To those of you who have regularly read my blog, I apologize for not posting since, well, May. I took the summer off and primarily focused on various family activities, and was just being lazy about posting. I did, however, have several intentions of posting about many different things, but I have long forgotten them in lieu of not having a ready piece of paper and writing utensil to remind myself what those topics were. Sigh. Anyways, on with the rest of the post.
I’ve had several people talk to me during the past several months about why I should not homeschool. I’ve even had people say they’ve been considering it but they had some fairly common concerns. I’m going to address only some of them today because they’re what I get the most when the subject of homeschooling comes up and they’re near and dear to my heart.
But I can’t afford to homeschool! It’s too expensive!
A thought for those who say you can’t afford to homeschool: how much do you spend on a new wardrobe of clothes for your kids each summer/fall for your kids, plus an entire year’s worth of school supplies that the “lists” in the stores tell you to get (I know that sometimes these lists cost upwards of $75 per kid, depending on the grade level), PLUS all the school fees, and before/after school care? For some families, I know that scraping enough together just to pay for half of this stuff is a bit of a stretch, since most of one’s paychecks go toward food and housing. I also know that in some cases, one spouse’s check is for living expenses while the other’s is just for child care. Think of all the money you could save!
I think this year I spent a total of $10 on school supplies (and I’ll be supplementing throughout the year as markers dry out, colored pencils get lost, new printer paper, etc.), and I don’t have to purchase school supplies for an entire classroom of 30 kids for a year (I know that some districts require that student’s families chip in toward the “pool” of school supplies so teachers don’t have to buy them). We purchased a math curriculum last year which we’ll be finishing up in the next couple of months (initial cost was about $100, which included text, DVD, teacher’s book, and 1-time purchase of manipulatives until we need a supplemental set in the higher mathematics like Algebra much later down the road), and our science was only $50, which included the shipping. Everything else cost pennies on the dollar (literature books we already had on-hand like the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and “Trumpet of the Swan”, as well as the very few I’ve needed to pick up for a mere $0.59 at a thrift store, like “Charlotte’s Web”). I also put together kits of things or make my own supplies from items I pick up from the Dollar Tree (I still can’t get enough of that store! 😀 ) and thrift stores, and I am also teaching my girls simple handcrafts like sewing so that they, too, will eventually be able to make their own things. In a later post, I’ll share some of the things I’ve made this year and last from Dollar Tree items so you may be able to use them in your own home or school.
There are, however, on-going expenses, like dance class (counts as Expressive Music by the state of Ohio), but how many of you also pay for Dance classes, or pay-t0-play sports, or things like that? There are also many, many wonderful free or low-cost things one can do while home-schooling that also count toward credit requirements. Did you know that spending time at a play-ground once or twice per week counts as phys. ed. time? And library time is spent, well, at the public library (which ours, by the way, also has programs throughout the year for kids birth to adult). Science? Well, you don’t even really need to purchase a curriculum, since you can simply spend time in your backyard exploring bugs (etymology) or plants (botany) or simply even watching the birds (ornithology). Peruse field guides (also a very minimal one-time expense at a book store or online, or just borrow one from the library) to see what is in your neighborhood. Build a solar oven (you could use a simple pizza-box one, such as those found here), teach a younger child about cooking with one as well as the potential for more with solar energy (kids are like sponges; give them the juicy facts instead of the minimal, dumb-it-down style approach which has been failing our kids for the past few generations), and assign your older child to build one, perhaps even challenging him to build one that’s more efficient than what you built, and get him to use the physics equations to see how much energy one saves by using a solar oven vs. a typical kitchen oven (experiment with both, a regular oven and a solar).
“But what about socialization?” you ask. What about it? Think back to when you were in school. How many times did a teacher catch you passing notes, or talking to someone in class, only to say, “______ (insert name here), we are here to learn, NOT to socialize.” And before I even get on this soapbox, what is your definition of socializing/socialization? Socializing is hanging out with peers who have a common interest, right? And one definition of socialization is most commonly used for homeschoolers, which is to teach the child to adapt to different social events and, well, be sociable. So, let me get this straight, people are concerned that my homeschooled children will not be socializing with other children and be ‘normal’ because they can’t spend 8-9 hours per day socializing with their friends at an institutionalized school (which is, by the way, what public school is), when they aren’t even supposed to be socializing at school but learning? Hmmm…no thank you. In many cases, “home schooling” is almost a misnomer. Yes, we do work on some subjects at home, like mathematics (only because we use Math-U-See, which incorporates a DVD in the lesson), but the majority of our subjects can pretty much be taught anywhere at any time. Suppose it’s a gorgeous autumn or spring day. Come on, imagine with me a mild day, soft breeze, sunshine with a few clouds…Now, wouldn’t you want to spend your time outside? Perhaps at a park instead of sitting at a desk that doesn’t even belong to you with 30 other people in the room of whom you may not necessarily enjoy being around because one corners you to steal your lunch money (or even your lunch) or rip up the work you had spent an hour on the night before simply because he doesn’t like the shirt you’re wearing (um, yeah, it did happen to me a few times growing up) under fluorescent artificial lighting, listening to someone drone on and on about something you’ve already heard before and you already know and understand yet half the other people in the room just do not get it? (Oh, wait, that’s right, that’s corporate work force right there!). At the park, you have your whole school day set before you. There’s a playground for phys. ed., or perhaps a hiking trail. While hiking, you talk about safety (health), history (history, social studies, geography, topography, etc.), examine plants (botany), examine insects and observe birds, drawing/sketching/taking notes in a field notebook (art techniques, reading/writing, science), while being respectful of others on the path (social skills) as well as the wild life in the area. So, during a 1-hour hike in the woods, you cover what most classrooms might cover in the matter of an entire school day. You simply applied it in a much more practicable and applicable manner.
Before I really get going on “socialization” in the sense that most people apply it to homeschoolers, take a look at a few of these links.
http://whatwasithinking-homeschooling.blogspot.com/2009/04/socialization-is-public-school-better.html A mother talks about personal experiences with public schooling her children and home schooling them.
http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/homeschool-arent-you-worried-about-socialization/ A great blog commenting on socialization, complete with citations of various studies by sociologists and child psychologists.
http://www.homeeducator.com/FamilyTimes/articles/10-1article1.htm This lady covered everything in one single post!
I get the question of whether or not I’m worried about socialization. Nope. There is far too much of the wrong kind in an institutional school, and I don’t want that for my kids. In the real, grown-up world, a person is jailed for robbery (um, the lunch-money bully?), assault (uh, again, the bully, who nowadays just gets detention instead of suspension or expulsion from school), sued for harrassment (also, the bully, as well as other kids who pick on a child just for being “different”), and the victim is avenged by the law. Not so the case in public school, where often the victim may be punished along with the assailant despite being completely innocent, and subjected to further bullying from others for turning in the suspect or because of peer pressure. And once that person returns (because, as we all know of No Child Left Behind, he or she will, inevitably, be permitted to return), the bullying will commence even stronger. And even if your child isn’t the child being bullied, he or she may end up the spectator who may or may not do something about the bullying (most cases, spectators do nothing, say nothing, despite the obvious wrong that is being done. Isn’t that what we adults do? Not get involved in other’s affairs, even when it’s obvious one party is defenseless against another?). Seriously, I’d rather that not happen to my kids.
My girls are becoming well-socialized. They’re both taking dance classes this year (with other children, I might add. Gasp!), attending church, and Munchkin attends a monthly Adventure Night held at our church for children ages 4 – 5th grade. We have friends with children the same age with whom we spend time. We attend story time at the local branch of the library. We attend free science enrichment classes at the local metro parks that are offered during the day time. We have piano lessons. We will be enrolling in swim lessons this fall (less expensive for an indoor pool with smaller classes than in the summer time outside), and we are discussing enrolling Munchkin in a Tae Kwon Do class. We also take field trips to the zoo, festivals (in fact, the Backwoods Fest is coming up in a couple weeks! yay!), parks, and other places of interest. A trip to the doctor and/or dentist turns into a field trip, as well. A trip to the grocery store turns into a combined math (economics), reading, and health lesson. My girls have friends, are learning to converse with adults and other children without awkwardness (well, that is what others mean when they talk about “socialization, isn’t it?), and play with other children of varying ages instead of just their age group. Um, yeah. Don’t tell me my kids aren’t socialized.
Well, that’s it for this post. Later today I hope to write about and post pictures of some of the items I made from Dollar Tree finds to use in any classroom. Please look for it, as I’m certain you’ll enjoy them. Also, if you have other ideas on how to adapt them or use the purchases I found, PLEASE feel free to tell me via a comment on that post or email. If you have any questions about this post, feel free to comment and I’ll answer as best I can.
But what about other experiences, like a science fairs, dances, sports, and things like that?
What about them? CHEO (Christian Home Educators of Ohio) holds an annual Showcase in the spring. That’s when homeschoolers get together to exhibit their science projects, artwork, photography, and writing, as well as participating in Bible bees, spelling bees, math drills, etc. They also are given the opportunity to perform skills they have learned in the last year such as playing a musical instrument (a side note: some local groups also offer the opportunity to perform in orchestras and bands, as well as choirs), sing, orate, narrate, and act, among other things. There are also awards presented to the different categories. Dances? Well, Munchkin and Bug take dance class, and will be performing in recitals, and maybe competitions. Sports? While they’re little, they have the same opportunities as others in the little leagues, and in older leagues there are now some homeschool teams, as well as some high schools allow home schooled students to audit classes (part time) in order to play sports. Not a problem. 🙂