Monday, March 30, 2009

Curriculum Cage

*This poem was written by a home school mom & may help bring you back to sanity if you've found that you're a slave to your curriculum! :)

'Twas 10 minutes to midnight 

and all through the house 
not a creature was stirring 
except for me and my mouse.

The curriculum websites 

were all bookmarked and filed, 
while I had visions of great books 
to my ceiling being piled. 

And me with my finger poised to click on the "buy", 
a little voice in my head said "Show some restraint - oh, please try!"
"Go away," I said. "I don't want a fight. I'll get all free shipping if I purchase tonight!"

"It's not fair" I cried out, "they all look so good." 

but the voice in my head said, "What if you could? 
Do you think your children would know what to do? 
They don't need more books, they just need more of you!"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Home School vs School at Home

If there's one revelation I come across more than any other, it's the fact that home school is NOT school at home!  Your own reasoning prompted you to keep your children out of public schools, so why would you want to bring that very school system into your home?  Such is done in the method of Virtual Schooling, to the detriment of students, parents, and the home schooling community. However, virtual schools are not the topic I wish to discuss.  What I'm talking about is bringing the classroom methodology, scheduling and general mentality into your home schooling approach.  This may be a natural first tendency, especially if you were public/private schooled, or you've been a school teacher.  It is what you know... what you're familiar with.  But... it is not the ideal for helping your children reach their learning potential, nor for inspiring a life-long love of learning.     

What About Virtual Schooling?

Free Stuff!

Virtual schooling is a method through which children receive a public school education at home, graduating with a public school diploma. Parents give control to the state and are assigned to a teacher who gives them assignments and generally checks in on them weekly. This is very different than homeschooling, which is a private, parent-led education. Virtual schools (and charter schools) are under the direction and control of the state, whereas homeschools are under the direction and control of the parents. 

I've heard families give two main reasons for choosing virtual schooling over homeschooling. The biggest reason is the lure of freebies (free curriculum, materials, and sometimes even a computer), and the other reason is that some parents feel more confident having a certified teacher tell them what to do.  

At What Price?

Student academics are less then those of students who attend regular public school (whereas independent home schoolers outperform their peers across the board- in every subject of every grade!). The Walton Family Foundation found "stark evidence that most online charters have a negative impact on students' academic achievement." Besides losing the proven academic advantages of homeschooling, you subject yourself to government oversight.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Your Educational Philosophy

Your educational philosophy will serve you in many ways and is a valuable reference as you navigate your way through home schooling. Here are some open-ended questions to think about together with your spouse. Referring back to your answers will help you set goals and decide whether particular methods, curricula or materials are a good fit or not. Use these as a starting point to get you thinking about what education can and should be for your children. 

What is education?

What is its purpose?

What is its value?

How do you obtain it?

How do you know when it has been obtained?

What is the role of the student?

What is the role of the teacher?

What is worth knowing?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Home School Methods

Below I list short summaries of the main home schooling methods.  There are probably as many philosophies on home schooling as there are home schoolers, but these are the main home school methods you'll hear referred to by name. I think there's something to learn from each method.  Perhaps that puts me in the "ecclectic" category!  :)
    The thing to remember is that there's no one-size-fits all method or curriculum, which is why many families use a custom blend that works best for them.  Read about the different methods and slowly develop your own approach, taking into consideration your educational philosophy, and your child's learning style.