Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Ginger

I have decided to start a new little series on my blog, spotlighting homeschooling families. Many of you probably know that I have a degree in education and have taught in Arizona. Many of you also may know that my plan as of right now is to homeschooling Cecilia. I wanted to shed some light on why parents make the choice to homeschool, what some of the benefits are, as well as what the perceived risks are. I asked the same set of questions to each participant, and you'll get to see a great variety of answers.

The biggest question that everyone asks when they hear about homeschooling is, "But what about socialization?" To parrot a phrase you hear fairly often, I say in response, "This isn't your mother's homeschooling!" Many of the families you will "meet" in my series have kids who take classes outside of the home as well as their homeschooling curriculum, have field trips with other children, and have many opportunities that people not in the midst of homeschooling might not know about. I will end the series with my own feelings on homeschooling and what my plan is.

That said, I'd like to introduce our first Spotlight, Ginger. She is the mother of 4 children and I believe you'll find her reasons for going the homeschooling route very interesting!

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?
10, 7, 5 and 8 months.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?
Five years.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?
My oldest had a rough time in K. due to teacher issues and just not being ready. We explored some options and decided to try homeschooling for just a year. The more we read and experienced the more it just felt right for our family. In addition, my husband and I both believe that schools utilize certain ideologies (discipline, racial issues, political motivations, etc) and as we have issues with the ideologies of the state (we are very far left) we felt that we did not want our children shaped by such things as capitalism.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?
I like to think of our family as elective homeschoolers with unschooling leanings. What lesson plans we use my husband and I design.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?
I envision us homeschooling until college. At some point, I'd like to see them take classes at a community college as I am math limited. There are a few schools I'd consider (Sudbury types) but a lot would depend on our financial resources and the school.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?
My husband and I have both taught in inner city public schools, and we always laugh at this question. The socialization children receive in most public schools is not desirable. In fact, as schools become more concerned about "academic achievement" there is not all that much time for socialization negative or positive.

The simple answer is that my children receive lots of socialization in the context of the "real world." They live in the real world as opposed to being shipped off for seven hours a day to a building that contains mostly children and few adults. In addition, we participate in classes, park days, hikes, music and art classes, etc. We see people all the time. My children are also very close to each other. We also have school friends whom we hang out with after school. They have many friends.

As for the real world, I always find this a tough question. First, I am not a big fan of the "real world" in which we live. I do not want my children prepared to be competitive little capitalists or good office workers. While I understand there is a lot of room between these two extremes, schools really do seem built to encourage these polarities and our world functions like this into too many instances. Second, how is school the real world? Where else in our lives do we spent hours every day ONLY with people our own age? Sitting at desks? Third, my children participate in life. This is the real world for them. They shop with me. Mail things out. They help prepare meals and keep our house somewhat orderly. They help take care of each other (we discovered that my fiver year old daughter is actually better at applying conditioner to her 7 year old sister's hair than I am!). This is a lot closer to what their "real world" lives will be like compared to sitting a school room.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?
I sometimes worry about diversity. I am concerned that my children are usually around middle class white kids. And of course I worry about gaps in their knowledge. These are not worries that keep me up at night though as I think there are answers and solutions to both of them.

8. Briefly describe your state's guidelines for homeschooling families (if you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in).
North Carolina: You have to register as a "private school," complete with name, send in a copy of either hs diploma or BA certificate. Once approved you have to give some kind of standardized test each year and keep attendance (160 days of school per year). You keep these on file at your home along with vaccination records.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I find it interesting that your friend listed the lack of diversity and knowledge gaps as worries about homeschooling because both of those are things that my public high school had problems with. My high school was over 60% LDS, with almost the entire remainder being some form of white Protestant with a few Catholics and others thrown in. "Diversity" wasn't something that we really saw. As for knowledge gaps, I feel like there are so many wonderful things to learn that they will always be present and the only way to minimize the risk is to teach children to love learning for the sake of learning.

    Thanks again for sharing, I've been thinking a lot about the homeschooling thing lately and it's nice to read other people's perspectives.

  2. Hey Thersea,
    I grew up in a very homogenous (in terms of race at least) culture in Maine (I think my whole high school was white). There was a lot of class diversity but I noticed early on and later as a teacher that students tend to segregate themselves. Very sad. And I am working on developing a curriculum that gives my children the skills to fill in their own gaps. Thanks for commenting on my answers though! I love that Amiee is doing this and I hope it opens up a conversation about homeschooling.

  3. Thanks for doing this, I love hearing other people's thoughts on homeschooling as well since I'm considering it for my daughter and any other children we have. I totally agree with a lot of the things you say. I feel like some of public school prepared me for the "real world", but most of it didn't. I have never taught in a public school and my teaching experience is limited to being a TA in a computer class for a few years and some tutoring so in some ways I worry that I might not be qualified. Several of my family members have been teachers and seem to get defensive about the idea of homeschooling so it's nice to know I'm not alone in my concerns. I get the question about socialization all the time from my parents because I had a hard time with bullies and they felt that I needed public school to learn to deal with that. However, I don't feel that the tactics I used to deal with the bullies translate well into the adult world and that in some ways those skills that I developed in school were ones I had to unlearn later to be successful in the adult world. I really appreciated being able to read your take on the matter.

  4. That is wonderful, Theresa! There will be at least 4 more spotlights in this series, so you'll get more people's perspectives here!

  5. I'm so glad you're doing this series. I am a friend of Ginger's. My husband and I are going to adopt in the next year or so, and we are considering homeschooling. We'll have to be able to explain it during our homestudy. I think this series will enable us to do that. Thanks again!