Home School Philosophy
Home school parents come in a wide variety, but their numbers have increased dramatically since so many governments decided to shut down schools to combat COVID-19. Some states like Florida only shut down schools for a few months but many other jurisdictions still have requirements including virtual learning and mask mandates.
All of these Covid responses have convinced a great deal of parents to start homeschooling their children permanently. The benefits are insurmountable and, from my last 20 years of experience, the only two negatives that I’ve heard about are that kids don’t get the same social skills and they don’t get the same education as publicly educated children. I agree on both counts.
The only social skills I see children learning in public schools today is how to justify bullying (by society, teachers, and other students) and how conservative views are a road to hell. Since my time in college (and it has been a while), it seems like the only thing that has changed is the speed at which the education system has been churning out socialists in what I’ve come to call our ‘public indoctrination centers’. You call them public schools.
I became disenfranchised with the public school system in 1999 and have been nothing but excited about my homeschooling adventure with my children ever since. I still have four left at home and today, I just want to talk a bit about our learning activities. You can call this my educational philosophy. I believe there are some core subjects that simply need to be taught, or at least investigated, in our children’s educational journey.
Math is fundamentally the most important course in my mind simply because it is so important in our society and math is the basis of almost everything. I demand that my children can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, they can tell time, they can balance a checkbook and understand how interest works, and they can count back change better than any McDonald’s employee. There are many other things that I try to teach, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, but I don’t deem these as consequential to their future success unless they try to go to postsecondary school. In this case, they can learn it later when they deem it important to themselves. At this point they will learn it much quicker, and it will stick better.
Science it’s a fascinating topic. We cover the basics of chemistry, physics, and biology, and I offer additional teaching to any child that is interested. At the end of the day, I believe 95% of the people have happy successful lives without knowing the details of photosynthesis. They know how to water their plant and search for information on the Internet and that will help them much more in the future. I have huge problems with the politicizing of science where people suddenly think it is unscientific to question any science or scientist. In a world where gravity is still a theory and we aren’t 100% convinced how are feet stayed glued to the earth, and where ‘questioning’ is one of the tenets of the scientific method, I find myself in awe at an ideology that promotes unquestionable science. All science needs to be questioned. That is the fundamental building block of our knowledge.
English is very important, and I demand that my children are fluent readers, know how to write, and have legible penmanship (something the public school system completely ignores today). I am going to harp on them a little bit about spelling and grammar but today we have technology that overcomes these problems for us, so I am not quite the anal jerk I was for the first few kids. I believe a love and appreciation of reading is by far, the most important thing I can teach my children. Their learning will stop with us very shortly but if they leave our home as fervent readers, then their education will continue for the rest of their lives. In my mind, the amount of learning that my children enjoy after they leave my home, is a clear measurement of success.
Physical education is difficult for homeschoolers but most communities have sports centers that accommodate us now. In small towns parents must find it increasingly difficult to expose their children volleyball, badminton, tetherball, lacrosse, basketball, etc. My children have always been involved in something extracurricular, and even scouting has provided a level of physical education on top of learning about knots, teamwork, survival skills, and a myriad of other topics.
There are topics where my lack of formal education and complete absence of God-given talent require different tactics.
Art has always been an easier topic that it should have been for someone with my talent, or lack thereof. With the abundance of online assistance and tutorials and a plethora of books available at the Public Library, I have basically allowed others to teach my children art and I just ask that they try various things. We have easels, paints, and sketchpads all over our house but thus far, only two of our children have had any interest in artistic adventures. Hopefully one of them will be illustrating one of my future books.
Music is another topic where my skills are more than a little lacking to consider myself a teacher. I took some music classes in elementary and junior high but I can’t read music, carry a tune, or tap spoons on my thigh. Clearly teaching music is a little out of my wheelhouse but with online courses and a little bit of money I have children who play the violin and are learning keyboards and drums right now. Hopefully someone picks up one of those guitars my wife purchased so they take them away when they move out.
I do not demand that my children learn a musical instrument or how to draw cartoons or portraits, but I do insist that they try it all out to help them identify their own passions and any God-given talents that they possess.
Not-English is another class I demand. This is a topic that I push hard on my children now, that I never pushed before 2016. I demand that my children are working on a second language every day. Before my trip to Finland in 2016, I never thought of a second language as all that important, but I always recognized that it was easier for children to learn multiple languages than adults. After spending a week interviewing Finnish youth in 2016, I found a new appreciation for the value of a second language in this world we now live in. At this moment there are two people learning Spanish, two people learning Italian, and two people learning Japanese, in my family. This has been made possible by the wonderful phone application called duolingo. I have set myself up with the free school account and created classes for my children to work through. There are other apps out there, but I wanted to let you know what I was using.
It Never Stops
We take any opportunity to learn something new about any topic in the world. My family doesn’t take weekends off, they don’t get summers off, and there are no snow days. Learning is relaxed and I want my children to think of their home education as the cornerstone to ‘learning how to love learning’ and not as work.
Thus far, only one of my children have showed any interest in postsecondary education. Due our teaching methodology (commonly called ‘unschooling’), his post-secondary adventure required some significant adult study time to pass the entrance exam. I was told beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was better to learn his math requirements later in life, when he wanted to learn them, then to have been forced to learn them on our schedule when he was younger.
If you think there is some basic skills that need to be taught that I’m missing, feel free to let me know. Through their daily living, they’re learning how to do things like sew and cook. I would love to have the free time to go farther in areas like this but for the most part, I think understanding taxes and investing are more beneficial. Let me know if you think I’m wasting time on something as well, but not penmanship, you are not convincing me otherwise on that one.