First

So I’ve had this post floating around in my head for awhile now and I knew that I wanted to post it up this week, but I also knew I wanted to play Heads or Tales at Skittles‘ Place. I just wasn’t sure how to combine my ideas with the “first” directive. Then it all became clear.

MJ is my first child. With first children I’m sure many people promise themselves things about what they will and won’t do, what they want and don’t want for their children. Hell, I’m sure people do that for every child. One of the first resolutions I made when I found out that I was pregnant was that I wanted to homeschool my child.

Many of you know this, but for those of you who do not, I am a teacher. I have spent the last 10 years or so teaching both history and literature to college freshmen and sophomores in different countries. I taught Old and Middle English in Ireland. I taught Mythology in Literature as well as English Composition in the US and I taught European history (medieval, early modern and modern) in Canada. I point out that I have taught in three different countries to illustrate that I do no lightly make the following statement: The state of education among college age students is pathetic across the board.

Now, obviously I have had my fair share of good students. I’ve even had a few I would call gifted, if not brilliant. They are, however, dramatic exceptions. On the whole, over the past 10 years, I have been thoroughly disgusted by the lack of education I found in college classrooms. My complaints run the gambit from students’ lack of ability to communicate clearly and fluently in the English language to a pathetic lack of knowledge of world geography and events.

My child will NOT be one of the uneducated masses.

I have every intention of homeschooling her.

I do want to clear up one point, for the record. I realize that many people upon first hearing about homeschooling automatically think that a child is schooled at home for religious reasons. I understand that assumption. Many of the available curricula out there are geared towards that market. That is not my intention. I am not a religious person. When I do teach my child about religion it will be in an all inclusive way. I will teach her about world religions and world mythologies.  I will teach her to use her own intelligence to determine what she believes.  I may not be religious, but if my child determines that religion makes sense in her world, good for her.  I will support her in that decision.  I will not, however, indoctrinate her through education.

That being said, as this will be my first time  to homeschool, I need some help.  Sure, I’ve done research.  After all, I’m an academic.  Research is what I do best.  I’m looking for other bloggers who homeschool with a non-religious curriculum.  I’m also looking for suggested resources, both online and in print.  I’m looking for on line support groups and generally just some advice from people who have been through it.

This post is also the first time I’ve come out openly and announced that I plan to homeschool my little girl.

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~ by CableGirl on Tuesday, February 5, 2008.

24 Responses to “First”

  1. I see the merits of it when it is not done for the purpose of religious indoctrination. I don’t really have any resources to give you though.

  2. As a public school and college instructor, I certainly understand what you are saying. And I even understand why. You’ll do OK because you yourself have a good education. But I worry about so many homeschooled children. Do they get significant mathematics instruction or feel-good-fun-time math? Is it rigorous enough so that the kids grow up and are able to actually choose a life and not simply opt-out of choices because of no academic discipline? The same for science, which is a very expensive subject to teach thoroughly.

    Please realize that people do the best they can. The things that you mention that you want to teach your daughter are not the areas that public school is designed to cover. They are the parent’s areas, no matter whether public or private school. It is the content of the material that concerns us (which is best: we don’t want anyone else teaching our children values).

    Good luck to you!

  3. Andree – I did not mean to imply that religion should be the domain of the school. I whole heartedly think it should not be and the intrusion of prayer and bible study into public school curricula worries me to no end. No, what I meant was the the basic fundamentals of English grammar and composition are sadly lacking in college aged children in each English speaking country in which I have been employed. Geography is non existent as a subject. I have had students tell me Japan is in Europe! You can possibly mean that those areas of instruction are the domain of the parents alone.

    Do I worry that I might not be able to adequately cover the subject with which I am not as familiar? Of course. But there are resources out there and there are tutors for things I feel I can not handle.

    What I am looking for is a group of homeschoolers who are not religiously motivated. Homeschooling does not mean a lack of academic discipline. In fact, when done right it teaches that better than any class room since children have to learn to discipline themselves. Simply because one learns math at home does not make it a feel-good subject. Not all homeschooling is unschooling. In fact, I don’t believe in that method at all.

  4. Good luck finding both the materials and fellow parents that reflect non-religious based homeschooling. While there are things I cannot stand about schools (like other kids) I am amazed at how my sons behave perfectly in class. One guy is the model student – kind to the autistic kids, helpful with the teachers, etc. etc – while he is a complete sh*thead at home – pushing his siblings, talking back at me, etc. etc. If I homeschooled I think we would all be dead.

    However, if it were just my daughter, I would consider it.

  5. one of my nieces was home schooled for awhile due to severe allergies (school full of mold) and her mother used a curriculum from Johns Hopkins. she also was engaged in number of extra-curricular activities – not sure how that was arranged but I do know she was out socializing with other kids. the family moved to a far better district and she’s now in the public school and thriving.

  6. Are you planning on homeschooling through high school? What about the social aspects provided through school? I think it’s amazing what you’re planning to do for MJ….wish I had some info for you – if I do run across anything, I will definitely pass it along.

  7. I never thought that home schooling had ‘religious’ background purposes. I figured it was just a parental decision for the betterment of their child.

    Gotta love it.
    Good job.
    Mine is posted too. Drop by if you can.

  8. I think it’s great that you are willing and able to take on this task. I’m sure your child will benefit from the one on one aspect!

    I agree with the state of schooling. Even way back when my first child was struggling in his early school years, the teachers never wanted to hold him back, saying he would catch up next year.

  9. I like homeschooling my son too and hubby wants him to be in the house because it is good for him to be homeschooling. Nice list of first.

  10. I have no children, so I can’t really hand out any advice. Although, I do know that Stacey over at http://jameeforever.blogspot.com recently began homeschooling her son, so she may have some resources for you.

    I wanted to tell you a story (I’m full of stories). After a difficult day at work, I stopped at the video rental store. As I was standing in line, there was a lady and her young daughter up ahead of me (I’d assume the daughter was around 6 or 7 years old). The store had a map of the United States hanging behind their counter to show where all the store locations were. The little girl asked her mommy “Do you know all the states?” Her mother said no and told her to be quiet. The little girl said “Mommy, do you know how many stars are on our flag?” The mother was getting irritated and replied “I don’t know! 53 or 54!” I stood there with my jaw hanging open and could not believe what I was hearing. The little girl, very calmly and sweetly replied to her mother “Mommy, we have 50 stars on our flag because there are 50 states.” The mother quickly snapped “Whatever, it doesn’t matter anyway”! I walked out of that store in disgust, because I honestly feared that child would not have a fair chance.

    Sorry for the long comment.

  11. Hi! Remember me?! I’m a home schooler, been so for many years now. We don’t home school b/c of the religious aspect. We home school for the individualized learning. Each of our children learn differently, and we can help them better in the areas where it’s required.

    Socialization isn’t a valid argument. My children do activities, attend a co-op, and are extremely social towards children and people of all ages.

    We are currently enrolled in a virtual academy and use the k12 curriculum. It’s a great one, and I will gladly enroll them again next year.

    Feel free to drop me a message if you wanna talk more.

  12. My comment wasn’t an argument against home schooling. I was just curious about how CG was planning on handling that aspect.

  13. Good for you to do what you think is best! My husband and I were just talking about how we don’t think they push kids enough. They are smarter and more capable then people think. If you feel your kids will get a better education and more experience for school by doing it at home…then good for you. I was public schooled and so will my kids maybe…we may do private/public exclusive schools cause we are tired of the slacking goals they have. So hope everything goes well!

  14. Did you get my e-mail? If not, let me know. Oak Meadows has a pretty good hands-on, secular curriculum; Johns Hopkins has a good program but it’s both expensive and somewhat dry. Anyway, I could talk and talk and talk on this subject, so just keep being in touch.

  15. SecretAgentMama – I just emailed you. I’ll probably be emailing you so often abotu this that you will regret the offer. lol

    Jen – YES! I did get your email. Actually I debated for awhile when I was writing this post to put a thanks to you in it for sending me that info. THank you. I have the first book you mentioned already and I’m planning on hitting the library this weekend to check out the others.

    Misty Dawn – Thank you for that link. I’ll go check it out.

    Becky – I have no worries about the socialization aspect. If you remember correctly I hardly ever socialized with anyone from school. I fully intend to have MJ in junior Kung Fu classes by the time she’s 2 1/2. We will go to Italian language/culture classes as soon as she is old enough and we have an art group and a play group that we hit once a week. Socialization doesn’t only have to happen in school. 🙂

  16. CableGirl…I’m a newbie stopping by your site. I retired in Education 6 years ago. If I had to do it all over again, I would have homeschooled my 3 kids. I think it’s wonderful that you are!
    Good Luck!

  17. I know nothing about homeschooling. My youngest is already a junior. I do know that what was going on in our high school was never about education and was usually about peer pressure or politics. I allowed my middle and younger child to both pull out of public schools and complete high school through independent study programs. I am very glad I did. I wish home schooling had been in the news more when my kids were much younger, as I would have done it for all of them. Good luck.

  18. I have no resources, I’m sorry. I do want to say, however, that way back in the days when I thought I might get my education completed much sooner than it will occur (been @ it for 10 years & have about 6 more to go), I wanted to create websites that would either provide tutoring/supplement to homeschoolers & to make up the gaps that public school leaves. Maybe by the time I (ha!) get the knowledge to proceed, I’ll start something to see if there’s still need. I’m afraid I had nothing to give you, but you certainly gave me hope! Good luck! 🙂

  19. I think you need to do what you feel will be best for your daughter. I know quite a few people who home school and our really happy with it. Fairly Odd Mother homeschools for non-religious reasons. Her link is on my blog. I have to say that the preschool my son ended up going to I would not have even considered before having kids or even when he was a baby. By the time he was three, he was a very different person than I thought he would be so I had to do a 180 on my views on what makes a good preschool. I always keep an open mind to homeschooling because like anything else with parenting you just never know what’s going to end up being the best option for your kids.

  20. I really like your opinions stated here and totally understand you. I’ve seen too many bad schools, teachers, resources, founds or pupils disturbing and destroying for the others. And since you’ve been teaching earlier that’s just excellent!!!

    There is just no reason why you shouldn’t try it out.

    I wish you good luck 🙂

  21. I think it’s a great idea!!! And I know you will be good at it. I have cousins in Vegas who are non-religiously home-schooled, and it’s worked out great for them. Well, a couple of them are kind of weird, but I don’t think it’s the homeschooling, I think it’s just them. hahaha One of the girls asked to go to high school once she was of age, and is doing well and enjoys it. The rest are still home. I think it’s a fantastic way to tailor learning to your child’s needs and get them to enjoy it. And I agree, there are many other ways to get socialization – recreational groups, sports, etc.

  22. I admire you taking such a step and I can totally understand your reasoning. Not being a teacher myself I can only go by third-hand reports which make for depressing reading/listening. Thankfully, my niece appears to be bucking the trend!

    I’m pretty sure it’ll be hard work, but I don’t doubt you’re up to it, going by everything I have read so, good luck 🙂

    Now, where did I put those creme eggs…

  23. CG, have you looked into The Well-Trained Mind? It is the best homeschool curriculum available, in my opinion.

    I wanted to homeschool our kids for academic reasons. Though we are obviously religious, that had nothing to do with my motivation; my reasons were much the same as yours.

    However, P and I couldn’t come to an agreement on the issue (it’s a long, complicated story). Our compromise is that I have homeschooled our kids every summer, four days a week, using TWTM, for the past 8 years.

    TWTM’s founders are themselves religious, but saw a need for a structured, classically-based program that could be adapted to secular or religious households. I researched this a TON when my oldest was small; TWTM was what clicked for me. Email me if you have any questions.

  24. I don’t homeschool my kids as it isn’t allowed in NL. But they are both currently in very good international programs and I have no worries that they will not be ready for any English speaking university in the world. But I do understand your feelings as my Mom was a high school English teacher and struggled to get kids to read at Junior and Senior High level!! So good luck to you in your endeavors. I don’t have any specific home schooling sites, but on my blog here (http://signalsminusnoise.blogspot.com/2007/08/15-kid-friendly-spaceastronomy-sites.html)
    I list some kid-friendly astronomy sites and a couple are from home-schooling sites. Hope this helps!

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