Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Homeschooling Association Meeting

We have decided to home school Jane this year instead of sending her to government school for first grade. This post isn't about the reasons we decided to home school (although we can discuss that in the comments), but about our home schooling association meeting last night. There are about 60 families in our county that belong to a home schooling association. The association doesn't have any requirements about religious affiliation and takes pains to be inclusive. There were a couple of Amish families present and everyone else seemed like typical American folks. There is another home schooling group in our town that requires members to sign a "statements of belief" on the trinity which made us ineligible. I think such a requirement is not unusual for many Christian home schooling groups.

The meeting was held at a park and was mostly just informational for parents. I spent most of the time watching the kids outside while Taliatha attended the meeting. We met one family that had children similar in age to ours and I think we will collaborate with them on some activities. They are devout Catholics and were very friendly. For whatever reason, I find that I am consistently impressed with devout Catholic families. I chatted with a few other dads who were watching their kids. Most seemed like pretty decent fellows. Then I talked to hippy dad. In an attempt to make home school small talk I asked him which curriculum they were using this year. He said, without any hesitation, that his fourth-grade daughter was studying "sex, words, and sunlight." What?!?! Sex and sunlight? Okay, I made up the "words" part but I distinctly heard the other two pillars of their curriculum. I tried to act unsurprised and probed no further. I don't think we will be collaborating with his family's home school any time soon. I'm a bit worried about what they are teaching their fourth-grader about sex. Besides, how can you spend a whole year on the topic? Also, how much is there to learn about sunlight? Hopefully it is just one unit they are doing and it won't take the whole year.

Hmmm, the purpose of this post wasn't to make home schooling seem weird, but I may not have helped the cause. My conclusion is that home schooling attracts all types and parents need to be discriminating in selecting curriculum and other families to work with. At any rate, we all know that home schooling can put out great kids (the Randle family) and we feel it can work for our family. Stay tuned for more posts on our home schooling adventure this year.


  1. Wooo-Hooooo!!!!! Who woulda thought??? See - you've got to watch yourself, because your name could turn up in any number of interesting corners hundreds of years after you were a significant person in the world.

    That really made my day, Rob. Gin sent me the link. Much joy. We found that homeschooling allowed us to both broaden and specify the education we offered our kids. We did everything from taking them to Paris to sucking amoeba out of the front yard after a rain for the microscope we OWNED to teaching people how to sew their own beachpants and pick the best mushrooms.

    There are a million reasons why we homeschooled. First and foremost, my reasons were social. I didn't feel like four, five, six year old children were equipped to deal with a chaotic social situation and that the social strategies I've seen play out in all the places and times I've lived have owed much to the survival tactics of children not ready to leave their moms and compete for food in the wild.

    I wanted to give my kids time to find themselves before they had to please some desperate child norm. That way, when they did begin to interface with folks from all over, they knew who they were, and were ready to tweak it or protect it BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO. Not out of fear or loneliness.

    I had taught school myself - high school. Which does not prepare you to teach reading and math, let me tell you. A shock, realizing how many tiny skills go into these essential large schools. Anyway, I know how difficult it is to benefit the one - especially when the one is an intelligent, quick kid with a leg already up in understanding and information - when you have to "teach" thirty to forty kids all at one time.

    I love public school - it sets us apart and has made us a powerful nation. It protects the poor from becoming a hopeless class, allows all men an equal opportunity and keeps kids whose parents are helpless and useless off the streets, giving them a chance to learn the rudiments of civilized behavior and social respect.

    HOWEVER. It's the result of the industrial revolution, and I really like hand made things. So I hand made each of the kids' education. As a result, we got to know each other soooo well. The kids grew close without the usual artificial divisions between ages. They learned things based on real experience and learned in a 3:1 ratio. Or 2:2 or whatever it happened to be at the time.

    We became great friends. We are still great friends. They depend on my friendship and I do on theirs. At the same time, they are all fiercely and intelligently independent. And in the end, they have outdone me.

    You know that not one of them graduated from High School. They took AP classes and whatever they wanted - but no diploma. Every one (but the baby, who's in Argentina as we speak) graduated from BYU. One is an MBA, one owns his own video production company, one is an Anthropologist and one is a top flight animation student.

    Nothing like home-grown tomatoes, I gotta say.

    If you ever need to talk anything over, you call me, you guys. I'd be overjoyed to hear from you.


  2. That hippie dude just sensed a stuffed shirt (A guy with a job and some core values) and said something that would BLOW HIS MIND!!! I'm glad you didn't bite and ask him to expound on his statement. Sex and sunshine, what a freak.

  3. Tony, in that case, Rob should have countered the hippie with something like, "Sex and sunshine, huh? We're doing weapons and close-mindedness." Then we would see who blew whose mind.

    Rob, Regan's doing a co-op preschool this year with 3 other families. The kids are all 2-4 years old, and I think it's only two hours a week, but this probably puts us on the "lunatic fringe" as well. I guess I can't make fun of you.

    And, can we assume we're going to hear a lot more from Rob, now that you're free from your PhD servitude?

  4. Kristen,

    It's great to hear from you. I think your family is exemplary when it comes to the positives of home schooling. I agree that some children just aren't ready to go join 30 other kids. They need more individual attention. Also, I didn't want my daughter spending 8 hours (time from leaving the front door to getting back home) for maybe 2-4 hours of actual instruction time. One of the biggest skills learned in elementary school is waiting in line--which is necessary for that many kids, but not how I want my daughter spending her time. This isn't a knock on our elementary schools--just an acknowledgment of the consequences of large class size and huge variation in ability among students. Like you were able to do, we look forward to letting our children's interests drive what we study and having more options available for them. I also want them to spend more time learning by reading primary literature and less time filling out worksheets.

    Tone, I like your read on the situation :-)

    So are you guys doing Joy School? We have did Joy School for Jane and Paul. We really liked it.

    Weapons and close-mindedness. Yes! Or we could do misogyny and patriarchy.

  5. Rob, I guess you don't know, but sex and sunlight is the standard homeschool curriculum for 4th grade. I mean, you gotta know the essentials!

    There are some interesting people out in that part of the country. In both the wards we went to in Kansas City it seemed like half the ward homeschooled, and sometimes that was a good thing, sometimes a bad thing.
    And by that I mean that some people were super weird and looked like they walked out of little house on the prairie when they came to church, and their kids were too shy to speak to anybody, and some kids were totally normal.

    There are all kinds.

    I think it's great youguys are doing it. I certainly feel like I had a great education, and a very enjoyable one too.
    (and of course it's nice to know you didn't think I was weird.)

  6. Hey, Rob,
    What curriculum are you using? I'd like to home school my girls some day, but there are so many options out there. We did Joy School until I was expecting with number 5, and the kids really looked forward to it.

  7. Why did I not know Ginna was homeschooled? Probably because I knew her from public school?

  8. I think Ginna just came to school for seminary, band, and zoology.


    We're trying out a classical curriculum that is summarized in the book A Well Trained Mind. The website for the authors and some of their materials is here . First, we like the classical education format which divides learning into three stages: grammar stage, logic stage and rhetoric stage. We also like the emphasis on reading as a primary way of individual learning. I was a big reader growing up and I think it really helped me in all subjects. We also like that they try to make all subjects studied in a given year relate to each other.

  9. I think it's interesting that no one mentioned the value of sex education. I distinctly remember being in 2nd grade and having a simple lesson on sex and anatomy. From then on whenever anyone mentioned sex (in movies, tv, on the playground, adults...), I knew what it was; I didn't think it was bad or gross or cool, it was just something that happens. Sex seems ever more present, so I believe it's important for children to understand what it is rather than think of it as something that is confusing or a forbidden secret.

  10. Thanks ~M. I think there are definitely appropriate and beneficial ways to teach children about sex--I just found it amusing that it seemed to be a MAJOR part of his curriculum. It probably really isn't, but it still caught me off guard. I still would probably prefer to teach my children myself rather than leaving it up to the discretion of the school district for 2nd graders.

  11. I forgot to check back here to see if anybody had anything else to say!
    I started school part time in junior high and only did band and choir or something. Then I was still part time just taking what I wanted through my sophmore year at provo high. Then after that I went full time. So Junior and Senior years I was there all day and then just did math at home.
    I loved it. It was perfect for me.

  12. Rob, I think that we are showing a little lack of faith in the hippy's ability to both humorously shock us but at the same time inform us using Hippie code to weed out The Man. Perhaps what he meant was Saxon Math and the Sunshine reading program. Just some thoughts.

  13. You know what, I think you may have hit the mark here. I bet he really did say "Saxon Math and Sunshine," and I heard, "Sex and Math and Sunshine." Crazy!

  14. Rob, I missed your question there. Regan's not doing Joy School. They(the mothers involved) are developing their own curricula. I think one mother is just going to make the kids to chores when it's her turn to teach.

  15. I did "Joy School" with Eowyn, but the term confused so many local Pennsylvanians that I had to start describing it as a cooperative preschool. We didn't use any pre-set curriculum, I was pushy I guess and decided what we'd all teach based on what I thought the kids would enjoy and the strengths of each of the mothers involved. Kids can learn so much and are really great at being able to even guide their own learning. I'm very happy to have her in public school now though, the schools here are superb and it's a lot easier for me. Although I'm sure it really depends on where you live, and I'm sure I'll have to make sure I keep tabs on what she's learning and not learning.
    Good for you guys, I hope it goes well for you.