Homeschooling 101

Since we were married, my wife and I were on the same page as far as home schooling our kids. As the public schools  become more corrupt, the home schooling alternative has become increasingly more popular. Since 1999, there has been a 75% increase to 2.04 million, or 4% of all k-12 students. As parents who home schools their children, we hope to offer some insight into why we do it, what are some of the costs and benefits, and what we do.

Unlike my other articles, I am pulling help from my wife to write this as she is doing the bulk of the work with our children.

Why We Do It

  • Kids typically do better home schooling. As a parent who loves their children and has the ability to work with the kids one on one, instead of a classroom setting, we can speed up and slow down as necessary to see they achieve a maximum learning curve without feeling bored or overwhelmed. Statistically, home schooled children perform better than public schooled children.
  • You have the ability to tailor their curriculum. Don’t like your kids coming home telling you about how you are evil for driving and warming the Earth? You have an increased ability to explain the reasons these are taught, or even skip things you don’t. My high school freshman year, I broke my wrist when I was taking typing class. Because of the classroom setting, I had to keep going, and consequently, I picked up bad habits that I carry to this day. Had I been home schooled, we would have stopped until my wrist healed.
  • Quality time and quantity time. A parent who puts their babies in daycare will probably miss their first steps, their first words. We are there to see when they actually “get it” doing long division, or reading their first words, or building science projects. Last spring, we made a scale model of the solar system by using a 24” beach ball for the Sun, a pea for Mercury, a super ball for Earth, etc. Then we walked out on the salt flats and laid it all out. Pluto was a pea 1.4 miles away. Actually doing this helped me appreciate the vastness of space. Things like this or making rockets cannot be done at public school.
  • A more flexible schedule. The kids can be treated more like a guy on salary. If I get a day off, we can go up to the hot springs in the middle of the week or something. They have less solid commitments, and therefore more flexibility. Typically, my wife will work with them while I am at work in the mornings, then relax in the afternoons while they are finishing up their homework. If we decide to take a vacation, she will get ahead of schedule, then I will take time off work. That is not easy to do if the kids go to public school.

Some General Drawbacks

  • It is a lot of work. My wife is a stay at home mother. I don’t think we could do it under any other circumstances. She spends an average of about 6 hours with the kids home schooling and 3-4 hours with chores. I don’t think it would be possible for us if she had to work outside the home.
  • Need to make the kids’ social skills a priority. We take the kids to church, and they have friends there. But, you do need to make an effort so they have both the positive and negative experiences needed for proper development. Church, sports, neighbors and Scouts provide experience.
  • School work is clutter. We have papers strung around that I do not know if it is garbage or something that still needs to be worked on.

What We Do

In the past, we have taken a completely personal curriculum where we buy the workbooks and study materials and just do it ourselves. While this creates an atmosphere of greater flexibility and the ability to customize their curriculum, it does have drawbacks:

  • Not all kids are easily motivated by mom. Face it, some kids perform better if they are doing a task directed by some third party than by their parents. Our oldest is that way. He does very well doing tasks for someone else. However, if myself or my wife task him with something, it becomes a fight before anything occurs. Not all kids are that way though.
  • Self-discipline is paramount. It is easy to slough things off again and again. The kids will be more than happy to go along with doing nothing. If that happens, maybe doing your own thing is not the best idea for you.
  • It is more difficult to gauge if you are on track. For years, we did homeschooling with our own curriculum. Then, we discovered while our oldest was getting good at algebra, he did not know what a noun or verb was in third grade.
  • It takes more effort on the part of your wife. Coming up with a customized curriculum and a series of assignments is not an easy task. Going through the assignments and correcting the questions and making the kids re-do them is tough to motivate if the end goal is to put the notebook away until tomorrow. If there are only one or two kids, this may not be overwhelming, but with six kids it can be.
  • The cost of materials can be expensive. Depending on what you choose, each can cost a couple hundred to a thousand dollars during the school year. Swimming lessons at the local pool, museum visits, workbooks, textbooks, microscope sets, hunter’s safety courses, etc. can all add up.

On the other hand, there are other options. The State of Utah for instance, sponsors web based charter schools which offer a curriculum.  For better or worse, the classes are more structured. The typical classes are offered, and assignments are marked and graded by employees. While we don’t have all the political correct lessons that you see in a typical public school, the kids are still tested by Obama’s Common Core, which structures the curriculum somewhat.

What we do is a combination of the two systems. They younger kids have less structure. They have workbooks in which they do stuff, then when they get done, they get the privilege to get on the computer on some educational sites.

Some Words From My Wife

The great thing about homeschool is that you can personalize it for each child.  A child can advance as quickly or slowly as they need.  For instance, there are several common math curriculum, (not McGraw-Hill!) Saxon, Horizon, and Teaching Textbooks are variations that use a lot of review.  Each week they add a new principle, while the bulk of the work being review of principles taught earlier.  They are a great middle of the road curriculum. Horizon has color pictures on each lesson that kids seem to enjoy, has Christian references (cross dot-to-dot or how many books in the Bible), and seems to have the most variety in topics covered.  Saxon and Horizon are both secular and equally good.  Math-U-See is a very slow make sure you understand every concept.  This is a great curriculum for children struggling in math.  Singapore Math is cheaper and for children who want to progress rapidly without the review.

As far as literature, history, science, writing and grammar goes, there are a variety textbooks as well.  Christianbook.com has a large homeschool department with reviews you can peruse.  A lot of homeschoolers ascribe to the philosophy that you learn these subjects from reading classic literature and writing about it. For instance, you can use everything from The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Principia Mathematica to help teach. This year, my 5th grader read a biography of James Madison and my 3rd grader read a biography of Daniel Boone. I have found that some subjects such as Grammar and Spelling really need to be supplemented. There are a large variety of online sites with games, lessons, and printable worksheets such as “teachyourmonstertoread.com”, “readingeggs.com” or “K5 Learning”. A quick google search will show many such websites.

The important thing about choosing curriculum is finding ones that fit their needs.  If you hate it and they hate it, it’s not a good fit!  I had my daughter doing Saxon Math as a second grader and she hated it! Every day would end in tears.  Finally, I terminated math.  She had to do some math of her choosing internet games or whatever, but I stopped pushing her.  The next year she started on a 3rd grade level math curriculum and did just fine. She is now doing 6th grade level math as a 5th grader. Homeschool matches the needs of the child and the parent.  If you need to un-school for a while it’s okay.  As parents raised in the traditional schooling methods, it is hard to let go of trying to force our kids to meet certain checkpoints and different ages of life.

Conclusion (By Jim)

It is no secret that public school is becoming more and more corrupt. Fascistic politicians do all they can to create a population that thinks just how they want them to. One of the better ways to combat this monolith of though is to homeschool. Diversity of thought is necessary for a self-regulating society. In order to achieve this, we cannot be silenced as parents to our children.

 

 

Author: Jim Johnson

As a man in his early 40's, I grew up on a dairy farm in an irreligious home. Disgusted with the choice of women out there, I looked into religion to find a worthwhile mate. At 23, I joined the LDS (Mormon) faith, married, became a civil engineer, and now have six children. My favorite things are puppies, long walks on the beach, and the color blue (not really).