Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why Homeschooling? And other questions

 Here's a comment full of questions about homeschooling that someone left a while ago on an old post:

Hi there!!! I have one stupid question...why homeschooling? And for how long? Will your kids have "the highschool-experience"(am writing from europe and over here- thx to the movies- american highschool is all about cheerleaders, american football players and the lengendary prom...as far as clich├ęs go, that should be it...-I suppose reality is a tad different?) How do you get a diploma with homeschooling and will your kids be able to go to college? Do your kids have friends outside of the family? Very curious about the subject!! Loved the title btw!! A big HELLO from Europe!

Hello Anonymous!

First of all, Anonymous is a really long word and kind of difficult to type for some reason, so I'm going to give you a name. 
My favorite European right now is Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame (and if you don't watch that show, find old episodes on Netflix.  You're welcome) so I'm going to call you Jeremy even though, yes, I imagine you're probably a woman.

Anyway.

Thanks so much for the interests and questions, Girl Jeremy.  Can I call you GJ for short?  Great.  I decided to give your comment its very own post because there are probably others interested in all of this too (amiright?).  So let's just go one by one, shall we?  And your questions are not stupid at all!  Quite common, in fact.

1) Why homeschooling?  

You can check out my very first musings on homeschooling here, where I admit that I'm thinking about it and tremble in fear and then you can read about why we finally said yes by clicking here.  Spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with thinking public schools and their teachers are the debbil.

2) For how long?

We are 17 weeks into our 2nd year of homeschooling, but I was...."non traditionally" schooled, so it feels really good and not really weird.  But still very new, so don't listen to anything I say, okay?

3) Will your kids have "the highschool experience"?

If the sweet Lord is merciful and kind, the answer to that will be a big, fat NO.  Oh my gosh.  High school sucked.  Middle school would have probably sucked more, but I was at my non-traditional glorified homeschool school during that time, so I was spared that misery a bit.  But high school- ugh.  I was awkward and always in my head and also accustomed to not having to do things that were a waste of time.

Then I got to my junior year of high school and went to public school and boy oh boy was it stressful for all the wrong reasons.  Feeling out of place and self-conscious?  Check!  Feeling the need to find a crowd so I could create some kind of identity outside of my natural identity as a list loving word-puzzle doer?  Check!  Making stupid decisions because "everyone else was doing it"?  Check!  Doing assignments that were a huge waste of my time?  Check!

As for prom and cheer leading and sports and extracurricular activities, homeschool groups and partnerships and co-ops are so very plentiful here, offering all of those things but allowing the parents to make the schedule and be a part of all the planning and choices.  So you'll find homeschoolers involved in all of those things at different levels based on their natural talents and desires.  It's fantastic, honestly.


 4) How do you get a diploma with homeschooling?

I haven't quite gotten to researching this part very much because my eldest is just 11, but I know that there are homeschooling curricula available that allow the parents to send in the work, have it graded, and there are transcripts kept and then a diploma offered at the end.  That seems a little too restrictive for me at the moment, but I'm going to cross that bridge when we come to it.

5) Will your kids be able to go to college?

Yes!  The son of the lady in charge of our homeschool partnership is actually going to be attending my alma mater (if U.D. had some kind of sporty thing to say, here's where I would say it.  But they don't) next year.  Exciting!  And the daughter of another friend is in the middle of her first year at a college a couple hours from here.  Also, because homeschooled kids are encouraged to manage their own time and make "course selections" from a young age, they tend to be quite successful in the college environment.

6) Do your kids have friends outside of the family?

Absolutely.  You know what's weird?  We did public school for 5 years and my kids actually have MORE friends now than they did then.  Is it because we meet more people who share similar interests and hobbies?  Is it because we have more free time?  Is it because I'm right there, available to organize things and say 'yes' or 'no' to events or playdates?  I don't know, but it's true.

7) There is no 7th question.

I just like the number 7 more than the number 6 so I'll say "A big hello back atcha from America, GJ!" Hope these answers helped you out a bit.  Feel free to pick my brain further if you'd like.

Experienced homeschooling moms reading this: Is there anything you'd like to add in response to Girl Jeremy's questions?  Anything about high school records/diplomas would be especially appreciated as I know just slightly more than nothing about that, ya know?

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34 comments :

  1. There's quite a bit about high school diplomas/ transcripts in The Well-Trained Mind, which I alternately love and hate. My eldest is in eighth grade, so I am definitely starting to think about all this.

    Your words about high school are pretty spot-on. I got so sick of it that one week into my junior year, I walked into the counselor's office and asked, (more or less) "How can I be done with this crap in a year?" And guess what? By the next September,I was in college. High school was awwwwwwful.

    The only thing I would add is that we homeschool because we feel like it's the best thing for the kids, not out of fear of "the system" or what have you. This is basically what you said, but so very true. We have done mostly public school, but now that we are homeschooling I feel like I'm truly watching my kids blossom. It's pretty cool. :-)

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    1. Joy -- I had to add about Well Trained Mind..... I love it and hate it too! I love it for the resources. But I hate it because it makes me feel SO inadequate sometimes!

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    2. I just had to chime in that I, too, have a love-hate-love relationship with WTM! I love the resources and guidelines but can get overwhelmed by it. I'm so glad to use it as a reference but I have to take deep breaths and brace myself before cracking it open! LOL!

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  2. Dearest Dweej. Just another thought about the homeschool diploma,/transcript thing. I have always profoundly disliked the idea that some random piece of paper defines whether or not my kids are "done." The requirements of said paper vary vastly from country to country, state to state, province to province, school to school, even. So we decided to just skip the whole thing. I let my kids decide, around ninth grade (here in British Columbia, it is grades ten, eleven and twelve that "count" on the transcript) whether or not they want to pursue the Official Piece of Paper.

    So far (four for four) they have chosen to opt out, and just go with a course of study that we have decided upon together. The three that have completed said course of study are all attending college or university without mishap, problem, concern or hassles. What we have discovered, having applied or researched several different post secondary options is that
    A) none have cared if there is an official transcript
    B) all institutions have cared that a fairly classic course of study has been adhered to (i.e. sciences, humanities, algebra, english, music always is appreciated) Can provide a little more detail on that if folks are interested.

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  3. I love it when you talk about homeschooling because you always echo so much of what I am thinking. Awesome.

    I don't have anything profound to add, because I'm still schooling tiny people - but I do get the "you'll send them to high school though, right?" Yeah, doubt it. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it :).

    And I have to tell you, reading your post about "saying yes" was one of the things that made me admit, out loud, that I might (maybe) want to homeschool. Best decision ever, and I have to thank you for being a little piece of me taking that step. So... thanks!

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  4. I still think, to this day, that high school was the biggest mistake of my life. I don't like to dwell on it, but there it is. I dont know why parents, even homeschooling parents, think that high school is a "must" for their children but I am living proof that it is just not worth it. Homeschooling high school is our plan more so than homeschooling grade school. Perhaps though, in Europe, it is a bit different because a lot of the time "high school" is actually much more like college and the environment will not be all cheerleaders and football players...

    The only other thing I would say to anyone thinking of homeschooling is this... take it one day at a time, and then one year at a time... you dont have to think that far ahead. And that's the best part.

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  5. My husband was in the first wave of homeschoolers so his parents enrolled him in Clonlara which managed credits and stuff for high school.

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    1. Jen, our husbands must be of similar age. He was also enrolled in Clorlara. However, he never finished a stupid essay which was the last step he needed to get his diploma. Regardless, he got in to a local catholic liberal arts college (same one I attended).

      Interestingly enough, though my husband was homeschooled, that is the biggest turn off to me despite the beautiful lifestyle it seems to afford so many bloggers I read and acquaintances I talk with. I love the IDEA of it, but I really need the support of the local catholic school and interaction with all the fantastic families right now (amazing- I haven't met one person who wasn't just wonderful <3 ). It's been wonderful for both my preschooler and I. However, even with only 3 - 1/2 days a week, I am stressed from the driving and schedule adherence. Ahh!

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    2. I don't think my husband's mother executed it well (though, I can't judge because how could I claim I could do it any better?) That's partly what scares me! He's not dumb, he now has an MBA and runs his own business, but he has great gaps in his knowledge because he was never 'made' to do things, esp. once he got to HS. There was a lot of choose and do it yourself, which, I think has served him well in college, but like I said, has left him much less than well rounded. To this day he can't sit down and read literature (much less understand common references to classic lit) and has struggled a lot with math. (He never understood the way his mom taught it. He bristled when I tried to teach to solve it differently because it wasn't the "right way."" My mom told me not to do that!" he was still telling me after we were married and in his 20s.) Plus, his mom worked full time once they were in their later years of homeschooling so there was not a great deal of oversight, it seems.

      I am the last person to say American High School is a great experience to be had- oh my, I hated feeling like I never fit in, though I was involved in many activities; however, I do believe I received an excellent education from my public high school and it did a great job preparing me for college academically. Socially, it did leave a lot of wounds. I guess what I'm saying is, either route you go, there will be hurts and wounds, there can be less than stellar education, etc. In the end, it's all about the grace of God, right?

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  6. Hi GJ,
    I'm not in America, I'm in Australia and entry to college is slightly different here.
    My oldest dd entered our only Catholic liberal arts college last year, via sitting for her STAT test. This mark was then converted to an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Record) which is the same mark that all her school peers receive after completing their HSC (higher school certificate). both the STAT and HSC marks are converted into ATAR scores. there are though lots of other ways to achieve entrance into universities here.
    Looks like I'm unexpectedly about to launch our second child this year (story unfolding as we speak)Still have 7 to go.

    Our children do have other friends, through their homeschool group, sports and Church.

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  7. As far as the high school diploma thing..I believe there are basically 4 different options. You can enroll in an online school (either a public online school or a private homeschool thing) and they give you the diploma. It's basically like doing private school at home (unless your state has an online public school). Some homeschoolers write their own diploma and get their own transcript. Some homeschoolers have their kids take the GED test and get a diploma that way. And, I've known homeschoolers who just skipped the whole high school diploma/transcript thing and their kids enrolled in a local community college for classes (which many let you do at age 16) and then later transferred to a regular university or college. I think many community colleges let you in, even without a high school diploma or transcript.

    Now, I've never done any of these as my oldest is only almost 11..but we've been homeschooling "since the beginning" and this is what I've garnered from talking to other homeschoolers.

    Also..I wanted to say that while my kids have never been in school, as homeschoolers they have way, way. way, way, way more friends and playdates than I did when I was their age (as a totally public schooled kid). I really believe that for homeschooling families involved in their local homeschooling community it is really easy to make friends (or at least it always has been for us)...namely because I'm meeting and becoming friends with (or at least friendly with) the other moms at the same time our kids are becoming friends. As a mom, it's so much easier for me to arrange playdates or whatnot with other kids if I'm also friends with the mom (or at least friendly with them) instead of my kids coming home and saying they want to have a playdate with some random kid at school that I don't know the family.

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  8. Oh yes. I hope to God my kids don't have the complete high school experience. I love that I can pick and choose the GOOD things about my experiences (there were many) and work to bring that into their lives while weeding out all the crap and wounding things that I went through that affect me to this day.
    Great post!

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  9. well, i am considering homeschooling for K next year but in terms of high school, I always thought high school would be too hard for me to home school. But,now that my dd attends a very good catholic school, I see how doable it is. This is the stuff that to me is very interesting and exciting. Yes, I am a dork. But, I help her study her stuff and I am all OHHH AHHH Mesopotania!! OHHH AHHH Positive IONS! I really think high school stuff is awesome and I can have real conversations with my dd now. We discuss actual things like evolution and the what not intelligently now. But, she wants to go to a regular school. So she does...but, at least I know now that I am capable of homeschooling. I think a lot of people think its too hard but, its not. Next year, my little girl with be in K so I will see how it goes homeschooling her.

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  10. LOL, love Top Gear! They are so hilarious!

    I applaud YOU for homeschooling! I don't think I would ever have the patience or organization to plan & execute such a thing. I also applaud you for having more than one spawn! I have one and she's more than enough for me.

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  11. When we first started homeschooling, my husband was adamant that we send the kids to a conventional school for high school so they could have "the high school experience".
    Now, six years into it, he's done a 180 and is so impressed with the whole package homeschool has offered our family (educational, emotional, spiritual, intellectual) that he wants them to continue the whole way through.

    I think the smartest way for a family to approach homeschool is with a general goal in mind ("homeschool through elementary school" or "homeschool until grade X") but go through the discernment process every year. I think that every family should discern their children's educational path every year, but I know a lot of families, both homeschool and conventionally schooled, go on autopilot once their initial decision is made.

    I don't know. I'm babbling. Why am I even on the computer right now? I should be homeschooling.

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  12. I started homeschooling our two oldest boys when they were 5th and 2nd grade. My two youngest (who are now 2nd and 4th grade) have never been to traditional school. The oldest boy is now a junior in high school and attends out local Catholic high school. He was homeschooled through 8th grade. We opted for high school for a combination of athletics and academics. He's way ahead in math and they are able to offer a wide range of classes to meet his needs. I know I could find them locally (we live in Atlanta, with PLENTY of homeschool resources) but he wanted to try school again and it's been a total success. We are now applying for the 2nd one who is currently in 8th grade. All that being said, if any of them wanted to continue homeschooling for high school, I would totalyl do it. There are so many resources and programs out there. Colleges are more and more receptive to homeschoolers and willing to accept non-traditional application information, as long as the student demonstrates proficiency and has taken the SAT or ACT. The two "biggest" programs out there that offer a diploma and a traditional transcript are Kolbe Academy and Seton - both traditional and Catholic. I used Kolbe for a time, but now I have a program called Homeschool Tracker Plus, whereby I can keep all my records and generate my own transcript and report cards. States differ on requirements for high school homeschoolers, so that may help in the decision making process for anyone at that point. We love homeschooling, and my kids also have tons of friends, do lots of activities, sports, etc. We wouldn't change a thing about our decision!

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  13. Dwija! You rock. We have the same Saint-of-the-year (Paul the Hermit). (I know, that was like 6 posts ago or something.) I am trying to decide about homeschooling my 4.5 year old next year. If he goes back to his Catholic school (where he's in the early ed 3-4 year old bridge class) I'm not sure if he'd do Pre-K or K since he has an August birthday. Anyway....I'm at the point of year where I have to talk to the administrators about whether or not we want them to hold our space, put a deposit down, etc, and I am not committed yet. I am anticipating their questions and realize some of those should be mine. The biggest is: how do I ensure,educationally, that the correct foundation is being laid for reading etc if I pull him (I know it's only Kindergarten, but still I do think there are sound and not-so-sound ways to approach reading and math, and those things start pretty young....and I'm no expert!) I'm very in favor of the idea of homeschooling, all the family and human benefits, etc - but I need something a little more specific pedagogically - like how will I ensure his learning is being formed in the right direction. Are there good resources out there on this? I'd love to do a little quick and very specific reading on this, particularly for that prek-k-1 age level. Thanks so much!!!

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  14. Shout out to fellow homies. I was at home until 8th grade. I was devastated when my parents found a tiny Catholic high school that fit their bill, and I had to discontinue homeschooling, because I l-o-v-e-d it.

    In the end they were right, my high school experience was really an anomaly in that it was wonderful. But I'm a homeschooler at heart.

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  15. I'm so scared of homeschooling. Like - irrationally fearful. And I'm doing it next year. But with all the ridiculous food stuff I do, the lack of house work, and the general laziness, I'm not sure how we'll fare. But thank you for breaking it down for me in this post. Seriously. It reminded me of how horrible public school was. I went to Oakcrest (which was awesome - and $15,000/year) which is obviously not an option for my kids. So the only other option is a sub-par elementary school that costs mucho dinero, or homeschool. I'm going to need a lot of support come August!!

    Also, I wonder if GJ can relate to what happened to Jason this weekend. He was in England at Maryvale for his license program and he was chatting with two older Brits about how to do a bibliography. He stated, "You cite the author, so write Gale comma Jason period" and the both started laughing hysterically. They said, "It's called a Stop! A period is what a woman has!!!"

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    1. I highly recommend FLYlady for getting on top of a system in your house, that is, if that is a goal of yours! She is hilarious, compassionate, and insightful on so many levels. Her babysteps are great and most of all her "attitudes" about kicking perfectionism and taking care of ourselves are so needed by so many. I'm using her system to help get me to a place where I feel on top of home life enough to suggest keeping my kids here! :) Good luck & God bless

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  16. I learned so much! Loved the post & the answers above!!

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  17. Oh, Dwija, you got me again. My husband & I were just talking about the possibility of homeschooling last night. The Holy Spirit is at work, I tell you.

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  18. I loved reading this. Ellen is only 1, but we are already thinking about it because I AM CRAZY. I waver back and forth between wanting to and wanting to cry from the idea.

    I figure if I start praying now, the answer might be a teensy bit clear when the time comes. I hope.

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  19. Thanks for sharing! One of the questions my husband has is about the social aspect. How does one go about finding that type of stuff in your area? I'm sure I could just Google it, but I love recommended resources :D

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  20. Here's a sporty UD thing: Go Groundhogs!

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  21. As a former homeschooler ( who functions well in the world BTW) , I was determined to homeschool my children for many reasons. I was absolutely scared to death. I am not an organized person, I am not particularly smart and I have 3 children under 5. My daughter and I have been working together since September ( she is in kindergarten) and her progress is phenomenal! I have gotten over my fears by just seeing how well it has been going and I am so excited to be the one to teach her. We have a huge homeschooling support system nearby and she has tons of friends already.
    I love this post! I am such a big believer in homeschooling. The opportunities are endless!

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  22. I graduated high school after 12 years of homeschool way back in the stone age of homeschooling-- 1997. Back then (before the internet really even existed!! :O ), my mom simply got a book of templates from the library (it included templates for things like: resumes, business proposals, etc, and apparently high school transcript!) She typed mine up on a old electric typewriter, taped a hand-drawn "school logo" to the top of it and photocopied at the library so it would be the "official school letterhead" required by the college admissions office. Even back in those days, before colleges were actually COURTING homeschoolers-- nay even recruiting them! (which they are now, you know), it worked fine :)

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  23. I was home schooled from 5th grade through High School and I loved it. My mom would let me do my school work in my PJ's and I got to wake up when I wanted. I got my high school diploma from a school in Lewiston, Maine called NARHS (http://www.narhs.org/) even though I was from florida. It worked out quiet well when I was applying to college. My family was apart of a home school group so I went to a prom and went on field trips with that group. I met my best friend through the home school group. I was her maid-of-honor at her wedding and she was my matron-of-honor at my wedding. I am so glad that I was home schooled and didn't have to put up with the high school drama that goes on there. I had some friends in private schools and some friends who were in public schools. But then again I was in South Florida and the school system I would have been in would have been horrible.

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  24. I've been homeschooled all my life and was just accepted a month ago to UD (and Christendom, but I'm going to UD). Can't wait till the fall!

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  25. My daughter just called you "Queen Spiderman." I have two previously homeschooled teenagers who are living the high school experience. God deliver and protect us all. I so wish I were "mom enough" to keep them at home.

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    1. Oh please, woman! If home is where they *needed* to be right now, you and I both know that's where they'd be. Different children, different seasons, different needs :)

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  26. I was home schooled and went to college, graduated, and am going back to get my MBA. My husband went to public school and got a Ph.D.

    On the other hand, my children are in public school. I wasn't a big fan of my home school experience. I was short changed academically. I wasn't very pleased with the direction their experience was going either with our local, incredibly cliquey home school group. Everyone seems to be so obsessed/busy with their little family unit that there was no room for friendship.

    I gave my kids a great foundation, academically, for public school in their pk-1 years (more with my eldest) and so far I (and they) have been very pleased with their public school experience.

    Having been told that the 'debbil' was public schools and white sugar (not necessarily in that order), it has been a great relief to have the kids in school and not be 'struck by a bolt of lightning' lol! I have even occasionally eaten a donut without problems.

    If they needed it I would probably home school again, but would do it a lot differently. I wouldn't place so many expectations on myself (or them) and I would find more opportunities for outside activities.

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  27. I LOVE this post! My thinking is very similar to yours. This has been my first year to homeschool my children, but it has been so rewarding and my kids are responding amazingly to it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

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  28. Hi! Sorry I haven't read all the comments yet (baby napping, no time to get everything in the world done that I want to!), but in answer to the diploma question: I was home schooled and my parents encouraged getting a GED, which I did and have been very grateful for. Haven't researched, but I don't think many places of employment would have accepted much else. I want to homeschool our child/ren as well, so I'll be checking into this later as well. Blessings!

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