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This diary began as a reply to Le Champignon's diary about his disastrous experience with home-schooling.  I had much the oppossite experience.  I don't intend this as a rebuttal or criticism - his experience is both very real, and probably more normative than my own - but rather as a compliment and supplement.  Home-schooling can be done right, can be done well, and can save a child's education and emotional well-being.

I was pulled out of high school by my highly educated parents due to severe educational deficiencies at the school I was attended, and due to severe and ongoing bullying (which I diaried about, here).  Both socially and academically, home-schooling (and early college enrollment) was one of the best things to happen to me.  It definitely can be done well, but it's hard.  I had a number of advantages:

1) My father is a PhD-educated scientist.  My mother is a college-educated artist, and, because of my families fortunate financial situation, could afford to be a stay-at-home mother.

2) At the time, internet education programs were just beginning.  Stanford offered the EPGY online education program, which was excellent - AP level math, physics, and english classes, with personalized attention over online chat and phone.  I have no idea if the program still functions at that level of quality.  The larger-scale modern online courses are certainly nowhere near as good.

3) I live at a nexus of excellent universities (the RTP area), and about 15 minutes away from NCSU.  I was able to enroll as a 'continuing education' student there at the age of 15, taking a couple courses a semester in an 'organized' environment.  This also was very healthy, socially - I formed a number of lasting friendships there.

4) The internet, NCSU, and a decent (relatively non-religious) homeschooling social group provided a substitute for the social life High School provides.  Considering how utterly destructive my semester in high school was (and how hard four years of that hellish nightmare were on my other geeky and queer friends), this was far, far better than I could have hoped for from traditional schooling.

5) I, myself, am a voracious consumer of knowledge.  While I hated the busywork of homework, I actually enjoyed the online lectures of EPGY, the reading for my literature class, and the NCSU courses.

Is homeschooling a good option for everyone?  Definitely not.  Is it a good option for most people?  Definitely not.  Is it a good option for parents with the resources to do it right and children with special needs?  Absolutely.

I appreciate Le Champignon's sharing his experience.  In my own experience, I saw other homeschooling attempts that were being done in wrong ways or for wrong reasons, so I can certainly see where he's coming from.  I suspect that his experience is more the norm than mine - but my experience is still real.  I feel I owe my life to home schooling, and I hope that readers here on dKos can learn from my experience as well.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think the lesson is that when it comes (10+ / 0-)

    to education, it's not a "one size fits all" thing.  No one solution -- public school, private school, homeschooling -- is the best solution for every child.  I've known people who have thrived in all three environments, and people where were not well served in all three environments.  

    •  I guess the hardest part might be (8+ / 0-)

      Figuring out what is best.
      Most all parents want what is best for their children - but some are patently unable to make those decisions.  A parent who is striving to protect their children from the evils of evolution and/or vaccination is just as righteous and confident as my parents were when they got me out of my total failure of a high school.

      I have some confidence that people here on dKos are likely to be making these decisions for right reasons rather than wrong.  For this particular audience, I'm much more willing to endorse home schooling than I would be for the populace at large.

      •  How do you make that distinction? (6+ / 0-)

        you can't say, you parents get to make the choice for your children, and you parents don't.  

        The best you can do, I think, is set minimum standards and maybe require the child to be tested every year or two.  If the child doesn't have basic reading and math skills, for example, appropriate for the age, then perhaps government can step in on some kind of grounds of child abuse.  

        But you can't institutionalize the view that people here make homeschooling for the "right" reasons and so they can make those decisions, while people who (for example) make the decision for fundamentalist religious reasons are making it for the "wrong" reason and they don't get to make those decisions.  

        •  Yes - (0+ / 0-)

          It's a really hard problem to tackle.  I honestly don't know what solutions I could propose.

        •  Maybe... (0+ / 0-)
          If the child doesn't have basic reading and math skills, for example, appropriate for the age, then perhaps government can step in on some kind of grounds of child abuse.
          ...but are public and private schools to be held to the same standard?

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:00:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Much of the issue is working within (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        the available resources, too.

        Some of my friends live in districts with gifted magnet schools that were excellent fits for their highly gifted kids, schools that were full of kids excited about learning and where that trait was not a social liability. Public school was very much a great fit for those kids in those cities.

        Another of my friends had a highly gifted son that was operating far above his grade level. He was already one of the younger kids in the class, and from genetic stock that made him relatively short for his age. He attended a small school in a rural area and had no peers. His brothers were bright but taller and less academic, and did great in the same public school. School was a waste of his time after about 3rd grade because he was so far past all the other kids, and there was no better place for him to go. Fortunately, his mom was good at teaching and he loved learning and homeschooling was a perfect choice for him... but had he lived in one of those other cities, he could have had a classroom worth of peers.

        All these things make a difference.

        Having the internet is such a blessing. I wish online education had been around when I was a kid - it would have been perfect for me for high school.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 08:36:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nobody really cars what you choose (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541

      Except when it impacts the rest of us.

       All students should have to meet basic standards, including science.

      I would also take exception to the broad brush based on anecdata. Home-schooling a high-schooler who is being bullied is entirely different from fundamentalists keeping their children out of schools for their entire childhoods.

      "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” ― John Kenneth Galbraith

      by Urban Owl on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:45:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Government can't make this kind of (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, elfling, kyril

        distinction.

        Home-schooling a high-schooler who is being bullied is entirely different from fundamentalists keeping their children out of schools for their entire childhoods.
        Government can't tell parents that they can choose to homeschool only if "we" approve of their reasons for doing so, and religion is not a sufficient reason for doing so.  That would seem to me to be a clear First Amendment violation if you say that certain religious views are an illegitimate reason for choosing to homeschool. I think we as a society have traditionally recognized the rights of parents to raise their children in any way they see fit, as long as they do not cross the line into child abuse.

        I do think that government probably can - and should -- set certain minimum standards that children have to meet, and perhaps have them do the kinds of standardized testing that public schools in that district do, maybe every two years of so.  If a child seriously falls behind, perhaps (regardless of the reasons for homeschooling) that could be grounds for government intervention on some notion that failing to see that a child gets a basic education is some form of abuse.  That's tricky, though, because if a child in a public school starts to fall seriously behind expectations for that grade level, we don't deem that parent as abusive because they opted for a public school.  

        •  You think they are the same? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          coquiero

          You think that a happy story about a HS home-school offers anything relevant to the experiences of those homeschooled by anti-science parents for their entire childhood?

          How strange. But then, your takeaway was that nobody can judge, other than the parents. I think there are ways to evaluate and judge, and there is a fair amount of research that does just that.

          BTW, saying that two things are different, and even saying that one is better than the other is NOT equivalent to saying the government should do something.

          "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” ― John Kenneth Galbraith

          by Urban Owl on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:50:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Then who makes the decision? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, elfling, kyril

            that's my point, I guess.  Who makes the decision about how a child should educated?  

            I think there are ways to evaluate and judge, and there is a fair amount of research that does just that.
            Right now, we leave it up to the parents.  

            I don't agree with a lot of things OTHER parents do with their children.  I can "judge"  -- form my own opinion -- about that, but I can't make the decision for those parents.  

            The question I am asking is, if the parents don't get to make the decision, who does?  I don't see any other practical way to do it other than set limits -- when things amount to abuse -- and as long as parents stay in those limits, parents get to make those kinds of decisions.  We can "judge" in the sense of form our opinions as to their decisions, but we don't get to "judge" in the sense of override their decisions for their children.

            •  Standards... (0+ / 0-)

              It really does need to be up to the students and parents.

              That said, however, a minimum curriculum must be met. Here in MN, particularly for the early grades, the standards are nearly absent. They ramp up, however to reasonable standards by grade 12.

          •  Taking children away from parents (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, elfling, kyril

            in order to disrupt the passing of the parent's values to the children (esp if those values are cultural or religious) is a form of genocide.

            Eventually those children do grow up and many will be able to break free of those mindsets if they want to. It is not unusual for kids to rebel against their parent's values, and for some, that will be the first step.

            But singling out religious people for their religion, simply because you do not approve is a bad move. And if you haven't noticed, our school administrators and public servants cannot agree on a core standard at this moment, so blaming the parents seems a bit silly if in fact the people who determine curriculum standards cannot themselves, get their acts together and play nice.

            Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

            by GreenMother on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 06:34:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for your diary... (5+ / 0-)

    I know a family of home schooled kids, the youngest is now twenty years old and cannot read and at least two of the siblings have not had routine vaccinations. In addition to having no job prospects or much of anything to look forward to, I worry that people like her family will reintroduce polio and other diseases to the world at large.

  •  Amen. (3+ / 0-)

    Homeschooling is what the parent makes of it. Nothing more and nothing less.

    •  In most regards, (7+ / 0-)

      "schooling" is what the parent makes of it, particularly if they are not wealthy.

      Students whose parents are involved, even just emotionally, to their children's education have better outcomes. Parents who have the ability to feed, clothe and provide a stable environment have better outcomes for their children.

      That is why it is so crucial that parents have resources: an income, a safe place to live, food and support system. We have failing schools not because kids are failing, or because their parents are failing, but because our society fails to support families in any real way (poverty poverty poverty) and sucks money from public education (profit profit profit).

  •  T&R'd (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exatc, Kalil, WakeUpNeo, eyesoars, kyril

    Thanks for the diary and shoutout! It's interesting to compare our two experiences.

    TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (TBD - Likely Celia Israel-D)

    by Le Champignon on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:14:21 PM PST

  •  I read Le Champignon's diary not as a criticism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amayi, ladybug53, kyril

    of homeschooling as much as a cautionary tale that home schooling MUST be subject to state oversight.

    Without that mechanism, homeschooling is subject to child neglect and abuse.

    While it's lovely that you had a positive experience with homeschooling and wanted to share, I think it misses the bigger point of the other diary.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:21:48 PM PST

  •  My experience with parents who want to "home- (4+ / 0-)

    school" their children is from my teaching at the elementary school level. Most parent's applications to Home School is so riddled with misspelled words and poor grammar, that I question whether these parents will be able to accomplish teaching their children. The other part of the problem is that these parents are completely unaware of the complexity the curriculum required.  Now as a retired teacher, I just wince when I see these parents and children in Wal-Mart in the middle of Wednesday afternoon, telling me their children are studying "practical math."  It's just another way of saying, "I let my child drop out of school in the third grade."

    I'm glad you had a good home-schooling experience. I have usually seen the opposite side of the story. There are many more failed "home-schooled" children than there are good outcomes.

  •  We home schooled our (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, ladybug53, elfling, eyesoars, kyril

    children and had very positive results but i do think that the home schooled kids should be tested every year to insure they are meeting the basics .We had ours tested each year but do know of others that home schooled and cringe when we think how poorly they treated their children's  education,just as we cringe about all the bad stories that come out of public education .In the end I was confused  about the intent of the first diary and was glad to see this diary come up.

    •  Testing, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyesoars, kyril

      I did not have yearly testing, persay, but all of my courses had some form of evaluation - the EPGY courses had quizes and exams and grades like you'd expect from any other course, and the classes I took at NCSU, I took for full college credit.  The only courses I took that didn't have some method of evaluation were US history and art history.  US history, I learned mainly by sitting down with a history textbook we checked out from the NCSU library (it ended with the amazing cliffhanger line "And now matters are stirring in Vietnam" - I filled the rest in with Doonesbury, which is actually an excellent way to learn the history of that era. ;p).  As I was very interested, I really didn't need much oversight.  Art history was taught by Mom, and fell solidly within her expertise.  I also was doing test prep for the SATs, so I had that form of evaluation looming on the horizon.

      I'm not a fan (at all) of end-of-year standardized testing, but I very much agree that some form of evaluation is a necessary part of education, and if the state is going to get involved in home-schooling, holding them to the same standards as public schools would be a good start.

    •  The problem with that is if the family is using (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      a curriculum that is different than the local schools--then the topics a child learns might not be in order, and they may not do well on the tests due to structural differences.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 06:35:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When my son was in scouts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, ladybug53

    There was a family that homeschooled.  They had 7 kids from 15 to 1.  They homeschooled.  With the exception of the oldest (a girl) who was only homeschooled for one year,  they were the most obnoxious, ill prepared, uneducated and socially mal adjusted kids I had ever met.
    They had no idea to interact with other kids.  

    I think that to OP had well educated parents who were prepared to teach.  Unfortunately the vast majority of homeschooling parents do not have the education or temperament to properly educate there own kids.  

    My Brothers Keeper

    by Reetz on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:36:19 PM PST

  •  I thought there was an entire group on here (0+ / 0-)

    dedicated to homeschooling.  Did they disappear, or maybe just start publishing at a time of day/week that I don't see their diaries any more?

  •  As I posted on Le Champignon's diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kalil, elfling, eyesoars, kyril

    I home schooled my children. They had the advantage of a stay-at-home, college educated mother (me) who had trained to be a teacher and had substitute teaching experience. Our reasons for home schooling were medical, with a school system unable to cope with chronically ill children. We supplemented what I could not teach with on-line classes and even a few home schooling group classes. My son had to drop out of the Spanish class because the teacher had test questions like "What does Corinthians 4:12 say about blah-blah". Not home schooling for religious reasons, he had no idea how to answer, in English or Spanish!

    All in all, my children, now adult, say it was a positive experience. They are pursuing their life-goals and their respective health is better, too. If they had stayed in public schools they would have remained "failures". I was damned if a narrow, conservative-minded and poor school district was going to ruin my children's future!

  •  best thing I did for my kids was (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WakeUpNeo, eyesoars, kyril

    let them decide when they wanted to go to the public school, because that's where the social action was, and they wanted some of that.  By the time they went, around age 8 or so, they already knew how to read several grades above their peers,  and with that, the rest was fairly painless.  With their life experience up to that point,  they were pretty sharp little cookies.  

    This was 40 years ago. YMMV.

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:01:01 PM PST

  •  I, too, am a homeschooled success story (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WakeUpNeo, eyesoars, kyril

    Thank you for your diary.  

    And I'm in my 60's, now, so I have the benefit of a lifetime's perspective of seeing how it played out.

    I can't imagine my life without it.

    A

  •  Another homeschool success story (0+ / 0-)

    I utterly loathed school until I got to college. Even though I attended "good" suburban schools, I found all of it soul crushing.  For that reason, my son was homeschooled for 12 years. It was a big success for him as well as for his homeschooling friends. Everyone went to good colleges, graduated, and is now employed or in grad school. They all have social skills at least as good as they would have had if they had attended school. (They were kind of a nerdy bunch, so none of them were really prom king material)

  •  My mother is a retired teacher. (0+ / 0-)

    She has a masters, is a reading specialist, and also holds an administrative certificate.  Her take on homeschooling from the time it started is that it can be done, and it can be done well, but it does indeed require a lot of time and organization.

    It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

    by ciganka on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 10:02:31 AM PST

    •  Spot on. I think research it key - (0+ / 0-)

      Going in blind, and trying to do it with a couple books you buy from the local barnes and noble (or far worse: from the local christian bookstore) is probably not going to end well.  However, there are a lot of resources available out there.  My parents successfully leveraged the public and university libraries, the university itself, online education, past public school teachers of mine, home-schooling groups, and other resources.

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