Archive for the ‘The Joy of Home School’ Tag

Children need more parental warmth and less institutionalization   1 comment

A friend forwarded the article below to me.  I have to repost the whole thing– there’s not a sentence I can leave out.  The authors, Raymond and Dorothy Moore, point out that parental time and warmth –and less child-institutionalization– benefits children in significant ways.  This method creates the success that eludes the institutions who attempt to force ever more government styled schooling upon ever-younger members of society.

This article validates what I see every day at home.  But before you read the Moore article, I want to explain why it means so much to me.

This is our first year doing homeschool and we’re thriving.  My fourth grader liked his public school teacher and the children in his class, but he so disliked being institutionalized.

He disliked the one-size-fits-all approach to computers, to math, to art, to most things.  He disliked the repetitious “sell-stuff” and “anti-bully” assemblies.  He disliked having so little time at home.  But he didn’t know how to articulate these things fully. He said that he was bored.

Now homeschooling my nine year old (and two year old) we have learned so much together.  (No matter how many degrees any adult has, there are so many knowledge gaps.  There is so much to learn or re-learn while teaching– in geography, biography, science, literature, history.)

We do a lot of out-loud reading.  And he reads alone plenty, too.

This year he has read books I couldn’t have imagined he was capable of comprehending and enjoying at age nine:  Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Twain’s Tom Sawyer, for example.  We’re starting Dickens’ Great Expectations this week.  Did I mention that he’s a fourth grader?

He was not previously a stand out academic at the top of his school class; yet now he’s far ahead of his age group.  Why?

His curriculum is so far beyond what the governments hope for: to  churn out worker bees –or “human capital.”

His curriculum’s limitless; it’s customized to his abilities, interests, faith  and curiosity;  he gets to independently explore; he gets to bask in the love of his family every day.  Who wouldn’t thrive?

He has come to the end of the 5th/6th grade Saxon math book (the old, trustworthy, pre-common core text) already; he has read U.S. History and world geography, learned about the elements, electricity and astronomy; studied the life of Joseph of Egypt, short stories and  Fairy Tales.  He has written Haiku, Limericks, fiction, a 500-word essay (for a contest) and all kinds of codes.

I give him a lot of freedom.  I rarely force anything because I want him to love learning and love life. I don’t impose things unless I feel very strongly about them, and then I do it in small amounts:  some cursive, some grammar, some sentence diagramming, some multiplication drills, all Swedish conversing all day (until my husband comes home).

On his own, he has studied volcanoes, cars, optical illusions, magic tricks, dinosaurs and inventions.  The things my nine year old loves, we do much more of:  math, talking, reading, and field trips.

Other things we minimize.  For example, although I wanted him to learn a lot of music (piano) he’s not that interested, so we only do a little.   I wanted him to do calligraphy, but he’s not that interested, so he draws.  I want him to do more reading in Swedish, but he only wants to do a little.  (He does speak Swedish with me, but doesn’t want to read much in Swedish.)

I let him take time to live life, to sit on a swing, to visit new places, see animals, play with his baby brother or his cars, his legos –or waste time in the bathtub long after his hair’s been washed, if there are experiments with bubbles or food coloring or squirt guns or thinking that he wants to do.  One day he spent hours making Valentine’s Day decorations; another day he spent hours organizing his drawers and his room.  We plant things and make things and I let him sit and think.

And the two year old?  Well, I don’t believe in “schooling” two year olds, but I do read to my two year old almost every time he wants to, and I speak only Swedish to him and ask him questions all day.  He shouts: “MAFF!” (math) and grabs a pencil and does his hieroglyphics in his way while the nine year old does his Saxon math lesson.  The two year old loves to point out letters of the alphabet everywhere we go.   And when the two year old interrupts the nine year old’s lesson one too many times, we don’t call for a babysitter.  We just go outside or take an early lunch or put on his favorite Swedish YouTube video, or move the lesson into the hallway, so we can distract the two year old with toys from another room.

I give this as an introduction to why I appreciate the article below so much.  It rings so true to me now.  I would not fully have appreciated it a year ago.

This article is enlightening for everyone, whether you choose to homeschool or not.  It shows a parent what a child really needs to thrive.

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When Education Becomes Abuse:

A Different Look at the Mental Health of Children

By Raymond S. Moore, Dorothy Moore

Reposted from http://www.moorefoundation.com/article/48/about-moore-home-schooling/moore-foundation/articles/when-education-becomes-abuse

“We need more parent education and less institutionalizing of young children.”

In Acres of Diamonds, Russell Conwell’s most famous Chautauqua story, Al Hafed sold his farm to finance his quest for a legendary diamond mine. He searched the world over until his fortune was gone. He died penniless, unaware that a vast diamond deposit had been discovered in the river sands which snaked through his own backyard, now the famed Golconda Diamond Mines.

America’s quest for excellence—for healthy, self directed, student minds—very well could have the same ending.

From the White House to the humblest home, Americans are groping for answers to declines in literacy, ethics, and general behavior which threatens our nation. Apparently, few have noticed the close relationship between the achievement, behavior and sociability we prefer, and the lifestyles that we impose on our children daily which may amount to our most pervasive form of child abuse. For example, a surprising ignorance or indifference exists to peer dependency, a mental health nemesis that is rampant even in preschools.

Instead of studying how best to meet their needs, we often put our “little ones” out of the home, away from environments that best produce outgoing, healthy, happy, creative children. In a federally-sponsored analysis of more than 8,000 early childhood studies, Moore Foundation concluded that the United States is rushing its little ones out of the home and into school long before most, particularly boys, are ready. [1] The effect on mental and emotional health is deeply disturbing. Dropout rates also are mute testimony, though in some cases, the dropout, like Thomas Edison, is more fortunate than those who stay.

From Piagetian specialist David Elkind in Boston to William Rohwer in Berkeley, Calif., top learning and development authorities warn that early formal school is burning out our children. Teachers who attempt to cope with these youngsters also are burning out. The learning tools of the average child who enrolls today between the ages of four and six or seven are neither tempered nor sharp enough for the structured academic tasks that increasingly are thrown at them. Worse still, we destroy positive sociability.

The sequence for the average child these days often spells disaster for both mental and physical health in a sure sequence:1) uncertainly as the child leaves the family nest early for a less secure environment, 2) puzzlement at the new pressures and restrictions of the classroom, 3) frustration because unready learning tools — senses, cognition, brain hemispheres, coordination — cannot handle the regimentation of formal lessons and the pressures they bring, 4) hyperactivity growing out of nerves and jitter, from frustration, 5) failure which quite naturally flows from the four experiences above, and 6) delinquency which is failure’s twin and apparently for the same reason.

RESEARCH

Indifference to the mental and emotional health of children is not new. The pages of history outline great cycles that began with vigorous cultures awaking to the needs of children and ending with surrender of family ties and the death of societies and empires.

Research provides a link from past to present and provides a moving perspective on children today. Persuasive reasons exist for declining literacy, academic failures, widespread delinquency, and rampant peer dependency. All four act in concert to deny our goal of happy, confident children who are healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

Whether or not we can be conclusive about causes, America’s decline in literacy from the estimated 90 percentiles in the last century to the 50 percentiles today parallels the parental scramble to institutionalize children at ever younger ages. [2]

Achievement

The Moore Foundation analyses [1] concluded that, where possible, children should be withheld from formal schooling until at least ages eight – ten. Elkind [3] warned against student burnout which has become pervasive in American schools. Rohwer [4] agreed, basing his conclusions in part on investigations in 12 countries by Sweden’s Torsten Husen. Husen subsequently confirmed Rohwer’s perceptions, according to a letter from Husen, Nov. 23, 1972. Rohwer, with deep concern for conceptual demands of reading and arithmetic, offered a solution:

“All of the learning necessary for success in high school can be accomplished in only two or three years of formal skill study. Delaying mandatory instruction in the basic skills until the junior high school years could mean academic success for millions of school children who are doomed to failure under the traditional school system.”

Torsten Husen: Conversations in Comparative Education

This solution would delay school entrance at least until the child is 11 or 12, ages which become critical.

In face of present practice, how can these remarks be justified, bearing in mind that the present and future health of the child is at stake? First, children normally are not mature enough for formal school programs until their senses, coordination, neurological development, and cognition are ready. Piagetian experiments have shown repeatedly that cognitive maturity may not come until close to age 12.

Interestingly, the ancient Bar Mitzvah of the Orthodox Jew provided no schooling until after age 12 when the child was considered able to accept full responsibility for his actions. Fisher, then considered dean of American psychiatrists, wrote in 1950 how he started school at 13, unable to read or write. Graduating from a Boston high school at 16, he thought he was a genius until he found that any “normal” child could do it. He added, “if a child could be assured of a wholesome home life and proper physical development, this might provide the answer to … a shortage of qualified teachers.” [5]

Nearly a century ago, Dewey [6] called for school entry at age eight or later. A half century ago, Skeels [7] proved that loving, though retarded, teenagers made remarkably good teachers.  A quarter century ago, Geber [8] demonstrated that mothers in the African bush brought up children who were more socially and mentally alert than youngsters of the elite who could afford preschool. Warmth was the key.

Still later, Mermelstein and others [9] proved that, at least until ages nine or ten, children who went to school did no better than those who did not attend school. De Rebello (unpublished data, January 1985) reported that dropouts who find employment are ahead of their peers in mental and social perception.

Few conventional educators understand this situation. We do not understand fully the damage of frustration nor denial of free exploration, nor the value of warmth as a learning motivator, nor yet the tutorial method which historically never has been equaled.

A UCLA study [10] of 1,016 public schools found that teachers averaged about seven minutes daily in personal exchanges with their students. This would allow for no more than one or two personal responses for each student. In contrast, our counts of daily responses in typical home schools ranged from about 100 to more than 300.

We should not be shocked then by the Smithsonian Report [11] on genius which offered a three -part recipe for high achievement, consisting of 1) much time spent with warm, responsive parents and other adults, 2) very little time spent with peers, and 3) a great deal of free exploration under parental guidance.

Study director Harold McCurdy concluded:

“the mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on reducing … all three factors to a minimum; accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurrence of genius.” [11]

At the Moore Foundation we recently obtained the court-approved standardized test scores of children whose mothers or fathers were arrested for teaching at home. Most parents were of low socio-economic status with less formal education than usual, yet , the children averaged 80.1%, or 30 percentile ranks higher than the nation’s average classroom child.

Very young children do indeed learn very fast, as is commonly believed, yet only in proportion to their maturity.

The child who combines cognitive maturity with eight – ten years more of free exploration has developed thousands of “learning hooks” and an ability to reason consistently which is impossible for the younger child. Without this maturity, and confined to a classroom, the child often becomes anxious, frustrated, and eventually learning disabled.

Sociability

The common assumption these days is that well – socialized children require the association schools afford. Replicable evidence clearly points the other way. Cornell studies [12] found that children who spend more elective time with their peers than with their parents until the fifth or sixth grades — about ages 11 or 12 — will become peer dependent. Such “knuckling under” to peer values incurs four losses crucial to sound mental health and a positive sociability. These losses are self worth, optimism, respect for parents, and trust in peers.

The loss to boys is of particular concern academically, behaviorally, and socially. Despite their widely-acknowledged delay in maturity, we demand their enrollment in school at the same ages as girls. In recent years, many reports suggest that boys are several times as likely as girls to fail, become delinquent, or acutely hyperactive. Perhaps most ominous are recent (Education Week, March 14, 1984, p. 19) findings in American high schools that there are eight boys for each girl in classes for the emotionally impaired, and 13 boys for each girl are in remedial learning groups. Self worth, male identity, and respect for women are lost—unfortunate outcomes especially in today’s society.

A COMMON SENSE SOLUTION

We need more parent education and less institutionalizing of young children.

In the home school renaissance, hundreds of thousands of parents have re-evaluated their child-rearing roles and have begun to study warmly their children’s developmental needs. The result is higher achieving, better behaving, self-directed children.

Some demur, pointing to Head Start. Yet, the Ypsilanti study, the only long -range experiment consistently upholding Head Start, involves the home far more than typical programs. Even such key Head Start founders as Bloom and Nimnicht now laud the home as the best learning nest and parents as the best teachers. [13,14] In physical health and behavior — in exposure to disease (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 5, 1984) and to negative aggressive acts — the home is 15 times as safe as the average day care center.[15]

Several suggestions can help us improve the mental and emotional health of our children:

1) More of home and less of formal school;

2) More free exploration with the guidance of warm, responsive parents and fewer limits of classrooms and books;

3) More concern for readiness for learning and ability to think and less training to be simple repeaters;

4) More attention to educating parents and less to institutionalizing young children;

5) More and higher priorities to child-rearing and fewer to material wants; and

6) More old fashion chores —children working with parents—and less attention to rivalry sports and amusements.

To some educators and parents such ideas may appear prosaic or dull—like the backyard Al Hafed left. Yet, everyone likes diamonds, and that backyard can be an exciting place.

Anything else may be more child abuse than education.

References

1. Moore RS: School Can Wait. Provo, Utah, Brigham Young University Press, 1979, pp 175-186

2. The Adult Performance Level Project (APL). Austin, Texas, University of Texas, 1983

3. Elkind D: The case for the academic preschool: Fact or fiction: Young Child 1970; 25:180-188.

4. Rohwer WD Jr.: Prime time for education: Early childhood or adolescence? Harvard Education Rev 1971;41:316-341

5. Fisher JT, Hawley LSH: A Few Buttons Missing. Philadelphia JB Lippincott, 1951, p 14.

6. Dewey J: The primary education fetish. Forum 1898; 25:314-328

7. Skeels HM: Adult Status of Children with Contrasting Early Life Experiences: A follow-up study. Chicago, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1966.

8. Geber M: The psycho-motor development of African children in the first year, and the influence of maternal behavior. J Soc Psychol 1958;47: 185-195

9. Mermelstein E, Shulman LS: Lack of formal schooling and the acquisition of conversation. Child Dev 1967;38:39-52

10. Goodlad JI: A study of schooling: Some findings and hypotheses. Phi Delta Kappan 1983;64(7):465

11. McCurdy HG: The childhood pattern of genius. Horizon 1960;2:33-38

12. Bronfenbrenner U: Two Worlds of Childhood; US and USSR. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1970,pp97-101.

13. Bloom BS: All Our Children Learning. Wash. DC, McGraw-Hill, 1980

14. Hoffman BH: Do you know how to play with your child? Women’s Day 1972;46:118-120.

15. Farran D: Now for the bad news….Parents Magazine 1982 (Sept.)

Journal of School Health February 1986, Vol. 56, No. 2 73

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Thank you, Raymond and Dorothy Moore.

Dare to Home School   7 comments

 Dare to Home School

Education is the continuation of God’s creation of a human life.

This idea comes from author and scholar Dr. Neil Flinders. Think about it: the instant the baby leaves the womb  –and even before leaving the womb–  he/she is beginning to learn. He gains knowledge from us as parents, from the beginning– language skills, the ability to eat, to feel love, to hear music and to absorb all our “norms”.

Why do so many parents feel pain when they send their five-year-olds to kindergarten– and cry?

They are giving away the child.  For most of the day, for the rest of their lives, that child belongs to the school system, not to the parent.  It often feels like the wrong thing to be doing. And maybe it is.

When I mention that I’m home schooling my fourth grader, I often get this response: “Oh, I wish I could do that. I don’t dare. I am not ____ enough.”   (adjectives vary– organized, smart, brave, educated, confident, etc.)

It is sad that there are parents out there who long to spend more time with their own children, who would be experiencing the academic miracles and family joys that home school parents see, but something holds them back.

So I’m writing today to the parents who are almost ready to home school their children.  I encourage you to jump in. Those who want to home school, but don’t do it, usually state either: 1) I don’t know what I would teach, or 2) My child needs peers for social development:

1. I don’t know what I would teach/ I am not educated enough to teach.

There is a misperception that “real” teachers have fairy dust or all-powerful diplomas that make them fundamentally different from you. But every parent, like every child, has got a combination of gifts and weaknesses.

The teaching diploma is Dumbo’s feather. (Remember the story? Dumbo did not really need the feather to fly; it made him think he could fly but he already had that ability without it.)

I know this because I learned next to nothing of actual value in my CSUSB teaching program. The valuable stuff came from mentors and from personal experience.

And, guess what? Even though I am a credentialed teacher and have taught third grade, high school and college for years and years and years, still, when it came time to make the choice whether to home school or not, I froze.

I felt a heavy responsibility to make sure my son received the very best education I could possibly acquire for him. Could I do it without authority figures and lists of rules and tests and bureaucratic ideals to follow? Seriously! I was nervous.

That heavy responsibility is on us whether we choose to home school or not.

The responsibility for what a child learns and becomes is not the government’s or the school system’s. It’s ours as parents, and always has been.

There are so many curricula, programs, textbook series, online ideas and sets of standards that your problem won’t be: “what will I teach?” It will be “what must I leave out” because there is so much you can do.

Just start researching what other successful home school parents do. Then make up your own mind which method sounds the very, very best– to you. You are in charge and you know your child better than anyone on the earth.

So trust your judgment as you would have trusted a favorite principal or mentor in the past.

Studies show that even home schooling parents with low levels of education wind up with children that are better educated than children who attend public schools.   See:  http://www.mireja.org/articles.lasso

I can see why. Home school works more like the brain works. A child studies a topic, thinks about it, gets questions, and goes to find answers for those questions almost immediately. You don’t have to wait for the whole class to get to the topic. Curiosity stays fresh. Students learn more quickly and more specifically to how the mind works.  And if a child especially loves art, math, physics or sewing, he/she may advance in that area much more than he or she could in most one-size-fits-all public systems.

If there’s a subject you fear teaching, GET OVER IT.  Those oft-hated subjects, of math, history or science are only hard when you have had boring teachers in your past. There’s a spoonful of sugar element most math-haters or history-haters or other subject-haters, have never seen.

When people say “I’m not a math person,” or some similar comment, to me, it’s like saying, “I don’t speak French.” That’s nothing but exposure, baby. You can enjoy any subject with love, patience and determination.

I am teaching traditional Saxon math  to my son right now, who went from 4th to 6th grade math ability in five months’ time by homeschooling.  I also teach him the same things I taught my remedial college writing classes– parts of speech, diagramming sentences, using commas properly, writing complex sentences, using more interesting and rich vocabulary, and HAVING FUN by writing about interesting things.  His writing skills did the same thing that his math skills have done– soared.

He was not a strong writer last autumn.  But last week, he volunteered to write and submit a 500 word essay to a local political essay contest on a very hard topic.  No kidding.  He did it on his own.  And it was good.

No matter what else we do on any given day– and it varies widely; some days we’re swimming and diving at the pool; some days we’re picnicking at the park; some days we are a museum or a grandparent’s house or a quilting bee or touring the local university– but we never skip the Saxon math lesson or the essay writing. 

Now, essay writing might mean writing a poem, or creating a powerpoint on the computer with sentences under each photo, or writing a letter to Santa or to a grandparent; it might mean writing a fictional story.  It might mean writing about the first five presidents of the United States after we’ve studied them in our history lesson. It varies, but we never skip the writing, nor the math. That’s my way.  But you’ll have your own.

I make sure to add in the things that Common Core is deleting from public education:

  1. Cursive– every day, my son writes a verse from the scriptures in cursive, and on many days, I have him write his whole essay in cursive.  Because it’s beautiful.
  2. Traditional math– as I’ve said before, I do not like the common core “constructivist” math programs and most textbooks are aligning now to common core.  I purchase old, pre-common core text books from Saxon (there are other traditional programs, too).
  3. Classic literature – the only place “informational text” is read in my home school is when we are studying subjects other than English, such as history, science, math, geography, and now, journalism.  When we choose reading materials, we choose actual literature: Tom Sawyer, The Hobbit, Swedish Fairy Tales, Great Expectations, etc. The vocabulary’s so rich; the imagery and metaphors and good versus evil concepts and life-lessons are no where else in such abundance as they are to be found in classic literature.  Kids need it.

2. My child needs to be surrounded by his or her peers for social development.

The second concern parents usually raise is that their child needs socialization and that’s only available in public school.  Really?

With sports teams, scouting, church activities, neighborhood friends, cousins, siblings, parents, field trips, and other, outside-our-home, homeschooling events, I never feel that my homeschooler is socially deprived.

In fact, the opposite is true. He now receives more one-on-one teaching time and talking time with me than he did when he attended public school. Even when I’m not teaching, I’m teaching. He’s conversing with an adult much of the day, and that is educational. He’s not just told to be quiet and listen and occasionally to raise his hand. He talks with me all day long. And we go out of our way to make sure he gets peer play time, as well.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, he mentioned that one of his favorite traditions in public school was decorating a box to receive valentines in. So we made creative boxes for each member of our family and displayed them on the piano. We are putting cards and candies in them all month long. And mailing valentines to cousins, missionaries and others, just for fun. There are very few positive public school activities that cannot be recreated in home school. And many useless ones that can be skipped.

Additionally, there are other home school families either in your neighborhood or online that you can connect with.

Last week, four homeschool families in my neighborhood got together for a “snow day.” The children went sledding while the parents had a teachers’ conference. One mother who had only been home schooling for a few weeks was so excited that she brought all her history curriculum and her children’s binders and was showing us what they’re doing. The children love it so much that when they have free reading time, they are still reading their history books.

Home schooling is hard work; yes, but it absolutely works –and it is so much fun.

One of the most wonderful things about home school is that I get to teach my child faith in God, something government schools are forbidden to do. And I do.  The teaching of all subjects under the umbrella of “God is real and God is love” makes a huge difference in the approach we take to any subject.

I will close with one fine example.  It’s a video I showed my son as part of our science curriculum this week, that features a renowned scientist, Dr. Lewis, a NASA advisor, explaining his beautiful faith in God and how he combines science with faith.

Enjoy.    http://youtu.be/JR8qIrJcJh4

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