Posted in Homeschooling, Resources

Where To Find Great Homeschooling Services

One reason parents often feel intimidated by the idea of homeschooling is that they think they have to go it alone and don’t know where to start. The reality is that homeschooling is an exploding industry, and there is a huge variety of products, services, and organizations dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of the homeschooling community. Whether you are brand new to homeschooling or have years of experience, whether you want to be more hands-on or hands-off, there are people and resources that can help you find your niche.

One such list of resources is compiled by the microtutoring site Studypool. In addition to their primary mission of helping to link up struggling students with tutors ready to help them on-demand, they’ve done a fantastic job of pulling together a wide variety of accredited homeschooling programs complete with location and enrollment requirements:

All kids, including yours, learn much more from inspiring examples than they do from lectures, and that’s why it’s important that you show them the importance of living life on your own terms. That’s why I always tell parents, if homeschooling is your dream, go for it!

Posted in Educational Reform, Homeschooling, Independent Education, Inspiration

That’s Just The Way It Is…NOT, Part 2

So many aspects of our modern lives and the way society is structured are taken for granted, and we just assume things are the way they are because they have to be that way. This series of posts looks at a few of the hidden assumptions we commonly make about education.

You Have To Go To School, Like Everyone Else

If there’s one thing that characterizes modern life, it’s options.  The freedom available to individuals in terms of the number of options for almost everything is expanding and accelerating.  This includes options about what to learn, how to learn, how to earn money, and how to pursue a fulfilling career.

Research has already shown that people perform better at all types of tasks when they get to choose what to work on, and they learn better when they study the things they are interested in.  For now school is still obligatory for most, but it is only a matter of time before governments and educational institutions catch on to the fact that their most effective role is not to mandate the learning process, but to facilitate it.  In the mean time, there are thousands of homeschooling and unschooling families are proving by example, in countless ways, that public school isn’t for everyone, and that the options for how to pursue an education and a career are limitless.

Mark Twain famously said that he had never let his schooling interfere with his education, and in today’s world we can all take this advice even more to heart, as there is no longer any reason that schooling has to interfere with education.  Instead of trying to march in lock-step with a fixed curriculum, you can learn about whatever you want, whenever you want, and let passion and interest guide you to master any type of knowledge or skill you desire, as well as design a rewarding career for yourself.

Posted in Educational Reform, Homeschooling, Inspiration, Tips for Parents

That’s Just The Way It Is…NOT, Part 1

So many aspects of our modern lives and the way society is structured are taken for granted, and we just assume things are the way they are because they have to be that way. This series of posts looks at a few of the hidden assumptions we commonly make about education.

Parents At Work, Kids At School

The fragmentation of family life is an artifact of corporate culture, but it’s not how most people truly want to live. It seems so normal now for parents to spend most of their day working outside the home and kids to spend most of their day at school that it’s easy to forget that this isn’t an arrangement ordained by nature.

In fact, many parents pine for all the moments they miss having with their kids, and miss having the chance to see them grow up. Most parents feel that they have no choice, and that leading separate lives from their kids is a matter of economic necessity.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way, and many families are proving that learning and life don’t have to be separate. Not only that, but work and life don’t have to be separate either. Go to school, get a job, work until you retire is still the dominant paradigm, but it is fading faster and faster as more and more individuals and families discover the alternatives made ever more accessible by the emerging connection economy. As the human family wakes up to its technological and social potential, the old assumptions about how we must organize our lives become more and more obsolete and less and less appealing.

Planning your life is no longer a matter of selecting from a menu of available options, it’s an open-source, DIY, choose yourself free-for-all. The bottom line is this: if you want to actually grow up with your kids instead of seeing it happen from afar, you don’t have to get permission, you just have to decide to make it happen, and get to work figuring out the nuts and bolts. If this family can do what they did, any family can equally well live the life they choose.

Posted in Homeschooling, Independent Education, Tips for Parents

Why Homeschooling Should Be Every Parent’s Dream

The joy of having children is not just in seeing them grow up, but in growing up with them. Seeing how they are coming along is fine, but it doesn’t compare to the experience of participating in their evolution, and expanding your concept of yourself as a person in the process.

As a society, we place a lot of emphasis on family values, but this does not mean that family is central to our lives. On the contrary, it is a reaction to the reality of emotional distance and physical separation that many families are experiencing. It is an expression of nostalgia. As a parallel, country music wasn’t popular in America when most people lived on farms. It started to become popular when more people started to move to cities, and it has become popular in other countries around the world that are experiencing similar demographic transitions.

Also by way of parallel, the Tao Te Ching says,

“When Tao is lost, virtue arises.
When virtue is lost, benevolence arises.
When benevolence is lost, morality arises.
When morality is lost, etiquette arises.
Etiquette is the husk of faith,
and the beginning of chaos.”

Similarly, it might be said that when familial cohesion is lost, family values arise.

“To spend more time with my kids” is the wish of every overworked parent. But more and more families are demonstrating that the demands of modern life don’t have to compartmentalize family members, that education can involve parents and children in a cooperative, mutually beneficial process instead of segregating and isolating them.

Millions of homeschooling families have found that it is possible to rewrite the societal script for how children should be raised, and eminently worthwhile. For the most part, they aren’t doing it because they have to, but because of the rewards it brings, because they find the role of parent-as-partner far more fulfilling than the role of parent-as-provider. In doing so they are rediscovering a meaning of family that goes beyond just sharing a home to actually sharing life. Children are not just an opportunity to teach, they are an opportunity to learn and to grow, if we are up to answering the call.

Posted in Educational Reform, Homeschooling, Independent Education

What’s Wrong With Compulsory Schooling?

If school is necessary and beneficial, why does it need to be mandatory? Things that are truly necessary, like eating and sleeping, don’t need to be enforced because people want to do them. Likewise, people, especially children, are gifted with an innate curiosity and industriousness that makes them want to explore, discover, and create. They want to help others, they want to do the things that adults do, and every child, at some point, dreams of saving the world. Children do not want to avoid meaningful work, they crave it. Passivity is not the natural state of the human organism, but it is a natural reaction to coercion.

The belief that people don’t want to help themselves is a self fulfilling prophecy. If we believe that children must be forced to learn, we rob them of their initiative and don’t allow their creativity and intellectual curiosity to flourish. Children forget most of the facts they are force-fed at school, but they learn the meta-lesson all too well: “You are not in control of your life.”

The reason kids don’t want to go to school isn’t that they don’t know what’s good for them, it’s that they do know what’s bad for them. They don’t want to spend their time on useless, unfulfilling tasks, they don’t want to be forced to compete, and they don’t want to be judged, ridiculed, or belittled. They want to flourish, and they seek out the things that help them do that whether we try to force them or not; in fact we can’t keep them from doing it. We don’t have to force children to learn any more than we have to force them to breathe.

Posted in Homeschooling

If Homeschooling Is Your Dream, Go For It!

If you are thinking about homeschooling but aren’t sure if you can, this message is for you. The truth is, if you decide you want to, then it is possible. This decision is too important to be made by default, so if you feel called to pursue this possibility then you should definitely give it serious thought.

Possible doesn’t necessarily mean easy, but not easy doesn’t necessarily mean not worthwhile. It is almost certain that a high level of commitment will be involved, but the reason we choose to make and keep such commitments is that they allow us to grow as individuals, satisfy our values, and improve our lives.

In considering the question of whether to homeschool, you may have to confront some larger issues about your life. For example, in a family where both parents work outside the home, this may be seen as an obstacle to homeschooling. The question then becomes, is this really how you want your life to be organized to begin with? Are you really satisfied with this arrangement, or is it something that you would like to change for its own sake? Or, you may feel unqualified to be in charge of your children’s education. If so, are you prepared to become a student yourself in order to learn what is necessary? When you have shifted the tone of your questioning from “Should I…?” to “How can I…?”, you are on the track to making real progress.

Here are some suggestions for guiding your thought process:

  • Weigh the costs and benefits. One way to overcome the obstacle of being daunted is to ask yourself what the benefits are, and how much those are really worth to you, and what the costs are, and how much you really value them. This will help you make a decision that is in alignment with your true values, rather than just following the path of least resistance.
  • Think long-term. Your kids will only be children for so long, and they have their whole adult life ahead of them. Ask yourself what kind of experience you will want to have had, and what kind of memories you will want to have created, while they are still in their childhood. This will also help ensure that you don’t take the easy way out by default.
  • Include your kids. Your kids themselves should absolutely be included in the decision making process, and you should take their wants and needs into account. After all, the whole point of considering the decision is to do what is best for them. If they actually want to attend school, then by all means they should be allowed to, but if they are clamoring for an alternative then this is all the more reason why you should find the resources within yourself to provide it.
  • Be prepared to make a commitment. You don’t have to make a commitment before making a decision, but you certainly need to be psychologically prepared to make one, if that is where your values lead you. This will once again ensure that you are able to make a true choice based on your values, free from restrictions of fear or scarcity.
  • Convince yourself that it doesn’t have to be permanent. Consider making the change on a trial basis only, and set a specific time period for evaluating the results. Give yourself the option of making a different decision in the future. This will take some of the pressure off and allow you to act in the face of uncertainty.

Finally, remind yourself that even if it seems like you would be the only family in the world homeschooling, that is patently not the case. There is a small but active and growing community of homeschooling families across the country and around the world who are all pursuing their dreams in different ways. This community is diverse and highly supportive, and produces tons of materials designed to help other families get started. So know that you won’t be alone, and that whatever kind of help you need will be available.

If you’ve thought about homeschooling but haven’t followed through with making a decision, decide now when you can bring your family together for an in-depth conversation. The rewards of getting clear about what you want will be well worth the effort, and the quality time will come as a bonus.

Posted in Educational Reform, Homeschooling, Independent Education

Toffler On Factory Schooling

Excerpted from Future Shock, by Alvin Toffler:

We have noted, for example, that the basic organization of the present school system parallels that of the factory. For generations, we have simply assumed that the proper place for education to occur is in a school. Yet if the new education is to simulate the society of tomorrow, should it take place in a school at all?