Imagination into action

Monday, July 18th, 2005
Mark Gershon posted a great comment on my blog this weekend:
Eric, I have the other side to hand to you, Yes, the Robotics are cool, but can't we wait until they know how to read, and write (i.e.  hand writing skills) before the computer takes over.  Please remember they need to move physically just as much!!!!

Mark, I agree with you, however, my children all know how to read and write. In fact, each of them began to read full-length books on their own by the age of 5, some at age 4. Dick, Jane, and their dog Spot were a great help in the early years. (Kathy had these books from many years ago) Dr. Seuss will of course remain a starter classic in our home. Amy and Wendy read the entire [original] Nancy Drew series a few years later. They love to read and write as much as they love to run and play outdoors.

We did not have to push them into reading. We simply read and spoke to them in full, complete, sentences from birth - no baby talk.

Kathy and I encourage reading and writing in everything that we do, whether it's in our homeschool or just for recreation. (We don't have television in our home, but we do have a large library of great books.)

I don't advocate robotics or computers in place of learning the basics; but, when kids have the basics, I think robotics are a great way for them to put their imagination into action.

Discussion/Comments (5):

Imagination into action

Eric:

Well said. As a science museum director for 21 years I have had the opportunity to watch homeschool students from the time when they were either outcasts or the parents had some weird proclivity towards religion, race, or social settings.

From the Podcasts of your girls, I can easily ascertain that they are intelligent, conversant, and well spoken young ladies. I know you (mom and dad) are proud of their abilities.

The major tragedy I have noted with homeschool students is the socialization skills. They know how to interact with mom and dad, but not the outside world or culture. In many ways once these students were thrust into the "real world" through high school (mom and dad reached capacity in their abilities to teach higher level classes), college, or the work world they became pariahs.

I am glad that the girls are interacting with other students in the Robot League and have a healthy church life. They did a great job on presenting the OneNote shared session. I am sure a lot of adults are standing around scratching their heads saying if those little ones can do it why can't I.

Keep up the great work! And God Bless your family!

Karl

Posted at 7/19/2005 5:51:50 AM by Karl McKinnon


Imagination into action

Karl,

Thank you for your comments. We are, indeed, proud of our daughters. I have contact with dozens of homeschool families, and have never experienced or witnessed socialization problems based on the fact that they are homeschooled.

Most all of the homeschooling families that I know are actually turning down social activities because our schedules are just too busy.

I have met a couple of families with children who are introverts, but I think that is the nature of the family and how they were raised, not that they were homeschooled. I think they would be that way in any environment. I was a public school teacher for 9 years, and these kinds of children just exist. My own nephew and niece are that way, they did the typical day care/government school, and they continue to be introverted, except within their own home.

I have found that children who are homeschooled usually converse better with adults than do children who are in government schools. I also find that they are able to adapt to new situations quite well.

We have had our girls in front of people since they were young. All sing in choirs and have participated in drama, so they have had lots of experience speaking or singing in front of audiences that have ranged in size from about 30 people to roughly 1500 people.

Eric and I once attended a seminar that asked a wonderful question: "Who do you want teaching your children their socialization skills - you and your spouse, or the children on the playground in schools?" I don't know about you, but I remember the children on the playground.

To sum it up, I don't think the socialization skills you referred to have anything to do with the kind of school a child attends. I think it has to do with their family and upbringing. If children are taught to converse and interact with others, they will succeed at it. Forcing them into a public school setting doesn't fix that, and teaching them at home doesn't cause that. Teaching social skills must begin at home at a very young age.

-Kathy Mack

Posted at 7/19/2005 9:41:42 AM by Kathy Mack


Imagination into action

Thank you for the response. Uniquely, my children are presenlty attending a Waldorf school in my mountain community!

It is a real pleasure raising players and not spectators!

My comment was a general one based upon time spent coaching kids (home schooled, Waldorfed trained, and public schooled) either on the soccer pitch or at the arena.

Mark

Posted at 7/20/2005 10:53:25 AM by Mark Gershon


Re: Home schooling and socialization skills.

This is a common misconception. If you look at the studies you will find that children who are home schooled have fewer problems than U.S. public school students socializing once they get into a public forum.

Posted at 7/20/2005 6:01:22 PM by Tanny O'Haley


Imagination into action

I do not see as many as the socialization issues as I saw 10 years ago as Homeschool Networks began to form and provide many of the extra curricular activities and co-curricular activities that are provided in public school setings.

I also began my remarks with observations of earlier adopters of homeschool situations from about 1986 when I encounter my first homeschool family to today. There is a night and day difference in the homeschool environment from then until today.

I began a private school District based science fair in the late 1980's to give private schools an opportunity to do more than hold a one day event in their school. They could bring their experience and display it before a larger crowd and then move into the Regional Science Fair (Public School) and if they placed well enough there they could move on to the State Science Fair. The first year we had an elementary student go all the way and take a first prize at the state science fair.

With in two years we received a request for homeschool involvement and we were excited to have their participation (this was one of the first efforts to have a loosely formed network in several communities in rural Eastern North Carolina). The first year was not so great, but in year two, much as your girls experienced they improved remarkably.

Today, my science museum offers Homeschool Science Club that invites homeschoolers to the museum to particpate in inquiry based science opportunities. Not only are they investigation interesting topics in science using hands-on approaches they do it in small groups as a team.

My best homeschool experience has been a young man that began as a volunteer several years ago as a part of a community service component to his curriculum. Mark began working for us two years ago and graduated this spring (he brags he was in the top three of his class at graduation).

Mark is our animal care technician and will begin college work this fall. His family is moving out of state and I am not sure that he will not accompany them. We will see how the first semester goes for him.

I applaud you all for taking the tremendous responsibility of educating your children and socializing them to adults and to other children and cultures. I am also pleased that I have been able to witness the evolution of the homeschool movement.

If the Mack children are an average sampling of the results that are being produced I am not worried about passing the responsibility of the future to them.

My only criticism of the comments above is the one about the common misconception being based on studies of public school students having more issues than homeschool students ... I agree and disagree. The disagreement comes from the format of such a study and if it is weighted or not (there are far more public educated children than homeschool children so I would expect that number to be higher). Homeschool children also receive a level of respect and manners (as we call them in Eastern NC) that is typically not taught in the public setting.

But I am preaching to the choir.

Great job that you all do and especially the Mack Family.

Posted at 7/20/2005 6:33:30 PM by Karl



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