Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Principles

  1. Parents are the first and important teaches. - The more involved you are, the better your child's chances of getting a good education.  You can make the difference.  (I totally and whole heartedly agree with this...not just in homeschooling but for public school educated children.  My children went to public school before homeschooling and I have had countless parents who have talked to me about how the school is a Title 1 school with a high minority demographic.  Do you know what I said to that?  I always told those parents that the school is as good as you make it.  If you are not involved in your child's education then you have not the right to complain....)
  2. Your teaching must not stop when schooling starts. -Some parents withdraw from involvement in education once their children reach school age.  This is a mistake.  Teachers cannot do a good job with out your aid, support, and interest. (Too many times have the public schools been used as a daycare center.  Just drop off and go. See you at 3!  Parents think that they are let off from the responsibilities of their child because it is during school hours.  I was at our school and a constant presence in the classrooms of all 4 of our children.  For more reasons than just one.  We did not encounter any behavioral problems.  Remember growing up you usually had a family member who worked at the school you attended?  Well I had several family members that worked at my elementary school.  So many that, they knew I was in trouble before I knew I was in trouble!!  Kids don't fear their parents anymore.  They shrug their shoulders and have a "Whatever" attitude when ever they misbehave and the consequences aren't there anymore.  We have allowed other to discipline our children and it doesn't get that for because of government regulations stating what they can and can't far as consequences go.)
  3. The early years build the foundation for all later learning.   - Make it sturdy.  The first few years of life and then the first few years are critical.  a solid education by eighth grade is a necessity or there will be trouble in high school and beyond. ( I have two sides to this.  Kids are raised differently have different ways of learning.  I have one child that was reading books before kindergarten and sat in a kindergarten class twiddling his thumbs...was not a bored troublemaker but a child that needed challenging.  These days kindergarten teaches what we, as parents, learned in 1st and 2nd grade.  Kindergarten is very structured now as the teachers have high standards to compete with.  If I had another child that was of kindergarten age and we started homeschooling at that time I would more than likely use an "unschooling" method from Preschool until the beginning of what would be 1st grade.  That is not saying they wouldn't learn to read or write but they would learn more of life skills while still being taught how to read and write.  Having a child bring home projects in the first grade that are clearly way over their heads to comprehend and know that it is the parent's job to do it with the child is not an effective project to learn from.  The last science fair I attended with the children I noticed kindergarten and 1st graders doing projects about molecules and chemical reactions.  Come on...really?  My first grader won her school science fair doing bubbles.  And timing the bubbles by using different brands of soap.  This was a "her" project...not a "me" project.  The same goes for my other daughter who won her 5th grade school fair doing absorption rates of different types of socks (polyester, wool and cotton)  she measured the water levels...she did her own work and her own data, at 5th grade she should be expected to be able to figure this out on her own.  Teaching the kids to be independent and responsible for their own education would be a great concept.  If you don't know about WWII then you should have the opportunity to read about everything you can about WWII...too many resources are not used.  Even someone in a lower demographic can go to the library and read or use audio books.  Books build your foundation
  4. American schools are underperforming.  Trust but verify. -Many schools don't pay enough attention to academic basics, and standards are often too low.  Trust but verify.  Do not just assume that your school is doing a good job. (This goes along with what I stated above.  Be a constant presence in your child's education.  Our local school was underperforming but with change in leadership I believe they were doing their best to strive to get the academic basics higher.  There was more of an emphasis placed on reading in my children's last year in public school.  Not only did they make this emphasis but they turned it into a way that made it fun and at the children's level of understanding how reading is very important.  My daughter had a great 5th grade teacher but dreaded returning to school after spring break because she knows the drill...TCAP TCAP TCAP.  That's all they did up until the BIG standardized state testing.  They drilled the concepts in the kids for the few short weeks preceding this test.  She did not enjoy school anymore and the learning wasn't beneficial.  The fact of the standards being too low is something that I could invariably recognize in the classroom.  You can have Joe sitting in the circle of the desk kind of slouched down while others are learning about fractions.  Sally and Greg may already know this too...but the rest of the class doesn't.  So what is Joe, Sally and Greg going to do while the others are learning fractions.  They do nothing.  The curriculum is dumb downed to the lowest learner and for those that are beyond the concept are left by the wayside.)
  5. Learning requires discipline; discipline requires values. -Too many classrooms are disrupted by disrespectful, unruly children.  Too many kids have not been taught the virtues necessary to succeed in school. ( I remember a day of being in the school office and hearing a substitute teacher calling down for help in my daughter's classroom because the children were throwing furniture! And intervention was needed by administrators.  The problem was taken care of but it was only a temporary band-aid.  As i stated before children don't know what real consequences are and they look at education as being forced on them instead of a right and a privilege to be able to learn.  Teachers work very hard to put themselves through school and go into a learning environment on fire with enthusiasm...ready to teach!  And they are met with parents who would rather complain and do nothing with their child's education.  Not only that but the kids pick up on the behavior of their parents towards school and react upon that and it is aimed toward their teachers.  I feel bad for public school teachers who are there with all of their heart and want to love on those children as if they were their own children.  They use their own money to buy basics needs for the children in order to learn.  Kids come to school without pencils, paper or even a clean pair of clothes on them...its heartbreaking to see how the family trickles into the classroom.)
  6. Follow your common sense. - Some people act as though it takes a special degree to know if a school is doing a good job.  Wrong.  You are the expert on your own child.  Pay attention, talk tot he teachers and other parents, and trust your instincts. (You are your child's advocate and YOU will know whether your child is learning.  You don't need a test grade to tell you whether they studied enough to get that grade.  But if you don't have any idea what your child is studying in school then how will you know if their learning is effective or not?  You are putting all your trust into the teachers instead of putting trust in yourself and your child to know that they are well equipped to walk into that classroom.)
  7. Content matters: what children study determines how well they learn.- Many schools are unwilling to say exactly which facts and ideas their students should know.  This is a fundamental problem in American education.  Some things are more important to learn in elementary school than others. (This is a high priority issue with me as I home school.  I can see developmentally when my child will be able to learn certain concepts.  Obviously you are not going to be teaching algebra to a kindergartner...why?  Because they are mature enough to comprehend such difficult math problems.  But what if you had a child that could? But they aren't going to get a chance to learn the Pythagorean theorem until say 7th or 8th grade because that is when it is scheduled for the child to learn this concept.  I don't want my children to be on anyone's schedule at any time.  They run their own schedule of learning and it is my job to have the resources and tools available to them.)
  8. Television is an enemy of good education. - In many homes, TV is the greatest obstacle to learning.  We urge you to shut it off from Sunday evening until Friday evening during the school year.  (I can accept that if children are just sitting and watching mindless programs all day long.  The TV has been used in many ways as a babysitter to keep the kids attention while you are doing something else.  I remember as a kids I watched Sesame Street and Mister Rogers and really those are the only programs I remember watching until I was a bit older.  Television programming has changed over the years (decades) to tune in to a more mature audience.  We do watch TV during the day and evening.  We have no problems turning it off.  But often we are able to find documentaries or nature programs to coincide with our unit studies and teaching.  There are great benefits to a lot of the programming out their if you choose to seek these out and put it to good use for your child's learning.
  9. Education reform is possible.  You can change the system. - You can change the system.  If you are interested and engaged, there is much you can do to ensure that your child receives an excellent education.  there are ways to improve your child's school, especially if you join forces with other parents. ( Sounds like the squeaky wheel will get the oil, right?  I say, yes, as long as it is done through the proper channels and with the right attitude and manner of speaking.  If a parent walks in to the school office being really loud and boisterous (you probably have a child from that family that reacts the same way) and threatening it may not be taken as well as another parent who gets their ducks in a row and presents it to the correct person.  You have heard the saying " you get more with sugar than with vinegar...I love that part in the movie "The Blind Side" when he asked his wife how that tasted coming out of her mouth and she replied "like vinegar" when having to tell her husband that "he" was right and she wasn't getting her way.)
  10. Aim high, expect much, and children will prosper. -No parent, school, or child is perfect, but we all rise toward the level of expectations.  The surest way to learn more is to raise standards. (Schools are rewarding children more and more and to the point where they are expecting something for doing good.  They even expect something if they did better than the next person.  The sheer thought that they accomplished something is not enough in our material world.  it is so materialistic that parents expect the schools to reward our children with treasure box trinkets, trophies, pencils, stickers.  The older children should be given a goal to work towards and then positively praised when they complete their goal and give themselves the pride of knowing and being educated.  The child's self esteem will be one that is within him and he doesn't have to look for his self-esteem in other people's expectations of him/her...this will make children prosper!)

Taken from William Bennett's book "The Educated Child" The text in orange was used from this book.  The text in purple are solely my own opinions and not those from this book...they are my own ideals and thoughts based on my own experience.  I suppose this is my disclosure. This book is an excellent resource to any family whether with public schooled children or with children that are home with their families.

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