Technologist considers home education

Monday, June 21st, 2004
Fellow technologist, Richard Schwartz, recently blogged that he is considering home educating his gifted daughter, and he's looking for information from other technically oriented parents who are already doing this. If you fit that description, he'd like to hear from you.

Kathy and I have been home educating our four daughters since birth (the older twins are now 11.75 years old) and we have found it to be a simultaneously challenging, time-consuming, exhilarating, and rewarding experience. It's a lot of work, but the benefits can be tremendous.

Home Education involves many aspects and can be accomplished in a variety of ways. That's one of the wonderful things about becoming responsible for your child's education. You do not have to do everything alone or even at home. I tell parents that any parent can (and I believe should) become a home-educating parent -- regardless of whether or not they entrust their child's education to an outside institution (public or private) for portion of their day.

Home education is about more than just where the learning takes place; it is about the process and the approach. Every discussion, event, activity, problem and question that your child  asks is a learning opportunity.  What will be learned depends entirely upon how you respond. This can be a great deal of fun, too. Just take a look at my past blog about Binary Carrots.  (I could fill a daily blog site with stories like these.)

My first recommendation, Richard, would be to attend a local home education conference. There, you will find a variety of resources. For my wife and I, it is one of our favorite times of year, and in many ways, it is better than  [gasp]  Comdex or Lotusphere. Imagine the excitement of being in a convention center with 5000 other people -- all parents -- who have only one focus in mind -- how to best educate and equip their children for life. Add to this the speakers, exhibits, curriculum vendors, and learning resource companies; you will definitely leave exhilarated and with a new perspective.

Since many focus on the academic potential of home education, which is great, I'll mention something else: relationships. We have found that our own family relationships have been greatly strengthened by the time and activities that we do together, and I have observed this in most of the other homeschool families that I know.  This destroys the myth that quality time is better than quantity of time.  You need a lot of both. Kids watch and learn from everything that they see.

I could go on all day, about this and other benefits, but I'll take my leave. Perhaps I'll write more to post on our Family Homeschool site, which I am currently converting to DominoBlog, so that I can more easily add information, resources and sections. Amy and Wendy have already asked for sections where they can blog about their LEGO robotics team and other school-related projects and activities.

Best wishes for your family success.

Eric Mack

Discussion/Comments (6):

Thanks!

Eric,

Thanks for the encouragement. We're looking into this for a variety of reasons. Won't go into it all in public, but perhaps we could chat sometime. I have a lot of -- let's just call it 'skepticism' about the whole thing, which I am only just beginning to imagine that I might overcome. It is entirely possible that I have developed some serious misperceptions about home-schooling, but am willing to submit them to scrutiny. For example, I have long believed that being exposed to a wide variety of different teachers, with different teaching styles and different experiences is essential to effective learning and particulary to development of critical thinking abilities; and as a corollary, that home-schooled kids would have difficulty exceeding the limitations of their own parents as teachers. (And I take it for granted that we all have limitations!) Challenging this and other preconceptions that I have developed is probably going to be the biggest part of the decision we are making about how to go forward.

-rich

Posted at 6/21/2004 7:11:45 PM by Richard Schwartz


Half way house

I would love to home school my kids, its been a dream I have had for a long time to be able to work virtually, and to live a much more integrated family life. I never thought it would be possible though as I was stuck in a company culture that frowned on home working, and with 4 children the stresses of home school on top of home making would be too much for my wife.

However as a result of illness I have managed to convice my company that home working is OK, and its been agreat success. We live that integrated life now. With me around at home more, Debbie and I have more time for home schooling. The kids still go to school, but education does not just happen at school.

Debbie is a fantastic teacher, and particularly loves small groups so evenings, weekends and holidays are great learning experiences and opportunities for adventure.

My message, try educating your kids whilist they still go to school, see how you like it, see how they respond. See if you can adjust your lifestyle to make time and energy for it first before taking the big leap of withdrawing them from school completely.

That said Eric, your site is inspirational, but its important to note that there are lots of approaches to achieving your goals.

Posted at 8/4/2004 5:44:08 AM by Steve


It all starts at home...

Steve, I like to encourage parents that ANY parent has the opportunity to be a home educating parent, when they decide to become actively engaged in their child's education. Whether or not someone sends their child off to a public school, private school, or even a parochial school, that is a small part of the day. The key, I believe is getting involved in the learning process and making sure that in addition to the academics, you are teaching your children values that you agree with and that you are equipping them for life. For that reason, I encourage every family to develop their own family mission statement, to define what is important to them and what they would like to have accomplished 20 years from now.

See: http://www.ericmackonline.com/emo/emonline.nsf/dx/what-will-you-leave-behind

Best of success to you and your wife. I would be happy to speak with you.

Best regards,

Eric

Posted at 8/4/2004 10:04:42 AM by Eric Mack


I was just reading your mission ...

which I am just printing for Debbie to read. It struck me though that on my list of blogging topics I have "write my kids a blog category". I was planning to pick a topic for example, "have Integrity", and write a blog post for the kids on what it means. They subscribe to this so they get little ideas drip fed to them and we can discuss them as they feel like it.

Like all blogs others might find it useful as well. Unfortunately I have quite a backlog, so it will be a few months before I start.

Posted at 8/4/2004 12:39:26 PM by Steve



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