Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Johanna

Johanna is one of the wittiest and smartest women I've encountered in a very long time. She's the mother of 5 children and is new to homeschooling as of this year.

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

8, 6, 4, 2, 10 months.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

We are homeschooling effective April vacation 2011. :-)

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

We have chosen to educate our children at home after a lot of prayer, discernment and research. We are in the unique position of having our oldest two children in what I truly believe is one of the nicest small town public school settings one could imagine, but my children are not flourishing the way I thought they would in this environment. While I love their teachers, I am deeply disappointed in the curriculum being used to educate them. I want more for my children than spending the time-- when they need most of all to learn to how to learn, and why to learn-- in an environment where the classes simply are not advanced enough intellectually for where my children's development is. Academically, I have no question whatsoever that my children will learn more at home with a well planned curriculum than they would in even very strong public school gifted and talented programs.

Beyond that, I want them to have more time with each other, more time with their friends whom are also being homeschooled, and more time to enjoy childhood. I want for my children the knowledge, not just the facts written in a textbook, that the woods sound different at 8am than they do at 3pm. I want them to be able to build a Vesuvius out of papier-mâché and build a miniature Pompeii waiting to be destroyed, to have a jar on top of the piano filled with questions to be answered, to look into microscopes to see whose toothbrush has the most germs, and to not be beholden to someone else's schedule overriding a teachable moment. That's what I hope to offer them, and I anticipate that it will be not only a serious responsibility but also a joy.

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

We will be using a hybrid of the Well Trained Mind texts, Mother of Divine Grace's curriculum (modified and augmented), Minimus for Latin starting in 3rd grade, and a secular science program. In addition to this, we will be participating in a co-op of other Catholic homeschooling families where other parents include former nuclear engineers as well as certified teachers who have chosen home education for their children.

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?

This is a decision that we will choose to make on a yearly basis. I don't believe that there is one best way of education, not for all children, and not even for all children in the same family. We are open to what works best at any given time.

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

I would ask what aspect of the "real world" one suggests is missing from a well designed homeschooling environment, and whether "real school" even simply in the abstract is actually conducive towards preparation for the "real world." This is one of the key things about homeschooling that many people miss: homeschooling is what you make of it.

There are bad ways to homeschool, absolutely. But there are excellent ones. If my kids are learning to grow food, to care for animals, to volunteer at soup kitchens... how are they disadvantaged with regards to the "real world" compared to children educated in a more conventional environment? I can't see how that would be the case. The world is an awfully big place, and no setting is going to prepare a child to see all of it. I would simply rather have those choices be mine to make, not being bound by the choices belonging to an administrator I have never met who may not share my values when it comes to how I want to raise my child, and the "real world" I want my children to see and be ready to embrace and change.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

Honestly? Burn out. I'm naturally introverted and I do worry that I am going to burn out unless I can carve out time specifically to have quiet.

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? (If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in)

I file a letter of intention to homeschool with my district, followed by an individual home education plan, quarterly report cards and end of year reports. Starting in 4th grade we do standardized testing.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts regarding homeschooling, Aimee!!

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