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Home_Schooling_or_Not_

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					Title:
Home Schooling or Not?

Word Count:
613

Summary:
Public school educators often worry that the children of such people will
not learn necessary social skills. But home-schooling parents said their
children learned how to deal with other people just fine, particularly
with the many adults they encountered when they visited the library or
went to church or did chores around the neighborhood.


Keywords:
home schooling


Article Body:
Much of what I thought about home schooling was wrong. The conventional
wisdom about this rapidly growing dimension of American education is too
simple, too stereotyped and too stale.

For instance, the Home School Legal Defense Association, despite its
energetic lawyers and many admirers, is not the leader of home schooling
in this country. There is no leader, and no reigning ideology. There are
instead at least a million American children - the real figure is
probably twice that number - whose families want them to learn at home
for many reasons, often having little to do with religion or politics.

The common image of home-schoolers as lockstep religious conservatives
falls apart when you discover that some of these parents have been
shunned by their fundamentalist churches for teaching their kids at home
rather than sending them to the church's school. Some home-schoolers love
the new for-profit online teaching programs like K12. Some think they are
a corporate plot. Some parents are home-schooling because their kids were
learning more quickly than their teachers could keep up with. Some are
home-schooling because their kids were learning more slowly than their
public school teachers had patience for. Some home-school because their
children were unhappy at school. Some home-school because they could not
meet their needs any other way.

Public school educators often worry that the children of such people will
not learn necessary social skills. But home-schooling parents said their
children learned how to deal with other people just fine, particularly
with the many adults they encountered when they visited the library or
went to church or did chores around the neighborhood. With their parents
so often at their side, they were able to see what good manners and self-
confidence looked like, rather than be forced to adopt the jungle code of
the average high school corridor. In many families one parent stays at
home to supervise the home schooling, although they often do some work
there to pay the bills, or trade off with other home-schooling parents
when they have to be away.
Home schooling involves a tremendous commitment from the parents. At
least one parent must be willing to work closely with the child, plan
lessons, keep abreast of requirements, and perhaps negotiate issues with
the school district. The most common home school arrangement is for the
mother to teach while the father works out of the home. There are a
variety of educational materials geared for the home school, published by
dozens of suppliers. Some are correspondence courses, which grade
students' work, some are full curricula, and some are single topic
workbooks or drill materials in areas such as math or phonics.

Many of the curriculum providers are indentifiably Christian, including
several major home school publishers such as Bob Jones University Press,
Alpha Omega Publications, and Home Study International. A major non-
religious provider of home school materials is the Calvert School in
Baltimore. Figures vary as to how many home schools use published
curricula or correspondence courses, but the Department of Education
estimates that it is from 25 to 50%; the rest use a curriculum the
parents and/or child have devised. Education writer John Holt, a champion
of home schooling, suggested that no particular area of study was
essential. He advised parents to use real life activities such as work in
a family business, writing letters, bookkeeping, observing nature, and
talking with old people as meaningful academic lessons. Home schools
might fall anywhere on this spectrum, between the tightly planned study
of a formal curriculum to Holt's free-form, experiential learning.

But first, all the parents interested in teaching their children at home
need to find out what laws apply to their state and school district.

				
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posted:7/13/2012
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