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  1. #1
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    Oct 2013
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    Homeschooling - Is it good or bad?

    Hello!

    I'm just wondering, is homeschooling advisable for a toddler? My daughter is 3 years old. My husband and I talked about our daughter's education. We're wondering when is the best time to send her to school? And should we consider homeschooling her? I'm not really sure I want it but my husband does. I don't want to take that chance for my daughter to meet and play with other kids her age and go to school the usual way. Her cousin, who is a month older than her, is now going to school and seems to be having so much fun. I'd love to see my daughter enjoy it too, but my husband seems like he wants her to be home-schooled.

    Thank you very much in advance for your time and replies.

    Winnie

  2. #2
    Dear Winnie,

    Thanks for your question.

    I don't think it's really a case of whether homeschooling is good or bad but rather 'is homeschooling right for your child and your family'. Every child, and family, is different; for some children traditional schooling provides them with an environment in which they learn, grow and create and for other children they develop, explore and learn best in the home environment.

    There is an excellent article here by Pinky McKay on Choosing a School. Pinky writes:

    'We all want to give our children the best opportunities that are available, but it pays to remember that whatever school we choose, or however limited our options are by finances, convenience or locality, the greatest influence on the final outcome will be the home and family.'

    I have to agree with Pinky that this really is the bottom line.

    I think that you and your husband are wise to consider all the schooling options well in advance of your daughter starting school. At what age do children normally start school where you live?

    I would say that both you and your husband need to be onboard and in agreement with whatever schooling option you decide. At the moment, it sounds like you are quite unsure about homeschooling. I would say that a good next step would be to make contact with your local homeschooling community (many have facebook or yahoo groups) and meet up with some parents who homeschool and find out what it is really like. Take your time over making this desision; it is a big decision and there is no need to rush.

    Similarly, it would be good to see if you can visit the schools in your area which you are considering. Are you looking into only government funded schools or also fee-paying schools? Pinky makes the point that paying more (or, indeed, at all) for your child's education does not necessarily mean they will get a better education or, importantly, the right education for them.

    You mention some of your concerns about opportunities for your daughter to socialise with other children in your post. I think this is a valid point to consider. It perhaps depends on where you live, your transport options and what homeschool groups or co-operatives there are near you. It is quite possible to homeschool and your children to still have lots of socialising time (for example, by homeschooling in a small group of families or attending homeschool groups as well as a range of other activities) but it will be something that requires careful planning.

    What are your feelings about your local schools? Do you know children who happily attend them? It is important to find out about their overall ethos and consider whether this will suit your child well. Many children are very excited to start school and thrive in this environment, but it is not for everyone.

    Are you thinking about preschooling now when you refer to school in your post?

    Warm wishes to you and your family,
    LJ

  3. #3
    Hi Winnie,

    As a homeschooling teacher (and mother of 5 children), I thought I'd offer some insight from one who has homeschooled for 21 years. I've graduated my oldest two from high school (both are getting A's in college) and I currently have a 15 year old, 12 year old and 9 year old whom I am schooling (10th grade, 7th grade and 4th grade).

    LJ makes some valid points and I agree that you are wise to start looking into your schooling options now so that you can make the best choice for your family when the time comes.

    One thing I would like to bring to your attention is that you are already homeschooling your daughter, even at 3 years of age. She has actually been learning in a home setting since she was born. How is this working for you?

    As LJ mentioned, there are many ways to offer a variety of opportunities for your daughter to have social interaction. Taking your child to church or even to a friend's house offers opportunities for social interaction. Actually your daughter interacts socially every day, with you. I've actually found that my children are more socially developed because they have a lot of time to interact with adults. This helps them develop social interaction skills with adults and children. Children who have at least one sibling will have daily opportunities for social interaction with children.

    Today I wrote a note to a friend who is thinking she will put her children into public school, though she admits that she may change her mind later (her oldest is only 1 year and a half, and her 2nd is due next month).

    When I was considering homeschooling our children, I found a book that shared "a day in the life" of a number of homeschooling families. I loved that book. No day was alike, and every family schooled in a way that worked for them. So I thought I'd share here, what I wrote to my friend, in hopes that it will give you some insight as to how easy it is to homeschool... and by the way, my children thrive in our home environment and have a lot of confidence when they move on to college and/or a work environment.

    To begin with, I "unschool" until 4th or 5th grade, because life in general is full of learning experiences through every day activities. You are unschooling your child now, using every day life experiences to teach her many different things.

    Some of the ways I've used every day life experiences is like this... Brushing teeth becomes a dental lesson, going to the grocery store and counting apples as they go into the bag becomes a math lesson. When they get older, determining which can of beans is the better deal becomes a lesson in subtraction and division. Baking muffins is full of Science (how baking powder reacts with moisture and heat), English (reading a recipe and following directions), and math (working with fractions) - along with Home Economics and Health studies. Listening to someone play an instrument or singing along with mom or a video becomes an enriching Music experience in the Arts. Every day life is a wonderful classroom.

    When my first two children were about 3 and 4 years of age, I would site down at the piano and play a rather simplified version on "The Entertainer". The kids loved it and would dance to the music. Sometimes I slowed w-a-y d-o-w-n and they slowed down too. Then I sped up and they sped into more of a "crazy dance" then when I slowed the tempo again, their movements became more flowing. They LOVED it and begged for more. Well, 17 years later, I'm still asked to play that song and the 9 and 12 year olds move to the music with big smiles and squeals of glee. I imagine I'll be playing with my grand children some day, in much the same way.

    Life is the best learning experience anyone can have when it is experienced in a warm, loving, safe environment. It's easy to "unschool" for the first few years and books offer an amazing learning experience. I had one child that was reading at age 4, and two that truly weren't ready to read until 8 or 8 1/2. Physiologically, they just weren't ready. But once it "clicked", they were off and running and were reading at or above grade level within a year. Watching for developmental signs of readiness meant that I waited until the child gave me clues that they were ready to read. I never has a child shed a single tear in the "learning to read process". As long as they were being exposed to books, and as long as I worked with them on the sounds that each letter made, (whenever I had a natural opportunity, which often happened in the kitchen) they started reading when their bodies were ready. One of the biggest indications that told me they were ready was when they started reading road signs like "STOP". Books open the world up to a child.

    This gives you a snippet of what homeschooling has looked like for us. Every family is different. When the children hit 4th or 5th grade, we introduce a computer based Christian curriculum to make life easy on me. There is no curriculum planning on my part and minimal grading, yet I know they are meeting all State mandated requirements.

    I have great concerns about the curriculum being taught in the public schools and also about the influences that other children would be on my children. It's very important that I am the one in control of what my children are exposed to and what they are learning.

    Before I had children, I attended a City Council Meeting where they were discussing new curriculum which was slated to be introduced into the local public school system. There was sorcery in it and a picture of a witch with a steaming caldron and she was placing body parts (ie. arms and legs) into the pot. This was objectionable to some parents and they didn't want the curriculum in the classroom.

    I remember being questioned by one parent as to why I was at this meeting, being that I didn't have any children yet. My response was that my future children may some day be interacting with children who were being taught from this new curriculum and some of the content in the curriculum was certainly not what I would want another child sharing with my child. So I was there to do what I could to keep it out of the school system even if it was to just show up in support of all the other concerned parents (thankfully we won that battle and they didn't adopt that particular curriculum which was already being used in other parts of our State).

    I know that some public schools are currently teaching the gay and same-sex marriage agenda to elementary school children and have taught sex education to very young children. Some of this education included actual demonstrations of how to put a condom on a banana or cucumber. And, of course, all too many children are learning about sex from the movies and programs their parents let them watch. These children, even children as young as 7 years of age, are talking about sexually explicit things that most parents would be appalled at if they knew what their children were learning from their peers. There was even one situation that was publicized where an older school student brought a "girlie" magazine to school, and gave it to a younger child. That child shared it with his friends at school. These are the types of situations I want to avoid. Again, I have a responsibility to my children, to teach them what they need to know, at the best time and in the best way for each of them, individually. For us, it's just very important for us to be in control of what the children are exposed to until they are mature enough to be able to make wise decisions on their own.

    For me, personally, I don't want to spend any time "undoing" the undesirable things the children have learned while away from home.

    This is what has worked very well for us, and I hope it gives you some insight as to the benefits of homeschooling. Other than the social concerns for your child (which LJ and I have addressed) do you have any other concerns that you feel would be a drawback to homeschooling? I have found a number of groups online that offer support for homeschooling parents. Always nice to connect with others.

    Warm Regards,

    Kate

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