Saturday, May 15, 2010

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool? That Was the Question, Part Two

Like I said in the last post, I would love honest input from anyone with any sort of experience with homeschooling, whether that's as teacher (past or present), future teacher, or student. Feel free to answer as many or as few of the questions as you'd like. So let the brain picking begin! If you only answer one question, could you answer this one: What is your best piece of advice for a successful homeschool experience? Here are my other questions:

For past/current homeschool parents-
1. Why did you choose to homeschool?
2. How did/do you manage it all without going crazy?
3. Any advice on paying for it?
4. What benefits have you seen from homeschooling?
5. What (if any) are the disadvantages of homeschooling and how do you compensate for those?
6. What about socialization?
7. If you no longer homeschool, why did you stop?
8. If you took your kids out of brick and mortar school in order to homeschool, how did you get your kids on board (especially if they liked school)?
9. Any advice on setting up your school space?
10. If you or your spouse had any reservations about homeschooling, what were they, and how did you address them?
11. How did/do you manage your child if he/she didn't want to cooperate with school time?
12. If you had/have more than one student, how do you manage teaching more than one at a time?
13. What are your favorite homeschooling resources?

For future homeschooling parents-
1. What are your reasons for homeschooling?
2. What is your plan for managing it all?
3. Any advice on paying for it?
4. What are your favorite homeschooling resources?
5. What are your concerns or hesitations?

For past or current homeschool students-
1. Why did your parents choose homeschool for you?
2. Any tips for managing it all?
3. Did/do you like homeschooling?
4. Did/do you ever wish you were in a regular school?
5. Were you in a regular school before homeschool? If so, how did your parents bring you on board?
6. What are the advantages you've seen from your homeschool experience?
7. Do you feel there are any disadvantages to homeschooling?
8. What about socialization?
9. For those who graduated from homeschool, do you feel you were adequately prepared for college or a job?
10. What do you wish your parents had done differently in regards to homeschooling?
11. What are your favorite homeschooling resources?

I am so looking forward to reading your responses. Thanks for your input!

14 comments:

Henry Cate said...

I'll respond in two parts:

For past/current homeschool parents-
1. Why did you choose to homeschool?
One of my initial reasons was I wanted my children to graduate from high school and be excited about education. "Oh cool, now I get to go to college and learn more stuff!" At five most children have a million questions. At 18 most of them have been forced to march to the public school drum and learn when public school tells them to learn. And learn what the public school decides they are suppose to learn. The result is very few students enter college excited at the chance to learn more.

2. How did/do you manage it all without going crazy?
Some times we are crazy. It is a challenge. Most worthwhile things aren't easy. But it helps to have a perspective. You don't have to have "class" eight hours a day. Most public schools have children six or more hours a day, and then there is a ton of homework, but one of the dirty secrets is it is very ineffective. The average child only gets about two hours a day of real instruction. The rest of the time is recess, lunch, waiting for the teacher to answer a question, and so on. You might enjoy these thoughts on the power of tutoring.

3. Any advice on paying for it?
At young ages you don't need a lot of curriculum. We use the library a lot. There are tons of resources at libraries. Find local homeschool groups and buy used materials.

4. What benefits have you seen from homeschooling?
Wow, there are just so many. Our children have a better education. They are closer as siblings. We are able to have extensive daily scripture study. They are much more informed about world events than their friends. They still love to read. A trip to the library is one of the best parts of the week. All of their friends in public school see reading as a chore, something they have to do, but don't enjoy.

5. What (if any) are the disadvantages of homeschooling and how do you compensate for those?
We are now have the primary responsibility. It doesn't seem to be more work, because so many parents of public school children help with selling magazines, doing PTA stuff, and all the homework, but we have to take the initiative.

6. What about socialization?
Our children have plenty of the good kind, and very little of the bad kind. They play soccer, hang with their friends from church, hang out with each other, go to homeschool co-op, play in local bands, and so on.

Henry Cate said...

7. If you no longer homeschool, why did you stop?
We don't plan to ever stop.

8. If you took your kids out of brick and mortar school in order to homeschool, how did you get your kids on board (especially if they liked school)?
Our children have never been in a public school. We decided to try homeschooling with our oldest when she was five. We figured if we messed up, she should be able to recover. It went well and we've never looked back.

9. Any advice on setting up your school space?
For young children I'd probably start with the kitchen table and see how it goes. Ours work around the house, kitchen, living room, family room. We know of children who have done their schoolwork in their bedroom. Just see what works.

10. If you or your spouse had any reservations about homeschooling, what were they, and how did you address them?
My sister was homeschooling, and one of my cousins was homeschooling, so we liked the idea and were worried over if we could pull it off. Every year we recognize more and more the blessings of homeschooling.

11. How did/do you manage your child if he/she didn't want to cooperate with school time?
Depends. With little children we often did short periods of study, like ten or fifteen minutes. We set an expectation that they were to focus and learn some, but that after they studied they could play. If they took too long to study we would point out they had little time to play. They learned over a year or two that they really wanted to focus and get the school work done so they could read.

12. If you had/have more than one student, how do you manage teaching more than one at a time?
My wife builds lists for the children as they get older. Around ten or eleven it becomes mostly their responsibility. Before they can play they have to review their assignments with mom and get acknowledgment from her that they are done for the day.

13. What are your favorite homeschooling resources?
Here are some internet resources.

Please consider submitting something about homeschooling to the Carnival of Homeschooling.

And good luck! I'm sure you will find that homeschooling is great for your children, and for your family. We love to take vacations during off season.

Steph said...

Henry, thanks for reading my blog & thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. This is some great information and you bring up some points I hadn't thought of before.

Crystal said...

For past/current homeschool parents-
1.Why did you choose to homeschool? Lots of reasons: My number one reason is that I feel this is what God told me to do. I also desire to build a strong family bond between the four of us, to encourage my boys to love learning and not to just pass some test, to design personal education and not force my kids into a box as I felt public education did for myself and my husband, to see for myself when the lightbulb goes off and something clicks or when they are struggling and need more help.

2.How did/do you manage it all without going crazy? I try to relax and have fun. If something just isn't working we take a break and try again or try taking a different approach. When it's fun it isn't so much like work. It does get crazy but one of the benefits of homeschooling is you can take a break and take care of the life stuff that comes up.

3.Any advice on paying for it? Homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive. There are tons of free resources out there. I will be purchasing curriculum for the coming year and will not be spending more than $200-$250 for the two of them because I recognize my personal need for direction. Of course you can spend a LOT less than that or a LOT more depending on what you want.
http://www.homeschoolingonashoestring.com/ and http://www.amblesideonline.org/ are great for the more low/no cost options.

4.What benefits have you seen from homeschooling? I love that they can work at their own pace. I love the memories we make as we learn together. The freedom to come and go and live as we please is wonderful. I don't have to wonder what they are learning from others that is false or inappropriate as much. I and my husband are the greatest influences in their lives. Not that we are perfect, but God placed our family together and it is our responsibility to raise and train our children, not the state or other children in their class.

5.What (if any) are the disadvantages of homeschooling and how do you compensate for those? I haven't really found a disadvantage yet but it's still early for us and something could always come up.

6.What about socialization? My kids interact with people of all ages/races/belief systems throughout any given week. This is proper socialization, not the school where children are mostly with others of their own age group. We talk to people in stores, in restaurants, at church, the post office, bank, etc. They are around other children to play and form friendships at church, at parks, with a homeschool group, and through team sports. They spend time with family and friends often.

Crystal said...

9.Any advice on setting up your school space?
At our old house we had a school room of sorts in our dining room. In our new place we don't. I've found that it isn't really necessary unless you are wanting to do school at home. We school at the table, on the couch, on the back deck, in the yard, at the park, in their room, at the computer in the office... We did pick up a couple of old time school desks and the boys love to sit in them but they are more for fun than anything.

10. If you or your spouse had any reservations about homeschooling, what were they, and how did you address them? Dustin had reservations about the social aspect. We had a couple of discussions about homeschooling after I felt God leading me in that direction. I said what I felt I should say and placed the ball in his court. I told him of my conviction but that in the end I would follow his decision. Then I dropped the matter. I continued to pray God's will be done. I never brought it up or spoke of it unless he did and I refused to get defensive. In the end God changed his heart. I realize this isn't how every family could/should handle it but it is what was best for us.

11.How did/do you manage your child if he/she didn't want to cooperate with school time? Usually I look at why they don't want to do something. Is the material dry/boring? Is it too difficult; is he just not ready to learn it? Is my attitude right? Is he tired? Hungry? Overworked? Is it time for a run around the yard to get some energy out? If it is in my power to correct the issue, I do. If it is just a bad attitude on the part of the child I have had to confront that and let him know that he is the one responsible for his own actions. They know that poor or lazy attitudes won't get them out of work and they can either choose to be happy or miserable. This goes for chores as well as life in general.

12.If you had/have more than one student, how do you manage teaching more than one at a time? My boys are a year apart. We do Bible, science, history, handwriting, art, and music together. I do math and reading with them separately though sometimes Seth will listen in on Nathaniel's reading as he is reading interesting chapter books. When it's one-on-one time the other will usually do something on the computer or play alone in his room.

13.What are your favorite homeschooling resources? The library. The internet. There is a wealth of experience and knowledge out there in the form of blogs, forums, and homeschooling sites.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest titus2.com and raisingolives.com They are my favorite. They answer most all your questions.
Good luck
God bless
Renee

Ornery's Wife said...

For past/current homeschool parents-
1. Why did you choose to homeschool?
my sisters both did it (so I had input, support, encouragement) and I disagreed with the things that were being taught in the schools.
2. How did/do you manage it all without going crazy? I have no idea! I think it was God's grace (His power and ability) and a strong feeling of no other choice.
3. Any advice on paying for it? We have always been a one income family, so money was never terribly plentiful. I bought a lot of used stuff, and we relied HEAVILY on the library. (sometimes 50 books a week would come home with us!) I did more traditional "school at home" at first, but later decided that "un-schooling" was more my style and better for real learning. That style does not require money, just a lot of creativity, which I have always had in spades!
4. What benefits have you seen from homeschooling? an excellent education. close familial relationships. a lot less fear. better self-esteem.
5. What (if any) are the disadvantages of homeschooling and how do you compensate for those? There were some gaps --namely things I didn't pressure them to learn, or things I didn't really understand myself. to do it now, I would worry less about "credits" and focus more on developing in them a sense of who they are in Christ, what they have in Christ, and what God says they can do. Then, I would allow them free reign to learn what THEY were interested in. (OK has very HS friendly laws, but not all states would allow you to school this way without jumping through a lot of hoops.)
6. What about socialization? I could write pages on this--but the bottom line is, the home is where we learn to model the love of Christ. In everyday life we interact with others--at the grocery store, library, park, church, etc.-- and are given ample opportunity to do so in a loving manner. I don't know you, so I don't know that much about the ages of your kids, but I get the feeling they are still quite young. Homeschool support groups are excellent places to interact with like-minded (and some strange people as your husband noted) families. Your children will be much less likely to encounter the seedier side of life without your presence to help guide them through. We don't want to remove those people completely from their sphere, lest they don't learn how to interact with them, but especially when they are young, they need our more seasoned perspective to help them understand.

Ornery's Wife said...

7. If you no longer homeschool, why did you stop? We homeschooled our daughter from second grade through her freshman year in high school. We have very different learning styles, and she felt she needed more structure. She went to a very large public high school, and if I had it to do over, I would have taken a year off, done some more research, reconnected with the vision and completed her education at home. Our son went all 12 years to homeschool.
8. If you took your kids out of brick and mortar school in order to homeschool, how did you get your kids on board (especially if they liked school)? I was a very controlling parent, so what I said was law. :) I am not sure it is important when they are young to "get them on board." My kids both loved the freedom that homeschooling allowed, so there was never any question about whether or not they wanted to join the neighbor kids at the public school! We went on field trips galore, they spent HOURS every day doing what they loved and pursuing their interests. My job was more to direct them in ways that would ensure they had life skills and knew how to study. From there, the world was an open treasure chest for them to explore!
9. Any advice on setting up your school space? We just did school wherever life took us. At the kitchen table, on the bedroom floor, in the car, at the mall, library, park, wherever. Many people are more comfortable with a structured environment, but while I had all the materials in one place (because I don't like clutter) we were quite comfortable toting our things wherever we needed to be.
10. If you or your spouse had any reservations about homeschooling, what were they, and how did you address them? That was so long ago, I really don't recall that either of us had any reservations.
11. How did/do you manage your child if he/she didn't want to cooperate with school time?
12. If you had/have more than one student, how do you manage teaching more than one at a time? If you are using traditional curriculum, this can be a problem. However, if you are using unit studies, several students are helpful for bringing each other along because each has their own ideas and perspective to bring to the discussion. The thing to remember is that in the classroom, the average child gets undivided attention from the teacher less than 20 minutes per WEEK. (That was back in the 80's--could be less now!)
13. What are your favorite homeschooling resources? Dr. Raymond Moore's books.
tm

Ornery's Wife said...

You may wonder some things--where I came from (Facebook-Rich Mann and my husband went to ORU together) and if I had success homeschooling.

Tulsa was the mecca for homeschoolers back in the day, although I don't know how prevalent it is today, and the local Christian support group had over 500 affiliate families. They required the signing of a statement of faith, and being a bit of a maverick, while I didn't disagree with the contents of their document, I disagreed with the principle of trying to control the membership. They were also led by all men on the board, and were a very legalistic group of people. I was all set to "go it on my own" when a neighbor came over and introduced herself and invited me over to meet her family and another woman who was also homeschooling. We decided to form our own group that met closer to our area of town. We were an open group, and especially offered support to the moms who were doing the majority of the teaching.

After I had been homeschooling for about three or four years, another mom and I began teaching homeschooling seminars for newbies. We did about 12 seminars and helped a hundred or more families get started down to road to home education. She used strictly ABEKA curriculum and later Saxon math, (read very structured--although with six children I don't know how she did that!) and I shared a bit about my philosophy in the previous comments.

Our biggest challenge was encouraging people that they really DID have what it took to teach their kids. Raymond Moore said once, "If you can read, and do basic math you are qualified to teach your kids." Today, that is more than the majority of kids coming out of city public schools can do! The second biggest challenge was to get people to relax. Missing a few days here and there in the books is just not that critical! We reminded them that the most memorable learning does not take place while under pressure, but while relaxed and with a sense of peace and pleasure.

If I had it all to do over again (my kids are now 30 and 24) I would have focused MUCH more time instilling in them a sense of who they are in Christ, as I mentioned in an earlier comment. They are both intelligent adults with a strong work ethic, and they love the Lord. Some of the choices they have made have not been what I would have liked, but I am still proud of them both.

Teaching them how to work hard, even when it was not fun or comfortable has served them far better in life than the hours they spent trying to solve math equations. Not that those hours weren't also important, but I think that life skills are things that are of greater import than academics. Most of the lessons they learn from books early on must be repeated for them to understand them, but learning how to manage money so they can be generous is something they won't ever forget.

(con't)

Ornery's Wife said...

I would encourage you to grow yourself as you are trying to raise your children. Spend time, while they are reading, absorbing good books and expanding your own knowledge while they are. It is SO tempting to use their study time to catch up around the house, but it is far better to learn (showing them by example that learning is a lifelong pursuit) and include them in every aspect of keeping the home so when they go out on their own, they are capable of doing it themselves. Include them in everything from menu planning (learn nutrition and food preparation -- even rudimentary chemistry!) and grocery shopping (learn spelling and penmanship while making a grocery list)to gardening (learn biology, ecology, meteorology, etc.) and keeping things picked up around the house (learn caring for our things, value of a dollar and protecting each other's space) Instilling in them a sense of personal responsibility will go far in their chosen careers, their choices of mates, and even their Christian walk.

I can't say enough about the value of teaching your own children. NO ONE loves them or knows them like you do, and while we don't have all the answers, as adults we know where to GET the answers we don't have.

I hope this gives you encouragement and peace about the decision you have made. Blessings to you!
tm

Steph said...

Crystal, I just realized I published your comments, but neglected to thank you for taking the time to answer all my questions. Thanks so much!

Steph said...

Anonymous,
I also neglected to thank you for the resources. I haven't had a lot of time to look them over carefully, but I like what I've seen so far. Thank you!

Steph said...

TM, Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions and impart your wisdom, especially since we haven't met. The Manns are great people! I'll definitely take what you've said to heart. I can already see that this is going to be an amazing time of learning and growing for me as well as my children.

Ornery's Wife said...

You will absolutely grow--and discover facets of your personality that you will marvel at! I had no idea that I was SO impatient, and the time homeschooling taught me a great deal of patience, not to mention math and history that I never cared to absorb while growing up. Best wishes on your path!
tm