Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tough school year? Check home schooling

From the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard
Tough school year? Check home schooling
By Cynthia Whitfield
For The Register-Guard
Published: June 18, 2008 12:00AM

As the school year ends, many parents are thinking ahead to September and a new school year. If all has gone well, most parents expect next year will also work out.

However, parents of children who have struggled through the year may find themselves considering alternatives to public school. One of those alternatives is home schooling.

Summer is the perfect time to explore home schooling. This year, more than 1,600 Lane County children registered as home-schoolers. This number doesn’t include students who learn at home through online academies or correspondence courses, or students whose parents fail to register with the state. Conservative estimates put the total number of home-schoolers nationwide at more than 2 million.

Most parents feel a bit frightened when they first consider home schooling. At a time when a good education is deemed increasingly important, parents want to know they’re making the right choice for their kids. Fortunately, a look at the evolution of home schooling helps potential home-schoolers and the wider community understand the rationale for this growing movement.

This is listed as an opinion piece. It's a very clean history of homeschooling. It's level, and encouraging, with no negativity at all. For me, these two paragraphs were the most striking:
Blacks account for the fastest growing segment of home-schoolers today. Interestingly, while public schools worry about the achievement gap between blacks and whites, home-schooled black children score at the 87th percentile — just as high as home-schooled white children, and significantly higher than the average public school student.

Although parents choose home schooling for a variety of reasons, most home-schoolers believe children learn best at home in a loving environment where parents take into account each child’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, learning styles and emotional makeup when designing a program of study. Children learn at their own rate, and they don’t have to wait for the rest of the class to catch up or feel rushed if they need more time on a topic.

This would be a good article to share with friends or relatives who could use simple, soothing information about unschooling.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hey, Teacher, Leave My Kids Alone—Debating Issues Related to “Unschooling” has a section called "Daily Lesson Plan", under Learning Network, Teacher Connections. This one isn't new, but was just sent to me by Crystal Miller, an unschooling mom in Albuquerque.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hey, Teacher, Leave My Kids Alone
Debating Issues Related to “Unschooling”

Michelle Sale, The New York Times Learning Network
Tanya Yasmin Chin, The Bank Street College of Education in New York City

Grades: 6-8, 9-12

Subjects: Civics, Language Arts, Social Studies
Interdisciplinary Connections
Overview of Lesson Plan:In this lesson, students will gather opinions about unschooling and the value of learning inside the classroom and in the real world. They then conduct a debate and reflect on the value of unschooling for their own education.
Review the Academic Content Standards related to this lesson.
Sandra's first-pass comments:

This lesson plan can range from a one-hour in-class activity to a week or so of follow-up, if all the suggestions are used. On one end of the spectrum I envisioned as I read it all, it could help students see the learning they do outside of school, but at the other end it seemed aimed toward helping them see that unschooling should be illegal. As a civics class lesson plan, these future voters will have a whirlwind tour of reassurance that their own schooling was justified and other methods should be voted away. (It also could be a Language Arts or Social Studies lesson; it's an interdisciplinary-connections lesson plan, which is admirable.)

Another lesson in it all, unfortunately, is the self-supporting nature of the sources.
I asked _______________ people my question. The three most interesting answers I got were these: _______________; _______________; _______________. What I can conclude from all of the information is _______________.”
That is filled out after five minutes of interviewing other kids in the class. That's quite a limited survey, in time and scope, but it seems to reflect what I've seen of journalism's approach to unschooling, too. Find two or three people, ask them six or seven questions, write as though you know everything about the subject. Then interview two "experts" who know even less about unschooling than you've just learned, and use their most damning soundbites to "balance" your article.

If anyone who has used this lesson plan or been in a class where it was used comes by, I'd love to hear how it was implemented and steered.

The extended activities and further questions to be used if it went from single lesson to unit would open things up better, although the recommendations still seemed to lie mostly within the school system itself for opinions and information.

The article intended for use by teachers or students in this lesson unit is Home Schoolers Content to Take Children’s Lead By SUSAN SAULNY, NY Times, November 27, 2006

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Otherwise Instructed

Otherwise Instructed: Issues in Education

"My husband and I homeschooled our two children, now both in their twenties. I served on the boards of the Massachusetts Home Learning Association ( and the National Home Education Network ( Before homeschooling our children, I was a classroom teacher in both public and private schools. Since homeschooling, I have become even more interested in the process of learning and the role of schools in our society. The papers listed on this website are the result of two my research projects."

Nicky Hardenbergh had provided links to copies of two papers, one from this year and one from 2004, discussing homeschooling and testing.
One is Validity of high stakes standardized test requirements for homeschoolers: a psychometric analysis
and the other
Through the Lens of Homeschooling: A Response to Michael Apple and Rob Reich

Please see them both at her page,

Old News (newly available)

Unschoolers say they Live, Learn
That 2000 article is also linked on this page, with 2006 articles from People Magazine and Elle Girl Magazine.
Articles on Unschooling