Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Friday, March 6, 2009

J's Questions

My recent inspiration for blogging has come from my friend "J". She has used an on-line public school at home for years, but is finding that it's not quite working out for her. Knowing how I enjoy blathering on about homeschooling, she asked me some questions. Here are some of her questions and my very quick replies. I hope to go into more depth with these in the coming weeks.

Would it be more work for me to teach without the public on-line school? (finding curriculum I like and creating lesson plans, and structuring it to accomplish what is needed)

It really depends on what you want to put into it.

I know families where the parents did next to nothing academic with their kids. Of those I know who've had to go to public school for some reason, they've adjusted well. Others already have kids off to college, some in very competitive programs.

I know another unschooling family where the mom never gets out on her own, spends pretty much every minute one on one w/ her kids. Her kids are also fine. (But I'm not sure she is.)

There's a middle ground, but it's in a different place for everyone, and even in a different place for each individual over time.

Think about breastfeeding. Did each of your babies have the same style and schedule, or did they vary? Did they stay the same way throughout breastfeeding? Was your experience just like that of every one else you knew? Did the differences mean that one of you was doing it "wrong"? You'll find something that works for you, it will evolve into something else - probably something you didn't predict!

If I choose to use something else, how could I ensure that my children would be learning everything they need to cover for that age (I know, who says they should learn XYZ at what age). (use the Kirsch books, What Your xxgrader Needs to Know??????)

When I get nervous I look up stuff in "What your x-grader needs to know", (the Kirsch books). Every single time I've done this I've walked away thinking that on the things I think are important my kids are on par or ahead of the curve. They are often behind in some things, things I don't worry about. Examples of ahead are reading comprehension, math, history. Examples of behind are history, arithmetic, spelling and handwriting.

For example, my kids don't always have the textbook history "1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue". Rather they know the stories of history, some dates that have stuck with them (1066 = William the Conquer in England) and a lot of the development of technology. In math they understand concepts, do the math in their heads, but don't always get it right w/ pencil and paper. I have my own priorities, based on my values and understand of their development, which I hope to write more about later

What kind of expense would I expect?

Again, it's what you feel like and have available.

I know of unschooling families that have very little and spend practically nothing. Another has a parent making 6 figures and spends outrageously. With the use of the library, on-line resources, local free resources, trading w/ friends, using the homeschool co-ops, etc., it's not necessary to spend much at all.

Did I mention the library?
I love the library. :-)

Do I just need to spend more time modifying the curriculum to my children's learning styles and be more aggressive about not doing certain things?

That's up to you. Where do you want to spend your time and energy? Is what you're putting into the program worth what you're getting out of it?

(I am really struggling with whether my 5th grader needs to know about diagramming sentences, transitive and intransitive verbs). My gut instinct is that he doesn't need to know these things unless he wants to be an English professor.

I don't know how to diagram a sentence. Nor does my husband. In fact I can count on one hand the people I know who can. (I'm sure I know more than that, but the subject just doesn't come up, ya know? :-D ) I think that you're right that this is specialized knowledge that very few people need. It might be useful if you want to make fun of someone who doesn't know it tho. ;-)

(There is an element of snobbery in education that I think does all of us a disadvantage. I want my kids to appreciate other people as individuals, I don't want them constantly comparing and judging people based on superficial things. )

Having said that, will not knowing these things hinder him in getting good grades to enable him to progress to higher education?????

This is the question isn't it? "How can I be sure my child will have what it takes to succeed in the world" This is every parent's question/fear. Our whole job as parents is to ensure our children's survival and success. Public education has told us that if our kids just jump through their hoops, work hard, and get the grades, success will follow. Yet when we look at the evidence, that isn't happening. That's part of why so many people homeschool. Even those for whom this isn't a primary reason will admit that they still have concerns. There are those who trust "the Universe" or "God" or whatever, but "Luck favors the prepared" and "God helps them who helps themselves". So what do we do?

I argue that the real questions each parent should ask individually is "What does it take to survive?" "What does it mean to succeed?" "How do we get there from here?" No one can really answer these questions for you. We can only give our opinions. You must find your own Truth, and then choose how to live it.

Some places to look to help you answer these questions are:
Your family, values, and religion (do you have a holy book? What is it? What does it tell you? Does it have all the answers?)
friends and community
people who you admire (living or dead)
The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People
A Thomas Jefferson Education

I read this statement recently and it has really got me thinking "What would you teach your children if you weren't concerned with public opinion?"

EXACTLY! What is important to you? What do you use/do in your daily life? What do the people you admire do? How did they get their formal education? How did they learn to do what they do now? Are these the same thing? How do you know what you love to do? What are your passions? How do you help your children find their own passion? If you and/or your child can't think of a passion then there's a place to start! Explore until you find something that lights you up from the inside.

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