We’ve been homeschooling since my oldest was 4. It’s been the better part of a decade since I purchased that first homeschool curriculum and began the journey of what would be my highest calling so far. As the seasons change our days begin to take another form, but we pretty much have our reasons, our “philosophy,” and I guess what I would call a style. We do hard stuff and so we focus hard on learning new things during certain times of the day. Other times, we are very relaxed and will often favor unschooling. Usually on what we call the fun subjects; for us it’s science and other cultures which are the fun-est. My kids tend to learn more when I let them lead than when I pick the order of topics for them. As long as they are hitting the “topics” it doesn’t matter which order, so we follow the order that they lead us in and they learn so much. They learn more than I could have foreseen and planned.
So we’ve found our way as far as homeschooling goes. But times change and the kids are growing faster than expected. We are getting dangerously close to high school and I just can’t imagine the strict record keeping and testing we’ll have to begin, but I’ll learn. And how will I do that? The same way I learned to homeschool… abandoning everything I think I know and looking to those who have pioneered the way before me. My fave’s are Susan Wise Bauer, Ruth Beechick and many of the seasoned homeschooling mama’s on homeschoolreviews.com and in my former homeschool groups.
We all need guidance. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been doing this thing called homeschooling. We can’t do it alone. And with the public schools in state they are, I can’t get much help from them.
There’s something called the Common Core Standard in our country and it makes a public school teacher’s job hell because 1) it doesn’t work in helping children leave school knowing what they need to know, and 2) it’s put in place to please the suits, not to help children learn or help the teachers. I didn’t even know what the Common Core was until recently. But in the last month I have had 3 different homeschool publications show up in my mailbox explaining what’s going on in the education system right now. And it’s frightening.
I thought I wanted to become a teacher in a school building when I was done homeschooling my kids, but now I’m not so sure. I can’t pour my life into a career that forces practices I don’t believe in. Many hours are spent preparing for this test… instead of actually helping kids learn. My heart is for children and it is for reading in particular, not testing. So far 46 states have replaced their own English standards with common core standards. It’s funded by federal tax dollars. Also, Bill and Melinda Gates contributed tens of millions of dollars to the common core project. I’ve heard through the grapevine that they apparently do alright for themselves 😉 But the fact is the man didn’t even finish school so I don’t understand why he’s so interested in making sure that other kids have the national curriculum that seriously restricts freedom. Seriously? Tens of millions of dollars? Not everyone who doesn’t finish school ends up uber-rich and gets to decide the path that all kids will have to take in school. And the freedom he’s taking isn’t just from the kids, it’s from the teachers who went to school and now have college debt and are quitting after just a few years because they aren’t able to teach… they are preparing kids for tests. Teachers are trained to teach, not hand out pre-digested test-preparing material.
I don’t want to be a public school teacher anymore.
Homeschooling gives families freedom to teach their children in a way that suits the kids best. Common Core requires a unified national learning path. Why is that concerning? It restricts in what order and to what depth children will learn the components of English and math. Even if it keeps kids behind. Even if it causes labels to be overused in order to make the Common Core make sense. Instead of claiming that the CC is not working for all kids (because all kids do not learn that way- by preparing for tests all year), professionals will be able to label children slow and autistic and all sorts of other new nifty labels to make sure that the CC was not a waste of money.
The shift in testing practices screws the students first, then the teachers who actually care. From what I’ve read, it’s a computer based test and at times a video game, and if a student gets an answer wrong the test becomes easier. Great for the testing, bad for actual learning. If the student plays the game better, the test becomes harder. The different, more complex testing format means some students test worse than others- even though they may have equal knowledge- because they are unused to the testing format.
This is an obstacle for homeschoolers because it means more family time for test prep. I hope to have the boys graduate from a public high school in order to receive a diploma. Yes, most colleges, including all Ivy League, seek out homeschool graduates these days. But some career colleges, like a trade school, require a college diploma. My middle child wants to be a mechanic. He doesn’t want to go to college so we need to be prepared for all options. So we will be putting them “in school” at some point and this new CC standard matters to me.
We have settled into a very happy homeschool environment. And now I have the state meddling in our effective and enjoyable learning environment. I am not yet preparing the kids for the CC testing, but at some point I will. When we get to freshman year of high school, I will begin to prepare them for the *ss-backwards way the state does things in the schools. But for now, I will take advantage of the luxury we have to learn freely in a way that suits the kids best. Thanks for that God.
Have a good day friends.