Parenting Magazine's Tips

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In my wanderings today (well, my RSS and Google Alerts reading), I came across an article from Parenting Magazine. While the article seems to support homeschooling, the tone felt "off" to me. Maybe because it reminded me of articles that we wrote for my school's paper back in the day. Or maybe it was the nasty formatting of the site. But something just didn't feel right.

And so, I will attempt to get this nagging feeling out of my mind by addressing a few issues that I feel were not handled perfectly in the article's "Tips For Homeschooling Your Child".

Homeschooling tends to take up a lot of time in your day. ...There are experiments and projects to be done, lessons to prepare, papers to grade, field trips, park days, music lessons, and the list goes on.

Maybe it's just me, but a parenting magazine should know better. It could be said of parenting: Having a kid is more than just pushing it out at birth... there are meals to be made, diapers to be changed, rooms to paint, clothes to buy, field trips, park days, music lessons, and the list goes on.

And so the point is this: Homeschooling is just a logical, relatively easy transition from parenting. Parenting takes up a lot of time in your day. Homeschooling isn't an addition to your schedule, it's the natural continuation of the one you started when you gave birth.

Since lessons are so individualized, you’ll be able to fit a lot of education into just a few hours each day–but you have to be supremely organized and able to devote your full attention during those hours.

I'm guessing that being "supremely organized" would help in just about every aspect of life, but with the resources available to us today, we don't have to be that panicked about this. Sheesh, the article makes it sound like if you're not the quintessential mother you're doomed to destroy your child's education and future. You do need to be able to devote time to your child, but you've been practicing that since the little tyke woke you up in the middle of the night.

Homeschooling often produces impressive results in academic performance. The benefits arise from the one-on-one attention it provides the student and from the fact that many parents who presently homeschool have teaching preparation or experience.

Ugh, this one really bothered me. Now, granted, my wife did major in elementary education, but that's not what's really giving her the "teaching preparation" that makes her ready for homeschooling. Being a parent does this far better than a degree in educational philosophy.

There is no need to add the pressure of being formally trained in teaching to teach your child. As my sister has pointed out: We teach our kids to tie their shoes, to talk, to walk... we can teach them other subjects as well. And if you're really worried, there are plenty of resources out there to help you on this journey.

Home schooling can provide children with a better education than what they would get in an actual classroom but you have to do your part as parent and teacher to make sure you are going at the right pace, that they are learning effectively and that they remain interested in learning so that they will absorb whatever you teach them.

In my experience, classrooms do not have the ability to go at every student's pace. Most of my classroom teachers had no way of making sure the material was going at the "right pace". Tests were the only indication my classroom teachers had that I was "learning effectively", and they had no way of knowing if I was still "interested in learning" so I could "absorb" what they were teaching.

So I say, "Lay off."

While these are certainly valid things to consider when it comes to your children's education, they should not be placed as burdens on your neck. Homeschooling can be a joy. Homeschooling begins at birth and hopefully never stops; it's just that some people use it to teach generally considered "school subjects" at home as well.

~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

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