What Kind of Homeschoolers Are We?

Sharon August 8th, 2008

Someone asked me recently if I’d do a post on what kind of homeschoolers we are.  It was someone I know well and like a lot, so I couldn’t do what I normally do with requests for posts I really don’t especially want to write, which is ignore it ;-).  So I said I would, and then sort of intentionally forgot about it.  Except that my friend didn’t forget.  And now I’m feeling guilty, and it is time to start getting my act together for the new school year, so I might as well do it. 

 Why don’t I want to answer this question?  Because in a world of homeschoolers who can put neat labels on themselves “We’re Christian Classical Educators” “Unschoolers here!” “We do a combination of Waldorf and Montessori” we don’t really have a good label.  Or rather, there is a good way to describe our kind of homeschooling, but it isn’t the kind of label you revel in - we’re slacker homeschoolers.  This is not a recognized curriculum model ;-).

Now we could probably get away with saying we are unschoolers, except that we aren’t.  There are definitely things I like about unschooling, but I’m actually pretty firm about the fact that my kids have to learn multiplication tables and practice piano, even if they don’t particularly want to.  A lot of the time we let our kids follow their own interests and pursue ideas their own way - except well, when we don’t. 

 We currently have a Waldorf curriculum, Oak Meadow, for every year, K-5, but that’s because we got it cheap from someone else.  We use parts of this, and really like it, but the whole sitting in a circle with a lighted candle thing, or the no pressure, learn to read when you feel like it thing we’re not so into. 

 We have a lot of cool Montessori stuff, but since pure Montessori isn’t into fairy tales and imaginative stuff, we ignore that part.  I like some of the elements of classical homeschooling, including its emphasis on going through ideas at three seperate levels, and we do this - when we remember to, but my kids aren’t taking Latin, they are doing Hebrew and Russian, and we’re not really doing the whole “western civ” is the world thing.

 We do the Jewish thing at home, but unlike a friend of mine who integrates her Christian faith into everything, we don’t do the “If four Leviites meet 3Kohain, what do you…”  thing.  Unlike friends of ours who afterschool (that is, they send their kids to school and then work with them constantly afterwards), we’re well, kind of lazy, and we miss a lot of teachable moments.

 We also don’t do the homeschooling thing that doesn’t have a name, but seems to be the dominant motif of homeschooling - that is, the “take them everywhere and do everything” thing.  A lot of the homeschooling parents I know are constantly off to this class and that one, this event and that.  Our adventures tend to be lower key - see the local community theater production of The Wizard of Oz, to meet the worm lady at the public library story hour, or back out into the woods to look for salamanders.    Some of this is principled, of course, but some of it is just plain disorganization - we often hear about amazing things afterwards, since we haven’t read the local homeschool newsletter.

Basically, we pick and choose.  And in real life, I’d say that our dominant motif is - inconsistency and slacking off.  That is, we do formal lessons, we do some workbook things (because the kids love them), we do go to see things, we do structure, we do no structure, we follow Simon and Isaiah’s enthusiasms - the shift from The Wizard of Oz to Robin Hood, for example.  We make up projects, like our current trip through time.

 But just as often our plans to do some elaborate thing get sidetracked by our attempts to do other things, and instead of an exciting science project we’re back to “who wants to help Mommy mix the dough” - and that’s ok too.  The thing is, I don’t feel any particular guilt about this one.  The kids are learning - Simon is way ahead in most stuff, still catching up on handwriting and manual dexterity, while he reads Shakespeare for children and chapter books for kids 5 years older than him (and Mommy hides some of the other ones we don’t want him reading yet), and we bug him to look up from the book occasionally. Isaiah is a math whiz at 4 and a junior naturalist who corrects Dad on plant identification all the time. He already grasps multiplication, but still isn’t clear on some of those middle letters, the l-m-n section of the alphabet we now refer to as the ”flyover letters.”  Asher is, well, a hindrance, who mostly likes it when we do froot loop math (yes, we buy bulk froot loops for this and potty bribes - so shoot me ;-)), where after a bit of counting, he gets to eat them.  They seem pretty normal - ahead in some things, behind a bit in others, but nothing we worry about.

What we do that is different is that we emphasize manual skills, require a comparatively large number of chores, and keep the kids outside as much as possible.  My educational philosophy comes down, I think to a mix of ” Mean Moming” (ie, making kids do things I think are good for them that they don’t especially want to do, like practice music, do, chores,  memoriz some stuff or brush their teeth), “Nice Moming” (ie, supporting their interests, arranging ways to follow their dreams, seeking out materials to let them do what they love), actual teaching, in both the formal and “teachable moment” sense and  saying “Go out and play and find something to do.”  I figure they’ll explain what I did wrong eventually, probably in some detail.  Until then, I’m going with slacker education.

 Sharon

33 Responses to “What Kind of Homeschoolers Are We?”

  1. […] Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » What Kind of Homeschoolers Are We? Someone asked me recently if I’d do a post on what kind of homeschoolers we are. It was someone I know well and like a lot, so I couldn’t do what I normally do with requests for posts I really don’t especially want to write, which is ignore it ;-. So I said I would, and then sort of intentionally forgot about it. Except that my friend didn’t forget. And now I’m feeling guilty, and it is time to start getting my act together for the new school year, so I might as well do it. DestinySurvival.com: It’s Wise to Have a Bird Flu Kit for Survival August 8th, 2008 […]

  2. Paula Hewitton 08 Aug 2008 at 3:38 pm

    I toyed with the idea of homeschooling but chickened out - mainly because I thought I’d be too haphazard and I couldnt imagine being able to focus myself and three kids long enough to learn anything. We did some home Montessori in the preschool years - and it was like herding chickens with a stick. However if I known there was a whole category of ’slacker homeschoolers’ i might have continued.

    we thought about a long and expensive commute to a Montessori school, but then compromised on the local state (public) primary school, with lots of parent driven home activities to teach them extra. That has turned out to be not so much lots of scheduled extracurricula activites, but more helping in the veggie garden, with the chooks, and reading and exploring their areas of interest. we are happy with this mix.

    ps: in our family we all still sing the alphabet song h i j k l em bem bem p

  3. New Mamaon 08 Aug 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks for this post. My son just turned three and despite living in one of the best school districts in the area, I am leaning toward unschooling. He’s like a little sponge; I’m amazed by what he understands and remembers.

    I too would like him to learn things not usually taught in formal education, like gardening/food preservation, household maintenance and how to live simply. I find this especially important in view of how the world will be changing in his lifetime. I only wish I weren’t having to learn along with him. But better late than never, I guess.

  4. knittinandnoodlinon 08 Aug 2008 at 3:47 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post! I always thought there was no way I could ever pull off homeschooling because I am just not that organized. If I had known I could get away with doing things this way…well, it sounds like fun! And it sounds like it works, too!

    Really, though, anything you do at home with the kids is an improvement over what they are doing in the schools currently. When my older munchkin was in 4th grade, at back-to-school night his teacher informed us that “spelling and grammar don’t count in my class…what is important is that they are expressing their ideas.”

    Yeah? And when they get to the next grade? And will it keep not counting for the rest of their lives?

    *sheesh*

    Needless to say we did lots of extra work at home that year.

  5. Kation 08 Aug 2008 at 3:59 pm

    *smile* Your style of “slacker education” sounds like what we’re “planning on” for our first year of home-schooling our 5th grader. Basically we’re doing it so we can pull her back in math, while allowing her to move at her own speed in ALL the educational groups. If she wants to study rocketry and volcanos in science this year, that’s what we’ll do. In social studies/history, she wants to learn about Lewis and Clarke and Sacagawea (which ties in to some recent Geneological info I got that one of my Dad’s great-grands was the brother of a woman who wound up marrying a Clarke from the Clarke side of Lewis & Clarke fame). Reading, we’ll try to find books that match up with the chosen history/social sciences area and make her write book reports on such. (This will HOPEFULLY also help her handwriting, which is attrocious!) And math….. We really, really just want her to UNDERSTAND math.

    In Pub. school they’re going to be pushing into algebraic formulas this year (5th grade), and my child barely grasps addition and subtraction, doesn’t grasp multiplication and division, and hasn’t any IDEA what the teacher is talking about when shown fractions and decimals. The school wanted to just push her into 5th grade (they way they did through first, second, and third against my better judgement), and MAYBE put her into Special Ed. (which would force pushing her through the rest of the grades as it’s evidently illegal to hold a special ed. student back no matter how far they are truly falling behind). I refuse to push my child ahead any longer based on some federally dictated mandate for education based on the child’s year-group. If she’s not keeping up, then we should have held her back. The school “won’t allow that” (yes, I was told as much by the princi”pal”) so we’re pulling her out all together instead.

    And as for the extra-curriculars….. Well, she’s already into hockey for the athletic area. We’re thinking about some sort of music lessons (probably guitar, as I’m not going to let her bring drums into my house!), and maybe a Rosetta Stone program for learning Spanish (the language she’s expressed an interest in learning). Everything else will come together as best we can, and oh well if it takes a little longer in some areas. That’s what the school doesn’t seem to grasp….. We don’t all meet the same milestones at the same time, and it’s faulty to think that this is the case.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing with us YOUR “homeschooling style” Sharon!!! It’s nice to know that somebody out there who seems to “have it all together” (or, a lot more than I feel like _I_ do anyway) willingly admits to “slacker homeschooling” with her kids. *grin*

  6. Karinon 08 Aug 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I have followed this model of homeschooling with my 15 year old. I’ve heard it described as eclectic. I consider it more frugally minded homeschooling. If there were opportunities that fit into the budget and schedule then we would do it. If it was a sunny day then we would spend the day at the beach or reading books on the porch all day. We’ve been homeschooling since he was in first grade. He has finally arrived at the age where it is really cool to see what a long period of homeschooling can do. He a very independent learner; which sometimes means he glosses over algebra and only concentrates on marine biology, so it still requires some hands on attention by the parent. But he is a sponge that loves soaking up knowledge.
    By the time I hit highschool I was tuned out of highschool and just took the course I should take ;not the classes that I wanted to take. ( I should have gone to the aggie highschool my brother went to) Highschool homeschooling offers so many great opportunities. Internships, work opportunities, volunteer opportunties. He knows that there is more than one model for learning what you want to know.

  7. Leila Abu-Sabaon 08 Aug 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Keeping in mind the previous threads about adapting to change, then your focus on giving them manual skills is quite sensible. I don’t have it in me to homeschool so I am really happy my kids are getting gardening skills at their public schools. I am seriously considering signing them up for kids’ construction classes at Home Depot, too. Neither one of mine is particularly good with small motor though so it’s chancy. There is also a neighborhood “discovery center” with a woodworking shop a few blocks west of us. It’s in the ‘hood so I feel obliged to accompany them to the place & don’t have the energy at the moment. I am however glad that the local kids are getting woodworking, bike repair, video editing and computer skills at that place. They also have a garden but don’t know how seriously anybody is taking it.

    If I *did* have the energy to homeschool, I’d do it your way. I consider taking the bus to the farmers’ market, library and Depot for Creative Reuse part of their education, too. They’re learning to take transit to the agora. These will be crucial skills if the big changes Sharon forecasts come to pass.

    PS my friend the high-level math tutor homeschools her 3. She is pretty eclectic too but she uses the Singapore math curriculum. Recently her 9 year old decided to teach it to her 5 year old, and walked his brother through two years of curriculum in a very short time. Many homeschooling advocates say leave the kids alone and they’ll pick it up when they’re ready - this anecdote seems to support that.

    Anyway - all the things your children are learning to do down on your farm are invaluable. I assume you’ve read the book by that homeschooling family in California who sent three sons to Harvard. The kids were 4H whizzes and spent a lot of time raising goats and such.

    Also - the cultural and community aspects of religious ritual are a great thing IMHO. My kids go to a Japanese-American Methodist church with my mother … they are getting great values there - sort of Buddhist/Methodist. The place is racially diverse, inclusive of all sexual orientations, politically left wing. One of the youth members is a practicing Hindu and the pastor is/was Buddhist. Also the church band is a professional nightclub band whose leader is a longtime church member. My kids can really, really do the funk. Progressive Christian values and funky rhythm too! I think this community is crucial to their education as human beings and citizens.

  8. AVon 08 Aug 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Warning unsolicited advice ahead.

    I recommend “Not Back to School Camp” held every year - one on the east coast one on the west coast

    http://nbtsc.org/

    and “The Teenage Liberation Handbook” and “Real Lives” both available here

    http://lowryhousepublishers.com/

    All of the above are the creation of they very lovely, very talented and very dear friend of mine - Grace Llewellyn.

    AV

  9. Fernon 08 Aug 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I only homeschooled for high school (husband had been dead set against it). When we took our son out of public school, after two disasterous years in middle school, our son was afraid he was destined to be a failure. Now he’s about to start U of Maryland, after two years of community college and a GPA well over 3.6. Both he and his father got teary when his acceptance came.

    Seems to me that education, like medicine, birthing, cooking, etc, is one of those things that we’re being conditioned to believe has to be done by professionals in large institutions to be done right. Or that if you homeschool, you need to use a set curriculum, or do it as part of an umbrella school, or whatever.

    I say education is like cooking. Recipes are grand, but even there you adjust them for your family. More spices? Less salt? Most mastery? Less grades?

    Of course, of all ‘kid’ age groups I like teens the best and those were the years I homeschooled. I would have been more intimidated doing early child education. But I have friends who dread teaching teens, and are joking about sending me their children when they hit high school! I guess I’d have needed more support had I homeschooled when my son was younger, and my friends will need a bit more support for their teen homeschooling.

    Fern

  10. BoysMomon 08 Aug 2008 at 5:37 pm

    We call it ‘eclectic’. These days (with an infant) it involves catching grasshoppers in the morning to feed to chickens, reading (comic books for the 5yo, BOB books for the 4yo) during afternoon rest time, addition and subtraction in the car, helping change lots of diapers, price comparisons in the grocery store (I count that as math) and an occasional letter to grandparents.

  11. Christinaon 08 Aug 2008 at 6:02 pm

    I usually call it “eclectic” too, but I’ve been kicking around alternatives like lifeschooling. Basically, we don’t believe that traditional academics are the be-all-end-all, and so we don’t structure our lives around getting the kids to a certain scholarly level by any particular deadline. If they need specific knowledge for some reason, they learn it; otherwise, we have an academic plan in place, and we work on it when there’s time. We have a lot of performing arts passion in the family, and I’m perfectly happy to push academics aside when I or one of the kids is in tech week/performance mode. And there are plenty of responsibilities of the non-academic variety that are non-negotiable on a daily basis, including chores, commitment to instrumental practice (given that I’m paying for private lessons), personal care like exercise - and now that our family is peak-aware, I think the non-academic responsibilities may very well increase as we improve our self-sufficiency quotient.

    You live in a state that is pretty homeschool-regulation-intensive, do you not? (NY) Do you run into bureaucratic difficulties with your “slacker homeschooling”? Here in CA I’m essentially unregulated as a private school, just an annual notification document and no content supervision at all. I don’t see CA as a great post-peak location, however, because although I can use my clothesline daily for 9+ months of the year, the lack of summer rain makes food production a bit dicey.

  12. wolfgirlon 08 Aug 2008 at 6:19 pm

    We homeschooled our two oldest for one year because both were bored. They skipped a grade when they went back. Most of the homeschoolers we knew were homeschooling because they didn’t want their kids around anyone who was not like them. Hopefully that has changed now. I’m really not sure that I would homeschool afain.

  13. nicoleon 08 Aug 2008 at 7:37 pm

    We’re homescholing here too. We started not out of any deep-felt philisophical beliefs, but rather because my oldest was reading before kindergarden and it seemed at the time that dropping her into a kindergarden class in which the primary focus would be learning the first 15 sight words would not make for a good fit.

    We started out hard-core classical - up by 7 am, at the kitchen table with books open by 8am. Four years later we’re in more of a slacker/lifeschooling/eclectic mode. Classical for History, Singapore for math, Growing with Grammar, spelling on the fridge, and lots of gardening, food preservation, catching crayfish in the stream and bouncing on the couch.— So nice to finally have a label (or actually 3!) for our methods.

    But homeschooling, by whatever method, has been a gift. It is such a joy to be able to share this time with my girls.

  14. Zach Freyon 08 Aug 2008 at 8:20 pm

    it isn’t the kind of label you revel in - we’re slacker homeschoolers. This is not a recognized curriculum model ;-).

    Woohoo! Thanks, Sharon. Now I know what it is that we do here.

    Although I think “eclectic homeschooling” sounds much more classy,so I may go with that for a name.

    peace,

  15. Leila Abu-Sabaon 08 Aug 2008 at 10:36 pm

    In the Bay Area of California, homeschoolers are themselves an eclectic bunch, racially and economically diverse, and of course located everywhere on the political and religious map. Left, right, atheist, Jewish, Christian left, Christian fundamentalist, pagan, Buddhist, Muslim, you name it, we’ve got it. Some keep to themselves and their professed identity groups, some network like crazy.

    I have a friend who is a fundamentalist Christian homeschooler who moved out of town some years ago. I have enjoyed reading her blog and seeing how she is educating herself and developing her intellectual, artistic and writing skills as she raises her many children. She is someone who didn’t have the opportunities I had; she is using homeschooling to get all the cultural goodies that she missed when she was growing up. It’s a pleasure to watch her pleasure in exploring art, science, photography and the world. I had some fears about socializing with her at first - that she might judge me for not hewing to her religious beliefs - but she never did, and I am glad I got the chance to be with her and appreciate her life and choices even though they are quite different from my own. (We NEVER talk politics you had better believe).

  16. Nitaon 09 Aug 2008 at 12:02 am

    We have homeschooled our daughter since day one, she is now 14. Ways to teach on the farm are endless, she learned to alphabetize by studying seed packets, and counting by gathering eggs. Plus, she was expected to do her chores, everyday no matter what the weather.

    When she decided she wanted a horse, she had to earn her own money for the initial purchase, and the continued care. So, she started a plant business, at first selling veggie starts to our meat customers. She bought her horse, 4 years ago, and we have never once had to prompt her to take care of him. Her friends who have horses, never even look at their horses their parents bought for them, unless they want to go for a ride. The parents do all the work and take care of all the expenses.

    The slacker homeschooling method has worked well for us. When the garden needs planting in a weather window, you do it, and your children learn the importance of raising their own food. We never felt it was more important to sit inside and follow a curriculum when there were opportunities for learning right outside the door. Our daughter has learned how machinery works, what tools are best for what job, she can rotationally graze our beef herd and do it right and she’s only 14. Occasionally we have had young men help us from time to time, they are light years behind her, most can’t even identify the most basic of tools, but they have a college education! Whoopee - I’ll take a slacker homeschooler anyday.

  17. Rachelon 09 Aug 2008 at 2:36 am

    This is all so interesting to read from someone who thinks a lot about homeschooling but is too nervous to start. Eclectic homeschooling definitely sounds like the way I’d do it! I worry though about how my kids would handle re-entry into the academic world after an extended period away. I’m assuming that at least a couple of them will be interested in attending university (one wants to be a teacher), so how would that work? How would I make sure they learned the ‘right’ things (since I’m a slacker myself?). All questions I ask myself a lot… But homeschooling seems like such a rewarding path. Perhaps one day I’ll get brave enough to take the leap.

  18. Fernon 09 Aug 2008 at 7:32 am

    Rachel, I seem to be the most talky “homeschooler with child now in college”, so I’ll address the re-entry thing. For us, and for my friends with children about the same age, it’s been a total non-issue. Our children have gone from homeschooling to community colleges, usually DURING homeschooling high school. Sometime after they start college, they get their GED.

    Now, there are times when our children have had to take a more ‘basic’ class than other students their age, if it’s something we haven’t focused on at home. Which with college costs can be scary. Scholarships are your friend, whatever type of school your child was in before college!

    Homeschoolers-in-college tend to be more focused than the general student population, even in community college where many of their classmates are ALREADY more focused because they are older, paying for it themselves, and somewhat desperate for a higher paycheck. They tend to know that they could be doing other things, and that they are in college by choice to reach their OWN goals.

    My biggest problem with son being in college was that he got his drivers license at 19, which meant I had to drive the kid to college for rather a long while. That got old. Good thing that colleges have libraries!

  19. Karinon 09 Aug 2008 at 7:41 am

    Rachel,

    My son spent his freshman year of homeschooling highschool : getting certified in SCUBA which he paid for , taking Penobscot language lessons because they were free, and he took one adult ed course in world geography because his step dad was teaching it and it would give him some classroom experience. He takes private art lessons. He is really accomplished at art. He went to 4-h canoe camp along the Maine coast this summer and he is helping to build the barn for our sheep this summer. He also has an occasional job mucking out stalls for a local farmer. We keep a log of everything he reads. He has math curriculum because I am hopeless at math.

    This is the scoop with some colleges; especially state schools. They want paper. They want to see if your child is able to do college work, so one way of achieving this is sending your student to community college where they can earn college credit and build a transcript. Around here they can take community college classes for 1/2 price if they are highschool age. You could do one class a semester thus allowing you the freedom to pursue other interests. The state university system requires SATs. But there are several small liberal arts schools in our state that are very friendly to homeschoolers. They require a portfolio of the student highschool years and no SATs. Fortunately, my student would like to go to one of these schools.

  20. Danielleon 09 Aug 2008 at 7:32 pm

    We do what I call “organic learning”: it arises out of our lifestyles and interests and we follow our passions and curiosities.

    We’re what other folks might call “radical unschoolers” where we follow a more consensual approach to life than what others might be comfortable following, but it works well for us. I view my whole family as partners in our homesteading journey.

    There are times I consider us more tribal in structure, but my tribe is spread across the globe. Sometimes I long for a more communal lifestyle…

    … but only if I could choose my community.

  21. Greenpaon 10 Aug 2008 at 8:02 am

    I’m wondering if the “one-room schoolhouse” may come back before long. All our local schools are in deep pain over the price of school bus fuel- even talking about cutting- gasp! sports funding! I spent hours on buses as a kid- which is of course an education of its own, but rarely a good one. Not eager for my young daughter to go that route.

    Most of the people I know with actual experience in one-room schools speak very highly of it. All classes, all ages, together. Repeated exposure to material- lots of chances for students to move at their own speed, faster or slower. Much better interpersonal dynamics. Much less chance for secret bullying kinds of things to go on.

    And the kids walk to school. Anybody aware of new communities trying this out? Pure homeschooling; one set of parent, one set of kids- has always seemed to me to have the potential to consume a huge amount of life energy; I do know a few parents who basically will die, knowing they gave their kids a fabulous education- but having lived very little themselves.

    My practices with my first kids might basically be called “universal” after-schooling. The whole world is a school- all the time- and it can and should be fascinating fun. Whatever we were doing- I’d tweak the kids to see connections- and “the next step”.

  22. cbon 10 Aug 2008 at 8:40 am

    Down the road from me is The Old Plainview School. This one room school house was long ago turned into a charming home. My neighbor Joanne told me this story when she saw me picking elderberries. It seems that elderberry jelly was the only kind she liked as a kid. A farm lady across the road from the school house used to provide the children’s lunches. They walked up the drive to her house for lunch every day. If she fixed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, she fibbed that the jelly was elderberry but Joanne could tell the difference. So Joanne’s mom kept the lunch lady supplied with elderberry jelly for Joanne’s lunch. (And another thing, what have they done to the peanuts (GM???) that has created these fool allergies that were non-existent in years past?)
    My mother tells about her mother getting up every morning to bake biscuits so that her girls could take warm biscuits to school every day for their lunch at the one room school house.

  23. Sharonon 10 Aug 2008 at 8:46 am

    Greenpa, one of the reasons we homeschool (and we don’t do this universally - our autistic oldest attends a private school for kids with autism, paid for by the school district, which doesn’t have an appropriate classroom for him - if he was home, which I suspect eventually he may have to be - he’d require a lot more time), is that we don’t have *TIME* for public school - public school takes your kids away for 8 hours (and now all the schools are doing all day kindergarten, becuase of busing costs, so in a rural area like mine, it would be more than 8 hours) and while this can be very useful for parents in some ways, if you are a participant in the school system - that means driving back and forth, being there on early release days, dealing with sudden changes for snow or illness (and more illness), attending board meetings and showing up to do classroom volunteer work and driving in the 86 cupcakes - now you can skip that stuff, but the truth is, the schools *NEED* that help - and more and more as they get poorer because of heating and bus costs. I think public school is actually much more time consuming than homeschooling - it structures your life, and you have to operate around it.

    I’d like to see the recreation of the 1 room schoolhouses - I’ve even got a location picked out for our local one. I think we will see this, but it will be choppy, and not until things change a lot. Or they will be private schools set up for neighborhoods that can’t bus anymore. If we don’t end up renting out the apartment in our house, it could conceivably be used as a schoolhouse, although probably of the 2 room variety - there is room for two classes, one little and one big, and I’d be willing to teach big, as would Eric. I’m not into, as Paula calls it, herding chickens with a stick, and have no gift for art projects so the little people who are not mine would have to have someone else, but my neighbor’s Mom taught first grade and kindergarten for years, so maybe we could press her into service.

    I have to say, I know a lot of people complain about one sort of homeschooler or another, but we’ve been very lucky - our neighbors are conservative Christians, and have children the approximate age of our two youngest, plus an older boy - we’re hoping to do stuff together this year, and other than nto talking evolution, I think it will be terrific. We’re incredibly lucky to have them as neighbors and fellow homeschoolers. And even in my rural area, homeschoolers tend to be diverse and interesting people. Of course, so are public schoolers ;-).

    Sharon

  24. Fernon 10 Aug 2008 at 9:01 am

    My husband went to school in a two room schoolhouse - due to the town expanding, they had to double the size of the school just before he entered! He felt he did NOT get a good education there, but he feels that was because at least one of the teachers he had was inept and had NO control over the classroom. This, of course, can happen in any school (public, private, homeschool) situation.

    Still, perhaps due to the exposure to what the older kids were doing, he DID skip a grade by the time he left the two room building.

  25. Lisa Zon 10 Aug 2008 at 4:07 pm

    That’s exactly how we homeschool! And now I have a name for it, “slacker homeschooling”. Perfect. And to think we were just calling it “life learning”. Proud to be a slacker!

    For those of you worrying you’d be too unorganized to homeschool, don’t. I spent 1 and 1/2 years worrying and making myself sick about that while my kids were homeschooling “the first round”. Then after 1 and 1/2 years in school–some of it great, some of it miserable for them and us–we pulled them back out of school and to home for 3rd and 5th grade last year. Now we’re going to keep homeschooling indefinitely and my biggest priority is to keep myself from worrying and just enjoy the time with them. We’re all better off than when they’re in school, for sure.

    And every time I start to worry that they’re going to miss some important educational teaching, I stop to think about how much “important” stuff I missed in school. And it’s funny b/c the stuff I missed becomes the stuff I really think they should learn. I managed to make it through high school advanced placement chemistry without learning a thing (just about) so now we’re in a science co-op with other families so both the kids and I can learn chemistry!

    We all have “holes” in our education, whether schooled or not. The best thing we can teach our kids is that they will keep learning all through life and that it doesn’t stop when you “graduate”. That is, if you missed something when you were younger, there’s still time if you’re still breathing. And don’t feel bad about it.

    Lisa in MN

  26. Lisa Zon 10 Aug 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Greenpa,

    I agree with you that some homeschooling parents basically give up their own lives to see to their children’s education. Not me. A big part of me “teaching” philosophy is to show my kids that I’m continually learning too. I have plenty of my own interests, as does my DH, and we feel it’s very important to pursue them and for our kids to see that. Not at their expense and neglect, of course, but with as much balance as we can achieve.

    I’d also love to see a return of one-room or at least much smaller neighborhood schools. I think the demise of the neighborhood school has been one of the worst things to hit public education ever. There’s so little connection to the large school “centers” that we have now.

    Lisa in MN

  27. Texicalion 10 Aug 2008 at 8:01 pm

    I was homeschooled from Kinder through freshman year of high school in a similar education form. We were of the very conservative christian variety (Advanced Training Institute of America), but we were fundamentally lazy in some ways. Every school year would begin with waking up at 630 and reading the bible over breakfast before my dad went to work, the time would keep sliding back until we were getting up in time to say bye to dad but not much more. Similarly we went through phases of doing set hours of instruction, but became more flexible the longer things went.

    My parents selected homeschooling for religious reasons, but also believed in the multi-aged learning environment. They felt that it taught older kids how to teach and younger ones to push themselves for better things. Which is true - i was never the smartest kid in my classroom until I went to highschool. My mother gave up nursing to teach us, but by the time we got above 6-8 we were saving her time by doing the dishes, laundry, yard work, etc.

    As far as making the transition to college all three of my sisters finished high school and took their GED’s. We had a branch of the University of Texas in our hometown where they all went for a period of time. Two graduated elsewhere. One is a nurse, one is a montessori teacher, and the other is finishing her studies to be a physical therapist after several years of being a homemaker. My mother died of breast cancer so I was given the choice of taking my GED or going to public school. I wanted to play basketball so I picked public school. I did not have any “credits” so I took tests for the first two years of English and History, and an easy form of geometry for my freshman year. We were heavy into reading so those were easy. Relatively speaking I was behind in maths and science, because I did not have much interest in either, but I caught up. The most striking thing about public school for me was how much time it took. We did maybe four hours of actual mom directed schooling growing up, often times less. We all read a lot, so you could easily tack on a couple hours of sitting around reading what we were interested in or doing projects (punishment for us was not being allowed to read, some of the biggest rules were “no reading at the dinner table” and “no reading in the bathroom”). Public school worked out relatively well for me, I went to an east coast tech school, enjoyed life a great deal, met my wife, found out I really didn’t like math that much, and ended up with a literature degree.

    I strongly encourage homeschooling to those interested. If I have the money sitting around someday i would send my future (hopefully) kids to Waldorf. Otherwise, I intend to homeschool them myself.

  28. Robyn M.on 11 Aug 2008 at 10:29 am

    On the one-room schoolhouse topic, we have a very small Religious Education group at my church–usually only between 5-12 kids on any given Sunday, and so we use the one-room schoolhouse model. Perhaps there are good methodologies for getting this to work well, but I find it very frustrating myself. Trying to teach any topic to a group which ranges in ages & abilities from 6 to 12 years old is very difficult. There are all sorts of “get the older kids to help the younger kids” tactics, but then the older kids often don’t get as much out of the topic as I’d like, and they often express boredom and dislike at being stuck with the little ones. Again, there are probably better ways to manage the classroom than I use, and all of us are really untrained volunteers, but my own experience has not been great. I’m looking forward to having enough children that we can at *least* break them into two age groups, with some all-together times built in. I feel that the older children are really suffering from this configuration.

  29. Sharonon 11 Aug 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Robyn, honestly, one of the characteristics of any one-room schoolhouse I’ve ever heard of, was *strong* discipline - that is, you did you stuff quietly while any given group was getting attention, and listened quietly while lessons out of your range - older or younger - were given. So one of the problems may be the lack of acclimatization to that model.

    Sharon

  30. knutty knitteron 12 Aug 2008 at 6:26 am

    I homeschooled the eldest for a year but found it really difficult as he is gifted, dyslexic and mildly autistic. There just wasn’t anything else available that could cope. Parts of it were fun but the 24/7 really gets to you after a while. Then we found that the local Steiner (where they went for kindy) had moved to a proper school setting and gained a class or so and a couple of great teachers and to cut a long story short, both the kids are there now and very happy. And so am I.

    If I have to I will homeschool again at high school level but I’m hoping I won’t have to.

    I’ve been in big and small schools myself and my only comment is it really depends on the quality of the teacher. The rest tends to be immaterial. The small school left me badly educated and badly bullied (but with a great home). The bigger school left me well educated and badly bullied (24 hours a day boarding school)…take your pick!

    viv in nz

  31. Cherieon 09 Oct 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Hello,

    Most of you will not like my post, but I started to look up information on you homeschoolers so I can make some attempt to understand you. I also hope that some of you atleast make an effort to take my comments into serious considersation and deeply examine what you are doing and how you are doing it.

    I have led school tours at an orchard for close to 10 years now and accross the board I can tell you that the homeschoolers that come for a tour are the following:

    late
    unorganized
    cannot make decisions
    always looking for a discount
    have no time schedule
    insist on being offered what public schools get, but don’t want to comply to the rules that public school tours are asked to do
    multilple phone calls to confirm their informtation addtional labor to be paid by employer due to their tardiness
    the list goes on.

    The group I had today is what sparked me to search out some place on the internet where I could “yes” blow off steam, but also make somekind of plea to you people to really examine what you are doing and how it is going to affect your kids down the road.

    The bottom line is your kids have to live in a world that is not homeschooled!!!!

    We just cringe when we get a phone call to book a tour with a homeschool group because we know that it will not go well. We are seriously considering changing what we offer to homeschoolers or not offering them anything at all. I don’t think that is what you want, but I don’t know what we have for alternatives.

    I have two different neighbors that homeschool their children and they are wonderful people as I am sure most of you are.

    But……….when you get into a group…..this is what happens to you!

    I guess my biggest message to you is that I really don’t care what your reason is for homeschooling……….my biggest message to you is you need to spend more time functioning in the real world where your children will eventually have to function.

    There I said it. Go after me as you wish. I just want you to know that these thoughts and comments are genuine and are not meant to bash or be thoughtless.

  32. Erick L.on 24 Dec 2008 at 2:41 am

    Just to put my two cents in I am the 21 year old product of slacker homeschooling who started college at 15 but can’t spell to save my life most days, spent a year plus in the military to continue to pay for school but has been out of the military over a year and still hasn’t gone back to school. i have three siblings ages 18 16 14 who have all been slacker homeschooled the oldest sister is a fantastic cook who more often then not doesn’t use a cook book or recipes ( her meat loaf always tastes a little different then the last) the 16 year old sister is an avid photographer and cataloguer of all things and my 14 year old brother taught himself to play guitar 6 months ago and is now playing Jimi Hendrix from memory among a long list of other highly complicated classic rock tunes.

    I was involved in every extra curricular activity i wanted my siblings never really wanted organized activity, but then i am the over acheving oldest child who fits most first born steryotypes

    in encouragment to those parents who are thinking about homeschooling no matter what method you think you want to use you can always change try a little of this and a little of that and there are tons of people out there doing something who are always willing to lend an opinion or some advice based on past experince, oh and we live on an air field i forgot to mention that ( sorry add moment)

  33. Erick L.on 24 Dec 2008 at 2:54 am

    so i didn’t read all the reply’s before i posted my first comment and then went to make sure it had gone up right and read the post above mine.
    Cherle not all homeschoolers are that way, yes we have a bad reputation for a lot of the things you say, but don’t group us all together, i will say this in your defense, if there is any one short falling of the homeschool community as a whole it is this.

    WE DON”T WANT TO BE LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD

    in our quest to be unlike the rest of the world many of us lose sight of the fact the no mater what we want the reality is that we live in the rest of the world and must conincide with the rest of the world.
    therefore the more peacably we do that the more likely it is that the rest of the world will leave us be.

    I agree with you cherle that it is incredibly important to teach our children what the rest of the world expects and to teach them to be productive members of society ( with the understanding that socitey is dead wrong about many of things it thinks are productive) but things like being on time and following rules are important particularly when you are taking advantage of someone else’s willingness to give of their precious time and energy to show you something of worth or teach you something about what they know. I wish your orchard was near where i live so that we could bring our group and provide you with an example of homeschoolers who aren’t an incredible hinderance to your schedule.

    Also if the homeschoolers want what the public school gets enforce your rules ( it is important to understand that there are rules to be followed) because once you make an exception word gets out that you did x for one group and then you have to do x for every group ( in the same way that children need to learn there are rules sometimes homeschool parents need to re learn that just because they don’t send their kids to school doesn’t mean that their kids don’t have to follow your rules when they are at your orchard)

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