NO SCHOOLING?

Christy - posted on 11/28/2011 ( 105 moms have responded )

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On the series show "Our America with Lisa Ling", she did a bit on "Extreme Parenting" featuring 4 families. The one family that stuck out to me was the "No Schooling" family. The kids are not in school and not home schooled. They learn what they want to, when they want to. The oldest kid in the family was telling Lisa Ling, as he was playing video games, that he was learning extensive hand/eye coordination playing video games (he's 11). They also have 3 other children. The family follows no curriculum with their kids in terms of teaching what kids normally learn in school or through home school. Thoughts?

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[deleted account]

Well, I've spent most of my career in the corporate world and I have to say, it's almost identical to high school... even down to the cliques. Part of what's important about school in socialization. There is always be a pecking order, there will always be someone else's structure to follow, the main reason to succeed will always be to get the hell out of that place so that you can be anywhere else but there... But, to become your own boss, you have to be able to first succeed and then have the education and capital to go it alone. Life is a lot like K-12, start at the bottom, learn slowly, grow into yourself and eventually set achievable goals for your life.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/02/2011

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School may be work but it's book work. They don't get the hands on experiance nor what it feels like to have a job. To have to be there every day. To have a boss that gives you orders. To figure out how to use a register, flip burgers, unscrew a bolt, saw a board, deal with customers yelling at you, how to handle money, a check book - nothing.



You miss so much real life experiance sitting in school until 18, when then getting dumped on your butt because society expects that you should know how to live your life out of no where, with little real world experiance.



I also don't think there is a need for being in school past 18 unless it's a trade school or university. Think how teenagers are, and how hard it is to be stuck at home while trying to be your own adult. It's very contradictory.



They can benefit a lot more if schools were set up more like trade schools - or at least from 14-16 if they were set up for those 2 years like that.



I agree on 10 being too late for basic skills.

[deleted account]

That's an interesting concept. I'm not sure I agree that "most" schooling is useless, but I certainly do agree that a lot of it can be useless for some students.

I know that a lot of the useless stuff is there so that all kids are exposed to something they are passionate about and can identify it in order to follow that passion later. Take History, for example, many kids would say history is a waste of time--most of us don't even remember it through to adulthood--but there are a few kids who are exposed to it in school and it becomes a life long passion they would not have experienced if not for the public school exposure.

I do like you idea of giving more control in what to study to the student, but I would not wait until 10-14 to study basic reading; I feel that is a little too late. Once a kid can read, they can learn almost anything they wish, so I think reading and very basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals) should be learned much earlier, around 4-7 yrs. That way they can already be following their passions.
By 9-14 years old, they would know whether they lean more towards mathematics/scientific/engineering passions, or whether they lean more towards the arts/literature/sociology or have passion for both sides of this fence. They can start focusing in on classes in those areas so that by 15-16 they can start to narrow in on a career field.
School is work, it gives us the same exposure to the real world as any other job gives us, so I don't see the benefit of working at 16. They cannot learn anything running a cash register that they cannot learn through attending school.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/02/2011

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I agree, Teresa. I wonder if there are any studies done on this type of schooling? What worries me is that the kids were playing video games. Do they just let them do that all day long, or give them any other activies to do?

Kelly, I just think most of school is useless. I think we were benefit more by streamlining the system. Like, lets say.... from age 10-14 they study the basics of math, english and reading. Then from 14-16 they work part time while part time studying, that way they can get a feel for the real world and have a more realisitic idea of what they want to do. If at 16, they want to keep working, take the GED test and go work. If not, from 16 they can go to a university.

There have been a lot of complaints from businesses who hire people after they get an AA because of the generic material they teach which doesn't apply to the degree they were going for. All the art classes and lack of classes that would help them prepare more for the job. Students have complained about this too. Wasting hours in classrooms, doing projects on things that they have no interest in as it will not benefit their feild of work. I have heard complaints about this from the university level too.

Arizona is starting to work towards streamlining, but I haven't heard about it in a while.

Teresa - posted on 12/01/2011

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It will be interesting to see how the kids do in life. I personally think some kind of schooling is good. I'm a very hands-on parent with my son and his education. I can usually turn anything into a lesson of some sort. But I work and so does my husband so we don't have the luxury of teaching our son what he is learning all day in school.

[deleted account]

Sorry that was so long, I was trying to address several points you brought up since I was gone for a while. I hope I didn't ramble....

[deleted account]

I didn't mean to imply that "All" kids who grew up stationary were guaranteed a more pleasant schooling experience, or that "all" kids who moved around would fail to establish their place and form the long term relationships that foster that attitude; I was speaking of the population in general--*Most* kids fit into that criteria.



There are going to be kids who get stuck in crappy schools and have a crappy school experience regardless of whether they swap schools often or not, then there are those who adapt easily that will have a pleasant experience no matter where they are, but those are usually exceptions. Most kids who move a lot have a negative opinion of school, whereas most who move around less often have a more positive opinion of school. The reason is still only hypothesis, and probably always will be, but at the moment the hypothesis I stated earlier is supported.



As for the GED thing, yes, you can get it later in life--it doesn't matter when you get it, but you do have to consider the limitations NOT have a GED will put on your career choices. In my state, a GED is not better or worse than a diploma--many of our private schools that are not accredited can only give GED's and the home schooled students receive GED's.



In my state, you have to pay to home school--it is a tax and you pay it whether you follow a curriculum or do the unschooling thing. It is $634/year per student, but I don't know how they track progress or hold accountability. I know several homeschooling moms (because I use the group to supplement J) but I have never discussed their accountability to the state....I guess I could ask.





As for adjusting to change, most kids who were schooled in public school are exposed to change at least 3 times--their first day of kindy, moving to middle school, then lastly, high school. The schools get bigger as you go up, so students are introduced to new atmospheres, new students, and new routines and experiences each time. They are no stranger to new experiences and should be well equipped to move should they ever need to. That said, I didn't say that a student had to stay in the same home for the entire school career in order to foster the positive opinion; just that those who moved less often would be more likely to have that opinion fostered--they could still move a few times and have a positive opinion of their school experience.



EDIT: There is a study done by Dr. Mona Mansour that supports this idea. I'll try to find some links or articles.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/01/2011

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I said I've known kids who didn't benefit from living a life that hasn't moved around.

You said "Your true exposure to "normalcy" among kids that are stationary may be wide, but minimum."

I guess I just don't see how what you said here makes sense. I met them and I asked them. How does my moving around interfere with my ability to ask people I meet questions about whether they benefitted from growing up in the same place their entire life?

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/01/2011

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For someone who has no job or opportunities without a high school diploma, or GED that is a lot of money to come by, and the areas that I have known people to get their GED they had to pay for their classes. At this point, it is clear you are arguing to argue, and has become pointless. Have a lovely evening.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/01/2011

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Because Niki, you have met a lot of people, but not developed long term relationships in that specific town. For you, and all traveling children, it is a fair weather friendship. It often can take the "new kid" a long time to make anyfriends, and by the time they do, they are moving again. To get to know someone really well takes time. I am sure that you have made friendships over the years, and it is awesome if they have transitioned into your adult years, but traveling and moving like you have does not make for a typical concrete foundation for friendships.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/01/2011

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It's not that expensive, at all. The classes to study for a GED are free and to take the test only costs 50$. Why is it more difficult?

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/01/2011

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And, about GED's, yes it is the equivilent to high school diploma, but why do it? Why intentionally make life more difficult? You have to pay for it....public schooling is free. If you want to slack off as a teenager, then have to deal with this as an adult, it is your prerogative....but it is silly to make things so much more difficult on yourself.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/01/2011

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Anyway, I think we've gotten away from the OP and no one responded to the GED thing yet. Waiting for that one :)

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/01/2011

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How can it be wide, but minimum? I met people, talked to them and they told me how they felt.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/01/2011

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Ok, hold on here Niki.....you jumped around almost every school year. Your true exposure to "normalcy" among kids that are stationary may be wide, but minimum. I mean, really, how well can you get to know the school, other students, a town..etc. I think it sucks to have to jump around like that.

My step father was military, and thankfully we did not have to move. But I knew a lot of military brats, and while some were well rounded and loved moving around, most did not...especially the older they would get. The adults that I have knownn that DID lead a military life HATED moving as an adult, and set roots wherever their last location was.

I have moved plenty as an adult, and I grew up in the same town for 18 years. I have a very easy time adjusting to my surrounding environments.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/01/2011

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Also, how well do these people cope with moving when they grow up? New situations? New social circles? If they haven't really had to deal with it before. Some of them feel stuck and never want to move, are scared to move, or don't know how to move.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/01/2011

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"Whereas kids who go to the same school for a longer period of time, tend to see their school as a unique, individual society that they are a unique and important part of."

I've known a lot of kids who grew up in the same house, school, place their entire lives and didn't experiance this. Which is when I realized that it didn't quite matter. I had always wanted to grow up one place my entire life, but when I met these people they weren't benefitting from it, so it doesn't automatically secure a happy, stable, good environment.

[deleted account]

I kind of agree with Marina here. It is not just the teacher that sculpts the school experience, it is a combination of teachers, friendships, and school atmosphere. Kids who move from school to school often get the least out of school because they don't have the time to adapt to the new environment. To them, all schools seem pretty much the same, boring place. Whereas kids who go to the same school for a longer period of time, tend to see their school as a unique, individual society that they are a unique and important part of.

For the record, I went to 5 schools--1 elementary, 2 middle schools, Then high school was a combination of traditional public school for morning then an Arts Magnet for the afternoon for the first 2 years, then a boarding school for artistically gifted for the last 2 years (obviously on scholarship). I had my fair share of sucky teachers, but more often than not, they were good teachers. That said, the BEST teachers were those at the Magnet and the boarding school. Why? I have to say that it has a lot to do with the fact that I was studying subjects that *I* had a passion for at those schools, whereas I was studying what I had to at the others. I think that no matter how wonderful a teacher is, or how hard he/she tries, if the student is completely uninterested in the subject matter, the teacher is not going to be memorable, and is not going to be able to spark an interest--at least not at that public school scale.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/01/2011

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It was about one school a year and how many people really have more than one teacher a year anyway? So I did get to know them.



Here's a better question.. If all we need to do is pass a GED in order to be educated as adults, what is the point of so many years of schooling?

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/01/2011

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Niki, I am not sure if your 11 schools is a good comparison or not. You never really had the time at each school to really get to know the teachers on a better level. Maybe if you were in one school long enough, you would have liked more than 2 teachers. I can only guess the resentment that would follow going from school to school constantly, and maybe that could have over shadowed your impression of each school? I don't know. I went to school in Mass, and I never moved. I was in kindergarten-12 with most of the same people Of course people moved, and we had new students, but I knew most of everyone in my grade from and early age. I had a lot of teachers that I thought were out standing, and a couple of teachers that should have been reported, and one in particular that made everyone uncomfortable on a sexual level. But, I have a higher number of teachers that I loved rather than thought were shit.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/01/2011

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I'm also curious where everyone grew up, how many schools you went to growing up and how many teachers you actually liked? It'd make for a good survey too.



I went to 11 schools and only liked my 3rd grade teacher, who was the fun, creative, interactive one. In high school I had a health teacher who was kind and interactive which made the class more interesting but she was gone after a few months, retired. So the whole time I was growing up, I can only recall 2 teachers. My boyfriend out of 3 schools said he has 6 or 7 which he liked.



I also want to point out that again 80% of Americas schools are failing and they obviously need change. What good is sitting in a structured school system if so much of it is not producing children who can succeed, pass the standardized tests, and graudate? What kind of an education are they really receiving at this point if 80% are failing too?

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/01/2011

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Yes, but you are saying that it needs to be structured in order to learn basic skills, Emma.

Well I must have went to the most boring schools ever because that's all that I experianced growing up.

Also, they still can get a GED later then. Why is that so bad?

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/01/2011

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Getting a job without any education is very slim. I mean Mcdonalds and other fast food chains are going to be great for you without ANY education. No job that is high paying is going to higher you without any sort of proof of education. I mean, even drop outs go back for their GED most of the time. On the job training is great, but good jobs are not going to take that chance on you to train you if you could not even make it through school.

Stifler's - posted on 12/01/2011

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I've never heard of a public school where young kids are expected to do work at a desk all day. We did activities. group work, art, reading on the carpet all the time until like year 7. Even in high school you're not always sitting at a desk getting lectures.

Sarah - posted on 12/01/2011

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Maybe people weren't bashing public schools as such, but there was a general feeling that kids at public schools just have to sit quietly and be taught at, that it's all memorisation and robot like.

I was just trying to point out that not ALL schools are like that. As I've said, maybe it's different where you are.

I helped at a school for a year, in a class for 6-7 yrs olds. The lessons were always fun and engaging, there was art, music, learning through role playing, learning through stories, etc etc.
No lessons were just them sat there quietly being taught at, it was all very hands on, making it fun, sparking their interest and inspiring them to learn more.
I actually learnt a lot! lol

Sarah - posted on 12/01/2011

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A lot of jobs here require a C in Maths and English GCSE level.

I agree with Emma, I think having no qualifications at all would make applying for jobs very difficult. I mean it's hard enough these days to get a job even with qualifications!

Stifler's - posted on 11/30/2011

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Working where? Every place I've worked you need basic english and maths skills and/or tertiary education.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 11/30/2011

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How many people really go to a university though, Emma? How hard is it to really learn? Is it any harder than someone who dropped out of school in 7th grade, than it would be with no schooling? I don't think by much even if so. Also, I think parents should have a right to raise their children how they want in this aspect. Do you think it would make a different to the children who would be forced into a rigid structure if their parents could care less about it? What age do we need schools? How much education? What type of education? There is a lot to be considered. In the older days, you grew up, helped around the house/farm/family business and then went on to keep doing that as your profession as you got older. It worked. So, is there really a need for such structure? I don't think so. There are still ways to make a living in modern life without an education, with little education and with an unstructured education.

Stifler's - posted on 11/30/2011

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I am against this sort of shit. Boohoo a structured environment... how terrible. White whine.



Edited to add: I'm not against homeschooling I'm against unschooling with no accountability to the government for their child's eduction. How do you get into uni/do uni work if you've never had to do anything like that before? There are no excuses for not going to test or not handing in assignments on time.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 11/30/2011

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America needs to have a better balance between parental responsibility and teacher accountability.

Parents should be at least showing proof they are trying (maybe a counselor to keep records or court dates - not jail) and showing proof that teachers are trying just as hard too. If the teachers aren't getting through to most of the kids, they should have someone work with them to improve their success rate or simply be laid off if they can't do it. If that's what America wants anyway - kids to succeed in school.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 11/30/2011

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The schools here do sound very different than the ones in the U.K. that you are mentioning, Sarah. I personally moved around a lot growing up and went to many different public schools. To me, it felt like too many teachers, counselors and even the principles didn't care. Which is where the rote memorization problem comes into play, that Kelly brought up.

Here, it feels like you are shoved in front of a drone robot that's spewing out this 2 inch textbook of facts about as exciting as reading a dictionary front to back, page by page, then being tested on it. It was very very rare I met a teacher who had any spark or creativity.

The NCLB has way too many problems. By putting pressure and fault on teachers like it does, to force them into making kids succeed, you get problems like teachers just passing kids so that it will not go negatively against their record.

Problems like what Tracey said about them not being able to be as creative anymore.

Also, if your kid isn't in school you go to jail. A friend of my parents who is a single mom with 3 teenage boys went to jail, because the dad wasn't around to help and she worked full time. Her boys started to rebel as any normal teenager does. She tried to work with the boys, but they wouldn't listen. She tried to even make them wards of the state but the state said tough shit, they are too old, we don't care, you are on your own. So when they skipped too many classes, when she went to jail for it, she lost her job. Her job that paid well, that she had been at for years. Her job that was the only families source of income. Her job that had benefits and vacation days. She lost all of that and by the time she got another similar job, she was making less too. There are many flaws to the public school systems in America.

The only proof anyone needs of that is Obama's announcement a year ago that 80% of the public schools are failing.

Tracey - posted on 11/30/2011

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It may be different in the U.K. Here, because of the No Child Left Behind act, education is very different than what it was 20 years ago. My mom and my best friend's mothers were both teachers, and many teachers left. It took discretion out of the teacher's hands. I know teachers who have been reprimanded for not using the "right" illustration of a dolphin from the "right" book, and kids who the school has come down on because they took an extra day or so to learn whatever the system-wide concept of the day was in a subject. And it becomes a matter of permanent record, and the child gets labeled as slow, and that all just snowballs. Thankfully, NCLB is being looked at by Congress, and it's going to change to something more sane.

[deleted account]

I didn't see anyone bashing public schools, unless you are referring to my criticism of the memorization obsession they have. If so, I should probably clarify by mentioning that my son IS in a traditional public school. Despite the problems and issues within the system, it was the best choice for our son, because, like Sarah, I lack the creativity, patients, and all around "know how" to home school him.

That said, I am very lucky to live in a place where the school district performs very well, AND our home schooling community is not overly religious, and is very accepting of those of us who choose to use it. Because of the issue our schools do face, I depend heavily on the home schooling community to supplement his education--he gets a combo deal. He goes to the public school for his basic education, this way I can be sure that he learns what he needs to learn, then we supplement areas like math and science, which he is very passionate about, from the home schooling groups, so that he maintains the curiosity and drive to keep learning--the desire Krista mentioned many kids loosing when only given the option of public schooling.

It seems to be a good balance for us.

Sarah - posted on 11/30/2011

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Maybe it's different here in the UK.

Not saying there aren't "bad" schools here, but I still don't think that people can make a blanket statement of "all schools are bad".

Things can always be improved, no doubt about that, but I don't believe (that here at least) it's a "conveyor belt method".
I volunteered at a school on a course I was taking, and the teachers really strived to make the lessons fun, interesting, creative, and accessible for all the students whatever their ability.

I can only go on my experiences and the schools in my area, but my daughter is thriving at her school......far more than if she was being taught by me (for the reasons I stated in my previous post).
As I've said, I have nothing against homeschooling, if that's what fits best for their kids. What I have a problem with is people making out that going to school is somehow detrimental.........I think that's something that just can't be generalised. Just as if people say all homeschooled kids are being done a disservice.....it's not fair to generalise from either side.

Tracey - posted on 11/30/2011

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Sarah, I know a lot of people who are 100% all-in excited supporters of their child's school, until the test results come back and half the kids per grade can't pass the standardized tests, or figures are released that only half the kids entering first grade end up graduating, or the school makes national news for kids having six in public. All of those things have happened in area schools here. In fact, in the "best" school in my state, which is right smack-dab in the middle of all measures so pretty "average"(my state), there have been deaths, sexting scandals, several teachers and staff arrested for molesting students, and a national hazing incident that resulted in multiple lawsuits. This is the school system for the fastest-growing area in the state, where home values are very high *because* of the "stellar" school system.



In fact, because I have helped hundreds of new homeschoolers get started whose kids were once in government schools, I can tell you one of the main things I see is shock and anger, because these are the good parents, the ones who are volunteering and active, and then they start seeing the real story. They realize that everyone is drinking the self-esteem Koolaid, and that kids are suffering for it, and the system itself is at fault with its one-size-fits all, conveyer-belt methods. That's what produces the shock and anger that their child started falling through the cracks, despite it being a "good" school and their best efforts.



No, not all government schools are bad. But a lot are far worse than people realize. I've watched for 25 years while school reform has been talked about and not made much real progress. If schools were so great, there wouldn't be so much talk of school reform.

Sarah - posted on 11/30/2011

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I don't really care if people want to homeschool or unschool or whatever, that's their decision I guess.
It's certainly not anything I would do though, a) because I don't think I'm qualified to teach them all they need to know and b) because to be honest, I wouldn't have the creativity or patience.

So often, the thing with these debates that annoys me is when people are passionate about one side or the other......so they completely dismiss that the other side has any merit at all.

Just because I believe that going to school is best for my kids, it doesn't mean I don't get or understand why some parents might choose to homeschool for their kids. However, it often seems like parents that choose to homeschool feel the need to bash schools for some reason.
I'm sure there are some not so good schools, but I think most public schools do a damn fine job, with teachers that do a damn fine job.

I don't see why we have to put down one type of education while trying to explain the benefits of another type.

[deleted account]

There really needs to be an "interesting" button for your post, Niki--that is a very unique way to look at it!

Of my childhood social circle, I am the ONLY one who graduated highschool, yet all of them are functioning adults and many are very successful. (They were not exactly home schooled either, but like Krista said, they knew How to Learn). Of my adult social circle, I am the only one I know who did not graduate college, and most have Masters or Doctorates, yet many of these people are no more functioning than those from my childhood social circle....but the two circles don't mesh well. I've tried parties; they come out weird. Neither group is happier than the other, neither has more or less problems than the other, but their interests and problems are different....so different that they can't usually find enough common ground to finish a full conversation unless I am right there.

So, I agree, a traditional education is not for everyone. I also agree very much with Krista in that kids need to learn how to learn and that, as parents, it is our job to teach them that one simple skill and they will be able to do the rest (though we need to help and encourage them). One issue I have with traditional schooling is their obsession with memorization. I think it is useless--I remember very, very little of the history I learned because it was all about memorizing names and dates, which I suck at. If they had approached it from an angle that analyzed cause and effect of different events in history, I think i would have remembered and understood a lot more of it. The few I do remember are random in my head, disconnected from one another, basically useless. However, if they were connected in someway, I have no doubt that they would benefit me in my decision making processes today.

I do wonder though, if a home schooled or unschooled kid desires to go to college, will they be able to cope with the one-size-fits-all method of teaching that late in their lives after always following their own way? Also, will they be able to cope with the lack of individual attention, being one of hundreds instead of one of just 5 or 10?

Krista - posted on 11/30/2011

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I think that the most important thing that a kid can learn...is how to learn. Everything falls from that. A good school (or homeschooler) will encourage intellectual curiousity, and will also teach the child how to research, how to find connections between concepts, and how to apply concepts to practical applications. To me, the most crucial skill that can be taught is reading, and reading comprehension. If you can't read, and can't understand what you're reading, you're going to have a much harder time learning anything else.

I approve of homeschooling, and do not care how the homeschooler structures their day, as long as they are preparing their children for the world outside their home.

I also approve of working with the child's interests, but with one big caveat -- sometimes the parent has to foster an interest. I don't approve of it if a parent says, "Oh, Johnny doesn't like math, so we haven't done any of that."

Well, Johnny's going to need some math once he's out from under your roof, sweetcheeks.

So as a homeschooler, the parent's job is not just to cater to the kid's interests, but also to work with them to spark an interest in other subjects. So if Johnny doesn't like math, then that parent needs to get creative and find a way to GET Johnny interested in math, whether it's running a pretend business, or building a doghouse together, or what-have-you. Or, if the kid doesn't like reading, then you FIND a way to spark their interest. You don't just throw your hands up and say, "Oh, she's not interested in that." That's lazy.

Good homeschooling is a lot of work and requires a shit-ton of creativity. I applaud the homeschoolers who acknowledge the huge responsibility that they have, but I have nothing but scorn for the ones who shirk their duty and try to put a positive spin on it.

Minnie - posted on 11/30/2011

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Actually, I don't think that public schools teach a whole lot. My five year old is learning concepts and skills right now that are far above her grade level. Homeschooling benefits her right now at least, in that she's able to learn at her pace. We can cover so much more because it's just she and her sister.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 11/29/2011

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Interesting!! One question pops into my mind. What do we really need to know in order to function and survive in our society? Basic math skills? Vague sense of reading and writing? A lot of adults are graduating high school failing anyway.. In America Obama announced a year ago that 80% of our school systems were failing.

I don't think they need to know as much as public schools here try to teach anyway. How many people really remember all of that? I know someone who dropped out of school in 7th grade and is still a fully functioning adult.

And if they want to learn math, writing, spelling and history later on, they probably will retain more as it's their own drive to learn it?

Ever been in a class that you didn't care for? I don't know about you but I drone out and become a zombie, not retaining anything more than needed to pass the next test before forgetting it 2 days later lol

I wonder if there are any studies done on this type of teaching and how the kids turn out as adults? Interesting indeed...

I'd at least cover the basics though but I'm talking basic 5 paragraph essay, legible, not too many spelling errors, multiplecation and division type of stuff...

Tracey - posted on 11/29/2011

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I've always homeschooled my kids, oldest now 15, and mentor people just getting started in homeschooling.

Every state's and country's laws are different. In my state and several others, we're legally considered private schools, and the school districts have no jurisdiction. Given that we don't want our kids living on our couches, we're pretty self-motivated to give our kids the best start in life that we possibly can. Studies show little difference in states with strict homeschooling controls and those who treat parents as capable, thinking adults.

It's common to think of children as empty pitchers someone else has to fill up, and common to think that that person has to be an "expert". But no one is more an expert on the *child* than the parent, and kids are not just passive.

Think of your child as a toddler or preschooler. Many kids are just busy, so busy being sponges and absorbing everything they possibly can. They are actively learning, and doing it without a curriculum.

But when they get into formal mass education, they learn that the teacher is happiest when they are quietly sitting still. If they get interested in something, they have to quit being interested when the bell rings or the teachers says they're moving on. Kids gradually loose their zest for learning and view it as a separate thing from life, and many even hate it. Especially if they're being taught in a way that is different than the way that that particular child learns best. Those kids often have self-esteem problems because they think they're "dumb", when they just would learn better another way.

One big strength that homeschooling has is that kids can learn in their own way. And some parents are savvy enough to realize that kids who are following their own interests are going to go further than kids who are doing the old carrot/stick routine. You can lead a child to school, but you can't make him think. But make him thirsty, and you'll be continually having to refill his cup.

So unschoolers might not be wedded to a curriculum, but that doesn't mean no learning materials! We do what's called "strewing", meaning "strewing their paths". We do a lot of things to stimulate interests, and we also try to keep distractions down. We didn't really watch TV or let the kids have computer access when they were little, but we had close to 1400 educational kids' books in the house (Usborne; I sold them in order to get all the titles--they're used as curriculum in England and some elite private schools). We took, and still take, a lot of field trips. We grab teachable moments as they happen, from the baby bird that fell out of the tree, to helping a guy alongside the highway figure out why his motor wouldn't turn over, to curiosity over the different shapes of clouds.

I know a lot of people who do school the same way. On average, their kids are taking their first college classes at around age 15 or 16. My own son is taking his first formal class ever, a homeschooling group class, AP chemistry. His teacher is a working research chemist who take 1/2 day off a week to teach a 3 hour chemistry class. My son is 15, loves it, and is acing the class. Those little things like writing his name at the top of his paper he'd learned in other activities. Standing in line doesn't figure in AP Chemistry, but he learned it in Cub Scouts. I had to show him the proper layout for homework, but it took *one* time showing him. In other words, entering his first classroom at the age of 14 (when the class started) has not hurt him at all.

Does he want to be in their all-day program? No. He has a lot of other things he wants to explore, including having free time to volunteer at a museum, do 1-day AP workshops at various area universities, write music and work out. But he is enjoying the class and doing well. The kid who has not used curriculum.

How it works for university: the homeschooled kids have to meet the same entrance requirements as all other kids. It's best to figure out early on which school(s) your child wants to go to, and find out their entrance requirements and make sure your child has those requirements filled. That might be so many years of math and so many of science, or it might be specific titles on a reading list, or it might include specific activities, as well as a certain level of test scores.

For the most part, colleges and employers prefer homeschooled students. Homeschoolers are self-motivated and know how to learn independently. In general, they don't see the point in cheating because they were never motivated by grades but by mastery of the material. They weren't able to be quiet in class and let someone else answer--they *were* the class! They also tend to be genuinely interested in their studies, and don't mistake the goal of school as socializing instead of getting an education. All that put together makes them very attractive to universities. Also, their transcripts have to be more detailed than the usual transcript form. Government school kids learn biology from a Scott Foresman text, but a homeschooler's transcript might include volunteering at a vet's office and at a wetlands conservation club and reading original research and going to conferences. It makes homeschoolers stand out in a sea of similar applicants.

Sal - posted on 11/28/2011

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Thanks Lisa that was what I was wondering who the parents were accountable to....

Medic - posted on 11/28/2011

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Here in Texas you do not have to show anyone what you are doing to homeschool your kids. When my parents pulled me out they just told the school that they were going to homeschool me. They did decide to go through an online program from a state university so that is how I proved my credits for college. I have wondered how unschooling works.

Minnie - posted on 11/28/2011

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In NH you need to notify the local school district of an intent to homeschool. You keep a portfolio/journal of your child's work and what is learned each day. At the end of the year you're required to have it evaluated by a teacher.



Progression must be made from beginning of the year to the end within the realm of what was covered. If there isn't evidence of progression in learning one more year is allowed for improvement and then the child must go to public school.



Yes, my daughters are young. What we're doing now works well for us. Our needs may change in the future, and I'm open to public school too, if that is necessary.



I don't have plans to use a particular curriculum in the future though.

[deleted account]

My mom was going to homeschool me for 11th and 12th grade (before I decided to drop out completely) since she had done some teaching before going back to school to be a nurse. She HAD to submit her curriculum for approval before she could start. Then once I turned 16 I was able to 'legally' drop out of school.

Kids here have to be enrolled in some type of schooling (homeschool is fine w/ an approved curriculum) by the school term that begins after their 6th birthday. I don't know how strict they are at keeping up w/ the homeschooled kids to see if they ARE actually doing the stuff though.... since I quit 2.5 months after I started...

Hope - posted on 11/28/2011

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I am so confused. How can a child learn what they need to learn if there is not curriculum. I know there are different teaching methods and each child learns in different way but surly you must have to have a basic outline and structure there to ensure a child is learn what is required to prosper in todays society.

Jodi - posted on 11/28/2011

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Wouldn't you have to have SOME curriculum, though, in order to pass the exams?

~♥Little Miss - posted on 11/28/2011

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I believe it is Sal, home schooled families also have to test and pass to graduate....I believe.

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