Thursday, October 27, 2011

Homeschoolers are Amazing!

It's always refreshing when someone from outside the homeschooling world shares some positive thoughts about homeschooling and homeschoolers. 

Years ago, a public high school teacher friend of ours told us that he could always pick out the kids in his classes that had been homeschooled prior to entering high school.  He said that he had found that homeschooled kids had a level of social and academic maturity that went far beyond the level of maturity displayed by the other kids in his classes.  He had found homeschooled kids to be much better equipped to handle the academic AND social pressures of high school.  That sure was nice to hear from a public school teacher.  While most homeschoolers don't "need" reassurance from their non-homeschooling friends, it's sure encouraging to hear it from time to time! 

For the last several years, it has been my privilege to help administrate the social media outlets for a large homeschool curriculum publisher.  During that time I worked closely with social media expert, Ryan Egan.  Though Ryan didn't come to his job with a background rich in homeschool knowledge or experience, his focus on ministry and his passion for people very quickly became very evident to every homeschoolers that he began to interact with on a daily basis.  The homeschoolers that got to know Ryan on Twitter and Facebook soon realized that they had a great friend and advocate in him!

But it would seem that while we were being encouraged by Ryan, he was learning from us. During his time working in the "homeschool world" (he recently moved on to a new job), Ryan discovered a few things about homeschoolers.  A recent post on his blog, Homeschoolers are Amazing--What I Learned from Working for a Homeschool Curriculum Company, shares some of what he learned from us.

Let me tell you what homeschoolers aren’t:
  • Unsocialized – Kill this stereotype immediately.  The majority of homeschoolers I interacted with were easy to talk to, easy to work with, and had kids that could hold intelligent conversations with adults while still being able to play with infants and toddlers.
  • Behind the times – There are some incredibly tech and web-savvy people homeschooling their children.  To be honest, many were utilizing way more technology than the average family does.
  • Boring – In a word….no.  Many of these families do more in one year than many families do in an entire lifetime.
  • Lazy – Many people think that homeschoolers don’t work hard and just want to let their kids slide through education.  That is SO far from the case.  You would not believe the organizational skills everyone has and the immense concern for making sure their children are properly educated.

It's a wonderful...and very encouraging post!  There's more, so I would encourage you to go read the rest of what Ryan learned about homeschoolers during his years working for a homeschool publishing company!

Thanks for being a part of our world for 3 years, Ryan!   We think you're pretty amazing, too!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Homeschooler Goes to College

Kate Fridkis, blogger at Eat The Damn Cake and Skipping School, has written for Jezebel, The Forward, the Huffington Post, and more. She lives in Brooklyn, and is writing a book about her experiences as a homeschooler.

In "A Homeschooler Goes to College" (excerpted below), Kate shares some of her experiences as a homeschooled student in the sometimes hostile, always boring college world. It's well worth reading!

I went to college when I was 18, like everyone else. But unlike other people, I had never been to school before. The first standardized test I ever took was the SAT. The day I took it was the first time I’d ever been in a high school classroom. It didn’t seem like a fun place.

I started college as a Music Ed major, because while I didn’t know what I wanted to study, I knew I liked music. The Intro to Music Education teacher, a woman I’ll call Mrs. Grimini, had taught kindergarten at a local school before joining the university faculty. She led us in songs like “The wheels on the bus go round and round!” She wanted us to share a memory of our own music teachers from kindergarten and first grade.

Everyone had one: The triangle. Holding hands in a circle. Those rainbow xylophones.

“Actually,” I said, “I didn’t go to school. But my dad is a jazz pianist?”

He played every day when I was a little kid. I used to sit under the piano and he’d ask if I could remember the melody, or he’d teach me how to play a few notes. Sometimes I sat with him on the couch in the darkened living room and we listened to Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” together, talking about how scary Mars was, and how big Jupiter was. We were almost never not listening to music.

But before I could say any of that, Mrs. Grimini interrupted me. “Home-schooled?” she said tightly.

“Yes,” I said, offering my politest smile.

“OK, you don’t need to participate.” And she moved on....(read more)

Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm Outraged!

A friend put a major damper on my day when she sent me a link to a poll in my local newspaper on Saturday morning.  I just get so riled up by stuff like this.  Here's the poll:

The recent death of 14-year-old Matthew Degner from Berwyn in a house of squalor has raised questions over how government officials can help children living in social isolation. Should families who are home-schooling their children be required to register with the state?

First.  None of the possible responses accurately express my desired response.  Second.  There is no provision for responding publicly to the poll.  That's very irritating.  So I wrote to the editors and shared my thoughts.  I started by asking a few questions...
  1. Should the fact that this one child died in a "house of squalor" be the catalyst for regulation of an entire movement which is statistically more successful (socially and academically) than the public school system in America?  
  2. Isn't it likely that there are public school children living in squalor, neglect, and abuse?  How has "knowing who these children are" helped them?  
  3. And what about the kids that are "living in social isolation" in public schools.  There's no isolation worse than being in the middle of a group of people who ostracize you, ridicule you, and bully you.  How did being "registered by the state" help the children who have taken their own lives as a result of living in this kind of isolation day after day? 
  4. Your poll intimates that the entire homeschooling movement should share the burden of guilt in the death of this child.  The next time a child commits suicide as a direct result of being bullied by his school peers, will you publish a poll that places the burden of guilt at the feet of the institution of public education and call for greater regulation of that entire institution?
  5. And what about the next time a public school child dies as a result of parental neglect/abuse, are you prepared to publish a poll that implies the child's school was complicit in the tragedy and should be more heavily regulated? 
Because this poll was published with no facts or information of any kind, it leads its uninformed readers to draw the conclusion that greater regulation will save the lives of hundreds of thousands of abused and neglected homeschool children.  What caring person wouldn't click the button next to "Yes, the state needs to know where these children are?"  The reality is that most of "these children" are already registered by the state.  The vast majority of abused, neglected children in the United States are not homeschooled children.  They are children who attend public schools.  The state of Illinois, where this tragedy took place, has huge problems with their public schools.  The Illinois schools do NOT have the time, the manpower, or the money to address their own problems, let alone solve the perceived problem of the "danger" facing the children of the homeschool movement.

I am outraged when I read "news" that contains blatant (or thinly veiled) suggestions that tragedies like the death of Matthew Degner are a.) the result of homeschooling, and b.) preventable by the creation of more government regulation.  It is nothing more than a fallacious attempt to sway public opinion for the sake of encouraging higher levels of government intrusion into our lives. Sadly, our world is full of abusive, neglectful parents.  That is indeed a tragedy.  And as sad as it is, the school system is not a social services agency.  It's teachers are not sociologists.  They are paid to teach children.  Giving the schools the responsibility and the power to protect children from their parents is a very troubling trend. This poll takes advantage of the death of a child and uses it as a rallying cry to call for even greater levels of control. 

They should be ashamed.