Teaching Programming To All Ages

The homeschool parent can teach students to code at any age. This is true even if the parent cannot themselves code at first. This article will show one way to teach coding, but learning to code is a journey that never really ends. Very young children, as young as ten years old, can code their own programs, games, stories, and songs. MIT has created appropriate tools for the homeschool curriculum. Like children’s books, kids will grow out of this development environment. The young coder can take the fundamentals learned in a program like Scratch and progress into more complex and more mature languages. The non-coding parent can self-educate to provide guidance to the student.

Gaining fluency in artificial mathematical languages, especially computer languages, is the contemporary approach to improving logical capacity that was once reserved for learning the dead classical languages. Learning programming languages, usually referred to as coding, is designing a set of instructions to provide to a machine that direct it to respond. This is usually applied to computers, but it can be for an assortment of machines. In computer programming the instructions are transcribed into a language the machine can understand. Because the machine can only respond to a specific set of logical instructions, mastering coding teaches people to think logically and clearly.

Today, coding can be something as simple as the “up, down, up, up, down, left, left, right” game hacks of the 1990s video game controllers, or punching in codes to your stove to defrost, then cook a roast. The world is filled with embedded computers that are a part of everyday life. More general purpose computers like smartphones, desktop and laptop machines that are continually used by most families can be programmed to create more interesting things like web pages or memes. Everyone knows Apps, so imagine creating one.

Too Young To Type

How young is too young to begin to teach programming? People are never too young to learn to think clearly, but some forms of abstract thought require a certain level of mature reasoning. Access to some machines also requires a certain level of physical dexterity. MIT solved these problems with the toolkit Scratch. Scratch is designed for children as young as 8 years old.  MIT has almost a century’s experience in designing programming languages. MIT furnishes many free tools and courses like Scratch. For the non-programming parent who incorporates coding into the reading-writing-drawing homeschool environment, even younger children could be involved with the creation of animated stories, songs, and games while watching the parent master the environment.

Scratch

https://scratch.mit.edu/

programming for children
Scratch from MIT

This free toolkit allows the student to create animated stories, games, puzzles, or songs, then to share these online.

The coding model is like snap-together plastic blocks. Each block is a specific piece of programming code and the snapping together provides a syntax backbone. With various tools like Motion, Looks, Sound, Events, Controls, Sensors, Operators, and Variables, operating programs can be assembled without knowing anything about logical calculus, syntax, or Boolean Algebra. The program can be reviewed immediately on the Scratch screen. Over the course of time the student will learn the basic components of programming and how to apply them. The program also lets the student define personal blocks for when the existing tools are too limited.

The program comes with robust tutorials and many example projects to explore. Scratch also offers specific help for parents and educators. An interesting use for this toolkit in elementary schooling, and Scratch is really just for younger students, would be to read some story, write an original story about that story, draw the main characters in the original story, then code it into an animated tale with sound, dialog, backdrops, and music to share online with other homeschool students.

In School

Older students also can begin with a program like Scratch to master the basics of coding. They will soon want to learn something more complex. Learning to build WEB applications that can be run online, on the home computers, or on the smart phone is fun. Most students will already be familiar with iPhone game apps, so allowing students to create apps makes sense. A traditional programming language like C++ or JAVA can take months getting from printing a simple “Hello World” on the screen or on a printer to making a web page. No student likes to defer the fun for months.

Happily, powerful intermediate tools can accelerate the process. One tool is called Ruby On Rails.

Ruby On Rails

 https://rubyonrails.org/

Like Scratch, Ruby On Rails provides an entire framework for building robust web pages. The program has many tutorials and YouTube presentations to systematically teach the fundamentals of using the product without having to master the elements of building a framework, initializing databases, installing resources and the rest of the nuts and bolts of programming.

An interesting project for the parent teacher in the homeschool would be to create a Family BLOG that tracks and manages the homeschool using Ruby On Rails. This allows the parent to learn the resources and the framework before the student begins. The homeschool can present a professional face to the outside world from the start. This BLOG also can manage the details from the local district and track required testing.

Robust Professional Languages

Much of the world has shifted to the Internet of Things (IoT) where security systems, refrigerators, and washing machines are programmable. Many DIY products and science fair projects are easily programmed with Ruby On Rails.

Like education, programming is a journey. Languages, operating systems, databases, and projects are stops along the way. Once the framework of a program like Ruby On Rails is mastered, the teacher and the student will want to learn languages that give more precise control away from the WEB.

Python

 https://www.python.org/

Python is the contemporary leader in professional and hobbyist programming. It is as powerful as earlier production languages like C, C++, COBOL, JAVA, and FORTRAN, but has a more forgiving syntax, simpler object handling, and simple error tracing tools.

The homeschool that wants to incorporate 3-D Printers, program Strawberry Pi’s, create mathematical analysis tools, or manage BLOB data, Python is a simple and powerful language that can do any professional task.

JAVASCRIPT and HTML

 https://www.javascript.com/

HTML and JAVASCRIPT have been the core tools of web developers for decades. Most JAVASCRIPT programmers do not even realize they are programming. Almost anything that can be done with another language can be scripted in the web world. The results are more immediate, not requiring complex compilation or assembly of the code.

 https://html.com/

People who want more control over components in Ruby On Rails or Python can go directly into HTML to create them and enhance the WEB project.

JAVA and Oracle

 https://www.java.com/en/

JAVA is another very powerful commercial production development language. It was developed by SUN Microsystems, so it has much of the power of that open source environment. It was acquired by Oracle, so has been adapted to a database focus. Needless to say JAVASCRIPT works well in the JAVA environment.

C# and Windows

 https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/csharp/

For the Microsoft developers, the easiest language to learn is C#. It is very powerful and simple to use. The only limitation is that it only works in a Windows environment.

Teaching Programming To All Ages

programming for children

Teaching programming to all ages assures the homeschool student one great skill for finding and getting work later. Software engineering is one career that still requires no university degree. Mastering Ruby On Rails or Python will open many doors to your student’s future. Mastering Python or JAVA well enough to take the certification in the language, will open career doors. Programmers are hired on merit and certifications can substitute for college degrees in Software Engineering positions for most companies. What you can do is more important than a degree.

Parents Should Teach Children to Read

Children must be taught. The child will crawl by itself, but must be guided to not lick the electric outlet. He or she will walk, but must learn to not dash into traffic. Nothing a child is taught is more important than reading. Reading exposes them to other people’s thoughts beyond their immediate contacts. Reading shepherds the child into an expanding world. As the child is exposed to other people’s ideas, he or she will distinguish one from another, true from false, fantastical from actual, and eventually develop a mature ability to think. Parents should teach children to read. No other parental responsibility is more important.

Contemporary public schools are not interested in teaching students to discover their innate freedom of thought, of speech, or of communication. Public schools teach reading but focus on developing normative students. They treat all exceptions as special needs projects. Socrates could not teach in any public school today for the same reason he was jailed in Athens. Athenian authorities wanted children to become good citizens first and good soldiers second. Socrates taught students to question the lessons and offered the students a method of inquiry. Nothing has changed in the oldest case study in education. Socrates’ heresy is still heresy. No Socrates would be hired at an American public school. He would still be a corrupter of youth.

The education of the young can serve the prevailing ideology or it can serve the individual. Athens had one opinion and Socrates another. Today the state prefers one and many families the other. This remains an unequal contest because the state, specifically the education establishment, has legal authority over children, and therefore does not care much what families think about individual learning.

American public education uses a mutable progressive ideology. Mutable because it changes gradually over time and with the goals of educators, but without losing focus. Ideology because the ideas of the curriculum interlock to create a self-referential reality. The result is designed to limit freedom of thought. A population emerges that is limited in its ability to discriminate good ideas from bad, or truth from partial truth.

Public educators understand that learning to read does not create a free mind. The process of teaching reading can itself be a vehicle used to bind the thoughts of children, like ancient Chinese women had their feet bound.1 The resulting chattels walked gracefully for the teacher, but could not wander off. Functional literacy may be the right skills for a good student or a good citizen, but not for a person destined to wander away from the institution.

Compulsory education law demands that parents hand over children to state authority and indoctrination. Even homeschools do not escape this authority. Homeschools must submit to state regulations and local supervision. Home schooled students must be tested in the core educational ideas of the local public school. Local school boards, social services, and the police are on hand to enforce this authority.

Much damage has been done. America is no longer the most literate country on Earth. The normal American operates the government and most business. The labor force is just functional. This is by design. Liberty always irritated the leadership. Industrialists did not approve of free thinking workers any more than planters wanted literate slaves. Business still does not want literate employees in call centers and box stores. Normative behavior and politically correct thought are the ideal for workers and citizens. The two ideas grew together in the United States and both work toward a common goal: a compliant functionally literate worker. Grandpa Johnny Couldn’t Read and his kids came of age listening to creole pidgin hip-hop. Millennial children coming of age live in a world of images and surfaces a few inches from their faces. The most reasoned statement they see is a meme. Normal people in all three generations have become disinterested and docile. The 2020 emergency demonstrated how docile.

Ironically, the dual track education system, one for the leaders (private) and one for the workers (public), that solved the initial problem of too many literate workers was damaged by the health emergency. Many people came awake and are now questioning whether the compulsory public education that set the standards for good workers and good citizens is still helpful in their lives. Something can be done immediately to push back against this indoctrination. Parents should teach children to read.

Parents must see the harm in letting public school teach the child to read and choosing the texts. Public education aims for minimum proficiency. It aims for functional literacy. It aims to instill specific ideas about the world. Control of the narrative must not be allowed from the first reading lesson.

Parents should derail the process by teaching children to read before and during their public education to counter-balance the indoctrination. The child has no chance of meeting a teacher in school who is interested in their reading skill and their freedom of thought. Parents should get quality material in front of the child as soon as possible. Middle school or high school is not too late to read a little Thomas Paine or Murray Rothbard. The more children who think independently, the fewer Prussian adults the state can march off into the permanent military underclass staffing Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or Ukraine.

Parents should teach children to read as early as possible. In or out of public school, the parents should expose the child to non-ideological, traditional texts. Every step closer to emancipation is a win. The family that takes this path will have a fight to the last school day with authorities who want supremacy over the child, but there is a fighting chance if the free thinking child is in the family’s corner.

1J. S. Mill, On Liberty

Teaching Basic Skills Without a Safety Net

Children must learn the basic skills of reading, writing and numbers. Augustine said, “Legere et scribere et numerare discitur.” These skills temper thought and create the platform for curiosity. Learning to read, write, and perform basic arithmetic is critical especially before exposure to public school institutionalization.

Public education discourages the formation of reasoned and discriminating thought in students. Public education discourages unapproved curiosity. Parents must teach the basics because no one knows what strangers will teach at public school, or what strange curriculum they follow. Teaching the basics before encounters with public school “stranger danger” helps parents maintain standards for  learning.

This is not weird. Students learned the basics at home before compulsory education. In America that meant the people, rich or poor, arrived at school having mastered the basics of reading, rudimentary writing, and basic arithmetic. The wealthy provided a nanny or governess for instruction, but most families used parents. Most rural American people learned to read from the Bible or maybe Mother Goose. Literate families commonly read aloud from the Bible or the newspaper in the evening before television or social media. Children learned to do letters by imitation, and to count, usually with mom during the day, or perhaps in the evening with dad. Teaching children was a family engagement with priority over competing activities.

Reading

One needs a book to legere (read). Any book, Kindle, or tablet, that can be read will work. Children need books after learning to speak, so the brain can associate sounds to the marks on the page.

Not all reading methods are equal. Some popular methods in the past worked poorly. For example, the generation tortured by “See Dick run. See Jane. See Jane run,” ran away in 1965. Many were only functionally literate and spent a lifetime being misled and confused. A generation of educators and politicians were inspired by answering the question why Johnny can’t read.

It continues with new ways for teaching reading. New methods arrive with every masters thesis at every teacher’s college. When educators invent something usually it is to sell to the state or online. The Internet is packed with better ways to teach reading and much of it comes from this education mill. Many of these techniques try to solve the problem of teaching many students with one teacher. Nothing is better than one-on-one attention and repetition. Parents who sit with the child and read should ignore this noise.

Some proven methods work well. Phonics helped many Baby Boomers learn to read better than Dick, Jane or sight-sound. Phonics still works. It adds another hook for associating the words in baby’s mouth to the marks on the page. The Charlotte Mason Method served hundreds of thousands of homeschool families for most of a century. It works. The key is in regular reading to the child, eventually transitioning into the child reading to you. Patience, persistence, and attention always works.

Writing

Teaching scribere (writing) is not difficult. Learning to write should run parallel with learning to read.

Young children can draw things that they read with the parent. A narration of things that they draw can follow. Students can be nudged into good habits of clear thinking and of rational action in the process.

Copying what was read, and eventually copying what was thought, connects thinking, saying, writing, and reading, back to thinking again. Learning to write is not complicated or mysterious. Learning to read is practice. Learning to write is training.

Writing well is difficult. Writing clearly, writing with some grace to improve the thought is difficult. Most adult writers spend a lifetime running that loop from thought to the page. They all began with “Hello world,” a teacher who primed the pump. Learning to write is not difficult.

Mathematics

We get to numerare (numbers) at last. Math is hard. It is okay to find it hard. It is not okay to neglect it. Most parents today have problems with math. Parents should begin by teaching numbers and then teaching the math in daily use. Shopping, budgets, and cooking all provide opportunities for teaching math.

Young children can learn numbers along with reading and writing. Numbers, counting, putting together, taking away, that sort of thing. Later, the elements of household economy can be included. Children who can buy, sell, calculate, and keep a bank account are better prepared for modern life.

Mathematics are languages, many languages, not just one. The key to all language is drill. Drill is hard and often dull, but not impossible. As general studies progress, the other languages can be added, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Discrete Math, and maybe on to the harder things. The parent does not have to be a master. Math is slow to change and old math books still work. Beyond the overflow of textbooks at Goodwill, a number of free courses for various mathematics appear online. No skill better prepares the child for the future than math fluency.

Legere et scribere et numerare discitur.”

Grace Hooper, UNIVAC, programming
The Admiral Inventing the Future with Grace_Hopper_and_UNIVAC 

Local Education Authority (The School Board)

Every state requires parents to send their children to public school with two exceptions, private schools and homeschools. Private schools are regulated by the same state political entities as the public schools. State regulations vary, but most regulate private schools like public schools. The difference comes as private schools provide their own local authority under state law.

The state sets guidelines for registration and certification.1 Requirements for teacher certification and length of school day and school year are set. Curriculum must be approved and meet state minimums. Records must be kept and things like attendance reported to the state. Health and safety certifications of teachers and staff from the state adhere to the qualification for all educators in the state. Textbooks and testing may have to be approved, depending on the state. Parents engage the private school and authority is transferred by the state for that child to the private school.

Homeschools fall under special statutes within each state. This is also summarized in the private school document referred to above. Because no mechanism exists for transferring education authority to the parent-teacher, the homeschool child remains under the same Local Education Authority (LEA) as the public schools. Homeschools must meet fewer state standards than other private schools, but the ultimate authority lies in the LEA. Usually, parents deal with the district employees who work for the superintendent who represents the LEA.

When parents withdraw children from public education, it is a political act, not necessarily for the parent, but always for the district. The parent may not recognize the political impact, but the district does. The public school loses revenue and loses influence. The elected school board and the district superintendent retain primary educational authority over the child. The district assures that the family adheres to all state and federal laws. If a family naively breaks a rule, the district can and will call the sheriff or social services.

Consequently parents should never just file the declaration of withdrawal and happily run off with their children and Charlotte Mason2 to pursue learning. Even though most districts have a light touch with homeschoolers, the parents should do two things to assure they do not run afoul of the LEA or any district employees accidentally.

First, the prospective homeschool parent should identify the various people in the local district, but especially the Superintendent and the Board Members. This information is often hard to find. Call the local school to get the times of the next public meeting. Attend. Attend online if the COVID rules are still in force. Take notes. Be on the lookout for policies, or changes in policies, that will affect your homeschool.

Second, the parent should learn the day jobs, resumes, and public statements of members. School boards set policy and make decisions for a public school district. Since no elected homeschool parent sits on a school board, it is fair to assume that all the members on the LEA are politically opposed to what the homeschool parent is doing. School Boards are both rule-making and enforcement groups, just like the County Commissioners and the City Council. Decisions in school board meetings affect the community. Much local regulation in your area comes from school politicians. School boards are the most powerful local government. They have huge budgets. Small does not matter. COVID teaches that local power over individuals can be devastating. Who could name a County Public Health Administrator in 2019?

school board
“screened” by new 1lluminati

Public education is a very powerful political force in every state. Education in Colorado is 34% of the entire state budget. Many millions of dollars are dispensed from the state government through the unpaid school boards. The education budget is much larger than the municipal budgets in most districts. The elected school board members are among the most influential politicians in the state. They also strive to be low-key. Bottom of the ballot. Nothing to see here.

Parents should follow the money. Paid School Board Members receive modest compensation. Often they make less than custodians at any school. They hold other jobs. The parent should know who pays specific district school board members. Many have income associated with education. No district allows board members to be district employees, but many are teachers’ union employees or consultants on education policy. They are democratically elected by the voters in the district. Like most judges, LEA members are non-partisan elected officials who serve 2, 4, or 6 year terms with staggered elections so that no more than a third are up for election. No single election could change the ideology inside any existing board.

As a governing body a school board strives to administer by consensus, keeping individual disagreements and perspectives private, backing the actions of the superintendent. This sort of democratically elected administrative and rule making body used to be called a soviet, but fashion is off that term. Under any name, this is the democratic organization most vulnerable to authoritarian influence. Anyone who tried to get changes through the PTA, or in a parent-teacher meeting, will understand that the voter-parent has very little influence and is included only to provide consensus. Board Members receive orientation when elected. Usually this orientation comes from the National School Boards Association, where the majority of members in any district belong. In the NSBA words the mission is to provide leadership.

The NSBA is a lobbying organization that educates the 19,000 individual elected LEA members. National policy runs downhill to all the 12,000 school districts in the country. The Department of Education and State Secretaries of Education listen to the NSBA. Local members join to have influence over state and federal policy.

Homeschools stand in opposition to this massive political machine. Because homeschools are legally self-funded, they are also a drain on the machine resources. The justification for taxation and appropriation to fund this multi-billion dollar industry comes from “butts in seats.” The LEA cannot stop a homeschool parent who abides by state law, but it might like to.

Moreover, public education continues a movement. The people who run for this political office at the local level, and serve on the cheap, see themselves as good people. They continue a great tradition in public education. As Frederick Taylor Gates said, “In our dream, we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand.” Gates’ dream of 1913 is the public school reality of 2021. Homeschool families are not yielding themselves with perfect docility. Homeschools are suspect.

Homeschool parents want to teach their children the basics away from dangerous and ideological environments, but this is not how the district administration will see it. Many LEA members see the homeschool as pulling away from all the good things that public education brings to society.

school board
Texas Cotton Family Then

This is not the 20th Century and the last of the ignorant rural folk faded long ago with the cotton sack into old pictures. Now most families work in offices and stores. People no longer need to be condescended to, if ever they did. In 2021 every person who has a smart phone or access to the internet has more information and educational opportunity available than the most educated elite in 1913. Automation and information changed everything. The cotton fields of LBJ’s Texas are mechanized. Everything changed and got better except the public school system and it’s archaic political skeleton.

school board
Texas Cotton Family Now

Homeschooling is the future as surely as the smartphone replaced dial-tone. Homeschooling serves the people destined for something greater than the local district has in mind for them. The incubator is here today where literate adults mature, where children emerge from the home prepared to become lawyers or preachers, politicians or statesmen. How can we know this? We know because homeschool creates excellence when it is focused on the individual talents and needs of individual children, run by the people who know them best and care for them most. Nothing stops that.

school board homeschool
“College of DuPage Engineering Club Hosts STEM Learning Event for Homeschoolers 2018

1“State Regulation of Private Schools” by The Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement, Office of Non-Public Education https://www2.ed.gov/admins/comm/choice/regprivschl/regprivschl.pdf 

2The Gentle Art of Learning https://charlottemason.com/ 

Homeschooling Off-the-Grid

No government wants people living off the grid. No jurisdiction in The United States allows families to live completely off the grid. Doubly so if you have children. The Back to the Earth movement of the 1960s and 1970s caused a legal reaction in most rural jurisdictions. Local governments implemented anti-hippie regulations in zoning, water rights, sewage, electrical connection, and children. State and federal authorities provided enforcement when necessary.

Off-Grid Homeschooling

Families who want to live and school off the grid must first reduce the digital fingerprint. Familiarity with local regulations and local precedent is critical information before putting up a dry cabin, installing septic or electric services, and especially before off-grid homeschooling.

Some families living off-grid continue to send the children to public school just to avoid the inevitable accusations of child endangerment or abuse. This works only poorly. Local education authorities monitor children in public schools to identify off the grid home behaviors. A casual comment like, “We have an outhouse at home,” can trigger a social services investigation or even a sheriff’s visit.

Sign Out, Shut Down, Unplug 1

The issue in off-grid homeschooling is not the schooling. Homeschooling requires at least one child and an adult who can read and write in one language. The next step seems difficult because everybody is more or less institutionalized in the United States in 2021. No computer, smart phone, or the Internet is required to homeschool children. Leaving the compulsory education system is an act of nullification over compulsory education and the indoctrination attached to it. Unplugging from the network is the act of a sovereign individual. Government at every level hates this. The zoning inspector or public health administrator is not a harmless bureaucrat. 2020 taught that rights can be taken away by proclamation, even by your local health administrator. Do not allow the local zoning inspector to derail your homeschool.

The Spartan Path

Most children schooled at home in the past learned to read and write using books, pencil and paper, with the regular recitation of previous lessons. Parents can begin with just the materials at hand. Teaching children the basics, then leading them into more advanced subjects with those basics is simpler than teaching them to speak or to use the toilet. The simplest approaches to homeschool start with books, pencils, and paper, whether your family lives in a city apartment, in a small town, in a rural district, or in an RV.

Even those without any resources, the homeless or off-grid rural families can follow George Washington Carver. Born a slave he scrambled from opportunity to opportunity to get an education. Mr. Carver was literally unschooled.

He understood that basic learning is a survival skill. He learned to read and write with the Bible. This was bravery. Basic literacy was dangerous to the owners during slavery and could get an individual sold or killed. Learning still happened. Quietly. Off-grid homeschool is bravery too. Parents cannot be sold off, but confiscation of land, vehicles, tools, houses to be sold off by investigators is common in most states. Some states regard digging an outhouse as criminal.

off grid homeschool
Education is the Key to Unlock the Golden Door of Freedom

The Blended Model Path

Not everybody wants to be completely off-grid. Those who are moving some parts of life off-grid, who must work in the system, but want to substitute solar power or composting toilets and want to homeschool still can. The family can augment the public school curriculum with directed tutoring. This approach is common today among Indian technical workers who supplement the children’s public education with something like the education the parents received in India.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” -Mark Twain 

Alternatively, parents can withdraw students at the compulsory minimum age. Work and homeschool can follow. Going to work was common as recently as the 1940s. In the 1950s most craftsmen and artisans still went to work with just the basic education. School can be the first step in a lifelong self-education. The Great Books Program of Mortimer Adler supplemented the learning of millions of blue collar families over the years before homeschooling was available.

Now that homeschooling is permitted, the homeschool path can start directly with a set of graded readers like McGuffey. A library card to a nearby physical library helps, but remains difficult in 2021 when most public libraries are still closed. Parents should contact the local librarian to see how access to the collection works. Haunting the used book stores and Goodwill stores for additional books on math, science, history, and other interesting topics also works inexpensively. Thousands of Adler’s Great Books live today in used book stores.

The Tutoring Path

Children of corporate workers and suburban professionals can be educated at home by the parents. This was once the choice only of the upper middle class. John Stuart Mill studied at his father’s desk as James Mill worked at home. This style homeschooling is more possible than ever with the COVID distance working making one or more parents available to run the homeschool.

Dog and Cat Off-Grid
Dog and Cat Off-Grid

Homeschooling offline seems radical in the digital culture, but people attempted it recently. The “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” movement of the 1960s and 1970s put it’s heart in the right place, as much as mass movements have hearts. Drugs and deep media immersion derailed the the dropping out. Not much off-grid happened.

The government actively stamped out as many of the freak hippies as it could. Now it focuses on preventing them. Parents who want to walk on this path in 2021 must understand the triggers for the state. The joke in the 1990s was that the Internet was a trap for perverts and criminals to identify them to the police. It is now a trap for the nonconforming. To be avoided off-grid are social programs, especially financial, and medical programs that give the experts an excuse to classify parents as anti-social or even dangerous.

Homeschools must avoid being demonized, criminalized, and attacked by a bureaucracy that does not want any homeschooling, a state that will not tolerate off-grid activities, and bureaucrats that can use the homeschool as an excuse to confiscate property. Getting off the Internet is the first step off-grid. The autonomous individual should raise autonomous, thinking, reasoning children, and look out for both the bureaucrats who want to end it and the police who will profit from confiscation. Parents should not let a zoning inspector, a child protective worker, or a truant officer end the off-grid dream or disrupt your homeschool.

Children today can be literate. Even slaves learned to read.

But Quietly.

1Margaret Beetem 2021.

The Lure of Private Education

Two English women were in the park with their babies, and one said, “I don’t know whether to send her to Lambeth College or Eton.” The other replied,” Well, Amy Weinhouse lived in Lambeth.”

This joke may not work for American parents. Lambeth Borough is the fifth most dangerous neighborhood in London and the former Prince Harry went to Eton. Parents leaving the public school system in the U. S. are not clueless. No mother asks, “Shall we send her to Harrow School or stay in Oakland Public Schools.”

Parents with a prep school legacy know the value of their school. Newly famous or newly affluent parents often choose a private school as part of that elevation. The path from public education to private school seems confusing in the beginning. Parents who cannot afford a tutor and cannot homeschool find that any private school is better  than any public school. That choice made, a few decisions still remain.

Understanding the private school requirements, both obvious and hidden, means confronting real school choice.  5.7 million students who attended private school made the choice in 2020. (According to The National Center for Education Statistics1.) Private school holds a promise of social advancement. That is the Lure of Private Education.

First, parents must get to know the school, meet with the senior administrator, and look at the admission criteria. Cost matters, but can be worked around because up to a third of students at even the best schools are on scholarship. This can be 100% of cost. Parents must imagine a multi-year relationship.

Private schools have glamour. Most take no government money, so are not forced into “whole child” social programs like public schools. The state still licenses private schools, so no school escapes the prevailing social philosophy. Each school is unique, has a philosophy, and offers quality education. Parents must look beneath the surface to understand the educational philosophy and the quality of learning.

Jewish Day Schools
Abraham Joshua Heschel School in NYC by  Jay Dobkin

Secondly, private schools organize for a reason. Sometimes it is creed and sometimes it is social exclusivity. Religious families usually make the choice by creed. All religious schools accept students from every creed and philosophy. If  career is driving the decision, and not creed or philosophy, parents should look at the best local day and boarding schools within their means.

Preparatory schools often live up to the stereotype of exclusivity. Prep boarding schools provide a private and protective environment for students. Jewish Day Schools represent some of the highest quality private learning across the country. Parochial schools are more accessible and sometimes more affordable. This does not mean lower standards. For example, Regis High School in Colorado offers prep quality second to none https://www.regisjesuit.com. Islamic schools are not as numerous as other types of school, but provide high quality education. Christian private schools are widespread and may be easier to get into. Some schools, like Montessori Method schools, have no religious leaning, but still operate with a particular philosophy of education.

The third question is how does a particular school fit into the family’s life. Each family must make this determination. A very good site for researching private schools in 2021 is Niche https://www.niche.com/. Niche can help with comparisons of all the public and private schools in an area.

Families must begin the application process with several acceptable schools. Price and the selection process narrow the choices. Smaller numbers of students make the process torturous, so be ready for some disappointment. Stories about “tiger parents” who select infant daycare based on the eventual university preferred by the family involve the best prep schools. Prep schools still offer the smoothest path from kindergarten to the Ivy League, so the stories are not urban myths. They probably come from those parents on the affluent fringes who have all the usual qualifications, but not the legacy. The path into an affordable “good school” with almost the right social standing or wealth can occupy most of the family’s peak earning years for all but legacy families.

 

Prep School
“Rhodes Prep School – 11 w 54th St New York”  by  distar97

Boarding schools come in two categories. The elite school serving the very rich or very famous provides a private environment with adequate security. Calling these warehouses for trust fund babies may be too harsh, but the British students who attend Eton and Westminster are among peers. This is not different in America. The demographic is broader than fifty years ago because these schools offer scholarships to less affluent or less socially connected families. The motivation for using an elite boarding school must be clear. Parents must not use specific schools for family class mobility. The horror stories about children from modest means getting into the boarding school on scholarship and failing miserably are true enough. Students rarely benefit from extreme class dislocation.

There is a second type of boarding school expressly for the disadvantaged. In this group are schools like Boys Town and some military academy boarding schools. The primary example of these are the Indian Government Schools (First Peoples). Just as the elite prep schools are designed to acculturate the students to the class they will represent in the world, the boarding schools for First Peoples were designed to make “Americans.” These schools surely killed the indigenous languages and culture of Native Americans.The government school mission is more humane today, particularly when the school is Tribal Operated. Government schools still exist as 52 Bureau of Indian Education Schools and 135 Tribal Operated Schools. Often the choice is between public school in neighboring towns and government school. If the family still has some claim to the reservation, this might be a better choice than public school in a distant town.

Firs Peoples Boarding Schools
“Walapai Indian school at Kingman, Arizona, ca.1900 (CHS-3188)”  by  Fæ

Other First Peoples schools exist. The St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota is a parochial boarding school. This parochial charity boarding school is openly Catholic, but makes a determined effort to retain cultural values within the Sioux student population.

 

Catholic Private School
“Inside a catholic private school”  by  Miles Heller

Parochial day schools are less popular than fifty years ago when Bing Crosby was popularizing them in film. Nevertheless, they are in almost every community and are more affordable than prep schools, without sacrificing quality. Catholic schools also are widespread around the world, most famously in India where 11,084 secondary schools continue to provide strong educations for children of all ethnic backgrounds on the subcontinent. Many of the best engineers in Silicon Valley got their English language fluency and acculturation from parochial schools. Even in the US these schools provide the most affordable private education for Catholic families of modest means who want out of the public schools. They do come with some social baggage for non-Catholics, but all religious schools do. Brother Billy-Bob’s Baptist Academy is easier for Baptists, right?

Catholic School
“Inside a catholic private school”  by  Miles Heller

So the parents are deciding between Brixton and Eton? The path for escaping into private education from public school is clear.

First: Cost (the numbers given here are just representative examples.)

Boarding schools like the Hotchkiss School is ranked the #1 private academy in Connecticut and costs about $60,000 per year.

Jewish Day Schools like Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School costs between $50,000. and $65,000 per year for elementary school.

Parochial schools like the Academy Of Notre Dame in Middlesex, MA costs between $6,500 and $15,000 per year plus other fees for K – 12

Islamic schools like the Al-Noor Academy in Mansfield, MA costs about $13,750 per year

Christian schools nationwide have an average tuition of $11,173 per year (2021).

Second: Social Strata and Social Goals

Often social advancement is the lure of private education. The Private School Review helps parents find the right school by category, and provides many resources and articles to help in the evaluation. https://www.privateschoolreview.com/ 

Third: Religious or Ideological Orientation

Jewish Day Schools, Christian schools. and Islamic schools take people of all faiths, but all religious private schools will come with some degree of proselytizing. Some more, some less. Clearly, public school proselytizes too. Secular private schools like Montessori Schools also proselytize.

All schools acculturate children. The parent must choose the preferred world view. If a parent is uncomfortable with strangers creating the child’s worldview, then hire a tutor or homeschool.

The choice of a private school makes itself if the family can afford one, is comfortable with the other parents, finds the school’s philosophical orientation acceptable, and passes the selection process.

For everyone else, the selection of a good private school is difficult. There is allure to private school, a promise of social advancement for offspring that even drives the rich and famous to extremes for a shot at the next higher hoop. Avoid that obsession, The Lure of Private Education, and some private school could be right for your children. If not, you still need to get out of Brixton, or Stockton, or wherever.

Education BLOG
“New Yorker cartoon” by Lisa Padilla

“Perhaps more people would give heed unto the work of the Lord if the Lord had a funny blog.”

Thank you to all the readers of this education blog. Your comments are welcome. Please share with your homeschooling friends. The Editors.

1National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/

Why Parents Choose Public Education

Most parents send their children to public school. The National Center for Educational Statistics expected “50.7 million students in public schools” in 2020. “5.7 million students in private schools” for the same period and “1.6 million students in home schools.”1 The CORONA lock-down increased the homeschool numbers by 11%. Nobody says whether these 176,000 students came from the public or private schools. Even in this extreme situation where families use distance learning, most families still choose public distance learning by at least a factor of 10. These parents spent 2020 as glorified teacher’s aides.

Public School
“Spring in Seattle: Montlake Elementary School, Seattle Public Schools”

Most parents did not know what else to do. Their only experience is with public schools. Shutdown came with directions on schooling, so most families followed along. Education is compulsory and public school provides the easiest path. Private school costs too much. Home school brings unfamiliar challenges. Educators  argue that American Public Schools provide the best education on Earth. It is irrelevant that children in public schools do not learn enough, learn the wrong things, or are driven away from natural human curiosity. Public schools set many social expectations successfully. Most private and parochial schools set the same goals, measure with the same tests, and emulate the basic methods of public education, but they have higher expectations. Private schools claim to do a better job with the same material. They do.

Most Parents Want the Certification

Only a few of the most elite institutions focus the curriculum toward traditionally liberal learning. Public schools do not try to offer this in public education. They offer certifiable progress instead. Parents consciously understand the difference between learning and certification. Successful public education offers certification at several levels. A high school diploma, a university degree, and professional certification for doctors, lawyers, and engineers.

Public schools are government funded, that is tax funded. Parents already pay for the public school on the corner. Choosing another path will not lower that expense. The federal, state, and local governments each have a plan for spending money on the child. Every educator understands the goals set for public education. They work to sustain the system. Hundreds of thousands of people go to work every day to provide public education to America’s young. This happens even if the taxpayer chooses not to use public school.

Public School
“Abstract colors”  by  MelisaTG

Parents see value in standards. MacDonald’s may not be the best meal, but it will be the same anywhere. Public education shows regional differences, but educators across the country strive to offer the same high quality. The plan begins with federal guidelines. States mandate particular goals in the curricula. School Boards, the local point-of-presence, plan the program for districts. Districts impose standards on schools that principals and other administrators enforce on the classroom teachers. The teachers arrive in the morning with more than guidelines. The teachers create lesson plans that often reflect specific details of the federal and state mandates. The plan that public schools have for the child contains a detailed social policy implemented so uniformly that a fifth grader can move from California to Colorado with barely a blip in the educational experience.

Parents also recognize the experts in public education. A massive infrastructure of publishers, consultants, educators, and bureaucrats have a vested interest in keeping the child moving down the steps of the plan. Not all, or even most of the plan includes learning anything beyond how to succeed in the system. That is enough. An authority is granted at the end, a certificate, that says specifically what the child has accomplished. This authority is recognized by other schools and employers. They grant access to university, to graduate school, or to a job. Certification is the educational participation trophy.

Parents know that academic milestones matters more than learning. Each milestone means something different. The child can leave after the compulsory years and go to work. A high school diploma opens more doors. A college diploma opens still more doors. A university degree or a graduate degree the golden ring. That is the idea anyway. Modern society is stratified to allow access at various points. The Walmart clerk is different from a surgeon according to the appropriate certifying authority.

A future without poverty
Brush strokes by  mikaera13

Parents also want socialization from the school. Socialization is the behavioral goal for public education policy, so parents are in luck. Fourteen years of attending some institution from K-12 prepares students for every future institutional human interaction. A certified High School Graduate works at McDonald’s, at the Department of Interior, on the new GM factory floor, or in any major corporation from the sales to the loading dock without chafing. Four more years prepares the individual for a mid-level white-collar job, to manage a Quik Mart, to supervise at the DMV, or as corporate operations manager. Two more years will give the student an executive position, or to become an educator, a lawyer, or a large corporate box store manager. A few more for most professions, doctors, professors, and scientists. The longer the socialization, the higher in the system the educated person should land.

Parents understand the implied threat that dropouts go to jail. The institution sells this failure message. Schools will never tell the success stories about dropout entrepreneurs who lead exemplary lives, who go into business and spend the high school and college years earning money. Fear of the loss of certification is the stick.

public school
Construct/on 22 by Bojan Bjelic

Parents usually make the final decision for access to free daycare. Public school is  designed to mirror the standard work day for the parent. This allows single parents and two income families to have child care during working hours. The parent often needs this most of all. Public school is designed to provide it.

The Broken System

For the parents of 50 million kids these benefits outweigh any arguments against public school. Most parents want the certification. Remember? The COVID Year has changed some calculations. The increase in homeschool is a recalculation from the parents who find themselves saddled with stay-at-home distance learning from the school.

The parents are wrong. The Millennial Generation knows it. They believe the system is not working, no matter what their parents thought. The value of an education no longer dispenses a ticket into work. It dispenses a certification. The jobs quit appearing years ago. Today more than just the humanities graduates cannot find work.

Commercial and Technical Certification

Fortunately, new ways of making a living come with the gig economy and digital society. Some people make money gaming or brand influencing. More find merit jobs online that do not care about schooling. Entrepreneurship is rampant and growing. Companies like Google now provide a path past the public school system. Technical Certifications bypass the usual school-to-job system.

This has been true for many years for technical workers. Oracle https://education.oracle.com/
Microsoft https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/
Cisco https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications.html
Amazon https://aws.amazon.com/training/
Google grow.google.com

All these companies offer certifications that lead to employment more quickly than any BS in Computer Science from university, and for less cost.  This is the result of the tech sector needing workers with specific skills that schools are not providing. Google has now taken this a step further with grow.google.com. Google offers training and certification in not just technology, but also retail, finance, and more. Google is just the leading indicator of a trend toward alternative education. Most parents want the certification, but maybe public school is not the right certification for students who want jobs.

 

 

1National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/

Give the Classics a Voice

Living languages have a voice. Humans spoke them and speak them. Dead languages sit as silent hieroglyphs in a rock temple or cuneiform on mud tablets. Dead languages rarely return.

Dominant cultures sometimes kill languages. The speakers resist. Yiddish was the daily language of millions of middle Europeans. That stopped with the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s with the killing of most Yiddish speakers and virtually all Yiddish writers.

Native American and First Nations languages were actively suppressed by Canadian and US government schools in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Generations of native speakers learned English at the government boarding schools and forgot the world that grandmother knew.

barbarian invadors anglo-saxon helmit
“Anglo Saxon Helmet, Sutton Hoo, Suffolk”

Greek and Latin vanished from Britain and Western Europe as the Germanic tribes overwhelmed the countryside at the end of the Roman Empire. Christians kept the languages alive in the east for centuries. The monastic movement eventually pushed back against the obliteration of culture. In the 7th Century the monks Theodore and Hadrian reintroduced the Greek and Latin to Canterbury.

“[England] took kindly to the Latin and Greek culture brought her in the seventh century by the Asian Theodore and the African Hadrian, scholars learned in worldly, as well as in divine, lore, who “made this island, once the nurse of tyrants, the constant home of philosophy.” -William of Malmesbury 1

Classical Homeschools

The homeschooling movements in 2021 are testaments to the 7th Century monasteries. Interest in classical education serves exactly as it did 1,300 years ago. A small but growing number of people resist the idea that the accumulated knowledge of the Hellenic Period, the Roman Empire, all of the Enlightenment, and the American Revolution should vanish like the knowledge of the Huron or the Muskogees 2 with the abandonment of the languages and ideas on which they were founded.

This is especially critical in the United States because the Founders benefited from traditional classical education. A classical education in the time of the Founding Fathers meant the study of Latin and Greek and the works written in those languages. Fluency in classical languages came before college. Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Madison, and Washington were literate by the standards of the day. Jefferson all were fluent in both Latin and Greek. They could and did speak and write to one another in these languages.

Contemporary classical education runs the gamut from reading the classics in English, as Mortimer Adler promoted, to full classical language learning in programs like Classical Academic Press that offer both Greek and Latin at every level. Homeschools feel their way forward like Anselm of Canterbury learning with bits and scraps.

Why Classical Education was Dismantled?

The 1914 – 1918 war destroyed a generation of the best educated young men in Germany, Austria, Russia, France, Belgium, and Great Britain. Millions of young men, the best of Europe and America, took their Greek and Latin, their logic and reasoning, and buried them in shell craters on the Marne or in Flanders.

                  Those who survived no longer believed in the same values. They rejected Horace’s Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori and dumped it out with the bathwater and everything else.

The progressive education of the common school movement came from a desire to change the traditional curriculum from what existed before the Great War. The new curricula gradually reduced exposure to the classics. It abandoned classical language learning. Experts believed the classics no longer relevant in the modern age. The Interwar Period from 1918 until 1939 wiped away the classical school philosophy and replaced it with a new progressive behaviorist philosophy. The old way had not worked. New standards were needed.

“Apart from the thought of participation in social life the school has no end nor aim. As long as we confine ourselves to the school as an isolated institution we have no final directing ethical principles, because we have no object or ideal.” – John Dewey3

Advocates of progressive public education still say “it takes a village.” A much reduced human comes from modern industrial education. This is fine with the leaders who prefer the new citizens.

These leaders are wrong, of course. John Dewey, a bloodless Alaric with his timid progressive reformers, overthrew the system. Greek was dominant from Homer through the rise of Christianity. The Bible originally was promulgated in Greek. Latin was the dominant language of the Roman Empire. The Reformation and Enlightenment were founded on classical knowledge. The modern Visigoths wanted to start from scratch.

The Secret Power of the Founding Generation.

The cultural war continues. Americans who read Cicero in Latin, like Hamilton and Jefferson, improve the Republic. Reading Thucydides in Greek opens an archive of recorded business frauds and political crimes. A classically educated public resists the rented barbarians from distracting the public with war while they plunder the treasury.

Homeschool families should make the extra effort.  Learning and teaching classical languages is still part of a classical education. Christian homeschools using programs like Charlotte Mason4 should especially add Latin and Greek for the reason Anselm of Canterbury taught himself Greek word by word from every scrap of Bible annotation. He wanted to read what Paul wrote. It is not easy, but Greek, Latin, and the books written in them are still our best chance to avoid the tyranny of the next Dark Age. Learn to speak to one another.

1 William of Malmesbury, I, 12.

2 Read more at: https://www.aaanativearts.com/extinct-tribes/extinct-tribes-o

3 “Ethical Principles Underlying Education”

4 Simply Charlotte Mason https://simplycharlottemason.com/

Dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA)

“When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.”

Song of Childhood – Peter Handke

The Local Education Authority

Curriculum is the first place homeschool parents confront school authority.  Dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA) usually comes as an administrator representing the local system and a set of forms to file. The LEA has many names, but is usually the local school board. These are often elected politicians who create, implement and enforce local educational policy. The responsibility for curriculum and implementation entwines with many other levels of government, community, county, state, and even federal, but authority ultimately rests with this local government entity.

The ideology behind the selections in curriculum and goals for administering the school social agenda is set higher at the state level. Most state boards of education set requirements for graduation, for example, and it is the LEA responsibility to assure that the local curriculum meets those standards. These requirements vary from region to region, but not significantly. The state and federal governments also influence curriculum through funding. Political parties and social movements also influence this funding to achieve social goals. Curriculum quickly becomes serious business, so the parents’ first interaction with the system must go well.

child as a child homeschooled
Hey There by E. Fleming

The LEA allows parents to select the school type: public or private. The parent also may choose a neighborhood school or a charter school if these are available in the district. The process is bureaucratic and routine. Homeschool is a choice, but this choice takes the student away from the district. Homeschool takes the family off the menu. Different forms are required. Sometimes a brief interview. The parent must understand that choosing homeschooling changes nothing. The LEA is still in authority. Homeschool allows curriculum choices beyond the menu of public or private schools. It removes the student from the social agenda of administrators and teachers. It does not remove the child from potential social services contact or other local education laws.

Getting Free Legal Advice

 Parents must prepare to leave the system. When dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA) and the school administrators, never treat them as allies or as resources for anything but their own paperwork. Declaring intent to homeschool usually only requires the parent to notify the school administrators, but an hour getting local legal background pays off. One good site for legal issues, and local regulations in 2021 is Findlaw.

  Findlaw.com/education.htmlFindlaw.com is a legal site with extensive free information on education law and the local implementation of that law. Lawyers with specific qualifications can also be contacted through the site if that becomes necessary.

Administrators, teachers, and the administrative assistant across the counter are paid by the existing system.  They oppose your choice. Homeschool removes funding from the LEA budget by reducing headcount, so any cooperation is at best passive.

decision done homeschooling
Stoic by E. Fleming

Dealing with Local Education Authority LEA Lesson Plans

With the decision and the declaration done. The LEA often requires parents to answer questions about curriculum and lesson plans. The LEA has another box to check off. Plan to have an answer when asked about your home school plans. This may be a form the parent-teacher completes for the secretary at declaration, or periodically to the LEA.  Nothing complex. Nothing controversial. Be prepared before the meeting. What is your good curriculum? Whether you provide a religious or secular program replacing the public agenda, many canned programs are available. Most cost, but a quality free program can be designed by a parent willing to assemble materials. A good curriculum includes basic skills, life skills, social skills, and some form of preparation for future employment. Keep your answers short.

Lesson Plans are not a mystery, and no, you do not need an education degree to follow one, to buy one, or to invent one. Lesson plans can be purchased as part of a home school curriculum, year by year, or simply purchased piecemeal. If you want guidelines, look at what is required to pass the General Equivalency Diploma (GED). A program pointed in that direction will pass any government inquiry.

Ironically, most public schools do not rely on a curriculum to derive lessons themselves. The current fashion is to approach learning from what the student learns, not what the teacher teaches, so it is test driven. The lessons support testable standards. Even in those places where curriculum is discussed, no actual curriculum exists, just lessons supporting a methodology with a goal of achieving standards. Many public school graduates might have trouble passing the GED.

Searching your state’s education web page for curriculum will probably provide you with something like “Essential Skills”. The list will probably include:

    • Self-Awareness,
    • Initiative/ Self-Direction,
    • Personal Responsibility,
    • Adaptability/ Flexibility,
    • Perverseness/ Resilience,
    • Critical Thinking/ Problem Solving,
    • Creativity/ Innovation,
    • Inquiry Analysis,
    • Informed Risk Taking. Collaboration/ Teamwork,
    • Communication, Global/ Cultural Awareness,
    • Civic Engagement,
    • Character.1

The national agenda in America focuses on the social goals of inclusivity and equality of outcome, so a student might excel at school and never master the basics.In contrast, the Indian National Curriculum for Basic Education shows a different focus.

    • languages,
    • mathematics,
    • natural sciences,
    • social sciences,
    • technology,
    • commerce,
    • the arts, and
    • physical education

The Indian agenda is also about inclusive social bonding, but it is contained under the traditional curriculum topics. A country with many languages, races, religions, and long-standing biases for caste and gender uses “language” skills to include people in the larger community. Indian policy focuses on useful basic skills. For example, good engineers bring national income from abroad.

No national curriculum exists for the United States. The US Department of Education sets standards like No Child Left Behind and Common Core. Funding is predicated on these standards. These standards must be quantifiable to allocate funds, so they are set for achievement tests at every grade level.The homeschooling parent cannot duplicate the social ideology of public school. That is the bad news. The good news is if you teach the basic skills required for a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), math, language arts, social studies, and science, your child will graduate secondary school. If you also teach languages, more math, natural sciences, social sciences, technology, commerce, the arts, and physical education, your child will be competitive in the job market with someone from Mumbai.

 

1The Colorado Department of Education internet site under “Colorado Essential Skills”

Some Reasons Why People Won’t Home School

Public school distance learning seemed unplanned and chaotic to most parents in 2020. Some district Internet application, or K12 Internet School, became the classroom in the house. Homeschool could go viral in 2021 with all that learning at home, but it probably won’t.

Here are some reasons why:

Socialization

Parents say, “If I schooled my children at home, they would lose social skills. They need to learn to get along with others. Teachers will prepare them to deal with employers. I want them to get the right socialization.”

The teacher’s authority and classroom regimentation start in kindergarten or elementary school. This socialization institutionalizes students over the years. Methods for preparing kids for future employers changed little since most jobs were in factories. Schools continue an old-fashioned regimented authoritarianism not found in good jobs now. Parents who push children toward socialization should remember school better.

Income

Parents say, “We have to work. We cannot afford to give up one income to stay at home with the children.”

Most homeschool families provide at least one adult to teach the children. Unlike socialization, the need for two incomes and workday child care shifts family priorities away from education. Income and child care come first. These priorities also challenge single parents. Working from home allows parents to work and to homeschool, often with available child care covering time for critical calls and meetings. Parents who must work outside the home should consider a tutor. One decent income can hire a workday tutor. Not a Mary Poppins Governess, but a college or exchange student as the nanny. The cost is not much more than day school. Many middle class families afford this today.

Can a family be too poor to homeschool? If income assistance or government aid is involved, then yes. Authorities force humble, single-parent families to use the public school and government subsidized day care. Promoted as benefits, like government income or health insurance, school care ties the family to the system. To reject this help risks social services calling or visiting. Even still, all is not lost. Parents in this system can work with the school to use K12 and stay home with the kids. This prevents the total loss of parental influence that comes with children raised by the schools, by television and by their peers. Opportunities for supplemental homeschool appear over time.

Legality

Parents say, “Is this even legal? I’m not sure where to begin.”

Government school is the rule. The modern homeschool movement took off in the 1950s and 1960s. Advocacy groups like the Amish and other Christian organizations worked hard to decriminalize school-at-home in all 50 states. Homeschool parents must still adhere to local guidelines, but homeschool is legal. Hundreds of organizations across the country, and on the Internet, can guide the parents through local regulation.1

Those who decide to school at home soon find that the standards are manageable. Attendance is not policed and the rudimentary content standards are easily met. Parents complete paperwork periodically and students demonstrate competence in required certification testing. Even SAT and ACT testing for colleges allow a GED rather than local school certification. Remember, the certifying organizations are in competition with the homeschool. Schools lose money, both federal and state, when a child is not within the walls of a school, so administrators are never reliable helpers.

Time and Work Conflicts

The parent says, “I do not have time to teach my children and keep my job.”

This might be right. The single mother in Oakland who is working at two jobs to keep a roof and day care in her family’s life is not available to teach the child at homeschool. She cannot hope to do more than supplement the free government school. Similarly, the two-income middle class family probably does not have time to be with the child either.

This might be wrong. The basic skills of reading and writing require a commitment of time, but once the basics are mastered, who can say what the length of the school day should be? Isn’t learning to bake a cake an exercise in practical chemistry and household mathematics? No better way to learn some science and math. Unschool or Open School2 parents insist that regimented school hours and curriculum tasks retard learning. Maybe your parental quality time is actually school.

Selfishness

Parents say, “Spending that time educating my child will impact my personal development. Not being seen in the office will hurt my career.”

Many cannot imagine an uncompensated obligation. This speaks more to the quality of the parent and the moral center of the adult than to the issue of homeschooling.

Homeschool families make the education of the children a priority. More Christian families probably prioritize family and education. It is not so great a sacrifice after all, but in the secular world some adults can not understand personal sacrifice.

School Resources

Parents say, “I want my kids to be in band, be a cheerleader, or on the football team. Schools have libraries, bands, athletic facilities and team activities.”

The 2020 distance learning stopped most extracurricular activities. When these activities become available again, homeschool parents still can use the school facilities. Public means access to public facilities. Homeschool families participated in school events in the past. Many localities also mandate that schools open programs to home school students who need public libraries, art museums, golf, soccer, or other available activities. Community programs or church programs serve the homeschool. This requires a 2021 reopening of activities, of course, but it is not about homeschool.

Social Lifestyle

Secular parents say, “We don’t want the religious orientation provided by Christian publishers any more than we

The Dream of the First Internet
“Gutenburg Press” by Killfile

want the social agenda of the public school. The available homeschool curricula, organizations, and materials will not work for my family.”

 

The modern home schooling movement was driven by the Christian families who wished to remove their children from what they saw as the most pernicious influences of popular culture and the government school secular bias. These families have the most proven curriculum materials. More recently, the Muslim3 and Jewish4 communities have also entered into developing curriculum for their followers just like the Christian families. Even secular families no longer are out in the cold5.

Of course any family can design something closely suited to their own goals. The Internet changes everything. Gutenberg6 and The Internet Archive7 alone contain more free material than existed on Earth in all the great universities and libraries at one point in history. A family can offer a secular curriculum easily. The Enlightenment happened and documented itself. This requires more work from the parent-teacher, but is simple. Secular families should be encouraged to look into Unschooling8 where the life of the family replaces the curriculum itself.

Teaching Qualification

Parents insist, “I’m not qualified to teach. Even if I teach the basics like reading, writing, or household arithmetic, what about science, algebra, or chemistry. What will my kids do for advanced study?”

The schools struggle with skills training, so any focused effort on the basics exceeds what the kids get in school. This is why the ranks of National Spelling Champions are nearly monopolized by homeschooled scholars. Similarly, few certified public school teachers mastered advanced mathematics. People who mastered math probably got a high paying job with a tech company. Most certified teachers get their advanced subject skills out of the Teachers Edition of the textbook. Parents can buy those books online and be as competent as most public school STEM teachers. Every course at MIT9 is online for free. Beyond the basics, on-line classes, tutors, and learning swapping groups are available.

Certification

homeschool graduation
Homeschool Graduation 2011 – Jim the Photographer

Parents say, “I think parents must be certified to teach at home. And how does my child get a high school diploma to get work or get into college anyway without one?”

Home teachers need no certificate. Some schools would like parent certification to be law. It is not. The teacher’s unions in some urban areas would like the homeschool parent to be both certified and paying dues. Homeschool learning does not require it. The industrial profession of teaching requires teacher certification. No parent needs it.

Terminal certification is a different challenge. The government empowers schools to certify when a child has completed each level of schooling. A high school diploma is an authority document. Employers and Human Resource Managers still need the degrees. Nevertheless, long-standing alternatives exist. General Educational Development (GED) works as well as high school diploma. It carries the same social authority as a diploma from East Lancing High or any public school for that matter.

Empowerment

People still say, “Is schooling at home an option?”

Many parents do not feel empowered to teach, but they are teaching. Parents begin to teach at delivery. The child learns to recognize people, understand language, learns to speak, to walk, to meander through the complexities of the family, and then, the outside world, all with the help of the parents. Children are learners by nature. Parents teach. Teaching children the basic skills of reading, writing, and math just comes sometime after learning to walk. Not all teaching has unicorns carrying bunnies of course. You begin with diapers and end up with teenagers, but that is the project. Becoming a parent empowered you to teach your children. Every reason not to is just another excuse.

Web References:

Click the link below or the reference number in the text to see the site.

1. Homeschool.com is a good place to start. Twenty years experience means they have seen almost everything. 

2. Open School is a novel idea for most Americans. 

3. Our Muslim Homeschool 

4. Our Jewish Homeschool BLOG:

5. Calvert Homeschool has a secular track:

6. Welcome to Project Gutenberg:

7. Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.

8. The Family Unschoolers Network:

9. MITOpenCourseware from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: