Friday, April 21, 2006

 

A Case for Homeschooling


Melanie Madeira Speaks to the Issue of Homeschooling (20thsenatorial Exclusive)

20thsenatorial asked David Madeira about the home schooling of his five children. He told us his wife could answer best. Here is Melanie, in her own words:

I'd like to answer your questions regarding handling homeschooling 5 kids. I get asked that (and many other) question very often. Most of the time people want to know WHY I homeschool, so I'll begin there. Before David and I married, I taught school for a year as a substitute (the lowliest job on planet earth!) teacher at 5 districts. I realized 2 main things during that year: 1. Kids "these days" are really crass and foul-mouthed (It is quite shocking to hear 1st graders using the "f" word and telling dirty jokes). 2. There is a great deal of wasted time during the school day.

I determined that public school was not the environment for my children, should I have any. I also felt I could give my future children a better education at home in less time than a typical school day. A light usually goes on in a person's head when I ask them why people use tutors. They use tutors because one -on -one education is much quicker! You can also zero-in on a child's learning style- which in my humble opinion is a huge reason for so many kids falling behind in school. That is a topic I talk about with many people. I would love to see a restructuring of public schools based on learning styles and getting back to "old fashioned" curricula. If you're interested, we can talk about that another time.

I'd like to stress that I am not anti-public school. I am just anti-status-quo. Too much polictical correctness and too many regulations (NCLB) have made teaching more cumbersome. There also is that little fact about our teachers not being the same quality today as they were 40 years ago-but I'll leave that subject alone- for now. :-) Instead of teaching kids facts for them to spew out for a specific test, we need to get back to teaching them to THINK. I am frequently dismayed at the lack of common sense or communication skills kids possess.

Homeschooling (I will use HS from now on) enables the teacher -usually mom- to focus on a student's strengths and weaknesses and adjust the material for the child. By "adjust" I mean using various source materials and identifying each child's learning style and teaching to it. Here is an example: Our second child, D.J., had a terrible time learning to read and write. I even waited until he was 7 to begin - I would "try him out" periodically to see if he was ready. He could write letters at that point, but not read. The process ended at age 9 when he finally was writing with 0% backward letters and reading fluently with terrific comprehension. He also has great self-confidence and someday wants to be a writer and paleontologist. Had he been in public school, I have NO DOUBT he would have been labeled dyslexic. He was writing 85% of his letters backwards and his words mirrored. He could even write a word with a pencil in each hand going forward and backward at the same time. That sounds really neat, but actually indicated confusion in the brain -it didn't know which side should be dominant.

Because I taught him at home, where he felt safe (emotionally), we were able to begin a slow, steady trip toward reading. It was very hard for him; often he felt stupid and embarrassed that he could not read like his sister or cousins. As time progressed, so did D.J. Had he been in school, he would have been not only labeled, but ridiculed and teased and probably never have learned to read. I am proud to say that he writes fabulous stories and is now working his way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He is 10.

That is just one example of why HS works. I teach differently to each of my children. Now, I should point out that I don't teach them MYSELF the whole time. They actually teach themselves. I do most of the teaching for 1st grade and some for 2nd. From then on, they mostly do "self-teaching". Most HS'ers do not do school this way (I think more should). I use this type of curriculum because I feel it best prepares children for real life. What boss wants to spoon-feed his employees? When they go to college no professor is going to spoon-feed his students. It just makes common sense -we should teach our kids to become adults.

Now, it is true, a good HS education is not just a good curriculum and organization. Your kids have to be willing to do the work. Which means, they have to be at least fairly obedient and responsible. I am really proud of my children, they are really good kids. I have to say we have a blast being together all the time. Does that just happen? No, of course not. To get to the point at which we have arrived means starting when they are babies; loving discipline, consistency with rules, having a good relationship between spouses, having rules with relationship with the kids, the list goes on and on.

It would take a book (which I plan on writing some day) to talk about all we have done to make it possible to HS effectively. It takes tons of patience, organization and the will to stay on target that out-weighs the pressure to give up (we all have THOSE days!) I am thrilled we made the decision to HS. Yes, sometimes it's tiring and days can be repetitious and I don't experience so-called "self-fulfillment". The results I see in my children make me proud we chose this path for our family. If you would like me to elaborate even more on a certain aspect or other questions, just let me know.

Comments:
There also is that little fact that our doctors are not the same quality today as they were 40 years ago-but I'll leave that subject alone- for now.
 
I respect home schooling but really is this kind of pandering necessary, Buzz
 
Wasn't Daffy Duck home schooled?
 
The boss set this one up, and I don't see anything wrong with doing a human interest story. WE print, verbatim, whatever we receive from the candidates. It is our solemn duty to the public to give them the candidates, unfiltered ---- Good and Bad.
 
What a wonderful story. I've been a skeptic of Home Schooling, partly out of ignorance I suppose, so this was enlightening, but I still feel the HS kid misses out on the socialization aspect of the public system. I'm no child psychologist, but being in a competitive environment and learning to deal with ridicule and teasing (shameful as it may be) I think is part of life and part of learning to deal with the real world.

Alas, no system is perfect. I applaud Melanie Madiera for her efforts, but more so for this: she understands that parents and not government know what is best for their children.

As it relates to the job of a legislator, which her husband hopes to become, HS should be supported by government, as should choice. But because one of government's greatest responsibilities is to ensure quality education for our youth, governemnt must also strive to cure all that ails the public system.
 
Doing things at home for your kids is the best way to go. My family practices home schooling, home doctoring, and home dentistry.
 
I checked the list, and didn't find Daffy among them, but I did find:
10 Presidents (including Abe Lincoln, father of the Republican Party)
5 scientists (including Einstien and Pascal)
4 Supreme Court Justices (including Sandra Day O'Connor)
12 writers (including Dickens, Shaw, Agatha Christie)
5 artists (including Monet, daVinci, the Wyeths)
5 composers (including Berlin, Mendelssohn)
Presidents of Princeton, Stanford & Columbia
Generals MacArthur and Patton
Astronaut Sally Ride, Photographer Ansel Adams...
this list is by no means complete, but I think you get the picture.

The socialization issue, while the most common one raised, has long ago been discounted, as a short discourse with (almost) any homeschooler will show.
 
Einstien, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Pascal were all well-known sociopaths.
 
But Dave, Sandra Day O'Connor and Sally Ride are women. Don't they know they should give up careers, stay home and birth babies?

Sandra Day O'Connor....sure doesn't fit your ideal Republican mold of Goldwater, Reagan and Toomey.
 
How has the socialization issue been "discounted?" I'm curious.
 
There have been multiple studies done on the issue, not just by those in the homeschool community.

http://learninfreedom.org/socialization.html

In July 2000, the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think-tank, published an extensive report on homeschooling written by Senior Fellow Dr. Patricia Lines.

Dr. Lines' conclusion? "There is no basis to question the social development of homeschooled children."

Another very thorough article can be found here:

www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/Socialization.asp

And while Dave didn't write this, a homeschooler did, your right, O'Connor isn't the conservative some hoped she would be. Dave, on the other hand, will be.

s.dogood, I appreciate your seriousness on the issue.
 
Anonymous, thank you for the links. I found that the articles helped expand my understanding of this subject. However, I think you may have missed the main thrust of my original comment. I was not attacking or even questioning the merits of home schooling (HS) by raising the socialization issue, but instead highlighting a distinction.

HS kids "miss out" I wrote, on that brand of social interaction that exists in the public system. Good, bad or indifferent, the point is is that it is different, and it is not something that can be replicated in the HS environment.

For my two little ones, I chose the public system, partly because, as a product of the public system myself, I wanted them to have that same experience.

In any event, this is a choice best left to parents and not government, which was my point as well.
 
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