Massachusetts is one of several states that wants to keep penmanship as part of the curriculum. A few hours ago a Facebook friend asked if others thought cursive should be kept alive.
My answer: no. Unless you have nothing more important to do.
In my experience, cursive is one of those sacred cows that people hold onto because the affinity for the past overrides actual cost/benefit analysis of possible educational options.
Resources — particularly time — are limited. I have shelves of truly amazing, awesome things I’ve always wanted to do with my kids, but haven’t had the time to complete. Items, I fear will end up being passed on to some lucky family, completely unused, when Caleb graduates from our homeschool in eight short years. Things like intermediate logic courses, spherical geometry, or intense geography.
I just don’t care about cursive. Particularly nonsensical D’Nealian! Why should capital Zs look like Ys with a loop? Why should Gs and Zs and Ss look like nothing at all? Who got to decide that nonsense?
More to the point, why should I keep up the nonsense just because I had to learn it? Why I Don’t Teach Cursive continued
The joy of homeschooling in its purest form, is that you do not have to bend to anyone’s core or curriculum. And you certainly don’t have to take any state mandated tests here in Utah as of yet. As a parent, you can control what you expose to some degree to your children. You set the scope, the sequence and the assessment.
Someone asked why I would want to be involved with the new state assessment process. To be honest, I have asked myself this very question. Truth be known, when my children were younger we were home schoolers in the purest sense of the word. We had so much fun traveling and experiencing learning. As they grew, I needed additional resources to make sure they could reach their potential and thankfully the Utah system provided some of those resources.
I could not provide a chemistry lab or the upper maths for my older child in a timely manner and meet the needs of my younger children. Finding private tutors was extremely difficult and the public school system already had the courses with some great educators. I am what some parents would consider a dual enrollment parent. I am very eclectic in my approach to homeschool and would consider myself an opportunist seeking the right mentors for my children. As a result my children will be subject to the state testing in one way or another.
With the new FERPA laws and the ability to track data, I felt it imperative that core knowledge was tested without the social agendas. A proper test would include facts and not any of the controversial, subjective, social, or the psychosomatic testing. If USOE or our school system is to be trusted, it is imperative to remove all items related to any social agenda or touchy feel stuff and stick to the factual knowledge. We have enough factual knowledge; we don’t need any of the extra stuff.
15 parents were chosen to review the test. Those selected will have the opportunity to serve on this panel for the next two years and others will serve four. I have chosen to serve four years. This group of individuals are a thoughtful, concerned, and a strong bunch. The test was divided amongst the 15 of us. Each 1/15th was divided into 4 batches consisting roughly of 660 questions. I personally reviewed 9 batches. Out of the 10000 questions reviewed, only approximately 600 had concerns. Relatively a small number. Those concerns ranged from content, grammar, functionality and more. In the 9 batches I was able to review, I only saw two questions that really rubbed me wrong. I presented my concerns to the group and we discussed better solutions and helpful comments.
We were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement where we could discuss the test but not the core content questions outside of our time there. So you will not find any content of the test here. If it is in the core then it is probably on the test. [click to continue…]
Let’s just get this out of the way right up top. The vast majority of people can homeschool. They just don’t want to. And the vast majority of homeschoolers don’t care.
Debating a 6-Year-Old
I was a 30-year-old college graduate and mother of three (6,3,1) with a desktop publishing home business when my precocious (and verified “gifted”) oldest daughter began harassing me to homeschool her. I countered with the “facts” that all homeschoolers are freaks and weirdos, that she would have no friends, that I didn’t have the time or temperament, and everything else you can imagine.
Then I had to figure out what in the world to do.
After much thrashing about and many sleepless nights — and actual research and practice — I came to the realization that we have all been brainwashed. (Myself included, as anyone who knew me pre-homeschooling can attest.) With combined forces of the NEA and other state and local teacher’s unions, government bureaucrats and layers of bureaucracy, level after level of administration, teachers themselves, and anyone else with livelihoods and power bases dependent on the government education system, we have been taught for decades that we can’t educate our children and that we need “experts” to tell us what is best and what must be learned.
The disastrous new Common Core is just one more manifestation of this. You Can Homeschool – You Just Don’t Want To continued
If you’re anything like me, public school socialization was one of the worst parts of growing up “in the system.” With little oversight and children highly motivated to be “king of the hill,” the stereotypical school bullying is is so common it’s legendary.
One of the best parts of homescchooling is customizing not only curriculum but also socialization to suit your children.
Rather than forcing them — seven hours per day, 180 days per year — to deal with the built-in socialization that happens in public schools, you can plan the socialization for maximum benefit.
Assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and build to suit. And if you’re not up to an enormous project, it’s all good. Fun homeschooling social opportunities can be simple.
As our kids have gotten older, our homeschool has morphed, too. With three kids in college, we have half as many homeschooling bodies as we used to. This is how it looks today:
- Monica – 16 – junior at a performing arts high school, homeschooling academics
- Samson – 13 – homeschooling 8th grade
- Caleb – 10 – homeschooling 4th grade
Last year they were involved in a selection of classes one day per week; this year we decided to change it up. One thing we decided to add for fun and friendship was a boys’ game club. Setting it up was simple. [click to continue…]
No matter how damaging or harmful — or boring — public school is for their children, many people feel they cannot transition to homeschooling. It’s unknown. It’s unfamiliar. It’s scary. (Not to mention weird.)
They think they need to plan and prepare and research and coordinate for weeks, months, or years before they finally dip their toes into homeschooling. But it’s just not so.
If you know your children aren’t thriving in school — and you know it’s not getting better anytime soon, in spite of your best efforts — now is the time to take action. It’s really not all that hard or involved. The process is pretty straightforward.
Yes, you really can do it. And you can refine the process as you go, with real-time data.
Here are your 12 easy steps to start homeschooling. Tomorrow. Or sooner. [click to continue…]
The Big Getting-Ready-to-Homeschool Question
Well over a decade ago, when we lived in Florida, a friend (whose kids were in public school) called in desperation. Two of them were tanking in school and, given the environment, feeling worse and worse with each passing day.
She wanted to pull them out at the end of the semester, right after Christmas, but was wondering if she should leave them in school until the end of the year.
“If they stay in school until the end of the semester, what will they learn? What good will come of it?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she responded.
“Then why not pull them out tomorrow?” [click to continue…]
People Don’t Value Free Events
In 1997, when we lived in Florida, my best buddy and I decided to team together to start a homeschool choir for elementary aged kids. Becky would play the piano, I would conduct. We’d hold it at my house.
Since we had, at the time, six elementary aged kids between us, we already had a good start. We opened the group to the local homeschooling community and began to spread the word. We planned to offer the class for free, to make it available to as many as possible, but another homeschool mom disagreed.
Debbie — whose daughter was going to join the choir — warned me that if I offered it for free, people wouldn’t take it seriously. If they didn’t pay something, they would not attend consistently and would not feel committed. With her advice in hand, we charged a nominal monthly fee that would help cover the cost of music.
In 2005, living in Utah, I started a swing choir for teenagers. Given my experience with the Boca Homeschoolers Choir, I followed the same plan. The kids paid for their own costumes and music and added $10 per month — for the sake of feeling invested.
Fast forward to 2013. Although I do run a boys’ game club for homeschoolers, we are too busy to spend much time planning major homeschooling events. Over the past few years I’ve coordinated a few paid events (like musical theater performances and space camp), but a few weeks ago, I offered space in a free event. My mistake. [click to continue…]
I have never felt I “needed” an umbrella school for our homeschool. We don’t have any problem registering with the county or being evaluated. We participate in school athletics, so registering with the county is required.
However, as my kids entered high school, I started weighing the options. There are school sports, college admissions, NCAA registration, and scholarships to be considered. An umbrella school suddenly looked like the best option to stay organized, have fewer people questioning what we are doing, have access to all scholarships my kids qualify for, and less paperwork for me.
There are a number of “umbrella” schools out there. After comparing a number of them I decided HomeLife Academy was what we needed. First, they are affordable. $60 annual family registration free, plus $20 per K-8th grader and $40 per high schooler, make registering a bargain. If you are starting in the middle of high school and need to transfer credit from another school there is a $50 transfer fee.They also give discounts for registering early in the spring. [click to continue…]
[This article was originally published in about 1994 in Home Education Magazine. In 2005 it was updated and posted on Mormon Momma. I'm moving it here because I am asked about my math philosophy — and in particular why I hate Saxon math — in a homeschooling context so often.]
When I was nearly four years old, my father received his PhD in mathematics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and since that time he has been a professor of mathematics at Brigham Young University. On June 30th, 1995, he retired, was granted emeritus status for the maximum three years, and then continued to teach — without remuneration — until 2005.
In October of 2005, he was given the Honorary Alumni Award at BYU’s homecoming festivities in honor of his contribution to the university. He may have retired his position, but not his love of numbers and formulae and sharing it with students.
All my life I enjoyed math and performed well in my classes; I guess it’s in my blood. Most of my girlfriends hated it or, at least, thought I was nuts to more than tolerate the subject. For years I alternated between feeling weird and feeling smart. (If you care to categorize me, I now prefer the latter!)
Learning to Love Math continued
When I started to homeschool, I had no idea. Really, I had no idea. There are so many things I wish I would have known.
Here is a list of mine and a few others I captured from the previous WHEN forums before it was deleted:
- I wish I would have known how fast time flies. At 18 years old, the government believes a child should be capable to live on their own and provide for themselves. That means I only had 18 years to be able to teach them all they needed to know. I wanted the world’s need for survival and the slap in the face to be gentle enough that their confidence would surmount any obstacles . And only 1/2 of that allotted time could I sit down, wrap my arms around them and cuddle them for a considerable amount of time. Time just goes so fast. My youngest is already off to high school classes.
- I wish I would have known that every child’s education will have holes in it and the skills and confidence I give my kids matter most. And the more involvement I could have the smaller the holes will be. Thanks to a wonderful friend, Cynthia Walker who clued me in on this.
- I wish I would have known it doesn’t take a brain scientist to home school just a motivated individual who loves learning.
Here are some things others shared: [click to continue…]