Sunday, March 30, 2008

ATTN: Homeschoolers

I am putting together a list of questions I would like to ask as many homeschooling parents as possible, as I give some consideration to the idea of educating my own kids at home. I want to know everything about your experience, what your initial motivation was, what your motivation continues to be day-to-day, what you have done well, where you have faltered, what homeschool looks like for you on a practical level, stuff like that.

I am researching my options.

If you want to be on my interview list or otherwise part of the dialogue, be it via e-mail or telephone, please let me know in a comment here, with the way you would prefer to be contacted.

Thanks for your help, friends and lurkers.


alison said...

You know I'm up for this.

E-mail might be best, so I can think about your questions and then write it down, which will serve me too.

If this is for your family, the peace will come.

Cindee said...

I'll try to answer your questions the best I can. I agree with Alison, it would be a good exercise.

My e-mail address is mail"at"cindee"dot"net

Scott Lyons said...

Email me too - I'd like to be a part of the conversation. At the moment, I need to remind myself why I'm doing this anyhow. : )

"sweptover" - it's gmail.

fair maiden said...

Other side of the coin!

No science labs.
No team sports with school spirit.
No orchestra and band.
No experience in dealing with peer pressure.
No learning to hold back tears when the provocation to bring on the same comes from an adult teacher.
No learning how to survive group projects.
No competition in study.
No pressure for punctuality spread out many, many times throughout the day.
No correct pronunciation of Spanish to hear.
No goofing off in the cafeteria.
No learning how to hold your own socially because you are primarily with your family! Ocassional trips and exposure to other families who are homeschooling just can not give the social exposure (both negative and positive) needed to toughen that kid to bend like a reed in the wind.

OK -- that's enough of my sawhorse! But you asked! My experience with home schooling can be likened to jumping into the deep end wearing weighted shoes when you don't know how to swim! It doesn't necessarily mean you are going to drown but you better have a team around you to help -- not only for your sake but for the sake of your kids!

Sherry C said...

Dear Fair Maiden (whoever you are),

You need to be given some kind of an award. You managed to throw more ignorant and negative stereotypes into one comment than I have ever before seen in my life.

You've never seen home schooling done well, have you?

May I address a few of your "concerns?"

Who says we can't have science labs? That's ridiculous.

Why can't home school kids play team sports? My son has homeschool kids on his baseball team. The home schooled teen girls in my community play a mean volleyball game (I should know, having played competitively myself) and their team went on to win State.

Why can't a home school kid be involved in organized music? My friends' kids are involved in high level performing choirs and bands both. These choirs and bands play as well as, if not better, than their public school counterparts. Incidentally, I went to public schools and never participated any music programs--because I was not interested. Also, my son is in 5th grade band at his public school, and it is the most ridiculously simplistic music experience I could ever imagine. Most six-year-olds could advance more quickly and skillfully than they do.

No experience in handling peer pressure? These kids are often able to get jobs earlier than their counterparts, since they accomplish more school work in less time and thus have less homework. Being in the working world is not a supervised environment like a school is. I could go on, but I'll move to the next one.

No learning to hold back tears...this one doesn't even make much sense. Are you telling me you are excited when your child is humiliated in front of everyone by a cruel teacher?

Who says a home schooled kid will never be involved in group projects? Mine certainly would--with their siblings and other families' kids with whom we do special projects. Sports, choirs, book clubs, science fair, all of these are group environments and my kids would be involved in all of them, in addition to academic work. And incidentally, as an outgoing and extraverted public school kid myself, I absolutely hated group projects because I always got stuck working with morons who didn't care and would invariably bring my grade down. Was that supposed to have been a positive experience for me?

No competition in fair, spelling bee, essay contests, standardized testing, college scholarships--all of these are available to the home schooled kid.

No pressure for punctuality... why can't a home school environment have deadlines and requirements? This is an absurd assumption.

No correct pronunciation of Spanish... my Spanish pronunciation is very good. How is yours? Can you tell me which consonants are aspirated and which aren't, in Spanish vs. English?

No goofing off in the kids' current public school doesn't allow rowdy behavior in the lunchroom. The administration expects that learning good manners is a vital part of growing up.

No learning to hold your own socially, only occasional trips and exposure only to other home schooled families... this is ridiculous and insulting and I won't even validate it with a response.

Admittedly, there are poor examples of home schooling. They have led to extremely narrow stereotypes and you have apparently bought into every one of them, as shown in this collection of serious misconceptions.

The reason for my post was to solicit interviews with the people I respect who are doing it well. Your comment implies that I asked for your opinions, but if you will read it again more carefully, you will see that it only asked for the input of home schooling parents. What exactly is your experience with home school?

mrsfish said...

hi - as you know I don't homeschool, but I did extensive curriculum research a few years ago with a friend who was starting homeschooling. She did a fabulous job, but for reasons specific to her family, moved to the public school system after a year or two. Anyway, I just wanted to throw in that if you decide to work with some pre-packaged curriculums as a starting point - SonLight is really good. I also like the five in a row approach -sort of a "literature across the curriculum" thing that works well if you want to do more designing your own activities, research, or use one theme based model to cover all subjects. Not sure interviewing me would give you much more input than that, especially considering the lovely ladies with much experience who have responded. Also, you might want to check out Krav Mom's blog (linked from both me and Sheila) for some great resources and things that work well for her for another professional educator turned homeschool mom point of view.

Sherry C said...


Thanks for your input. I will check out the things you've mentioned.

And I am in touch with Krav Mom, thanks.

Anonymous said...


you asked for opinions, and fair maiden gave hers. her comments weren't rude or pointed to you, as some of yours were to her. as an outsider to this conversation, i really don't see the need to be so defensive to her answers.

of course there are down sides to homeschooling, which is all she is pointing out. they may be downsides that you can avoid or that you are aware of other solutions. but, why is her experience not valid? it's great that you have a perfect understanding of both spanish and english, but some moms would struggle teaching another language to their kids. that's okay. it's perhaps a downside to homeschooling that some might encounter.

anyway, best of luck in homeschooling if you decide to take it on.

Sherry C said...

Dear Anonymous,

I realize I came off pretty strong there, but I felt like the comments expressed by Fair Maiden were presented as hard facts--not opinions, as in "these ARE the negatives of homeschooling." Re-read her comment and I think you will see that is the way she presented herself. To me, these appear to be stereotypes based on lack of personal experience and knowledge.

Hpyothetical situation:

If I were on the other side of this discussion and someone had posted that he/she were considering putting their kids into public schools and asked for other public school parents to chime in, what would you think if I gave the following as my response:

No parental involvement.
No value placed on learning as kids get passed from grade to grade.
No field trips.
No current technology made available to students.
No respect for authority.
No sense of security with gangs running rampant.
No safety from kids with guns.
No escaping drug use.
No protection from sexual predators in the classroom.

You get the idea. I would think those who have had any experience with the public schools would have the right to be upset, declaring all of these things to be unfair stereotypes, based on negative impressions. I think people would quickly jump in to say that not all public schools are like this, that this is not the norm, that most kids can survive just fine. Right?

Go back and read the exchange again, start to finish.

I still believe Fair Maiden's comments were too harsh and not grounded in reality or even logic. Sorry if, in responding to her, I came on too strong. I am still learning to bite my tongue when faced with what I believe to be unfounded and ignorant stereotyping.

Incidentally, I am still anxious to hear what Fair Maiden's experience with homeschooling has been, which has led her to hold these opinions.

Sheila said...

Look at all the controversy! Well done, Sherry! This is obviously a very hot topic to many people out there.

No matter what you decide, you are doing the right thing by talking to people who are homeschooling, finding out the pros and the cons, and taking time to let it all simmer. I know you'll come to a decision that will be best for your family. The thing that is more important than education - that's GOOD PARENTING, in case you anonymous commenters didn't know that - is already strong and solid in your family.

Blessings, friend.