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Thinking of home schooling in ER
Old 11-25-2015, 04:13 PM   #1
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Thinking of home schooling in ER

Since I have 2 young kids (1 and 3) ER is likely to be largely consumed by them. Actually a major reason I want to RE is to spend more time with them.

DW and I have been thinking about home schooling.

Both of us went to "normal school" and it was ok so we're not like "school is dangerous and evil" and in fact I think it's mostly fine. I mean I turned out ok, right .

What got me more on the home school side was watching videos of kids that talk about being home schooled... This one in particular
https://youtu.be/-iXu_FnPf3U

This girl is in 9th grade and I felt like her ability to summarize the pros and cons was very good and the level of self awareness and control over her life is surprising to me.

She doesn't say it but I felt like her comparison was strikingly similar to work vs. RE. Like work, school provides us with a path of what to do when to do it and who to do it with. That's both burdensome and liberating. When you RE, suddenly you need to figure out what you're going to do, how you will meet people, how you will be motivated etc. One of the scariest things about RE for me (aside from money running out) are these anxieties around what to do, social life, etc... It's kinda crazy.

My feeling was because she was never in school she just assumed that she had to figure out her own goals, find motivation, figure out what's meaningful etc.

So I look back on my own life and it seems like this systematic preparation from kindergarten through college and then to work.

I always hated that feeling... Mostly I always just wanted to do what I thought made sense and was interesting; but that urge always felt like it was seen as lack of discipline or focus, rebellious, unrealistic, etc.

Now I think... Uh... No. I just don't like being institutionalized and I can figure out what I want in life, thanks .

So anyway... If anyone is RE and homeschooling or not... Or maybe tried both... I'd love feedback.


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Old 11-25-2015, 04:33 PM   #2
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I do not know if this is state specific or not, but home schooled students also have opportunity to just attend part time, also. We had a few kids come in just to take specific classes, they felt were better facilitated at school setting. It also provided a bit of "social integration" if isolation is a concern.


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Old 11-25-2015, 04:37 PM   #3
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Home schooled kids, assuming the parents know what they are doing, will out perform most public school kids.

You can set the bar high so that they achieve the results. You do not have to lower the bar so that everyone passes. You can use the entire day as a learning experience. You can still have them participate in public HS sports teams.

Of course, if you cannot stick to a rigorous school schedule, skip the idea.
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Old 11-25-2015, 04:55 PM   #4
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My home schooled niece and nephews have not done well. The public school nephews graduated from college this year and have good jobs. That's anecdotal, but so are the above examples.

My husband and I have more than 50 years of formal education between us and I don't feel that we would have been competent to teach children.
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Old 11-25-2015, 05:39 PM   #5
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We have a special school here in San Diego that is part of the district - but allows independent learning at home. A good friend of my son is attending there because she felt constrained in the math being taught. (She's pretty much a genius)... She's now taking advanced 9th grade math as an 7th grader because she plowed through 2 years of advanced math last year. She does fine in the other subjects as well. She has the option to attend some classes at the campus - and is doing that for Spanish because it's harder to learn a foreign language without interaction/correction from a teacher. Her dad is a SAHD (You could say he retired when their 2nd child was born, his wife still works.)

I have other friends who supplement the school day with virtual homeschooling at home. We're not quite at that level - but do engage in a lot of teaching/homework assistance at home.

I considered homeschooling my kids when they were at a highly ranked school but not being served well... I was self aware enough to know I did not have a good temperment for it, and instead found a different school with some key teachers who were amazing.

I have another friend who homeschools... her 3 daughters. But she is very patient and has well behaved, well adjusted kids. A different scenario than I have with argumentative boy teenagers.
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Old 11-25-2015, 05:40 PM   #6
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Petershk, the demographics here on er.org skew toward folks with older kids or an empty nest. I'm in that group, and my kids went to public school, so I have no answer to your question.

Over at the MMM forum, the blogger's post on his homeschooling decision drew several pages of comments plus a separate 350-post thread on the forum.
If I Ran the School, Things Would be Different
MMM and Home Schooling

Fuego, ER'd with young kids, may be along with a comment. He posted an interesting piece on his school decisions.
Why We Chose The Worst School In The District | Root of Good
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Old 11-25-2015, 06:05 PM   #7
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Fuego, ER'd with young kids, may be along with a comment. He posted an interesting piece on his school decisions.
Why We Chose The Worst School In The District | Root of Good
We made a similar decision on elementary schools as Fuego... sort of...

Our neighborhood school is top ranked - probably because of the demographics of the neighborhood - engineers, PhD biotech types, UCSD professors.... Heavily white and asian. But the teachers were coasting and not doing a good job with "atypical learners" (usually smart kids who are more intuitive and creative in their thinking and didn't fit well in rote memorization type teaching environments.) A school 2 miles away was in a largely hispanic neighborhood, enough free lunch students that the whole school was free lunch, but had 2 exceptional teachers for a highly gifted program... I moved my kids there and they thrived.

Friends were shocked I'd pulled my kids out of a "great schools 10" school and sent them to a "great schools 6" school... but it was the right choice.

Even now we're sending our kids to magnet schools in a much more urban (read racially diverse/hispanic/black) middle and high schools... But they offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and some pretty intense academic rigor. Again, friends were shocked. As a side note - the older brother of the math genius girl I mentioned above, also is commuting to the high school with my son and she'll probably attend with my younger son.

I also agree with Fuego about education being more than just what you learn in school. Educational opportunities are everywhere for involved parents and their kids.

I think the biggest thing about homeschooling is the temperament of the parent... It takes a lot of patience. Something I'm not always the best at.
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Old 11-25-2015, 06:05 PM   #8
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As the father of a daughter that was home schooled, I can say it didn't work well for us. Our daughter is bipolar and the quality of public schools in high income suburban Atlanta far exceeded even private schools where we moved.

Although our daughter went through a formal home school program, it was not accredited. To go to college, home schoolers have to pass the GED--in addition to taking the ACT or SAT. I understand the GED changed last year, and many college graduates would have trouble passing the new test.

Our granddaughter was Type 1 diabetic, and her schools refused to accept students with a blood sugar of 110 or more. That was ridiculous. She had to be home schooled, and was in a pretty strict program.

Our grandson was dyslexic and had to be home schooled after his school (and parents) didn't deal with his problem.

Our neighbor had a husband in the Air Force JAG corp, and he was transferred all over the world. Their 5 kids did better than most kids being home schooled. One graduated with a 4.0 GPA in electrical engineering last year and is in grad school. Of course, having a mother with a Masters of Education from Harvard didn't hurt. They fared better than any other home schooled children I've ever seen.

It's difficult to decide to home school when the kids are 1 and 3 years old. They've got to grow up some and be more mature before a parent can tell how they're going to do in any school situation. I just know I wouldn't think about homeschooling. Kids need more social structure and interaction with outher kids than home schooling can give.
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Old 11-25-2015, 07:56 PM   #9
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As the father of a daughter that was home schooled, I can say it didn't work well for us. Our daughter is bipolar and the quality of public schools in high income suburban Atlanta far exceeded even private schools where we moved.

Although our daughter went through a formal home school program, it was not accredited. To go to college, home schoolers have to pass the GED--in addition to taking the ACT or SAT. I understand the GED changed last year, and many college graduates would have trouble passing the new test.

Our granddaughter was Type 1 diabetic, and her schools refused to accept students with a blood sugar of 110 or more. That was ridiculous. She had to be home schooled, and was in a pretty strict program.

Our grandson was dyslexic and had to be home schooled after his school (and parents) didn't deal with his problem.

Our neighbor had a husband in the Air Force JAG corp, and he was transferred all over the world. Their 5 kids did better than most kids being home schooled. One graduated with a 4.0 GPA in electrical engineering last year and is in grad school. Of course, having a mother with a Masters of Education from Harvard didn't hurt. They fared better than any other home schooled children I've ever seen.

It's difficult to decide to home school when the kids are 1 and 3 years old. They've got to grow up some and be more mature before a parent can tell how they're going to do in any school situation. I just know I wouldn't think about homeschooling. Kids need more social structure and interaction with outher kids than home schooling can give.
Wow. Can they even do that?!?

I can also speak to the "affluent areas" of Atlanta. Those kids tend to do very well. There are a number of students that are attending law school with me and had their pre-college education near my home. Two went to public schools and seem to be thriving in class. I expect them to be in the top 25% of the class. There is one kid that went to one of the VERY high end private schools near me and he really seems to be struggling with much of the information and when called on, he has a very difficult time even understanding the questions.

Obviously, this information is worth nothing more than my opinion. Nonetheless, I think it's a good example that the notion that home schooled or private schooled kids do better than those that went to public school is very situational.
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Old 11-25-2015, 08:30 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions everyone. And especially thanks for sharing your personal stories.

As with everything else there are pros and cons, and it's certainly something that may change over time and I am a huge believer in responding to our kids' preferences as well.

That said, my main thought here is exactly on the concept of "doing well." In my own ER experience, and the many that I see on these boards, I see lots of people who are "doing well" by conventional standards move to a completely different life that would be "doing worse" by many conventional standards .

Specifically this is roughly around valuing "time" and "freedom" more than "stuff" or "money" or "status." Voluntarily "making do with less" in order to have more time is something most people don't prioritize or even see as a valid choice.

That also drives things like "what are you going to do with your time?" or "how are you going to have any friends?" or "won't you feel weird hanging around when everyone else is still working."

As I go through that process myself I see the irony in my own kids where the thought is if your kids don't go to school to go to college to get a degree to get a job to have all the things they are supposed to have how can they possibly learn anything and be successful .

I was thinking the primary goal of education is to get exposure to broad things, feed curiosity, find what you are passionate about and figure out how you can make a sustainable living doing it.. or if you have to, do something else just enough so that you can sustain your passion.

I see A LOT of people motivated to FIRE because they are exiting the system (in which they are conventionally "successful") in order to find their "real passion" which went missing somewhere along the way or at least to get back their time and freedom which were somehow traded in for "success?"

So I'm wondering if that 20-30 years of "missing" can be avoided or at least optimized more?
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Old 11-25-2015, 09:39 PM   #11
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As others posted, we sent our kids to the worst school in the district (a pretty decent district though). It's our neighborhood school and had a lot of problems when our oldest entered kindergarten. The school got rebooted and turned out really well. 3D printers, all kinds of tech toys, lots of support from the engineering and science community, tiny class sizes (some with 12 kids) etc.

Our kids are also the supergeniuses at the school whereas they would be just above average at a school full of smart kids (the teacher was shocked when I didn't seem impressed by a perfect score on a hard standardized test).

The one downside is I'm not sure our kids get challenged enough but we pile it on at home as necessary (khanacademy, codecademy, self created worksheets, etc). They have special pull outs for the small handful of advanced kids, so that helps. I think they might not be challenged enough wherever they go.

We're doing middle school tours right now and there's a wide gap between our assigned school and the super awesome elite magnet schools that we plan on applying to. Hopefully we get our kids in to one of those awesome schools. Otherwise we might home school.

Though I don't think I would necessarily be able to teach them as well as the teachers. I'm smart and understand the subject matter but have zero pedagogical training in the art of teaching. I mean I could do an average job, but why accept that when there are incredible teachers at our public schools? Then there are all the electives. I can't teach my kid Mandarin. I'd be a novice at best when it comes to robotics or television production.

And I'm just kind of lazy. I enjoy having a 6-7 hour block of quiet time in the middle of the day.

One big reason we might switch to homeschooling would be to travel for extended periods during the school year. Right now we usually skip school for a week or two per year and go somewhere nice (cruise, beach, etc). The school doesn't say anything because our kids do well.

I'm trying to persuade our kids to switch to homeschooling so we can do a 4-5 month trip to Europe by boat in the spring and then spend the summer there, traveling north as it heats up. No takers so far. I think they know I would push them harder than their teachers at school. They also love going to school because of the art, music, PE, recess, and hanging out with friends. Much of that can be recreated with homeschool, but it's kinda like recreating the wheel. I couldn't recreate the diversity of their school with a homeschool group most likely.
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:22 AM   #12
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After DH retired and I semi-retired and went very part-time, we did homeschool our daughter who was just starting high school. We homeschooled her throughout high school and it went very well. Like many homeschoolers we went through transitions.

We first started with a distance learning program that was an accredited school district in our state. If she had returned to public school the courses would have been entirely accepted. Basically she did the work at home but it was sent in and graded by actual teachers. Exams were proctored. This was obviously very structured. In fact, it was so structured it wasn't a good fit for her.

So then we moved to buying a curriculum. It was a different one for each course. We looked for what we thought was right for her. These worked pretty well and were the backbown of the coursework. At different times we did different things. For example, early on we did Saxon math. But, we found that Aleks math (done online) was a much better choice for her.

For many of her electives, we designed our own courses using a variety of sources. For example, we used Great Courses to get content for things like Music Appreciation and Astronomy. For other things, we developed our own content. For example, when we went on vacation to England, she kept a journal regarding some of the historical places we visited and that was part of her World History class.

Also, when she was a senior she did a dual credit course at the community college. Some kids are able to earn considerable dual credit at community college while being homeschooled.

Note that depending on your state, you may have legal requirements you have to meet in terms of curriculum and testing. In our state, we didn't have those.
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Thinking of home schooling in ER
Old 12-01-2015, 04:23 PM   #13
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Thinking of home schooling in ER

My 5 grandchildren are homeschooled, as are many children in their town. Their local schools are low performing and there seems to be lots of discipline issues. Many teachers have resigned I the past few years due to the problems.

My daughter is an excellent teacher and they are all doing very well. They take Spanish by Skype individually from teachers in Guatemala. They attend a creative writing class by Skype weekly and meet with other homeschoolers for tennis and swimming lessons. Four of them take piano lessons and three have won first place state piano competition awards. I'm very proud of how well they are doing and think it can be a good thing, if the parents make the effort to challenge them. It's not for everyone though.

In high school, they can take dual credit at the local state college.

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Old 12-02-2015, 08:46 AM   #14
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My 5 grandchildren are homeschooled, as are many children in their town. Their local schools are low performing and there seems to be lots of discipline issues. Many teachers have resigned I the past few years due to the problems.

My daughter is an excellent teacher and they are all doing very well. They take Spanish by Skype individually from teachers in Guatemala. They attend a creative writing class by Skype weekly and meet with other homeschoolers for tennis and swimming lessons. Four of them take piano lessons and three have won first place state piano competition awards. I'm very proud of how well they are doing and think it can be a good thing, if the parents make the effort to challenge them. It's not for everyone though.

In high school, they can take dual credit at the local state college.

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A general observation and yes just general, is in metro areas home schooling can be very successful and is taken more seriously. In rural areas, "home skoling" is more prevalent. Meaning parent just uses it as a legal way to avoid kid having to attend school and getting school off their back from non attendance.


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Old 12-02-2015, 11:36 AM   #15
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A general observation and yes just general, is in metro areas home schooling can be very successful and is taken more seriously. In rural areas, "home skoling" is more prevalent. Meaning parent just uses it as a legal way to avoid kid having to attend school and getting school off their back from non attendance.


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That may be true, Milligan, in many cases. In my grandchildren's case, they live in a town of 12,000, where their dad is a doctor. They live out in the country. With the state of the public schools there, many of the more educated parents are homeschooling. They plan field trips together, science classes together and more. At first, being in education myself, I was worried. But now I'm so impressed. I know for sure they wouldn't be getting this education at their schools. It's hard work!


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Old 12-02-2015, 11:49 AM   #16
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That may be true, Milligan, in many cases. In my grandchildren's case, they live in a town of 12,000, where their dad is a doctor. They live out in the country. With the state of the public schools there, many of the more educated parents are homeschooling. They plan field trips together, science classes together and more. At first, being in education myself, I was worried. But now I'm so impressed. I know for sure they wouldn't be getting this education at their schools. It's hard work!


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I was a big proponent of travel for students. I waived any attendance policy on kids who got a usually once in a lifetime chance to travel during school. The experience alone was worth more than a week or two of school. Plus, usually these were the kids who did their "make up" work before they even left.


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Old 12-02-2015, 12:28 PM   #17
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I am late to this thread, but wanted to add my two cents. As a public school educator now retired, I saw some of the best public schools have to offer and probably never saw the worst. Great schools can have some crappy teachers and those "low performing" schools can have phenomenal teachers. Most times the quality of the individual teacher is the biggest factor in student success. I also saw well prepared home schooled children and those that were not. My advice since your children are very young would be to read to your children daily and instill a love of learning that way. Avail yourself of the public library offerings. Involve them in experiences such as art activities, science experiments, songs and chants, nature walks, etc. Talk with and listen to your children about their experiences and explore further anything they find interesting. Down the road you can decide if homeschooling is best for your children. If you do decide to go that route, there are a multitude of wonderful resources online.
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Old 12-02-2015, 02:57 PM   #18
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The big what-if: "Home schooled kids, assuming the parents know what they are doing, will out perform most public school kids."

Not necessarily true and often NOT true. Have you heard of "unschooling"? A bad trend. And I personally know "homeschooling" parents who teach their kids diddly-squat.

We homeschooled our two boys for the early elementary grades when we lived in a really crappy, crappy school district. My wife is a born teacher and has graduate level teaching experience and really knows what she's doing and is very organized.

Both boys learned a lot; she formed a fantastic foundation in their reading, writing, and math skills.

Fast forward to a job transfer to an admittedly affluent area with one of the top public high schools in the country. We're paying our taxes and that's not something to toss out just because, or only because, parents want the "freedom" and non-institutional setting that homeschooling offers. So, we put our boys in the public schools. It is extremely rigorous and there is no way either my wife or I could teach them the same advanced topics and the same variety of topics. It is also preparing them for the competition they will experience in the inevitable job hunt. Also, my kids are not geniuses; you can't base your decision to homeschool based on all the outliers and are way off the bell curve. My point here is that it's VERY easy to homeschool the early grades and feel confident that you're up to snuff. Once you hit middle school....think very carefully.

Pros: Selecting your own topics and tossing out the busywork of public schooling; great for picking your own vacations (we took advantage of that!)

Cons: In the upper grades you will strain to meet advanced topics and homeschooling courses rarely lead kids out of their comfort zone (that's a bad thing); homeschooling groups can be very cliquish, either because they are religiously affiliated and only want like kind (speaking from personal experience as a practicing orthodox Catholic family) or, they are a loosely-tied mess because there is no common thread connecting the families EXCEPT homeschooling; lots of homeschoolers long for the social life of public school. Ours did. They are happier to be in the public schools despite any reservations we may occasionally have with the curriculum. And we have met and spoken to a couple teenagers who mourn the fact they didn't go to public school.

Courses that shine in the public school: Science, math, and the arts (orchestra in our case).

There is no right answer, but you must be very honest with yourself and know yourself and your kids when considering homeschooling. :-)
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