An Interesting Development in Homeschooling

March 9th, 2008

People often ask me if I am going to homeschool my kids because I am a teacher. And my answer is always no. (I teach kindergarten for a reason – once she hits about 7th grade algebra, she’s on her own…)

But here’s some interesting news in the world of homeschooling. The San Fransico Chronicle ran this story (and there’s another take on it here) about how California is basically trying to decide if homeschooling should be a parent’s choice.

I’m a undecided on how I feel about this. Part of me likes the idea that homeschooling not be an option for parents. I am a strong believer in children going to school. With all of the options – private, public, charter, magnet, alternative, etc, etc, etc, – there is a school out there that will fit your child and your child’s learning style. Teachers are well trained and good at their jobs. Going to school helps kids build character, helps them learn how to interact in the “real” world, builds social skills, learn to compromise on top of learning the academics. There are instances when homeschooling is appropriate but it would not fall under a choice – when a child is too sick to attend school, for example – but then the parents are not choosing to homeschool, they are doing it out of necessity.

I also see the other side of the argument. Why does the government get to decide how parent’s raise their children? There are already laws in place saying that children need to be educated but shouldn’t how they be educated be up to each family? I see the slippery slope of the government getting to involved.

But here is a problem that I think does need to be addressed for homeschooling – the requirements. Each state has very different laws over what parents need/don’t need to do to homeschool their child(ren). I think that those laws need to be uniform. The paperwork parents need to complete should be equivalent to the paper work schools need to complete for the students. Curriculum should meet the state standards and benchmarks. Tests required for non-homeschooled kids should be administered to homeschool kids. The same number of contact hours should be required.

As they say on NPR is this story Good News, Bad News or No News?

4 Responses to “An Interesting Development in Homeschooling”

  1. Andy Fast on March 10, 2008 8:07 am

    States don’t have the same requirements for public education (similar perhaps, but same no), so why should the requirements be the same for home-schoolers? To me one of the coolest parts about homeschooling done right is the individualized attention that students get. Homeschooling provides an opportunity to taylor an education to the interests and capacities of individual students without sacrificing the essentials. Why take that away?

  2. abby on March 10, 2008 9:22 am

    No more typing posts at 11:30 at night for me.

    You are right, states don’t have the same requirements for public education. What I meant to say is that the homeschoolers of that state should have the same requirements of the children in public education.

  3. libby on March 15, 2008 9:40 pm

    Thanks for posting about this, Abby. I think this is a really big and complicated issue. I get what you mean about having the same requirements, the same rigour for homeschool students as schoolkids. But what about if part of the reason for homeschooling is that people disagree with the requirements of school?
    It seems like so many teachers I talk to are so constrained by what they are required to do, all the testing especially, and say that these requirements may actually detract from their actual teaching. (By the way, as a teacher, what do you think of No Child Left Behind in your classroom?)
    On a different note, it seems scary to me that the gov’mt could mandate that I teach my kids XYZ, and make me prove it to their satisfaction. (remember the USSR?)
    Conversely, some kids can really get shafted at home, with little parental involvement and way too much time on video games and cartoons. I don’t think that’s at all typical of homeschoolers, however. The particular instance I’m thinking of, I’m not sure would have been helped by any kind of requirements?
    I’ll stop here because I always leave too-long comments! I appreciate your thoughts!

  4. abby on March 15, 2008 11:04 pm

    Okay, in general I’m not a fan of No Child Left Behind. I think it was a good idea in principle but the way it’s carried out has a lot of flaws (one example being all the teachers getting panicked and “teaching to the test”). And it’s way to long to get into here. But maybe in a future blog post…

    Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal to say that kids need to learn certain things – I like state standards and benchmarks, as a teacher it gives me a really good long term guide for my students. But I think that I should be able to teach my students those certain things in whatever way reaches them (which I am able to do now, our curriculum is a starting point of ideas for me and my students) and that is one way that homeschooling can be beneficial – a parent can cater to their child’s learning style.

    I also think there needs to be some accountability for home school students (and I don’t know all the ins and outs of home school but I feel that that accountability is lacking at the moment).

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