Worthy Reads & Blog Business

First, I’d like to thank Simple Homeschool for listing my column “On Homeschooling, Socialization and Religion” on their weekend links!

Photography Friends – I have also done some renovation on my photography website, and if you are interested in photography, I’d like you invite you to follow me on my photo blog.  While homeschooling, I don’t have time to start a business, but I’m hoping now that they are a little older, I’ll find more time to pull out my camera and get back to doing what I love the most: taking beautiful photos.  So my goal on that site is to just share my work, photography-related news/advice and challenge myself to making more and better images.

Worthy Reads – Though I find many of these articles, some of them I learn about from friends…thank you to those friends!

Homeschooling

As Homeschooling Increases, So Does Accountability – takepart.com

Homeschool Diaries – The Atlantic

Real chemistry for kids – Avant Parenting

They Had me at the Pink T-shirts – Kansas City Star

Why I Will Never Homeschool My Children – Huffington Post

On Building a Community for Homeschoolers

A New Chapter in the Homeschooling Movement – Christianity Today – I feel like this is similar to my post about socialization and religion, but it’s written by a Christian.

Education

Thousands of boys’ at least four years behind in reading – telegraph.co.uk – I see articles similar to this one almost everyday.  Something is wrong with how kids are being taught to read!

Top college courses, for free? – CNN

How I discovered my Secret Powers (an essay) by Keri Smith – Wreck this App – community.penquin.com

California universities to produce 50 open-source textbooks – arstechnica.com

Education as a campaign issue – CNN Schools of Thought

Parenting

The Benefits of Quitting – Care.com (And if you haven’t seen Amber Dusick’s blog, Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, you really need to check it out! It’s hilarious.)

Storytelling

Make It: Storytelling Jar – Atlanta Homeschool Blog

How to be a Great Storyteller – Reading Kingdom Blog

Miscellaneous

To make money from science photographs, specialize – Scientific American

Study: Young Children Explore as Scientists Do – Education Week

Time lost and found by Anne Lamott – sunset.com

Worthy Reads & Blog Business

First, I’d like to say thank you to those who recently began following me on this blog, Facebook and/or Twitter.  And a huge thank you to those who are still following me after all this time.  It means a lot to me.

I’d also like to say thank you for all the supportive comments and e-mails I received after posting my last column “On Homeschooling, Socialization and Religion.”  It heartens me to receive positive feedback on such a sensitive issue.  Even if there’s only a few of you who understand me, I appreciate that, and many of you are opening up and teaching me more about what, exactly, creates a true friendship.  Perhaps a follow-up post is simmering somewhere in the back of my mind.  We’ll see.

 Also, I finally succumbed to Pininterest!  If you’d like to follow me there, I’ll be sure to follow you back.

Worthy Reads

It’s amazing to see all that’s being written in newspapers about homeschooling!  These are just a few of the articles that caught my eye.  It goes to show that word is spreading about homeschooling, and that’s good.  The more people can learn about it, the more they will realize it’s a worthy alternative education.  It’s not an option for everyone, but I know it will challenge what many people consider is a good education.

Homeschooling

Illinois Spotlight: East-central Illinois homeschool families have formed a community – The Republic, Columbus, Indiana

Illinois lets parents decide on home schooling – burridge.suntimes.com

IU instructor organizing global network to study homeschooling – Evansville Courier & Press

Opinion: My Point of View – Powhatan Today – a very impressive article written by a 13-year-old homeschooler!

Homeschooled Kids Are Making Our Education System Look Bad – The Stir

Homeschooling Has Gone Mainstream – westcobb.patch.com

How To Save Money On Homeschooling – Investors.com

Homeschooling gives kids, parents many advantages – Iowa City Press Citizen

Homeschooling 101: Busting some long-held myths about home education – pnj.com

On Building a Community for Homeschoolers

it’s up to us – watching kereru – Thanks to Lori for sending me this link after my post on building an inclusive community.  I think this would make another good topic to research, so if I find any worthy reads about it in the future, I’ll share them with you.

Homeschooling Resources

Teaching perseverance and grit – Project Based Homeschooling’s Camp Creek Blog

A Is for Apps for Education – PCMag.com – A list of apps pre-k through college level!

Geocaching and Education – I have heard of geocaching, and I need to look into it!

What’s In The [work]BOX? Handmade Word Family Game – The Snail’s Trail – My sister sent me a link to this, and I really want to try it!

Education

My View: Education is useless – CNN Schools of Thought – good read!

Back to school by the numbers – CNN Schools of Thought

My View: Parent engagement = Child success – CNN Schools of Thought

Virginia Children Excused From School Last Year Due To Religious Exemptions From Education – Huffington Post

Worst College Majors for Your Career – Yahoo! Finance

Young, Gifted, and Neglected – New York Times

Miscellaneous

10 Great Work-at-Home Jobs – Kiplinger – I know many homeschooling moms need to find some extra income, but there are so many work-from-home scams out there.  It’s nice to see an article highlighting some more reputable opportunities.

Worthy Reads and Blog Business

taken on our recent visit to the Chicago Botanical Garden

It’s been a busy summer, and Worthy Reads is long overdue.  I’m sure I’ve missed a few worthy reads too, so if you have any interesting articles about homeschooling, education, parenting, storytelling, or something else you know I should read, please leave them in the comments!  Below are my Worthy Reads. (Keep in mind that I don’t always agree with the commentary in these articles, but I consider them worthy to consider or be aware of.) I also have a little bit of Blog Business to share with you.

Homeschooling

The Benefits of Unschooling: Report I from a Large Survey – Psychology Today

What Leads Families to “Unschool” Their Children? Report II – Psychology Today

The Challenges of Unschooling: Report III from a Large Survey – Psychology Today

Some Fascinating Facts About Homeschool vs. Public School – Homeschool World

How Homeschooling Helped a Young Engineer/Entrepreneur – StateImpact.npr.org

With technology, face of homeschooling changes – SFGate

My View: Homeschooling: Marching to the beat of a different drummer – CNN Schools of Thought

Why More Black Families Are Leaving Public Schools – NewsOne

Home schooling: Why more black US families are trying it – BBC News

The questions, the answersAvant Parenting

Homeschooled Students Well-Prepared for College, Study Finds – Huffington Post

Home-school Happenings: Making it work for all families – Citizen-Times.com

Some negative media on homeschooling:

Barely Literate? How Christian Fundamentalist Homeschooling Hurts Kids – AlterNet

Homeschooling needs either tighter regulation or to be banned Denialism BLOG

Anecdotes About Horrible, Sexist “Quiverfull” Families Probably Proof That Homeschooling Needs More Government Oversight – reason.com

Homeschooling Ideas

Nature Journaling with Kids – Simple Homemade

how do kids REALLY learn to write, 2.0 – Wonder Farm

Education

My View: Let preschoolers, kindergarteners play to learn – CNN Schools of Thought

Are introverted children hurt by classroom focus on participation and group activities – AJC Blogs

Bright students ‘cannot write essays’ say Cambridge dons – The Telegraph

Freedom Within Limits: Montessori education thriving at Newnan’s Carolyn Barron SchoolTimes-Herald.com

Highly educated, deeply in dept – Philly.com

Living near good schools will cost an extra $200K – CNN Schools of Thought

Report: Test cheating may be widespread – CNN Schools of Thought

The high stakes of standardized tests – CNN Schools of Thought

Parenting

Mom’s love good for child’s brain – PsyPost

Miscellaneous

Jonah Lehrer on How to Be Creative – WSJ.com

Why Bilinguals Are Smarter – The New York Times Sunday Review

Blog Business

  • Earlier in the summer I tweaked the header on this blog as well as the menu and right-hand menu options.  I hope you find this blog easy to read and find information.  I welcome any suggestions that may help you.
  • I added a “No Disclaimer Needed” page because I want my readers to know that I am not given any compensation to promote any products or services.  If I recommend a product or service it’s because I happened to buy it, or it was given to me as a gift. Read this page for more information.
  • I have added pages to make it easier for you to find my posts related to project-based homeschooling, storytelling, resources for Georgia homeschoolers, and, of course, I continue to update my general Table of Contents with my posts that are specifically about homeschooling.
  • I have also added a Contact page (don’t know why I didn’t sooner!) because I want everyone to know that I’m available to offer homeschooling support and encouragement to anyone who might need it.  I am also open to ideas on what to write about!
  • Speaking of what to write about, I do have plenty of ideas, and some of them I’ve had for much too long.  I hope to cover these topics in the future, and I hope you’ll stick with me and offer your comments!

Blog Business & Worthy Reads

Just a bit of blog business:

  • First, I’d like to say a big thank you to Simple Homeschool who included my post, In Response to a Teacher’s Questions About Homeschooling, in their weekend links.
  • Second, I’m happy to say that I finally bit the bullet and paid WordPress so that this can be an AD-FREE blog.  I knew those sneaky ads (which they cleverly never let me see) were there, and I despised them, but I have to watch the money I spend, and I appreciated the opportunity to get started with a free blog.  Perhaps someday I will research how to put ads of my own choosing that I can fully endorse, but for now Mama of Letters will be sans ads.

And here are my Worthy Reads in no particular order…

Education

Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher by William Johnson in The New York Times Sunday Review.

Workforce Preparedness: Is Your Grad Ready for the Real World?  – Houston Chronicle Blog – A little dense and specific to Houston, but I thought it posed a good question.  Students need to think in terms of getting the skills they need to be prepared to compete in the workforce.

Myth Busting: How Reading is Taught in a Waldorf School – I love learning about different educational philosophies, so I was happy to come across this post on Moon Child.

UN Produced Atlas shows Girls Still Falling behind Boys in Education – SOS Children’s Villages: Canada – I talk a lot about boys and homeschooling, but this is a reminder that all children around the world are still struggling to get a decent education.

Afraid of Your Child’s Math Textbook? You Should Be.by Annie Keeghan on her blog, Chronic Sense.

Educating  and Raising Boys (I will add the following to my page Worthy Reads About Raising and Educating Boys.)

A Huge Gender Gap Persists In College Degrees, Do We Need A White House Council On Boys And Men? by Mark Perry

Boys falling behind girls in education, experts look for solutions by Bruce Lindsay for KSL.com-Utah

All-boys’ classes grow confidence, leadership by Tamara Shephard on InsideToronto.com

Who says raising boys is easier?  by LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor

Learning to live with ‘boy energy’ by Stephen Bede Scharper

Homeschooling

The Moral Status of Homeschooling and Public Schooling Motivations by Pamela J. Stubbart, Huffington Post – another response to Dana Goldstein’s article in Slate.

In ‘Class’ – at Home – Ted Landphair’s AMERICA

The Best Homeschooling Resources Online – By Jamie Martin for Parents.com

Why I Could Never Have Homeschooled My Children – A Response – by Sharon Greethal for BlogHer.com – Scroll down to see a comment I left here.  I don’t believe homeschoolers should ever question a non-homeschooler’s parenting skills or commitment to their children.

I am too negative about homeschooling – From the blog, Skipping School, which is written by Kate Fridkis.  She was homeschooled Pre-K through 12th grade and then went on to college at Rutgers and Columbia.  Now she’s a freelance writer.  And obviously, I recommend her blog as well.

Should Home-schoolers Play for High School Teams? in Room for Debate on the The New York Times.

What Labels Are We Placing on Homeschoolers?

Note: This column appeared in the print edition of the Barrow Journal on Wednesday, February 22, 2012.

A number of articles have been circulating lately about the growing diversity in homeschooling families.  Publications such as the Houston Chronicle, USA Today, and Newsweek have each reported on the number of homeschoolers who don’t do it for religious reasons, which has been a stereotype of homeschoolers.

Then in Slate, Dana Goldstein wrote an article titled “Liberals, Don’t Homeschool Your Kids” in which she makes a case that homeschooling violates progressive values.  Madeline Holler responded positively to Goldstein on Babble.com.  She writes, “Homeschooling really isn’t the answer, certainly not for people who purport to value things like civic life and public institutions and who wish for those things to improve.”

While I’m glad the word is getting out that homeschoolers are a diverse group of people who choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons, I fear that more stereotypes are being made.  So let’s review. When you hear I’m a homeschooler, you might assume one or more of the following:

  • I may be an evangelical Christian that wants to indoctrinate my children with a religious curriculum that shuns science.
  • Or, I’m a bleeding left-wing liberal who breastfeeds my children well into their toddler years.
  • If we aren’t religious, then we’re probably atheist.
  • You may think we co-sleep with our infants and that we do not trust public schools to teach our children anything.
  • Or, you may believe I’m a “helicopter parent” who will never let my children flourish independently on his or her own.
  • You might think I silently judge others for making their children spend six hours a day in “prison.”
  • Finally, you may believe that we are “uber-intellectual” parents that have plenty of extra income to homeschool.

For the record, none of those descriptions fit us. But since we are not religious fundamentalists, I guess that makes us liberal homeschoolers, at least in the eyes of some of these writers.

Dana Goldstein writes, “This overheated hostility toward public schools runs throughout the new literature on liberal homeschooling, and reveals what is so fundamentally illiberal about the trend: It is rooted in distrust of the public sphere, in class privilege, and in the dated presumption that children hail from two-parent families….”

She also writes, “If progressives want to improve schools, we shouldn’t empty them out. We ought to flood them with our kids, and then debate vociferously what they ought to be doing.”

First of all, why do I have to be labeled either liberal or conservative?  I have some liberal views, and I have some conservative views too.

When it comes to homeschooling and staying home with my children, I’m more conservative, yet when it comes to rearing boys, I guess I’m liberal because I adhere to a few practices known as “attachment” parenting.  But even then, I don’t fit the mold because I didn’t breastfeed my children until toddlerhood, co-sleep with my infants or ever carry them in a sling.  Where oh where can I fit in?

I respect those who don’t homeschool or adhere to my style of parenting.  More than that, I understand that there are many people who can’t do what I do. Though believe it or not, there are many homeschoolers who didn’t choose to homeschool in the first place.

Having read many forums on homeschooling, I can tell you that homeschoolers are diverse and teach their children at home for more reasons than we can count.  There are single parents, financially struggling parents, and as I mentioned, parents who had no plans to ever homeschool.  They put their child in school, but something went wrong.  I have heard stories about parents who tried to make changes at their child’s school, but they got fed-up and turned to homeschooling.

I think that is more than what those writers can see when they try to lay a guilt trip saying progressive homeschoolers are hurting the wider community by not putting their children in school.

Sure, if I wanted to, I could put my children in school and fight to change them in a positive way, but what kind of energy and time would it take on my part to actually make a difference?  I would have to rally the support of many families, and then we’d have to agree on what changes we wanted.  Do you think we could agree on what changes would make an ideal school environment for all our children?

Part of the reason I’m homeschooling is because I believe children deserve to have individualized attention when it comes to finding out what is the best way they learn.  Another reason is because I want my boys to have more freedom to move and play outdoors.  What works for my kids wouldn’t necessarily work for other kids.

Yet I don’t think of public school as prison.  Despite the problems our schools have, it’s not lost on me that a lot of good goes on there.  I read articles about student’s achievements, awards, and projects.  I know teachers who engage and motivate their students.  Good teachers are important role models and mentors for young people.  I’ll always support our schools, and when I’m able, I’ll do for the greater good.

But I’m not going waste my time trying to change my local schools when my priority right now is my children.  I’m not going to use what little free time I have to serve the wider community when I desperately need to nurture my own mind and body so that I can meet the demands of this household.

You can’t help others before you help yourself.  You have to get your own affairs in order before you can give to others.  Does this mean I’m conservative or liberal?  I believe I’m doing what most Americans are doing – doing what they think is right for their families and what they can to get by.

Note: Since I wrote this column, Dana Goldstein has responded to the overwhelming response she received on her article in Slate.  You can read that by clicking here.  You may also enjoy reading Why Homeschooling Is a Boon to a Liberal Society in The Atlantic by Conor Friedersdorf.  I also enjoyed reading Liberal Homeschoolers: What We Really Are on the blog, Quarks and Quirks.

Please tell me what you think.

Secular Homeschooling Is On The Rise

As a secular homeschooler, I can’t help but notice the attention we’re getting in the media lately.  Several articles and spin-offs of those articles are appearing in major media outlets.  Here’s a few:

Why Urban, Educated Parents Are Turning to DIY Education – written for Newsweek by Linda Perlstein

Home-schooling demographics change, expand – written for USA Today by Alesha Williams Boyd and Sergio Bichao

Secular Homeschooling Instills Love for Learning from a Non-Religious Perspective – written for Houston Chronicle by Ken Chitwood

I think this attention is good because it’s breaking the stereotype that all homeschoolers are conservative Christians seeking to indoctrinate their children, and that they only teach with religious curriculums, shunning science.  While there are homeschoolers who are extremely religious, I think it should be noted that many people homeschool for a variety of reasons.  Yet I believe every homeschooling parent wants to impart their own beliefs and morals on their children without the negative influences inflicting youth today.  Most of us want to allow our children to experience childhood without pressure from peers, testing or a one-size-fits-all curriculum.

It should be noted that self-proclaimed secular homeschoolers may or may not be religious.  Religion may play a part in their life just as many traditionally schooled children have a religious upbringing and attend church.  Yet religion indoctrination is not the reason for homeschooling, and they most likely teach from a secular perspective.  Secular homeschoolers seek more diverse and tolerant companions while socializing too.

As I’ve mentioned before, I respect every parent’s right to teach their children in their own way.  If I don’t respect your right, how can I expect you to respect mine?  I also appreciate that because of the work of many religious homeschoolers, homeschooling is now legal in all 50 of the United States.

I have friends who are religious and others who are not.  I think it’s a shame when someone may not want to befriend us because they don’t like our viewpoint, but I can’t do anything about that.  I seek open-minded people who are willing to see our similarities.  We all love our children and want what is best for them.  We want to give them a good education, help them build bright futures, and teach them to tolerate and respect all people as long as they do not physically or emotionally hurt another person.  (Believe me, I know it can be hard to respect other’s viewpoints, but I try.)

So, let’s spread the word: Many homeschooling families are moderate, run-of-the-mill people who find that this lifestyle fits their family!

What do you think?

In Response to a Teacher’s Questions About Homeschooling

Yesterday I read Why Are Urban, Professional Parents Choosing Homeschooling? by Judy Molland.  She was writing in response to Linda Perlstein’s recent article in Newsweek, and I think she brought up some good concerns and questions about homeschooling.  These are concerns I’ve heard before, so I thought I would answer them from my perspective in regards to why I want to homeschool my children. 

Molland writes:

As a teacher, I can say that with differentiated instruction, we try to accommodate all students’ needs and learning styles, but it’s impossible to do that perfectly with a classroom of 30 unique, individual kids.

But is that such a bad thing? Don’t children need to learn to work together with their peers and help each other? And is it such a good idea for children to be constantly with their parents as they are growing up?

As Molland points out, many homeschoolers do it because they want to give their children a tailored education that meets their needs.  This includes me.  As she mentions, it’s impossible to accommodate all the children in a classroom, and I do think that’s a bad thing.

Some children may be able to compensate and do very well in traditional school.  (I’m not totally against traditional school.)  But I think, if possible, every child could benefit from having one-on-one instruction with someone who is looking out for his/her individual needs.  If the child isn’t homeschooled full-time, parents should “supplement public school with homeschooling” as someone I knew once said.

I read in Discover Your Child’s Learning Style that it has helped students when their parents took the time to figure out what his or her special learning style was.  Though the classroom instruction was not changed (it’s impossible to change it to meet just one student’s needs), it helped that student to realize that he wasn’t stupid or couldn’t do it the work.  It confirmed for him that he is unique and capable.  And by helping him learn his own style, he could apply certain techniques at home to help him with his studies.

(Also, I’ve already written about why I think it’s a good idea to Support Your Child’s Interests.)

Don’t children need to learn to work together with their peers and help each other? 

Ideally, yes.  But I’m not convinced this always happens at school in positive ways.  I can remember being devastated in second grade when a new student influenced my best friend (and several other children) not to be my friend anymore.  I think this actually had consequences on my self-esteem and trust in friendships for many years after.

And the “help” I remember getting from fellow students as I got older was answers to tests that I should have been taking myself.  I’m glad to say I didn’t cheat a lot, but it did happen, and I knew other students who did it too.  Students can help each other beat the system, and the group culture can foster underachievement.  It was never cool to be smart in school.  It was cool to be pretty, wear the most fashionable clothes, and to be popular.

I know that doesn’t happen to everyone, and I know there are some awesome schools out there.   But I can homeschool my children, and I can give them opportunities to find out who they are and what they love without peer pressure.  This is their one chance to have a childhood and find a direction for their life.

I think my children will learn to work together and help each other better when I’m helping to create their social network.   The world is always going to try to beat down their self-esteem, and the cruelty of the world will rear its ugly head at them.  I don’t think I have to worry about sheltering them too much.  But I do want to help them build a platform of self-esteem, self-reliance, a love of learning, and a heart full of compassion so that when something bad happens to them, they won’t be crushed by it.

Is it such a good idea for children to be constantly with their parents as they are growing up?

Maybe not.  Because I know it would probably help my mental health if I had some breaks from my kids!  However, I love being with my kids, and I believe being a close family is a reward of homeschooling.  Society is always touting “family values,” but I see very little support for these so-called “family values” we’re supposed to have.  Why are people so concerned about homeschoolers when they truly care about family values and are doing something about it?  Also, I don’t think we’ll constantly be together.  As they get older, I’ll find more outlets for them.  There are classes, camps and many other opportunities for homeschoolers to spend time away from home.

Homeschooling is not perfect, but I would rather take its imperfections over the imperfections I see in our current public schools.

Molland goes on to write:

It is true that nowadays there are lots of resources available for homeschooling parents including, in some cities, curriculum, centers and classes designed especially for these youngsters.

And yet, I worry that these homeschooling parents will become the helicopter parents of the future, unwilling to let their children flourish independently, or to give them the freedom to grow as separate individuals.

I can’t speak for all homeschoolers, but I’m homeschooling my kids exactly because I want them to flourish independently!  Please go back up and re-read the first part of this post to see some of my reasons.  In addition to that, I can say that although I’m sure I’ll experience the pains of an “empty nest” someday, I know it’s in my son’s best interests to at some point let go.  As someone who advocates child-led learning, I don’t see myself not letting my children flourish independently.

I am the first person who will encourage my sons to meet new people, try new things, and do for themselves.

I’ve already written about how I plan to teach my children more than what they’d learn in school in What Are We Preparing Our Children For?   

Right now, at the ages of 5 and 2, I try to ask questions as much as I parcel out information.  I want them to know that their thoughts and ideas are valued.  In a classroom, a teacher may ask questions too, but how many students answer?  There’s usually one or two who raise their hand a lot and the rest of the class stays silent.  (I was always too shy to answer a question in school, and I hated it when a teacher asked me a direct question.  Going to public school did not help me overcome shyness or insecurity.)

I would advocate that any mom should not let go of her interests too.  While we may do less of the things we love while rearing children, we need to keep a flame lit so that when the time comes for our children to step on their own path, we’ll have our own path to travel too.

Molland’s final questions are these:

Will These Kids Know How To Interact With Others From Different Backgrounds?

And, as someone who grew up in a very isolated town in the southwest of England, it also concerns me that these children won’t know how to interact with people from backgrounds quite different from theirs.  What do you think?

I wish I could ask her, “As someone who grew up in a very isolated town in the southwest of England, how did you learn how to interact with people with backgrounds very different than yours?”

When I was in school, I wasn’t very aware of “different backgrounds.”   In college, and throughout my twenties and thirties, I began to realize what adults consider the “dividers” in class, culture and beliefs, and I finally experienced the pain of that through first-hand experience.  This might tell you that I was a middle-class white girl without a lot of experiences to clue me into these deep emotional divides.  Yes, I was quite naïve.  And guess what?!  I attended public school.

Again, I’m not saying everyone has this same experience.  I know young people who are very aware of things I had no clue about growing up.  I offer it as an example that public school doesn’t always allow us to learn how to work with people of different backgrounds.

But come to think of it, as I became an adult and lived in London and Japan for a while, I never thought that I needed to “learn” how to interact with people in those countries.  I just did it.  I learned about customs and nuances as I went along. (I believe my son is doing the same thing in his five-year-old world as we meet new people and go places.)

When I returned from Japan, I learned that most Americans don’t know half as much about the world outside their borders as people in other countries know about us.  Schools may do a better job of having multi-cultural lessons and events, but we do not make learning a second language a priority in our schools.  My husband is a college professor who teaches world history, and he says that students coming out of our high schools don’t seem to know the first thing about other religions of the world such as Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam.  With all the globalization that has been happening for many years now, shouldn’t our students have a basic knowledge of these religions?

This is a reason I want to homeschool!  I want to teach my children about the world, different beliefs, different religions, and if possible, I’d like to teach them a foreign language.  In Our Homeschool Mission, I listed Religious Education as an emphasis of mine.  I don’t mean one religion.  I’ll teach my children about my personal beliefs, but I’ll also teach them about others.

I realize that there are many homeschoolers who do so for religious reasons, and they do want to shield their children from any other beliefs.  While I don’t agree with that, I have to respect a parent’s right to teach their children in their own way.  If I don’t respect their right, how can I expect anyone to respect my right? (Child abuse is a different story, and unfortunately, it will exist occasionally for all children – traditionally schooled children and homeschooled children.)   Frankly, I believe parents can still shelter children even if they go to public school, and children often grow up and continue to hold the same beliefs and attitudes their parents did.  (I think the parents who don’t shelter their kids will have a better chance of their kids not rebelling than those who do.)

I respect people who voice concerns about homeschooling and ask good questions, but these concerns are unfounded, especially when you consider the countless students in public schools who are left behind.  There are so many kids out there who need help….  who need food….  who need new clothes.  Why do people keep bringing up these ridiculous concerns about homeschoolers?

There may be some students who are at a disadvantage while being homeschooled, but there are many who are disadvantaged in our public schools.  Most homeschooling parents are doing so because they love their children and want to give them a good education.  They hear these concerns and they do what they can to overcome any negative effect that homeschooling may give their child. 

Personally, I would rather deal with the possible ill effects of homeschooling than the possible ill effects of public education.

That is what I think.

Shelli Pabis is a newspaper columnist, photographer and homeschooler living in Georgia.  Sign up for her RSS feed by clicking here.

What Are We Preparing Our Children For?

Note: This column was printed in the January 4, 2012 edition of The Barrow Journal.

For several weeks I’ve been mulling this topic over in my head: What am I preparing my children for?   The question came to me after I read the article, “My Parents Were Home-schooling Anarchists” in the New York Times Magazine.

In the article, the parents homeschooled their children in the early years, but they did not follow any academic standards.  They lived outside the U.S., but later they moved back and both parents got full-time jobs, so they put their children into public school.  At that time, the kids were unprepared academically or socially for the school environment.

The children in that article are adults now and seem fine, though I think it’s unfortunate that many people may read it and acquire a negative opinion of homeschooling.  I think the article had more to say about that particular family than about homeschooling in general.

But it brought the question to my mind that I mentioned above.  What am I preparing my children for?  This is a question that all parents should ask themselves whether they homeschool or not.

For homeschoolers, it is important to consider whether or not you will put your children into public school at some point because homeschooling until middle school may look very different than homeschooling until college.

I experienced a very different culture in middle and high school than I ever did after I graduated.  After graduating from high school, I was able to make my own choices, and I put myself where and with whom I wanted to be.

Homeschooled kids will be different because of their different experiences, and though different can be quite good, depending on their age and maturity, they may not be ready to enter the world of peer pressure.  In my research I have mostly read about the success of homeschooled students entering public school, but parents do need to think about this and make sure their children are ready to enter public school.

On a broader level, I am asking myself this question because whether I homeschool for a few years or all the way through high school, I know I want to prepare my kids for more than what a typical public school education would give them.  All parents do this to a certain degree: School prepares them for academics.  Parents prepare them for life.

But do we?  There are many students entering college or graduating from college, but they know little to nothing about how to manage daily life.  Why is it such a shock to young people when suddenly they are on their own and they have to cook, clean and pay the bills?  Should we blame it all on immaturity?  I think parents could do a better job of preparing their kids, and it should start when they’re young.

Whether or not I’ll be able to succeed in teaching my children academics and how to live a happy, productive life remains to be seen.  But as I go about planning their education at home, I want to consider what their needs will be for their Whole Life, and by “whole” I mean all aspects of their lives: home life, vocations, finances, and spiritual lives, i.e. how to handle failure, how to relax, and how to be productive in this life.  That might sound high minded, but when it comes to my children, I’m not aiming low.

I want to teach my children how to manage a household and take care of their basic needs.  They’ll learn to cook, clean and do laundry.  I don’t understand parents who don’t make their kids do chores even in the name of “they need more time to study.”  When I was in Japan, I learned that their schools did not have janitors.  The students cleaned the schools!  Twenty minutes a day was devoted to cleaning and taking out trash.

I’ll also teach them about money management, and depending on their age and ability, I’ll let them know exactly where we stand as a household in money matters.  I already tell my five-year-old when something is too expensive for us to buy, and when I say that, he doesn’t pester me for it again.

Financial literacy is so important that it should be taught in high school. Kids are signing up for college loans that they may or may not be able to pay back, and it saddens me to know people who have made such bad financial decisions that they’ve created a lifetime worth of debt.

We expect kids to go to school and learn how to read, write, do math, and know some history, yet they enter the world without a clue about how to manage daily life. There is more to life than what schools are teaching our kids, and it’s the parent’s job to fill in those gaps.  Whether homeschooling or not, we need to think about what we’re preparing our children for and give them the tools to lead balanced, happy lives.

Please stay tuned….in my upcoming posts, I’ll be talking about our homeschool mission, priorities, and exactly how I’m homeschooling my young children at this time.

Worthy Reads & Blog Update

BLOG UPDATE

  1. My first blog update is that I’m changing the title of “Good Reads” to “Worthy Reads.”  This is because I realized that sometimes I find articles or videos on homeschooling or other subjects that I don’t necessarily think are good, but perhaps they are worthy to share and discuss.
  2. My second update is that I’ve added a Table of Contents to my blog!  In my attempt to make my blog more user-friendly, I’ve listed my more popular posts by subject.  You can click on the tab at the top of the page to see it.  And if you have any thoughts on what I can add to my blog to make it better, please tell me!  I would love suggestions.

WORTHY READS

Homeschooling

  • Dr. Drew on Unschooling – a video from CNN.  Someone shared this on a homeschool list I’m on, and I have mixed feelings about it, but basically I think these short news clips do nothing more than stir up controversy.  They don’t give the interviewees enough time to discuss the issue, and it’s a shame.
  • A Case Against Homeschooling, Really by Homeschooling Atheist Momma offers an honest look at what anyone who is thinking about homeschooling needs to realize and be ready for, if they choose this lifestyle.

Teaching Aid

Getting Kids Into Nature

We love nature, and it doesn’t take much for us to get out into it, but I still enjoyed perusing these links, and there are some very interesting books on that book list I’d love to get!

Parenting

Recently I began to read a little bit about “Positive Parenting,” and I think there’s a lot of wisdom in it.  Here’s a couple of worthy articles I found:

Have you found any interesting or worthy links this lately?  Please share them with me in the comments section.

 

Good Reads

For a while now I’ve been wanting to add “good reads” to my blog.  That is, sometimes I find interesting articles or tidbits around the web, and I want to be able to share them with you.  So occasionally when I collect a handful of interesting or thoughtful articles, I’ll share them here in “good reads.”  I hope you’ll come back and tell me what you think.

If you’re a Mama of young children, you might enjoy these:

Interesting Reads regarding homeschooling:

And, I loved this op-ed over at The New York Times, which I found while doing research for my latest column (and which I’ll share with you soon):

Have you found any good reads lately?  Please share them in the comments!