~ Outsourcing Home Education ~

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!


6 Responses to ~ Outsourcing Home Education ~

  1. zhappyhomemaker says:

    What a great perspective. Thank you for taking the time to share the wisdom gained from your experience. As a homeschooler with children who are years away from high school, I love hearing what has worked for those who’ve gone before me.

    So far the only co-op experience we’ve had thus far was a weekly one-hour art class for my 7 y.o. It was great for him, but mostly because it helped us to see that my son genuinely has talent and gave us some extra confidence in our assessment. Now we have a better idea of where to go with this part of his education.

    It took him to a much higher level in just a few classes, but several of the other classes were a waste of time. Those were days they essentially did crafts. This year we will be looking for materials to help him get to the next level with just our support. And if that isn’t enough, maybe we’ll look into a 1-on-1 tutor. But just like he doesn’t need to sit in a first grade math lesson when he can do third grad math, why sit in an early elementary art class when he can do crafts at home?

    Thanks for helping build my confidence that just because those resources are AVAILABLE, doesn’t mean I have to use them!

  2. urthemom says:

    Thanks so much for your reply, Zhappy. =D

    How exciting to watch your budding artist grow into his abilities! Wahooo!

    I will be writing a column as well as an online blog column for Homeschool Enrichment Mag called “The Underwhelmed Homeschooler” that is designed to highlight the ways we as homeschooling moms can lighten our loads, go against the tide if necessary, all to garner the best education for our children with so much less effort.

    The column starts with the Sept/Oct issue, but the blog is coming ASAP at their web site if you are interested. It is a great mag, unlike most which tend towards idealism and less on practicality.

    Thank *you* for being here! Hugs to your young Michelangelo.


  3. Miss 376 says:

    It always amazes me what the children find out given the opportunities to do so. My boys are always coming out with things I don’t know because they have read about it. It definitely means they are able to go at the pace that is right for them, and not for a class full of children. And ecause they have found that information out for themselves, they remember it and fit it in with what they already know.

  4. This is a brilliant perspective and it is interesting why this occurs. We are in the UK and the only outsourcing we have done has been for our eldest (14) and this has been for an hour a week with a Drama group.

    My daughter wants to go on to study Drama and there is a qualification that children can take at 16 that is quite a useful stepping stone into further education. She also loves Drama and loves to mix with different people.

    I think the “outsourcing” occurs for a few reasons. It may be coming from a lack of confidence in their own abilities from parents. It may also be from the very ingrained idea that exams and qualifications are necessary to succeed in life.

    I have to say that we may still be guilty of that. We started home educating our daughters (now 12 and 14) just over a year ago, so perhaps we as parents still need to “unschool!”

    Perhaps we have been so conditioned into targets and measuring progress that it can be quite challenging to just enjoy the day and to realise that education in life is taking place in every moment around us.

    Amanda Goldston

  5. deldobuss says:

    The only ‘outsourcing’ that we have done for our soon to be 3rd grader is her gymnastics class, which we consider Physical Education. I see the draw points to co-op classes and mini schools, but I also see the drawbacks. You are giving over your parental authority just like you would in public school, there are not always Christian groups to join, even if they are Christian, they are varying degrees of maturity. You also have the ‘enjoyment’ of other homeschool families, but there is a fine line between enjoying and being amused. We must be careful not to let our desire for fellowship with others that are like us overshadow our children’s need for solid education.

  6. Polly says:

    Wonderful post! I highly agree! I walked away from *co-ops* years ago and never looked back! My dh says I need a t-shirt that says “Doesn’t play well with others”. :lol


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