Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TMTT- Home-Schooling Interview Part 2

Good morning!  Today we have Part 2 of my homeschool interview!  In case you missed last week, I have interviewed 3 friends of mine who were home-schooled to some extent growing up.  They have answered questions that we had for them, and they have given great answers and many, many helpful insights and tips.

(And just in case you are "type A" and have noticed that each question is #1...yes I have noticed!  Something happens when I copy and paste it from a document, and the numbers all change to #1.  I'm working on it!!  lol)

  1. What program did your parents use? Did you like it?
Hallie: We used Advanced Training Institute (ATI), which stemmed off of Bill Gothard’s ministry. We also supplemented in most subjects, using a variety of curriculum and resources. ATI focuses on one major concept, character quality and scripture verse each month that ALL the subjects revolve around, and which ALL of the family members sit down and do together. In this “school bus” method we each would get off of different “stops”, therefore exploring the subject matter in an age-appropriate way. I very much liked this curriculum and plan to use it with my kids when they are older. To this day, I cite Bill Gothard as being one of the most influential people in my life because of how those two years prepared me for God’s calling on my life.

Darcie: My parents used a program called ATI (Advanced Training Institute) as the main curriculum and supplemented with other things occasionally. If it was not for this program, I think I would have HATED the academic side of being home-schooled. This program had a strong Biblical sense and every aspect of it was based around the Bible. Also, it had other subjects that were my favorite such as Law and Medicine. As a Christian, this made a difference in my life. I am not an academic type person that most home-schooled have as their stereotype. I would have hated sitting at a table and just bringing home what was done in a regular school environment. When I went to Bible College, I used my old curriculum often as references for my papers and projects. Also, now being in full time ministry, I use the principles found in the curriculum for a lot of counseling and teaching.

J: My parents used a good deal of ABeka and Christian Liberty, particularly in the earlier grades. For our Biblical training and instruction we used textbooks and storybooks from the Netherlands Reformed Church... I would have to dig up some of my childhood papers to remember the exact name of that curriculum, but it was really good and I credit most of my early understanding of Christian doctrine to that. I did like the curricula they used but again didn't have anything to compare it to for the most part. I balked when my parents tried to switch me to Saxon math in 8th grade... the different way of thinking and approaching math was difficult for me to wrap my mind around, so my parents kept me in ABeka math all the way through. My younger siblings, however, made the switch to Saxon earlier on. In general my parents picked pretty good programs as far as I can tell.

  1. Pros and cons (in your opinion) to homeschooling. 
Hallie: Pros- allows families to focus on what really matters in life all while PARENTS are the most influential people in a child’s life (as opposed to teachers and peers) Cons- depending on the family, home-schooling will take on the weaknesses of the one teaching, whether that be a lack of structure, academic excellence, or socialization. Also, the teacher/mother role can be tough to separate.

Darcie: Pros: Choosing what to focus on and the direction of what you want to learn. The ability to be done with school very early in the day as well as the flexibility in a schedule.
Cons: At first I hated not having the social daily involvement with other people (I am a social butterfly!) but because of my involvement with church and other activities I didn't hate it as much. A lot of home-schoolers have a lack in social skills. My family and I were not that family...but some of the other home-schoolers I was surrounded with were immature in social skills but very book smart. There needs to be a balance. I also did not like that I was not able to participate in sports and school plays.

J: Please note - not all of these pros and cons were a part of my experience... this is intended to be my somewhat 'comprehensive' pros and cons list.
Pros - Greater potential. Flexibility. Freedom to move at one's own pace. Possibility of an academic education far superior to that in the public schools. Chance to be surrounded by a Christian environment throughout critical formative years. Chance to develop and nurture closer family relationships than would otherwise be possible. Excellent chance to develop true analytical and critical thinking skills. Ironically, given the public school system's sham emphasis on everybody displaying 'originality' and 'being your own person' (in exactly the same socially acceptable ways, of course), homeschooling actually provides a better opportunity for a child to learn to think 'outside the box' or to develop a unique perspective on life. For those raised in a Christian home, this unique perspective is arguably a very good thing. Greater opportunities to freely explore individual talents and areas of interest. Smaller classroom sizes! (Lol.)
Cons - At the mercy of the parent's whims, which can be but isn't always better than being at the whims of a public/private school. Tendency towards over-isolation and underemphasis on social skills - can lead down the road to a lack of preparedness for the 'real world'. Is incredibly demanding on the parents. Science labs, phys ed, the arts, and social interaction can easily be neglected unless the parents are really vigilant in this area. Now that homeschooling has become somewhat mainstream, can be a breeding ground for all sorts of weird and highly counterproductive philosophies of education and child-rearing. Parents have to be vigilant on maintaining discipline and a strict schedule - homeschooling can easily become too freeform to where the kids never learn what it's like to stick to a rigid schedule or have deadlines.

8)pastedGraphic.pdf Did you ever get teased/feel like an outcast among other kids? How did you/your family handle it?

Hallie: No, I was a junior at that point. My younger siblings were never teased either, though.

Darcie: I never felt like i was an outcast among other kids. I know other home-schoolers have felt that way. I was confident and very social as a kid. I only got teased about being home-schooled when I got to college! Crazy! I also now being a young adult receive remarks about the fact that I was home-schooled. We chose as a family that we would not be known as "the typical home-schooled family!" We often teased my mom that she was not allowed to dress like a home-school mom. (You know what I am talking about!)

J: Yes. My main social interaction was with church and it wasn't until college that I found people that I fit in with - even though, there was a pervasive sense of not fitting in. I would be interested to hear from other homeschoolers if this is something that's just me, or if it's a common feeling among my fellow homeschooleds. Pre-college, I handled it by withdrawing socially and emotionally. I had no interests whatsoever in common with kids from my church so this was easy to do. In college, I made a determined effort to solve the problem of my social ineptness through observation and analysis of how people around me act. I've made some progress, but, as any of my good friends will attest, there is plenty more to be made. That's right Ashley - I'm referencing our conversation from this past Monday!

  1. Did you feel you socialized with other kids enough? How could this have been improved?
Hallie: My family is very social in nature, so my parents naturally allowed my siblings and I to be as well. My youngest brother, who was home-schooled his whole academic career, is one of the most relatable people I know (able to talk easily with old people, young people, church people, non-church people, etc.) It’s what you make of it. In our home-schooling circles I certainly did see a lot of non-socialized kids, though.

Darcie: We were socialized enough with other kids because we were involved with church, we had friends outside of the schools we attended, and we were part of a home-school co-op. I don't think that we personally as a family needed to improve on this.

J: No. And to be completely honest, I do not blame this on homeschooling. This is not intended to be self-deprecatory or a plea for attention and sympathy, but I was truly a WEIRD kid. As referenced above, I think this would have led to an unbearable level of bullying in a public or private school setting, so I actually think that in my case, homeschooling was the best option. I sometimes wish my parents had made a more conscious and deliberate effort to develop me socially as they did with me academically, but I was also incredibly stubborn and willful, so who knows if it would have worked?

10) Any tips for parents homeschooling for how to make it better for them and their kid(s)?

Hallie: Don’t stress about the little things. It will all get done eventually, but in the meantime don’t strain the precious relationships that God has given you. Make sure you have your child’s “heart.” If God and you have your child’s heart, they will not rebel or resent you in the long run.
The same teaching style/curriculum will not work for every child. Learn how they learn. Don’t pit siblings against one another by comparing or making things too competitive. Praise each for what they are good at.

Darcie: Oohh this is a great question! I think anyone who wants advice about who to make it easier for kids being home-schooled should talk to my mom! :)pastedGraphic_1.pdf My mom and dad are amazing parents. They really sought God in every decision regarding what we should do and not do as a home-schooled family. You need to know your children. Each child is different and each child has different needs. Since our school district was not allowing home-schooled kids to participate in sports, my parents fought to make that change. The law as now been changed. My parents knew I wasn't good at math~ they made me do math but they didn't get upset if I didn't ace the tests. My parents made us write a paper on the first day of home-school, making us describe our feelings. They told us we could be as honest as we wanted. We were! But then on the last day of home-school of that year, they had us write the same paper. Our feelings had mostly changed. They heard our concerns (or complaints!) and they worked with us. Be fun! Make memories. And don't compare your children. Some our academic, some our artsy, and others may be athletic. Your job as a parents is to train your child in the way they should go. My parents were pros at that. They knew I was called to be in ministry so they put as many opportunities in my path that would later on be of benefit to me.

J: I would beg and plead with ANY parent considering homeschooling to keep a couple of things in mind. You have a WONDERFUL opportunity to shape and mold your kids in ways that will completely shape their entire lives. It's staggering to think about the amount of time kids spend in public schools - 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, for 12 years. That rough approximation gives 24,960 hours, and since I was homeschooled I don't need a calculator to know that. That is a HUGE amount of time and you can do so much with it. Don't waste ANY of it! You have the chance to bring up children, not in your image, but in God's image. Take full advantage of all of the potential benefits of homeschooling. Give your kids a great academic education - but that's only the start. Encourage them to explore their interests - find a church home and a homeschool group and get them involved with other kids. As a homeschool parent you are in charge of their social lives as well - don't neglect that!
Some warnings - and while I cannot speak as a parent, I can speak as a homeschooled child, and one who struggles daily with some of the things I'm about to warn about.
- Don't homeschool your children to protect them from the world - you are doomed to failure. Homeschool them because you believe you can better prepare them to face the world with all of its challenges.
- Instill a sense of discipline - this is SUPER important! Just because you homeschool doesn't mean you can start the day at 1pm and finish at 6pm. In the real world, most people still have 9-5 jobs, fixed schedules, and deadlines, and children need to learn this from an early age. Also, as a parent, you will completely fall apart if you can't maintain a sense of diligence and rigor - homeschooling is hard enough as it is.
- Don't be afraid to acknowledge your weaknesses. We all just flat out suck at some things. If you had to re-take algebra three times growing up, please don't try to teach it to your kids. Maybe your spouse can teach that subject. Perhaps there's a homeschool group or co-op in the area. If necessary, see if you can send the kid to a public or private school just for that class. By the time they get to those difficult subjects they should be ready to handle some exposure to the 'outside world' anyway. Would you try to teach your kids piano if you don't play? Of course not. So don't do it for the other subjects. It's a whole lot of work to micro-manage your child's education that way, but that's the challenge of homeschooling.
- Be vigilant to your child's emotional and spiritual well-being. While this isn't universally true, many parents who choose to homeschool do so because they wish to bring their child up in a Christian environment. Separating your kids from the secular environment of a public school doesn't magically solve all problems. If anything it places more of a burden on the parent to consciously set the example they want their kids to follow. So just be cognizant of that.
A concluding note: while my ramblings may not exactly come across as a glowingly positive review of the wonders of homeschooling, I AM glad I was home-schooled. My childhood was imperfect as everyone's is, so there are good things about it and not-so-good things. Homeschooling is not a 'perfect solution' because there are no perfect parents or perfect kids. However, I'm very thankful for the experiences I had growing up and have been very blessed in the short time I've been alive. I could not, for a second, wish away the wonderful good fortune I've had in my life, and I do truly believe that I've been so very blessed to have the friendships, relationships, and education that I have now as a result of my upbringing.

Excellent!!  Thank you so much to my friends for contributing...I took away many valuable tips on homeschooling!
Hope you all have a wonderful week, and I will see you Friday!

1 comment:

  1. i like the variety in the answers from the interviewees!