Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

The Parent Trigger? Parents of children in failing schools are no longer “waiting for superman”

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Saturday, The Wall Street Journal had an op-ed piece by David Feith on “The Radical School Reform Law You’ve Never Heard Of.”  Apparently, some parents of children in failing schools in Califronia are no longer waiting for superman but, in fact, have become superman.  Perhaps a more apt image would be Dirty Harry in that these parents advocate “pulling the trigger” on failing schools.  In Los Angeles, where a high school student has only a 50% chance of graduating and a 10% chance of going to college, it is hardly surprising that an activist group called Parent Revolution is demanding reform.  If 51% of parents sign a petition, they can force administrative changes, invite a charter school to take over the school or shut it down.  Amazing . . .

Thousands of parents have already pulled the “parent trigger” by opting out of the public education system to homeschool.  At homeschool fairs, I’ve met hundreds of parents who in order to “save” their children had to withdraw them from the public schools.  Some are parents of special needs children whose needs were not attended to, some are African-American parents who do not want their children particularly their sons “socialized” by their public school peers and others are parents who are fed up with the bureaucracy.

Go to a homeschool curriculum fair and you will be surprised by children who are genuinely interested in learning and unfailingly polite to adults.  Is it because these children spend more time with adults or because their teacher-parent devotes one-on-one quality time with them?  A homeschool parent knows if his or her child is falling behind in math or reading or acting out in class and can remedy the situation.  We need to replicate the homeschool experience by having classes with fewer students and weeding out those who are hell-bent on not learning and thus keeping others from learning and making a teacher’s life impossible.  Another benefit:  homeschooling gives families great flexibility in scheduling extracurricular activities such as sports or music lessons, visiting museums or taking family vacations. 

The assumption is that homeschool families are typically middle-class and can afford to homeschool.  That is not the case.  Many families struggle to get by and still homeschool.  They feel the material sacrifice is well worth it.  I doubt that in their home, their children have a “50% chance of not graduating from high school and a 10% chance of attending college” as David Feith states is the case for the average student in Los Angeles.

I applaud the parents of the Parent Revolution.  It is time the public school system made our day by being accountable and putting the needs of children ahead of their own.

To read the article, go to:…/SB10001424052748704462704575609781273579228.html

Tips on Teaching Your Child Vocabulary

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

I’ve been tutoring a sixth grade student in math.  Last week, he asked for help with a list of vocabulary words  for his English class.

For vocabulary lists, it is easier to remember words when you classify them by parts of speech.  I divided a legal pad in three columns, a column each for adjectives, nouns and verbs.  We took each word and put it in the proper column.  Sometimes a word was both a noun and a verb such as signal or a verb and an adjective such as lavish.       

We combined these words  into sentences, trying to use as many words from the list in one sentence.  Then we  “personalized” the words by using them in a familiar context such as:  “The liquid ambers in the garden look luminous.”  It’s spring and with the sun shining on the leaves, the trees indeed looked luminous, full of light.   

It was also helpful to find out about the origin of the word, the root word.  Luminous comes from lum , meaning light.  Other words in this family are:  luster, illuminate, and translucent

I recommend parents have on hand Instant Vocabulary by Ida Ehrlich.  Did you know secretary literally means “one entrusted with secrets”?   Secret means “a thing apart, hidden.”  The root SE means “apart, aside, without.”   Other words in this family are seclude, secure (to set aside carefully, to protect), secede,  sequestration, select, segregate and separate.  See how much easier it is to “decode” the meaning when you know the root word?

As a parent you are your child’s teacher, a hometeacher.  Always be learning.  Share what you learn with your children.  Communicate to them your passion for learning. Remember you are your child’s first and primary teacher.  Education starts at home.

Myths about Homeschooling

Friday, March 19th, 2010

When I published my workbook in 2006, I went on homeschool sites, offering a free copy to any mom who wanted one.  I ended up giving 800+ copies to homeschool families around the country. Not only did I want their input but I knew if they liked my book, they would recommend it to others. 

Four years later, I’ve sold 9,000+ copies!  Having given out 800+ copies, I received emails, some extremely poignant, from moms all over the country who wrote to me about their children. What have I learned from homeschool moms?  That the following myths are not true:

Everyone who homeschools does so for religious reasons.  Not true.  Although many families do homeschool to promote their religious and moral values, there are secular homeschoolers.

Everyone who homeschools does so by choice.  Not true.  I’ve received any number of emails from moms, particularly from moms of special needs children, who tell me they had no option but to take their child out of school because the school was not addressing their child’s needs.  Some children had been severely misdiagnosed; others, horribly bullied or ignored by teachers.  Some mothers gave up the struggle and brought their child home.

Homeschool families homeschool all their children.  Not true.  As in the situation described above, a family may choose to homeschool a special needs child and leave other children in the classroom.

Homeschool families are white and middle class.  Not true.  I’ve heard from many African-American families who tell me they homeschool because they do not want their children, particularly their sons, to be “socialized” by underachieving peers. Not only do homeschool families represent all races and religions but social economic groups. As families depend on only one wage provider, some families  make great financial sacrifices to homeschool.  Budgets are often tight. 

Homeschooled children will not develop social skills.  Not true.  Homeschool children often have numerous siblings.  Their school is like the one-room schoolhouse frontier families attended.  Also through soccer teams, sports, music lessons and the like, there are numerous opportunities for children to socialize with others.

Homeschooled children may thrive in the elementary years but will suffer in the high school years because what parent could teach all those subjects?  Again not true.  I’ve found that in the high school years, moms find other homeschool moms proffcient in the subject, hire tutors or enroll a child in a community college class.  These children often take AP classes.

Universities frown upon homeschooled children.  Not true.  Universities like diversity in their student body.  Homeschooled children offer that.  Not only do they tend to be more self-directed and inquisitive but also well read.  Many have had opportunties for travel or have lived abroad.

Homeschooling families have rigid structures.  Not true.  Homeschooling gives families enourmous flexibility in scheduling.  Music lessons?  Why not in the morning when teachers are more readily available?  Five-day a week classes?  Why not four days and the fifth one spent at a museum or historical site?  Dad flying to New York on business?  Why not have the family go along and visit the Natural Science Museum and all the fascinating places the city has to offer?   Studying American History?  Why not a sidetrip to Washington D.C.?  There is great opportunity to make the world the virtual classroom.

Thank you to all the homeschool moms who shared their stories with me.