Friday, April 18, 2008

Home schooling for 11

Our children our age 3 years and 9 months. We have not decided how we are going to formally educate our children when the time comes but we would like all possible options available to us. I say formally because we have been informally educating our children since birth.

Public schools, private schools and homeschooling all have their advantages and disadvantages. I would love to send my kids to public schools but they are severely under-educating our children, indoctrinating them into the socialist mindset and are terrible examples of accountability and fiscal accountability. If they would correct those problems it would be nice to have that option since we are already paying for them through property taxes. Hopefully things will change for the better in the next two years.

My three year old has been able to read her letters and identify the phonetic sounds they make since she was 18 months, she also can read, count to well past 100, add, subtract and understands the concept of zero. She has known her shapes since she was 18 months including hexagon, octagon, pentagon and trapezoid. She knows her planets and can identify some states on the map as well as the United states to name a few. She knows the names of the president and the vice president of the United states. This is only a fraction of what my three year old knows. I am afraid that public schools will not be able to keep up with her thirst for learning so homeschooling appears to be the best option at this point.

Quote of the Day - " To confuse compulsory schooling with equal educational opportunity is like confusing organized religion with spirituality. One does not necessarily lead to the other. Schooling confuses teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. "
-- Wendy Priesnitz

The following article appeared in the Union Leader.

Home schooling for 11
Union Leader Correspondent
Friday, Apr. 18, 2008

TASHA PARKER SAT with two of her 11 children at the kitchen table and pointed to a plastic clock.

"Can you show me 2:15?" she asked.

Seven-year-old Adeline and 5-year-old Brigham moved the bright red hands around the face of the clock, then showed their mother the results.

Across the table, Benjamin, 11, was sitting with two of his little sisters, showing them how to make animals out of play dough. He and his brother Jacob, 9, take turns running a preschool with the younger children while their mom teaches math to Adeline and Brigham in their Merrimack home.

The rest of the children - who range in age from 16 to 1 - were scattered to different corners of the house doing their daily schoolwork.

Tasha and Jim Parker started homeschooling when it was time for their oldest son, James, to go to school. But it wasn't an easy decision.

"I cried the first day as I watched the other children get on their school buses," Tasha Parker said.

She said she was worried she wouldn't be able to manage the demands of homeschooling - something that's hard to believe now as she coordinates her children's schedules throughout the day.

Her husband, who is a finance director at software firm Novell, works from home two days a week so he can help keep an eye on things.

The three oldest children - James, 16, Julia, 15, and Anna, 14 - start their day at 5:45 a.m., when they head off to a religious education class on the Old Testament at their church. The Parkers are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The rest of the children get up at 6:30 a.m. and help prepare breakfast, before Jim leads a morning devotional where the family reads scripture and prays together.

By 8:30 a.m., school starts. Tasha Parker works with the younger children, but once a child hits third grade, he or she is expected to work independently.

Throughout the day, the children also take time out for music lessons, physical exercise and chores. All but the youngest have responsibilities, including making the meals, doing the laundry and cleaning.

The children also are involved in community extracurricular activities such as sports, 4-H, scouts and church youth groups.

"I am pretty strict when it comes to most everything," their mother said, "but it never works out perfectly.

The children say they are happy being homeschooled, and would not want to be in a public school.

The Parkers said they use a "classical" education model with their children, teaching them to read, write and problem-solve by reading from literature such as Shakespeare, Homer and Tennyson.

All of the children are at or ahead of grade level academically. James and Julia are already taking college courses independently through Brigham Young University.

And at the center of their curriculum, they say, is their belief system.

"Our ultimate goal is to help them become everything God wants them to become," said Jim Parker. "There's no better place to do that than in the home."

Opposed to legislation
Like most homeschoolers, the Parkers also believe the state should not interfere in what and how they teach their children.

"The God-given right and duty to train up our children belongs to us, not the government," said Jim.

The Parkers were in Concord Tuesday to testify against Senate Bill 337, which would require parents to submit curriculum plans to the state in their first year of homeschooling.

Currently parents who homeschool have to submit a letter at the beginning of every school year stating the name, birth dates, address, and dates when the homeschooling program starts, according to Merrimack Assistant Superintendent Debbie Woelflein.

At the end of the year, parents are required to submit an evaluation of their children's schoolwork for the year. The evaluation can take various forms, including a portfolio, an evaluation by a certified teacher, or taking a state standardized test, she said.

Parents used to be required to submit curriculum plans every school year, but that changed in 2006 when legislators revised the homeschooling law.

The new legislation would put some of that oversight back.

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Iris Estabrook, D-Durham, said she sponsored the legislation because she believes the state has an obligation to provide some oversight of homeschooling families.

"My job is to look out for those who have no other voice, no other adults for them to turn to if an issue needs to be addressed," she said.

While she said the number of homeschooling families who don't do a good job is small, she believes the one-year requirement for submitting a curriculum will help parents understand the obligation that goes along with homeschooling.

"I think some people are against any government involvement in their homeschooling," she said. "I can respect that, but I can't leave it at that."

For the 2006-2007 school year, 4,599 children in New Hampshire were homeschooled. That compares to 207,000 children in public schools, according to Roberta Tenney, the state Home Education Administrator.

The state Department of Education supports the new legislation; Tenney said she believed it is a good compromise between what used to exist and what exists now.

Jim Parker said one of the reasons he and his wife chose to move to New Hampshire two years ago from Utah was because of the political culture, so he was disappointed the state has what he believes is already a high level of regulation for homeschoolers.

To view the pictures and the proposed rules for homeschoolers go to the Union Leader.

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