Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Niki

Here's the latest installment in my homeschooling spotlight series!! Can I just stop and say how excited I am to be doing this? I feel like there needs to be more real information put out there about homeschooling and not just guesses and assumptions. Niki, like Ginger, is a mother of 4, and has been homeschooling for a while now.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

10, 9, 6, and 8 months

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

This is our sixth year.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

Our first child initially went to public school, but was bored and unhappy there. Our second child has behavioral issues and would have required medication to cope with a public school setting; he has since largely grown out of his issues without medication and is meeting or exceeding behavioral and educational standards.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

We utilize the Oak Meadow (Waldorf) curriculum, but also use a lot of unschooling and student-led principles. We want the kids to enjoy learning and to be accustomed to setting their own goals and achieving them with little pressure (just support and guidance) from us. We also don't push the children to learn things before they are ready for them; they end up learning the same things, but everyone is happier for having waited until the material seemed easier.

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?

We tell the kids that they can enroll in public school if they want to; we actually tried pretty hard to convince Becca (10yo) to try public school this year (5th grade), but didn't want to force her to. If they continue to be happy with homeschooling, they probably won't attend school until they start college or take a few community college courses as they're finishing up high school.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

Those claims are just funny. The kids are in the real world all the time, much more so than kids who sit at desks and are told not to talk for the majority of their day. We are out of the house at least 5 days a week, and the kids have many opportunities - planned and unplanned - to interact with other children and with adults. They each have at least 4-5 good friends, which is more than I can see happening for the public schooled children we know. They are in Homeschool PE classes through our YMCA, so they also "know" the children in those classes (enrollment is around 50 kids per class) in the way public schooled children would know other kids in their classes. I fail to see how they are at risk of being social maladepts given the sheer number of people they interact with on a daily basis.

The real world and public schooling as we know it bear little relation to each other; in fact, it seems the whole point of public schooling is to remove children from the adult world. We - as a society - have this thought that school is essential to development, and few of us have ever considered why it is we think that. Just because school shaped so much of our childhoods doesn't mean it was essential; it just means it was influential. Where we are more than willing to blame any number of adulthood ails on how our mothers talked to us, we somehow turn a blind eye where it comes to schooling and how it may or may not have shaped us as adults. We really need to inspect things a little more closely than that.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

I have concerns that I will accidentally leave big holes in the childrens' education, by not thinking to bring up some topic or other. Knowing what your kids should learn and making sure they learn it is a fairly big burden.

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