19 June 2011

Homeschool Home Help?

Question: do you want your curriculum provider to give you advice on how to run your home?

I'm just wondering. I've noticed that quite a few curriculum providers either offer newsletters with advice on how to run the household, or forums on how to get it all done/how much they love the curriculum.

I was remarking the other day that it bothered me that so many of the conference topics at the latest local homeschool convention were about Godly lifestyles, Godly parenting, time management, and that sort of thing. It irked me because while I understand that homeschooling is a lifestyle CHOICE, it's also (mostly) about the education of my child. Which means I'd want to see more about "how to keep a plan book" or how to do a workbox system or even a chat from XYZ Curriculum about "How to Teach XYZ."

Alpha Omega has a very helpful little section in the beginning of the teacher manuals about how to structure a "school" day and what they recommend for a grading system and how to keep track of that. I know I've read some sample schedules from Bob Jones about how they recommend parents teach their curriculum. I appreciate that they don't tell me, specifically, how to make sure the laundry gets done.

Am I the only one who gets insulted by such advice from a business? It's one thing if I'm doodling on the blogs and talking about what a lax parent I am IRL and somebody gives a shout in the comments about "get up at 3 a.m. and you will have enough time for it all." But seriously. Do you think at the public school Teacher Inservice Days that they instruct the (mostly female) teachers on how to run their homes? They'd be mad, and likely the administration would receive many complaints about how that's a line that shouldn't be crossed.

But homeschoolers? It almost seems as though many of them WANT this advice from businesses in a "forum" section or even advice in a newsletter. I think I must be the only one who doesn't appreciate that. I'd like to hear what YOU think, though.


  1. Never having had curriculum, I can't speak on that. I *will* say that on my local eloop a friend recommended a day planner that not only has room for your day to day schedule, but also the kids work all in one book. It also has a birthday/anniversary section, a budget/expense section, as well as pre-made report cards that tear out. Phenomenal book. Only drawback? VERY preachy, very instructional in a religious sense. I am a Christian, but not every homeschooler is a Bible beater. I love the planner, but as the head of a secular co-op, I know it would raise eyebrows if I brought my 'churchy' planner with me to meetings and class. An identical version for those who don't need Bible verses and reminders on each page of how to be a better child of God would be nice. I don't need my planner to be my Bible. I have one. And it's well read! :)

  2. I DO NOT want help organizing and running my home and never have. I did take note of a piece of advice once a very long time ago from Dr. Raymond Moore (Homeschooling Handbook) concerning keeping a neat home as a form of preemptive self defense should family services come calling. But the advice was sensible--you know--make sure the dishes are done, the beds are made, and simple records are kept. But otherwise, any time a book or curriculum starts lecturing me on how to keep a clean and/or Godly home, I put it down and don't go back.

  3. Blondee, it strikes me oddly that "Bible study" often consists of "stuff other people wrote with Bible verses interspersed." I can see the need for a concordance and some explanation behind the culture of the times (wheat, chaff, why are tax collectors in the Bible frowned upon, etc.) but it seems SO MUCH of what passes for "Bible study" is the author going off on pet peeves and giving examples of this and that in her own life and telling long and irrelevant stories. I find this particularly vexing when listening to radio programs.

    "Bible study" is often a mile wide and an inch deep. Thus the little snippets of verses on each page... syrupy wisps of encouragement that have no hard substance because they lack context. You can't LEAN on truth like that.

    I don't necessarily believe that God's Word can't be an important part of my life or my children's studies, however. But yeah, I'm not ashamed of the Gospel, but I wouldn't go into a SECULAR co-op with a Bible-y planner. Mostly because I would want everyone to feel welcome. I would sure use it at home, though, if I felt it were helpful! :)

    Mary, that is a good and solid piece of advice. Barring extreme illness, our homes should be kept so that they do NOT look like something out of "Hoarders." But I'm assuming the guy doesn't go into how often one must sweep and provide a planner on the issue.

    BTW everyone I've seen these planners, the Manager of the Home or whatever. It's an interesting concept but strikes me as more than a little anal. Room looks dirty? Clean it. *shrug*

  4. You hit the nail on the head.... ANNOYING! I purchased a language arts curriculum this past year that came highly recommended to find it was just short of a bible. Harumph! My kids were already taking a world-view class. I needed language arts!

    This year, I am purchasing a stack of public school text books. We can discuss items that we disagree with and how it reflects with our beliefs... I'd rather that than being preached at all day.

  5. I laughed my head off at your comment. You know, we use Rod and Staff for English grammar instruction. It's a *lovely* and solid text. But almost every sentence is about Jesus or life on the rural farm. The thing is, they're upfront about their religious slant and I don't mind reading about Jesus or life on the rural farm. But I think their catalogues are extremely preachy about how children should actually be in school.

    Really. Okayyy. I notice they sure don't mind making money off the homeschoolers.

  6. Good point, Mrs. C. And I completely agree with you about the homeschool convention thing. In fact, that's why my mom decided to start offering to speak at conventions (and she hates public speaking!). She asked one day, "Where are the speakers who talk about homeschooling at homeschool conventions?" [smile]

    As for companies offering resources/suggestions for organization, time management, teaching with toddlers, doing stuff over the summer and so forth... guilty as charged (of course, we also have resources--as you suggest--on how to teach with XYZ curriculum [smile]). The split between homeschoolers and public school teachers is that homeschoolers combine the two (home and school). And sometimes people like suggestions from others on how to do that better. But, yes, it would be crazy annoying to be told that this is how you must run your home. But isn't advice--especially when you search it out--appreciated?

    So, again: I agree that homeschool companies--and conventions--should focus on homeschooling... but I don't see anything wrong with offering insights from those who have gone before and have suggestions. This is one of the reasons I love reading blogs: There is so much to learn from the blogging homeschool community about the home/school interplay.

    Fair? What did I miss?


  7. Totally agree, and in fact... this was the very reason I stopped attending our state's homeschool convention. The year I just couldn't find time to go, they had whole blocks of time on the agrarian lifestyle interspersed with a few antivaccine lectures. This year, they had a speaker who has adopted 12 children with fetal alcohol syndrome. He is a legend in the field of FASD. I few years ago, I might have loved to listen to him. But, he isn't a homeschooler. And, what I needed as a mom homeschooling a child with FASD was related to her learning needs not on how to parenther in general.

  8. I would have to say that I agree with Blondee on this one, although I have bought curricula, not everyone wants the "preachy planner"...I know that I run my home in a certain way as does everyone else. I dont even purchase planners I just make my own at home. I dont mind the tips that some websites offer because some are good or at least make you think for a moment on the advice however I think that how one runs their home is their business and everyone is different so they arent going to take the tip or advice the same way. Overall I believe it shouldnt be in newsletters or anything, I think if they have a interview with someone and that person shares how they run the home then fine, but other then that I dont think it should be in a newsletter or forum...

  9. I think it depends up on your homeschooling philosophy. I don't go to homeschooling conventions or venues because they are too generic for what I need. Homeschooling a la Charlotte Mason is more than picking out curricula, and, if I got a generic lecture on how to raise your kid because I picked a particular book, I would ignore it.

    If you go to a CM conference expecting to pick up "how to" and "curricula only", you will be disappointed. Our focus is more on what does it mean to view a child as a person, is habit training just more carrot and stick stuff (it's not pure behaviorism), etc.

    So, I think it is important to know what you need as a homeschooler, whether that is just the books OR more on the philosophy you prefer.

  10. Luke, you knew I was talking about Sonlight when I mentioned the forum! But hey, it's not required to do the curriculum and a forum is just a place to gab. I am *imagining* you don't discuss getting the laundry done in the IGs.

    But I do think an overemphasis on "how to balance academic needs and still get laundry done" types of posts reinforce to the world "out there" that homeschoolers are scatterbrained and don't manage well and/or the idea that one can't have a solid academic program and a clean house simultaneously.

    Mind you, I am getting to the point where it is extremely, extremely difficult for me but I imagine I have if not a unique situation, at least a highly unusual one. :)

    Julie, I think that vaccines are a highly EXPLOSIVE issue and whether a given child receives them should be decided by the parent. Alone. No goading by doctors OR anti-vaccine people. Just put the information out there on a website and let me read it myself.

    Now that being said, with the bees and whatnot, you could run one of those conferences... :)

    Hi, Kris! I've missed you! I agree; *overall* it really doesn't need to be in the newsletters.

    Tammy, I guess if you are looking into a philosophy in which the academics are intertwined with a given parenting philosophy, that would be different... I just don't see it quite so strongly. Particularly as some of the curricula I like have a more "turn or burn" flavour theologically than I espouse personally.

  11. I find it obnoxious to be given unsolicited advice on how to run my household. If I am looking for something specific - that's what the internet is for. But to have certain things shoved down my throat...not a fan. I make my own school planner that stays with the school stuff, and I don't really get why someone would want to combine it with their life planner and lug a giant book everywhere.

    Talking about curriculum in general, I find myself either using secular materials or ones that are completely neutral (i.e. Real Science 4 Kids). I don't want to hear a bunch of evolution talk OR be preached to on every page. It's a fine line to walk, and I have specifically had a hard time finding a History program that doesn't offend me in some way or other.

    I didn't even go to this year's HS conference, because when I looked at the speaking schedule, there weren't any speakers talking about the nuts and bolts of homeschooling - instead they were all focused on how to have dinner together or how to chose Biblical entertainment or how to make Math into a Christian subject or a lot of other preachy things that I can get from church and are not related to homeschooling at all.

    Plus, last year they disinvited Sonlight and that upset me (even though I am not a Sonlight user).

    Blurgh. Guess you struck a nerve, Mrs. C!

  12. Yeah, I guess I did! And the more I think about it, the more I "get" that this sort of advice is just what someone who is starting out wants because they wonder, "CAN I do all these things and homeschool?"

    But I guess my beef is, these are the sorts of questions one really ought to ask in the PLANNING stage of the game. Rathermuch like the "socialization" question. The question isn't so much whether homeschoolers are socialized or not, but how YOU will endeavour to socialize YOURS. :)

  13. Interesting! While I crave a schedule and a nice clean house, those things are all a pipe dream for us. LOL! Although, I must give the illusion of being organized to the outside world....

    Anyway, this is one of the reasons I haven't even bothered with a homeschool conference. Number one - we are so far outside of anything ordinary, I haven't found any conferences that looked like we would gain anything at all. We can't just pick a curriculum and go with it. Christopher just doesn't learn that way.

    Most of our homeschool (and life) is geared around how he is doing. (God Bless folks with more than one seriously medically involved child. THey are either super-parents or slightly clueless). We (I) routinely have 40-50 hour days. In our home, homeschool happens while cleaning up explosive diarrhea for the 4th time in a day (Home Ec/Life studies - this is the way you make a bed, this is how you dress, etc), or hooking him to the feeding pump (counting the numbers on the pump). I'm thinking nobody gives a class on our curriculum - Bible based or not. LOL ;P



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