Category Archives: Empowerment

Trusting Children

TrustingChildren

There is no ONE home educating expert, but  each family and child are their own best expert as to what works best for them each day while living and learning.

That said,there is a lot of great information that will inspire you to learn to trust yourself as being your own best expert if you choose the path of educating at home.

This time of year, I often get emails or phone calls from families wanting to know more about homeschooling.  Some want to know about public e-schools, some want to explore part-time enrollment, and others are ready to start the journey of home education.
Like any life choice, you gather what you can from others, from books, the Internet and then you choose what method(s) will be best for you.  No matter what you choose, no one will ever walk in your shoes, nor follow the same path you or your children will, so enjoy the journey. It is as unique as you and your family.  There are no RIGHT ways just the way that best serves you, your child and your family.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of my favorite quotes that have inspired me over the years, and have helped me to enjoy my journey in the diverse community of home educators.

Come to the Carnival!

I will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week on May 29th and I’m grateful to the Cate’s for their continued invitations to host the carnival here.

I’m particularly appreciative since  I’ve been woefully neglectful of this blog as of late, but the main reason I originally created it was not for my posts,  but to share information  such as  Sue Duncan’s  OH-Alerts.   The opportunity of hosting the carnival a couple of times of year is another reason I happily keep it online.

Hosting the carnival always leads me back to the wonderful path home education led our family down over the years.  This quote by John Taylor Gatto  says it all:

“Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.”– John Taylor Gatto

I hope you will stop by next week to visit or submit a post!

 

 

Wooing homeschoolers back into school

Westcoaster.ca reported  that a BC superintendent stated that wooing homeschoolers back into their system  could be a wooing and luring homeschoolerssolution to their financial woes.

I’ve always supported the right for a family to choose the educational option that is best for their child, whether it be homeschooling, unschooling, private or public school.  What I’m never in favor of is children being seen as dollar signs, but unfortunately as  education has grown into a business, private or public, children become viewed  as numbers.  When added up those numbers  equal dollar signs. I never saw this so clearly as when I did research on school funding and realized that children weren’t just listed as whole numbers, but due to accountability, were listed as decimals.  You know, 2.5 children attended such and such class. I recall a school treasurer explaining it to me, and I suppose from a business standpoint it must be done that way to match up the funding with various programs and needs. However,  those children equaling 299.5 instead of the whole 300 is  what comes to mind when I read articles where superintendents or school boards see wooing back homeschoolers is the answer to their woes.    It happens here in the states as well.

It seems the golden rule should be applied here.  Each child is unique and deserves the best education their family chooses and can provide. If folks treat each other as they’d like to be treated, then those homeschoolers wanting to return would feel welcome no matter what and not feel their beeing wooed, but welcomed.

Best Homeschool Resources

The best homeschool resources I have found can’t be purchased, but are knowing your rights and the responsibilities foundation, best homeschool resources, rights and responsibilitiesthat accompany them. This way, you are fully aware of what options you can choose and if someone asks you to do more or less than that option,  you are fully informed and can protect your choice.

This has come to mind today as I watched a report that Susan Ryan shared at her Corn and Oil blog from Fox News about Virtual Schooling. The show started with the reporters stating how homeschooling is growing like wildfire as an intro to an interview with  Elizabeth Kanna, author of Virtual Schooling, A Guide to Optimizing Your Child’s Education.

Kudos  to miss Ms. Kanna for getting it right when she explained that the virtual schools she writes about are actually public virtual schools and that they are not the same as homeschooling.    Certainly there are many similarities, but it is important to remember when exploring various education  options that we  must investigate each choice and look at the fine print attached to determine the best option for our family.    That is why I’m in favor of rights and responsibilities being the foundation and key to finding the best homeschool resources available.   As we investigate any choice or opportunity, it is our responsibility to ask the hard questions and to learn all we can before choosing.  Clarity of language similar to Ms. Kanna’s helps to find  the rights to this option all the easier.

Each state is different, but I’m familiar with the laws in my state concerning home education. In Ohio- home education laws and rules can be found within a few short chapters of the  Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education.   Virtual Public School Laws can be found in the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3314 and include  many more laws since they are public schools.

Knowing the rights and responsibilities  involved with each choice, whether  they are labeled public virtual school, public brick and mortar school, private school or home education,  provides an excellent foundation for parents to be able to  find the best resources for their child(ren).

Still here…

I apologize for dropping off the face of the blogosphere for the last few weeks.  I’ve been busy with other projects, but most of all, I have rights and responsibilities, Corn and Oilbeen preoccupied  helping my youngest get ready to move away to college and away from home for the first time.   My last post before my brief respite, was “Let Them Be Little” and I posted it in honor of the gift of time that homeschooling gave us.  We have enjoyed  countless moments,  hours and years that have blessed our lives.

I’m reformatting things a bit, and won’t always be posting daily, but I still look forward to exploring  and sharing great resources here with you.

One great resource is Susan Ryan’s Corn and Oil Blog.  Susan remains a tireless advocate and really understands the importance of knowing your rights and that responsibly protecting them gives each family the freedom to live and learn in a way that best meets their needs.  She has an important post up this week, Don’t Write These Laws on Our Children that you won’t want to miss.

– Mary

Better Late Than Early

Better Late Than Early; A New Approach to Your Child’s Education by Raymond S. Moor and Dorothy N. Moore was one of the first books I ever read about homeschooling.    I purchased and read it over twenty years ago,  and I still have the tattered  book with many of my favorite passages highlighted.

Books such as Better Late Than Early encouraged me when many of my friend’s children were  beginning school early and following a very different path than we had chosen.    As I’m thumbing through it again, I realize that the information remains relevant today and I wanted to share some snippets as encouragement.

During the first crucial eight years, home should be the child’s only nest and parents the teachers for their children.  These are the years when the child requires affection and emotional security more than learning skills, when he should be able to get ready for life unfettered by school rules. - page 3

This statement was particularly helpful to me when friends were critical of our choice to educate at home:

It is time to look at the facts instead of at the neighbors.  Just because “everyone is doing ” it,” does not mean that “it” is safe or good or secure for children. - page 7

I also recall reading ,  Without professional training, simply by being herself, a concerned, loving mother usually can do more for her normal child than a teach can.  Parents should, of course, be willing to learn news ideas.  But a mother need not be a trained teacher, nor does she need to teach in any formal way.  By using the framework of every day home activities in a practical way, she can help her children learn as much as possible about the things around him.

If you are just starting out, or maybe in the midst of a challenge, trust your heart, your instincts and most importantly, trust your children. My boys are both in college now and I wouldn’t trade a minute of memories we shared while  homeschooling.  Those precious first eight years the Moore’s wrote about  nesting are irreplaceable, and for us,  late really was better than early.

2009 VaHomeschoolers Conference and Resource Fair

Experience Life.  Experience  Learning.  Homeschool!   The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers 2009 Conference and Resource Fair will be held May 22-23 at the Science Museum in Richmond, VA.  Join us for a weekend of information and support with homeschoolers throughout Virginia and see how we experience life and experience learning by schooling our children at home.  VaHomeschoolers welcomes featured speaker Kathleen Melin, author of By Heart: A Mother’s Story of Children and Learning at Home.  Through her warm and delightful story, Kathleen reminds us that despite the daily grind, busy schedules and pressure of not living up to our own expectations, we are the experts of our own lives and the best teachers of our children.   Kathleen will also speak on reluctant writers and customizing curricula with resources and formats beyond textbooks and worksheets.  VaHomeschoolers offers our most comprehensive conference yet with sessions on homeschooling teens, struggling learners, co-ops, teaching history and science, beginning homeschooling, socialization and many more!  Visit our expanded vendor hall for the latest in homeschooling resources, then shop for great deals on curricula and homeschool materials at the used resource fair.   There’s fun for the whole family with a puppet show, storytelling and ice cream social.   For more information visit www.vahomeschoolers.org/conference/.

Child Abuse does not = homeschooling

Have you  seen the recent headlines from the UK, Children’s Minister: Home education ‘may be cover for abuse’ and some of the responses such as Parents object to plans for home school probe and this one at Dare to Know?

We’ve seen these types of headlines lead to calls for more  accountability measures for home educators in the US as well.  However, in almost every abuse case that I have read about, there were usually prior complaints.  Additionally,  the common factor was not the  educational choice, but the mentally ill or criminally insane individual(s) who could unfathomably harm an innocent child and the backlog  of work facing child protective services.

Such media reports that single out homeschoolers  always prompt  me to ask, what about the abuse that happens in schools?  Unfortunately criminal and insane behavior is no respecter of persons and indeed it does cross all areas of society and educational choices.  Recently, a very popular band leader at my town’s high-school  was found to have had developed an inappropriate relationship with a student.  He had been here for several years and had really helped the band program become something the students and community are proud of.  Being well liked,  the news came as a shock, but that does not make it any easier on the young woman or her family.   And yes it has been reported that he had prior complaints at a previous school.    Should this lead the authorities to create new “band leader”  laws to prevent another band leader from abusing a student?   As foolish as that sounds, it is a perfect example of what happens when hard cases are used to create bad laws.

No sane individual ever likes to hear of a child being abused, but the continued effort by some to connect it with certain educational choice adds unnecessary  confusion  since the choice irrelevant.  Instead of imposing new laws on the innocent, investigators should follow complaints, enforce present laws and do all they can to assure that children who may be in questionable circumstances know how to  get out of them.

Certainly  the media’s words sting, but it  is the legislators’ intent and pens we must watch for to make sure that bad laws do not develop from hard cases.     The UK headline is yet another  example of  why homeschoolers must be continually vigilant.

We’ve come so far… Congratulations President Obama

This is not intended to  be  a political commentary.  I don’t know President Obama,  nor Vice President Biden, but I have enjoyed watching friends, neighbors and others  get involved with important political matters while being involved in their campaign.   I hope that we are truly seeing the beginning of a revolution of individuals  realizing that the only way one can claim their rights is to understand the responsibilities that accompany them.  The intent was never for this country to be a top down bureaucracy, but a body of informed citizens.  Ralph Nader has said, “There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.”

Again, this is not a political commentary, but a heartfelt post and I hope you will allow me to bask in today’s history for a moment.  I am northern Ohio born and raised, so a visit to the  southern town of Ft. Smith, Arkansas  in the mid-sixties came as a shock to me.  I was mortified that African Americans had to use different water fountains, restrooms and were still not treated with the equality that even I, a small child knew they deserved.    A few years later an African American friend and I often walked home together.  We were teased by some because of the color of his skin and I remember the anger I felt and the words I used in response to the tormenters’ ignorant remarks.   The reality is that I’ve only witnessed a very small bit of racism in my time, but like anyone else in today’s world, I know more about it than I care to.

I don’t believe the President’s ethnicity is what won this political race, but nonetheless,  I’m proud to be an American today and to have witnessed this day in history.

May God Bless America and may we remember, no matter who our elected officials may be, we  American citizens  must remain active, vigilant and involved in the process of protecting our rights and freedoms.

Tuition free, at-risk and another homeschool benefit

While cleaning out my email box I came upon an inquiry I had received from a new charter school board member in October.  He was asking me to share his school’s marketing with some of my fellow Ohio homeschoolers.   Here is part of what he wrote that caught my eye:

As a community school, it charges NO TUITION and welcomes students from any district.

Charter schools repeatedly claim that one of their benefits is that they don’t charge tuition.  Certainly no tuition is charged directly to the family, but that can be said of any public school.   As an Ohio taxpayer, I can attest to the fact that we are indeed paying for funding and my tax bill proves the old adage of there being no free lunch.

Second thought from the email that caught my attention:

I know from my own research that many gifted students are homeschooled due to lack of choice in public education. I was hoping to spread the word that there IS now a choice for these at-risk students.

I was reminded that if I want to understand what educators and others think of homeschoolers, I have to understand their language.   Don’t misunderstand, I am not a fan of standards, or labels, but Hoagie’s Gifted site explains a bit about gifted children being identified as at risk.

Many of the labels educrats use and create, including words such as at-risk are related to funding.  Susan Ryan at Corn and Oil has a great post today on school funding, One More Time….Schools $ Interest in homeschoolers.

I’ve been recently reading an old favorite,  Home Style Teaching  by Raymond and Dorothy Moore again and I came upon this still relevant section about education:

The Fallacy of Assembly-Line Schooling

Most of us teach as we were taught; unfortunately, many of us were not taught well.  So there are quite a few teachers who act as though teaching were a mechanical infusion of knowledge—as with a nipple, a teaspoon, a funnel, or a sledge.   Many teachers thoughtlessly conclude that all children in the same class or of the same age should learn the same amount of the same things at about the same times and that they will come off the assembly line in about the same shapes with about the same equipment.  It never occurs to them that some youngsters are “triangular,” some are “cylindrical,” some are “rectangular,” and some are oddly shaped.  But they try to drive them all through the same “square” hole.

Our children— in America, a trust “under God” –are caught in a system handed down by Greek and Roman philosophers which we randomly called the “liberal arts and sciences” or the “humanities,” and which includes along with classics some occasional academic skills.  Many glorify this traditional system.  To them, a reading of the Harvard Classics makes a gentleman. The recent Paideia Proposal of Encyclopedia Britannica’s Mortimer Adler largely espouses this theory of sameness and tradition.  It claims to be creative, but in fact turns off free exploration and proscribes genius at even earlier ages. Tradition has its place, but it must not be allowed to dampen creativity or to limit initiative in either child or adult.

For most youngsters (and even teachers), this Greco-Roman heritage is an exercise in endurance whose only meaning for them is that they will be accepted, conventional, and will be doing what everyone else is doing, with as much rivalry as can be developed in a system which cultivates more repetition than original thought.  Expedience generally reigns.  Principle–the basic reason for conclusion —is ignored, because it is not known or even considered.  It doesn’t occur to many teachers that children should know whys and hows.  Social pressure becomes the highest laws, and it its train follow expedience, ignorance, and learning failure.  This absence of thought and common sense in turn destroys creativity and brings a stupidity that breeds moral recklessness and decay.

–Moore, Raymond and Dorothy. Home Style Teaching. Waco: Word Books, 1984.

When I was in 2nd grade (back in the dinosaur age), I remember my first encounter with labels.  I was in the “A” group of readers assigned to helping those in the “B” group who were having some trouble learning to read.   To this day I can still feel my  “B” group classmate’s embarrassment and sadness.  As an adult I was thrilled to read research by the Moores proving that it is natural that everyone learn to read at different ages.  I hope that all those forced into remedial groups in school have learned the same.

I do understand that many in education truly are trying to help children learn and many are trying to create new opportunities.   I support their efforts.  However, it seems that they should take a long hard look at labels and that the more standards that are created, the heavier the load becomes on those children to succeed to keep those funds that are attached to the labels coming in.  In my opinion, it seems to places children as a part of a business model and it becomes more about the money and less about the learning.

This makes me all the more thankful for the freedom to educate our children at home and all the more vigilant to protect what we have.  It also compels me to continue to reach out to all parents and help them find the rights and responsibilities that accompany any choice they make for their family.