Closing Ranks?

Posted by Annie on Sep 20, 2009 in Education

As a data miner so-to-speak, I collect homeschooling data on a massive scale, to use primarily as a resource to connect homeschooling families.

Closing Ranks?

Living in an area overrun with charter schools and very few independent homeschoolers, we don’t socialize much with fellow homeschoolers. It wasn’t planned, it just is. My attempts at starting a local group have been futile at best. Our lifestyle doesn’t lend itself well to structure or advance planning. We tend to grab life as it happens.

What I see in growing trends is a closing off of groups. I’ve received dozens of requests for the removal of groups, not because the group no longer meets but because they don’t want to accept new members. This is harsh folks.

If a group gets too large, you split it up into smaller groups that are more in-line with the members needs or location. Options are endless but to close your group to new members, prevents new homeschoolers from receiving the kind of help you found, when you were taking baby steps in the homeschooling realm.

To counter the closing of ranks, I see many, many new groups forming, with the group leaders complaining they can’t find a local support group.

It is my qualified option that we need to make ourselves more visible and more available to new homeschoolers if we ever expect to grow our ranks away from being termed a fringe element of society.

I have also noticed a greater push, this year — more so than in the previous couple of years — toward more government control. We are seeing a huge push in Alaska right now, more troubles for homeschoolers in Germany, England and now Sweden. This isn’t a public outcry; this new drive is coming from the public school system. The public schools are really starting to feel the pinch from declining enrollment, not only due to an increased number of those homeschooling, but also due to a decline in numbers of enrollment age children.

We must work together to strengthen our homeschooling families because the push for additional regulation or in some instances, outright bans, will continue to get worse in the coming months and years — especially as the economic situation worsens for many.

P.S. If your local homeschool support group is not listed on LocalHS please consider adding it — your neighbor might be looking for you to help get her homeschool off to a terrific start.

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Schooled at home

Posted by Annie on Sep 17, 2009 in Education

Some unnamed — don’t you just love it when writers spout off publicly and can’t even own up to their own work? Some chicken in Alaska is spouting off about how the homeschooling laws in Alaska are too lax.

Just exactly who does he or she think they are kidding? The author began with…

Alaska has some of the most lax home-schooling laws in the nation, according to a report in Sunday’s Daily News. Home schooling can be a highly effective option for educated, motivated parents who have the time and expertise to handle such a profound responsibility. However, our home-schooling laws are so lax, parents don’t even have to notify the state that they have a school-age child whom they are educating at home, let alone show that their children are actually learning anything.

Why on Earth should homeschooling parents have to prove anything to the state? Whose children are these again? Is the state feeding these children? Are they being housed by the state? If the state is not paying to education these children, then what on God’s green Earth should the state have to say about it?

I’ll bet the author had no idea that Alaska is not alone in respecting the rights of its citizens. Homeschoolers in the states of Michigan and Texas (just to name two) both exercise their freedom to choose their method of educating their children and require no notification, no testing, no tracking or other interference of any kind.

The author goes on to say…

Reform has to start with the most basic change: Requiring parents to let the state know when they are home schooling a child. As part of the process, the state could supply the parents with information about home-school support programs offered by various Alaska school districts. Parents may not be aware of those programs, which offer money for home-school educational activities and materials, such as computers.

Give me a break. Homeschooling parents are some of the most resourceful well-informed people I’ve ever met. We are well networked and homeschoolers spend a great deal less than states spend on education — and get better results to boot.

State law does provide some academic oversight of home schooling, but only when home-school students get help through a school district correspondence program. Those students have to take the state’s standardized tests to measure their educational progress.

The same requirement should apply to students who are being taught at home without any help from a state-recognized correspondence program. In fact, that kind of academic oversight is even more important in those circumstances. In general, when parents don’t get outside support, their home-schooled students are at a greater risk of not getting a real education.

I checked out our local school’s academic record and let me tell you what, it was less than impressive. How many schools are failing — by their own admission? Is this the model they hold up for homeschool families to follow — their own failed attempts to attain educational excellence? The fact is the public school system has its hands full as it is; they aren’t doing such a hot job with the children in their care now. So, why would homeschoolers trust government educators with the education of their children?

I’ve known children in public schools who graduated – diploma in hand and could barely read a word that appeared on that same diploma. Do we blame the schools? Yes. Do we blame the parents? Yes. Does a portion of the blame fall on the student? Perhaps.

It’s time we stop looking at children as if they were one size fits all. Some children struggle with education their entire lives and it wouldn’t matter where or who was attempting to instruct them. All the testing in the world, won’t make a difference. Some children just naturally take to reading, writing and “ciphering,” as the old folks call it. Others, are “left behind” to coin a phrase.

To the author, I present to you that homeschoolers are a free people too, it’s a right guaranteed by our constitution. In the absence of evidence of wrong doing, homeschooling parents are innocent. If you have evidence otherwise, present it in a court of law.

As often said, “This is not your child.”

~Annette M. Hall

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Help for Parents!

Posted by Annie on Sep 3, 2009 in Parenting

During this back-to-school season many homeschooling parents will seek advice on how best to facilitate their child’s education. We talk to our homeschooling friends and discuss our current educational struggles, seeking answers to a multitude of questions.

Help for Parents!

As a veteran homeschool mom, I can totally relate. In talking to other homeschoolers about the issues I’ve faced over the years, I’ve learned to seek out good advice and then filter it as it relates to my own child and his situation. What works for one child, will not work globally for all children.

As we know, children do not come with a manual that says, “Just add water and stir,” or “add generous portions of math and science with a dash of spelling and a liberal amount of love.” Wouldn’t life be better? Well, not really.

As homeschooling parents, we have an advantage over our public-schooling counterparts. Since most homeschooling parents spend a great deal of time interacting with our children, we really get to know them well. We can tell when they are tired, when they have had enough math, when they need a break or just need to chill out and play.

You are the Expert

Homeschooling parents are their child’s expert. Now, if we can only learn to trust ourselves. Don’t stop seeking advice from other experienced homeschoolers but learn to filter it, take the helpful information and let go of the rest. Our children will thank us later.

As an expert on my own child, I try to keep his needs in mind as I evaluate curriculum, interactive websites, activities and projects.

When I have a problem I can’t solve I turn to the Expert’s Expert, for help. Veteran homeschool mom, and author Diane Flynn Keith is an amazing woman. She is the editor of Homefires the Journal of Homeschooling and really understands the developmental stages of children and has offered real insight into how I can best meet my son’s educational, developmental and physical needs.

As the mother of two very different successful young men, she has the ability to guide parents down the path to understanding the needs of our own children. Diane has been instrumental in opening my eyes to the endless possibilities that homeschooling lends itself to.

Diane is available to work with parents — the real experts on their child — to help them make the most out of the homeschooling years and avoid the stress that most parents experience along the road. She’s what I like to call the Expert’s Expert.

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