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Archive for the ‘home eductation’ Category

Don’t. That’s really the only word applicable here.

If you are like me, you will be lucky in that your parents (or, in my case, parent) will support you. My folks never questioned any of my choices, not even the dicier ones like selling all my belongings to travel the U.S. on a Greyhound bus, solo.

You probably won’t be that lucky.

But what about friends? Or your church? They’ll support you, right?

No. Well, let’s classify that: if you attend a church where most of the families homeschool, yes. The church we were attending: no. But they didn’t support us when we brought Chrystal into the family. The senior pastor’s wife pulled me aside and said, in all earnestness, “You don’t have to do this, you know.”

No, I didn’t know. And I will *never* regret the decision to bring my niece into my family and to introduce her as my daughter. Never.

EVERYONE will ask, “WHAT ABOUT SOCIALIZATION?”

You didn’t even know that was a childhood concern until you decided to pull your child out of the indoctrinational halls of public education.

What the hell is ‘socialization” anyway?

Merriam-Webster defines it as: : the process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status

The Psychology Dictionary defines it as: 1. The process by which we learn social skills. 2. The process that employees adjust to a working environment. 3. The process where people become aware on lifestyles and behaviours.

SOCIALIZATION: “Socialisation is the process by which we learn social skills.”

The first words out of your best friend’s mouth (unless she/he is already a convert to homeschooling) will most likely be these: “I don’t know about this ‘homeschooling’ idea of yours. What about ‘socialization’?”

Now, you could quote The Princess Bride. “I do not thin’ that mens what you thin’ it mens.” (Translation: I do not think that means what you think it means.) And you’d be right, because your best friend doesn’t have a clue about what that word means.

She means: But they won’t know how to stand in line for crappy food in the cafeteria, be embarrassed by the school bully, don cute little cheerleader costumes, and learn about sex by reciting johnny m*f*r behind the gymnasium.

Yeah. Let’s talk about “socialization”.

Unless you are one of those rare (but highly profiled) monsters who is planning to chain your child to a metal bed and hide them in the basement, feeding them the spare moldy bread crumbs, there’s a pretty slim chance that your child will not be properly socialized by the time she/he enters the adult world. She might be naive, but she will know how to fold a dinner napkin and sit down to dinner with people older than her. (And she will know all about s*x because she stole your copy of The Color Purple from your private bookshelf because she didn’t know it was forbidden to her.)

But she’ll miss The Prom!

Big friggin’ deal. Want to know what *I* did for my prom? I designed it, created the dance cards, decorated the school gym. I waited for someone to ask me out. No one did. I spent that night babysitting a wailing infant and a sleeping toddler, trying my hand at chords on my employer’s guitar. It wasn’t the best prom ever, but I made good money and the person who hired me to babysit her children is still a friend of mine.

My husband doesn’t even speak to the person he took out for prom.

Besides, homeschoolers actually have worked out ways for their children to enjoy the same benefits as publicly schooled kids! My son’s first date was to a homeschool dance when he was just 13. I sat in the car outside and read a book, but her father stayed inside and played chaperone. OOOOO fun.

My son developed a lifelong love of dancing which later led to community college courses in swing dance and going out on the town with a core of swing dance friends he made.

But he won’t get to play on the football team!

Back up here. If your goal in life is to raise a professional athlete, and your child has the talent to make it, public school may be your best option. You can still raise a very aware young person by being involved in every step of their education. Still, even *if* you are a homeschooler, most states allow your child access to the athletic programs. Believe me, if your homeschooled athlete has the talent of a Tim Tebow, I’m pretty certain a public school will make all kinds of allowances to allow your child to play – or to please you in the academic portion of their program. That’s not even a valid argument.

Let’s talk about what homeschooled kids can do that might make them more socially acceptable. Private music lessons, sewing lessons, crewing on a hot air balloon. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts. 4-H, FFA, volunteering at an old folks’ home, participating in the Society for Creative Anachronism, Civil War Reenactments, Rendezvous reenactments, local theatre, Civil Air Patrol… Are you getting the idea?

We did: Cub Scouts, 4-H, private riding lessons, hot air balloons, Renaissance Faires, sewing lessons, band (just off the top of my head).

The sky’s the limit. Well, not quite: YOU are the limit. What you say “NO” to and what you say “YES” to will matter. What you are willing to shuttle your child around to/from, will matter. What you can afford will matter. The same as publicly schooled kids, your demographics and personal core beliefs will matter.

Socialization, however. is going to happen no matter what you do. It will happen according to your child’s personality and temperament. Grandparents, neighbors, other parents, and playmates will all have an influence on your child’s socialization – whether you want them to or not.

My children were not allowed to swear, but if we spent a weekend with my husband’s father – well, they learned every swear word in the book by osmosis. It wasn’t my place to correct my f-i-l. If he couldn’t filter his own mouth, then I had to explain the words to my kids. I wasn’t going to stand in the way of their love for their grandfather (or his love for them), so I interpreted. You have the choice to filter your family.

My own father judged children by whether or not they connected with him. He didn’t like children who would not talk to him as if he was their peer. He loved kids who could sit at the table with him and engage in an adult conversation, and kids who showed an interest in what he had to say.

We crossed cultural boundaries. Don’t be afraid! Our children attended a Christian Romani funeral. If you don’t know who (or what) the Romani are, look it up. I still have very good Gypsy friends, but they aren’t on Social Media. If we happen to meet in Portland, we hug and kiss.

Funerals, weddings, folk gatherings, art museums, camping, hiking, skiing, boating – life is limited by your imagination.

If your best friend still thinks your children are not properly socialized… You may need to adjust to the next season in your life and a new best friend. But keep the old one, if you can. Old friends are gold.

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I was talking to a good friend earlier today who inquired as to how Chrystal is handling being homeschooled. This friend is a couple years younger than I am, and to all intents and purposes, a bit of a hippie: until it comes to some of the off-the-wall things I believe in, like midwives, breastfeeding on demand, homeschooling and cloth diapers. I don’t know why she can’t wrap her mind around those concepts, but she can’t: she constantly emails me coupons for paper diapers so I can pass the savings on to my daughter. Meanwhile, I am paying for diaper service for said daughter, so she can enjoy the infinite benefits of cloth and saving the environment.

24 years ago, when I was fast approaching parenthood, I was also considering all of these elements: I’d already chosen a midwife to deliver my baby. I was well read on how to wash my own cloth diapers (I didn’t know there was such a beast as diaper service – that came as a gift when I had my second child. A blessed, blessed, blessed gift). I was well indoctrinated by La Leche League. And I didn’t know a person could homeschool their own children. What a concept!

I fell into homeschooling. It wasn’t on my radar until I found myself in a fight with a school board and the encroachment of “Goals 2000”, part of the premise of which was to remove local control of schools and centralize education away from parents. The fight with the school board was not going well and we were losing our local school in a merger with the rest of the school district. The five minute drive to the grade school would now be a forty-five minute bus ride into town, and the blended class room of 1st-3rd grades and 4-6th grades was turning into block style classes in a junior high setting. Pardon, “middle school” – oh, whatever. It wasn’t my idea and I was rebelling.

I turned to the library for help and I found books on homeschooling. The one that turned my head around was by well known author David Guterson (“Snow Falling on Cedars” and “East of the Mountains”): “Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense.” Guterson was then a public school teacher who was homeschooling his own children. I now had an alternative to what was happening in the school system.

I started on this journey as Arwen entered 7th grade and Levi entered 4th grade. Statistically, most people homeschool the younger years and send the children off to high school, but I have to be different. We’d had a good public school experience up to that point in time, but I didn’t see it improving over the one-room school house and I was very concerned about the quality of education my children would be getting. They’d already studied the Oregon Trail history to death, with barely a mention of the American Revolution, the Civil War, or any history outside of the borders of the State of Oregon. What? There’s a WORLD out there?

I considered, weighed, studied. And I filled out the little form required by the State of Oregon, mailed it to the ESD and effectively removed my children from the tax base of the school district we resided in. Every homeschooler hurts the school tax base in Oregon because that tax money you pay now stays in the General Fund and is not dispersed to the school district because your child’s head isn’t being counted in the class room. It was a pretty effective little protest as well as a way to take things into my own control.

We could not afford a curriculum: I looked at all the Christian classics. Sonlight, Abeka, Bob Jones, ACE – not a chance. I wasn’t into this because of my religious leanings: this was about education. Well-rounded education that includes reading “A Catcher in the Rye” or “Lord of the Flies.” I figured I could do this with the library and a few well chosen book purchases, and maybe a lifetime membership at The Learning Tree. Everyone else I knew who was homeschooling was sold on curriculum, but I was determined to wing it. I picked up a list of The Classics (literature) at the local library, broke down and purchased Saxon math books, and dug out my antique grammar books. We started out with a schedule and charts and a real sit-down quality time together.

That dissolved pretty quickly. I’m not disciplined enough and my children were born rebels. I don’t know where they got that gene. We gradually descended into eclectic homeschooling: a little of this, a little of that, and whatever filled the gaps: field trips, museums, clay art. Somewhere along the line, Arwen discovered the music of artist Selena and set out to teach herself Spanish using Selena music and my college Spanish books. She spent two years on the project. it was the beginning of my somewhat slow path into unschooling. (I’m not all there yet, but I’m leaning!)

Children age. Mine entered that realm of pre-adulthood with collegiate dreams, yet here we were, homeschooling. The community college offered courses that sixteen year olds could enroll in. Arwen jumped in with both feet: history, language arts, and a drawing course (no live model). Levi followed two years later but chose math, writing, swing dance classes, and a drawing course (with live models). Making a long story shorter, Arwen eventually applied to a university using only her community college credits. She was accepted and awarded a small scholarship and grant money. We joke that she never graduated from high school, but she now has a college degree. Levi chose the military and used his community college credits plus a creative homeschool transcript. He happened to score very well on his ASVAB, giving him his choice of military careers. (He’s currently considering his future post-military: he’d like to teach writing. This is my child who shares my love for Edgar Allen Poe and Tolkien.)

Enter Chrystal. She came to live with us just as I was re-entering the workforce full time. We tried homeschooling, public schooling and private schooling. For the past three years, she has attended a public charter school. She did well the first year, but the second year caused her to struggle. By the third year, she was in serious decline. She’s just not cut out to sit in a classroom and take arbitrary instruction on subjects she isn’t interested in. For the past three terms, she has built up the Failing marks. (That’s a GREAT transcript to show prospective employers or schools…)

So I pulled her out. Arbitrary. I’ve been here before: homeschooling a high school aged kid. I think I know how to do this (let the child go). So I find it highly irritating when a new person comes onto the scene and questions my decision with the same skepticism my in-laws held when I first pulled my older children out of public school. (Yeah, my in-laws: the ones who did not graduate from high school. Those ones. They were the ones who had a problem with the concept of homeschooling. If my dad, the college-educated, had a problem, he never said so. And my mother was always my biggest support.)

I love my friend. She’s a lot of fun. She is an actress at heart and a lover of Renaissance Faires and Faerie Faires, a reader, and a strong female role to introduce my children to (I love strong female role models). But she is pretty darn close-minded at concepts like home education.

I will let Chrystal tell her. In the three weeks since I withdrew her formally from public school, I have watched her attitude change. She’s happy. She’s learning. She’s reading for pleasure. She’s remembering facts. She comes down and talks to us. She’s blossoming. She’s reading The Teenage Liberation Handbook. By the time the fall community college classes come around, maybe she will be ready to pick up a course or two. Maybe not. She only needs nine credits to graduate from high school, all very easily reached as a home schooler. I already know where to purchase her diploma and have the template for a transcript. She’s a smart kid: we just had to pull her out of the classroom to find her.

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