Staff Writer, Open Health News

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What resources would you recommend, or what advice would you give, to homeschooling parents?

My husband and I have decided to homeschool any children we have. We want to be involved in our kids’ education, we want to learn with them, and we want the freedom to do it in our own style and meet our kids’ individual needs.

I have really enjoyed various TED talks on education and the need to change the educational system as it stands today. Some of the TED videos have emphasized how it important it is for kids to be creative, enjoy the process of learning, and do “hands-on” education. That’s something I really want for my kids. It’s still a few years down the road (we’re expecting our first baby in June), but I don’t think it’s too early to start thinking more seriously about it!

For those of you who are or have been involved in homeschooling, what are some of the pros and cons you encountered? What resources (books, curricula, websites, blogs, organizations, articles, people to talk to, whatever) would you recommend to homeschooling parents who want to give a creative and “hands-on” education to their kids?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks! :)

  • Jan 15 2014: Amazing, you are the answer to my wishes and prayers! This is exactly what I have been hoping for, a new generation of kids who have not been polluted with the public so called "education" system. You will find several TED talks on education here:
    http://www.ted.com/search?cat=ss_talks&q=education

    Ken Robinson, Salman Khan and Geoffrey Canada are my personal favorites.
    IMHO here are the solutions to education for kids in order:
    1) Autodidact in a safe environment like home with assistance dependent on interests of the child.
    2) Parental guided home schooling with assistance dependent on interests of child and parent.
    3) Community organized homeschooling with parents taking turns guiding the children.
    All of the above are assuming the parents are themselves educated, you cannot teach something you do not know.
    4) Private charter schools
    5) Being raised by wild animals
    6) Sell them to caring parents on Ebay
    7) Public education system
    8) Throw them in Jail or a mental instituion and forget about them
    Options 7 and 8 where a toss up for me because they so much alike and 6 is definetly against the law so you may have better luck on facebook.

    Does the autodidact system work? You decide here are some examples:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_autodidacts


    "The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education"- Albert Einstein
    "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school"- Albert Einstein
    "Don't let schooling interfere with your education"- Mark Twain
    “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”- Nelson Mandela
    "Born a genius, raised a dolt"- Keith W Henline
    "Our only adversary is ignorance"- Keith W Henline
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    Jan 15 2014: Join a homeschooling organization and support group. This allows interaction for your kids, multiple teachers, activities, etc. Maybe someone in a local homeschool group is great at teaching math and you are great at science. You all support each other and allow your kids to interact with others as well.
  • Jan 18 2014: First, Congratulations!

    My kids are 25 & 27 now, both went through public education, pull-out programs and have completed college. There are many good websites on home schooling and TED conversations, so I thought some ideas that worked for my kids might be useful

    1) Read to them.
    2) Take them to places to see things like museums, exhibits, historic sites, zoos, etc.
    3) Let them use tools and build things, or take them apart. We did this with appliances destined for the dump.
    4) Look at the Scouting program literature. Whether you get involved or not, they provide a great breadth of ideas for family fun.
    5) Go camping and fishing as a family.
    6) Make a game of figuring out the exact cost of a big group of groceries.
    7) Make every trip to the hardware store or grocery store a learning experience.
    8) Teach them crafts and creative skills
    9) Teach them how to learn on their own.
    10) Show them how to use technology like computers and cameras.
    11) At some point around 7 or 8, teach with leading questions and make them provide answers.
    12) Teach them how to play chess.
    13) Supplement any classroom lessons with field trips whenever possible. It helps connect the discrete facts to the true body of understanding.
    14) Lots of grandparent time if possible and practical. It helps them understand you better.
    15) Do not be afraid to let them fail occasionally. There are lessons to be learned from rebounding and realizing not every venture will be successful.
    16) Teach them to swim early. Lots of water in Virginia.
    17) Martial arts teach discipline very well.
    18) Teach them to have fun and enjoy life along the journey of learning. (Dads are usually "gifted" in the how to have fun part) :)
    19) Teach them the importance of a good work ethic. Hard work is one of the great equalizers in life.
    20) Teach them how to be good citizens, loving and caring people, and to be constantly learning and growing as a person by example.

    If you do these things, they should turn out fine.
  • Jan 18 2014: It depends on age of your children. Homeschooling kids may be possible but you will deprive them of their own natural learning through kids of their age and also how to deal with their senior and younger schoolmates. A child or children mostly in company of adults is not a good idea. Further you can only teach what you know and have studied & read. You may also refurbish your knowledge, but the childrens' interest may be some other subject. Homeschooling may, therefore, deprive them of the subject/s of their choices/interest.
  • Jan 19 2014: Hi Crista,

    I was in same boat as u are right now. I was also thinking to home school my child from start when I was pregnant. Right now my son is three year old and we are going in that direction nicely.. So I am sharing my path of learning till now:
    - I started it from pregnancy. In embryo also they are grasping so read knowledgeable books and materials.
    - After birth I started with music for brain development.
    - Then I started with design flash cards. ( Just random design and colours)
    - Then after he started sitting, we started to show him educational Dvds. It continues till he completed 1.5yr. So during that time he grasp all data from Dvds like colours, shapes, numbers, animals, alphabets etc.
    - Pop up books are also good.
    - Then books and material study started.
    - Along with all he used to play with all types of toys according to his age for construction and memory also.
    - Now we are using charts and online material for study as he reached at the age of preschool.

    People are saying that if we are not sending them to school they become unsocial, but in my case I am seeing it contrast. As we are outside means in any garden like place he is good to talk with all aged people. He is answering all questions and talk which are not answered by school going children of his age.

    These are just my thought and experience till now......

    Good luck...
  • Jan 17 2014: Hi Crista,
    Kudos for deciding ahead of time! I home schooled my 5 children for 18 years (3 of them graduated from home schooling, the other two finished at a private/public school). The book I read that inspired me to look into home education was Home Spun Schools by Raymond & Dorothy Moore, long time home education advocates. At first we "did" home schooling, but after 3-4 years I realized it was something we were, in other words, it became a way of life. I looked for opportunities to teach at all hours of the day. So it became natural to teach throughout the day which most parents do already. I took every opportunity to do field trips and on the way the kids did seat work. In my state a family can home educate 3 different ways: 1. Go through a public charter school where for the most part you must use their provided curriculum and test, submit grades and other paper work according to their schedule. 2. Use an ISP (Independent Study Program) through a private school which gives more freedom to educate in a manner you choose. 3. File your own affidavit through your state.
    There are a myriad of books out now, but the best ones I used to help educate my children were ones that helped you know their learning styles so you could tailor curriculum (if using curriculum) to each child's learning style. This enabled them to learn (usually hands on) and remember what was taught. Be aware though, each child learns differently, so what worked for one child may not work for another, but this is the beauty of home education. Wherever you live, there's rich history to be learned. We did one vacation visiting all the missions in our state. Use primary documents/books to do your learning when available. Spend time researching. Do co-ops with other families and don't buy into the false socialization issue. If your kids can learn to get along, they can get along with anyone! Research home schooling and go with what resonates with you. You'll learn more than you thought you ever would
  • Jan 16 2014: Hi Crista:),homeschooling required parents should be a good learner and professional in education.Learning is more than reading,writing,computing,caculating.It means more about cooperation,interaction.So if you just have a child to do homeschooling,it would caused collecting environment defict...

    Schools and parents should have good compromise to support children learning,in my opinion it is the better.
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    Jan 16 2014: There is also TED-Ed and iTunes U and Discovery Ed has free K-12 materials (techbooks and lessons) available for science learning. There is another new platform offering free courses called The Saylor Foundation--they have some pilot courses for K-12 up and running that might be worth checking out: www.saylor.org

    Another inspiration for thinking about education of younger children would be studying up on the methods an practices of Reggio Emilia, Italy (Reggio Children and Loris Malaguzzi Center in Reggio)--these ideas can also be found in the work of Harvard Project Zero: http://www.pz.harvard.edu and Visble Thinking--and these ideas are being adapted for upper grade levels and adult education. Another nice inspirational read is Tony Wagner's latest book: Creating Innovators. Another idea out there to look into is the idea of encouraging children to create their own Personal Learning Networks (PLN).

    I like the idea of hackschooling as introduced in the TED talk by Logan LaPlante. I think there are many other talks by youth that contain gems and ideas for homeschooling activities and potential learning experiences.

    I can say that if I were thinking about having kids now I would be right with you on planning ahead for an alternative path of education than traditional schooling.

    Good luck!
  • Jan 16 2014: I think David and Fritzie have given some good advice and links. I also like the list Keith put up. Let me add a few thoughts:

    1. Check the resources that your school district has to support home schooling - I selected my district because it allows home schooled student to members of the music program, sports programs, science teams, math teams, etc. - basically all extra curricula programs were available.
    2. You need to make sure children have interface with other kids of the same age. One family that home schooled their children and the children did not know how to interact with people and were terrible public speakers.
  • Jan 15 2014: I am the father of two children; one male and the other female. Both of them are now adults and married. They have never went through kindergarten and were home schooled until the first grade. They are quite good students and ranked high in all classes. But we really didn't keep the detail of their learning ability.
    However now my granddaughter was also "home schooled" by my daughter until the 1st grade. But when she entered a private school, she was evaluated by the teacher, after only a few weeks from the start of the school year, that her knowledge and learning ability was already equivalent to a 2nd grader. Now she is in the 3rd grade. And her math and handwriting and drawing style are very good in my unbiased view.
    Here is my "experience" of homeschooling and hope to give you some encouragement. And I also take the viewpoint that the so-called pre-kindergarten and kindergarten education is completely unnecessary. In other words, these "pre-schools" are just pretended babysitting nurseries, and most likely inferior to homeschooling by the parent if the parent is able to care for the child and spend at least 3 hours or more per day with tender loving interaction to assist the child to learn. As a matter of fact, My wife and I, together with our two children and two grandchildren, all didn't go through any kindergarten/prekindergarten, yet we were all good students, mostly on scholarships in our college and postgraduate degree works.
    Even if you are thinking of home schooling after the age of 6, I also think that it is possible to work out, there are lot of successful examples here nowadays.
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    Jan 14 2014: i would say:

    keep in mind that education is as susceptible to trends and fads as anything else - as evidenced by conversations on this very site.

    it's important to make education and learning appealing but don't forget that hard work is still the greatest trait of any achiever and that anything that is easily achievable is usually not very valuable.

    creativity can be fostered but not taught.

    technology in and of itself is no key to learning (ie video games are not effective teaching/learning tools).
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    Jan 14 2014: Hello Crista! I recommend you read some of the most authoritative books on homeschooling and then, interview some people who have done it or who are doing it. That will give you a good start.

    One thing I do know. HOMESCHOOLING maybe your best option in giving your children the best education. And there are many avenues for your children to develop socially. Homeschooling could be rewarding and fulfilling, but it is NOT EASY.
  • Jan 13 2014: My advice is actually "don't home school".

    Its not that the US' educational system is particularly good (I've heard the opposite in fact), but rather, its about the social development of the child.
    Being intermingled among their own age group is crucial for proper development of social skills and perhaps even personality. It'll also provide them with a shared background with other people (as opposed to being the "weird one" that didn't go to school), which makes it easier to get by later in life.

    If you want to have an active hand in your child's education, you could always supplemented it when he/she's at home (my dad used to do it all the time when he thought my education in math and science was ineffectual, and it benefited me greatly).

    Most of the curriculum, at home or in school, is mostly redundant anyway; after all, when was the last time you used something you learned in literature, history class, and for most people, higher mathematics? The important thing is the time spent socializing with others in the school frame.
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    Jan 13 2014: I’m not involved in homeschooling, just a fan of online classes.
    And https://www.khanacademy.org/ seems to be a good place to look into for home schooling.