Homeschooling. What a great idea!

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Homeschooling is becoming very popular!  It grows 10% each year as the high school drop out rate has gone up 60%.  In the UK it’s gone up something like 60% in the last 6 years. This is for many reasons.  Some being that the school system hasn’t changed that much in a hundred years or more.  It is still based on the old Prussian-Industrial model.  Our children are being prepared for the factories and corporations of America with all the structure, bells and testing.  Yay!

In public schools a child’s desire to learn is being slowely snuffed out by the time they get out of kindergarten.  They carry huge back packs home and have homework daily from the first grade onward, with it ever-increasing.  School is focused on test, test and more test.  Schools look like prisons now.  They are made up of many modular boxes lined up and surrounded by a chain link fence.  They have asphalt to play on and maybe a tree can be found somewhere on the grounds.  Outside of the school hours parents rush kids to all kinds of after school activities and study groups, then there are sports to train for and play on the weekends.  Kids don’t even get summers anymore.  They are sent off for their vacation with tons of homework and there are all kinds of programs they can do on the computer to keep them sharp and ready for the fall.

Those 60% of kids dropping out are not all high risk.  Many of them are young people who had dreams of college and careers.  They are dropping out because they just can’t take the stress and pressure, along with the boring curriculum.  Being bored and stressed is not a winning combination.  Kids are exhausted before puberty.  They are being driven and driven past go.  When do kids get to be kids?  Where does their childhood fit into all this intense schooling.

Let’s take a look at a school system that is doing great.  Finland!  They used to be right there with us at the bottom of quality.  Then they shook it up big time.  They are now rated one of the top schools in Europe and the students all score high, high, high on science, math and reading in the international standardized testing.  93% of students graduate. Why is their system working so well?  Well, let’s give it a look-see.

Now, I may have this a little off, I had to piece together some articles and a section from Michael Moore’s latest movie.  It seems Finland has got the school thing down!  Finnish students rank #1 in the PISA test and 93% of the students graduate with over 60% going on to college.  Why are they so successful?  Here is what I found. Children don’t start schooling until they are 7 years old.  They may start kindergarten around 6 years, but it’s all play and outdoor time.  They are not taught to read until 7 years, unless they have that desire.  There are around 75 minutes of play time outdoors compaired to our 27 minutes, there is only one standardized test taken when they are 16 years old, the focus is not only on math, science and reading, but also the arts, languages and music.  The children attend school only 4 to 5 hours a day and high schoolers have a college like experience in which they only attend classes they need.  Some may start at 8:00 am while some start at 10:00 am.   Play and creativity are encourage at all levels with a firm belief that play is a great way to learn and every 45 minutes older children are encouraged to take 15 minute breaks. All children are treated and educated equally and get the extra time they need to succeed.  Classes are kept very small.  There is hardly any homework if any and children don’t even receive grades until high school.  Now remember, these children are testing #1 in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment).

Teachers are of the highest quality.  They are required to have Masters and only the top 10% are chosen.  The salaries may start small, but increase largely over time.  Teachers are given the same respect and kudos as doctors and lawyers and work only 20 hours a week with the belief that a happy teacher is a good teacher. Hum, happy teachers, happy students, lot’s of free time, play, creativity and a focus on self-reflection and socialization in the early years…

That would not be acceptable here where we are pushing and pushing constantly for higher performance and test scores.  Sad thing is, we are failing something fierce.  We come in at the very low-end, say 16th to 23rd after all the other countries such as Canada, Hong Kong, etc.  Just food for thought.

It would be great if we would revamp our schools to adopt this way of educating our precious young.  Our future.  Many say it just can’t be done here with a population that is 50 times what Finland has.  I say that’s ridiculous.  These are our children and our future society and it’s looking gloomy folks.  We need to do something fast to nurture and care for our young so that the future will become even more hopeful and bright.  Our children are already struggling with stress and depression at ever younger ages.  This is unacceptable.

Until we revamp our school systems, I’ve decided to take my childrens schooling into my own hands and make it magical and fulfilling.  I want my children to love learning and have hours and hours of play and self discovery.  I want them to find their passions and spend all day dreaming up new inventions and blossoming as humans.  I hope to send them out into this world confident, kind and ready to do good works for humanity and Mother Earth.  Is this a dreamy state I’m in?  No, because I’m taking their education into my own control.  I am creating a home and life that is all about learning everyday and all day.  And they don’t even realize it!  We don’t have a “classroom” in this house.  The whole house and yard and world is their classroom.  We don’t set up “study time”.  We learn all day.  Everything is an opportunity for learning.  When we bake bread, plant a garden, learn to crochet (that hasn’t really happened yet), learn another language, read books, play in a forest or on a beach…we are learning science, math, reading, speaking articulately and developing our minds, our ability to solve problems, dream up ideas, build, and just plain think.

I follow my boy’s lead.  I am a firm believer that if you follow your passion, you will build an amazing life for yourself.  I have learned that when things are done with play and fun, you get much more accomplished.  You actually work harder when you enjoy what you are doing.  Homeschooling doesn’t have to be hard.  It can be easy and fun for all of you.  Just don’t try to recreate the very school system you pulled the kids out of, right there in your home with the structured hours and work and seperate room for class time.

There are some great books out there on homeschooling.  Go to the library and check them all out.  I would list them, but I must have read 50 or more and can’t remember any of them now.  There are also many ways and styles to teach.  There is the wonderful Waldorf, Montessori, Classical and Thomas Jefferson.  Then you can also go through the Charter or Public school system and have everything paid for and have the structure if you really feel you need it.  Or you can really get wild and do Unschooling or Free Range (I don’t know if that’s really a name).

I know that here in California we are having a big debate over the SB277 law coming into effect this July, I believe.  Many parents will be turning to homeschooling.  Don’t be afraid.  It can be a wonderful experience for you and your family.  Get the books, do the research and be flexible.  What works for the Jones may not work for you.  What works great one year won’t work the next.  Join a large home school co-op.  There you will get much-needed support and guidance.  You will also learn about the laws, your families rights and how to enroll your children as being in a private school so you can home school legally.

Feel free to contact me at vondola@yahoo.com and I will happily answer any questions or do the research to find the answers with you.  Also, for those of you just going into having one parent stay home and trying to figure out how you will live on one income, you will find the perfect book for that on Amazon,  Modern Homemaker and Mama, by Kate Singh.  I go into homeschooling a little, but mostly it is about setting up your life in every way on a small budget or one income and specific for stay at home parents and homeschooling life.  Good luck and have fun!

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