12 June 2008

Homeschooling Hows and Whys - Part Three

Do you have to be given any kind of 'test' in order to homeschool your kids?

In the state of Missouri, no. Theoretically, I could be totally illiterate, but so long as I "provide instruction" in the core areas of reading, science, communication arts (that's English, all you old folks!), mathematics and social studies, and keep a record book and portfolio of my child's progress, it would be totally legal.

Though how to do all those things without at least a functionally literate friend involved in the process would be tricky.

I know you are not dumb, but what if some really dumb person wants to homeschool their kids? Then their spelling and maths etc. is hopeless too!

I don't want to misconstrue what Tracey is asking, because it's a good question. Why shouldn't there be some minimum standard to teach a child? Surely teaching a child is a very important undertaking. But I'm also of the opinion that parents, even very illiterate and/or unintelligent parents, for the most part have their child's best interest at heart. And most people know when they're in over their heads.

I need to hop on a little rabbit trail for a minute... bear with me and hop along, too...

Speaking comes quite naturally to most children. I can speak in full sentences, and my oldest child learned to speak well enough so that we were unconcerned about his speech. I didn't need to get an expert with a degree in speech therapy to help me. However, even though I'm an experienced parent, with my fifth child baby J, I'm calling in some help. J is almost 19 months now and does not even imitate sounds. Even though I'm "smart," I do not feel comfortable any longer doing this on my own without at least a little assistance and guidance from someone with some highly specific training on how to help children who are slow to speak.

The speech therapist doesn't come over and take over my parenting for eight to ten hours a day, but she does pop by once a week and help us learn a new sign or two and works with J a bit on signing. I think it's an unusual circumstance, however, that children are unable to function on a basic and age-appropriate level without specialists involved in their education. Usually Mom or Dad fits the bill just fine.

Ok, we're hopping back...

I suppose I have to flip the question upside-down in my mind as well. WHO is going to decide when I'm good enough? And why would they have that authority? Anytime I hear questions about my qualifications or lack thereof, I don't take it personally for myself. I'm college-educated and can turn a phrase reasonably well. People generally don't cackle at my typos and lack of good grammar. I'd probably be able to pass any test they could throw at me.

But what about other parents? There are plenty of very good parents raising their children who may not be able to express themselves as well, but who deserve every chance with their children. And it's my firm belief that we've sneered too much at the vocational-type student or the janitors and grocery-clerking jobs. There are vast numbers of folks working these jobs that keep our economy going and *deserve* to be proud of the work they do. And learning physics and reading Antigone in the original Greek are not qualifications for that work. Maybe we need to let up a little. It's a big world out there, and I'm not going to say that the mom who is raising her daughter to know very little about math but much about sewing is doing her a disservice.

I guess I'm just all for toleration of others, even while knowing that such toleration means that some parents really *will* do a crummy job. Some parents who send their kids to public schools do a crummy job, too, but I think that point may be immaterial to the matter at hand. I suppose I see the encroachment of the state into every area of my life, and I'd like my children's minds to be free.

Of course, I say that, and then I send my older two kids on the yellow school bus because I'm a hypocrite. *shrug* See? I need to be tolerant because I'm not perfect myself. ;]

8 comments:

  1. I see what you are saying. I know that the curriculum I am following is watched and they do have to take tests to see how they are coming along. Some other curriculums don't do that but I preferred to be. I never intended on being my children's teacher at all when I first began having children. Now, I've only been homeschooling for a few months and my kids read better than most their age. So I feel more confident following a curriculum because I can go a little behind or a little ahead. I do have time restraints though. I have 12 months to finish a grade. Since I started later, I have to go through the summer. I have to say that my kids have learned soooo much since I've become their teacher. No, I don't have a degree. I have a certificate. That's about it. My kids get their own personal tutor instead of being in a class of 33 where they came from and riding the bus for two hours.

    I may not be the most edukated pursen on the plannet, butt I shure wheel give mye best shott!

    Ha ha. No really, the great thing is if I ever need help in any one subject as they get older, though they get a free tutor that will come in and work with them one on one. I just love the curriculum I chose. ;)

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  2. I'm really glad you took the time to answer these questions.

    I should talk about it more, just so people will know that not every homeschooler is an extremist.

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  3. My mother had some college before homeschooling me. She told me when I was still in public high school that I was better educated than she was. Does that mean she couldn't teach me how to read, write, and do math? Not at all. It meant she couldn't help explain my pre-algebra or grade my high school essays as well as others could.

    I'm fully equipped, right now, to homeschool at the elementary level. Teaching someone to read is, for the most part, not that difficult. I think it gets more tricky as you go up - it's harder to teach biology at home than it is some other things, for example, unless you know someone who happens to know a lot about biology.

    IMHO, the elementary level is the place where homeschooling is most beneficial. Instead of sitting in school all day, kids can get their formal learning done in two hours or less and do a lot of informal learning! I read extremely fast..because I was homeschooled for eleven years and had the time to read as much as I wanted to. I don't think it would've happened if I was in public school.

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  4. I really value your perspective. Reading your posts forces me to reconsider my own stance.Which has to be a good thing, whether I agree or disagree! You make homeschooling sound like the most reasonable, logical thing in the world. I wish I'd listened to the kid when she asked me to homeschool her all those years ago. It has always been my belief that it would not work for us. I always felt that homeschooling would only 'work' if there were multiple children (more than two). I always felt that she would not listen to or respect me as teacher (although I wonder why, she listens to and respects me as a parent, mostly). I always believed we would argue too much. That it would become a chore we would both hate. That certainly doesn't appear to be the case for you!

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  5. Nice! You've done a fantastic job with this post, I like it very much. I think about this also, and I don't really know where I'm at on it. I, more than anything else, worry about the homeschool parent who simply doesn't do the job.

    I like what you said about those who do jobs we've far too long sneered at. Very much. I am certain Jesus would be walking along, hanging out with them, and loving every single second of it, were he here today. It's got about nothing to do with us, does it.

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  6. The way I look at it, the world did fine throughout all of human history with "certified" teachers, so why should they be necessary now? In fact, it would seem that there are more problems with children being educated properly within the system of "certified" teachers that we have now! Any parent who is willing to live up to the role is qualified to be a teacher.. it's just a part of being a parent. It's a parent's job to teach his/her child lots of different things, academics included. There is nothing wrong with a parent getting help in teaching things to their children. I'm sure there are plenty of situations where a child knows more than his parents, but that doesn't mean the parents aren't good teachers.

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  7. Uh, I am a little behind on reading blogs!

    I appreciated what you said about vocational-type students. When we were still in public school, our school district had as a written in stone, apparently, goal that 80% of the students would be college bound. Marissa's near normal IQ meant that the school felt that she should be tracked as college bound. She couldn't keep up academically. She has wonderful character qualities, she is a hard worker, she has many talents... academics is not one of them. I wondered how many other students were in her shoes? How many students with marginal academic abilities are being told that they cannot be successful unless they go to college? If we decrease the standards in our colleges so that someone with marginal academic abilities can successfully graduate, what is the meaning or value of a college education?

    Anyway, great post. I have enjoyed your "Hows and Whys."

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  8. Julie, you are always welcome to comment no matter how old my post may be! I'm so blessed reading your blog as well and there are many perspectives on adoption I had not thought about until you brought them up.

    I appreciate all my commenters except my anonymous troll. :] I like how I can hop onto one blog and hear one perspective and group of friends, and go to a different gathering somewhere else.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)