This is the fifth article in a series answering hard questions dealing with homeschooling.
In article one, we made a brief list of major concerns and objections one might encounter to homeschooling. Let’s take up the fifth point on that list now.
– Some children may be a handful for the family to “handle”.
This is not a simple problem. In fact, it probably ranks as the most difficult problem a parent can have with a child. There are some essential truths to be confronted regarding our children. I feel reasonably confident in these truths, having watched and taught children for nearly 40 years, and having at one time, in some distant and forgotten age, been a child myself.
Truth # 1 – Every child is different, and this is a good thing.
There are many reasons that each child is unique. First and foremost, each child is born with unique strengths and weaknesses. You may attribute these skills and shortcomings as you see fit – the will of God, heredity, whatever. The fact remains that each child is different, and this presents an insurmountable problem to the person who wishes to make a living advising parents regarding their children. Since no two children are precisely the same, then no single piece of advice is going to exactly solve the issues presented by two or more children.
Your child is unique. There’s no one like him or her. I realize that every parent sees their child as “special”, and I am inclined to agree. Every child is special, and that is so regardless of which definition of “special” you are using – 1) Unique or different than all others, or 2) Wonderful.
Those of you with several children (I have two) know that even though they were all raised in your household, and often have been provided the same opportunities and experiences – each child is simply special (different). We may share the same experiences as others, but we each respond to those experiences uniquely. I’ve seen identical twins with dramatically differing interests and responses to the world, twins raised in the same house by the same parents, sent to the same schools, you name it.
What does this mean to those parents with a “problematic child”? It means that what works for another person’s child may not work, and in fact is likely not to work, in an effort to control or manipulate one’s own. Your child will not react to an approach in the same way that another child does.
This uniqueness and difficulty to handle is (in the long run) a good thing. I know some of you are moaning, rolling your eyes. However it IS a good and a necessary thing if our civilization and species are to survive.
History books are nothing but tales of different people who were allowed to grow up and express themselves in the world. Great artists, religious leaders, politicians and soldiers, inventors and philosophers all had amazing contributions to make BECAUSE THEY WERE DIFFERENT FROM EVERYONE ELSE.
Does anyone really think that a guy like Socrates, a man willing to die just to be right and to stand for the truth – was easy to raise? Imagine his poor parents as they listened in to his all too honest explanations of why he had to beat up Billy next door. (Or was that Billicus? Billicles?) Imagine him explaining to his own teacher why he (the teacher) is wrong about, oh, name a subject, simply because Socrates has observed the world more thoroughly than his teacher. Would young master Socrates take the quiet and “smart” route and shut his mouth when he had discovered others wrong? No way. You can just hear him engaging in debate with his elders, forcing them to think and look and reconsider, and to wonder why they were not killing this obnoxious child!
And how about Bill Shakespeare? Does anyone think he was a quiet lad? An old ham like sweet William? Could it be that he had little to say, and listened calmly? The man who would give titanic birth to Hamlet and Othello, as a good little student? Not bloody likely. Not with that imagination!
Think Caesar’s mom could tell him what to do, even once? How about Genghis Khan’s Mom, or Napoleon’s, think they had much luck with their little world conquerors? How about Einstein, a boy staring at beams of light and dreaming of hitching a ride on one? Think he was a piece of cake? Imagine the restless questions he must have asked his folks, certainly not the common garden variety “mom, why is the sky blue”.
People who are capable of great achievement are restless. They’re dreamers. Often, they’re gifted in ways that the rest of the world, especially “experts” do not understand. Some great people have been branded through the years as “uneducatable”, such as Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Alva Edison. Think the experts got it right?
People capable of changing the world, as a great religious or political leader does, are not followers. They do not sit easily or well in class. They do not always (or often) do as they’re told. They often do not like to be told what to do or think.
The survival of our species absolutely depends on this uniqueness in each of us, this special quality. Nature loves big numbers and differences. Consider the tens of millions of species of living creatures on Earth, if you’re not certain. One guarantee of survival is a large population. Another is the unique gifts individual members of a species provide their entire species.
I’m not advocating for run-amok children being allowed to plow the kid at the next desk into the ground, or to blow up the chem. lab. I’m not a fan of physical abuse when it is inflicted by either adults or children, and I personally saw to it that a few physically abusive children were kicked out of schools. of course, one wonders where those children got their ideas, and one considers their parents and the environment they were being raised in, and one frowns at the appalling levels of violence such kids are exposed to in games, movies, TV, you name it. Still, adults have a duty to keep their own children safe, and that includes safe from bullies.
Nonetheless, if someone is telling you that special Is “bad” and “normal” is “good”, they are lying. Such lies are usually born out of self-interest. Most teachers would love it if they could have a classroom filled with quiet, tractable children. Why, a classroom filled with brain-dead, barely responsive and politely identical children would be…um…er…great. Right, teachers? (I dislike most teachers enormously, as you know.) Hence, bad teachers wield certain tools to “equalize” and control their students, tools like grades, tests, iron-clad schedules, seating charts (in as opposed to recognizing a student by his or her individuality), and the worst of it, evaluations. They often recommend that “difficult” children be removed from the “group”, placed in remedial programs, or sent to a psychologist who might prescribe some “helpful drug”. They often imply that a child is “different” because of something “wrong” that mom or dad did.
But “different” is the stuff of survival and great achievement. Different is good. Special is good. More to follow next article.
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!