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August 27, 2009

Should Homeschoolers Have to Take Standardized Tests?

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden

Homeschool.com News Editor

 

A recent Washington Post article highlights the work of author Robert Kunzman, an associate professor at the Indiana University School of Education. He has a new book out, “Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling.”

 

Kunzman followed six homeschooling families as they went about their normal, daily routines so he could observe and record why they were doing what they were doing.

 

I think most homeschoolers could read Kunzman’s book and appreciate his findings. However, I also think most homeschoolers would vehemently disagree with his idea that all homeschoolers should be tested for basic skills like math, and reading.

 

Kunzman seems to think that basic tests administered every two to three years would keep everybody happy. By “everybody” he means the public school educators who are growing increasingly worried as the rate of homeschooling in our country continues to grow. Apparently they view homeschoolers as ill-served and need to be reassured that parents know what they’re doing.

 

I do not believe in standardized testing. I once read on a message board where a guy said that if we do not believe in testing it is because we have something to hide. This comment irritated me. Maybe I don’t believe in testing because it is a pointless tool that does little to accurately reflect what a child has learned.

 

My children are reading chapter books so I know they can read. We discuss the books they read so I know they understand and are retaining what they read. There are all kinds of daily opportunities in which they can apply their knowledge of math. We do cooking projects that show me they understand fractions and conversion.

 

Standardized testing bothers me because I don’t get who it is that decides what the standard is. Who says all children should read by age 6 or that all kids should know multiplication by age 9? I really dislike the image of children on an assembly line who are being churned out like robots. Children are individuals and their education should reflect that.

 

HSLDA wrote an article in response to the Washington Post article. If you get a chance I suggest reading it. The author brings up some great points including the idea of “teaching to the test.” That is what schools do now. Once a state decides on a test then you must teach to the test. It is no longer about the natural process of learning for learning’s sake. It is no longer about allowing children to explore the world around them and follow their interests. You must pass the test and that becomes the focus.

 

The fact that homeschoolers don’t operate this way is why they excel in comparison to their public schooled peers. The freedom that comes with homeschooling and the ability to specifically tailor education to each child would be stripped away and homeschooling would be no better than the public school system.

 

Homeschoolers have nothing to hide. The majority of homeschoolers would test their public schooled counter parts right out of the water. There are even recent studies to support that. However, the bottom line comes down to this; it is none of the state’s business how we educate our children. Our children shouldn’t have to be subjected to standardized tests to prove a point.

 

Copyright 2009 Homeschool.com

August 26, 2009

Comedian Tackles Homeschooling Stereo-Types

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden

Homeschool.com News Editor

 

Today someone posted a link on the homeschooling boards that had me laughing. Comedian Tim Hawkins sings about the very funny stereo-types that plague homeschoolers. You can view the video here. While you’re over there, check out his other videos. They’re hilarious.

 

It turns out that Tim Hawkins is not only a comedian but a homeschooling dad. He resides in Missouri with his wife and 4 kids. He is a well-known for his brand of “clean” comedy.

 

He recently released new material, including a video poking fun at the government which can be seen by following the link above.

 

I’m grateful to whoever it was that posted the video on the boards today. This couldn’t have come at a better time. Sifting through pages of homeschooling legislation, reading discussion boards where anti-homeschoolers spew hatred, and dealing with the mind numbing stereo-types that refuse to die, can really take their toll.

 

It is a good feeling to sit back and laugh and not take it all so seriously.

 

If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to view his site. He has some great clips of his comedy, including a really great bit on aging rock stars.

 

Copyright 2009 Homeschool.com

August 24, 2009

Back to School a Blessing for Homeschoolers

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden

Homeschool.com News Editor

 

Yesterday marked the first day of school for many of the children in the Las Vegas area. I saw the school bus early in the morning and smiled. My three boys were still snoozing in their beds.

 

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed the mothers walking through the stores with their public school approved supply lists. I’ve heard complaints about the price of school clothes. I’ve also heard moms eagerly counting down the days, ready for summer to be over.

 

Through it all I’ve smiled to myself. Homeschoolers know something those parents don’t. Homeschooling is freedom. My boys have to get up in the morning but not before 7 and I often let them stay in bed until 7:30. There is no frenzied rush to get everyone out the door in the morning. Our mornings are laid back and relaxing.

 

I buy school supplies that I want to buy, when I want to buy them. The kids only need clothes when they outgrow the old ones and they don’t feel the pressure to have the latest, trendy threads. I can shop the clearance racks and the kids are happy.

 

Like those other moms I’m also eagerly counting down the days, ready for summer to be over. Not because I’m ready to ship my children off to be someone else’s responsibility but because it means fewer crowds at the national parks, restaurants, museums and all the other places we like to explore and learn together.

 

For many families the end of summer means “Back to School”. For us it simply means celebrating the arrival of fall and all that it brings. Our family doesn’t celebrate “Back to School”.

 

Copyright 2009 Homeschool.com

August 23, 2009

Family is Picture of Homeschooling Success

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden

Homeschool.com News Editor

 

Mona Lisa Harding describes her typical day as “organized chaos”. The homeschooling mother of 9 says the key to homeschooling a large brood is “they must learn to love to learn on their own.”

 

This philosophy seems to be working. So far, all the Harding children have begun college courses by the age of 12. The oldest, Hannah, is 21 and working toward her PhD in Material Science and Engineering. She was enrolled in college full-time and playing on the women’s soccer team by age 14. She earned her BS in mathematics by age 17 and her master’s at 19. Her goal is to work for NASA and go to Mars.

 

Rosannah Harding is just 20. By age 18 she had completed a five year architecture program at the California College of the Arts. She was married this May. Her husband is also an architect and they live in California.

 

At just 18 years of age the third Harding sister, Serennah, was recently commissioned as an ensign in the naval reserves. By age 11 Serennah knew she wanted to be a physician. She was in college full-time by the age of 12. At 17 she became one of Huntingdon College’s youngest graduates. She has completed a year of graduate school and has earned a Certificate of Graduate study in biomedical science. She recently began a four year Doctor of Osteopathy program. When the four years are up she will be an intern in the Navy. Her goal is to work with the underserved in Latin America.

 

The Harding’s oldest boy is just 13 and already a junior at Huntingdon College. He is scheduled to graduate at 15. His goal is to produce and direct films.

 

At age 11, Keith Harding is keeping up the family tradition. He recently finished high school and is now taking music classes at Faulkner University. His dream is to play violin professionally and to teach music at the university level.

 

The four remaining Harding children are still young enough that they are just beginning to dream about their futures. Seth is 8 and, like most boys his age, loves sports and video games. But even at the young age of 8 he is already starting to dream big. He is talking about being an “Imagineer” at Disney World.

 

Mona Lisa and husband, Kitchener, say they talk extensively with their children about their goals and dreams. No matter what those dreams may be, they take them seriously and guide their children. They show them what they can do right now to make those dreams a reality.

 

They do not believe in “busy work” and say that education in their home is very much child led. They cover the fundamentals and never skip Bible study but otherwise the children are free to focus on their own interests and those things that will matter to their future.

 

I have been greatly inspired by this family. These children are excelling, not because they are being pushed but because they are being nurtured and allowed to explore their own interests. No one is telling them what they must learn but they are guiding them as they decide what it is they want to learn.

 

Mona Lisa referred to public school education as “canned”. I agree with that label. It is a one-size-fits-all approach and not only does it not work, but it is completely unfair to our children. Learning is a natural, organic process and when children are allowed to grow in their own way, rather than being forced into a mold, they have no limitations. The Harding children are a wonderful example of this.

 

The Harding’s youngest children are 6 year old Katrinnah, 4 year old Mariannah, and 19 month old Lorennah. Mona Lisa also announced that they are expecting blessing number 10 in May. No doubt we will be hearing much more from the Harding family in the future.

 

To read more about the Harding’s you can check out their website.

 

Copyright 2009 Homeschool.com

August 18, 2009

Learning about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden

Homeschool.com News Editor

 

I’ve been lurking around on a couple of different homeschool boards and have noticed there has been zero discussion on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

I’ll admit that I’m still somewhat sketchy on what this will mean should the U.S. ratify it. But looking at other countries that have already ratified it, I do not get a warm and fuzzy feeling. Just look at how the treaty has already impacted homeschooling in Britain.

 

From my understanding there is much more than just homeschooling at risk should the U.S. ratify. Under this treaty, every parental rule could be challenged. Parents would basically lose all rights to make decisions for their own children.

 

Now there are those who say the critics are using scare tactics to create fear and that this treaty is not about taking away parental rights. If that is true, I still think there needs to be more interest and discussion among the parenting community. This affects all of us and we should be involved in what is going on.

 

Please check out Parentalrights.org. Learn more about this treaty, pass it on and discuss it.

 

Copyright 2009 Homeschool.com

August 17, 2009

Another Look at the Socialization Myth

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden

Homeschool.com News Editor

 

I know the socialization argument can grow tiresome. But it continues to pop up and every now and then I feel the need to address it.

 

I was browsing around some boards recently, reading conversations between homeschooling moms and a few moms who were homeschooling moms but, for whatever reason, have sent their kids off to public school.

 

One of the conversations that struck me was about expected behavior at public schools. I was alarmed to find out that in recent years it has become quite common among many schools to enforce a no talking policy during lunch. Children are expected to remain completely silent as they eat. When finished eating they put their heads on the table until dismissed.

 

In a past life I worked as a substitute teacher and lunchroom monitor. Even back then I felt the rules for lunchtime behavior were a bit harsh but they were nothing compared to what is apparently going on in public schools these days.

 

My question is, if this is really what is taking place in public schools then why am I admonished by naïve parents who feel my children are not getting enough socialization? It seems to me that public school kids are getting even less if they are required to remain silent during the optimum socializing period of the day.

 

Today was the first day of a week long space camp that my boys are attending. As we stood in the hall waiting for their class to start I noticed the wide age range of children participating. I also noticed how the kids were clustered in various groups, talking. They were not clustered by age. I marveled at how comfortable these homeschoolers are socializing with kids of all ages. They don’t instantly break off in groups by age.

 

I noticed this phenomenon last summer when we attended a week long day camp with a large group of homeschoolers. The tweens didn’t instantly run off and congregate together. The boys didn’t instantly separate themselves from the girls. All of the kids just mixed. Age, grade, and gender didn’t seem to matter at all. All of the kids were completely comfortable with the toddlers running around too.

 

I see that as much more beneficial, in terms of socializing, than grouping children by age and forcing them to spend their day in silence.

 

Copyright 2009 Homeschool.com

August 16, 2009

Man Runs 500 Miles in Chains to Spread Awareness

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden

Homeschool.com News Editor

 

Gathering up the family and taking them on a tour to see famous landmarks might sound like a fun, educational way to spend the summer. But what if you were bound in chains, running 20 miles a day as part of the deal?

 

While browsing around, I found this incredible family. Eric and Rebecca Proffitt are homeschooling parents from Canada. Earlier this month, the family began a journey at the Lincoln Memorial.

 

The purpose of their journey is to bring attention to the issue of human trafficking. Eric, a singer-songwriter, runs 20 miles a day with chains on his hands, feet and torso. Rebecca and their five daughters follow Eric in their van.

 

After running the “Freedom Trail” in the U.S. the family will go to Britain to further spread their message. Supporters are invited to run with Eric. After a day of running, Eric speaks at events and sings songs all in an effort to educate people on the issue of slave trade that still exists in every major city in the world.

 

These are uncomfortable statistics that no one wants to think about. 80% of people living in slavery are involved in sexual slavery. Of that group, 60% are children.

 

Running 20 miles under the hot, summer sun is bad enough. But to add heavy chains that rub against your skin? Yikes! This shows some serious commitment. There is no doubt that Eric Proffitt is serious about spreading awareness of the human trafficking. He and wife Rebecca sold their home and used all the money to begin this journey. The goal is to help create a culture that will not allow this to happen by making the issue more mainstream and getting the public more involved.

 

When all is said and done, Eric will have run 500 miles on his journey to carry his message.

 

If you have a chance I encourage you to head over to Eric’s website and take a look around. You can read his blog, view his route and learn more about this cause. Then pass it on.

 

Copyright 2009 Homeschool.com

August 13, 2009

Share News of Events in Your Area

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden

Homeschool.com News Editor

 

Next week marks an exciting time for Las Vegas homeschoolers. The 150 students, who were lucky enough to sign up in time, will attend space camp. They are bringing someone in from NASA to lead the week long event.

My boys will be attending and cannot wait to learn more about the International Space Station, space shuttles and astronauts. The highlight of the week is a shuttle build.

I know there are exciting events like this happening in homeschooling communities all over. I’d like to hear from our readers about events happening in their local areas. Maybe your local homeschool group is hosting a “Back to School” party. Maybe your kids are attending an interesting educational event. It can be anything.

I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your story.

Copyright 2009 Homeschool.com

August 11, 2009

Study Shows Homeschoolers Excel

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden

Homeschool.com News Editor

 

The results of a recent study have been published and they’ve confirmed what we’ve already known, homeschoolers excel academically.

The last major research looking at homeschool academic achievement was done in 1998. That study showed that homeschoolers scored about 30 percentile points higher on average, compared to their public schooled peers on standardized tests.

The recent study was collected from data from the 2007-08 school year. Not only did it show that homeschoolers are doing well academically by scoring 37 percentile points higher than public schooled peers, but it showed that things like gender and household income had little impact on the results.

It showed that having a parent who is a certified teacher had no impact on performance. The amount parents spent toward homeschooling had little impact. Government regulation did not affect results either. I find these results fascinating and encouraging.

Critics are finding themselves armed with fewer and fewer arguments to throw at those who homeschool.

To get a closer look at the results and to read more about the study check out this link.

Copyright 2009 Homeschool.com

August 10, 2009

Annual Meteor Shower Offers Fun Learning Opportunity

Filed under: Daily News — dailynews @ 9:00 pm

by Amy Tjaden

Homeschool.com News Editor

 

If you’re looking for a fun, education activity to engage the kids, just look up.

August 11th and 12th mark the best nights to witness the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. If you can get away from city lights then you may be in for a treat. Stargazers may be able to see one to two meteors per minute. Astronomers are predicting an enhanced shower on Wednesday morning between 2 and 3a.m.

The Perseid shower, named so because it appears to generate from the constellation Perseus, is one of the fastest moving. Meteors are actually tiny bits of rock that burn up in the earth’s atmosphere. That is about the extent of my knowledge on meteors. But I’m going to use the opportunity to explore this topic with the kids.

I’m sure I can get them excited about the topic, especially when I tell them we’ll be hanging outside at night while lounging in lawn chairs or across a blanket and eating popcorn.

Here are some great links to further your knowledge (and mine) of meteors.

Top 10 Perseid Meteor Facts

Glossary of Meteor Terms

Check out the Homeschool Freebie of the Day from wholesomechildhood.com for additional links and resources.

Have fun!

Copyright 2009 Homeschool.com

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