Friday, March 1, 2013

Home Schooling How and Why

By Kristen M. Soley
 


Why – The Goals of Home Schooling: 
 
“... Home education enables families to balance the development of our children in each of the… basic areas of education so that they mature as well-rounded young adults."4
 
It is true, not everybody is called to home school their children. 
How do you know if you are being called to home school your child?  Are you capable of educating your child?  Who is truly the best teacher for your child? 

No two stories are exactly the same, but most often, families choose to home school for a core set of reasons:
• Superior Education - Parents believe they will be able to provide a superior education at home
• Religious reasons – God is always welcome at home, in everything
• Safety – this goes without saying
• Control – the ability to control when things are introduced, in what context, and by whom.  The ability to correct behavior, when the behavior occurs, within the framework of the family standards.
• Strong families - A desire to keep children together, allowing them to grow-up together as friends under the influence of parents who care most about forming their own children into virtuous young men and women of character.

For us, it all came down to who was going to form our children.  Our oldest, had just finished his first year of preschool at a local Catholic preschool. I learned, at the parent meeting at the end of his first year, there had been some behavior concerns that had been consistent throughout the year and I was just learning about at this meeting. Nathan and I talked about it and agreed that, in order to fulfill our responsibility as parents, we need to be able to correct behavior, when the behavior occurs. After prayerful consideration, God lead us to home schooling and He has blessed our efforts ever since.  Until this time, I had looked forward to having my children in school, and being the happy Mom with cookies, meeting them with a smile as they got off the bus.

We have since learned of the other benefits that home schooling affords:
  • We have the ability to pray with our children and bring God into each lesson, into everything
  • As a family, we have all grown closer to God
  • I have learned to trust Him.  I cannot do it without Him.  He has taught me patience, lifted me up when I fall, and given me the strength to persevere in trials 
  • Flexibility – each child learns differently and we can customize his/her school based on best tools for his/her style and needs
  • The ability to teach our children together
  • Self discipline – my 4th and 5th grader both get out of bed and start math between 6:00 and 6:30 AM.   They are oftentimes done with their “schoolwork” before 10:00 AM; though they learn all day long (I read to them during lunch and then read about our faith, or saint at snack and bible at 3:00 PM).
  • Field trips
  • Allowing the world to be our classroom
  • Embracing teachable moments – they learn many things before they would have been taught in school, because of their curiosities
  • The ability to select the families we spend time with, thus our children spend time, for the most part, with other families who have the same values and goals for their children
  • The ability to learn all of the things I missed in my own education – this is so inspiring for the children.  When we get excited about something, they get excited about it as well (TJED calls this the “inspire” facet to home education)
  • The miracle of watching our child’s a-ha moments, when they learn to read, when place value starts to make sense, or even odd/even.  It is like watching a miracle.
  • We are able to adapt when there is an emergency or major family change.  New babies, Chiropractor appointments brought our Science, Literature, and Faith Formation on the road (DVD’s and Audio Books).
  • We are able to ensure the children don’t feel less-than, because each child learns at his/her own pace and invariably catches up in their own time. They are not labeled as “special-ed”, nor accelerated learning.  They are simply doing their best and we are proud of their efforts.
Misconceptions of Home Schooling 2 –
1. Homeschoolers are stuck in their house all day.
  • Homeschooling families I know are rarely at home! 
  • Participate in many activities, coordinate classes and field trips, and join clubs.
  • Midweek is the best time to visit museums, parks, beaches, ski slopes, and other places, because there are no crowds and the prices are lower.
  • Little Flowers (2x/mo), Book Club (1x / mo), Boy Scouts (2x /mo), Field Trips, Youth Groups, Schoenstatt boys faith formation (1x / mo), 1X home school group activity / mo (rock climbing, plays, museums, bowling, etc)
2. Homeschoolers don't have friends.2
  • Not only do homeschooled kids have friends, but they have the opportunity to develop and grow strong friendships when they spend entire days together.
  • The longer you home school, the wider the circle of friends becomes. I had friends in my home town when I was in school.  My children have friends in 3 different counties!
  • As kids (and parents) see the same faces each week at regularly scheduled activities friendships form.
3. Kids cannot be socialized if they don't go to school.2
  • It's true: homeschoolers don't experience those negative aspects of socialization (bullying, etc). Rather, they are in their communities, interacting with merchants, the elderly, younger children, their peers, their relatives, and people from all walks of life.
  • Professional studies demonstrate that the home-educated have significantly lower problem-behavior scores than do their conventional school-age mates.
  • Homeschoolers are used to being around kids and adults of different ages and abilities.
  • Rebellious behavior is rare in homeschooled teens - especially those who have never been to traditional school.
  • Kids who have been following their passions and pursuing their goals have no need to rebel.
4. Average parents are not qualified to teach their children.2
  • Homeschooled children consistently outperform their schooled peers on standardized tests in every subject and at every grade level, nationwide.
  • Homeschooled children generally perform at least one grade level higher on tests than their public and private school counterparts. My Andrew is reading at a 9th grade level, he is a 5th grader.  All of my children, bar one are ahead by at least a year on many subjects.
  • What's more, children who have always been homeschooled generally are performing four years above the national average, by the time they reach eighth grade.
  • Dr. Lawrence M. Rudner undertook a nationwide survey examining homeschooling families and test scores. Rudner concluded that "There was no difference found [in test scores] according to whether or not a parent was certified to teach.
  • For those who would argue that only certified teachers should be allowed to teach their children at home, these findings suggest that such a requirement would not meaningfully affect student achievement."
5. Homeschooled teens miss out on "the high-school experience."2
  • At a recent home school conference, this issue was brought up to a panel of homeschooled teens. When asked if she felt she was "missing out" on high-school activities, one teen eloquently replied that she believed traditionally schooled teens are the ones missing out — on their teen years.
  • Home schooled children’s activities each day are self-directed — able to explore a subject or pursue a passion for weeks or even months, simply because he/she wants to.  Often they are grateful for not having days filled with mindless busywork and useless memorization.
  • John Taylor Gatto, former NYC Teacher of the Year and author of Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (New Society Publishers, 2002), explains that a motivated teen can easily complete a traditional four-year high-school curriculum in under two years.
  • Gatto documents that less than one hour of each school day is spent on actual learning. The rest of the time is spent disciplining students, giving directions, cleaning up, collecting and distributing papers, changing classes, making announcements, and getting to and from school.
  • Homeschoolers are able to bypass all of these time wasters. The teens in the panel, aged 14 to 17, were already accumulating college-level credits through either a community college or a distance-learning school. When they are ready to enroll in college full-time, they will enter as sophomores or juniors. 2
How - If you feel called to Home School what next?:
Some useful tips for your home school:
  •  Bookend each day with prayer (morning - devotion & scripture, evening – examen and journaling, whatever works best for you)
  • Don’t recreate school in your home; you are trying to foster a love of learning.  That was my first mistake and it broke my heart to watch my children’s shoulders fall accompanied by the struggles when trying to “do it all, just like school”…
  • Make a specific time for prayer as a family – morning devotion and evening rosary?
  • Incorporate service and work into your schedule – Visit elderly, bring food to sick or new moms, etc.  Do household and yard work together and assign chores to each child.  Raymond and Dorothy Moore, considered the 'grandparents of Christian Home Schooling', encourage a balance of study, work, and service.
  • Incorporate reading into meals (I read the Gospel, Saint of the Day, Memory verse recitation, and flash cards at the breakfast table, Virtue and Character building at Lunch, and Catechism or Saint stories at 3:00 snack).  I have the children locate the country of each saint on a map on the wall
  • Look your children in the eye and give them your full attention when they talk to you
  • Get excited about what you are teaching
  • Have an interesting book in the bathroom, always
  • Have a CD Player in children’s room – Audio books are a great way to maximize education – we have many classics on Audio, Science (Jonathan Park) as well as History (The Story of The World), Faith Formation (Bible stories on CD)
  • Bring education to the  car (audio books, Vox Music Masters – lives of great composers, as well as Holy Heroes and Cat Chat)
  • Have great books available everywhere in the house
  • Read and let your children see you reading.  Tell them about what you are learning
  • Set goals for yourself, as well as your children in education
  • Read aloud to your children - If you don’t already, start now… read to your children.  Don’t read at their level, read above them by several years.  I paraphrase a quote from Andrew Pudewa: you have to fill them with beautiful things before you can expect beautiful output…  Reading aloud increases there vocabulary, overall comprehension, piques their interest in new things, and inspires a love of reading.
Must-read books/resources to help you get started:
 Curricula:
We started with Mother of Divine Grace (MODG) and as our family grew we have continued to follow many facets to MODG (literature, history, Math) and have modified our approach to follow a more Thomas Jefferson Education model http://kristen.soleyfamily.com/HomeSchool/TJED.aspx
     Catholic Curricula 1
  • Kolbe Academy Home School - Catholic and classical home school program for grades K-12. Kolbe Academy cooperates in the order of grace to assist those in its charge to know, love, and serve God. http://www.kolbe.org/
  • Little Saints Preschool - A Catholic preschool program that includes themes and wonderful reading lists -http://www.catholicpreschool.com/
  • Seton Homeschool - classic, scholastic approach to education. Enrollment and special needs counseling is available. Self publishes much of their material. Well established program - http://www.setonhome.org/
  • Our Lady of Victory - Since 1977, OLVS has been providing Roman Catholic homeschooling curriculum and textbooks. The curriculum and textbooks used in our homeschooling program are well organized, doctrinally sound and very affordable.- http://www.olvs.org/
  • Mother of Divine Grace-  K-12 classical liberal arts curriculum offering limited enrollment and the ability to purchase syllabi without enrollment - http://www.motherofdivinegrace.org/
  • St. Thomas Aquinas Academy - K-12 classical liberal arts curriculum – http://www.staa-homeschool.com/
  • Angelicum Academy Catholic homeschool and liberal education program based on the liberal arts and the classical great books of Western civilization.
  • Art Master’s Enhance Religion Sacred art from the masters brings the artistic legacy of the church into religion classes and enhances any religion program. Program kits are available for K-8 grades and Junior High. The master art works for each grade have been chosen to complement the themes usually covered in religious education for that grade - https://www.comcenter.com/product/ENCO-ARTPK9/Art-Masters-Enhance-Religion-Kit-for-grades-K-8-with-DVD/
  • Catholic Heritage Curricula - A company that has developed new lesson plans using many of their self published materials. They are noted for their well-developed, hands on religious programs in the early grades - https://www.chcweb.com/catalog/index.html
  • Homeschool Connections Catholic home school curriculum provider. We provide three services to Catholic homeschooling families: 1) Live, interactive, online classes for adults, high school, and middle school students. 2) Subscription service which allows students 24/7 access to all of our past courses. 3) Free webinars for parents - http://homeschoolconnectionsonline.com/?a_aid=mgrunk
  • L.P.H. Resource Center On-Line Courses for Catholic Homeschoolers Since the Spring of 1998, the L.P.H. Resource Center has offered classes for Catholic homeschoolers over the World Wide Web - http://lphrc.org/
  • Mater Amabilis A free Catholic Charlotte Mason program - http://materamabilis.org/ma/
  • Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic homeschool organization which offers complete curriculums for students from grades pre-kindergarten through twelve using a classic scholastic approach. Many of the books used are “traditional” Catholic resources. - http://www.olrs.com/
  • Regina Coeli The first all online Catholic homeschooling program for Roman Catholics - http://www.reginacoeli.org/
Other Homeschool curricula
  • K12- Online Public Education with a home-based approach.  It is free - http://www.k12.com/
  • Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum - $195 for a k-12 education, all texts are digitally provided on CD for printing purposes-  http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com/
  • Accelerated Achievement (A2) - $99.00 for a k-12 education, all texts are digitally provided on CD for printing purposes-   http://www.accelerated-achievement.com/
  • Abeka – a k – 12 education option - http://www.abeka.com/
  • Saxon – Math – a great k-12 Math resource - http://saxonpublishers.hmhco.com/en/sxnm_home.htm
  • Rod and Staff - their Grammar is GREAT and we have used their Health materials as well.  They are Christian.
  • Catholic Home School Suppliers: 1
  • Rainbow Resource Catalog – Mission is to provide the best educational products to homeschoolers, parents, and educators at the lowest prices we can offer http://www.rainbowresource.com/index.php
  • Adoremus Books - Adoremus Books (Latin for “Let Us Adore!”) carries a broad selection of top quality books and resources designed to enrich your Catholic home - http://www.adoremusbooks.com/
  • Alan Jemison Music Provider of traditional music for Catholic homeschoolers: piano instruction program, traditional Catholic hymns and liturgical music  - http://aljem.com/
  • Ascension Press Publishers of Catholic charts, Friendly Defender cards and more - http://www.ascensionpress.com/
  • Bethlehem Books wonderful collection of “living history” books, some reprinted and they are organized by time period - http://www.bethlehembooks.com/
  • BraveWriter Catholic owned business that offers online writing courses and a discussion group - http://www.bravewriter.com/
  • By Way of the Family has some of the best prices for books - http://www.bywayofthefamily.com/
  • Catechetical Resource includes information, forums and purchasing for Image of God and Faith and Life - http://www.catecheticalresources.com/
  • Catholic Heritage Curricula includes lessons plans, Year with God, Behold and See and many other self published material - http://www.chcweb.com/
  • Chronicles of Xan New books series by Catholic homeschool author - http://www.chroniclesofxan.com/
  • Corps of Re-Discovery Catholic owned business with a wonderful collection of hands on crafts and activities, books and more related especially to the Lewis and Clark expedition - http://www.corpsrediscovery.com/
  • Courtship Now Catholic fictions for teens that promotes chastity and purity - http://www.courtshipnow.com/
  • Donna Corigibson Contemporary Catholic Music that explains the Faith. Word for word sung prayers from scripture and the Saints to make for easy memorization. Also, a sung Musical Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet - http://www.donnacorigibson.com/
  • Ecce Homo Press A self publisher of materials including Glory of America series, Little Flower and Blue Knight resources - http://www.eccehomopress.com/
  • El Camino Real (The Real Road) Catholic books for feast days, crafts, cross stitch and more - http://www.lcaminoreal.org/
  • Emmanuel Books A large, well established Catholic homeschool supplies business featuring Mother of Divine Grace material  - http://www.emmanuelbooks.com/
  • Faith Database The Faith Database is a CD?ROM that provides access to over ten Bible translations, a Greek Bible, papal encyclicals, writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the Catholic Encyclopedia, over 1,500 books by famous Christian writers, Church history, Bible art, maps, and much more! The Faith Database is completely searchable, printable, and portable (PDA) ?? everything is linked together for instant research of any faith topic - http://faithdatabase.com/
  • Hillside Education Our mission is to publish quality literature study guides with a distinctly Catholic perspective - http://www.hillsideeducation.com/
  • History Links World History Unit Studies for Catholic homeschoolers – 8 units from Creation through Early Medieval - http://www.historylinks.info/
  • Holy Heroes Offers many multimedia items including educational, fun and free activities: Advent Adventure, Lenten Adventure, and starting July, Summer Faith Adventure - http://www.holyheroes.com/
  • Home School T’s Spread the Homeschooling message in a positive way! Business owned by Catholic Homeschoolers - http://www.homeschoolts.com/
  • Ignatius Press wide range of Catholic religious books - http://www.ignatius.com/
  • Illuminated Ink Illuminated Ink© (formerly known as Art Angels©) is a small Catholic company that is dedicated to developing, designing, and producing high-quality Catholic educational materials for children all over the world - http://www.illuminatedink.com/index.php
  • Keller Books A Catholic Homeschool business founded in 1998 and specialize in vintage children and traditional Catholic books - http://www.kellerbooks.com/
  • Little Flowers Family Apostolate We are a home-based, family-run apostolate and publisher. We provide unique Catholi tools who are searching for just the right item to teach or learn the Faith, gifts for Sacraments, literature that is good for the mind and soul and solid Catholic materials to pass the Faith on to their children - http://lffa-ollmpc.com/
  • Making Music Praying Twice Our company, Making Music Praying Twice, music and movement for the Catholic child, has recently released a homeschool music education curriculum - http://www.makingmusicprayingtwice.com/
  • Mary’s Books Is republishing the series Dujarie Press Saints and Famous Catholics Biographies in paperback as well as offering new and used Catholic books - http://www.marys-books.com/
  • mater et magistra magazine - Only Catholic homeschool magazine in print. Each issue includes great articles and a unique unit study - http://materetmagistramagazine.org/
  • My Catholic Faith Delivered We strive to combine the finest catechetical courses/programs with state-of-the-art, interactive technology, as Pope Benedict has encouraged us to do in his recent World Communications Days addresses. We now offer for this fall the Faith and Life series in an online format. It has everything that the book version has, but so much more to engage the children! We also have three years of the Didache high school series ready as well - http://www.mycatholicfaithdelivered.com/Home.aspx
  • Neumann Press Our goal and primary purpose is to republish orthodox, traditional and classic Catholic books that have gone out of print - http://www.neumannpress.com/
  • Our Father’s House includes “Sound Beginnings” a Catholic reading, spelling and handwriting program as well as a beautiful miniature mass set - http://ourfathershouse.biz/shopsite_sc/store/html/index.html
  • Pro Multis Media Inspiring Presentations for Extraordinary Catholics - http://www.promultismedia.net/
  • Quiet Waters Production They produce and sell Little Flowers badges, sashes, music and now the Learn Spanish with Grace! series of products  - http://www.quietwatersproductions.com/
  • Resource Connection to History includes a variety of Catholic sources for teaching history including a Catholic world timeline, and Connecting With History a history-based unit study published by RC History - http://www.rchistory.com/
  • Roman Catholic Catechism We offer E-Copybooks and Audio Catechism CDs - http://www.roman-catholic-catechism.com/index.html
  • Sacred Heart Books and Gifts offers discounts on many books and videos and carries religious and homeschool supplies - http://www.sacredheartbooksandgifts.com/
  • Seton Educational Media Seton Educational Media (SEM) is the book sales division of Seton Home Study School, the largest supplier of Catholic home schooling curriculum in the U.S.A - http://www.setonbooks.com/index.php
  • St. George Catholic Books In March of this year RC History began a merger with St. George Books and Gifts, a local Catholic bookstore. By joining forces we believe that we can serve our customers more efficiently. All of the materials that have been on the RC History website can be found on the new site as well as hundreds of more items in every subject area - http://stgeorgebooks.com/
  • Write Guide Catholic owned company that works with Regina Coeli and St. Thomas Aquinas. Provides individualized writing courses for homeschoolers - http://www.writeguide.com/

Other Resources:
General:
Reading:
  • Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
    Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons, Siegfried Engelmann – Each of our children have started with this book, after this we move into Little Angel Readers, the Educators Publishing Service (EPS) Primary Phonic Book Sets, and McGuffy Readers.  If they are struggling we take a step back and work through the Explode the Code books from EPS
  • McGuffey's Eclectic Readers/Boxed
    McGuffy Readers – we love these.  The stories are laden in character, virtue, and introduce challenging vocabulary at an earlier age, which has helped with their literature and reading comprehension.  Even if you choose not to home school, these are a must have!
  • Abeka Reading
  • Explode the Code - Educators Publishing Service (EPS)
  • Little Angel Reader Series - http://www.stonetabletpress.com/Shop.html
  • The Writing Road to Reading – this was not my favorite but soooooooo many people love it that I felt it must be included.
  • Libravox – libravox.org  audio books, free

Handwriting:
  • Startwrite – software that allows you to create custom copy work in manuscript, cursive and others with the flexibility to change font size and switch between trace and copy work.  It even includes arrows for beginning manuscript work.  We use this for all copy work (bible memory work, discipline in writing the commandments, literature and poetry copy work selections, O Antiphons, etc.)!
  • Seton Workbooks – each of our children has used the Seton workbooks for handwriting.  They are great and have beautiful Catholic artwork in them. http://www.setonhome.org/curriculum/
  • CHC – Catholic Heritage Curricula - https://www.chcweb.com/catalog/ByGradeLevel/Kindergarten/CatholicHeritageHandwritingLevelK/product_info.html

Spelling:
  • The Writing Road to Reading
  • See curriculum for spelling options, there are a ton…

Math:
  • Teaching Textbooks – we use this starting in 2nd grade.  Their first level is 3rd grade and if our child does well, we continue one year ahead for the student. There is a lecture and lesson on the computer.   There is a companion workbook that includes the lesson and exact same work problems if the child would like to follow a book.  I typically save the $$ and give the child a tablet for longer, more complex work.
  • Saxon – top-notch math, but with as many children as we are home-educating it is not for us.  I do use this for Kindergarten as a guideline on what to teach and pull out worksheets for this age.  I also recommend the manipulatives kit from Saxon starting with Kindergarten.
  • Abeka
  • Life of Fred – I suspect my boys will really enjoy this.  I intend to introduce this in 6 or 7th grade.  I have heard great things about this series.
  • Calculadder – a great resource for worksheets and increasing speed.
  • Math-it -  a great resource to help child with speed and accuracy in adding, multiplying and doubling figures, set to a fun board-game type approach.  Each of my children has enjoyed this thus far.
  • Alpha Omega Publications
  • Aleks – I keep hearing great things about this and am looking into it - http://www.aleks.com/
  • Singaporemath.com Inc
  • Accelerated Christian Education
Science:
  • Abeka
  • Apologia Educational Ministries
  • Jonathan Park, Adventure Audio Books

Support Groups:
  • Holy Family Home School Group – this is the home school I participate in, based in Maple Lake.  There is also a great group out of Watertown. 
Legal Defense Organizations:
  • HSLDA- Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms - http://www.hslda.org/
  • MÂCHÉ - Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators! We exist to encourage and support Christ-centered home education.- http://mache.org/
Testing Options:
  • Peabody - http://www.homeschoolresourcesp.com/index.html
  • Basic Achievement Skills Inventory (BASI) for grades 3–12 3
  • Brigance Diagnostic Inventories (Very thorough test; helpful in IEP/SEP/goal setting for special needs children. May be given by parents. Yellow Brigance: birth to developmental age 7; Green Brigance: grade levels Pre-K through 9; HSLDA members may rent from 3 HSLDA
  • California Achievement Test (CAT) 3
  • Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) 3
  • Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) 3
  • Stanford Achievement Test (Stanford-10 or SAT, not to be confused with the College Board SAT).
  • PASS test (from Hewitt-standardized but not nationally normed) 3
  • Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) (Short but accurate; because of brevity, can be helpful for children with attention difficulties) 3
  • Woodcock-Johnson (Oral interaction/evaluation in addition to written work; must be administered by qualified tester, usually a psychologist or an education professional) 3
 
Resources:
"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines
what you will be when you can't help it.."  Oscar Wilde

Book Lists:
Conferences:
Other:
In Summary:
Our mission should be to help our children learn the Faith, live the faith and apply the Faith, to be strong in virtue, discipline, and character as well as academically prepared for whatever vocation God calls them.  Nobody is better prepared than a child’s parent, with the grace of God.  As Dr. Ray says “if you want a one in a million child, you need to be a one in a million parent.”
 
One last tip:
I have been asked how do we do it?  How do I remain patient, etc…  My only reasonable response is “I can’t…  I can’t do it without God.”  He has given me the grace to do this.  If you don’t think you can do this, you are right; you can’t.  But with God you can.
“I can do all through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
(For a printable copy of this retreat & legal info for MN click here)
 
Sources:
2 The Top Five Misconceptions About Homeschooling, Isabel Shaw - http://school.familyeducation.com/family-learning/home-schooling/30275.html
 

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