Dispelling Some Homeschooling Myths
Boston Tea Party was a terrorist act or so it is characterized
in the 6th grade curriculum widely used in my beloved state of Texas.
The Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic? The national
anthem well, some schools have banned it for being “too
offensive…” At least the flag is still
there oh, wait, that’s the Mexican flag…Speaking
of flags, let’s design a flag for a new Socialist
country. Why is patriotism under attack in America’s
public school system?
yet, why are kids under attack in America’s public
school system? Hugs are banned as a form of sexual harassment,
yet condoms and STD screenings are offered at middle schools and
high schools. Sex acts go unnoticed in the classroom, worse
yet predators posing as teachers go unnoticed in the classroom.
School shootings, kids bullied to death, mandatory GPS trackers
on school kids, children medicated at younger and younger ages on
psychotropic drugs, unfit union teachers who can’t be fired,
teachers who refuse to take tests because they don’t measure
anything, school officials changing student standardized test answers,
and the latest trend kids being suspended, some even arrested,
for brandishing Lego guns, toy guns, bubble guns, drawings of guns,
screen saver guns, imaginary guns really!? These are
just a few of the headlines making news lately, and if that’s
not enough to make you want to homeschool, I don’t know what
is. So as a homeschooling mom to a 9 year old who dang sure
knows a terrorist from a patriot, I thought I would share my 2 cents
on the subject and dispel some myths:
has become the norm for American children to attend public school,
as their parents did, and as their grandparents did. But it
wasn’t always so. Before there were government schools,
there were homeschools and homeschool co-ops held in little one-roomed
schoolhouses funded and controlled not by the government, but by
the parents. And those primitive, humble homeschools produced
many of our most cherished American icons and heroes, such as George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Abe Lincoln, Teddy
Roosevelt, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, Stonewall Jackson,
George Washington Carver, Eli Whitney, Clara Barton, Davy Crockett,
Sam Houston, Thomas Paine, Frank Lloyd Wright, Laura Ingalls Wilder,
Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, Robert E. Lee, Douglas
MacArthur, George Patton, and Mark Twain.
then in the late 19th century, the idea of forced mass education
was introduced, and families were told to sacrifice personal liberty
for the “good” of the children sounds like similar
arguments being made in favor of gun control today. In “Why
Schools Don’t Educate,” John Taylor Gatto, award winning
public school teacher and critic of compulsory education, describes
the creation of government schools in America: “Our
form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the state of Massachusetts
around 1850. It was resisted sometimes with guns
by an estimated eighty percent of the Massachusetts population,
the last outpost in Barnstable on Cape Cod not surrendering its
children until 1880’s when the area was seized by militia
and children marched to school under guard.” From
that point forward, literacy rates dropped in the state, and have
not since recovered.
began a new era in American history. And I wonder, how would our
Founding Fathers and iconic American heroes have fared in today’s
government school system. How would the world have fared?
Would Abe Lincoln be told to put away those silly books they
aren’t on this year’s required reading list? Would
the Wright brothers be told to stop fiddling with that machine so
they could finish their standardized testing? Would George
Patton or Robert E. Lee be told to quit playing hero, as it violates
the school’s policy on imaginary fighting?
many of the people who shaped the world were home-educated, and
I wonder to what extent their success was shaped by freedom to explore
their curiosities and talents and passions.
But such freedom is no longer the norm, even here in “the
land of the free.” Now, we have been conditioned
to forfeit our freedom and our individual choice, and to hand over
more and more of our parental responsibility to the government school
system. We have been conditioned to believe we are not
capable of educating our own kids, and that our kids are not capable
of thinking for themselves. Today, the government education
authority, strangers to our children, decide when our children go
to school, what they learn, when they learn it, the time allotted
to learn it, how they can prove they have learned it, what school
they will attend, in which classroom they will sit, which teachers
and subjects they will be assigned, when to eat, sometimes what
to eat and whether they can even speak during lunch, when they can
use the bathroom, what they can wear, and in many cases what to
think and believe. After all, between a 7-hour school day,
extra-curricular activities and homework, school kids spend more
time with their teachers than their parents. School has become
the pseudo-parent sometimes out of necessity, but many times
out of convenience a one-stop shop for raising our children
for education, transportation, day care, meals, health care,
sex education, mental health services and counseling, exercise,
extra-curricular activities and even socialization.
more and more families are pushing back, seeking alternate forms
of education for their kids. According to the US Department
of Education, there are now well over 2 million homeschooled kids
nationwide, an increase of over 35% in just 4 years. But
it is amazing how little the average person knows about homeschooling.
Let’s examine the myths…
“Isn’t it illegal to homeschool?” No…I’m
not a criminal! Actually homeschooling is
legal in all 50 states in some form but beware that each
state has its own education laws and regulations. The good
news is that almost half of our United States are very homeschool-friendly.
Those with virtually no regulation include AK, TX, CT, NJ,
ID, OK, MO, IL, IN, and MI. The states that only require notification
to the school district of the intent to homeschool include CA, AZ,
NV, NM, UT, MT, WY, NB, KS, WS, KY, MS, AL, DE, as well as Washington,
D.C. The remaining states have some hoops to jump through
with various regulations ranging from home visits to standardized
testing to time tracking to curriculum approval. For a complete
listing of state homeschooling laws visit www.hslda.org/laws/summary_of_laws.
Vote with your feet!
those parents that are concerned about drawing suspicion from nosy
neighbors or authorities that confuse homeschooling with truancy,
some good advice can be found at www.hsc.org/how-can-homeschoolers-avoid-truancy-officers-or-cps.html.
Even here in homeschool-friendly Texas, I tend to keep
a low profile during school hours. I avoid taking my son on
non-school related errands until after 3 PM just to avoid comments
such as “you don’t look sick why aren’t
you in school?” It has also been my experience that
families that homeschool from the beginning don’t face as
much harassment from the school district as families who withdraw
their child, and thus the school’s source of funding.
peace of mind, consider joining the Homeschool Legal Defense Association
(www.hslda.org). For $115 per year, members receive legal
advice, court representation, advocacy, conflict resolution, as
well as perks such as member discounts, homeschooling advice, and
“Homeschooled kids do not get enough socialization.”
Since when is it the government’s job to provide my kid with
friends? And since when does going to public school guarantee
popularity? We have all known kids that that are lonely, shy,
or friendless despite being in a classroom full of other kids day
after day, year after year.
is actually very little socialization occurring at today’s
government schools, unless by socialization you mean “indoctrination”
or “institutionalization.” Recess is becoming
a thing of the past, and even lunch period has become a no talking
zone in my local school district, with “silent lunch”
in effect. The fact is that today’s schools have very
little resemblance to the schooldays you may reminisce about.
homeschooling is whatever you make it to be. The social opportunities
are out there through co-ops, churches, extra-curricular activities,
you just have to be motivated enough to get your child involved.
How do you find other homeschooled kids? When you are out
and about during the day and see other school-aged kids, chances
are they are homeschooled introduce yourself and don’t
be afraid to ask questions. Search Google or Yahoo Groups
for homeschool groups in your area, and if you don’t find
one, start one. Ask your local library or teacher supply store
if they know of other homeschooling families. Book sales and
churches are another good place to start. As you become involved
in extra-curricular activities like scouting or sports, ask around
there are probably other homeschooled kids there, too.
Soon enough your calendar will be full of play dates and field trips
and park days. Good thing our school day is half the
length of the public school day and we don’t have homework
now we actually have much more time to socialize with friends
and family a perfect segue into the next myth...
“I do not have time to homeschool.” The
public school day may last 7 hours, but since when was the government
efficient? “We’re not trying to do ‘school
at home.” We are trying to do home school. These
are two entirely different propositions. We’re not trying
to replicate the time, style or content of the classroom.
Rather we are trying to cultivate a lifestyle of learning.”
Steve and Jane Lambert
Homeschooling doesn’t have to take all day. Here’s
- My family
homeschools year round. We do not take off for 3 months
during summer, or for 2 weeks in winter or a week in spring, or
for Columbus Day or early release days or snow days or teacher
in-service days. Therefore we can afford to spend fewer
hours per day, spread out over more days per year, and we do not
have to make up for learning lost over long holidays. When
the weather is nice and most kids are busy in school, we can take
off and spend more time outdoors and on field trips, without the
crowds and Texas heat.
- We have
a one-to-one student to teacher ratio, with no distractions.
- We do not
have to budget time during our school day for busy work, lunch,
recess, safety drills, roll call, morning announcements, standardized
testing or test prep, bathroom breaks, changing classes, lining
up, wasted substitute teacher days, bus routes or special assemblies.
There is no red tape in the way of our homeschooling (at least
in Texas). As a result, we have no homework.
- We do not
impose artificial timelines or time limits. We have a list
of lessons to complete each day, and it takes as long as it takes.
Some tasks we breeze through, in which case my son isn’t
punished with busy work as he might be at school. Others
tasks may take a little longer, and that’s OK I have the
freedom to flex something off the list when need be. My
son has learned that if he lollygags, that means less free time,
so he has an incentive to stay focused. The beauty
of homeschooling is that we can focus on knowledge rather than
grades or unnecessary work. When he gets it, he gets it.
that being said, I spend about 4 hours per day homeschooling my
son, as well as a few hours each weekend preparing for the coming
week. We spend about 2 hours in the morning with lessons in
civics, math and geography. After a lunch break, we spend
another 2 hours or so on reading, writing, spelling, grammar and
history. Science happens all the time. In addition
to those hours, we have been active with a homeschool group which
offers weekly social activities, and my son is always enrolled in
at least one extra curricular activity, such as swimming lessons,
day camps, zoo classes or Tae Kwon Do. When I’m not
feeling well my son is allowed to use educational software on the
computer, but I prefer old-fashioned pencil and paper work.
“I am not a teacher, therefore I am not qualified to homeschool
my kids.” “There is no school
equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.”
speaking most parents are qualified to homeschool. According
to the Home School Legal Defense Association, “forty-one states
do not require homeschool parents to meet any specific teacher qualifications.
The other nine states require only a high school diploma or GED
and include GA, NC, ND, NM, OH, PA, SC, TN and WV.”
For more information visit www.hslda.org/laws/summary_of_laws.
skeptics who believe that parents aren’t qualified teachers
if graduating from the government school system renders people
incapable of teaching their own children, what does that say about
the system? I graduated from high school with honors, went
on to earn my Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree,
yet, until recently, I couldn’t name all the presidents or
states, I couldn’t have told you anything about the War of
1812 other than it had something to do with the year 1812…My
tests scores did not reflect my mastery of each subject or lack
thereof, but rather my mastery of taking tests! A decent short
term memory was enough to get me a seat in the National Honor Society.
So the bottom line is even though I don’t have a degree in
public education, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do any
a homeschooling parent I know what my son has learned, I know his
strengths and struggles I have been there each step of the way.
In contrast, a friend of mine doesn’t know whether her child
has learned the states or where he is on a map because she leaves
it to the school to teach him those things. It’s as
if it is none of her business. Educating my son
is my #1 business, and through research I have learned that there
is no “one size fits all” method of education.
Children have different learning styles, different strengths and
weakness, and there is only so much a classroom environment can
do to accommodate a room full of individuals. But homeschooling
can be adapted to the individual child, and who knows that
child better than his or her own parents? Parents are always
their children’s first teachers, and homeschooling is just
an extension of that. Homeschooling allows us as parents to
provide consistency, rather than changing teachers from year to
year or class to class. And for those subjects that we struggle
to teach or that our kids struggle to learn, we can always do a
little homework or ask for help.
with other homeschoolers: One of the best resources that
we have is other parents in the homeschool community, whether
locally or on-line. There are endless opportunities for
on-line discussion groups and forums. When I find
myself struggling with something, Google usually finds an answer,
or at least something different I could try. Joining a local
homeschool group or co-op is invaluable for support and advice
and even pooling resources and skills for joint classes or private
tutoring led by parents in their areas of expertise.
with community resources: There are endless learning opportunities
right in your own backyard for PE (martial arts
classes, gymnastics classes, tennis lessons, swim lessons, YMCA
or city league sports clubs, public pools, walking trails, parks),
fine arts (art competitions, art festivals, art
museums, lessons at Michael's/Hobby Lobby, community theatre,
acting camps, piano lessons, community band, church/community
choir, orchestra performances, dance performances/lessons, photography
workshops), scouting, science (zoos, wildlife
refuges, nature preserves, state park presentations, 4H, museums,
planetariums, farm and factory tours, TV weather station tours),
history (re-enactment events, museums, renaissance
fairs, heritage festivals, historical building tours, living history
events), social studies (cultural celebrations,
parades, museums and events), civics (voting,
welcome home soldier events, public rallies, patriotic events,
museums, memorials, tours of post office, fire station, etc, volunteering),
language arts (book clubs, read alouds at libraries
and book stores, literacy councils, spelling bees, writing competitions),
geography (geo-bees, geocaching), not to mention
summer camps and workshops in every subject under the sun.
So, you see, it is quite easy to take the “home” right
out of homeschooling.
- There are
countless internet and software resources available for learning
everything from foreign language to flight simulators.
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© 2013 Survival