Home Schooling - Getting Started
One of the most important things to do before diving into the world of homeschooling is to read a bit and decide what style of education at home you hope to facilitate for your child. There is no one way to lean at home, and if your open to see how it unfold for you and your child, then the skies the limit.
When people ask me about home learning I offer up my John Holt books. Reading John's vision of learning and the education system really puts homeschooling into perspective and inspires parents to take a look at their child's current education situation. Some of the most important John Holt books to read are; How Children Learn, How Children Fail, Teach Your Own,and Learning All the Time.
John Holt describes a style of homeschooling that is now called unschooling, which is simply not learning in school, a term that reinforces that children learn no matter where they are, school is not necessary for a child to learn, if anything it can have the opposite effect and dull a child's natural drive to learn.
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John Taylor Gatto, a teacher for more than 30 years has been speaking out about his experience in the school system for a long time now. His view is that schools are more about conforming to economic and social norms, instead of being encouraging children to think for themselves.
Writing this Hub is timely for me as this has always been a very big concern of mine. I agree children are not encouraged to be free thinkers, nor are the inspired to speak their minds. Good children are children who listen to the elders, do as their told and keep quiet. Instead of celebrating children who talk and ask a ton of questions, see their fidgety nature as developmentally appropriate vs signs of ADHD we try to quiet them down and have them conform to the rules of the institution.
In Ottawa last Friday, fifteen year old Jamie Hubley took his own life. His father Allan Hubley said "Jamie was bullied in his recent school years. It was a daily harsh routine for the Grade 10 student. It would start in the morning when he got in the bus, Jamie couldn’t understand why kids were so mean."
If children were encouraged to think for themselves, compassion, empathy and tolerance would overrule the desire to inflicting pain on their peers through bullying. The old view that children can be so cruel, unlike adults? has no truth to it. Children respond to their role models and learn by example and by what they experience. Good adult role models and less peer orientation is what is needed. An institutional setting, especially as large as a school will always have a difficult time meeting the needs of their students.
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto is a great resource. John Taylor Gatto writes in his book about the seven lessons taught in school; confusion, class position, indifference, emotional dependence, intellectual dependency, provisional self-esteem and that one can't hide.
The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole World As Your Child's Classroom by Mary Griffith is a wonderful reminder of why you don't want to duplicate school at home. Mary reaffirms the truth that children are always learning, around the clock and that its easy use this natural rhythm to facilitated a broad learning experience for your child.
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn. This book speaks for itself. Grace Lewellyn is a former middle-school English teacher and knows what she's talking about. My teens have read this book and I always encourage parents and teens to pick this one up.
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Home Schooling Laws
Homeschooling requirements and laws vary from province to province in Canada, and from state to state within the USA. In Ontario it is suggested you contact your local school board each fall to let them know of your plan to homeschool, however it is not legally required. There are no reporting requirements or testing in Ontario, but in Alberta, for example there are reporting laws, and evaluation twice a year from the supervising board.
It's a good idea to seek out local homeschool support groups. They can often provide access to information, planned outings and sometimes a membership card that can help with receiving discounts on home learning supplies and outings such as the zoo, museums, and science centres.
Homeschooling groups are often unique to their style of home learning. Finding an established group that is right for you might take a little research, but if you can't find what your looking for create your own group!