Sunday, November 28, 2010

What should students learn?

Stephen Downes wrote a striking article about "what you need to learn in order to be successful". He lists and describes in some detail ten educational goals. I'll briefly mention them here. You should definitely read the original with all the discussion of these points.

1. How to predict consequences…
2. How to read to understand...
3. How to distinguish truth from fiction
4. How to empathize
5. How to be creative
6. How to communicate clearly
7. How to Learn
8. How to stay healthy
9. How to value yourself
10. How to live meaningfully

I'd say that there are two flaws in this nice article that jumped out at me. One is that the lead to the article is a little irrelevant, it's a reaction to A Guy Kawasaki article about what people should learn in school Steve correctly (in my opnion) points out that Guy is a corporate toady (and an energeticall self-promoting uncreative one at that) but uses him to introduce a very thoughtful piece which I think demeans that article. He does find common ground with Guy that schools don't teach you what you need to succeed which I find to be sort of pile-on school-bashing.  The other flaw in the article is that it seems to assume that teachers are responsible for students education.  What a nice paternalistic view of things that students just have to go to school to be trained by teachers.

It certainly doesn't work that way in my world. I preach that the center of education is the student and the parents. The parents take responsibility for thinking through the list of what kids should learn. And students too should think about this early-on and often.

BTW, I learned about this article on what kids should learn from the Online Homeschool Blog.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Homeschooling - A thought....

I heard, second hand, of a lady who had trouble getting her kids to go to school. She was pretty lazy. She thought it would be easier to homeschool them than to yell at them every morning and try and get them to go to school.

So she did. She kept at her job. She was a single mom and had to work. She did a little paperwork and bought the kids used textbooks.  She would call from work to make sure that her kids were up and studying. Often they were. Often they weren't. She wasn't that involved and her kids were free to do what they wanted.

Is this an OK situation? Note that one of the kids was 15 and so it was technically legal for the kids to be alone in the house all day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Homeschooling Books  I think this site is inspired. Of course, I'm associated with it. 

I'm going to take this in two directions that you who want homeschooling curriculum advice might not expect.

Homeschool Literature ReviewsLiterature and stories about homeschoolers!

A directory with reviews by homeschoolers, study guides, and ideas for further study

 e read and review any short-story, picture book, or novel that relates to homeschooling. The site gives parents and children the chance to find books that talk about situations they can relate to. is new! We’re working on lesson plans, author interviews, more reviews, and maybe expanding into other closely related topics. If you would like to get involved, here are some possibilities:
  • Want to elaborate, agree, or disagree with a review? You can make comments on the bottom of each review.
  • Think this site is a great idea? Link to it from your blog, Facebook account, or homeschool group.
  • Want to reprint our reviews in your homeschool newsletters or on your website? You may if you include a link back to us.
  • Have feedback for us? Good, don’t be shy; this site is for you so tell us what you think.
  • Like the review and want to buy the book? Just click on book pic and it will take you to the author’s site or Amazon to buy it!

Books for homeschooling families

I'm talking about the homeschooling Cyber book club for parents who want to know more.
the leading contenders for the next book to discuss:
StrengthFinder 2.0
Tom Rath
(is How Full is your Bucket more relevant?)
Five Languages of Love
Gary Chapman
(or another book by him)
The Homework Myth
Alfie Kohn
(or another of his books)
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens
Stephen R. Covey
(perhaps The Leader in Me by him which deals most directly with parenting)

Our Cyber Book Club Moderator will be MamaMary. Mary has been homeschooling since the late 90's and is the mother of four sons, all of whom have their own style of learning. After falling in love with their web-based curriculum, she now works closely with Time4Learning. In addition, she is the chairwoman of one of the largest homeschool support groups in the State of Florida and is also the founder of SWSH, an online support group dedicated to helping families learn how to pursue a strengths-based homeschool/lifestyle.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Top Five Online Homeschooling Resources

  1. - It's number one on Google, constantly updated, and the best homeschool shopping on the web. Congrats to Rebecca.
  2. - It's number two on Google. An old authority. Great articles. Very traditional in that it's philosophical and religious, it hasn't quite moved past the original need to justify homeschooling onto the more practical issues that people have today. Mary Pride is of course a legend.
  3. - A huge community of homeschoolers.
  4. Ann Zeiss' Yahoo webmaster tools is the best.  Her AZgomilipitas site is also ancient and enormous but a little hard to use as a resource.
  5. The is a nice site that has gotten very popular. Half recipes, half homeschooling.
  6. The's blog gets more traffic than anybody else. Amazing photography and blending of topics and materials.
OK. That's six, ignore the one that you don't like.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Types of Homeschool Curriculum

There are many so many types of homeschooling curriculum.

"Boxed Curriculum"– There are many programs for purchase that provide homeschool families with a comprehensive scope and sequence, textbooks, assessments, projects, and timelines that are grade leveled. These programs provide day-by-day very specific instructions to the parent and student. Examples would be a Beka, Saxon Math, and Bob Jones.

Charlotte Mason Education – Charlotte Mason was a 19th century educator who believed that education should be based on great literature and the arts. She believed in a leisurely, self-directed style of education based on observation and reflection, often through discussion and journaling. Charlotte Mason education is based on a lifelong quest for knowledge and skills. 

Textbooks – Textbooks are just one part of a package of resource materials that includes: a
scope and sequence, an educators’ manual with teaching strategies, a student book with content
explanations and examples, and a practice workbook. These packages usually offer a re-teach
(remediation) workbook or an enrichment workbook that focuses on higher level critical thinking

Online Interactive Curriculum such as,, SmartieTutor, TeachingTextbooks, (writing skills only), 

Unit Study – A cross-curricular educational approach in which learning is focused around a
central, common theme. For instance, a unit study on trains would teach the development and
use of early trains (history), train routes (geography), different engine types (science), train-based
literature (language arts), and so on. Unit studies allow children of differen ages to study the same unit together but in different levels of detail.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

History of Homeschooling

I just read a great article on the History of Homeschooling.  It identifies two people as the real fathers of modern homeschooling: John Holt and Ivan Illich. I'll quote a little ....

Ivan Illich was one of homeschooling legend John Holt's main inspirations.... Illich repeatedly argued that true education is impossible in an institutionalized environment of conformity and regimentation. ...He declared, "The first article of a bill of rights for a modern, humanist society would correspond to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. "'The State shall make no law with respect to the establishment of education.' There shall be no ritual obligatory for all." (Deschooling Society, pg 16)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Homeschooling in California

In California, homeschooling parents four options to deal with with the mandatory school attendence requirements:

1. Establish a home-based private school. Parents must fill out a Private School Affidavit (PSA, formerly known as R-4) and go through other steps for establishing and maintaining a private school. 

2. Enroll in a private school that offers independent or "satellite" programs.  Parents must choose a private school satellite program (PSP), enroll, pay the tuition, and fulfill any school requirements. But the state cannot contact them.

3. Enroll in a Public School ISP or Charter Schools that offers independent study. 

 4. Utilize a credentialed teacher or tutor - or the parent, if so qualified.

California Pamphlet
List of CA charter schools
California Homeschool Info - One example
Online California Support Forum -


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Writing Classes Online - Too Many Choices!

I can't seem to find the one size fits all online writing course for the problem writer in my family. If money were no object I would just send her to a Kumon center or hire a tutor and they could diagnose and fix the writing problems on the spot. But those options aren't financially feasible right now. I had researched and found the Time4Writing writing courses previously and was very impressed by their selection of writing courses for kids of all ages. And at less than $13 per week of instruction, this is within my budget.

The only problem was that I was always overwhelmed at the choices and had no idea which class would be best address her specific writing problems. Today when I visited the site, I found this writing problem diagnostic chart with the problem, solution and best class all presented in a way that even I could get it. What a releif. I pinpointed her problem - she doesn't stay on topic when given a writing assignment. I found her problem easily now I can move forward and enroll her into the Welcome to the Essay class with confidence. And even after 2 weeks of the 8 week class, if we need to change, we still can.

Check out writing class selection chart and find the perfect class for your problem writer.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

You will be happy that you are nothing like me....Christian Homeschooling

I found this article about Christian Homeschooling. I laughed out loud....I highly recommend it....

You will be extremely happy to know that you have nothing in common with me. You glide along through life like a leaf down a crystal stream. You tend to steer in the direction everyone else is steering, and the road ahead of you is well lit and mapped out. Your children have been welcomed with open arms by everyone they’ve met, and your home is a bastion of peace, harmony, and good will. Best of all, your homeschooling experience has been the most rewarding and inspiring era of your life, and you’ve never doubted your calling for even a moment. See? I told you that you have nothing in common with me.

Me . . . well, my life has been slightly different. My leaf tends to get stuck against every wet rock of the stream, my steering has been out of alignment for as long as I can remember, and the road I am on has been steep, winding, and many times even closed for construction. My children, both with special needs, have been stared at, frowned upon, and pitied in their turn, and my home can feel much more like an open battlefield than a fortress at times. And frankly, I’ve been tempted to quit homeschooling more times than I’ve been tempted to cheat on my diet, and that is saying a lot. However, while my life in no way resembles yours, you needn’t feel sorry for me one bit. I like my life . . . actually, I love it - - every little bit of it - - because God made me especially for it. Read More about Christian Homeschooling....