Why I Want to Home Educate: Socialisation

Wait a minute, home educating because of socialisation?  Isn’t it usually the other way around?  It’s true that many people list socialisation as a reason against educating at home, but I think there’s a lot to be said for the socialisation that happens outside a traditional school structure.  The school structure is very artificial and doesn’t reflect the reality of the outside world, since we’re rarely, if ever, in age-segregated environments outside of school.  When educating at home, however, the children have the opportunity to be around a wide variety of people of different ages, thus learning how to handle those various social environments.  Obviously there are opportunities for this for children who are in a traditional school, too, but the opportunities are necessarily a bit more limited since so much of the day is spent at school (or commuting to and from school).

Another aspect of socialisation is the social pressures present in school.  I’d not thought about this part quite as much until reading Catholic Education: Homeward Bound – a Useful Guide to Catholic Home Schooling by Kimberley Hahn and Mary Hasson.  There were a couple of quotes that stood out to me.

Some of you entered the class shy and insecure.  You may have learned to be outgoing.  Perhaps you learned to follow the crowd in your own quiet way.  However, you may have become painfully shy, feeling more and more left out.

I was the one who was quiet and shy, and school really didn’t help that much.  It wasn’t until later that I became less shy.

Whatever your situation, you learned: best not to stand out – not too smart and not too dumb, not too talented and not too dull, not too talkative and not too shy.  If you did well academically, you learned to minimize or hide it – not out of sensitivity to others, trying not to be boastful or arrogant, but because it was a dreadful thing to become the one who was envied.

I can also relate to this some.  I was salutatorian in high school.  While I was always competitive academically, I was also self-conscious at times when I got better grades than friends, especially because I didn’t have to work especially hard to get the good grades.  I was proud of my achievements, and yet didn’t want to be singled out before the whole class (I was fine with it in academic team settings, though – yes, I’m a geek).  My overall point, though, is that I think socialisation can be handled well at home, and that there may even be an advantage at home, depending on how you home educate.

Knitting Thursday

Again, my apologies for not posting last Thursday.  However, I was enjoying the weather and the fact that it was Maundy Thursday. 🙂  I’ve finished the dress part of Charlotte’s dress and just have the sleeves left.  I had to stop there because I didn’t have the correct size 16″ or double-point needles for the sleeves, but my mother just sent me a bunch of needles, so I should be good to go now.  I’m pleased with how it’s turning out.  I may end up making it longer, but we’ll see.  It won’t be hard to do that since it was knit from the top down.

Since I’ve been unable to work on that, I started working on my sweater.  I really love the colour (thanks, Mom!).  I did rip it out and start over, though.  I hadn’t planned out the ribbing well enough at first, and I was making the increases by doing “make 1”, going off of the Abotanicity pattern.  For a raglan, though, I didn’t like the way the make 1 increases looked, since they leave a slight hole (you can see the holes from the make 1 increases on Charlotte’s dress; they don’t bother me there).  I’d done the raglan increases on Charlotte’s dress by knitting in the front and back loops, so I decided to go that route with my sweater, and I like it a lot better.  Of course, it also helps that I planned out the 2×1 rib better.

Why I Want to Home Educate: Academics

Another reason I wish to educate my children at home is because of academics.  I want their education to be tailored to their abilities, and I want to make the most of their interests.

Ideally teachers group children into smaller groups according to their abilities, but it isn’t always possible to accommodate the diverse abilities and learning styles of each child, nor is it usually possible to give one-on-one tuition.  I remember when I was in 5th grade and I found the maths work to be quite easy.  My teacher, the wonderful Mrs Trunnell, pulled out a 6th grade maths book to try to have me work at a higher level; however, this didn’t last for long, because she could not accommodate teaching the entire class one thing and then pulling me aside for extra tuition.  While I generally enjoyed school due to my love of learning, I was also bored for a great deal of school.  On the other end of the spectrum, there were also those subjects (namely algebra II, geometry, and pre-calc) where I would’ve benefitted from taking things a bit slower to ensure I really had a grasp of the subjects before moving on, but I was generally too self-conscious and/or intimidated to ask for help from the teachers.  Both of these are things I wish to avoid for my children, and which I believe can be avoided through educating at home.  After all, I will be able to give them individual instruction and can constantly assess their strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to accommodate their different learning styles (I am a visual learner, we’ll see if they are visual, auditory, or tactile learners, or some combination of those things).

I also remember yearning to learn more history in school.  My freshman year of high school I was disappointed to find that there was no required history class that year.  In fact there was no required social studies class of any kind that year.  My electives tended to be whatever social studies classes I could find, therefore, though there weren’t as many options as I would’ve liked.  Obviously there were some other opportunities to explore topics that interested me, such as writing a research paper or being involved in summer digs with a local archaeologist, but I still would’ve liked more.  Without being constrained either by standardised testing or the demands of working with a larger class, I should be able to accommodate my children’s interests.  Of course I will also expose them to a variety of things inasmuch as possible, so they won’t be limited in that regard.

Another advantage of homeschooling is that I’ll be able to take them to museums and other outings during the school day, when the places won’t be as crowded and they can have more time to truly investigate and explore.  In fact, we recently did that.  We’d gone to the museum, where there’s a small aquarium.  Kieran had been to the London Aquarium in December, and he has often looked at his book about fish which he brought back from there.  He therefore wanted to explore the aquarium for nearly the entire time we were there, and it was perfect because a school group had just left and so very few people were there at the time.

I should also note that I do know my limitations, and will seek out help if and as needed.  I also have the benefit of having a father who is involved with educational reform, and I like to bounce ideas off of him and discuss various things with him.

Mood and Weather

It sometimes amazes me how much the weather affects my mood.  On a day like today, when it’s overcast and has been raining intermittently, I find I’m lethargic and also feel like I’m crawling out of my skin.  I have to have the lights on even though I don’t really need them, just to keep myself from feeling like I’m going crazy.  If it’s sunny, then I feel great and am perfectly happy.  I also enjoy thunderstorms, though, so I often get excited if I actually hear thunder (not all that common here).

I don’t have seasonal affective disorder, though.  Even though there’s a big discrepancy in the length of the days here in summer and winter (roughly 7.5 hours in winter and 17 hours in summer, just going by sunrise & sunset times), I don’t get depressed in winter.  I just like sunshine, whatever the temperature.

Why I Want to Home Educate: Faith

Lately I’ve been considering more why I want to home educate, and so I’ve started writing them down.  Thus far I’ve come up with several reasons which I will go through in due course.  The reasons at the top of my list are related to my Catholic faith.  These reasons are: the desire for my children to have a completely orthodox education, and the ability to attend daily Mass as a family.  (Please note: any of the reasons I give are simply my reasons for my family.  Every family must decide for themselves what is best for their family)

Most of the Catholic schools here receive public funding.  The good thing about this is that it means the parents don’t have to pay to send their children to that school; the down side is that it means the school must use the national curriculum.  While there definitely are schools that retain their Catholic identity even with using the national curriculum, it is more difficult.  I want the Catholic faith to permeate their education, through all subjects, and not just be tacked on in one class.  Nor do I want their instruction on their faith to be watered down or compromised in any way.  This is perhaps most obvious in sex ed classes, but isn’t limited to that.  I’ll ensure they are exposed to other ideas, of course, but not in a way that will undermine their faith.  I will also endeavour to ensure they are taught the “why” behind all we do and believe.

Related to the desire for them to have an orthodox education is the desire to take the children to daily Mass when possible.  We often go to Mass during the week; Kieran asks to go daily, but I don’t always get everyone ready in time.  I’ve really no excuse for that, since we get to 8.00 Mass on Sundays, and daily Mass is at 9.00.  Of course, we also don’t eat breakfast until after Sunday Mass, which helps.  I don’t know of any of the parish schools that have the children attend Mass even on a weekly or monthly basis.  A lot of that is just a matter of logistics: some priests oversee more than one parish and school, and many parishes cannot hold all the students at once, so they’d have to break it down by grade.  I understand why it would be difficult for them to do it, so I don’t fault them for it.  However, it is something that I can do, and which is already a part of our routine.

OK, so why don’t I send them to a private Catholic school?  After all, they don’t have to use the national curriculum and may perhaps be more likely to offer daily Mass more regularly.  Well, one reason is that I can’t afford that, but that is not the only reason.  The other reasons have to do with my other, perhaps more general, reasons to homeschool, and those will be dealt with in other posts.

Whoa

I just saw these stats about reading:

One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.

• 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.

• 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.

• 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

• 57 percent of new books are not read to completion.

I can’t imagine not reading on a constant basis!  Kieran loves going to the library for new books, and Charlotte’s started chasing us with books now, too.  I’m constantly reading something, and am catching up on some classics now that I have the Kindle.  Right then, back to a book.

h/t to The Ranter

Book Nook

This book is both a book and a puppet.  You put your hand in the back, so you control Boris’ mouth.  I first saw Calm Down, Boris! by Sam Lloyd, when I’d taken Kieran to a Stay & Play session at the local Children’s Centre.  I thought it was so cute that I decided to get it for him for Christmas and went in search of it.  I’m glad I did, because he’s loved this book.  For some of the pages, the child is asked to help Boris in some way, either by brushing his fur or feeding him his lunch; Boris responds by giving kisses.  Since he’s fuzzy, it’s quite tickly.  Kieran doesn’t ask for this book quite as much now, but it was a favourite for quite a while.  I need to get it back out and see how Charlotte likes it.