While Pete and Lizabeth hurriedly wolf down their Cheerios, run to catch the bus, stuff their school lockers, and race off to homeroom, Margret Siedner, Lisa Sercovich and Nickole John are still in their bathrobes, reading a novel. Or they might be outside, taking a beachside stroll.The three belong to the swelling ranks of Cape Cod homeschoolers, and that seems to suit them just fine.
“Right now I’m pretty content to be at home. I’m a big reader and my computer is my best friend,” John, a 12-year-old who attended Osterville Elementary through the third grade, says.
Now in her fourth year of homeschooling, John says she finds going back to regular school hard to imagine. Aside from being wary about changing classrooms and possibly getting lost, she’s no longer “used to having a bunch of different teachers.” And she likes learning at home.
“I feel like I’m really learning more. My mom isn’t doing an entire group so I don’t have to raise my hand and wait for someone to choose me. I don’t have to wait for attention because I’m getting all the attention I need.”
Margret Siedner, a 16-year-old who has been homeschooled since the fourth grade, agrees.
“It’s really good,” Siedner says, “I can go at my own pace. If I have to learn something and I’m having trouble I don’t have to go into a special class, I can just spend more time at it.”
Bureaucratically, homeschooling is less hassle than many parents may expect. Parents are required to get approval of their local superintendent or school committee before starting, but may do so at any time, without waiting a term. And while officials may legally ask about parent credentials, a teaching certification or college degree is not required. Parents and officials have to agree on the form of evaluation that will be used to monitor the child. Options include dated work samples, a journal or log of the child’s activities, and standardized tests. The curriculum and schedule is also fairly open — parents may be asked to provide a description of their educational plan but are not required to follow a specific curriculum or schedule — and many of them don’t.
“You can learn by reading together, you can learn by taking a walk on the beach together, you can learn by cooking together,” Erica Siedner, Margret’s mom, says of her educational philosophy.
Siedner and her husband, Michael, have been homeschooling their brood — four children ranging in age from 5 to 16 — for seven years. Up to that point, Margret had been going to a private Christian school. When the family moved to Wareham, there was no such alternative.
“We weren’t happy with the types of things we saw in the Wareham School District and we wanted a Christian emphasis,” Erica Siedner explains.
Religion is just one factor that might lead parents to taking teaching into their own hands.
“(Homeschool parents) believe they can give their child a better education than public schools can for less than private schools,” says Elisa Sercovich, homeschool parent to 9-year-old daughter Lisa and a member of Cape Cod Homeschoolers. “People also feel their children will be in a better social situation than in public schools,” she says. “People are concerned with violence, drugs and the meanness that can occur.”
Cape Cod Homeschoolers is one of two Cape organizations providing support and information to parents, and activities and social opportunities for homeschooled children. Last year’s activities included figure skating outings, computer and pottery courses, and drama and journalism workshops. Sercovich estimates that 40 families were active in the group last year. The other Cape Cod-based homeschooler group, Christian Home Educated of Cape Cod (CHEC), had 60 to 70 families involved in its program last year. While there are no statistics on how many children are homeschooled state- or Cape-wide, Sercovich estimates that the number of homeschoolers nationwide is increasing by a rate of 15 to 20 percent a year. Both groups expect their membership to grow.
“I would say (homeschooling) is definitely on the rise,” Minnie Bunce, founder of CIEC and a homeschool parent for 14 years, says. “Now, with so many things happening in the public schools, people are giving it a second look.”
Once parents take the plunge, many find the advantages of homeschooling far outweigh the costs — for parents and children.
“The kids have a much smaller class size and can spend longer on a topic if they’re having trouble with it. If they pick something up quickly, we can move on. We can switch the curriculum,” Erica Siedner says. “And, I get to spend time with my kids. I get to see them grow.It just didn’t set right to just give them over to someone else,” White explains. “Homeschooling is a lifestyle, not just an alternative approach to education. It’s part of nurturing your child. It gives us the opportunity to stay in touch. There’s a connection with them.”
Another plus, according to Sercovich: Because home learning is done on an individual basis, material can be covered much more quickly than in a traditional school setting.
“People find they can cover in two hours what it takes all day to complete in school. That frees up a child’s time to explore things they are interested in,” Sercovich says. Sercovich’s daughter Lisa takes riding lessons twice a week — she’s been at it since age 6 — and is interested in art. She also has plenty of pals, according to Sercovich — neighborhood kids, fellow homeschoolers and riding buddies.
“One myth about homeschooling is that people say you’re isolated. That’s not at all true at all. If anything the opposite is true,” Sercovich says.
Concerns regarding homeschooled kids’ higher education options also are unfounded, according to Sercovich.
“Colleges have really embraced homeschooling,” she says, adding that not only do homeschoolers fare well on standardized tests, but they generally take a more integrated approach to learning.
“They tend to have an attitude towards learning that’s very positive,” Sercovich says. “They don’t see it as something separate from their lives.”
And after all, as Matt Siedner points out, “If you think about it, life is school.”
This morning, I sat down at my computer and pulled your site up. I started reading everyone’s home school stories, and I was so encouraged! This is our first year home schooling our 1st Grade daughter. Our reasons were mainly to give one on one instruction to our daughter Lauren, who had been tested in the public school system and was given the label “short-term memory deficit”.
Lauren really struggles with reading…..and I know that keeping her home this year was the best thing we could have done! While Lauren has progressed with her reading ability, she still struggles and gets very frustrated! I can only imagine what that frustration level would have been in a classroom with 28-30 students!
In addition to home schooling Lauren, we have a 17 year old daughter in her senior year and a 4 year old son, who attends pre-school at our church 3 days a week. I also run a successful direct sales business out of my home, and am usually out of the house 2 to 3 nights a week. Home schooling and running a business in my home has proved to be very easy! I really feel like I have more time now than I ever did before. Actually being home has allowed me to keep up with everything!
Of course, the end of the school year is approaching, and the feelings of “Do I want to do this again next year? Do we want to put her in a Christian School?” All of those questions, that I know many of you have each year. I know that God placed the desire to home school in my heart, and that each year’s decision must be brought up in prayer to him. I personally feel the nudge to go for it again, next year! You never know, this person who feels very inadequate to teach past 2nd grade, may even decide to do it for the long haul! We are so fortunate to live in a time when the resources for teaching our children at home is endless, and I am very thankful for that. Thank you too, for your excellent home school sight….it is a voice of encouragement!
In HIS Love,
This is the name we call our school, and what we do. I have two children ages 10 and 7. The oldest went through PACT Headstart home-based. From there she and the youngest went to public school. I knew when I gave birth to these amazing young people that I wanted to raise them my way, myself. But I let someone talk us into sending them to public school.
So for 4 years we followed the public school outlook. Hating it all the way. And the kids weren’t happy either. The other kids make fun of the stupidest things. “We have our hair braided today and you don’t so you can’t be our friend”. It’s very hard to listen to a bright young child feeling like they are honestly worth nothing. Broke my heart each time.
Then last year there was a bomb threat. One of the parents that I babysat for called and told me about it. He was going to get his child and I told him to grab mine. Most parents that day were met with intolerable disrespect for the love and care a parent gives their children. The parents were threatened with zero’s for the day for any child that left the building. Not my idea of someone who cares about children at all.
I didn’t give birth to my children for the state to raise as they saw fit. They are mine and I want them to have values in life not to mention respect for others.
Before the school year had ended last year I had done my research and found out that if we finished the year out then it would be easier to not send them back. So that’s exactly what we did. Life’s too short to lose your babies in a public school system.
This is our third week. I’m not going to say that it’s all peaches and cream. It’s hard work for everyone, but it’s worth every tiny second to know that my children will grow and learn in the best way they possibly can. And most of all they are safe with me. As home schoolers we can set our own time frame. Personally we get up at 6:30 each morning and eat our breakfast together and get our hair brushed and start in. I feel that even though they aren’t going away to school, they will be adults one day, and we need to instill a routine because one day they will need the discipline I have given them when they enter the working world.
I have had a lot of people ask me about the socialization aspect. And this is exactly what I tell them. In most schools they are taught by other children to be disrespectful, arrogant, hateful, hurtful, selfish little brats. Which in turn is hard to break out of while adulthood sets in. What do most people want their children to be? Respectful, responsible adults. And what better place to learn that than at home where they are loved and treated like human beings.
One of my sister’s friends said “If they are home schooled they won’t learn anything”. The funny thing is that she is a perfect example of idiocy. The woman has a little boy and doesn’t want to even be around him. He’s only 3.
Home schooling isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t have the patience. And some don’t have the option due to financial obligations. But I feel that it’s a lot like registering to vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to gripe about what happens. With home school, definitely don’t knock it until you try it. It’s the adventure of a lifetime. And if the chance is passed by without a thought, you can never go back and try.
As for the name of our school. I read this saying once and it’s US!!
If you have never tried homeschooling, you may be wondering how to get started. Perhaps you are not sure that you can do it, or maybe you are worried that you will not have the right materials or enough time. Let’s try an experiment. Take a fresh piece of paper and write down all the goals that you can think of for your student. If you have more than one student, make a list for each one. As you write, you will probably notice that your list includes general goals such as “character development,” and specific goals such as “learn to write neatly.” With these goals in front of you, prepare a few materials for your “experiment.” You will need a Bible or Bible story book, a good children’s book that you would enjoy reading to your child, handwriting paper, and a math activity. Homeschool Tools has a list of children’s books, which you can print and use at the library. Handwriting paper can be printed from Homeschool Tools. For the math activity, check out the Math Section. A spectrum of activities is provided. Choose one that is appropriate for your student’s abilities.
Now you are ready for your homeschool experiment. Tell your child that you are going to begin school tomorrow. Start your lessons when your child is fresh. The kitchen table is a good location. If you have toddlers or preschoolers, help them to get occupied with a quiet project. They may like to join you at the kitchen table for coloring or you may try your “experiment” during naptime. Begin with a prayer for your school, then read from your Bible or Bible storybook. Ask a few simple questions from your reading to give your student an opportunity to discuss the Bible lesson.
Next, give your child his handwriting paper and a pencil. If he has never learned to write, begin teaching the first letter of his name. If he can write his name, teach him the lower case letters of the alphabet. For older students assign something appropriate such as copying a Bible verse or writing the complete alphabet in cursive. Use this exercise to determine areas for teaching or improvement. Allow about three to ten minutes for handwriting depending on the age and attention span of your student.
Math follows handwriting. Again, allow about three to ten minutes for your math activity and use it to gauge the maturity and understanding of your child. Can he count to ten? Can he count to 100? Does he understand adding numbers to ten? Has he memorized addition and subtraction facts? Has he memorized multiplication and division facts? Homeschool Tools has flashcards, manipulatives and several other drills that can help a child progress.
Finally, bring out your reading book. Read for at least fifteen minutes. If your child is at the picture book stage you will probably read several books during this time. Don’t hesitate to read chapter books with your kindergartener. Many chapter books are so well written that they hold the interest of very young children. Be adventurous and try a book like The House at Pooh Corner or Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! When you are done reading, close school for the day and tell your child that you will have school again tomorrow.
After school, look at your goal sheet again. What did your child learn today? Which goals were addressed? Are there other goals that are a priority? Were there certain subjects that you would like to add? You may feel that your experimental day was too short. With your goals and first day’s experience as a guide, determine what you would like to add to your second day of homeschool. If you are teaching a kindergartner, allow about five minutes for each activity. An average kindergartner can learn all that he needs to learn for kindergarten (and probably find himself ahead of his grade level) with only 45 minutes of school each day. That includes time for Bible study, phonics, reading, writing, and arithmetic! If your child is older, he should be able to do some assignments on his own, such as reading good books, studying spelling words, and writing compositions. An older student will have a longer school day, but may not require as much of the teacher’s time as a younger student. Continue your homeschooling experiment for the rest of the week, and then evaluate. Are there teaching materials or text books that you will need? Are there areas you need to research? You will find a list of useful resources in Homeschool Tools. A good education is made up of many small lessons, but one lesson you will have learned is that you can homeschool.
Where do you take this experiment from here? Homeschool Tools contains materials for dozens of subjects from history to Latin. There are many possibilities for learning, but resist the temptation to add several things at once. Choose one area, such as phonics, and teach it well for a few weeks before adding another subject. Keep your page of goals ever before you, and build your school with sturdy foundations.
My name is Cristinna Blair and I am a homeschool mom to three children, Chris,14, Jane, 6, and Mickey, 4. My husband, Roland, is the owner of a computer software business that he runs out of our home. Our story began seven years ago when we were married. It is amazing to me that so many of the accepted ideas of seven years ago have changed so dramatically. Jay and I, living in an affluent, somewhat pretentious area, thought we knew exactly where we were headed, and how we were going to get there. We both worked, he as a software engineer at a large company, and I at a high end hair salon. When I became pregnant with his first child, and my second, I assumed I would continue to work after this child was born, as I had with my first. This was during a time when housewives were looked down upon as boring and a drain upon their husbands. To get ahead, it seemed, both partners had to work. I had somehow forgotten how heart broken I was when as a young teenaged mom I had to go back to beauty school when my baby was six weeks old.
Needless to say, my beautiful baby girl entered the world and I took one look at her and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, where I was supposed to be. I felt that it would be selfish to leave her. It would be easier to hand her over to the caregiver and keep doing what I had loved for all of my adult life and part of my teens as well. So, with much emotion I entered a new chapter of my life, full time wife and mom. It was not easy. It was an adjustment on many levels, especially financial. We had made decisions based on my income and no matter how we tried, we could not make Roland’s income stretch far enough. The other problem was Roland growing dissatisfaction with his job. He had always dreamed of owning and operating his own company and had even made several unsuccessful attempts. It always seemed so out reach. Finally, when our daughter was a baby, with his unhappiness increasing, he launched what was to become Priority Software. What this meant was him continually working. He worked for his employer during the day, and at night and on weekends, he worked on starting his own business. It was grueling at times, but still, we were happy. I did 100% of all the child care and home care and he worked, but we felt that we were working together towards the same ultimate goal: to be free of corporate America.
To be the masters of our own destiny. To have financial freedom. To have Jay home with us on a full time basis. To have Jay doing full time what he loved. Many times we thought we would never get there, but eventually, we did. In April of 1996, three years after Roland had started his own business, he left his place of employment. It was one of the most signifigant days of our lives. It was scary at times, but in the last 3 years we have not had a loss and business continues to grow, at times faster than we are prepared for. We have never regretted our decision to go this route, and it has been quite a blessing to us and our family.
Homeschooling came about as sort of a natural progression of our commitment to raising our own children (Mickey, our 4 year old was born in April,1995) , having Daddy home and a part of their every day life, and the spirit of independence that is comes from being an entrepreneur. We had heard of homeschooling and were intrigued, but thought that it was only for ‘different’ people. We didn’t see it as something that ‘normal’ people did. I think we also doubted that we would be effective teachers. Still, there was a little voice inside of me, and I later found out, inside my husband as well, saying that this was the direction we needed to go. And, really, it just made sense. We were teaching them anyway, and this seemed a logical next step.
So, in August of this year, we officially became Homeschoolers. We feel our decision to homeschool was the most important we have made in the lives of our precious babes. Of course, we are learning right along with them, perhaps even more than they are. I don’t doubt that we will go on learning, either. What a priviledge, to be able to take lifes journey right along with those you love most. For me, that is the essence of homeschooling and running a home business, growing and learning together as a family. Besides, we took a look around and saw what ‘ normal ‘ is, and found that we aren’t, anyway!
My son enjoyed school until the second grade, when he began throwing tantrums, vomiting, having migraines, and begging me every single day not to “make him” go to school. This started from the second week and continued through the entire school year. As I taught myself, I tried going through channels. First his teacher, then his principle, and finally the superintendent were all questioned as to what was happening. They, as well as Nick, all answered the same, “Nothing.” But his reactions only grew worse.
At one point I threatened to pull Nick and homeschool him, and was told it was against the law. I believed them. Where I had once volunteered often, I now found I was no longer needed. Where I had often popped in on Nick, I was now told my being there was disruptive. And so he suffered through the years end, because I was too ignorant to realize that homeschooling
After that year we bought an RV and “ran away from home” for several years with Nick, his sister Andi, and my parents. The first year he wanted nothing to do with schoolwork, so I improvised. History and social study lessons were pulled from where we were. Math lessons were estimating how long it would take to get to a destination, and science was every zoo, museum, and planetarium we could find. He refused to read unless he was asked to read to his sister, so guess what? Grammar and handwriting were letters home to his friends.
Six years later, I am well pleased with the results of our desperate flight. (For the first year I hid the kids in the RV during the day, afraid that someone would see them out of school and take them). Andi loves busywork, and actually demands it, completing anything given her, before exploring her own agendas. Nick will spend hours, days, weeks, months on activities, as long as they are on his terms. If I try to force them into a curriculum, he balks. For instance, he is several months into an Egyptian writing program from a college that will take him a year to complete. Yet if I try to add it to lesson plans for the school board, I get, “This is fun, Mom. Don’t try to turn it into schoolwork and ruin everything!”
My children are creative, self-directing, thoughtful, young adults, and I thank God every day that I found that first Raymond Moore book in a used book store and learned that homeschooling DID exist and WAS legal. We follow no curriculum other than what the children decide to do, and they are either on target, or above their grade levels. I only hope that other mothers don’t force their own children into the persecution of a public school system. Trust me. I know. No one can or will care for and teach your children the way you can…