Are You Really Home Schooling?

Early on in the homeschool movement, virtually all academic instruction took place at home. After all, if you just took your kids out of school, where else would they be learning? This worked fine for all of us for awhile, and then a strange thing happened…

Our kids grew up! And as this was happening, many of us became keenly aware of our own limitations to meet our children’s academic and social needs. We concluded that they would benefit from various learning settings and that someone else’s instruction, in addition to our own, could be a positive thing.

For those of you who started homeschooling five or ten years ago, the above may seem obvious. There are many support systems and services in place for you to use, and many of you do. But it wasn’t always this way.

Early on in the homeschool movement many states had laws prohibiting home education. Leaders of private schools opposed the movement and saw homeschoolers as a threat to their enrollment. One major Christian book publisher was so suspicious that they wouldn’t make their textbooks available to homeschoolers. Organizations or private schools caught making their textbooks available were threatened with having their accounts cancelled.

Here in Oregon, two main things characterized Basic Skills’ early work with homeschoolers in the 80’s and early 90’s.

The children of the families we worked with were almost all elementary-age students, sixth grade on down. We worked with a few junior-high students and an occasional high schooler, but it was rare.

Because the laws regulating homeschooling in Oregon were vague and gave local superintendents virtually unlimited power over children in their district, the majority of our clients were schooling illegally. For practical purposes, they taught exclusively at home so they wouldn’t risk exposure and be reported.

But like I said, our kids were growing up. What we realized was that as parents, we had various interests and expertise’s that could be used for the benefit of each other’s children. So, as the laws regulating homeschooling around the nation were re-written, and homeschooling became more mainstream, many of us made changes in the way we homeschooled as well.

One of my clients was a micro-biologist and taught a Biology class. Another parent had spent years working up a literature curriculum for her children and began teaching it to others. Various hands-on courses in art and writing emerged.

We were helping each other and each other’s children’s education. Families partnered together, classes were held, and homeschooling ceased to be restricted to the home. And then question surfaced, “Are you really homeschooling?”

Behind the question was the not-so-veiled implication that we had somehow strayed from the “pure” path of the “Biblical” command that families do it all, or most of the teaching.

“Real” homeschoolers do it this way kind of thinking…

Some leaders wondered if we were sinning by what we were doing… and they weren’t kidding.

To distinguish “us” from “them”, one major homeschool organization tried to help us out. To participate in their national event, a standard was set. It went like this, 51% (or a percent close to this) of your student’s homeschooling had to take place at home. Anything less than this was, well, not really homeschooling… and you couldn’t be a part of “us.”

Thanks for helping us figure it out.

I know that to many of you this sounds ridiculous.

But here’s my point. Whatever educational choices you make this school year, they don’t belong to the person who introduced you to homeschooling, a support group leader, or a speaker who spoke at a conference you attended. They belong to you. In esteeming our leaders too much, many of us have surrendered our educational freedom.

And so, it’s time to reclaim it.

If the popular curriculum you chose isn’t working for you, change it.

Want to be part of a co-op? Go ahead.

Want to earn a diploma through an extension school, correspondence school, or diploma program like ours? Fill out the application.

The choice is yours.

And maybe the best answer to the question, “Are you really homeschooling?” should be another question like “Why do you care so much?”

Have a great school year.

How About Home School? – Know More About the Pros and Cons

What exactly is Home School? As what others call it, is the act of educating children at home, either by the parents themselves or private teachers who would visit the child in his house for academic tutorials. However, the term home school could also refer to the non-classroom instruction given by umbrella schools or correspondence schools and also supervised by them.

For most parents, the first teachings of the child should start at home. There are a couple of reasons as to why some parents opt not to send their children to ordinary schools but rather prefer home school for them. Poor school environment is one of those reasons. Some parents also believe that it would give their children better academic results. They also believe that the child could have speedy character and moral development.

What are the benefits: For the most part, many Christian parents opt to have their children home schooled for the reason that their conviction to teach their children at home is very important. They are concerned about their children’s Christian character development. Apart from that, It gives the family more chance of being together, being unified and have more time to share things with each other. Since there is no fixed time, the family can schedule trips or go out of town to spend time bonding with each other. Home school could also develop the child’s independent thinking and confidence. The parents could also protect their children from the negative influences that children could get from school.

There are also times in the life of an individual that they experience depression or problems. With home school, the parents can give the attention that their children need. They could also focus on encouraging their children to fight and overcome the challenges of life.

However, it is not about the advantages. One disadvantage that we can see is that the parents have to spend most of their time with their children making them unable to work on other things in the house or especially when they are out for work. When children have their own private tutors, parents should make it a point that they conduct background information on their private tutors to ensure the safety of their children.

Let’s face it; there are more people who approve school education over home school. Thus, it would be difficult for the parents justifying their decision to their friends and family as to why they prefer home school for their children. Since the focus of home school is academic excellence, the parents should also research about the appropriate curriculum for their children to achieve their goal.

Whether you approve the advantages or the disadvantages, knowing your child’s needs and ensuring their safety are the basic things before deciding. Know what you exactly want for your child and decide for the best.

Fiction Tips – Teach Fiction Writing to Home School Students – Part III

Childhood Dreams

If you are the parent of a home schooler who shows promise in writing fiction, this article series is designed for you. In Parts I and II, I explained how I knew from childhood that I wanted to be a writer and some of the problems and pitfalls I faced.

Because I journal I still have a copy of my journal from my senior year in high school. And in that journal, I wrote of my longing to write. And I still have a copy of a college English paper that echoed this longing. I find it so amazing that God can place these dreams within us at such a tender age.

The Writer’s Temperament

At the risk of making generalities that are broad and sweeping, I want to interject here that the temperament of a writer can be a little challenging. Realize that not only am I a writer, but I’ve been hanging around with these folks for many decades. I’ve spent years as a conference and workshop instructor/teacher. I taught for an international correspondence school for nine years carrying the biggest student load allowed. Add to that the fact that I founded the Tulsa Professionalism in Writing School and then served as its coordinator for fourteen years.

I said that to say this: writers for the most part are extremely sensitive. They wear their heart on their sleeve and are easily hurt and wounded. Since you are the parent this may seem like a bad thing. But if that child can be taught to embrace that sensitivity, it will serve him/her well. Think about it – it’s the sensitivity that allows the creativity to flow in the first place. It is the very soil in which the seeds are sown and in which they are allowed to grow.

The Need for Encouragement

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had an English teacher, Mr. Thomas, who suggested that I might have a degree of writing talent. He even went so far as to say he might help me to submit some of my work for possible publication. After that remark (written on one of my papers) he never said another word about it. And I was much too shy and introverted to approach the matter. In my little peabrain, I concluded: “Well, he’s changed his mind. He soon realized I really have no talent at all. I bet he wishes he hadn’t said anything at all.” And thus I was stymied for many long years. How sad.

There are so many ways to encourage your budding writer. And so many more resources to choose from these days. But the key is to understand the sensitivity. Of course you cannot allow it free reign in your household; but you can certainly recognize it and channel it!