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July 19, 2011

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An excellent post.I really appreciate you for doing this job... keep it up.

My first child had the ideal Kindergarten class, and I knew my decision to send him to school was the best. My second had a contradictory experience that would have sent any parent to homeschool. The dust did settle, and in school he remains. Under a very watchful eye.

I work full-time, homeschool one and public school two. I can do that because my oldest really needs to explore things on his own. Public school didn't do it for him. Everything was either too easy for him (not interesting), or he couldn't do it (too foolish, boring, arduous, etc.) - so, he just read at his desk most of the time. And, he got yelled at for reading at his desk. Then, at the end of the year - he topped out on all of their tests. (C's for grades due to incomplete stuff and perfect test scores). The public school model doesn't work for him. They can't target his needs, and they won't try to as long as his achievement makes them look good. So, my bright little guy left his third grade year feeling like a failure.

He shines in homeschool where he has some autonomy and where I can help him target the level of his work. I spend less time educating him in homeschool than it took to browbeat him through a bunch of overworked homework assignments.

The other two are more outgoing and need more steady direction from a teacher. Working full-time - I can't do that. They are in the public schools. It is not a perfect match, but it is better than I can do in this model. Squelch creativity - yup.

I loved your article because IMO it really addressed the essential element in a good education - a good teacher. It doesn't matter whether that teacher is a mom who home schools or a public school teacher in a traditional school or a Montessori teacher (although they are more thoroughly trained in a specific theory and methodology)or your next door neighbor who mentors your child. The most important thing is - does the one who is teaching foster thinking, creativity, looking at things in a different manner, support suppositions even when they know the results won't be what the child expects and makes your child love learning new things. It is also critical that your child's needs and preferred method of learning are well matched with a teacher's style. It is very hard to change personalities and just as hard for a teacher to learn a new style of teaching. Some children do very well with what we consider traditional teaching methods but in my experience the most creative, gifted and sensitive need a more open, interactive and supportive environment to bloom. And even children within the same family may need different things from their teachers. Remember that you can always remake a decision if you find the results are not what you expected. As long as the child is not in a bad situation for long, they are remarkably resilient. I wish you the best as you continue to make the best decisions for your children's education.

Agreed with Pia. What about a Charter School? Our son is going into 1st grade and is at a local Charter that is Montesori based and fabulous. Small classes, small student to teacher ratios (he has 16 kids in his class with a teacher, a TA and a parent every day). Kids are encouraged to learn in an environment that suits THEM, definitely not one size fits all.

I homeschooled until this year, but due to a medical situation can no longer. I mostly agree with you. Boys are especially screwed by the current education system. There is very little value placed on 'exploratory' forms of learning and very little movement during the day. Montessori seems to address this if you can find a true one. Good luck with Drew!

I popped over the PW and read the post.

I will never homeschool. I just can't/won't. I don't have the patience or personality to teach my own children academics.

That said, we have had both a private and public school experience for Girl Child (entering 4th grade in the fall) and there are benefits and drawbacks to each.

From a diversity/variety of social experiences, getting along and working with people from all backgrounds - public school. Girl's public school has a very large Hispanic population that, unfortunately, are not meeting NCLB standards at the moment - the population is somewhat transient - moving where jobs are, comings and goings - and that makes it difficult to achieve continuity in their education. However, she has been deeply enriched by being with children from different walks of life.

Academically? Because the school is not showing what they call "Adequate Yearly Progress" and not meeting NCLB standards, they're listed as "troubled" and "potentially failing." So, they're teaching to the test, for sure. Girl had TWO units of science and TWO units of Social Studies this year. The rest was Math, Reading, and peripherals like computer, library, music, PE. A volunteer at her school does once a month Art Literacy classes.

That's where I come in as a parent. I see holes? I fill them. We take music lessons, dance lessons, sports, science camps & classes, etc. We dig around for answers to questions that she has, "What's the hottest temperature on earth ever?" And we encourage her curiosity. We see to it that we round out her education.

Her teacher last year was very old school - in fact, she retired at the end of the year. The teachers in her coming grade are younger and more "hip" to more recent methods of teaching. It will be interesting seeing the difference.

"Show your work!" That is what is required by the state tests,(NY) that is why the teachers put so much emphasis on it. On the state tests they aren't allowed to give full credit just for coming up with the right answer, you must show how you got it. My beef isn't so much with the teachers as with the testing. Alas, no homeschooling for me, mine are much to smart for me,in a good way.

I wish I had the ...... what's the word... to homeschool. Everyone in my life sees it as an evil. I hope that you get to know what is best for each of your children, I applaud your research and vigor that you study HOW to best educate them.

I am not a homeschooler. I am not opposed to homeschooling. Like we do with our children, I know myself and know it wasn't a fit for me. But I am over-educated and working on my PhD in education and know what kind of education I want for my children. So we worked hard to find a school that would give my children the education I want them to have and the kind of education they deserve. We found a school that is a perfect fit--there are no desks or text books (until middle math in 3rd grade). Students learn by experience and they drive the curricular themes.

The most important thing is that your children get the education you want them too and if Homeschooling is what works for you and your family--then great job.

I think the kids who get by best in public schools are the one who can cross the I and dot the T...the ones who read early, don't question and would never, ever want to have their name on the board (though I doubt they do that one anymore. I was one of those kids and actually did well up to high school.

Though I was punished in first grade because I READ AHEAD. Seriously? Reading ahead is a reason for punishment??

I understand why things have to be that way when you have a class of 30 kids...but it isn't that way for us.

My son is 5 and just ridiculously smart. He should be going into K (if we did school) but he did a whole bunch of 1st grade work last year with his sister. If he were in school, he'd probably do OK on paper, but oh boy, would they have trouble with him. (He's got the glint in his eye.)

You already know everything I'm saying. Try it. Give it your best shot. Each child is different...and you might have to go about things differently for each one.

But...already having one at home and having been homeschooled yourself...you could at least give it the ol' college try.

Although I'm a former high school English teacher, we're just starting the journey of parents in the school system. My eldest starts grade 1 next year, in a small public school, and unfortunately, both teachers are known to be, um, old and traditional. Emphasis on the word "traditional". I hope our kids get through the less than ideal teachers, and shine with the ones who change their educational philosophy and approach as "lifelong learners".

Sigh. You know sometimes these discussions give me a headache. Every parent should take the initiative to make decisions for their children.

If the decision is made to homeschool, then every effort should be made to ensure that the type of homeschooling, the setting, the curriculum, the activities etc are the best for their child.

If the decision is made to attend preschool, then every effort should be made to ensure the preschool, the setting, the curriculum, the activities etc are the best for their child.

No two parents will homeschool exactly alike. Some parents will be awesome. Some will really stink. Some kids will thrive in a homeschool situation. Some will flounder.

No two preschools are exactly alike. Some will be awesome. Some will really stink. Some kids will thrive in preschool. Some will flounder.

In my opinion, there is no one fabulous go to answer. There is also no one thing that you can point your finger at and say it's all bad. You have to find the answer that is right for each of your children. That takes time. That takes effort. That takes talking to people. Asking questions. Demanding answers. Observing. And being honest.

I really feel if I do all that, my kids will be just fine.

My son just finished 2nd grade. I remember a night of math homework where he looked at the addition problems (48+57+22) and he wrote down the answer. He did the math in his head. The next day, the teacher wrote that he needed to show each step (48+52). That sum + 22. Each as a step. I questioned why, if he could do it in his head. I never made him correct his homework to write steps if the answers were right.

Too many teachers - and people - are stuck in these relationships with rules. They MUST be followed. I am not a rule follower. Control freak, yes, rule follower, no. Everyone needs to ANALYZE a situation and do what's best for those involved. And if that means allowing children to think outside the box to solve problems, then so be it. I'd rather my children be analytical, logical and common sensical then tied to rules that may be wrong. Or worse - what if they change the rules. How does one adapt???

How about sending him to a Montessori school? Best of both worlds?

I never in a million years thought I would homeschool. And I still won't, because I have a job and it's not an option for my family, but after my son't kindergarten year, and seeing how public school REALLY is not in the best interest of him, and I would say a lot of boys, I'm starting to get why people do it.

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