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HOMESCHOOLING VS. PUBLIC/PRIVATE SCHOOLS
November 16, 2007
2:10 pm
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Shaney
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Just looking for opinions on this, because I'm not really familiar with how homeschooling works. I've seen very intelligent kids come from homeschooling, and I've seen the polar opposite. My sister in law homeschools, and it seems like a complete disaster.

There are so many facets to this situation and I know it's going to be difficult for me to give you all of the information without writing a novel - which I don't want to do, but here it is. In a nut shell, my sister in law and her family are very well off. They are practicing Christians and so they are very protective over their children - which has proven to be a good thing, in the sense that all of the kids are kind, loving and very balanced emotionally. All of their time is spent together, as a family... lots of activities together, and vacations at LEAST once a month.

My sister in law homeschools her her 4 kids. The oldest is already finished with school - she's 23. The others kids are, 14, 13 and 7. My husband and I started to notice how much time that they "play" vs. the time that they are actually learning or studying - and the result, are kids that are SO far behind scholastically, that it freaks us out. It's really none of our business, but to realize that this 7 year old can't read yet or even communicate well, is ridiculous to us. It seems that my sister in law's whole life revolves around home schooling and education, but when you begin to look deeper, it seems that homeschooling is just a vehicle to keep her kids from ever leaving home. She's been doing this homeschooling for so long, that I just really don't think that she realizes that none of her kids could ever make it in the real world. It seems that their family time always takes priority over schooling. For example, they'll rent a beach house on the coast for 3 weeks at a time and just casually say, "we'll just catch up on school when we get back." When I asked the 14 year old how she was doing in in a certain subject, she said, "I don't know... I usually just read a few pages a day until I get through the book. I asked, "What about tests?" And she said, "I usually don't pass the tests, so my mom just lets me read." I about passed out. What the HELL?!

This just doesn't seem like it should be allowed. Is there anyone checking on these parents that have opted to homeschool?

November 16, 2007
3:08 pm
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risingfromtheashes
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I don't know the laws in every state, but I THINK that most states have a mandatory test that each child has to complete as an assesment of their progress, just like the public schools have to test each year.

given that - I dont' know how your sister is pulling it of.

I see ALOT of benefits to home schooling - but I see alot of abuse too.

Like your sis - my cousin homeschooled her daugthers - but her idea of schooling them was paying for an online correspondence courses - so she was doing NOTHING at home to teach them - just logging them in online...which I think is a huge failure. Again, her theories was to protect her child from social junk going on at schools....ok, so there is alot of junk at schools - but alot of good too.

IF IF IF the parent is creative enough and organized enough - I think that homeschooling is great - you don't have to be highly intelligent, but you have to be capable of learning and explaining the newer concepts with the kids....cuz the new learning concepts are pretty weird.

But, in this case, if your sister had taken those three weeks at the shore and USED the opportunity - like studying marine life and marine biology, and the tides and the effects of wind and sand erosion and all kinds of cool stuff - it would be a great thing - but if it's just play time taking away from class time - NO....but I could see soooo much she could do with kids in a different eco environment....which I could see many home schooling parents do. Like cooking and learning fractions and how materials mix and blend and change properties...etc.

Also, homeschooling is PORTABLE...so she could ahve taken the books with them.

So, I see the situation as a scary one as well....and all I can say is that these kids WILL suffer in the long run - but I don't know what can be done....short of checking with child services and seeing what they say.

I think homeschooling is great, BUT, I think ALL KIDS need to learn social structure and skills and they tend to lack that with homeschooling - and only the moms/dads who take them outside the home in group sports or clubs are really giving them the best of both worlds....the ones that keep them closed in at home are really shortchanging them on some levels.

November 16, 2007
4:50 pm
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Shaney
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Being organized and creative are the operative words here. I think my sister in law is creatvie, but in a very unorganized way. She runs around like a maniac taking these kids from one extracurricular class to another, feeding them fast food in between appointments, while squeezing in some homeschooling between parties and vacations. Life is just one big circus to them. The classes they take outside of the home are ONLY with fellow homeschoolers or people from church. These kids have NO idea what life is like outside of their little bubble that their mom has created for them. The oldest daughter (23) moved out, but works for her dad. And when there isn't anything to do at her dad's office, he sends her back home to mom to help her with whatever she needs. Her dad pays her $15 an hour essentially, to stay in the nest. If she can't make ends meet for whatever reason, he pays for it. Now how are these kids going to function IF they ever are allowed to leave? Shit, why would they WANT to leave!? I just think that my biggest gripe is that the 7 year old can hardly talk, can't read, can't count... and still was wearing diapers to bed as his 6th birthday approached. It's just not right, but it's apparent that THEY think it's ALL OKAY. My sil left me a message the other day letting me know what the 7 yr old would LOVE for his birthday. He loves costumes and to dress up, so whatever costumes I could get together would be great. Well, the last thing that we want to see, is our illiterate 7 yr old nephew, flailing around in some costume, babbling like a toddler. He's getting books and educational toys from us - I hope my sil is not offended. Anyway... thanks for your input. If there's a test that the kids have to complete before moving to the next grade, I'm sure their mom gives them all the answers.

November 16, 2007
5:24 pm
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Tiger Trainer
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As a public school teacher my first opinion is that kids need to learn that people that are different than they are part of the world and it's okay. School is a great way to learn that.

On the other hand, I have a good friend who home schools. she is organized and her kids do take the mandatory state tests and do very well.

November 16, 2007
5:45 pm
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Shaney
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In an article that I just read...

"California offers homeschoolers four options, including joining independent study programs run by public or private schools. Some families launch tiny, home-based private schools. Although charter students take state standards exams every year, homeschoolers enrolled in private school or private independent study programs do not. The lack of testing worries some parents and delights others."

HI tiger - I agree with you, that there are advantages and disadvantages with both public and homeschools. I just really think its a shame that California doesn't require testing for those who attend private or independent homeschooling programs. I can almost bet my life that my sil stears way clear of any of those tests. Her kids wouldn't pass. Actually the 13 yr old boy seems very bright... but he is the only one of the four that is eager to learn. The girls? Their goal in life is to be married to someone like their dad and be a mom... which is WONDERFUL... but good luck getting away from their mom to even FIND a man. And one that gives them the life that their dad provides them? Ugh... they're in for a rude awakening, I think.

I often wonder what the other mothers, who homeschool in the same group, think of my sil and her teacing ability. Hmm.

November 16, 2007
10:47 pm
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I teach High School math, and I've yet to have a kid come in from homeschooling or private school at grade level. They're always either behind or have huge gaps in their education. Good private schools are expensive, and they're expensive becuase they pride themselves on percentage of students going to and graduating from honorable universities. When I say expensive, I'm talking thousands of dollars per month. Not 400.

Private schools are not held accountable to state standards,and No Child Left Behind. This means that when kids come to high school from private (as they often do in order to play sports) I've no idea, zilcho, as to their level. They fail. I don't know where in their education things got messed up and have no way of finding out unless I spend countless hours individually with them, hours that aren't there. Most homeschool parents strugled with algebra, so they can't teach it 15-20 years later.

Public School high school teachers, due to No Child Left Behind, must have a credential to teach specific subject matter. This means a BA in the subject matter + passing subject test + one year graduate school for teaching credential + a CLAD certificate (Cross cultural Language and Development) for teaching students from various cultures. this is an additional 15 units graduate work.

Private schools can hire anybody over the age of 18. Don't even have to graduate high school. And they do. It's cheap. Some private schools pay minimum wage to teachers. They are not held accountable in any way to any education laws. They are exempt. These are the schools that "suck" unaware parents in under the guise that "public education has failed, let us help your child". Private schools aren't necessarily "better" than public schools. They are a business and they want your money.

We have a private school near my home from which quite a few Senators and Representatives have attendend. It's about 3 thousand a month and requires boarding by the student. corporal punishment is permitted, kids are on a strict schedule with academics, exercise, food, social life. It's HIGHLY structured. Their students score HIGH on SAT's and ACT's. There's no obesity problems, no respect towards authority problems, and students don't fail.

For homeshcooling I like the Abekka Curriculum. it's Christian, but that's not why I like it. Abekka aligns with California Standards so when a homeschooler comes to me I know what they've studied and where they've "been."

Kids coming into high school from both private and homeschool struggle immensely socially.

I've a brother and sister-in-law who homeschool. They're highly educated, both of them, and quite qualified to teach their kids. They themselves thrive on structure, so their kids are achieving and thriving, both academically and socially.

If I didn't have to work, was independently wealthy or otherwise had an income, truthfully, I would homeschool. No gangs, no bullies, no drugs, no fights, no anal-retentive emotionally abusive teachers, no sex, no changing in front of strangers for P.E., no popularity shit, etc.

High School is hard, but not because of the academics- because of the social pressure in the atmosphere. Which is virtually non-existent after high school. No such thing as popular out of high school.

free

November 17, 2007
12:06 am
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Shaney
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Thanks free... I love your post, as it gives me the info I was looking for. Thanks so much. I think homeschooling is best, for all of the reasons that you mentioned. But my biggest problem is that California isn't regulating the education that these kids are getting, and they're suffering, just like you said... scholastically and socially. I'm not sure what the answer is... I do, however respect your point of view.

3,000 a MONTH! Wow... but it seems that you get what you pay for in this particular case. I went to a private Catholic school, and they didn't give anyone a chance to fail. Times were different then, and so were attitudes about learning, respet for your teachers, accountability, etc. I'm sure you understand what I'm talking about. I don't know very many kids nowadays that even want to be in school. Then I read about kids in third world countries who would walk 25 miles a day to school if it was available to them. It's so sad. We have so many opportunities in this country, and we really take them for granted, education being one of those things. Whoa... a bit of a tangent there.. sorry.

Anyway, I'm curious to see what happens with my nieces and nephews. They're great kids... just not that smart, and it freaks us out. We don't have any kids, and at this point in our lives, probably won't have any. Who knows what I would do about educating my child. I guess I'd have to figure out a way to make an extra $3,000 a month, right? Jeez. It's easy for me to sit here and girpe about how someone else is educating their kids, having absolutely NO experience myself! HA!

Thanks for your post. I have lots of respect for you as a high school teacher. That takes heart AND guts. hugs - Shaney

November 17, 2007
8:44 am
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risingfromtheashes
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shaney - since I have an "almost" high schooler and a baby on the way - I can tell you that times ARE different. And I expect that once the baby is in school, even THAT will be different than my daughter currently gets.

I think I could NOT homeschool - because, despite my intelligence - I did not do well in science and history - enough to be confident enough to teach it. It would take alot of RElearning on my part - which would hinder the process I think...and take alot of my own time.

I DID do well in math - but these days, they teach math soooooooooo differently. My daughter is now in algebra - and that seems to have remained the same and I can help her with that. BUT - when she gets up to trig and calc - I don't remember much and would need a refresher course.

I sucked at english - writing was NOT my thing - I HATED book reports - my daughter does too...and these days - the outlines of expectations are given - and they baffle me....I don't think I could teach like that.

So, knowing my limitations, I know I couldn't homeschool. As free pointed out, many parents struggled in math so long ago - so how can they POSSIBLY keep up with how math is taught today - without RElearning themselves??? and today, they move so fast - kids are learning stuff at an earlier age than when we were in school. Hell, my daughter had six years of spanish by time she was in middle school! I just started IN middle school.

I DO like the idea that you can do more real world stuff with kids as a homeschooler - like more "field trips" to learn stuff - and more home based lessons - cooking, ecology, etc....you have more freedom on that level.

But I think that's where a parent, who is interested in helping their child grow, can help their kids wihtout homeschooling - simply by knowing where their kids are at, being interested and giving them "extra lessons" at home - meaning if you know they are learning about marine life, showing them real marine life when you go to the beach, or cooking lessons when they are learning fractions, or recycling when they are learning that sort of thing.

You can supplement your kids education without actually home schooling them.

My daughter was attending a blue ribbon school - the education was very progressive - and she was ahead of the game of many of her peers.

HOWEVER, the cost of living in that town buried me.

Now I live in a poor community, but it's soooooo small that K thru 12 are in ONE building. And I am finding the teachers more responsive to our needs - and more willing to put in extra time with my daughter to help her. If my daughter has needs, I don't need to go to the hassle of having an IEP or any other assessment - I just ask and keep in contact with them about what I think she needs. If I want a child study team, I got it...if I want extra help, I got it.

So, I think that, despite the progressive nature, I think she has a better shot at succeeding.

when you have kids - you adapt - and you do the best you can with what you have.

November 17, 2007
8:48 am
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risingfromtheashes
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one more thing - before judging the seven year old that wears diapers to bed still....know why.

I have a cousin that is now close to 20 that wears "diapers" to bed.

when she stayed with us when she was little, I always judged her mother for putting a pull up on her at night....I then figured, well, strange home, dark house, one bathroom on lower level, maybe there is a good reason.

Then, when she was 16, she stayed again....I noticed depends in the trash.

I never did ask - BUT assume that there is a medical problem here...although, I am quick to judge because the kid has other "issues" and I wonder if there truly is a medical reason and not a mental one.

anyway - I suppose there could be medical reason - so don't be so quick to judge.

also, my best friend has a 13 year old that still wets - he has epilepsy and is bipolar and ever since diagnosed with epilepsy (and the meds he is on), he can't help it...some weeks are better than others.

it happens....it may or may not be related to the other problems...or given his lack of progress in his education, there MAY BE an issue that you (and maybe not mom) is aware of? some degree of handicap?

anyway, just know that night time wetting isn't always due to being lazy or not trying.

November 17, 2007
2:50 pm
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Hi Shaney~

I'm glad my post gave you info you were looking for.

Regarding Catholic Schools: we do have a private Catholic school that feeds into our high school- It's only K-8 so kids either go to the next city over for the Catholic School or come to ours. What I like about these kids is their level of respect and seriousnesss towards their studies. Only problem we had with them in the past was that there was gaps in their education. Transitioning is extremely difficult if curriculum's are not aligned. Well when our principal retired, he got a job there- easy for him as the school is so much smaller and all the extras that public school administrators do wasn't required, so it was almost like free money for him. Well, he changed their curriculums to align with ours. Across the board- history math english etsc- he adopted the honors curriculum from our feeder middle school. Now these come in as freshman and they're the to of their class all the way through.

California has addressed the issue of non-alignment by forcing all public schools to adhere to California Standards. It is tremendous work for schools to do- numerous meetings as ALL lessons MUST meet a grade specific Standard. I'm the only teacher at my school with 2 sections of a high math class so I had to do it on my own. I had to print out California Standards for the grade level and subject and then use my semester calendar and EACH DAY document the standard taught to in a spreadsheet with all the info. Had to change my calendar so the progression of standards taught aligned with the progression of California Standards. It was months of weekends working on this. But if I didn't do it by a deadline, my school can't offer it the following semester. This year we need new textbooks so guess what. I get to do that all again as the district wants to switch publishers.

We have two Charter Schools. They use OUR curriculums and we provide them with semester schedules. Alot of their work is done by us. Which is fine- we're really just sharing what we already had to do anyhow. What I like about them is that the kids have the opportunity to get everything the public schools offer (it really IS a good education, high schools do everything required to prep a kid for college due to No Child left Behind- getting the kids and families to participate is the problem, not curriculums). However, parents at home MUST insure kids are actually learning, and I don't see this happening for the most part.

Parents ar working, doing their own thing, kids are failing out of high school, kids balme the school so parents disenroll and enroll in charter school. Our 2 Charter School kids aren't passing the High School Exit Exam, which must be passed for a High School Diploma in California. The Charter Schools are NOT succeeding. The kids that pas the exit exam and then enroll in the charter school are scoring below basic (beloth the 20th percentile) on the State Standards Exams. Ya just can't force education into a kid's brain- they have to actually TRY to learn and family comes into play there.

I could go on and on about education Shaney and bore the crap out of you probably.

I'm teaching high school math with my hands tied behind my back, hobbles on my feet, parents that want me to be mommy according to their varying definitions, and that used to make me angry. But ya know what? It's quite the challenge really. Was offered Department Chair position but said nope- this challenge I'm gonna conquer- I'm gonna TEACH these kids some math-it's the goal of a lifetime. And I love it.

I laugh alot.

free

November 17, 2007
7:10 pm
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I am enojoying reading these comments. the no child left behind law should apply to all children. there is a mom in my dance group who homeschools. she wanted her daughter to start public school in middle school but she was too far behind!!!
that is unfair to the daughter.

At my school we are working our heads, tails and everything in between to get these underprivileged children up to state testing standards. They are certainly better off in school than learning at home.

November 20, 2007
2:16 pm
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Let me introduce myself as a mother of two sons (now 23 and 19) who did BOTH: homeschooling AND enrollment in public school.

Both of my sons have ADHD. The younger also has motor skill impairment, speech difficulties and is non-auditory. (In short, he learns only through VISUAL instruction, not spoken instruction. He also was very slow to potty train, wearing diapers until he was four. It really worried me at the time.

My older son got (literally) kicked out of two pre-schools because of his acute hyperactivity level. Highly intelligent, but bouncing off the walls. Eventually, his doctors were able to diagnose the ADHD and start him on medication. However, even with meds, he was unable at the age of 5 to maintain sufficient attention within the distractions and stimuli of a classroom setting. In despair, I began homeschooling him. We live in Florida which requires that your "homeschool" be registered with your County's School District. All students must pass competency exams in the spring, administered by a neutral, certified teacher. If the child fails such exams two years running, the child is COURT-ORDERED into mandatory, public school attendance.

My son did extremely well in our homeschool. I homeschooled him until age 7. My goal, however, was to mainsteam him into public school, as soon as he was emotionally mature enough to handle classroom dynamics successfully without being a disruption to himself or to others. To keep him academically on track, I used the Abekka curriculum someone else on this thread mentioned. It is, indeed, excellent. It is a Christian program, but academically superior to any other resources I found. When my son finally entered public school, he was nearly TWO GRADES ahead in reading and language skills and one semester above grade level in math. He excelled in science and history.

His younger brother was enrolled in public school from the get-go. He floundered terribly, despite being placed on a 504 Plan to provide him with interventions, specifically addressing his ADHD. He also had an IEP for speech therapy and motor skill therapy. By the end of first grade, he was still unable to identify the alphabet or read. So, that summer, I taught him how to read...again, using the Abekka curriculum which his older brother used so successfully. He learned to read on GRADE LEVEL in just 6 weeks of home tutoring.

By 7th grade, we discontinued his speech therapy and accepted his motor skill limitations. (To this day, he cannot write in cursive, so he prints or word-processes everything.) When he took standardized tests, his answers were "dicatated" to a scribe who recorded his answers.

So, I have homeschooled AND had my sons in public school. Both wound up with scholarships. Both were honor students. Both won Presidential Awards. Both graduated with an "A" GPA. I had to do alot of home tutoring, right through middle school and high school for both boys. Both were highly intelligent, but required specific teaching methods to accommodate their disabilities. In an ideal situation, the teacher at school is the PRIMARY instructor and the parent simply reinforces the primary instruction on the home front. But with my sons, I became the primary instructor and their classroom time was a reinforcement of what I taught them at home.

And I had to hire a private math tutor for 6 YEARS!! I was unqualified to teach them Algebra II, Geometry, Trig or calculus by myself, so located a certified teacher to work with them, two afternoons each week during their freshman, sophomore and junior years of high school.

I have mixed feelings about homeschooling. I have seen abuses where kids never got a solid, academic foundation. But I have also seen cases where the kids benefitted from the homeschooling. For my own sons, homeschooling provided the transitional support, as well as the supplementary schooling needed for their ultimate success.

Although I am a Christian, that was not why I did so much homeschooling with my sons. I have no desire to put my sons in a "plastic baggy" and protect them from the evils of the world. My take on this is that I am raising MEN who must handle the "bad stuff" out there in the world independently. If I raise them right -- with the appropriate value system -- they will be able to do this. It is not a school's responsibility to teach my sons moral values or coping skills; it is MY responsibility, as their parent.

- Ma Strong

November 21, 2007
12:12 am
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Some home schooler parents are very proactive and adept at teaching and some are just duds. At my job I see my share of both. There are so many different reasons for homeschooling, as well as varied levels of competency of the parents who do it. I do wonder what is lost with the lack of teaching training/degree though.

One home schooled girl I know said something scary to another child who asked "What is home schooling?" She replied in all seriousness "It means I can wake up whenever I want and I never have to do any homework." She also has the worst manners I have witnessed on a child her age, very unsocialized and mean as a viper.

On the other hand, some parents do a superb job and their children mingle with other children in settings other than school and do quite nicely. Some homeschooler parents I know get together and higher I tutor so their children can all meet up and learn a particular topic that they cannot teach by themselves. I don't know about testing and grade level for these children, but they are getting a lot of individual attention from a qualified teacher and having to sit for lessons just as long as a child in a regular school setting would.

I'm the adult child of two educators so I'm biased towards school education. However, I was home schooled myself because of health reasons (yet not by my parents, by other public school teachers) and found it to be a miserable experience. I was lonely and shy and didn't develop social skills that teens need to have by the time they enter college. It was rough at first. If I could have had it any differently, I would go back in time and change that- but it was not possible.

My education was lacking in many ways. My tutors assumed that because they thought I was bright that I did not need certain lessons. Sometimes when I was in a lot of pain, they would take pity and skip things just to make it easier for me. Honestly, I would have been better off making up a grade or two.

Hard to make a blanket statement, but for me- I prefered being IN school. It would have helped my life that followed.

-ella

November 21, 2007
11:51 am
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Shaney
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Thanks everyone, for your responses. It's nice to get so many views based on real experience.

I have thought that there is a possibility my 7 year old nephew has a learning disability, or some sort of mental challenge. But aside from the reality that nobody in our family would flat out ask her if this was the case, her attitude about his "learning" speaks loud and clear. She makes very casual comments like, "It seems that he's starting to show an interest in learning. He's beginning to show curiosity about what the other kids are doing while they're doing school work." So she's basically sitting back until her 7 year old gives her some sort of clue as to whether he's ready to start learning, or whether he just wants to continue playing with his dinasours off to the side, while his brother and sister are being home schooled. It just seems so odd to me.

But I do believe that home schooling can be very beneficial, when guidelines are followed by mothers who know their limitations and supplement their childs education when needed. But I also believe that there are mothers who make the decision to home school, that are just not qualified to do so, period. And their children's education suffers tremendously. I just feel that this is the case with my sister in law. Their lives just seem to have no structure and life is just one big vacation.

Anyway, thanks everyone. It's nice to see all of the success stories, and know that great kids can come from all of the options that our educational system provides.

November 21, 2007
11:51 am
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couple of quick thoughts...as an educator:

Public school provides more than academic learning. Socialization is a very important part of school, and homeschoolers are at a disadvantage unless the parents make a point to network with other children and involve their kids in extracurricular activities.

Most states have regulations regarding the curriculum covered by homeschoolers, and the kids have to pass periodic assessments. Not sure why your SIL is not doing this...

You could inquire re: the laws in their state, and find out if anyone is holding them accountable for their children's progress. That's a big key in public education...accountability.

Sorry....not much time...

November 21, 2007
12:31 pm
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Shaney
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Hi ready,

I copied from above:

In an article that I read...

"California offers homeschoolers four options, including joining independent study programs run by public or private schools. Some families launch tiny, home-based private schools. Although charter students take state standards exams every year, homeschoolers enrolled in private school or private independent study programs do not. The lack of testing worries some parents and delights others."

My thought is that my SIL is MOST DEFINITELY involved in the super mega private programs that steer clear of any and all state testing. Her kids wouldn't pass. Although she does take them to outside classes (within their Christian home schooling group) for socialization. They're sweet kids, but seem pretty naive to, and almost intimidated by anyone outside of their group.

November 21, 2007
2:57 pm
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I had homeschooled my child for two years, would I do it again? No...my child learned more than most in school but we had no real social outlets and we did not fit into any groups, they were either very religious or pagan, two extremes and it was not comfortable for us, so we went back to the p.s....I feel this is best for us...for her and for me, it was very draining and isolating for us both...despite the problems we have now...its better than her being all alone...and I feel as if I have a life again.

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