Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's Test Time. Do you know the Homeschool Facts?



Sharpen those #2 Pencils! Yesterday we talked about choices here—the overwhelming choices we face as a parent. Namely, where do we send our kids to school? Will somebody please just make this decision for me!? Is there a right or wrong answer? Can you make it black and white and spell it out in a simple sentence across the forehead of my child?

We don't have a cheat sheet to hand you, but hopefully we can provide the tip of the ice burg by diving into our 3 options one by one. Today we are going to focus in on homeschooling by providing a little history, a few facts, and finally some great testimonials from the experts themselves—moms in the thick of it right now.

Homeschool History:
If you do a quick search—there are countless homeschool sites available, each with a wealth of information—you will discover that homeschool has been around since the beginning. Until the early 18th century, most cultures provided a formal education (via tutors) only in the most elite households. This meant everyone else was educating their children at home, where they were most likely focusing on a trade and/or working in the fields. In fact, even in the 18th century, most Europeans lacked formal schooling—they were either homeschooled or received no education at all. Formal schooling in a classroom did not become common throughout developed countries in the world until the early-mid 19th century. If you read up on homeschooling, you'll read about John Holt who is considered the father of the modern (1960's) homeschool revolution.

Homeschool Methods:
The beauty and appeal of homeschooling is the flexibility available to the mom and student(s) alike. Homeschool moms can enjoy a variety of approaches including all-in-one curriculum, unit studies, student-paced education, online education, as well as combining education with community resources and educational opportunities in the world around them.
One source said, “Like anything else, homeschooling has its positives and negatives. On the plus side, students aren't exposed to peer pressure and get 1:1 instruction. On the other hand, homeschooled kids miss out on many of the social aspects of school like dances and yummy cafeteria food.”

Homeschool Facts:
According to a 2001 U.S. Census survey, 33% of homeschooling households cited religion as a factor in their choice. The same study found that 30% felt school had a poor learning environment, 14% objected to what the school teaches, 11% felt their children were not being challenged at school, and 9% cited morality.
According to the U.S. DOE's Homeschooling in the United States: 2003, 85 % of homeschooling parents cited "the social environments of other forms of schooling" as an important reason why they homeschool. 72 % cited "to provide religious or moral instruction" as an important reason, and 68 percent cited "dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools."
When the NCES asked parents who homeschooled their children for their reason, the most common response was a concern about the environment of schools. Other concerns included a desire "to provide religious or moral instruction" and caring for a child with special needs.
Although in the past homeschooled kids have had a reputation for being a bit socially awkward, their test scores are typically above average. On 1999's SAT, "homeschoolers scored an average 1,083 (verbal 548, math 535), 67 points above the national average of 1,016.

Here is another interesting resource I found on the 10 most important things you need to know about homeschooling: http://www.homeschool.com/articles/mostimportant/default.asp
I found most of this information here:
and here:

So, Why Choose Homeschooling? Here are a few answers from our Mom experts!

Here is the scoop from Kylee:
  • The foremost reason we decided to homeschool our children is to keep them home with me during these early formative years for teaching and character training.  We were told once, "Nobody loves your child like you do." Kind of obvious, but profound.  It helped us decide that the right thing for our family was to keep our children home for the first couple of years of their schooling to get the biblical world view and family grounding we want to impart to them.  It is very much going to be a year-by-year decision for us...we have never had a "Must Home School" outlook. So far we have successfully completed one year of K5!  I had the opportunity to do all three types of schooling growing up, and Jim went to both public and private school, so we have experienced many of the pros and cons of each. Like every family, each of our children are very different, and I'm sure the decision on which type of schooling will vary according to the child. 
Here is the answer from Sue, mother of 5!
  • We decided to homeschool b/c I see my role as a mother as missional. I wanted to be able to disciple my kids in these younger years and my husband and I felt like I needed time to be able to do that, as opposing to trying to shove it down their throats at the end of the day. Also, we want to give them the freedom to develop their own individual gifts and talents and interests without the pressure of living up to what is cool/not cool. I also wanted them to enjoy learning, as opposed to just memorizing facts in order to get a 100% on a test, then forgetting it 2 days later (that's what I did to get through school!)
Kimberly, who is homeschooling for the first time this year, had this to say.
  • After always sending our girls to Christian school, we have decided to homeschool our 10th and 8th graders. Our primary reason for this decision is to have more control over their schedules and to spend more time with them. Last year, we usually did not get home from school until 4:00 (sometimes later if they had sports or lessons) and then they still had to do homework, music lessons, etc. When my husband came home from work at 8 pm or later, he was disheartened to find the girls often still working to get "things" finished for the next day. Our quality & quantity of time with our girls is quickly passing so we are hoping and praying that this school year will allow us to spend more time as a family, participate in more activities/ministries, and continue to provide a quality, more individualized education
Here is the answer from Amanda, Mother of 4!
  • My original reasoning for homeschooling was I wanted to impact my children as much as possible with God's truths during their early years. We had just adopted two older children and we had missed the 'beginning' years of their lives to implement truth and character. I'm not saying that I want my children to grow up in a bubble of Christianity, however, during the small amount of their young impressionable years I wanted to show Christ to them as much as possible. I don't always succeed, sometimes frustration, selfishness, and irritation rule my heart, but with God's grace we make it through the day (sometimes with tears) loving, forgiving each other.

What are some of the greatest benefits of Homeschooling?

Kylee:
  • For me, the greatest benefit is the time I can spend with my kids at home.  Anything and everything becomes a teaching moment and I get to witness the "lightbulb of learning" go on.  I can address any character/discipline issues immediately, since I see what comes out of their little hearts pretty much 24/7. 
Sue:
  • One of the greatest benefits for us is that I am able to tailor my kids' education to fit their style of learning. Since starting a few years ago, I have discovered that one son struggles with certain aspects of school and I am so thankful I have him home so that he isn't comparing himself with others. Also, it's been good for them to understand that family comes first, and my kids are each other's best friends. 
Amanda:
  • I feel the greatest benefit of homeschooling is the flexibility of our schedule. We have been able to take many family vacations throughout the school year and haven't had to worry about "unexcused absences" racking up. We also enjoy hitting the library, grocery store, and parks before all the schools let out.
What are the greatest Challenges of Homeschooling?

Kylee:
  • The hardest part is the time I spend with my kids at home!!!  I love getting to enjoy them at home with me, yet days can get long when always on duty as Mom, and adding the "Teacher" hat along with other responsibilities.  School is the priority each day, and I have to discipline my not-so-structured self to prepare and plan and stay on schedule when I'd rather be productive around my home or have time to shop or work on a project.  Plus there are younger children to keep busy while teaching or helping my 1st grader with school. My plan in working through it is to start things out on the right track with a strict schedule...not letting ourselves take days off "just because"...taking care to start at a set time each morning...making sure I prepare the night before.  And I plan to dedicate some one-on-one time to EACH child every morning so the little ones don't get neglected in the home school schedule.
Sue:
  • The hardest part for us has been trying to occupy all the little ones running around while still making them feel special and like they're not a nuisance. I haven't solved this problem yet but I've been praying about it a lot. I am hoping to implement a daily schedule/chore program this year which I am hoping will help us all get more accomplished and allow me to have time with each one individually. Another struggle for me has been just the feelings of inadequacy and wondering if I am really doing what's best for my children! Trusting God to use this very weak vessel (me) for His glory.

Kim:
  • We are only a couple of days into the process. I am still learning and trying to figure out a routine. Just organizing all the books materials, and DVDs is a chore! In other words, I'm weeble-wobbling between frustrated and overwhelmed, but . . . still expecting good things!

Amanda:
  • The hardest part of homeschooling is trying to divide my time between 2 sets of children: those schooling and those too young to school. I'm still working through that but know that using Bob Jones DVD system for both kids will free me up to spend the more time with the little ones. 

Extra Credit:
I asked my homeschool-mom-friends to give me a few of their "favorite things" and I will include those lists here. We would also LOVE to hear from you!
  • I chose to use the BJ DVDs because our decision to homeschool was last-minute and our girls are familiar with it. (Exception: the girls will be using Apologia for the Science courses offered at the Co-op that we joined.)We almost used the SCk-12 on-line public program, but it didn't seem to offer the flexibility that we are hoping for. The price tag was sweet though--free with computer included!!
  • The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. It has tons of great articles and there are so many different awesome companies that advertise in it so you can get a lot of good ideas for curriculum options.
  • The book that absolutely convinced me that I wanted to homeschool is a book called "For The Children's Sake" by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. It is a book about education and children and it is a resource that I read over and over again. It is so so good.


*So, let's hear from you--the other homeschool experts out there! What are the greatest benefits, what are the greatest challenges you face, and what are some of your favorite resources? We'd love to hear all about it!

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