All posts filed under: Homeschooling

The Math Problem

The Math Problem

The Problem Despite homeschool studies’ *ahem* diverse sampling methods and questionable validity, one trend has nonetheless emerged: compared to their regularly-schooled peers, homeschool students are weaker in math. The Coalition for Responsible Home Education has a brilliant article on this, complete with citations and graphs (check it out!). Why is this the case? Potential Variables In short: more research is needed. Studies’ sampling methods, ease of humanities vs. STEM education, cultural focus on humanities over STEM, resource access, resource use, and more initial homeschooler interest in humanities vs. mathematics all potentially contribute to homeschoolers’ limited math skills. It is also notoriously difficult to learn and teach. These limitations, echoed in America’s 38th place in mathematics, expand when math-adverse parents are tasked with teaching their student concepts they themselves don’t understand. And, unlike their regularly-schooled peers, homeschoolers have the unique opportunity to avoid mathematics in favor of other subjects. This likely influences the disparity; the most math-adverse public school student would be exposed to mathematical concepts 5 days a week for nearly a decade, the most …

Kitchen Science

Kitchen Science (and Other Ways to Close the Science Gap)

There are few things more daunting than dissecting a frog on the kitchen table—except physics. Should Science be left to the professionals? The answer, patently, should be no. The first scientists weren’t professionals; they were often hobbyists and magicians (hence “electrician”). High school laboratories are less well-stocked than you think. Nonetheless, multiple studies have indicated homeschoolers’ tendency to be less engaged in math and science. How do we fix that? This article is two parts: Everyday Science, covering components of science and creating a solid science base, and High School, covering duel-enrollment and AP’s. Everyday Science There are at least three parts of Science: science as a Process, science as a Language, and Facts found via the scientific process. For example, the process of dropping different weights off of a building to measure momentum, measuring it via stopwatch or pressure gauge, recording it, and repeating everything is an example of the scientific process; you can use this to answer any question. The measure of momentum, the concepts of velocity and mass, their symbols, and how …

How am I stacking up?

How am I stacking up?

Our greatest fear when homeschooling was that we weren’t stacking up. Was our unorthodox tire swing physics comparable to 30 hours a week of dedicated, professionally-supervised studying? What of Ivy-League boarding school funnels? Potential magnet opportunities? Missed social connections? Am I stacking up? In attempting to do everything to help my child, am I hurting them? Am I condemning them to obsolescence in the face of their properly-schooled peers? The Statistics In 2012, Kathi Moreau, a Masters student at Northern Michigan University, wrote a somewhat comprehensive review of homeschooling history and success. Her Abstract partially reads: “…the level of success for homeschoolers is a good argument for this type of education.” One of her sources is a 2007 study that tested 185 former homeschoolers on self-esteem and found no difference versus their regularly-schooled peers and that the homeschooled students were less likely to have depression. The study’s authors concluded that neither result supported parents’ socialization worries. These results are echoed in other literature. Homeschoolers perform 15-30 percentile points higher on state standardized tests than their …

Do we have (real) lives?

Do we have (real) lives?

You continually hear that school is said to combat isolation, provide socialization, and connections. It was always the third question my sister and I were asked— “What about socialization?” Or some other equally awkwardly worded question of whether or not we had friends. And it got us wondering: do we have (real) lives? Do any of us? You don’t have to be homeschooled to be isolated. There are an unfortunate number of publicly-schooled shooters and an equally nauseating number of isolated, normally-schooled children who have taken their own lives. In fact, a desire to remove your children from this isolating atmosphere is a frequently cited factor in parents’ choice to homeschool (source). Given the innately paradoxical schooling structure, the state-mandated 6-8 hours of mandatory peer-to-peer contact sometimes seems a schools’ primary—if not only—benefit. After all, aren’t your friends some of your best memories of school? Aren’t homeschoolers missing out? What do the statistics actually say? Is it scientifically advisable to abate your socialization concerns by dropping your children off on a veritable concrete island? Is …

Unschooling

Unschooling

“If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would create something like a classroom…” —Dr. John Medina, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School Unschooling—What is it? Unschooling is actively learning from life. You’re unschooling right now. (Yes, you, graduated, college-educated adult.) Today, lots of educators focus upon assignments or curriculum. Reading the classics or memorizing the periodic table. That was not my school. Instead, I homeschooled—or, more accurately, “Unschooled.” Why not learn because you’re curious? Why Unschooling? Unschooling was coined in the 1970’s by educator John Holt. After decades of teaching, Holt figured that the classroom model was completely counterproductive, creating a group of students where half were bored, half were left behind, and none invested in learning. The model of traditional school leaves any students’ innate curiosity unfed. School, he wrote in How Children Fail, could not service diverse students’ interests, needs, competencies, and learning styles. Furthermore, he wrote, it exacerbated students’ mental …

everyday lessons on living by learning

Everyday Lessons

Or: How to turn every day into a school day. “Mom,” we used to ask, “can this count as a homeschool day?” The state of North Carolina requires homeschools to record 180 school days. More often than not, my sister and I would make this plea when having to compare labels at the grocery store or listen to elderly gentlemen pontificate about “back in their day.” More often than not, it was granted. Economics? Math? Marketing? History? Yes! Homeschool Rule #1: Ask yourself: How can this be a Learning Experience? Let’s return to the grocery store. But before we step inside, let’s learn some life skills and economics. Let’s do some budgeting. Adding, subtracting, multiplying, fractions. Work your way up to statistics. All of these can be done as you budget. Depending upon your student(s), you can do this with a calculator or by hand. Always let your student(s) try to figure out what they can, especially if it means they have to look something up; the more they can learn to learn, the better. …