~ Outsourcing Home Education ~

June 29, 2008

What is happening in the Homeschooling Realm?

Has anybody else noticed the trend in homeschooling moving away from parents schooling their children at home and moving directly at freight train speed towards having someone else teach them in a school-like setting?

The new terminology for homeschooling includes “tutorials” and “Co-op programs,” to name just a couple.

Call it what you will, but it is anything but home education.

While I think that having enrichment activites for our children is a very good idea, I can’t help but roll my eyes when parents mention putting their children in a tutorial. How is that different than sending them to a mini-school?

May I explain my experience with a co-op? We have belonged to one for about four years, and after this past year, we will *not* be participating. Why? Several issues, but the ones relevant to our discussion are:

  1. Two of my boys were enrolled in a high school biology class. It took them an entire year to go through the text; they didn’t finish the book in the class; few kids did their homework assignments and came to class prepared; all students went at the pace of the teacher and not at their own pace. This was the case in all of the high school-level classes my kids have ever taken at this large co-op.
  2. I had a Muslim girl read from the koran in the Speech class that I taught last fall. This was a class for ten to twelve-year olds. We don’t homeschool so that our young children can be exposed to foreign gods in a “Christian” homeschool co-op.
  3. The co-op, while allowing my olders to take part in drama, yearbook, and English Country Dancing, did little for my youngers but expose them to behaviors that we had to in turn work out of them when we returned home.
  4. Meeting once a week cut down on our actual homeschool time by 20%. Not much that was educational in nature happened on Fridays.

We are seeing the light, finally. This next fall we are circling the wagons and staying home to home school. We have always learned exceptionally well on our own, so why fix what ain’t broke? I thought the co-op would be good for the kids, and in some ways it was.

Educationally it was public school with a twist.

My husband has been suggesting that we opt out of the co-op for a couple of years now because he could see things more clearly than I could being in the thick of it.

Why didn’t we leave sooner? One word: socialization. We needed fellowship, and while this is a need, it is not a dominant need. There are other ways we get out and mingle: music lessons, soccer, local theater productions, and church activities just to name some.

I *enjoyed* the fellowship with other families. My children enjoyed the fellowship as well. Is that a bad thing? Not in an of itself. Again, there are other ways to benefit from fellowship.

Why be a part of something that acts as a barricade to learning and to developing excellent behavior?

The homeschooling realm is becoming diluted with tutorials and such. By subscibing to the mindset that parents can not effectively homeschool their children through high school without a tutorial-type program, parents are admitting that they are inadequate for the job.

It is just not true! The children of parents with this mindset then learn that their parents think they can not teach them these subjects, so they lose confidence in their parents and sadly, in themselves. It is a vicious circle.

I remember about 8 years ago traveling down to Macon, Georgia, to visit a lovely family of 12 who also happened to homeschool. At the time I was preparing for the high school years of my own children.

I remember asking the mom of this family how she had “taught Biology” to her home schoolers, two of whom were in college at that time.

My question was: “How did you teach Biology?” The answer was: “I gave them the book.”

Profound? This particular mom didn’t think so, but I sure did. I was one the one with the degree in education. Why didn’t I know how to teach Biology to a high schooler?

Moreover, one of the daughters was in nursing school. I was impressed that just giving the high schooler a book and the teacher’s edition was sufficient to provide the background that the daughter needed for nursing school.

Why didn’t someone hit me over the head with a textbook for asking the question in the first place?

We are so brain-washed to think that a high school student can’t read a text book and figure things out for him or herself! It is ridiculous.

If you participate in a tutorial or educational co-op of some sort, I do not malign you, as you have just read that I have been part of one for some time.

However, if you participate in a tutorial or co-op of some sort, I softly urge you to examine your reasoning for “outsourcing” your child’s education. Do you feel that your student will be ill-prepared for the future unless they attend a “class?”

Why not allow them to learn on their own – yes, I mean the higher math and science courses as well as Languages – and give them the gift of self-teaching?

Remember the basics that we discussed a few posts back? Our children’s home years are best spent developing the basics, practicing the basics, honing the basics. It is not necessary to try to pack in fancy classes on Literature, Essay Writing, Physics, Analytics. These can easily be done at home by the student without distractions.

Oh, boy! This has all the makings of a can of worms. But I stand by my post.

I so look forward to putting the “HOME” back in Homeschooling and doing so guilt-free! Wahooo!


~ What if Mom gets sick? ~

June 27, 2008

Yep, you guessed it. I have been yucky sick. Usually I can still post something, but not the past two days. While I should just be lying in bed, quietly feeling nauseated while my head pounds in staccato with my heartbeat, I feel too guilty to just lay around.

So I get up, overly tax myself, and presto! I am feeling really crummy again.

If you are a mom, you know exactly what I mean. 

I really don’t need to be out on the couch in the family room to make sure life goes smoothly. Self-teaching lends itself to having the children do stuff on their own without being told what to do every moment of every day. This goes for both the home and school arenas. Self-teaching encompasses life! But I feel guilty leaving the work for someone else to do even on days like today.

Now, we are not “SuperFamily” by any means. To prove it I will tell you that nobody signed up for chores yesterday because I didn’t happen to mention it. But the basics got covered, (and I know where I need to focus on the domestic front, don’t I?)

While I did lay in the bed all afternoon today, yard work got done, housework got done, supper got cooked, and two loads of laundry were run…all without me having to raise my voice.

I even had several children stick their heads in my room and ask if they could get anything for me. That is always such a blessing.

Here is my point:

If you have children over the age of ten, they should be able to keep the wheels in motion – even just slow motion – if Mom is sick or gone for a few days.

Do not be indispensible!

I well remember after having baby # 7 the realization that my family didn’t really *need* me to survive anymore.  The children had grown to where they were able to shoulder much of the household responsibilities.  While independence is what I am always working towards with my children’s hearts, I suddenly saw that they could get along without me. Zap! It was a lightning moment!

Of course being in the throes of post-partum depression, I cried a river about not being needed, (except that nobody else could nurse my baby so maybe I was needed for the next nine months or so…)

BUT today I rejoiced that life can go on without Mom being present to tell everyone what to do or do it all herself. Whew! It has been a job teaching this to my children over the years, but I was able to rest today as a result.

So if you (Mom) get sick or are unable to do your regular routine for a while, would your family be able to carry on ~ or at least limp along ~ without you? I hope so. If not, you owe it to yourself to make it so, step by step. You deserve rest when you need it or even when you don’t absolutely need it.

Just a little something to think about.

~ Recipe for Success ~

June 24, 2008

I hope your weekend was a great one! Do you realize that this is the last full week of June? The summer has roller skates on! Yikes!

Okay, we were discussing why we home school. I hope you have given it some thought and put down on paper not only why you are on this journey, but what you want to achieve.

Then let’s look at how to get there, how to get at your goals.

There is an incredible amount of knowledge out there on homeschooling, the how-tos, the what you must include to satisfy requirements, and from there you’ve got a plethora of opinions and books and CDs and DVDs that point you in different directions.

My advice: Find what works for you and keep it as simple as possible.

That is only my advice, and I am part of that plethora of options to which I just referred. 🙂 Please allow me to expand a little here.

Focus on the basics: Reading, Math, Reading, Math, and Reading. I am not saying to *only* do these two subjects, but these two things are the basics and will always be the basics. The three R’s are really just the two R’s at first: Reading and ‘Rithmetic. If necessary, toss everything else aside for a season, and focus on the basics until you know that your student is mastering these two areas.

Sometimes I will declare a school week to be a math and reading only week. That means I allow my kids to drop all the other stuff and read to their hearts’ content as well as do double dip of math. They love it!

My focus is for them to function easily in these two realms. If my 2nd grader can read well and can do math well, I am happy. If my 10th grader excels in math and reads in his or her spare time, I am resting comfortably. Writing well is important, too, but good writing arises from being well read.

Now please don’t think we don’t do anything else but math and reading, but I hope you can see that a strong foundation is essential to higher learning. If your child is struggling in either of these areas, and you are sure that you are not dealing with a readiness issue, then I implore you to stop, look and listen.

Stop what your student is doing in everything else for a time.

Look and identify exactly what the problem is in nature. Is it an attitude thing? If so, there is some important work that needs to be done immediately. If it is a readiness issue, if the math book for example says it is time to do fractions but your child can not grasp the concept with repeated and varied instruction, then set it aside for a time.

Trust your instincts here. You know your child better than anyone else does. Be honest with yourself about the issue.

Listen to your child. What is he or she really saying? If he is saying he doesn’t like to read, why doesn’t he like to read? Would he benefit from choosing his own books from the library? Is his free time filled up with too much electronic noise? Or does he struggle with understanding phonics? Find out the “whys” by listening and then formulate a plan to rememdy the situation.

Your plan of action may not work overnight especially if you are dealing with an attitude situation or a readiness situation, but be encouraged that you will have a strong foundation if you deal with issues now. (Attitude issues don’t go away by themselves.)

Reading and math skills are essential to a good showing on the SAT and ACT exams.

Parents frequently ask me for the secret to good test scores.

The secret to solid test scores is a solid foundation in reading and math.

Don’t worry so much about writing and composition. Those can be developed, but they stem from a strong reading ability.

Know what you want out of homeschooling, begin with the basics, hone the basics, and add in anything else that your student can handle without becoming distracted from the basics. Always expect Mastery. That is my exclusive recipe for outstanding results in the homeschool.

Perhaps I will do a little thing on what to consider for the elementary, middle, and high school years in more detail. I’ll ponder that and perhaps put up a separate page. Also coming soon is a Mastery page and a Self-Teaching page. Because this blog is a baby blog, I have not had a chance to deck the halls with all of the stuff I want to have available for you.

Have a great Monday! Thank you for being here!






~ Reasons for Home Education ~

June 22, 2008

Hello again!

Last we spoke, we were examining our motives for homeschooling and putting this explanation in writing, posting it somewhere or at least knowing where it was written down so that we can refer to it for inspiration and clarification during those tough times when we may need reminding as to why we are doing this to ourselves. 🙂

Have you done this exercise yet? It is step one to achieving focus.

For example, here is why we homeschool:

Opening the hearts and minds of my children to whatever comes across their paths in 12 years’ time is unthinkable, which is exactly what happens when the teacher roulette wheel is spun in a public or private school setting.

I remember a mom explaining to me that her child’s public school teacher is a Christian, as if that makes it okay to place the very thing one cares most about in this life into the care of a complete stranger.

Disclaimer: I believe that God can use anything, and I do believe that he uses people within the public and private school systems to His glory.

Please understand that I merely believe that as parents, we have a higher calling than giving in to the government school system. But I still will not venture to make laws for anybody else, nor would I say that home education is the best choice in every situation for every family.

“Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get,” explains Forrest Gump quite humbly. 

Anything other than homeschooling is like a box of chocolates, and who wants to risk what might be gotten?

I want to know what is in my children’s heads. I want to be the former of their manners, the gatekeeper, so to speak, of all that enters the home. I sound like a control freak, don’t I? With my young ‘uns, I *so* am. Like it’s a bad thing?

Moreover, we are called to this exact task as parents. It’s our job. The world calls it “overprotective,” a “Bubble Mentality.” I call it love.

There is a peaceable and excellent alternative to outside education, and I pledge my life to take up my God-given responsibility to instill excellence in my children.

That is why we homeschool.

Your reasons for home education may be totally different, but that is certainly not a problem. I suspect they may be quite similar, however, from the reasons I have heard from moms and dads over the past seven years of asking.


Now, what do you want to accomplish via homeschooling? What are your goals for your children?

“To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God and man,”

For our family, that sums it up quite nicely. I want my children to love each other despite spending their days in close quarters together.

I want my children to be loving, obedient, cheerful, respectful, and helpful. I want them to strive to do their work with excellence, whether it is cleaning up the kitchen or writing an essay. (They are allowed to have bad days! ;-))

I want to be a family with all that entails and not a chopped up family with a couple of kids going here for the day and a couple going to middle school for the day and the others off to high school for the day. We may even get to have a meal together on the weekends….maybe. [Shudder]

How can this possibly be allowed by parents to be the norm for their families? Yet all over America, this scenario plays out in homes day after day after day after day.

If my children are not home with me or I with them, my efforts are self-defeating. The character items can not be consistently formed in them without oversight from mom and/or dad. Once character is formed, is not easily changed.

However, once good characer is formed, constant supervision becomes unnecessary, and true self-teaching can begin. The character part comes first and can not be ignored! Mastery can now be achieved.

There is so much to be said on this topic of reasons for homeschooling. I hope you will comment here and toss in your thoughts on “Why homeschool?” I will pause here in my diatribe to give you a voice. Don’t be shy! I would love to read your comments.

~ Excellence is always an option ~

June 21, 2008

I just love that thought and wanted to blog it.

~ Focus : Part One ~

June 20, 2008

A major difference between successful homeschoolers and those who find they scramble along feeling somewhat tentative about the whole process can be summed up in one word: FOCUS.

As homeschooling has evolved as an economic force with which to be reckoned, the number of products made for homeschoolers has sky-rocketed. Never before have there been so many different types of curriculum and pseudo-curriculum from which to choose. One step in the door of a Homeschool Convention and you will know just what I mean. (You undoubtedly already knew!)

Let’s forget about products and curriculum for a few minutes.

What do you want to accomplish in your homeschool?

To answer that question, ask yourself, “Why do I homeschool?” 

Write down your answer somewhere prominent. I recommend having it tattooed on the back of your right hand.

You will want to refer to these results over and over again. Most of us need to have a visual reminder of why we are adopting this particular lifestyle as some days tend to cloud the issue for us.

Once you understand what it is you want to accomplish via homeschooling, then you have a marvelous starting point; you have focus.

Next we’ll talk about what to do with that focus.

I’ll be back soon and pick up here. =D

~ What did you learn today? ~

June 20, 2008

It is actually 12:25 a.m. no matter what time this blog says it is, as I haven’t reconciled my blog time with Tennessee time yet. As I am getting ready for bed, I am thinking over the day’s activities: high points, low points, and points in between.

What did I learn today that I want to truly remember and grow from? 

If I ever go through a day without learning something valuable, no matter how small the nugget of wisdom, then I have truly wasted time. Same thing for you, my friend. Learning means we are truly alive!

So here is what I do: I have a notebook on the little table beside my side of the bed. Before becoming engrossed in a book and falling asleep, I take time to look back on the day and write at least one thing I have gleaned from the day’s events. It is surprisingly easy!

If you do this every night, in one year’s time you will have 365 important lessons you have learned, and you actually will have a book in rough draft format!

Here’s my challenge: take some time each day either at the end of your work day if you work outside of the home or before you go to sleep each evening and ponder the question, “What have I learned today?”

It is pretty fun to see the entries adding up over time.

Jot down just a quick sentence or two, nothing major, but enough to provoke your memory into recollection of that happening at some point down the road when you look back at today’s entry.

Nothing big. Just real good stuff that you will be amazed at when you look back on it one year from now. Go ahead and get started! Learn and grow; don’t learn and forget.

What did I learn today? I learned that little girls should always wear shoes when walking through grass containing clover even if they are just walking over to the pool. I also learned that six year olds can shriek pretty loudly when stung.

What I *really* learned was that I need to enforce my rules more stringently and also that experience oftentimes is the best teacher. 

I shall go write this sentence in my notebook and turn out the light.

What did YOU learn today?


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