Hard Questions About Homeschooling (Part One) – NO MONEY, NO TIME!

I received a thoughtful response to a blog from Cindy. She asked some important questions, which I’d like to attempt to answer over the next 4-5 articles or so. Here, again, is her post:
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I have thought about this a lot this past year as we have moved into the homeschooling arena, and I would love to read an articulate, thoughtful post written by you about exactly what creative possible solutions you envision. I understand that not every family can homeschool, nor should they. Parents who cannot read, write or calculate well themselves are ill equipped to handle the task. What do you envision for the future for families such as this? What would an education look like for them? Or families whose income levels do not allow for a parent to remain home?

Are you thinking of small educational centers with individualized curriculum and tutors available? Larger drop off co-ops with some teachers on hand for specific subjects (we have something new being tried in our town somewhat like this)? Would education still be government funded or solely at the expense of the family?

I’m curious being on your side of the fence of what sort of solutions I am not imagining myself!
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Cindy is right, of course. There are families that are ill-equipped to homeschool. There are many reasons why a family might struggle to homeschool, or even find it nearly impossible. Some of the more obvious reasons include:

– There’s no parent at home to work with the child, and no money to hire anyone to do so.
– The parent or parents may themselves feel undereducated, and hence, not adequate to the job of educating their children.
– Many families are single-parent households, and mom or dad must work to make a living.
– Some children may be seriously “behind”, as adjudicated by “experts”.
– Some children may be a handful for the family to “handle”.
– No support in the community for homeschooling.

Let’s take up each of these and answer them as accurately as I can. In this article, we’ll take the first of these concerns.

– There’s no parent at home to work with the child, and no money to hire anyone to do so.

Yup, that one’s a killer. Such families may very well be unable to homeschool, at least at first glance. Even using a curriculum such as the one I’ve designed, someone must be around some of the time to help the child. Additionally, a child cannot go to zoos, museums and the like unless an adult takes him. And a child will need an adult to help secure the needed resources such as books, paper, computer, whatever, for homeschooling. Is there any solution? Usually, yes.

Unless the parents each work multiple jobs, one of them is likely to be home at some part of the waking day or night. I know times are tough in a lot of places and for a lot of families, but we all go home sometime. In households with two parents, perhaps one could work a schedule that allows him or her to be home for four hours out of the day. Such schedule could be “tag-teamed”, where a parent is free for two hours, and then the other parent takes over. (Yes, Dad, you will have to help.)

And please note, these do not need to be “school-normal” hours like 9 am-2 pm, or something like that. Not all children learn best in the morning, and the student’s schedule could be adjusted in part to accommodate the teacher/parent’s. If mom can be home from 1 pm – 5 pm, those could be school hours. Under any circumstances, homeschoolers should take advantage of the flexibility provided by a homeschool situation. This flexibility includes selection of study hours, and these can be worked around availability of the parent/teacher, as well as around the student’s “best” and most awake study time.

The student could start school in the morning if old enough, and if self-sufficient enough), even if there is no supervision. For example, a teenage student who is not “problematic” (relatively speaking) might do some schoolwork from 10 am – noon, saving problems they need help with or tests that need to be done and then scored, for when the parent is available. This would not be very hard to work out, if the child is reasonably ethical.

Of course, many students are too young to be left at home alone, if there is no parent present. And this is one place where relatives or a homeschool co-op come into play. Many families can count on Grandma or Grandpa, or Uncle Bill to watch the children while mom and dad work. In fact, many families do. But relatives can do more than babysit! If the effort is really discussed and coordinated, if a reasonable amount of agreement as to method is developed, they can help with homeschool. If you can teach, so can Grandma. (The right curricula and methodology is crucial to every homeschooler, no matter who is doing the teaching. I hope you’ll consider Steps – it was built exactly with homeschool limits and strengths in mind.)

I knew one family for many years just like this. The mom was a single mom, in fact, and her two sons were tutored by Grandma. In their fortunate case, grandma was a brilliant woman with several degrees! We’re not all so fortunate, but those boys could not have received more expert assistance. Of course, not all families are that fortunate. But depending of curriculum and the method one intends to apply to education, it really may be enough to have someone reasonably literate and interested at the helm for a period of time, each day.

SOMEONE is going to have to watch a child who is younger. If both parents are gone, and no relative is available, you should then consider a homeschool co-op with one or more other families. This will be discussed in detail in an upcoming article. For now and in brief, the idea is to work with other families who are also homeschooling, and to find ways to spread the work and requirements around to make it easier, more “social” and more interesting and do-able for all concerned. I like homeschool co-ops – but with a reservation. Just as when you work with anyone else, agreements between you and them are critical, and the methods and day-to-day approach to be used must be agreed upon before starting homeschool. This will call for meetings between parents and other participants, and plenty of them, in preparation. Much more later. (Again, if you want to know NOW, look at our Parent/Teacher course that covers Homeschool Groups. You’ll find a systematic how-to form a homeschool group there.)

As to money, it should never be the determining factor in how good an education a child is able to receive. We’re not all rich. Many homeschoolers are pretty broke, folks. Historically, until around 1860, almost everyone homeschooled, including indigent farm families and you name it. Abe Lincoln, who I’ve written about before, had no resources, and educated himself by reading borrowed books and interning with a lawyer, into a career and finally, the Presidency. Money is not the be all and end all that politicians and institutional educators would like you to believe. The amount of money one has available does not determine the level of education a child receives. The most expensive private school is very often not the best. The most expensive education can oft times be a complete failure. And can anyone argue that Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, or Charles Dickens were not schooled well, though they came from relative poverty and hardship? Money is no excuse.

Even a near complete lack of funding need not be a deterrent to homeschooling. I knew one family who sourced almost all of their study materials from their local library system. Their daughter did my entire Upper School program that way! They spent almost nothing! It can be done.

Time, the availability of the parent or teacher, is a far more important factor than money. And this, I believe at least in part, often comes down to willingness. Let’s face it, if the parent or teacher isn’t enthused about homeschooling their child, the time and the resources will not be “available”. If a parent has come to realize that homeschooling is their child’s very best chance for a good education, and even a good life, they’ll find the enthusiasm and the resources from somewhere. History is just too full of such parents and stories for this to be debatable.

But some people feel inadequately educated to handle their children in a homeschool situation. Others feel temperamentally unfit. We’ll discuss this in the next article. For now, I’ll keep it simple and tell you – YOU CAN DO IT. And you can teach your child more effectively, and in far more safety, than can any school!
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As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.

But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.

In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.

CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)

Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.

Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.

Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.

Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.

Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.

For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.

We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!

9 comments for “Hard Questions About Homeschooling (Part One) – NO MONEY, NO TIME!

  1. divasupermum antoinette
    September 13, 2011 at 1:26 am

    very helpful tips, well pleased with this blog, will help answer a lot of questions, to new homeschool parents

  2. Elizabeth
    January 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    By the Grace of God, I was able to hold down a full time job with the airline traveling all the years my older kids were in school.

    I was also a single mother but used my housekeeper to over see their work. I set up all the assignments and helped with the work when they needed help when I was home. Many times we were doing work at midnight, but it worked. Time is not important, but learning to learn is. This was long before computer programs, computer schools, co-ops and nice organized lesson plans. We did lessons while we traveled all over the world. There is no where you can go that a lesson can not be created. My older ones all graduated from the university with honors and my last one at home is doing dual credits at the university.

    In my opinion so many homeschoolers today rely on prepared lesson plans they lose the insight to see wonderful lessons in living each day. Don’t worry about the 3+5 workbooks, use the grocery store to teach math, use airline tickets and schedules to teach math,etc. Develop good readers who love to read and their English and grammar skills will develop.

    If I could teach new homeschoolers one lesson it would be to “take it easy and don’t sweat the small stuff.” If one thing isn’t working for them change it. Never get hung up in creating public school settings in your homeschool. Kids will learn naturally if encouraged and given the opportunities. Each of mine are as different as can be imagined but they all found their own love in the world of education and because they loved to learn, they excelled in their college careers.

  3. January 15, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Well done! As to structured lessons, there are many people who do not need the structure, certainly – and many who do. Each student, each “teacher”, and each homeschooling situation is unique, with unique needs. I also think you can teach SOME math as you suggest – I did. But there was a lot of math to learn that a grocery store would not provide. I agree about reading, 100%, though!

  4. Shanel Dorton
    February 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    My kids are 3 and 4, and I am planning on homeschooling them next year. Their dad was home schooled. So I have a great community around me to help where and when I will need it. At first I was really resistant to the idea, but one day I woke up and said why not. I looked into different resources, and suddenly I was at peace with the idea. I am not going into this blindly, I know that there will be times I am pulling out my hair. But I have an amazing support group around me. My husband, his 4 brothers and sisters, his mom, and our friends at church to help me when I need it big or small. Even now I am starting to teach them with reading and writing. We carefully monitor what they are allowed to watch. So I think a big support group is also needed to help you in your decision. Plus, Grandma has passes to the museums and zoo in our area. We have already decided the type of math course, the rest will come to us as we need it. I can’t wait for our adventure to begin.

  5. February 21, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Hi Shanel,

    Sounds like you have a nearly ideal situation for homeschooling! I hope you are extremely successful at it!

  6. Sharon Eikenaar
    June 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you! You have given my confidence back, you are right I can home school and even though I am chronically ill I must not doubt myself!

  7. Bekki Lindner
    July 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Do you have any tips or thoughts for moms who want to homeschool, but have younger children at home who demand your attention? I am a former teacher turned writer,sahm, who is considering pulling our oldest out of private school (aka-the worksheet factory), and starting homeschool. She is our oldest and will be in first grade. My concern is that I also have a four year old, a 20 month old, and a 5 month old who take a lot of my attention….I know I can write when I have time at night, during nap,etc., but I am not sure what to do about the younger kids…I don’t want to cheat the oldest out of quality school, but know the two youngest need me too….any ideas? Thanks so much, and I love reading your posts.

  8. July 12, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Hi Bekki,

    You have a full house! You describe a tough problem, potentially. You’ve stated it well, they all need attention and you don’t want your 5 year-old’s educational needs short changed. I do have a few thoughts, but I’m not sure how helpful they will be.

    First, have you considered joining or starting a small homeschool group? If you known of even one other parent who wants to homeschool with a child about five years old, say, you could share the duties. With two parent/teachers, one could handle the “students”, the other could handle the younger kids. You could also switch off for a break from one and time with the other. Even better, if you knew two or more such parents with kids, you0 could rotate so that one or more of you have “days off” – help with your writing! I think homeschool groups are always the best way to go if you know responsible people you can work with. It also spreads the expense of homeschooling. Three families paying for, say, a computer, can better afford it than one family.

    I think your other children are too young to “school”, per say, so I would not suggest that, though I’ll bet you already read to them all the time, etc. Have you any relatives nearby who, in case you can’t form a group, could serve with you in the trenches? Grandma or grandpa? Uncles or aunts? I know families who did that and, not without some trial, it did work. If any of them have a talent for teaching (even a slight one), again, you could have them work with the student, and trade places as needed. Might also buy you some writing time.

    When I started homeschooling, mine were 14 and 10 years old, and I was a single dad. (My wife had passed away in 2001.) I never had to face your situation. And I had created a group within weeks of starting, where two other trained teachers with teen-aged kids were working with me. THEY ran the students (and we had up to 10 in the house for years), I hid in my office and wrote curriculum, and corrected it as I saw how the kids did. I did that for many years. That became my curriculum, Steps. As you can see, I secured help as needed, and really, everyone won that way.

    You can always write me directly at cttauthor@aol.com, if you like, if you need other advice. I wish you great success!

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