Monday, October 19, 2015

Homeschoolers All Grown Up - My Concluding Throughts

I am curious about what it was like to be I decided to interview a bunch of former homeschoolers.   You can read the full introduction here.  Here is Part I, Part II, Part IIIPart IV.

Disclaimer:  This was not an unbiased interview process or anything.  There was selection bias in the people who I interviewed.  I asked around on a couple of Facebook groups to which I belong and on my personal Facebook page.   Most of the groups I belong to and most of my friends involve fellow Catholics/Christians and other people with similar values as myself.   I'm sure if I had asked on the  Angry Athiests Who Are The Former Homeschooled Children of Fundamentalist Christians, I might have gotten different answers.  But, I don't belong to that group. 

So, here my thoughts on their answers. 

Wow....those were some interesting responses.  I was mostly concerned with two and academic.  Those are the main objections people have to homeschooling, that children will not be socialized or will not have a good academic education. 

Most people seemed to look favorably on their homeschooling experience.  Not everyone though.  One person had an experience that sounded like it could likely qualify as bona fide CPS-intervention-worthy, educational neglect.  Maybe, I'm not an expert on that type of thing. For what it's worth, these sorts of stories are Why I'm Now a Fan of Homeschool Oversight. 

However, most of the experiences were overall positive, which was really very reassuring to me.
I was really concerned about the social aspect.  I'm right in the middle of being an introvert/extrovert.  I can't go days and days without seeing other adults. Whenever we've moved to a new area, I've always made a point of jumping right into groups and getting involved.  I put a lot of effort into my children's social lives..signing them for groups and activities, arranging play dates, getting them involved, taking them places.  We all seem much happier when we are out and busy quite frequently.  I found it very reassuring that with many of these answers, that seemed to be "enough."  Many respondents were perfectly happy being involved in homeschool groups and 4-H and youth group and other activities and considered their social lives to be just fine.   However, not everyone was totally happy with their social experiences.  I think one area where a problem can occur is if you have extroverted child with an introverted parent.   A lot of people talk about how extroverts may not understand introverts, but I think it is equally true that introverts many not understand extroverts.   While some children may be totally happy and satisfied with seeing other people only once or twice a week, other children may  need more social interaction than that. 

My other big concern is the academic aspect.  It's important to me that my children receive a rigorous education.  I realize that not all children are academically minded and that college is not for everyone.  However our family does seem to be academically minded so I want to encourage that and make sure they have all the education and tools they need in order to succeed.

I was especially interested in these responses because I wanted to know whether other homeschoolers felt there were gaps in their education.  The three areas of major gaps that seemed to come up were in the areas of math, science and writing. 

Math is tough.  I know it's not politically correct to say that, but I think that for many people it is.   I also think math is one of those things is harder to teach.   I think it's important to keep in mind that lots of children who attend public or private school also struggle with math.  Homeschooling does have one advantage is that a parent can search around and find the right curriculum, while school teacher often has to user the curriculum decided by the school. 

Science is one of those subjects that I do think is harder to homeschool well.  Yes, a homeschooled student can do lots and lots of reading on science subjects.  However, most parents do not have the resources or time or ability to have a full science lab.  I know in our house, we tend to let those science experiments slide....frequently because we don't have the necessary supplies.  Thankfully, we are part of a co-op that teaches science, so my children get their labs and experiments through that.  

Writing.  I know with homeschooling there can be a temptation to let writing slide by and do a lot of discussion and answering of question orally.  This is especially true if you have a child that is more resistant to writing.  In a school setting, that is not possible.  A child has to learn to answer question on paper at a very young age, whether they like writing or not   One of the big advantages of homeschooling is that the studies can be tailored to meet the child's needs.  However, I do think it is important to remember to make sure that a child does learn how to express themselves on paper and how to write things in a clear and succinct manner.   This is something I have always encouraged with my children.  Even though the purpose of answering history questions is not necessarily to learn writing, the learning how to write an answer is important.  

Interestingly enough a few people mentioned unschooling/self-directed learning with different experiences with it.  I think unschooled/self-directed learning is something that is very child-dependent.  Some children do very well with this, while others need more structure and guidance.   Personally, I'm not an unschooler and I don't think I have would have done well with unschooling as a child.  Sure, I would have learned A LOT about certain things, but other things, I would have never bothered to learn.  However, I do think it can be fine for certain personalities.

A few people mentioned that their parents homeschooled because for various reasons, regular schooling was not meeting their needs.  I thought this was also very interesting.  I do think that the reasons a family has for homeschooling play a large role in the child's homeschool experience. 

Overall, this was a very interesting blog post to write and really enjoyed reading every one's responses.   It helped me be aware of potential trouble areas to be aware of and was also very reassuring in other areas.   I really enjoyed reading all these interviews and wish I could sit down with each and every one of the respondants to have a more in depth conversation about their homeschool experience.  (To be totally honest, with a few of them I could because I know them.) 
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