Archive for December 2011
Imagine the following conversation between a home-schooled student and his mother:
Son: "So Mom, according to the book we're using, we should be thankful for family and friends. But, what about God?"
Mom: "Well of course we should be thankful to God. The pilgrims had a terrible time the first couple of years, but God was with them, and they were grateful. Their life centered around him."
Son: "Well if this is true, and God was such a central part of their life, then why isn't He mentioned in our book?"
Mom: "We've been over this before." We're not allowed to use Christian textbooks or books that refer to God or Jesus. Not if we want to receive credit.
And so the conversation goes...
A while ago I got a call from one of the principals of a local charter home school program. He and one of his staff members wanted to come visit me. It seemed that some of our students were transferring from our program into theirs so that they could access the local community college for free. There appeared to be a problem with awarding credit for some courses taken in our program.
When they arrived we grabbed a private office. The conversation was light and the tone friendly. Then we got down to business and one of the men popped a question. Was it true that we used and recommended a science textbook that held that the origin of the universe found its source in God and that evolution was simply a theory? I said, yes, that's right. I thought my answer would have been a "no brainer" to them in as much as our school name was New Covenant Christian Academy.
The question reminded me of the time I spoke at an Elks Club meeting and was asked what I saw as a basic difference between public schools and private Christian schools. I answered, thinking I was simply stating the obvious, that the difference between the two was one taught and supported evolution while the other did not. My comment stirred up a strong protest by some of the government employees in the room claiming the public school "doesn't teach evolution, it teaches 'about it'." Rising to the challenge, I countered that "yes, they actually do teach it," and then the tension really increased. The moderator wisely saw what was developing and rang his little bell announcing the meeting was now over and it was time for all of us to go to work...
Back to my meeting with the principal and his staff member. The next question went something like this: "Is it true that some of our students take a class titled Classical Literature, and that the subtitle of this course was The triumph of Christianity in the Ancient World?" I asked why that should be a problem in as much as Christianity, under Constantine, became a dominate religion in the fourth century. This was, after all, an historical fact that nobody disputed. There was a strange silence as if my point wasn't clear to them. They wondered why the subtitle was necessary. I think if we had been willing to change it or delete it the course would have been "approved."
What was becoming very clear was that students transferring from our program into their charter home school program would not receive credit for any class where God was part of the curriculum. I thought to myself here were families who, with the help of our teaching and advising staff, were doing a remarkable job in educating their children. Unfortunately, because Jesus happened to be involved, no credit was going to be recognized or extended in order to protect the charter's "accredited status."
Social interaction at a young age can help to build much needed self-confidence in your child. It helps them develop much needed communication skills that otherwise cannot be learned or understood from a book. Giving a child the opportunity to interact with other children their age, as well as adults other than their parents is necessary in teaching them ways in which to handle such situations when you are not around. If you are homeschooling your child from an early age, a way to negate the lack of social situations is to sign them up for a play group. A great way to do this would be through communication with other homeschooling parents in your area. This will give both you and your child something in common with the other people of the group. Plan a field trip to a local park or cultural center. Field trips can either be just for fun or can be integrated into the curriculum to provide a more thorough learning experience. Really what they are best for is to give your child the opportunity to make new friends.
As your child grows older talk to them about their homeschooling future, if he/she shows interest in public or private school it would be a good idea to nurture that. Eventually your child is going to want to make their way in the world. If they show an interest in that before college, public or private school is the best option. As your child grows he/she is going to want that interaction with other youth their age. At least some will, if this is the case then it is something to be supported. Just because you started with homeschooling doesn't mean you have to stick it out throughout your child's educational life.
Of course, your child may wish to continue his/her education at home. Discuss his/her reasons why and base your decision on that. If the reasons for a child wanting continue at home are based on fear and anxiety it would be a good idea to encourage him/her to go out into the world, or at least to school. Encourage slowly though, don't put your foot down and push them into a situation they are afraid of. This can do more harm than it will good. Homeschooling can be a great option, but it is not for everyone. Be sure of what you and your child want before beginning such a venture.
As a suggestion, you should consider contacting the National Home Education Network to find out about homeschooling your child in your state of residency. This is one of the best resources to rely on where finding information regarding the laws and regulations of your state's homeschooling activities. It lists each one of the 50 state's laws that you can read about. However, it is best to contact an experienced attorney to accurately interpret them before making assumptions on your own.
The support groups of the National Home Education Network are also an excellent source of valuable information. You can search online for state Department of Education resources as well. They can help you with interpreting the laws and regulations of your state as well as the requirements involved for homeschooling your children. The main benefit of finding out as much information as you can is that this will help you avoid any negative surprises along the way. This is also beneficial if you relocated during the time that you are homeschooling.
Public school disadvantages
As parents, most of us are extremely trusting of the public education system in our home states, maybe a bit too trusting. We make the assumption that our children will receive a good education when we enroll them in public schools and are satisfied with this. However, you have to question whether or not you are actually getting a good value for the money you invest in this type of education. Additionally, you have to question whether or not your child is benefiting from public education.
Supposedly, one of public education's greatest benefits is socialization. In other words, it is hailed as the method wherein a child attains the rudimentary skills necessary to their survival. Unfortunately, this is a misconception of sorts in that the child is only able to interact with their peers, and that interaction oftentimes leads to negative consequences. There is no benefit if they bully younger children or fear older ones. Nor is there a benefit that they may not know how to behave around other adults.
In closing, just remember when it comes to public education, that environment only allows peer interaction at specific times during the school day. Conversely, a homeschooling type of environment enables them to learn in a social environment that is more natural to them. So ask yourself what is best for your child - homeschooling or public education?
One benefit is that it is a college course that they will get credit for. That credit may be accepted or it may not. The other benefit is that it can show the college that my child really does know chemistry, for example.
Some colleges may give you the college credit and others won't, but the only way that you can find out is to ask them personally or go to that college's website and search under credit by examinations. Usually colleges will have a policy and it will mention dual enrollment by AP, CLEP and others as well.
When making a transcript you are able to list classes by subject or by year. When I listed the classes by subject, I didn't say which ones were the early high school credits but when I listed it by year I did.
So, it would say ninth grade these classes, tenth grade these classes. Anything before 9th grade I said "Early High School Credits". I gave them high school credit for each of those things that I knew was high school level. Any class that they took an passed a CLEP test, I gave them an honors credit, because CLEP reflects a college level of learning.
At the University of Washington, they do not provide college credit for CLEP, but I provided CLEP exams for both of my boys anyways and that is one of the reasons why we got scholarships at the University of Washington. I had all of these tests in all of these different areas so that they knew that what I wrote on the transcript was really true. So, even though they didn't get college credit for their CLEP, it still paid off.
Whether your chosen college takes CLEP or not, the test can offer huge benefits for you student.
Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, is a homeschool high school expert. Both of her boys earned full-tuition scholarships at their first choice university. Her Gold Care Club can provide all the help you will need in your high school homeschool journey.
The Great 'S' Debate
Socialization; a word that has become dirty to many a homeschooling family, and is akin to a curse word for all its implied meaning. The use of this word causes the most experienced home educating parent to cringe, or at the very least procures a heartfelt eye roll. No matter how long one has been homeschooling it is a question that is expected and dreaded in equal measures. Dreaded by teaching parents not because of a feeling of inadequacy in their ability to answer or because of a lack of strength in their answer, but because it is so very overused and abused. The sentiments behind the question may vary in condescending tones and sincerity, but it is always asked.
There have been enough reports filled with irrefutable statistics on the academic success of homeschooling that many critics have been silenced. Of course, as with any controversial subject, the critics never remain without argument for long. The idea that homeschooled children cannot possibly be getting the required amount of socialization-as if there is an industry standard-is not a new one. It has caused many a grandparent sincere grief, and given many experts in the field (the socialization one) a new platform in which to express their concern.
So the question remains; are homeschooled children receiving enough socialization? But is it the right question? Might a better one be, "are homeschooled children receiving the right kind of socialization?" And further to that thought can we not direct the same attention to public schooled children? Are our children, homeschooled or not, receiving good socialization? There is a difference, and most homeschooled parents are keenly aware of what that difference is.
In order to answer the first question with the proper attention it deserves it would be wise to dig a little deeper into the word itself. With all the opinions on how children should be socialized, and the assumption that a classroom full of same aged peers is the correct way to do it, knowing the meaning is only prudent.
Dictionary.com supplies this definition:
Socialization: a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
Parents work hard to ensure their children learn how to behave. While each family has their own set of values, there is a shared goal among us that our children understand how to live beyond our guidance and shelter. We want them to succeed outside of our shadow of influence.
Homeschooled children are given the time and space to develop a personal identity in a safe environment where they can explore and test who they are within their boundaries. They are able to interact with a cross section of people and begin to put into practice life-long communication skills.
Socialization is not rejected in the homeschooling family, but neither is it revered as the most important aspect to the bigger picture. There are play dates, music lessons, sports, neighbourhood children, church, and youth groups that all aid the process and extra time with parents, grandparents and siblings to refine it.
Are homeschooled children getting enough socialization? Ultimately, the question must be asked each family on an individual basis. Just as no two families are the same, there are no exact matches when it comes to homeschooling. This is the nature of schooling at home, the essence of why it works and the foundation of the complex wonders teaching your own children creates. This debate will never end. When you go against the grain of societal norms there is always increased friction. It is also how character is shaped, resolves strengthened, and courage forged.