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Readers Respond: Should these alternative methods be called homeschooling?

Responses: 29

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There are different types of homeschools, online schools, charter schools, coops, etc. - each with different philosophies, beliefs or practices. Some argue that some methods shouldn't be called homeschooling. Although I believe it is important to protect homeschooling as we know it by keeping homeschools independent of the public school system, there are many options available and each family must consider what is right for their children. What type is your homeschool? Do you consider these alternative methods homeschooling? Why or why not? Are they diluting the purity of homeschooling, putting our freedoms at risk?

Home Education

I don't think I like the term 'home schooling' because the image of a school of fish always comes to mind.... lots of fish...the fish swimming in one direction... no individuality etc. So I would rather call myself a home educator. I am not schooling my kids, that is what the actual 'schools' do. I am educating them by following a curriculum and giving them guidance about life. They spend their time with people who care about them the most- their parents, so they are growing in self esteem and confidence in addition to being able to learn skills they will need in life. They know how to have a conversation and respect elders (which is a dying etiquette nowadays), and be kind to younger children. They socialize with their peers at weekly swimming lessons, foreign language classes and boy scouts etc. I look at kids I know who go to schools in town and I thank God that my children are NOT like them... Children who are at home getting an education are home educated in my opinion.
—Guest ZZD

Homeschooling alternatives effectiveness

With a child on the autism spectrum, we do homeschooling any way that works. We do it all year long, but with frequent short breaks. Many hands on field trips as he is a very visual learner.
—Guest Pam Rodriguez

We have freedom in the alternatives

I agree with a few comments here that if you start to "limit" what teaching methods are available, then why homeschool at all? Isn't that what Public Schools do already??? Homeschooling provides a "way" and a "freedom" for parents to be accountable for their children's education. Apple is aware of the rise of homeschooling, and they targeted the iPad 2 for that reason...ask them. Motorola came out with Zoom, HP, Dell, and IBM is coming out with their own tablets before this year is out. It is the future of education, and it works very well, my viewpoint of course. It gave us "alternative" advantages that are very useful. And it works with any curriculum, because YOU are in control of what apps you use. It allows you to "teach" and be "hands-on" but it also allows some independence for the students. It has GREAT skill builders (some games, some not). It does take some time to adapt to that way of "thinking" but it is very useful...than not. My child loves it!!!
—Guest Susan B. Fulks

Homeschoolig with the iPad

I believe, in fact, that the more alternative methods available, the more freedom you have in educating. We homeschool our child because her brain processes information in a totally different way (left over from childhood epilepsy), and we are always looking for "alternative" ways to work with her traditional schooling. What is new and works extremely well, is the iPad. It's a very good alternative approach to ALL schooling in my view. There are currently over 12,000 educational apps waiting for eager minds..young and old. There are literally "thousands" targeted at the pre-school, elementary levels of learning. It doesn't have flash, but that is being resolved. My daughter is a very "visual"learner, and we have seen a "drastic" change in her maintaining certain math and grammar skills. Check out "goatlantis"..it tracks the space shuttle's last flight in real time, both in a world mode, and sky mode. Amazing!!! We also use the National Geographic digital 3D app..worth the money
—Guest Susan B. Fulks

Tired of this argument

When I first started homeschooling, I had to deal with scoffers attacking me because I pulled my children out of public school. I was told how much I was ruining their lives. Now that we have moved past most of THAT criticism, I see a new wave approaching: Who's the better homeschooler. I have been seeing a lot of this over the last 9 months: People arguing over what "real" homeschooling is, chastising families for not being "pure" enough with their homeschooling. It reminds me of vegetarians arguing with each other over who is the better vegetarian - ovo, lacto, vegan, etc. As homeschoolers, we deal with enough flack as it is. Do we really need to be starting strife between us all? Really?
—Silver.Maple

Guidance to a love of learning

I remember seeing one actor saying she was homeschooled while a tutor which was given by her school system to follow her around her acting jobs. I felt that wasn't really my concept of home schooling. School at home to me is with books that they use at school, having set times and a single place to learn. Cyber school is similar. Unit studying is closer to my blanket definition of younger children schooling at home. Unschooling is really home schooling since in my opinion, it is the child and guardian learning about life as it happens. A butterfly compared to the leaves blowing in the wind. Seeing God's handiwork in all around us while sitting in the branch of a tree. I feel we have a choice to teach the basics then guide them to a love of learning and a love and respect of the world. We teach our children to be careful in the world but to be bold enough to take care of it too. We are teaching our leaders of tomorrow and need to instill a gratitude for each day that they have.
—Guest Muummy

Personalized Homeschooling

I have been both a home school mom as well as teaching homeschoolers from preschool to college level in classes and individually for 18 years. I also teach parent seminars for those who need and want to learn the how-tos. I believe strongly in individualizing the curriculum for each child rather than fitting the kids into a mold. I teach with real books, not texts, and include a lot of hands on science, art, and music. Personally I think this is far better than cyber schools that have a set curriculum with no diversion and no joy of lifelong learning. My students become passionate about learning and want to do more because of the way I teach. Can any cyber-school say this?
—terrilynnmerritts

@Nelle49

I take offense to your comment that cyber schools are not homeschooling. I suppose it depends upon one's definition of homeschooling. Yes, we follow the curriculum that is put together by the facilitators of the program we use. HOWEVER, I am completely in charge of our schedule, down to what time of year we start/end school. I CHOOSE to use their curriculum because I know it is within our state's standards AND it will make college financial help easier when the time comes. I am free to skip various lessons when I don't feel the kids will gain anything from. Their only real restriction? That we must take the state tests each spring. I feel we are all getting what we want. The district still gets their $, but in return I don't have to allow my kids to sit in unruly classrooms & learn far more unacceptable "extras." Does that make me NOT a homeschooler? Or perhaps a "sellout" in some eyes? We school our children at home, for OUR reasons. How is that different from others?
—Guest Reditude

Still learning

Cyber schools, etc. are not homeschooling. When a child and parent are still being controlled by the public school system, they are only sitting at home to school. Homeschooling requires the ability to be flexible with materials and schedules per the learning needs of the child. Programs dictated by the public school system are definitely a risk to our freedom as homeschoolers. These programs not only give control to the public schools, but allow money to be made by themselves and their vendors. That by itself may be enough for the school systems to squash our rights.The extra effort a parent gives a child to actually homeschool is beyond any monetary value. A happy child with a love of reading and ability to learn is priceless. I have homeschooled for over 20 years.
—Guest Nelle49

Agree with "Splitting Hairs"

I agree with Cracked Harp. We pulled our children out of a charter school after 3 years, & from public school prior to that. This is our second year of homeschooling through a distance learning program that is offered in our state. We follow the curriculum which is aligned with state standards & yes, the district receives $ for our involvement in the program. I did not feel at all capable of embarking on our homeschool journey on my own last year. This option presented a wonderful opportunity for us. As we have gotten into the everyday-ness of homeschool life, I feel much more confident of my own abilities. We continue to use this program, & a big reason for that is because I know that there is a knowledgeable person at the other end of my phone line who can help me get through a particularly rough stretch with one or more of our children. This year we've added additional things to the curriculum, now that I know I can do it! So, I'm a homeschooling parent, too! :D
—Guest Reditude

Life is School

Life is school. Why not try taking the curriculum? Having homeschooled since 1983, I’ve learned that life itself is the best teacher. With my older children (now adults) we took the more conventional route: school-at-home. We used workbooks and textbooks - although I’ve never invested in expensive curricula. Then when my youngest daughter, Abi, came on the scene, I began to understand that the object of education is to inspire in children a hunger for learning, rather than force feeding them. My job is to help her develop citizenship, leadership, and life skills through exposure to experiential learning programs – it’s called learning by doing. She’s learned some of these skills though community programs such as 4-H; ACT FOR YOUTH (a theater troupe); a local homeschool group; and church programs. She’s been involved in poetry readings at a local coffee house and has studied sign language and used her skills as a volunteer at the Eastern NC school for the deaf.
—Guest Debra Elramey

New to Homeschooling

I have two children ages 5 and 3 who are just getting ready for a more formal start to education. I have been working with them since birth and both of them far exceed the state idea of where students should be at a kindergarten level. I am looking at homeschooling now. I have always worried about all the non-academic things that students learn in the public and even private school system. Since when is violence, sex, and drugs a requirement of education? I also find the the public system limits advanced children in learning. Yes there are gifted programs, but those programs are sometimes so riggorous that our children can no longer keep up. I am happy to have the opportunity to guide my children at their own levels and watch them full of joy in learning.
—Guest Stacy

Teaching homeschool

I've been starting to homeschool my preschoolers. I believe if children are at home they're homeschooled. I think some parents need all the different options available to them to do a good job teaching their children. You cannot beat one-to-one teaching. Its nice when the school system supports homeschoolers. I think there needs to be accountability for homeschooling parents, to a teacher or homeschooling coop, just to make sure minimum standards are being met. Some options do have that. Its not about control but accountability. Most parents I'm sure do a great job homeschooling. But we all know cases where the parents are lacking and the child is not at the level they should be. That is where the support and guidance should happen. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to homeschool and to make the most of the time that we have with our children, instead of letting the school raise our children. If you're going to homsechool, do it well or at least better than the school.
—jsknox

All Children Are Different!

No matter your initial reason for homeschooling, most homeschool parents will agree that the public school system seems to be celebrating mediocrity. Not all children learn the same way. I have three children that are incredibly different from one another. My oldest could read all day. My middle child is so visual that he would get more out of 10 minutes of a video clip than 3 hours of reading or being read to. My littlest is the hands-on one. You can tell her what to do, but it isn't the same as her seeing it or doing it herself. I would be doing my children a disservice to try and teach them the same way, so why would I expect for anyone else to have to do things my way? I do, however, believe that we must hold some accountability for those among our ranks who aren't teaching their children anything or let their children be completely sedentary. Not by ostracizing them, but by offering ideas to help them. It is imperative that we reach out to all homeschoolers, not just the ones who do it "our way".
—emerald_rhino

Using Alternative Methods

When my son hit High School I found a great program for him through Penn Foster. The program is flexible for our family and if we need we can always call one of the many teachers assigned to him but we are not forced to. My son is graduating in three years rather than four and he is graduating with 20 college credits under his belt! The program has everything you need so there is no having to buy anything else. Also it can be done online! We are very pleased with this program!
—Guest LAC
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