Monthly Archives: May 2013

12 reasons I will be home schooling (Pt 2)

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This is the conclusion to the post I shared on Wednesday. If you missed it, you can read it here. I won’t recap but just pick right up where we left off:

Seventh, home school allows children a richer educational experience. This topic in itself could be a whole blog post but I’ll try to keep it short.

When I was a child, we created the solar system at scale with sidewalk chalk in our neighborhood. We went all over the country doing the Jr Ranger program (which teaches everything from geology to history) at a bunch of national parks. I learned civics long before going with my parents to the voting booth by studying the topics and doing work for causes and people I believed in. If anything the educational experiences of my younger siblings (and myself) were unfortunately curtailed my attendance at public school (dual enrollment) as I got older and we had to worry about attending classes at a public school.

When I did attend public school in a dual enrollment capacity, that allowed me to get the best of the public school, taking choir, newspaper, seminary, orchestra – electives that could not be taught in a small group setting as well or were too expensive to be part of my home school education – without having to deal with the “educational” requirements and academic low points of the system. Ideally, these courses would be offered in a home schooling co-op, but since they were not, I was able to take advantage of them to round out and enrich my education.

Moreover, home schooling allowed me to delve deeper into things that I was good at and that were valuable to me. Even as an adult, it is those areas that I knew early on that I liked and focused on that I still use regularly today. Because of all of these things, I feel like there is a richness to my understanding of educational concepts and love of America that I would not have gotten if I’d spent my education in a classroom.

Eighth, learning is more organic. It starts when children are very little (like we do with Monkey now) and just continues. While there are areas where “formal” schooling develops and is necessary, much of the learning process is just part of life. This is a true pattern of life. We learn from experience. We learn as we go. We learn because it’s there, because we are curious and because that curiosity was encouraged, directed and carefully curated in our early years or, if not, because as adults we have learned to value and train our curiosity. This “organicness” extends to the roles of parent-as-teacher as well, which is parents’ natural role.

Ninth, home schooling allows families to have more flexibility. I feel like this is a theme throughout my reasons for home schooling, but in this I’m talking about family culture. For example, airfare and hotels are typically cheaper during the week and off-peak times when other school children are in class. Because of this, home school allows for the potential for families to enjoy vacations more affordably than they would otherwise. There are other benefits to this flexibility, like that students don’t lose out when moving mid-school year.

Tenth, home schooling lets younger children benefit from older children’s education. Your brilliant little sister learns to read when she’s 4 years old in part because her older siblings were working on phonics and that allowed her to shine. Although in some cases, older siblings might get a better educational experiences in some areas, younger children are exposed to more advanced concepts earlier in life which I believe benefits them long term.

Eleventh, home school allows parents to develop their own curriculum. This is semi-addressed by most of the previous points, but I think is valuable enough to be it’s own point. Parents can customize their children’s curricula to be tailored to each child’s needs, to the family’s system of beliefs and the current events happening in the world around them.

Twelve, home school promotes family bonds. My LDS faith teaches that family is the central unit of society and of God’s plan. When students are home schooled, they are primarily raised by their family (and not the public schools). They learn and grow together. Family bonds are built in shared memories and through their educational experiences. While “traditionally” educated families have this too, home schooling presents more opportunities for this. Home schooling helps ensure the plan of God is advanced.

Of course all of these reasons presume that parents are diligent and dedicated. But that’s the case with everything.

I have many, many other reasons to home school, but I’ll save those for later.

In the mean time, I’d love to know what questions and thoughts you have on these six reasons or the last six or home schooling in general.

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12 reasons I will be home schooling (Pt 1)

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My sister recently started a discussion about home schooling. She asked a simple question: Yay or nay? It was interesting coming from her, who was not only home schooled growing up but who I thought was solidly committed to home schooling her own children.

While I do not know the reason for her question, it gave me an opportunity to analyze and compile my own reasons for home schooling. Although I could write novels on the value and benefits of home schooling, I thought I would share the “short” answer I gave her.

Because of the length, I’ve split this into two parts. Here are the first six reasons:

First and foremost, I am responsible for the training and rearing of my children. If I surrender them to someone else for 8+ hours every day, not only am I abdicating at least some of my God-given responsibility, I create more work for myself trying to sort out what good my child has been taught, what bad they’ve been exposed to and how to reinforce the good and un-teach the bad.

Second, the other options are private and public school, with public broken up into two categories: charter and traditional. It’s likely that private school will be cost-prohibitive for our family which leaves public. The way modern public schools are structured, they are run by government and their curriculum is primarily dictated by government. This is especially true of charter schools whose curriculum is even more state-driven. This concerns me highly, since that essentially makes them indoctrination centers for government policy. It is utterly impossible for a parent to ensure their children are not being indoctrinated in a public school unless that parent sits in class all day every day and monitors.

Third, public schools create an imbalance of power. Public schools teaches children to be obedient. While I do want my kids to obey God (and me), I do not want them to learn to obey authority just because it’s authority. Public schools set up a dynamic where teachers are put in place of parents and their authority has to be respected to maintain classroom order, even if the teacher does not deserve respect. Many teachers earn the respect but many others do not. When something goes wrong, when a teacher is abusing their authority, it is very difficult to get any recourse. It is hard to even get a child moved out of the class. Moreover, teachers are government officials. In a democratic republic, it is important that the government officials respect (and even fear) the people not the other way around. Public schools make it difficult to ensure this.

Fourth, home school gives children better exposure to the real world. That is – in the real world, you don’t typically sit in one place for 8 hours a day doing things someone else tells you with people your own age, no matter your skill level. Rather you are exposed to people of all age groups and are often expected to work independently of direct instruction. You are typically rewarded for skill and hard work. Home school imitates this.

Fifth, home school rewards, rather than punishes, children for their ability to progress “ahead of schedule”. Rather than being bored in class, having to leave class to do special classes (which is fairly standard for G&T programs at least in the areas I’ve lived in) and then having to try to catch up in other areas, children are free to be as talented as they are.

Sixth, on the same lines as the previous, children progress at their own speed and home schooling gives children the flexibility to move more slowly on things they aren’t good at, faster on things they are good at. It allows them to study in depth on things they care more about and spend less time on things that are of less value to them (sounds a little like college, no?) As long as parents monitor this and provide some guidance (and hard lines when necessary), this will long term benefit their children and do no lasting harm.

Part two will follow this next Friday. In the mean time, I’d love to hear your comments and questions on home schooling.

I don’t mean to be pushy but…

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It’s confession time. One of the worst-kept secrets about me is that I tend to be a little bit… blunt. I don’t have a lot of tact and sometimes struggle to understand how exactly what I said was offensive. I also tend to be passionate and vocal (you might call it highly opinionated) on a number of topics. Additionally, I have a hard time seeing past “the right way” to do something. When I’ve done my research and I know the decision I’m making is the safest, wisest, most educated decision for the average person (not for everybody, but for most people), I tend to get a little judgy when people haven’t done their research and make the “wrong” decision.

That combination is not always a winning one, as I’m sure you can imagine.

I know that sometimes this prevents people from hearing what I’m saying. Or it leads to unintended offense. That is never my goal.

This is especially true when it comes to childbirth. I believe the healthiest, safest and most fulfilling way for the average mom to have a baby is drug free and the healthiest, safest and most fulfilling place for the average mom/baby is at home. If you disagree with me, that’s ok, but you better have a good reason based on good education and information (I feel like I there’s an implied “or else” at the end of that sentence… not what I intend!).

I am especially passionate about this subject and I’m going to talk specifically to my pregnant friends now.

What happens during childbirth are some of the most critical things that can ever happen in the lives of a mother and her baby. It is possible that that time-frame is the single most crucial in their lives. It frustrates me to no end that in our society birth is seen as something to be endured and feared and that doctors and nurses in our medical-industrial complex have never seen a natural, normal childbirth, are so trained to see pathology that they cannot just let birth happen and that the average doctor and nurse cannot be relied upon to give accurate information. I don’t necessarily blame them. That’s just the system that’s in place. More than that, I am frustrated that as women we do not do more research, ask more questions and take control of this event.

Women should understand – YOU should understand – that childbirth is at least as important as your wedding day. You put hundreds of hours into planning the day you get married. Why would you not put in as much time planning for the day you bring life into the world?

I want for you and every woman in the world to have the kind of childbirth experience I had. It was lovely. It was wonderful. It was amazing. I can’t wait to do it again. And it wasn’t that way just at the end.

Next time there are things I might change a little bit (like being at work for most of my labor), but I have very little I could complain about. Most of Monkey’s birth was indescribably amazing.

So I hope you don’t take offense if I ask you about your birth plans. Or if I make a suggestion that feels a little bit pushy. I’m really not trying to be obnoxious.

I want for you what I had: a happy, healthy baby and a happy, healthy momma free from birth trauma or drama. I want for you to have a peaceful, empowering, pain-free, comfortable, spiritual, powerful birth.

So, I don’t mean to be pushy, but have you thought about the experience you want? Do you know how to have that experience?  If not, please do. Take charge of your birthing experience. This is too important to just let it happen to you.

– – – I don’t usually do this, but I want to dedicate this post to the wonderful women in whose footsteps I walk. Mom, I love you so much! Thanks for doing it differently. In so many ways, I owe you for the freedom I have to choose something different myself. Katy, thank you for talking about this so passionately. You made it easy to want what I wanted. Cathy and Marinda, thanks for guiding me to what I wanted and helping my trust myself. And Valery, thank you for capturing precious moments I wish I remembered better! – – –