Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why We Homeschool Part 2

I shared the first part of my homeschooling article here. This is the second part that was published in the family column I write for:

Last issue I discussed the reasons behind my families decision to home school. This week I’d like to share with you some of the questions homeschoolers face and resources for families who choose to home school.

If you are thinking of home schooling, be prepared to answer all the questions that will undoubtedly get tossed your way. Is it legal? How will you teach them? What about standardized testing like the TAKS? What about socialization?

First, home schooling is legal. Each state has different laws regarding home school, but Texas happens to be considered a home-school friendly state. Compared to other states, there are not many regulations for a Texas homeschooler. Second, you have the freedom to teach your children from any curriculum you choose or from one that you put together yourself. I attended a Texas home school conference last summer in which hundreds of curriculum vendors were present. There was a vast assortment of curricula that targeted different learning styles and approaches. Many families mix and match according to their children’s styles and ages. Some go with a curriculum that covers a year’s worth of work for all disciplines.
I’ve written about my dislike for the TAKS (a Texas standardized assessment test) from the standpoint of a teacher and a parent. It comes as no surprise that I cringe when people worry about my children not being able to take a standardized test because they are not in public school. First, both homeschoolers and private school students are not required by state law to take the TAKS. However, it is important for children to know how to take all forms of tests, not just limited to those that are standardized. I believe if you lay the proper foundation of learning for your children, in a positive environment in which they can thrive, you will have given them all the tools they need to excel at any tests they are given.

When I was a teacher the ultimate response to home schooling was “that poor child will never learn how to socialize”. I’m still at a loss as to why we think schools are solely responsible for teaching our children how to interact with peers. Is interacting with children at ballet class, volleyball, the museum, Kindermusik, church, and in the grocery store not forms of socialization? When my children turn their backs to gossiping and hurtful remarks from peers and stand up for the values they were taught in any group setting, is that not socialization? When my daughter is just as comfortable carrying on a conversation with an adult as she is with someone her own age, is that not socialization? Maybe the question should be, “Does going to school give you the necessary skills to socialize with others?” Then the answer would have to be “no”, because there are public and private schooled children who do not have the socialization skills needed to interact with their peers. I’ve seen these repeat offenders in detention halls, ISS, the principal’s office and even in my own classroom when I was teaching.

Finally, if you are thinking of homeschooling I advise joining a local home school group along with a state or national group. They will give you support, answer legal questions, provide you with resources, hold conferences, and give your family an opportunity to meet other home school families. I blog as often as I can about our home school adventures and I follow many families across the world who do the same. The Internet has helped to open up the homeschool world.

The bottom line is this; every parent has the freedom to choose what is in the best interest of their children and families. Thank goodness we live in a country in which we have many options to choose from.

What questions come up when you tell people you homeschool or what questions would you like to have answered if you don't homeschool?

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