Sunday, October 15, 2006

What are some good reasons to homeschool? You may be surprised to find that there are bad reasons to homeschool.

From all the homeschool literature I've perused, the many parents I've talked to and homeschoolers themselves, ladies and gentlemen, here are the bad reasons to homeschool:

  • "Everybody's doing it!"

  • My mother/father/sister/cousin/brother-in-law's best friend wants me to do it." (And you don't want to)

  • "I don't want my child ever to be bullied/pushed/teased/punched/beaten up/hurt."

  • "That private school is too expensive. Besides, homeschooling is cheaper than public school too."

  • "I want to keep my child all to myself. I think association with other people may be dangerous."

  • "The public school system in my area is atrocious."

  • "I belong to a sect which prohibits contact with outsiders."

  • "I heard that all homeschoolers learn independently so I don't have to do any work."

  • "My ex-husband wouldn't like it if I started homeschooling our daughter and I want to get back at him."

You may have been surprised to read that the fact that the public school system may be a bad choice for you is not a good reason. That's because you may not be inclined to homeschool, your partner may not either, or you don't have the time. Here are some good reasons:

  • "I like books and would love to learn alongside my children."

  • "I love to spend time with them and would love to help them learn."

  • "I don't think the public school would be a good choice for our family at this time, but in any case if the need arose and we would have to put him in school, we would be very involved as parents."

  • "We are very religious and would like to teach our children about our customs."

  • "We feel that the public school system is philosophically opposed to our goals."

  • "We travel a lot and don't stay in one place for long."

  • "We feel we can give our children a good education, maybe even superior to the public school's."

  • "I'm committed to our child's education and can't think of any better way than to get closer to my child."

These are not all the reasons one would choose to homeschool. Reasons are as diverse as there are people. However, don't choose to homeschool either because you live in a place where there are a lot of homeschoolers and you feel pressured. Don't homeschool just because you want to spite anyone. Don't homeschool just because you've heard that the majority of homeschoolers score in a higher percentile than their public school counterparts.

Homeschooling is a way of life. If you're genuinely interested and feel attracted to the idea, look around on sites like this, check out books at the library about homeschooling, talk to a few homeschooling parents and adults who have been homeschooled. See if it's something for you and for your family. Homeschooling is a commitment and it takes lots of time and patience. It's an extra parental demand, not a break from it. Like anything worth doing, the more you put into it, the more you will reap benefits.

Friday, October 13, 2006

At a recent public family event, I was lucky to win a Zoodler Academy class at the local zoo aimed at 3-5 year-olds. This couldn't be more perfect for my son Brandon, as he's very interested in animals and just turned three in early September. So far I know the class involves a craft, some ABC and numbers, and an animal encounter. Best of all, my husband William will be joining me for the first two classes, helping to evaluate the quality of the program, as it's a little under an hour and a half to drive to. It's only once a week, Tuesdays from 3:30 to 4:30 P.M. for parent and child. Classes are only $12 for members of the Zoological Society, and $15 for non-members. Grandma is paying for the other classes.

We're attending this coming Tuesday. I'll be writing all about that experience. Today I plan to buy some items, including Before Five in a Row and Peak with Books (similar to Before Five in Row, but expands on the subject and continues further) at Rainbow Resource Center. Needless to say, I'm very excited. These could be hardly called real curricula, as they're really just gentle introductions. You don't need to spend a dime. Just read lots of books and ask questions. We've been doing that since Brandon was born and he's doing wonderfully. However, I'm the type of person who needs some outside guidance otherwise nothing measurable can get done. I wish to have some more structured fun with my son. I can tell he's blossoming intellectually and emotionally, and I want to take that opportunity to grow and learn with him.

I purchased and received the Roots & Shoots Curriculum for Young Children, mostly just for evaluation and to determine when I could use it with Brandon. At only $9.99 it is surely a bargain! Judging from what I see so far, I'll wait and see for that one. He could be ready in six months or in a year, who knows? I like Roots and Shoots because I do wish to teach him care and concern for people, animals and the environment. Social responsibility and citizenship belong in that category too.

Photo courtesy of swearinglibrarian

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Just returned from a wonderful trip to Cape Cod, Massachussets with my family. This place is very interesting to me as a perpetual knowledge seeker not only for its natural beauty, fauna and history, but because it has (as I'm sure all of the state of Mass.) many well-stocked, modern and expertly staffed libraries and bookstores galore! I'm not talking about the huge bookstore chains you find in malls across the country, but distinctive, traditional mom-and-pop bookstores that have all the charm of small towns. Each has carved its own niche -- one specializes in children's books, another one in books about nature, and yet another one in maritime history.

Cape Cod is comprised of several small towns -- Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, Mashpee, Brewster, Barnstable, Hyannis, Yarmouth, Dennis, Chatham, Harwich, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. There are also the two island of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket to explore. You can only get to these by ferry or airplane.

It's a great place to take the kids, especially if you can wing it sometime in Fall. In summer the Cape is extremely crowded. Some attractions of special interest to homeschoolers:

- Whaling Museum and Historic Sites in Nantucket
A must-see for kids of all ages. There's an excellent guide for children with activities that will keep them entertained as they explore the museum. It even has a children's room where younger children can draw, play and read all about whales and whaling industry. The amazing skeleton of a whale alone is enough reason to visit.

-The Cape Cod Children's Museum in Mashpee

-The Zooquarium in West Yarmouth

-The Cape Cod National Seashore
Explore the natural beauty of Cape Cod. Check out lesson plans before you go hiking on the scenic nature trails. Website also provides a map of all parks, with notes on what you can expect to see and facilities.

-Whale Watching at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off Provincetown
Before you head out to see the whales, find out all you can about humpback, minke, and pilot whales as well as harbor porpoise and white-sided dolphins. These imposing creatures made us feel humble and in awe as we gazed at their size and grace. The on-board naturalist explains the different characteristics, feeding and mating habits of the particular species you're seeing. You also receive a brochure explaining what you can expect to see.

-The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum in Provincetown
See where the first pilgrims landed (you read that right) and read the history of Provincetown while you climb up the highest granite tower in the United States.

-John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum in Hyannis
Remember this charismatic president while you watch a video, see the many pictures and hear stories of his days on the Cape. Click here to see a virtual tour of the museum.

-Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich
A picturesque setting, antique cars, unofficial trails, a windmill, an herb garden, beautiful flowers, the Cape Cod Baseball League museum, a 1912 carousel and many more interesting treasures await you at this unique park-like historical tour.

-Whydah Pirate Museum in Provincetown
Explore the history and artifacts of the only pirate shipwreck ever discovered. This small museum is well worth the trip and its gift shop has a nice assortment of pirate souvenirs and books on the Cape to keep the whole family happy. Check out the Whydah exploration and information here.

-Thornton W. Burgess Museum in Sandwich
Those who know and love this beloved author will like browsing the toys, books, games and household goods featuring famous characters such as Peter Rabbit, Jenny Wren, Jimmy Skunk and Reddy Fox.

We liked The Cape so much that we plan to return again some day. We feel we haven't even begun to scratch the surface as a week wasn't enough to experience all that Cape Cod has to offer. The islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are also very interesting to see, and the latter is especially lovely to experience by biking around if you have the time. Note to men -- avoid the cobblestoned streets when biking if you ever want any more children!

photo courtesy of elroySF