Sunday, June 22, 2008

Homeschool Survey - Dispelling the stereotypes

While reading Tammy's blog at Just Enough and Nothing More, I found this questionnaire about homeschooling. In an effort to help dispel homeschooling stereotypes, I thought I'd add my own answers below.
  • Why do you home school? It's so hard to answer this question because there are many reasons. I home school so that my children can learn at their own pace and not feel either rushed or held back. I home school so that they can spend enough time with adults to learn social skills, rather than primarily from their peers. I home school so they can develop their own identities apart from the pressure cooker conformity that is prevalent in bricks and mortar schools.

  • What technique or curriculum do you use? We use a mixture of different things. This year, we've been using RightStart math curriculum, together with suitable living math books (http://www.livingmath.net) and games. We use a handwriting practice book and the oldest sometimes does some copywork. We do unit studies for social studies and science. We read a lot everyday, everything from picture books to chapter books. We spend as much time outside as the weather and our schedule allows. And they play. A lot.

  • Do your kids work above or below grade level (or both!)? Both, it depends on the area. What is designated as "grade level" by the various Departments of Education is rather arbitrary, so we just learn things at the pace that works for us.

  • What is your educational level? I have a Master's degree in Educational Psychology and my husband has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology.

  • Do you feel this has an effect on your teaching (both limits and abilities)? I think it gives me a very healthy skepticism about what "should" be required. There is an amazing difference between what is taught at the graduate level in Education and what is actually practiced in most schools. Educational psychology has a lot of powerful things to say about how individuals learn. Unfortunately, schools can not implement most of it, because each class is a herd, and the teacher can't spend much time with each individual. I find it interesting that what educational psychologist would term "best learning practices" can be very effectively implemented by home schoolers because of our very low student-teacher/mentor ratio.

  • What does your daily schedule look like? The kids get up and then get me up. We pile onto the sofa and read books for about a half hour. Then comes breakfast and dishes clean-up. After that, no two days are the same. Sometimes they play for a long time after breakfast, while I do house chores. Sometimes we set up the math manipulatives on the living room floor and do some of that for a while. Sometimes I'll pull out a craft or the paints and they will get creative for a while. Once a week, I teach a science class to my kids and a small group of other homeschoolers. Some days we'll take a country and learn about the culture and work on our mapping skills. No two days are alike. Afternoons are reserved for out of the house stuff (park days, play dates, field trips, classes, etc)

  • Are your kids always polite and ready to learn? (*snicker*) Well...not always polite to each other, since one has a short fuse, but always ready to learn. 95% of what I teach, I'm highly enthused about. When Mamma's fired up about something, the kids tend to get excited about it too. Learning isn't something you "should" do, it just "is".

  • Do the kids (or you!) get frustrated? I get frustrated with the bickering and they get frustrated with each other sometimes when they play. Which is the same with all families, homeschooling or not. The only difference is that we spent much more time together than a brick 'n mortar school family, with just _that_ much more opportunity to drive each other crazy. The other main frustration for us at the moment is that I have one kid who loves one-on-one instructional time with me and the other who isn't ready for much direct instruction yet. It gets frustrating for the little one to wait for her sister to finish up what she's learning, so she can get her playmate back!

  • How has this affected your parenting? Sometimes it brings out the cranky in me and sometimes it makes me reach deeper inside to find some patience. And other days I just reach for the chocolate instead.

  • How much free time do they have? Depends on the day. Some days are pretty full with outside activities (soccer/gymnastics/library visits/field trips/park days) while others are much more laid-back, at-home days. It just depends on our other commitments and how much they want to play vs. how much to they want me to teach them something new.

  • What do they do during their free time? Play. Play. Play. Create plays, songs, dances. Play with stuffed animals, move the furniture around and create imaginary worlds, etc. I heavily limit the amount of TV/video time to car trips and the occasional pre-dinner change of pace, so they have lots of time for...play. Sometimes they play computer games for about an hour, couple times a month.

  • What hobbies do they have? It's hard for me to make a separation between hobbies and everything else they do. They are still young (one just finished first grade and one is "preschool"), so they love almost everything they do, including lessons. Other than picking up their messes and putting away their toys. That they hate.

  • What difficulties and challenges do you have with homeschooling? Keeping the younger one happy while I do a focused lesson with the older one. Keeping up with the housework, which results in our house having a very "lived-in" look.

  • What makes homeschooling enjoyable? Helping them learn stuff. Seeing the progress they make in different areas, some of which are important to them, some of which are important to me. Seeing how much they have blossomed and how much having a positive social climate has helped my anxious child come out of her shell.

  • How do you get involved in the community? In terms of the homeschool community: I found some like-minded families through home school classes offered in my area. I found some people through our statewide support group. Others have been friends since our kids were babies and we've all taken the homeschooling path when our kids got old enough. In terms of the larger community: I joined a local Mom's club for playdates, I became the Team Mom for my daughter's soccer team (which my husband also coaches).

  • When do you have opportunities to interact with public or privately schooled children? Primarily through our participation in gymnastics, community soccer and swimming, where my kids are the only home schooled kids (that I know of). They also play with kids in our neighborhood, all of whom go to public school (or will in a year when they start kindy).

  • Would you like more of these opportunities? I think we get enough opportunities to hang out with other kids, both home schooled and bricks and mortar schooled.

  • How can they be created? n/a

  • What is your least favorite homeschool stereotype? :-) That we're all religious. Some of us are very happy freethinkers :)

1 comment:

TammyT said...

Thanks for playing, Tasha. Got you linked up: http://justenough.wordpress.com/homeschoolers-tell-all/