Posted by: webbhouston | September 1, 2009

Schooling the unschooled ones

Mike and I have discussed it almost since Kate was born, what are we going to do for school? We have always known she was bright, some call her “gifted” but I hate labels like that on children so I tend to stay away from that. We also know that we cannot really afford a school that will give her the challenges that she would need to stay engaged. Public school really is not an option for us at this point it seems, unless we get her into some super magnet program of doom.

Public schools in Texas are now teaching things like the bible, and creationism. I dont understand why they dont teach the Flying Spaghetti Monster but that is another conversation. I dont mind children learning about the bible and creationism. My own children will get extensive education regarding the bible and religion, but I will do it on my own time. The way that I chose to do it.

So after discussing with everyone who would listen, family and friends included, we have decided to delay her entry into school for a while. We at least will not be sending her to preschool or kindergarten. My belief and wish is that this will continue until she leaves for Yale/Oxford/etc. but we will revisit this if it does not seem to be working for her. We will also revisit this with Calvin because they are both so difference it is possible that it may work for one and not the other. We shall see.

Anyways, this weekend we did some prep work. In congruence with a friend of ours that is a teacher we designed a small classroom within our home for them to study. I am a firm believer that the environment is a huge part of the psychology of learning. I also know my child and she is really into what things look like. She needs the distinction between play and learning. I am an unschooler at heart but she seems to prefer more traditional schooling things, like charts and flashcards. She adores flashcards.  This was the child that at 12 months was reciting flash cards back to us and asking for more. She went through stacks of them and she still cannot get enough of them.

We went out to Teacher’s Heaven with a list of things that we wanted and an open mind about what we needed. Mike and I worked hard during the weekend to seperate her “school” zone from the play and fun area in the rest of the house. Mike built little tiny school furniture for her and we bought some posters of colors, shapes, weather patterns, etc.  There is another good store called “The Homeschool Store” in Houston that has so much stuff for homeschooling that it is overwhelming.  We are lucky that we have many options for kids that are homeschooled. We have cooperatives, yahoo groups, and even the city parks, zoo, museums have events and days for homeschooling kids.

I understand that there are many negative stereotypes for homeschooled kids… and many questions that can are asked about homeschooling.

First of all, is it legal? Yes it is legal to homeschool in the state of Texas. You do not have to have any special certification, or testing that you have to pass. There are no requirements except for you to say that you are homeschooling.

Actually the common questions are best desribed here in the 12 days of homeschooling

To the tune of “Twelve Days of Christmas.

On the first day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “Can you homeschool legally?”

On the second day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “Are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the third day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “Do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the fourth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “What about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the fifth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “YOU ARE SO STRANGE! What about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the sixth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “How long will you homeschool, YOU ARE S0 STRANGE, what about P.E. , do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the seventh day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “Look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE!, what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, do you homeschool legally?”

On the eighth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “Why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE, what about P.E. do you give them tests, are they socialized, do you homeschool legally?”

On the ninth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “They’ll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE!, what about P.E. do you give them tests, are they socialized, do you homeschool legally?”

On the tenth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “What about graduation, they’ll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE!, what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the eleventh day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “I could never do that, what about graduation, they’ll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE, what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the twelfth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “Can they go to college, I could never do that, what about graduation, they’ll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE, What about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the thirteenth day of homeschool I thoughtfully replied: “They Can go to college, yes you can do this, they can have graduation, we don’t like the prom, we do it cuz we like it, they are missing nothing, we’ll homeschool forever, WE ARE NOT STRANGE!, We give them P.E., and we give them tests, they are socialized, AND WE HOMESCHOOL LEGALLY!

On the fourteenth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “How can I get started, why didn’t you tell me, where do I buy curriculum, when is the next conference, WILL PEOPLE THINK WE’RE STRANGE? I think we can do this, if you will help us, can we join P.E. and we’ll homeschool legally.”

Many of the famous homeschoolers are people on television like the Duggars. Who wear long scary clothes and are religious fundies that pop out kids like they were pez candies.  While many homeschoolers are religious there are secular unschoolers too. We do not lock our kids at home and teach them all day and night, if anything most homeschoolers are never home! They go to events and festivals… museums and zoos! The homeschooled kids that I know have more socialization and exercise than those who have to wake up at 6:30 am to sit in a classroom all day and are forced to play dodge ball with kids who are trying to knock their glasses off (wow am I projecting much? LOL).

We are still somewhere between Montessori, Waldorf, and traditional schooling. We are what you would call “eclectic” I guess… but thankfully we dont have to only use one or the other. The beauty and art of it is that we get to use what we want and do what works for us.

After all, isnt that what schooling should be about anyways?

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