Now summer is wrapping up and I intend to get back into the swing of things as we transition to fall and school. Fun!
Speaking of school, I'm finding that as the kids get older, new acquaintances always ask me where they go to school. You may recall that we don't "go" to school. Some people think this is really weird and I don't disagree.
Homeschooling is weird. It's perfect for us.
When I bring up that strangely provocative word, "homeschool," I inevitably get one of several responses. I'm almost sure that whoever you are, you will at some point or another do or say one of these things:
- "Wow, good for you!" (that's a nice way to respond, by the way).
- Face contorts into speechless expression of shocked confusion.
- "I could never do that." Followed by detailed explanation of why not.
- "You're brave."
- No reaction at all, maybe because it's either not that weird after all?
After the initial response, most people have a lot of questions. So I thought it might fun to do something like "FAQ" responses:
I explained a lot of the why in my first post about this (We're Alternative Education Rebels). The short answer is that it's a good option for our family. I still feel like the benefits outweigh the risks. These benefits include personalized instruction, time spent with my kids, more opportunity for character training, and educational freedom. One of my goals is to not only teach my children educational material, but to train them to love learning--so that they will be lifelong, self-guided learners.
Will you do it through high school?
I would like to, but since my oldest is in first grade we have a long time between now and graduation. As long as it continues to be the best option for our family, I plan to continue doing it.
How do you do it with different ages in the house?
It's not that hard. I am way more impressed with teachers who successfully instruct 30 six-year-olds all day, every day. Kids are very capable of being independent learners, so I can provide instruction to one while the other is working by himself. We also do a lot of activities together, like reading aloud and projects. Admittedly it is difficult at times with a toddler, but she adjusts to our daily routine fairly easily. And there's also this magical stretch of time called "nap."
What does a typical day look like?
We're still determining this. Last year was a grand experiment and this year I think I have a better vision for our family's style. We have a scheduled period of time for each subject we will cover in a given day, with age-appropriate assignments for each child. Subjects for the upcoming year include reading, handwriting, spelling, piano, math and various read-alouds about anything I want to cover. We are also joining a co-op this year and we will be covering geography, history, science, fine arts and Latin (yes really). That sounds like a lot, but realistically we only spend a little bit of time on each subject. I build a lot of breaks into our schedule.
Aren't you worried about social interaction?
No. My husband was homeschooled and is not an anti-social dweeb. We will have plenty of interaction in our neighborhood, through extracurricular activities, at church and through our new homeschool co-op community that will meet once a week.
What do you think about the Common Core?
This is the hot topic, right? As far it relates to our family I'm not terribly concerned about it. The purpose of the Common Core is to prepare children to enter the workforce as competent adults, and I'm try to accomplish that too. One of the big complaints about the Common Core is that it forces teachers to do test-driven instruction. When the time comes I will prepare my kids for college-entrance exams should they want to go to college, but test prep isn't going to guide our day-to-day learning. My goal is subject mastery at the pace appropriate for each child. I will keep my eye on Common Core standards as we progress and adjust if it seems like we are way off target, but I have a feeling it's not going to be a big issue.
How can you be qualified to teach without any teacher training?
I'm not qualified to teach in a classroom, but I am more than qualified to instruct my own kids. Here are a few factors that help:
- There is a lot of guided curriculum available that makes teaching fool-proof.
- By the time kids reach higher levels they will be primarily self-directed, which prepares them for college.
- There are a lot of community resources available so that I'm not the only one providing instruction.
- I can learn along with them. All I have to do is take a peek at the math or whatever subject a day in advance and refresh my memory, or learn it completely new. While they will likely surpass me someday, I'm still a step ahead of the little guys.
I know there are a lot more questions I could answer but these are the ones I am asked the most. I'm always happy to talk about it. What are some of your thoughts or questions on homeschooling?