Archive

Archive for June, 2013

Parent Guidance Counselor

A homeschooling parent is more than an instructor, principal or even superintendent. The parent is also a guidance counselor. This may be one of the more overlooked and yet important functions of the parent when homeschooling.

All children have a desire to be something as the grow whether it is a fireman, teacher, police officer or president. This is where the guidance counselor comes in handy. The counselor helps the child find what is best for them. The display the opportunities to the child. The homeschooling parent has an advantage over the typical school guidance counselor. The parent knows the child. The downside is the parent knows the child.

The Educator has been working with Youth 1 and Youth 2 for some time. Their interests are known as well as the temporary interests. Youth 1 at one time wanted to be a firefighter while Youth 2 a truck driver! These were early interests but not what they were truly interested in. The Educator noted how Youth 1 enjoys the outdoors and wildlife, particularly fish. The Educator has search for outside information for Youth 1 in order to initially determine if this is what my teen wants. Over time, the Educator has determine this is the area of interest. Next, the Educator has found programs to enhance Youth 1 in this field. These are educational programs that provide experience, too. Even the summer job is related to Youth 1’s interests. How many people look forward to going to work and smile when the come home?

It takes time and work to determine what your child is interested in. This is the extra effort of homeschooling. You can’t look at money or prestige. You are looking for what will make your child happy and fulfilled in life.

The parent needs to pay attention to what a child likes or is drawn to. Youth 2 is drawn to the human body. There is a chance the child is interested in the medical field. We have noticed the interest. Our second child has talked to a retired doctor to see if this may be what the child is interested in. So far, the answer is yes. This years curriculum with detail more of the human anatomy. Next, will be to have Youth 2 volunteer at a hospital and see if our child can be involved in some way with a doctor. If the child loses interest then maybe a professional career in soccer is what he truly wants. Seriously, we are observing our second child to see the true interest.

In the end, you never know what truly is going through your child’s head. Youth 1 may end up doing something else. That is okay. It is not for me to decide.

Summer

We are in the thick of the off season for education. This is the re-charging of educational batteries period for the Educator and the two youths. They have been at full steam during the school year. Now it is time for R&R.

Unlike many homeschooling families, we take most of the summer off, and it is needed. The enthusiasm begins in August and drops towards Christmas; Christmas, not holiday season. The enthusiasm has diminished some after New Years. College had increased the enthusiasm for Youth 1 this year. As we hit March, the enthusiasm begins to drain away as if there is a leak. By the time May hits, the two youths are looking elsewhere and not on their education. The homeschool convention used to start our regeneration of energy.

Our summer isn’t without education. Any vacation we take is education oriented. I guess the two youths are unlucky that the Educator and I love history. We do look for educational opportunities. The difference being it is not as structured and organized as the Educator has it during the school year. We have visited C.S.S. Hunley, Fort Sumter, Savannah, Fort Necessity, Valley Forge and even Jefferson’s plantation.

This summer is no different. We are planning to visit Maine this year as well as a few other areas. It has been a while since I was this far North and a first for the youths. We will experience the culinary style of this area as well as the local history.

As my children have grown, the summer period has evolved. Youth 1 now has a summer job which limits what can be done. This job provides my child the opportunity to be responsibly in the outside world. Yep, this child needs to get up at that awful hour of 6. That kid sure is lucky. Wish I could get up at that time. Youth 2 has a life that seems to not have changed. Youth 2 is now without a sibling. This is a new experience and Youth 2 has to adjust.

Yes, this is our summer.

#6b Coops

In a previous blog, I discussed coops. This post is about another type of “coop”. This version deviates from the standard meaning and may even be referred as something else. There are two elements to this version: payment and the class itself.

The type of coop I am talking about is the single class coop. Typically this class is in the form of an art class or a higher level science class. A toastmasters version has been done as well. They are usually age specific and are done at a home instead of a community center, church or some other area where multiple classes can take place. Parents are generally not required to assist the instructor of the class which relieves the stress of the parent.

This class helps a parent not comfortable teaching the subject by providing another means of instruction. This is why you see the higher levels of science being taught such as physics, biology and chemistry. These classes are taught by those with Phds or are very familiar with the subject. Think of the art classes taught by those with an art degree. What is usually not mentioned until time of the class is the out of class work. Yep, your child is doing most of the work outside of class. You may need to help the child, too.

These classes require payment. They can be as little as $10 or as much as $175. Yes, this is a big downside. If you do not think you can teach the course, you will be willing to pay for this. You are paying for a class, and the instructor is being paid for their effort. What is not thought about are the books and other miscellaneous items needed by the parents. Think of textbook, microscope, lab pieces.

With that huge downside, there are a few others. The instructor may not be very good especially when instructing ten or twenty students. Instructors are like any professor. They can be good or bad. Sadly, word of mouth is not always the best gauge. I have found homeschooling parents unfamiliar with a subject erroneously, poorly judge the quality of the class. You need to dig very deep with past students and parents to get as close as you can.

One big detractor I found has been the missed classes because of weather or the instructor is unable to teach for whatever reason. If I am paying $175, my child should receive the complete package of all classes. Having to do most of the instruction ourselves has made us question the value of these classes. One last part about this is the instructor teaching for the money.

A plus to this is the classroom atmosphere as well as being around friends that are taking the class, too.

Getting value for what you pay for can be difficult. In our personal experience, we have found our toastmasters to be an excellent course. Our science courses could have been much better. Art class has varied. We have had multiple art instructors with some better than others. In general, we have found this to be a positive experience for our children. Some classes will not be repeated but others are continued.

My advice is for you to look at these options and weigh them carefully. What do you expect to get out of it? How good is the instruction? Can you really teach physics yourself (you’d be surprised)? Is the money spent worth it?

Categories: Education, Homeschool Tags: , ,

A New Idea

A principal at Annapolis High School has discovered a way to cut the racial achievement gap. This method is a unique and novel way. This great, new method has this man hailed almost a genius. The problem is, his method has been used for years by a group of misfits, weirdo and fanatics.

Principal Donald Lilley started by building a community within the community. The faculty attended community events such as barbecues, baseball games and block parties. His intent was to show everyone was welcome and part of their community. Principal Lilley even started a “Help Day” where role models from the community mentored students in the school.
This culture change has improved the grades of minorities and given them an opportunity for the future. Principal Lilley has done well with this school, and he deserves praise.

If we look at the weirdos, we see a community where a group congregate at barbeques, parties and religious celebration. These misfits help each other through donating items to those that need it and teaching each other’s children. These fanatics are known to play sports together and camp together. These oddball people have known something that school teachers, politicians and other close-minded people fail to recognize or ignore. These strange people know that a community is nothing more than an extended family.

Yes, homeschoolers have been doing this for years. They recognize that a “family ” builds stable young adults with hope and a future. The community built at Annapolis High School is nothing more than a family. Lilley has duplicated a homeschool group environment by involving different groups of people.

Categories: Education, Homeschool

#6 Coops

June 10, 2013 2 comments

This is the one post I have been delaying for a long time. I couldn’t find the right mood. The moment is not correct now, but I figure I should try to write this one anyway.

Coops are educational sessions where groups of homeschooling families gather together to educate a mass of children. This may be one class or multiple class. Class length and coop duration varies. The classes are taught by homeschooling parents with a few exceptions. There are various subjects taught with some type of art being common.

Are Coops worth the effort?

On the surface, coops sound like a great idea and they are. Like anything else, there are problems, too. My family has been involved in coops in the past. No longer do we belong to coops. Coops do not meet our needs. That is the key. You need to figure our if a coop meets the family needs.

To teach a coop class correctly requires preparation. This is no different than any other task in life. When the Educator taught, there was a ton of preparation. Our coops would begin in September, I think, and we were preparing in June. That’s right, June. The whole family was involved from research to testing things out. The Educator’s class became popular for they were not only educational but fun. One such class was a history class where the students acted out parts of history while learning it. It was uplifting for the Educator to receive thank you cards from students. To contrast this, another parent taught WWII. Youth 1 thought it would be fun. The teacher did not prepare or prepare very well. She selected too broad of a topic to teach. She was not familiar with the war and had the children watch a movie during one class. The only child participation part was to bring an item in that was “invented” during the war. Youth 1 and the other children were bored during the whole time. When asked what was learned Youth 1 responded, “Nothing.”

Poorly instructed classes is a major downside to coops. Another area of concern are the amount of religious classes taught. As I have stated in the past, my family’s religious beliefs are our own, and we have our own method of religious study. I find religion classes to be out of place in the coop. I may not find many that would agree, but coops are about educating your child. Your religion should be instructed by you or your church.

Physical education is another easy class for parents to teach. Jumping rope is nice, but why do I want to take the time out of a day for my child to do that? My children ride bikes, hike, swim, ski and play sports. Do I need a parent teaching my child how to jump rope. Sporting activities go along with this. Some parents was to teach basketball or soccer but do not understand the rules. What are you teaching?

There are wonderful parents that do put effort in their coop classes. I see many mothers with art degrees teaching art. There are some that teach etiquette classes.

One area of coops that are beneficial is the social interaction with children of the same age. For some families, having their children spend time with kids of their own age is hard to find. Coops offer an opportunity for this. Living on a farm or in the woods, there are few opportunities for children to interact with other children. Coops offer a wonderful opportunity for this. Coops offer group learning. This teaches a child how to act in a class setting.

For a new family entering homeschooling or a family never involved in coops, you should determine what you want out of a coop. This may be just plain interaction with other children. Moms spending time with other moms. Getting out of the house. Finding an alternative method of education. Yes, it could be religious enhancement. Coops are good and bad depending on what they offer and what you want.

Categories: Education, Homeschool

We Are Abnormal

Recently, my family has been hit with the whispers. Homeschoolers know what this is. This is when people “quietly” talk about you and your homeschooling ways. It is funny, you can hear some of what they say. This is a clear indication they want you know they’re talking about you, but they really do not want you to know what exactly they are saying.

This past weekend, Youth 2 was involved in a soccer tournament. Most of the mothers sat next to each other cackling and what not. A few other parents were scattered around. Interestingly, the men were all over. The Educator could hear a discussion about our child who was playing a position that was in front of these parents. They discussed about where our child was schooled; was it private or public. Homeschool was stated and the whispers became even more low. It was evident they were judging us. We had a school teacher, wife of an law enforcement individual and another woman. Maybe even a fourth. There was a clear indication of judgement.

I can guess what they were thinking. My family is some religious zealots that keep our children enclosed in some bunker. Our child is also socially backward because of homeschooling. Need I continue with this.

When I talked to the teacher-mom, I never judged her. She spoke to me as one human to another. We had similar opinions on the brief topics we discussed. Religion never entered our conversation. Most of our conversation dealt with soccer and education. At that moment, I was a normal human being. She would find out shortly after I was a parent of a homeschooled child. She now avoids me like the plagued. Who is the socially backwards person? Who is the judgmental person?

I watched fourteen youths play soccer this year and interact. I saw several helicopter moms run onto the field to make sure their child has their jacket on or are taking in water. Not once did I see a youth go to a coach and say, “I won’t be at the next practice,” like my child did. The second homeschooled youth on the team was not associated with by the other players. My child talked to everyone and even was willing to team up with the worst player on the team. My child understood teamwork better than most of the others. Youth 2 acted like a typical 12 year-old, too. Parents thought Youth 2 was normal.

There will always be those that will judge my family without knowing us. They will see a polite, respectful child and think highly of this person until they discover the youth is homeschooled. I pity these poor ignorant fools. If they will judge my family poorly based on a word, what are their thoughts on other topics. This is where I feel for them. They lose so much in life and are too ignorant to see it.

Portfolio Time

The past few months have been busy for the Educator and myself. We finished school in early May, and we have been working on two portfolios. The finish line is in sight. Our celebration shall be working in the yard or taking a nice bike ride.

As I have stated in the past, the portfolios are more for our children than the school district that will review them. Each year the superintendent compliments us and mentions how ours is the best. Even though it feels nice to receive this compliment, our intent remains to construct these for our children. This has me wondering about those in our state that have difficulty with their school district. I figured there are a few tips I could give out that may help. Sorry, the difficult school administrator won’t care about these tips. They’re looking to make it so difficult for you, you’ll quit homeschooling.

Keep the portfolio organized. This tells the reviewer how you educate. A sloppy portfolio leads the reviewer to think the parent is not only disorganized but poor in education, too.

Put forth your best effort. Neatness tells the reviewer you care and take the time educating your child.

Don’t just do the bare minimum with content. This is difficult for the more you add, the more they expect. If you add additional information, you are telling the reviewer you do teach and spend the time educating your child.

The best tip is to construct the portfolio for you and you children.

These three quick tips are very helpful. You can go further with portfolios if you wish.