Friday, April 8, 2011

Parenthood: A Stewardship in Education

By: Dr. Reed Benson

Let me give you 10 advantages of home schooling.

#1 Leadership and Love at Home.

Even way back in the twenties the Supreme Court said that "it is the natural duty of the parent to give his children education." And they reaffirmed that later saying the "primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their child is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition. Those who have their welfare most at heart become their teachers." Is that significant'? A lady writing in the Radcliffe Quarterly said, "I can see the encrusted layers of school rigidity falling away; several times a lesson with her", speaking of her child, "has dissolved into a conversation about her real worth as a loving, responsible human being versus the graded, classified, surely stupid person she sometimes felt herself to be in school."

Even the Kendricks when they wrote their Superintendent of Schools said, "We have not felt right about sending our children out of our home to be influenced in their formative years, by people whom we do not know personally and whose morals, values, and political and religious beliefs may differ from ours. Once a child starts school, the home becomes school centered, not family centered. The hour before school getting ready, the six hours of school, the hour or two of unwinding afterwards and the hour or more of homework later in the evening leave little time for parents and children to communicate and involve themselves jointly in activities not directly related to school." How true.

One woman writing in a letter that appeared in a newspaper said that there "is a lot of joy in teaching children, so why shouldn't I have that joy?" Good point.

#2 School Can Wait.

As some of you know, Raymond and Dorothy Moore were given a quarter of a million dollar grant to study early childhood education programs. They did that study and published their findings which are very interesting. They came up with two theories. One is the integrated maturity level, the idea that shows that reasoning process, physical skills don't come together until the child is at least eight years of age. When they are forced into formal schooling before that time, it is a very frustrating experience for them. And then the other theory is the positive and negative sociability theory. That is to say, if there is one thing that really terrorizes parents it's peer pressure that happens when their child gets into school. The Moores said that the longer you can keep the child out of formal school, the more they develop a peer independence, and a close tie to the family.

#3 You get to Avoid the Pitfalls.

And boy, there are all kinds of pitfalls. You know after one tragic Supreme Court prayer decision, President David O. McKay said that "the Supreme Court of the United States severs the connecting cord between the public schools of the United States and the source of divine intelligence, the Creator himself." Nature abhors a vacuum. What moved into that vacuum? Secular humanism. How tragic. You know probably the greatest influence in the public schools among the educators is John Dewy. He is one of the original signers of the Humanist Manifesto. Well, conflicting values, that is another pitfall to avoid. Immorality and drugs, lack of discipline, drug abuse, school violence. The U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee made a study and they said that your child's chances of encountering crime are greatest when they are en route to, at, or coming home from school. How sad.

Incarceration. To some, school is like a lock up or a jail.

The social life? With "very few exceptions," John Holt said in a U.S. News and World Report article, "the social life of our schools is mean spirited, competitive, status seeking, snobbish, cruel, often violent, and full of talk about who went to whose party and who did not."How about emotional pitfalls? The Perchemlides said that Richard was a free, confident child upon entering second grade. However, he then became "shy, unsure, self-conscious and discouraged over academic achievement."

Physical problems. It is interesting how much the health of children improve when they have switched over to home school.

Inferior education. A U.S. News and World Report article a while ago stated "as costs escalate... .results worsen." How true.

Wasted time. One lady wrote in the New York Times and said, "I use the word 'immoral' to emphasize how strongly I feel about the time that is wasted by children at school."

#4 Teach the Truth.

How exciting! You get to put God in the guidelines and Christ in the curriculum. President McKay, after another tragic Supreme Court decision, said, "Evidently the Supreme Court misinterprets the true meaning of the first amendment and is now leading a Christian nation down the road to atheism.'' Remember what the Old Testament said: "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Deut. 6:6-7).

#5 Why Not the Best?

Why not go for the best? The sky is the limit. You can use a curriculum of great books if you want. You can apprentice to a master, whatever you see fit. The sky is the limit.

#6 Individualized Instruction.

This becomes tailor-made teaching. You know how helpful that is to a gifted student, or for a slow learner. They did a comprehensive measurement of how much time a teacher is able to spend with a child in a school day. They figure the average was about two minutes per child, in a school day with a class of twenty five. U.S. News and World Report says, "For many being gifted brings lifelong struggle." Individualized instruction offers the opportunity of setting a personal pace for each child, with less of competitiveness and comparison. The curriculum is more freely chosen, assignments more easily followed up, and weaknesses in the child's education more quickly detected.

#7 To Learn, Teach Another

How did that teacher handle the little red schoolroom with several grades? One of the ways she did it, was that she had them teach each other. And you can have that happen in your own home.

#8 Flexibility

Correspondence courses, special classes, schedules to fit your needs, without interference with all of the class bells.

#9 Parents Also Learn

How true, remember the old oriental proverb, "Help your brother's boat across, and lo your own has reached the shore." Many a home schooling mother can relate to this. "Home schooling," said one mother, "has given me an excuse to continue my education. And I am enjoying math more than anything except music and maybe French and by the time I'm forty, I should be pretty good." Way to go.

#10 The Pursuit of Excellence

Howard G. McCurdy, professor of psychology, did a very interesting study covering five hundred years on the childhood pattern of genius. He distilled them down to twenty of the greatest geniuses. John Stewart Mill was given at a very early age the responsibility of acting as a tutor to his brothers and sisters. His father kept him far from other boys. John Quincy Adams' education began at home. etc. Then McCurdy stated that children of genius are exposed to significantly great amounts of intellectual stimulation by adults, and experience very restricted contacts with other children of their own age. His findings were published in the Horizon Magazine. They said, "What kind of early life fosters exceptional mental growth? A study of twenty great minds points to two prime conditions-and leads to a startling conclusion in the last sentence of this article." What was the startling conclusion? "It might be remarked that the mass education of public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on the effect of reducing all three factors, to a minimum; accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurrence of genius."

In the book Cradles of Eminence, authors selected some four hundred eminent twentieth century men and women for a provocative study on their childhood. They found that three out of five of the four hundred had serious school problems. Three out of five of the four hundred disliked schools, yet four out of the five of the four hundred boys and girls showed evidences of being unusually intelligent or exceptionally talented. And they said there is not a parent-tutored boy or girl among the four hundred who was not grateful for the experience. Tom Edison, America's greatest inventor never completed grade school. Henry Ford, America's first billionaire never completed high school.

Now how about the disadvantages? You know all of the things you hear about putting them in home school and what is going to happen to their socialization? Isn't that the theme song? My gosh, let me tell you the Osmonds were home schooled, and if there is one thing you never accused them of that was being social retards, right? Tis true.

There are two categories they sometimes drop socialization into: life adjustment and friends. Well most of life is spent in a home. If one wants to adjust to life then he needs to properly adjust to the home front. After the early years, how often does one sit for nine months, five days a week for' six hours a day in a concrete building with people of his own age'? I like how Reverend Lindstrom put it. He said, "I see our children as young tender plants put into a hot house, given expert attention and care by a florist, until the plant is ready to be exposed to the wind, rain and hail. A young Joseph nurtured by an old Jacob can make it in a heathen Egypt. In fact, there are a lot of things in the real world that we do not want our children to adjust to. Somebody wrote John Holt and said, 'I don't want to feel I'm sheltering my children or running away from adversity." He said, "Why not'? It is your right, and your proper business as parents, to shelter your children and protect them from adversity, at least as much as you can. Many of the worlds children are starved or malnourished, but you would not starve your children so that they would know what this was like. "It is interesting, during World War II, the marines that went through the worst campaigns of the war, the ones that stood up under it, were the ones who had a fortunate childhood. The ones who broke were the ones that had been put up against tough conditions in their childhood. One home schooler put it this way, "People tell me that I am protecting my children from the cold. cruel world, and think children should have to take bad treatment in schools in order to cope with the real world. By that logic, we should be putting the child's head in a vise every day to prepare them for the headaches they will suffer as adults."

How about friends? That comes under socialization. As one home schooler put it, "the idea that children must spend great quantities of time in large groups of children their own age is a theory of man and has no basis in fact or in scripture."

How about household management? How will I ever manage with the children home all day during the week? I can't handle it! One home schooler said that "there are those who tell me they can't teach their children and keep house too. I tell them 'can't' is a ridiculous word and merely signifies a person's unwillingness to make the necessary sacrifice.., the whole family messes the place up, the whole family can clean it up."

Well emotionality. How are my nerves going to take it with the children home all day'? Well, you won't have to worry about physical violence, standards being undermined, what your children are being taught, who they are associating with, etc. You can make it, no question about it. Well now, there might be times when you have to have moments of solitude, kind of get-away time, that is understandable. One home school lady at the close of her first year said how she felt at the very beginning like getting away often. But she said, "Now I resent anything that takes me away from my children during school hours. I am happiest at home and never feel that old drive to get out. Funny how we grow! That doesn't mean that I'm not involved with anything outside of my home, I am. But I am no longer dependent on anyone or anything or anyplace outside my home and family for my happiness."

Costs? Costs can be a little or a lot. Home school success is really not dependent on money.

Structured formats, some like structured formats. At eight o'clock we'll have math, nine o'clock social studies. Most move into a blended format. Sometimes they can study the great books curriculum. One man said, "my curriculum is the four R's: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Religion." Good. Somebody at one time said, "No man is born into this world whose work is not born with them." So oft time these parents feel they are facilitators. Let the children find that which interests them.

How about teaching time? The thought of having to teach your children six hours a day alarms some parents. Some say, "how am I going to teach them six hours a day?" John Holt says, "who is teaching them six hours a day now?" That is an interesting thought. He says, "it was a rare day in my schooling where I got fifteen minutes of teaching, that is, of concerned and thoughtful adult talk about something that I found interesting, puzzling, or important." Incidentally, have you heard of kids that may get injured in a ski accident? And so they are put down in bed for a couple of weeks. Often time the school districts will have somebody come in to see them to bring them up to date for the two weeks they have missed. It takes one hour. Very interesting! Field trips, boy, there are so many things. Working parents, is basically a custodial problem. In any case, love helps learning too. Tis true.

"You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be �
I had a Mother who read to me. (-- Strickland Gillilan)

Text books and other supplies. There are so many of them out there now, that are available. I reckon you have seen a lot of them here today. There are so many opportunities out there for learning. Reader's Digest, National Geographic, periodicals, records, tapes, film strips, microscopes, telescopes, globes, correspondence courses, tutors, outside help. We had one tutor come in. My wife wanted a little help on algebra and had a tutor come in to help teach three grades of algebra. While I think of it, some home schoolers have sent their children to high school to take the exact sciences. You know there are some opportunities that may come to the high schools. It may be a little hard to form your own a a cappella choir or your own football team. Often times parents will teach their children the social sciences. The exact sciences are a little more safe, for water still boils at the same temperature. Are you with me? But the social sciences they will teach in their own home.

Now if there is one thing that scares off parents getting into home schooling, it is their lack of confidence. And so I spell out ten commandments for building confidence in parents to let them know that they can do it. So let me give them to you.

#1 Everyone is a student and a teacher and the world is the classroom.

Everyone is a teacher or the student. I think we ought to say, as one home schooler said, that people ought to be judged capable of teaching their own children unless someone can show beyond reasonable doubt that they are not capable. And school doesn't have to mean just a brick building with a cyclone fence and usually padlock gates.

#2 Ability to care counts more than ability to teach.

Ability to care. Do you know a few years back some good mothers in the land of Alaska had a hard time getting their children into the public schools because they lived so far away. They got permission to get the text books that were used in the public schools for that grade. Do you know what they found out? Those mothers, uncertified, and a lot of them had never entered college, those mothers teaching from the text books, teaching in their own home, did better with their children than the certified teachers. And the longer the children stayed at home with that uncertified mother, the better they did. You can do it Mom, O.K. So ability to care counts more than the ability to teach. As one home schooler put it, "who, in this whole wide world, could possibly be better entrusted to the education of a child than his parents! The Lord God Almighty believes it, or else why are children born to parents instead of to public schools?" Good point.

#3 Backing comes from the courts and authorities. Tis true, increasingly.

#4 (I don't know if I should have listed this in building confidence in parents), but number four, one can hardly do worse than the public school system.

In fact, one Reader's Digest article a while ago was captioned "Help! Teachers Can't Teach)"

#5 One need not be a professional or wealthy to teach well.

The most distinguished scholar on this campus, Hugh Nibley, said, "What this world needs is to return to the age of the amateur." How true. Well, facilitating oft times is the role of the parents.

#6 Help is available.

Where do you go for help? One of the first places you ought to go is to your knees. He [God knows them better than you, and He had them before we did. He can inspire and direct you and help you know how to best serve their needs.

#7 It is harder at first but comes easier later.

It takes usually around three months to get over the strain of adding the burden of parental responsibility, but once you get into the flow it is like cooking. One home schooler said, "It's like cooking, at first your nose is always in the cookbook, but once you get some confidence in yourself, you take your nose out of the book and experiment on your own." It's like one mother who when her first child swallowed a penny, she hit the panic button, but when her sixth child swallowed a quarter she said "son, that comes out of your allowance." In other words, you can get on to it.

#8 The rewards are worth the effort.

Are they ever! Here is one home schooler who at the close of her first year of home schooling said "Academically, it was a smashing success. Physically, I have never been so exhausted in my life. Mentally, I have never been so exhausted in my life. Emotionally, I have never been so exhausted in my life. Spiritually, I was completely rejuvenated and began an upward spiral that will not stop until I have become the person I was meant to be. This past year has been one of absolutely monumental growth for me. Having a home school has taught me as no other single thing ever has before, that there is nothing that I can't do. I just have to pay the price."

#9 It is the wave of the future.

Mine was the first dissertation in the nation on home school seventeen years ago. But since that time, do you know how many dissertations have come out of BYU and across the country on home schooling? The youngest graduates from BYU all graduated at the age of fifteen, and were all home schoolers. Perhaps BYU is the first university in the nation to offer credit for a home schooling class taught by Dr. Larry Arnoldson. Some of you recall last year President Bateman, President of BYU, cut a video used in the opening exercises of the LDS Home Educators Association convention. The governor of Utah has issued at least two home education week proclamations. Some of you remember last year, the national spelling bee champion was a home schooler. It is a wave of the future. I was interested in what Paul Harvey said. He said, "perhaps the classroom of tomorrow will be the family living room." Way to go Paul. Alright, let's go for the last one.

#10 It takes faith to begin!

How true! There is that leap of faith. Some of you recall, Thomas E. McKay was an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve. He said, in his neighborhood when spring came around, all the boys in the group used to go down to the old swimming hole. He said, "we would all stand on the edge just kind of wringing our hands because the water was a little cool." He said there was always one kid in the group who was the first one in the water. He'd come up and he'd say, "Come on in fellows, the water's fine." He said year after year it was the same kid, first one in. He said, "Brothers, do you know what happened to that kid?" He said, "That kid today is the President of this church. Brethren" he said, "just think what could have happened to me if I would have jumped in first."Alright, now there is that leap of faith. I want to close with a poem, it was a poem that encouraged my wife. I first read it in a book called "Suggestions for LDS Missionaries." It is adapted from Berton Bailey. I give this for the benefit of all you who are contemplating taking the home school plunge and you that are working through it now.

If you want a thing bad enough:
To go out and fight for it,
Work day and night for it,
Give up your time and your peace and your sleep for it
If only desire of it makes you mad enough never to tire of it
Makes you hold all things tawdry and cheap for it.
If life seems all useless and empty without it,
And all that you scheme and you dream is about it.
If gladly you'll sweat for it, fret for it, plan for it.
Lose all your terror of devils or man for it.
If you'll simply go after the thing that you want
With all your capacity, strength, and sagacity
Faith, hope, and confidence, stern pertinacity.
If neither cold, poverty, famine, nor gaunt
Nor sickness nor pain of body and brain
Can keep you away from the thing that you want.
If dogged and grim you besiege and beset it,
You'll get it!!

Amen. God bless you.

Copyright 1998, by Reed Benson

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Our School Room

It's finally done! I am so excited to have a place in our new home to dedicate completely to "school stuff". For the first month and a half that we lived here, this room was a catch all for... well, everything. I didn't want to do anything with the room until after I painted, so I wouldn't have to move everything twice. After settling on what I hoped was the perfect shade of orange, yes, orange, I was ready to organize and set up the room just how I had been imagining. I love how it turned out! There are still a few more things I want to add, like some IKEA bookshelves, but for now it's just perfect.



Now don't get the wrong idea. My kids are still young, we do very little formal school in this room. This room is more a place to house all of the supplies, books and games that come with homeschooling. More often than not we spend our time doing puzzles and art projects as the table. In the future, I plan to start doing Workboxes again. But for now, we are all happy!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Shaking Off the Dust

We are still here! I promise! It's been a busy 6 months. We are just getting settled into a new home. My "school" boxes are in mayhem all over the new homeschool room in our house, but it's slowly getting unpacked and we are getting back on track. More to come as we start putting together our new homeschool room. Exciting!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our Curriculum for the Year

After a lot of research, I feel like I have compiled a flexible, yet thorough curriculum for Kate's first year of homeschooling. My criteria for our curriculum was that it has to be fun, not too expensive and somewhat challenging. This might look like a lot, but my plan is to take our time and make sure Katelyn enjoys what she is learning.

We'll be using Singapore's Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics. Singapore Math is known for its incredible results and I've been excited to use it ever since I read about it. We will be using manipulatives and games to learn Math. I was able to find Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics 1A and 1B in perfect condition at the The Homeschool Room for $6.99 each.

We have been doing Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and we will continue on with it. It really, really does work. I've just had to give Katelyn some extra motivation to get through each lesson. Stickers have worked well.

In addition, we are using Explode the Code 1. We are still working on just a few letter from the Explode the Code Primer books. Katelyn took the consonant pretest at the beginning of Explode the Code 1 so we could see which letters she was struggling with. When she has mastered those letters we will begin ETC 1, which I was able to find at The Homeschool Room as well for $6.75 in perfect condition.

For reading practice, we Now I'm Reading Level 1. They are very simple readers with simple, but colorful pictures. They come with stickers to place inside each book, once your child has successfully read it on their own.

Of course, we use the library a ton. Most of our read aloud books are borrowed. Such as The Magic Tree House Series.

Katelyn absolutely loves to draw, so when I came across the Draw Write Now series, I knew it would be perfect for her. Each "lesson" teaches you how to draw something and then has you copy four sentences about that something. By the end of the lesson, you have drawn a picture, practiced handwriting and learned four facts. Book One is farm yard animals. I've been printing off story paper for Kate to use for these lessons and it has worked perfectly.

We will get lots of books from the library about whatever we may be interested in. I've been considering ordering Weekly Reader, but I need to do some more research. We have a science kit full of simple experiments as well as a Physics workbook full of neat projects that I found in the Target dollar bin. We're just going to have fun!
The plan is to work on memorizing the Articles of Faith. The kiddos have enjoyed listening to the Book of Mormon stores on The Mormon Channel. We like to turn these on after breakfast while we are doing chores.

There are so many different curriculums out there, it can be completely overwhelming. However, I had a few great resources to turn to when I needed more information.

Homeschool Reviews

You can look up almost any curriculum and read reviews from families who have used it. I love this. Most of my curriculum choices have been based upon customer reviews. Why not!

Love to Learn

I love the You Tube videos available for many of the products on this site. Being a visual person, it really helps to be able to see the product "in person".

The Homeschool Room

This is a homeschool consignment store located in Matthews, NC. It it awesome. Since it's a consignment store, it's always changing. If there is a specific item that you are looking for you can ask them to call you if it becomes available. And who are you going to meet when you shop here? Other homeschoolers! My kids love to go and play with the Legos, train table and puzzles while I look around. Check it out if you can.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Learning with Leap Frog

If you have never seen one of the Leap Frog Learning cartoons, you need to. End of story. They are a great investment. Right now they are available at Costco for only $6.99. You can't beat that. The cartoons teach about letters and phonics. There are also a couple of cartoons available that teach about beginning math. My kids really love them. They have catchy music to teach simple principles such as letter sounds, punctuation and word building.

The Letter Factory
is a fantastic way to teach letters and the sounds they make. Even my two year old is starting to learn his letters. I love it and so does he!

Talking Word Factory teaches about building simple words such as CAT and MAT.

Word Caper teaches more difficult words and the use of silent E.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Favorite Homschool Books

When I first started thinking about homeschooling, I read all the books I could get my hands on at the library. Some were good, but some were GREAT! Most of the books I read started out with the author telling the story of how they began homeschooling. Next, learning styles and teaching methods were discussed so that you could get an idea of how your child learns and what type of materials would best fit their needs and yours. From there I learned about curriculum, organization, scheduling, teaching ideas, etc.

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell

This was an all encompassing homeschool book. It's good for a first-timer as well as the novice homeschooler. I really enjoyed the format of the book. It is organized so that you can easily flip between topics and pick out specific information that you might be looking for with the use of bullet points and multiple sub-chapters with-in each chapter. Most of the topics are accompanied by examples by real homeschooling moms. It is always interesting to me to hear how other homeschoolers implement different teaching methods and address various learning styles in their families.

The First Year Homeschooling Your Child by Linda Dobson

This was an excellent book. Every few pages advice is given from veteran homeschoolers in the form of "What I Wish I Had Known When I Began Homeschooling". This was perfect for me since I love to hear about other peoples experiences. This is a great book for anyone just starting out, whether at the preschool level or later on with older children. It follows the same standard set-up that I mentioned previously.

Teaching with TLC in the Elementary Grade by Tamara L. Chilver

I purchased this book from after reading such great reviews about and I have never regretted it. I am constantly referring back to it for ideas and advice. Its probably better to read this book after reading a book like the ones above so that you have a general idea about how homeschooling works. Though not a very long, this book is packed full of ideas and advice for the elementary years. The format is different from the other books I have read in that the chapters are organized by subjects such as reading, spelling and math. This makes it very easy to flip to a topic when you are struggling one particular area or are looking for curriculum advice. The author, who has a degree in elementary education and masters degree in curriculum, refers to many different curriculum products and gives idea for games that kids will enjoy. Read it, you will love it.