We’ve talked about homeschooling before, but once was Bryce’s baby and the other was a peripheral issue. Because people ask from time to time, I thought I’d set out my thoughts about homeschooling in a friendly Q-and-A format.
What about socialization?
Oh, that used to be a huge problem, but we’ve finally gotten our schedule under control so we can spend a little time together as a family.
Forgive the snark, but homeschoolers get just a teeny bit tired of this question. It may have been a legitimate concern twenty or even ten years ago, but it isn’t today. My children interact with other children literally every day of the week, and my biggest headache as a homeschooler is trying to fit in everything I want to do and saying ‘no’ to those activities I can’t do. The assumption that the best or only way that one can become ‘socialized’ (whatever the heck that means anyway) is in a room with 25 people one’s age and one adult is one that many homeschoolers dispute, anyway.
Why do you homeschool?
I want the best possible education for my kids. I also want to strengthen family relationships. I also think it is really, really fun.
How do you get everything done, and take care of your house, and take care of a baby?
Here’s a peek at my schedule. Just note that homeschooling takes a lot less time than you might imagine, and that a school-aged child who only does school work for a few hours per day is
a built-in babysitter an asset to the home economy.
We school year-round, four days per week. Wednesday is for library, errands, park/pool, grandma and grandpa, field trips, appointments, visiting teaching, whatever.
We do school from about 9am to 11am-noon, depending on the day. The midday is spent
wasting time on the computer cleaning the house and having lunch. We go out in the late afternoons: Monday is scouts (a den of 30 homeschooled boys) and playdate at a friend’s house, Tuesday is a playdate with a different family, Thursday we have a coop and/or friends over, and Friday we have a coop, gymnastics, and/or LegoLeague. In the early afternoons, we have quiet time, where I read to the boys (currently, the Little House series) and then everyone reads or plays quietly.
(Note that all of the links in the below paragraph take you to the curricula I use. This will be of no interest whatsoever to
gentiles nonhomeschoolers, but homeschoolers may want to know.)
As for school itself, we have about an hour of work at the table (elocution, memory work, handwriting, spelling, dictation, math, Latin, and grammar) and about an hour of reading aloud (books to go along with history and literature) and almost-daily science projects and history projects. We also have weekly art, music, typing, and oral reading lessons. The baby increases the disorder in the universe during table work and naps during reading time. Once the baby wakes up, my oldest son plays with him in another room for about 20 minutes while I do math and phonics and Spanish with my middle son.
Not everyone can homeschool. Don’t you feel an obligation to support the public schools?
My obligation to my own children comes first, so I homeschool them. There are also many people without access to good health care or the Restored gospel, but I still take my kids to the doctor and to church. At the same time, much as I do the pathetic little I can to help the poor and advance missionary work, I do what I can to support the schools.
How do you decide what to do and what resources to use?
I came upon a book called The Well-Trained Mind. It is the book I would have written about homeschooling had I had ten years to think about it. We follow most of their suggestions, and I will recommend it without pretending that I am unbiased. If you are not easily intimidated, you can order the 1000-page Rainbow Resource catalog and pick from hundreds of different resources.
Well, I guess I am OK with you homeschooling because you are bookish/geeky/really commited/seem organized/have two degrees after your name. But a lot of homeschoolers worry me.
Perhaps they should. I know of some not-so-great homeschooling outcomes myself. But it isn’t as if the public schools are a guarantee of success, either. My personal feeling is that even a parent with only a high school education* could do a fine job homeschooling if she or he chose the right curriculum, but I am concerned that s/he wouldn’t have the depth of education to make the best decision. I’d advise someone in that circumstance to talk to a lot of other homeschoolers before they make curriculum decisions.
What do you think of the LDS homeschooling scene?
I haven’t seen anything that I like. It seems that those who identify as ‘LDS homeschoolers’ are the most conservative part of our community and want to do things like replace the study of great books with the study of great Church books or replace the study of art with a look at the Gospel Art Picture Kit. (They also seem inexplicably hostile toward evolution and science in general.) I’ve never seen a product, program, or approach geared toward LDS that I thought was worthwhile, and I don’t participate in the LDS homeschool activities here in Austin.
Can I email you about homeschooling?
Sure. People online and in real life ask me to walk them through the decision to homeschool and their options for homeschooling all the time. Contact info is in the sidebar.
*That’s shorthand for ‘lacking educational depth'; I realize that some people may not have gone to college but may still be freakishly-well-self-educated, while some may have been legacy admits to Harvard and dozed during classes, drooling all over their Prada, not learning a darn thing.