anything bad happening to her. First, I couldn't homeschool even if I wanted to because I work but even if I could I don't think I would. I think that school, be it public or private prepares you for life and life's challenges. Yeah, I'm not sure I got THE best public education but I do believe I learned life lessons- many that were tough. As much as I would like to shield my daughter from the torment of adolescence I'm not sure homeschooling would do that. I have also seen her grow leaps and bounds since she started pre school. No doubt that home schooled kids are great kids I just prefer my child have a different experience. I also think people go the home school route because of the state of education today. In some areas it's just terrible.


Heather said...

My son is in public school, but it is a great public school so everything to be said is with the knowledge that he is going to a great school. I know there is NO way I could home school my kids. I know that is more of a personality thing with me though. I have a hard time listening to my son just read to me at night because sometimes he just doesn't try and makes up the word instead of "reading". I just know that we would end up in a fight every single day. So I let the professionals do their job. Besides the fact that he thrives off of social situations. I just can't see one single reason for us to homeschool.

Jenera said...

I'm all for public schools. However I would never count out homeschooling simply because ya never know your childs needs or the school system issues. I think homeschooling is different today than what it used to be and allows for more of the social aspect (like clubs, associations, etc).

I prefer to have our kids in the public schools to get more out of the social aspect, like you state. But with the way school systems are heading these days, it may be more beneficial to do it myself, lol.

I'm lucky to live in an area currently that has a pretty good system and kids don't fall through the cracks. If I still lived in San Diego, I'd think I'd be on the other side and choosing to do it myself.

Min said...

Hi--I've been a lurker for a few months now...I've been enjoying your blog!

I'm a transracially adoptive mom of two kids--one via foster care and one through a private agency adoption. For my older one, half of her biological mom's extended family work in or attend the public school system in our area, which is potentially touchy because my daughter's removal from her birthfamily was forced by the courts when she was a baby. We also can't afford private school at the moment (nor the 45 minute drive one-way, four times a day...we live in a rural area). Not to mention that in our area, the demographic of the private school is all white and I don't want my kids to be the token minorities.

She loves being homeschooled because she can go at her own pace and get lots of one-on-one time with me and my husband, and she still gets a lot of socialization because we are members of a co-op group where there are about 50 or so other homeschooled kids (about 10-15 in her age group) who attend. They do "specials" like music, arts, map reading, drama, etc. She also goes to a gymnastics class twice a week and a girls' group at our church once a week, so she's getting lots of interaction with her age group.

In truth, I had never seen myself homeschooling, but it seems like our best solution for now, short of moving out of the area.

Ali said...

My husband was home schooled until college, along with his siblings and cousins. There were 9 of them all together. All of them (well, MOST of them) are seriously brilliant, and very well rounded: so far one masters degree and two engineers. My husband is a great cook, and he's the one who sews buttons on in this household! He can teach himself to do anything, by himself, where as I need someone to show me and "guide" me.

That being said, it is not an option for us. I think, like Heather said, I'd end up fighting with the kids every day to get stuff accomplished. I'd rather send them to the professionals, and enjoy them more when they're home. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

Anonymous said...

As someone who is a big advocate of public education, I am seriously disturbed by homeschooling. However, I think homeschooling has significantly changed recently -- all sorts of leagues, get together areas, etc. They even have prom.

I do worry about the socialization aspect, but I can understand if the school system is super bad or your kids being influenced by people you don't want them to be - could be a reason to homeschool.

I really cannot judge until I cross that bridge though. My 2 cents.


Sara said...

Ooo, this is right up my ally. I grew up with a public school education. I taught for nine years in the public schools and now I work on the district level with our public schools. We have a good public school system with good teachers and I would put our students up against anyone else. I will also send my children to public schools.

I have a very hard time with homeschooling. I respect parents who choose to do so. What I don't respect is when they do it because they think the public schools aren't "good enough" for their child. Now, again, I do understand that not all public schools are as strong as where I live. But I have a hard time with being told that what I support and where I work and have grown up isn't good enough for another's child.

Can you tell I am passionate about this? I really do respect parents who homeschool - I know it is a very personal decision. Just don't make it a personal attack on a system that is available to all children - and most likely is a good system.

Hollie said...

This is very interesting. I can see how homeschool might be good in some situations. And it's great that there are programs for kids in homeschool to interact with kids their own age.

I think that public or private school is best for most kids. My mom will talk to someone who homeschooled their kids, and she thinks that mom was better than her because we went to public school. But I can't imagine my life if I would have been homeschooled... No good teachers/bad teachers, unfair things, popular kids, cliques, mean kids, rejection, acceptance...

Then in high school, I got to take advanced classes that really sparked my interest in math and science and literature. My mom couldn't have done that for me.

PLUS - If I want my kids to go to college, maybe they should be prepared for college and not just academically. They need to know how to deal with peer pressure. They will be around older kids drinking, partying, drugs way more than in high school. I think public or private school even with its problems is a necessary part of life.

Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I just had this conversation a few hours ago with my neighbor! That's hilarious.

They are considering homeschooling their four kids starting next year. She volunteers at the school and has seen firsthand poor teaching, kids getting away with things they shouldn't and knows her children are not being challenged as much as they should be.

As far as socializing, there are homeschool groups you can sign up with to meet as often as you like with other homeschoolers for field trips, special projects and even dances. For my neighbor, they are already very involved in their church so that social aspect wouldn't change.

On the other hand, another neighbors little boy is begging to be homeschooled as he is not being challenged enough at school either. He scored too low on one part of a test to be put in the gifted class, so I really think he is bored. Homeschooling for him could really be a great thing to help him focus on the things that really interest him.

I had started looking into doing homeschooling when we first started ttc. After awhile of failed cycling, I had to stop researching because it was too depressing. However, it is something that I want to look into doing.

Liz said...

My husband and I will be homeschooling our kids. For us, it's an issue of not enough focus on education in the public schools (I'm speaking specifically, not generally--I'm sure there are others on here who have really great public schools) and not being able to afford private school. My main concern is social interaction, but we're trying to find ways to get our daughter (and then the one on the way) into activities that she enjoys.

Meredith said...

Onne more comment to what sara said when people say the school systems aren't good enough. As a teacher I can tell you one of the best precitors of how you children wil do in schools is how involved the parents are. If we had more parents in the schools helping out (tutoring, doing small groups, being a mentor to a child who doesnt have the best home, etc) the schools would be better off. The parents who homeschool are exactly the ones that we need in the schools to help them out (they are home during the day and obviously involved with their kids education).

Anonymous said...

As a public school teacher for 11 years now, I have seen many children who were taken out of public school to be homeschooled. It breaks my heart to see these same children brought back to public school with gaps in their learning, or they are academically behind their peers. Homeschooling can be good for the right kids, but parents really need to evaluate themselves and their ability to teach their children before making the decision to homeschool. It is so unfair to your childen if you aren't going to give them the education they deserve, or the education that they could receive in a public school.

jenn said...

I don't really have much of a solid opinion on homeschooling except to say that I am pretty sure it's not for us. Mainly financial- we both need to work, but also mainly because I think that while my hub & I are brilliant people (maybe not humble!) we know enough to know we don't know everything. I think that the resourcefulness & independence we would love our child to have can be fostered at home while attending a 'public' school. That said- the public schools around here are not terrific, we would most likely be looking at a charter school to get the best possible education & experience.

An aside- I totally wasn't waiting for the second tri to tell! I would have told 3 weeks ago if I could! I am waiting for my review since I would rather know absolutely that I am judged on my merits, not the contents of the belly! Plus my office is so small I can't tell anyone else without it spilling over & creating an office politics situation becuase I told this person before that person... If I don't get my review next week though I am just telling because I literally cannot suck in the gut anymore!

margelina said...

I can't really understand why anyone would want to homeschool. Maybe it's just that my patience threshold is really low and I don't think I'd be a good enough teacher. Plus, I'm just not organized or time efficient, so it would be a disaster. I recently read an article in Parents magazine about this. There were very good points from all the homeschooling families interviewed for the article. I think that those who homeschool have found what works best for their families. The few people I know who were homeschooled for part of or all of their school years have been very smart and successful.
Personally, we have chosen private school for our kids, and I have had many people ask me why, when our public school system is so great. For us, we just believe in Catholic schools. I went for 12 years, and my husband went to public school. I promised my Dad, who was a firm believer in Ctaholic school, that we'd find a way to make sure our kids went to Catholic schools. It's hard, financially, for sure, but I can't imagine making any other choice, regardless.

Rita said...

my question is... how do homeschooled kids perceive their success in the work force? I am interested in knowing whether they can adapt to a very structured work environment (ie. micromanagement) when their formative years were more liberal and their day was not based upon class bells....
otherwise I think that the decision is a family's to make - one issue I am facing is the level of gun violence and lock downs happening in the schools. too dangerous.

Sugar and Ice said...

I think your commenters have brought up some great points, but I can only speak from my own personal experiences. I was raised in public schools, and it wasn't always a pleasant experience. I was also a 6th and 7th grade public school teacher, so I've been there as a student and as a teacher. My experiences with home schoolers have not been so positive. My best friend as a child moved to a nearby city when we were in 2nd grade. When they moved, her mother, a public teacher herself, decided to home school her and her two sisters. When we started junior high, she was given the choice to either go back to public school or to continue home schooling. She chose home schooling while her older sister decided to go to public high school. These were the kind of people that did home schooling the right way. They went to a home school P.E. class once a week. They went on field trips with other home schoolers. They had science labs outside the home. They knew and interacted with other kids through their home school group and through their church youth group. However, even with all that I can tell you that they ended up being a little sheltered and truly...a little weird. Yes, they knew other kids, but they didn't interact outside the home more than once or twice per week, and that wasn't all day long. They didn't have the time with these other kids to forge the kind of relationships you make with friends you go to school with five days a week, 8 hours per day. They didn't have to deal with much in the way of dealing with disappointment, drama, conflict, etc...things that I think every kid kind of needs to deal with to some degree.

So, yes, there are some families out there that do it the right way, but it just seems like no matter what you do it wouldn't be enough.

On the other side, my main problem with home schooling is that so many parents out there that do it simply are not qualified. A lot of parents will home school for elementary school and then start feeling incompetent and decide to send them to school for middle or high school. I can't tell you how many former students I've had that were former home schoolers. Some of them were SO behind! Their parents hadn't followed the curriculum closely enough or the kids weren't necessarily the brightest to begin with and had needed extra help for years that they hadn't been getting. Sure, there are plenty of brilliant home schooled kids...being smart is usually something that comes naturally, but so many kids are just average and they need a lot more than some parents can give. Most of my home schooled kids really struggled with social interaction once they started school...they were always so used to one on one attention that they couldn't seem to grasp just being one of many in a classroom.

I'm one of these people that have a hard time separating myself from my kid. I'm not an attachment parenter, but I'm a stay at home mother, and I don't like being away from my daughter. However, I'll grin and bear it when the time comes for her to go to school. Could I home school her successfully? Yes..that's why I went to educate. For me though, it's important for her to get out there without me and learn life on her is so much more than academics.

Anonymous said...

I think that Karen really expressed my thoughts on the issue well. I'm in my 14th year of teaching middle school language arts in a public school that is rated "high" in Colorado, one step below the highest rating (excellent). Not that the ratings say everything about the school, but I do believe in our vision and what we do and how hard we work for our students.

I also believe in the potential of homeschooling, but only by capable, dedicated parents, and unfortunately I've seen many who just aren't. Like Karen said, the kids come back to public school the following year with gaps that are so hard to close when you've got 38 to 40 other students in your classes. Depending on the school, there are realities that even the most experienced, effective teachers can't overcome, such as large class sizes. Last year my five classes ranged from 32 to 37 students apiece, but fortunately this year they range only from 22 to 25 students. At my school there are actually a few seventh grade classes with 38 to 40 students in them. Believe me, as much as I wish it didn't, class size really makes a difference. It's so much harder for individual students to focus in a classroom that's packed with so many other kids.

In addition, my sixth grade students' abilities range between third and tenth grade reading and writing levels, so you can imagine how much customization I need to do in order to truly meet their needs. I have students this year who I believe would fare better in a homeschool environment, for reasons that include being far too easily distracted, really struggling with organization, having serious emotional issues, and so forth. Many kids are just not cut out for the public school "culture" and need much more individual attention than we can realistically provide. Other gifted students are better off being homeschooled in order to fully maximize their strengths and to allow them more freedom to pursue their talents and strongest skills.

I feel fortunate that I was successful in the public schools that I attended in upstate NY...they were excellent schools, and I'm painfully aware of how many public schools out there are currently failing. I really believe that it depends on the city and its demographics, as many other posters have said, and I completely respect a parent's decision to choose what is best for his or her child and their entire family.


Anonymous said...

In general, I am against homeschooling, with a few exceptions, such as the distance thing you mentioned Nancy, and maybe a few other circumstances (really truly rotten public schools, although I think moving would be a preferred alternative). Frankly, I don't think the majority of parents are qualified to be teachers. In my state public school teachers are required to have master's degrees, but a homeschooling parent can be a high school dropout. That just isn't right. I respect teachers and all they have to go through to learn to be teachers. IMO, it's insulting to them to presume that just anyone can do their job better than they can.

Secondly, the social aspect is just too important. People can talk all they want about homeschool sports leagues and such, it is simply not the same as being around the same kids all day every day.

At my first job out of college, i worked for a small company and we had a just-graduated homeschooled 18 year old as our receptionist. It was beyond sad. She could barely read and couldn't spell at all. She told me she had been homeschooled by her religious-zealot parents because the public schools were "evil" and full of "the influence of the devil." It was really, really sad.

Nathansma said...

You've opened a can of worms on this one and I must put in my two cents. I don't know why anyone who lives in a country where education is free would choose to "teach" their children at home. I have been homeschooled, and I have attended both private and public schools. I grew up a missionary's kid and I had to be homeschooled while we were living in southern Chile. I hated the homeschooling part. Then when we came back to the states I attended public school for 4th and 9th grades. I loved it. Then when we lived in Paraguay, I attended an international private school with all the clubs and sports teams and loved it too.

Upon graduation from HS, I went to college and became a HS science teacher and taught in the public school system for 14 years. I am an advocate for public schools. I know that there are bad schools and bad teachers and problems with some of them. But, that is the beauty of America. If there is a problem a solution can be found. Change teachers, change schools but there is always a solution.

My main problem with homeschooling is that for the kids sake there needs to be a distinction between mommy and teacher. And my other problem is when parents try to do a job that they aren't trained properly for. I went to school for 4 years to be trained to be a teacher. As parents we wouldn't try to operate on our children at home should they need a surgery. We take them to a trained professional. Is their education not worthy of a professional teacher? And while I'm on the subject, why is it that doctors and lawyers are paid more than teachers? Wasn't it a teacher that taught them how to do what they do?

We now live in Jamaica as missionaries ourselves and I am very thankful for a private school that uses American curriculum for my son, who is in 2nd grade. Because, I would die if I had to teach him and go through what we go through when I have to help him with his spanish homework. Kids always seem to "do more" for someone who is not a parent.

And, it has already been stated by one of the other commenters, if the parents that homeschool would get involved in their childs public school, more children than their own would benefit.

And, in conclusion, I am smart enough to know that there are legitimate reasons that parents must homeschool, i.e. living where there are no schools, etc.

For what it is worth, that's what I think...

the mol said...

Home-schooled kids miss out on socializing and, many times, a lot of general popular culture references. A friend of mine from college was home-schooled and every now and then we'd say something that required explaining. It was kind of cute.

I read an essay written by a family who saved up a bunch of money for a trip around the world. The children were 8 and 11. They quit work and school for an entire year.

There are a few "home" schooling families that really do spectacular things with their kids that help make life lessons that much more meaningful, which is something that is missing from public schools much of the time.

I teach orchestra in a public school and the climate is tending more and more towards test-centered teaching. They spend 80 minutes on math and 120 minutes on reading and writing every day. And kids who didn't pass their tests get even more reading and writing, sometimes pulling them out of art or music or history in order to do it.

Jennifer said...

Homeschooling can work with the right parent and child. The parent must be patient, well-educated etc. I'm impressed by the homeschooling groups others have mentioned. Home school needs to be structured and scheduled. I know some very intelligent well rounded home schooled children. I've also seen kids suffer because the parent didn't really teach them.

I teach music in a low income school. Our school is usually rated an A or B (FL - FCAT). Lately we've been getting some "rough" children. I'm really not sure that I'd want my daughter to go to school with me. I wouldn't want her around some of these children. I just see these kids picking on the sweet ones all the time and there's only so much I can do.

I'm also seeing a trend of focusing on the lowest students because they count more for state testing and national (ayp) testing.

If she becomes one of the "smart" children, I'd consider sending her to a different school (charter/magnet, etc).

Anonymous said...

I am very open to home education for our kids, I love the idea of unschooling.

At this point TBB has chosen to go to public school.

I really don't believe there are any social benefits to dumping a bunch of same-aged kids in a classroom together.

The homeschooling families I've come across network with each other and spend time doing things together. Plus the kids might be in sports teams and so on. I don't believe homeschooled kids miss out on anything.