A Public School Teacher Speaks from the Heart to You ~ the Homeschooler

Mark Twain has famously said, or has been said to have said, something along the lines of, you should not let school get in the way of your education.

quote-Mark-Twain-i-have-never-let-my-schooling-interfere-100661_1 I was blessed to have been born into a family which held this attitude. Also, I was fortunate to have lived in places, where outside of school, there were a plethora of educational opportunities. My parents took me in and out of school to allow me adventures and opportunities that sitting in a classroom would never have allowed. The schools were fine with this. There was a time when there was some mutual respect between parents and school, but in the age of accountability, much of that has gone away. Restrictive absence regulations are in place. Why? Every minute your child spends in a hard plastic chair equals a modicum of progress in the educational Holy Grail – the end of grade tests. I have a passion for what I do; I am a public middle school teacher. I do believe that what I do makes a difference.

However, I know I am working within a flawed system. Hundreds of articles by other teachers attest to the fact that many teachers feel the same way. Until education reform is based on a philosophy that holds the child above all else, rather than on political agendas, this will be the case. As a teacher, I can say that what public schools and most private schools are good at is educating a large population at one time. The hitch is this means there is little room to recognize or sculpt curriculum to a child’s individual needs. If your child has no individual needs, public school is a great place for him. Oh, wait! All children have individual needs. This is why, as a public middle school teacher, I make every attempt to find out my children’s talents and interests, but in a class of 25 plus, I would be lying if I told you that I could really build on those each and every minute they are in my class.

If I discover your child has a passion for nature photography, I can’t haul the entire class out to the Arboretum to help cultivate that passion, while linking it to lessons in optics, botany, biology and writing, then have them all back at school in an hour for their next class. These limitations are the main reasons that I think homeschool parents should feel good about the choices they are making for their child’s education. Yet, there are others. Public school education, even at the lowest grade levels allows for very little physical activity. Recess time has been whittled down to allow more time in class to allow for higher test scores. From this arises a whole host of problems for children such as over diagnosing of hyperactivity and attention disorders, emotional disorders, and to me the worse, children hating school — hating learning. Learning, the great joy of many of our lives, made a hated thing?

Perhaps one of the most hurtful policies is the pushing of advance learning goals to lower and lower grades. For instance, reading in pre-K. Most children are not ready to read for many years after that. Boys especially may not be ready to read until they are seven or eight. My own father never really read until he was ten. When he did begin to read his love of reading and his skill was a force to be reckoned with. On the other hand, my son read at two. He was the unique one though, not like my father and his slower progress. These years of non-reading garnered my father shame and scorn. He thought he was stupid. This is a situation that more children are facing now because of the reading standards are pushed even lower.

In our test crazed system, children are expected to progress according to the standards, not their own unique timetable. However, these standards are not compatible with child development. As I said before, I try to get to know my students and what drives them. I must admit that I can do little with this knowledge and the knowledge I gain is imperfect. You, the parent, KNOW your child. You know what is best for them. If you have misgivings about your choice to homeschool or unschool, this incontrovertible fact should give you heart. You know your child. You know what is best for him or her.

As a final salve let us list some people who were homeschooled and did okay: Thomas Jefferson, Louisa May Alcott, Teddy Roosevelt…feel free to continue the list.

Lisa Hope Vierra-Moore

I have always thought of myself as a homeschooler who sent her children to school. In my upbringing as an “Army Brat,” I have experienced just about any educational environment you can think of. The good, the bad, and the train wrecks. I was born in Frankfurt, Germany in the early sixties and moved often from that point on. As a teacher I have taught high school English, psychology, world history and philosophy. For the last 10 years I have taught 7th grade English Language Arts. I received my undergraduate degree from Presbyterian College. I am a great lover of literature and the arts. Creating whimsical art from found objects, painting, cooking and family fun fill up my non-work time.

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Download Our Teleconferences! Listen Anytime, Anywhere!

We, here at N.A.S.H., are pleased to provide downloadable mp3 versions of the 5 teleconferences we hosted during National School Choice Week, January 26-30, 2015.

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1) How to Start Homeschooling

Making the decision to homeschool your child(ren) is exciting but it can be a bit overwhelming. N.A.S.H. offered some helpful suggestions in getting started, during our National School Choice Week teleconference recording, “How To Start Homeschooling” from January, 26, 2015.

2) All About Secular Curricula

The topic of this teleconference, recorded on January 27, 2015, during National School Choice Week, is secular academic homeschool curricula and programs. This includes curriculum, co-ops, and live and online programs. One of the most challenging issues for homeschoolers is choosing curriculum and programs for their kids. For those of us who want secular academics, finding curriculum and programs that we like, and that also work for our children, can be extremely challenging. This hour-long discussion includes some practical tips for finding secular academic materials, a discussion of some common misconceptions about these materials, and a thought provoking discussion about why it is important to find and use academic materials of a secular nature.

3) Demystifying Homeschool Methods

Did you know there are many different ways to homeschool? Do you ever wonder what homeschooling style would work best for your family? In the Methods of Homeschooling Teleconference, recorded on January 28, 2015, for National School Choice Week, our panel of homeschoolers discussed how their unique homeschooling styles works for their families. The panel included unschooling father, Dennis Wolf, eclectic homeschooling mom, Beth Suitt, curricula­-based homeschooling mom, Jill Harper, and roadschooling mom, Larah Ritchie. These speakers along with the moderator, Jai Cook, the Programs and Services Senior Director for N.A.S.H., will help you demystify the various methods of homeschooling.

4) Homeschooling High School

Homeschooling comes with a lot of questions and uncertainties, and one of those is our ability to homeschool our children through high school. Many misconceptions surround homeschooling high school and many parents have questions and feel insecure about their ability to homeschool grades 9-12. As a result, this seems to be the prime time in which parents decide to send their children to school, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Fortunately, the passage before you has been walked. Two people who have navigated this path, Blair Lee and Jaime Cook, are here to help you. Along with Meg Grooms who moderated the Homeschooling High School Teleconference, recorded on January 29, during National School Choice Week.

5) The Dreaded “S” Word ~ Socialization

One thing that new homeschooling families often worry about is the dreaded “S” word ~ Socialization. They worry their child(ren) will grow up to be odd or anti-social because they’re missing out on the social aspects of public schooling. The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers (N.A.S.H.) invited three women to come and discuss their thoughts on socialization during a teleconference recorded on January 30, 2015, during National School Choice Week.

Demystifying Homeschooling Methods

Did you know there are many different ways to homeschool? Do you ever wonder what homeschooling style would work best for your family? In the Methods of Homeschooling Teleconference, recorded on January 28, 2015, for National School Choice Week, our panel of homeschoolers discussed how their unique homeschooling styles works for their families. The panel included unschooling father, Dennis Wolf, eclectic homeschooling mom, Beth Suitt, curricula­-based homeschooling mom, Jill Harper, and roadschooling mom, Larah Ritchie. These speakers along with the moderator, Jai Cook, the Programs and Services Senior Director for N.A.S.H., will help you demystify the various methods of homeschooling.

(Our apologizes ~ there were technical difficulties recording this session. Some of the beginning introductions are missing.)

Questions addressed in this session include:

●  Can you use a different method for each child?
●  Has your chosen method changed since you started homeschooling?
●  What homeschooling philosophy have you followed?
●  How does unschooling work?
●  How do I find quality secular curriculum?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, we invite you to listen now!

Additional Links:

Whim’s Rebellion on Facebook (Larah Richie)

TAD Town Blog (Jill Harper)

National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers (N.A.S.H.)

Image courtesy of Suwit Ritjaroon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net