Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Homeschool Myths

Today's TOS Blog Cruise is about debunking homeschool myths. . . all those things we wish people understood about homeschooling . . . I'm jumping in at the list minute, but just had to add my 2 cents to this one, even though I should be doing about 100 other things with my computer time right now LOL.

So let's see  . . .

Myth:  Homeschooling is (always) some type of correspondence school thing where everything you teach must be reported to & signed off on by, some authority.  I just ran into this one recently, and it really threw me. I had someone ask me if I could "count" a trip to the science museum as school. I seriously just gave them this blank look and said "count it how?" . . . when they elaborated, I discovered that they thought I had to get everything we did "ok'ed" by the school district and the school district would say whether or not it counted as school (or something like that).

Truth: Every state's reporting requirements are different, but even in the most strict states, homeschoolers can choose what, how, and when to teach their children. Some states require a minimum number of hours or days, but it is generally up to the parent to determine what to include as school (and yes, if I had to record hours/days, which I don't yet, but will have to record days starting next year, a trip to a science museum most definitely WOULD count). Some states require certain subjects be taught, but again, what specifically within that subject is up to the parent.

Myth:  All school, including homeschool, must have a "grade level".  This is probably the one that annoys me the most right now. It seems like every time I turn around someone's asking me "what grade" the girls are in.

Truth:  Grade levels are used in a school setting to keep track of large numbers of children who must be taught at approximately the same level to keep the teachers sane and to provide accountability and reportability to parents and authorities.  Homeschool doesn't require that. Yes, some people use grade levels in homeschooling, and yes, starting next year, we will have to report an arbitrary "grade level" that the girls are at, though it's my understanding that the state doesn't actually check to see if the work they are doing is at the stated grade level. We have the freedom to do each subject at the child's own speed. If that means we're studying history that's typically studied in 5th grade and math that's at Kindergarten level and reading at a 3rd grade level, that's all good. AND we don't have to KNOW (or care) what grade level we're at. My girls have taken off with reading this year. I have no idea what "level" they're reading at (another question I  get with some regularity). As long as they're enjoying reading and reading things that interest them I couldn't care less what "level" it or they are at. So, if you must ask homeschoolers what "grade" they are, please don't be offended if they shrug and say "I don't know".

Myth: I, as a homeschooling parent, must know everything there is to know (or at least more than my kids) about everything we study.

Truth: One of the things I LOVE about homeschooling is how much *I* get to learn!! Things that I completely missed, ignored, or forgot when I was in school, I get a second chance at.  I've learned more about the scientific evidence for creation in the past month (from listening to Jonathan Park CDs with the kids) than I EVER learned in school.  Anything we study, I can learn right along with the girls, and in the process it helps them to learn that learning is a lifelong endeavor, AND if we all sit down at the computer together to look things up (or they see me working through the directions in a book or game), it helps them learn to hunt for answers themselves. One of the main "lessons" I'd like my children to learn from homeschooling is how to read directions and look things up and figure things out for themselves, once they can do that, they can learn ANYTHING regardless of whether there's a "teacher" available.

Myth: All homeschoolers operate on a "school at home" model in which they are "doing school" from 8-3:30 every day.  I've lost count of how many people have seen my kids playing outside during hte day and asked them or me if it is "recess time" umm no, it's play outside time.

Truth: Some homeschoolers DO use a "school at home" approach and that's fine. We're pretty relaxed homeschoolers. We spend at most a couple hours in the morning doing "school" that's the time when we currently learn about church history, do copywork, have a quick spanish lesson, do any current TOS Crew  review products, and usually have a history read aloud. Other learning happens throughout the day. The girls don't get "recess" but they do generally have outside time every day. It's not a specific "scheduled" time, it's just a time when they are done with chores, etc. for the moment and ask "can we play outside". Yup, go have fun! They are also learning throughout the day when they help me cook, or watch a video, or we listen to books on CD in the car while running errands or I have them help me find things, or price compare at the store, or they sit down to read a book when they're "bored".  Everything we do isn't fit into the terminology of "real school", and quite frankly, I find it annoying when people assume it is.

Myth: You have to be super organized to homeschool

Truth: Bwwwaaaaahhhhaaaahhhhaaaahhhhaaaa . . . have you MET me?!?! Have you SEEN my HOUSE? Organized is NOT a word that's used to describe me . . . EVER!! Honestly, while certainly not THE reason we homeschool, ONE of the benefits of homeschooling, as far as I'm concerned, is NOT having to be organized enough to get everyone up and dressed and fed and out of the house at a specific time EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And plan EVERYTHING else I/we do around picking kids up from school at a specific time!!! We have a rough schedule for our "normal" days. The girls have chores they know they need to do. During various seasons of our lives we have to schedule different things . . . last year the big girls were feeling the lack of "Mommy time" so we started scheduling specific fun things that were difficult to do with Little Bit's "help" for during her naptime.  We still have to take her nap needs into account in planning errands and such. Once we have to report to the state we'll have to keep a certain amount of records for that, and I'm trying to start us in that habit this year, with varying success, given how much we've been traveling. But no, super-human organizational prowess is NOT required for homeschooling!!! Certainly nowhere near as much organization as is needed by moms who work outside the home and have to fit all the "house" stuff AND parenting stuff into their nights and weekends. Now THAT would require major organizational skills that I do NOT possess!

And those are just a few of the Homeschool Myths that are out there . . .


Vickie said...

Great post!!! People do look funny at us when someone asks the kids what grade they are in and they turn and look at me for the answer. Organization! Ha!!! I'm waiting for that time to be.

Mozi Esme said...

Love the grade myth! I usually give a range of grades as my answer. I actually do like having a measuring stick as to where we're at, but to be honest, we're all over the board in different areas...