Category Archives: Homeschool

Sports devotion

For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

I ran into an article about devotion to something the author called Athletica that very much resonated with me. It described a phenomena that is epidemic in our society. Our own little family was not immune to this and I am glad some articulated the problem so well. The article is definitely worth a read. Here is how the article starts out:

For decades, demographic studies have indicated the steady decline of religion in America, but new measures suggest that, on the contrary, at least one religion in America is alive and well, thriving in every community, and claiming devoted adherents in nearly every household.

This new religious revival has remained under the radar in large part because its adherents do not claim any religious attachment to this social institution, but by every measure of behaviors typically associated with religion, it is deceitful to label it as anything less. Although it shies away from adopting an overarching organization or name for itself, for the purposes of this study, it will be considered under the name Athletica.

What must first impress outsiders studying the life of Athletica is how wholehearted is the devotion of its followers. These disciples are willing to sacrifice almost limitlessly where their dedication to this faith is concerned. Money, time, health, and even family may all be expended for the sake of bettering oneself within Athletica, and it is no exaggeration to say its members orient their lives around the strictures of their religion’s demands.

We assiduously worked to avoid fanatical devotion to sports when the kids were young. The kids participated in organized swimming, tennis, soccer, gymnastics and other athletic endeavors four or five days per week for the entire course of their homeschool. We belonged to the YMCA or a sports club everywhere we lived and when they were not in an organized sport, they went to the gym to lift weights or work out. But we vigorously emphasized this activity as just exercise–like brushing one’s teeth every day–good for the health of the body, but not something on which to base your every waking moment or life goals. Even (if not particularly) the team and leadership aspects of sports rang hollow with us based on the attitudes manifested by the vast bulk of the kids and families who were so wholly devoted to such efforts.

Homeschool planning sheets

Click on the images or the following links to the single day planning sheets at a larger size:
[Kelly’s 2010 planning sheet] [Christian’s 2007 planning sheet]
Kelly's homeschool planning sheet from 2010Christian's homeschool planning sheet 2007Lorena found most of our homeschool planning and other materials when she unpacked our stuff for the library last week. It was a lot of fun to look at them and remember a little bit about where we were and what we were doing at the time all this took place. I forgot how much effort went into to providing a precise enough plan that the kids would know exactly what was expected of them while I was away at work.

It also made me realized that the kids worked hard to get where they are. Although both kids were able to advance to the point where they did full time college level work by the time they finished eighth grade, they did it more through hard work and day to day advances in each of a plethora of areas than by any special intellectual prowess.

For example, at the time of Christian’s 2007 planning report, just after he turned 12 years old in the sixth grade, Christian was just one year ahead of what would have been the most advanced students when I was in the sixth grade back in 1966. He got there through a ton of hard work, inching through Singapore Math for the previous two and a half years. the same thing was true for Kelly in 2010. She already had about a year of college credit from CLEP tests by the time this planning report was written, all through a lot of painstaking daily work.

It did not seem so onerous at the time. This is just what we did. By keeping at it and doing all the work every day, we inched a little ahead every year to the point where I was able to write this series of post about the culmination of our homeschool efforts on skipping high school.

Not the remodel, just a little progress

Library on the landing, left Library on the landing, rightLorena works hard at getting us unpacked from our recent move. It is easier to see the floor in some of our rooms and more than half of the stuff has been moved out of the garage. The challenge now is that we sold and gave away a ton of stuff when we left North Carolina. Even though our living space is smaller here (we are not counting the daylight basement apartment) that it was in North Carolina, we are short on furniture to make it livable. It should be done to get the stuff, but in the meantime, our visitors are going to frequently be relegated to folding chairs.

The pictures in this post are our second floor landing/library. We hope to change the floor, add some bookshelves and make the railing be something you can see through, but that will come after we finish the kitchen and do a few other upgrades–hopefully including something to help us manage the parts of the property that are not purposely wild.

Lorena found a lot of our old homeschool plans, books and projects when she unpacked thing for the library. I hope I get the time before to long to go through them. I always get asked about how we did our homeschool, not that we think we did such a great job, and it would be kind of nice to be able to tell them something other than that we got good programs, tested, and worked hard. The planning was actually pretty extensive and we have the lesson plans at hand now to really demonstrate that.

Unpacking the books

Lorena start building the library in CentraliaSince we actually believe (or desire, God willing) we will be in the house for years to come, Lorena has earnestly started to unpack the books and put them into what we hope to be at least part of our small, but memory filled library. We have what we have always felt like was lots and lots of books even though we have  thrown out quite a few. This is about 1/3 to 1/2 of our books so I guess we really did not have that many in the end.

A lot of our books are the stuff we kept from homeschool. We also have a lot of the kids’ work and all their test and other records filed away in a filing cabinet. I do not know if I am nuts to keep the stuff, but it was such a big part of our lives that it is kind of hard to throw the stuff away. We read a lot of these books aloud together. I guess we are hoping we will have friends’ kids who will enjoy them when they visit and maybe even grandkids someday.

All this stuff went up onto the second floor landing where there is room for some more book cases when we can afford them. We have a couch and two chairs and want to put a ton of lights in there, too. Right now, we have a closed balcony wall that looks down into the living room from the landing. We want to modify that so we have a glass barrier that so it will open the room up a bunch more. There is already plenty of light coming in from skylights in the living room and a could of high windows. It is a nice room. Honestly we are loving this house.

Why we homeschooled

The Bayou Renaissance Man has, very obviously, led a profoundly interesting life as a soldier, member of the clergy and, now, due to injuries, an author of fiction–American western and science fiction. I visit his website at least a couple of times per day. Maybe it is because it is like watching an ongoing train wreck, but really I think it is because we have a similar view of humanity, the human condition and he is an outstanding writer.

Today, he wrote about a visit he made to an American government school in Amarillo, Texas. I will let him speak for himself, but note that he speaks for me, too, in terms of the state of government school in North America in 2017. It is why we homeschooled. He was born and raised in South Africa. He had a military career there that informs his thinking about the snowflakes who populate our entitled corner of the world.

Kelly takes a job

Kelly takes a jobThis is the semi-momentous announcement that marks an ending and a new beginning for Kelly. Kelly passed her PhD prelims (comprehensive exams) last month. That is a big deal because it moved her to PhD candidacy. She learned a lot in the last two years. She made significant improvements in her data analytics skills, especially with respect to applying them in the specific domain of Marketing. She also learned, though, that she did not want an academic career in Marketing. So she has decided to stop at an MS in Marketing, take a few years off to work, continue to improve here statistical skills (maybe even another Masters degree) and figure out what field might be in alignment with her career goals (probably something to do with Statistics). That is the big news. That and the fact that, after many, many interviews and some good offers, she has accepted a job that is just about perfect for her in downtown Seattle. All good stuff. So, in our homeschool journey, one kid is out of school for the time being and has a stellar “real” job. She might head back toward a PhD someday, but then again she might not. She is in a good place and we are thankful for such a great outcome even though it is not over yet. Gainful employment is always a good thing.

Best article I have read in… forever

That might not be exactly true, but this article hit me right where I live on a topic about which I have been in a mighty struggle. Without further her is the article titled How to Live a Life of Privilege, Embrace the responsibility that comes with it. The title and subtitle of the article do not do it justice. The idea for the article came from a talk the author, David French, gave to a small group of Christian homeschoolers. He starts out by really nailing the truth about high school and college graduations–they are not really something about which we should do a lot of celebrating, at least not in the way they are currently celebrated as the accomplishment of something that required great personal sacrifice. That is only the start, it just gets better and better.

I think maybe the reason I love this article at this time and place is that Lorena and I are recent empty-nesters. The kids are gone, we have seen the world as an increasingly difficult, we struggle to figure out what to do next and we seem to have forgotten the fact that we are recipients of unwarranted privilege. I want to make sure people do not confuse the brand of privilege perpetuated by Social Justice Warrior culture. I am talking about the privilege everyone in America and most of the Western world experiences because of others willingness to suffer deprivation and even die to allow us to grow up in a country where almost everyone is privileged. French is careful to not suggest there is equal privilege for everyone, because there is not. He does rightly say that those that who are less privileged in this country still have great privilege.

Even that, though was not the best part of the article. This article was a reminder of what it is really important and amazingly what leads to a happy life. Please read the article. It is an important one.

H.T. Erick Erickson at the Resurgent.

Doing stuff for fun rather than money

One of the great ironies in my life is that when I do something to help someone out with something, supposedly out of the goodness of my heart, it often turns in money either directly or because I learned a new salable skill. How does that happen? When I started the GaugeCam project to help out a friend in Raleigh I was almost exclusively a Windows programmer. We decided to write the code as cross-platform code on Linux and Windows using Boost, OpenCV and the Qt libraries. In my current job, I use the Qt libraries, OpenCV and Boost. I would not have had the skills to do this job if I had not first given away what I now get paid to do.

It is also true that the things I enjoy the most started out as a way to help out, but turned into avocations. Homeschool gave me drawing skills (Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad, forensic drawing skills), people skills (Tactics, How to Win Friends), blogging (I started this blog to record our family’s homeschool journey) and a gazillion other thing. Now that I have been doing this for awhile, I am always on the lookout for new opportunities, but there too many interesting, helpful things to do, too little time and too few resources so I have to pick and choose a little these days.

So, it has started again. The EKG project started out as a learning thing with the idea that, in the unlikely event that I stuck with it longer than just as a learning opportunity, I would open source the code to give back to the community and go on to the next thing. That might still happen, but it looks like there might also be a commercial opportunity that would help me push this along and still release at least part of the code as free (as in beer), open source code for the hobby community. How cool would that be.

A great homeschool story

Here is a link to the finish of a great homeschool story and the continuance of a couple of others. It is about a mother and her daughter who were a little late to start homeschool, but turned the typical government school “pick the winners, give them a mediocre education and neglect the rest” situation into a fairly incredible start. It also established a precedent and a path for the younger siblings. I especially love the part about the lacrosse. Too often, team sports in traditional school settings are as much a popularity contest as any indicator of who is the best player. With individual sports (track and field, swimming, wrestling), they cannot take it away from you if you are the fastest or best. That is not to say they do not often try.

What is particularly impressive is this young student went from pre-med to graduate in a math intensive field that is arguably more difficult with plans to go on to grad school. The whole story is very impressive. Kudos to them and good luck to the younger siblings.

Will Kelly share her art with us again?

KellyCaricatureKelly went to a conference in Las Vegas. While she was there, here group gambled at the craps table for a little while. Since did not gamble, one of the guys in the group had her roll the dice for her several times and she won him $300. The guy gave her $25 for her trouble which she promptly blew on the drawing she holds in the picture. It was from a slightly tipsy street artist and you can see it is a monumentally bad likeness. You know what they way about ill-gotten gains!

This has inspired Kelly to start to share her art once again. She has started a new Instagram account named Betty Blonde Draws. She has her first three caricatures up there now. They are very good likenesses, but of the very quickly drawn ones. She plans to do more quick ones, but she also plans to spend some time to create some that are more thoughtfully drawn.

This is all great because she is kind of an amazing caricaturist. One of biggest worries is that the kids would have a lousy art education if we homeschooled. It turns out the had a fairly amazing art education including the study of art history. Maybe it was because I am so weak myself in that area, we worked harder to make sure we overcame my weakness. It is certainly true that I also received much more art than I had before we started the effort.

So if you want to be drawn, send her a picture of yourself. She is always looking for more material.

Betty Blonde #491 – 07/02/2010
Betty Blonde #491
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You just never know — homeschool and life

There is a great article about which I have been meaning to write titled What I’m never going to tell you about homeschooling. Really, it is not about homeschooling. It is about life and parenting. No one has any idea about what will happen to their kids. I think most people have good intentions when it comes to their kids. You might ask why I do not think ALL people have good intentions for their kids and would have to say it is a long conversation, but some of it has to do with the idea that if you are too much about yourself, you probably do not have good intentions for your kids.

We heard all those things people hear about the different stages kids pass through. And our kids have passed through most of them. Now, I am just as apt to be the one telling even though our kids are arguably still going through the last of those “kid” level stages right now. Other “young adult,” “young married,” “middle-aged” and other stages are on the way. The thing I liked about the article was that it addressed the fact that there is not much you can do about how your kids think and live their lives because free will gets in the way. Just because they did good at one stage along the way does not mean they will do well at the next.

My goal in all this is to quit trying to analyze what people do and try to start being more of an encouragement. There is lots of pain we cause ourselves, but sometimes it is really not our fault.

Betty Blonde #475 – 06/01/2010
Betty Blonde #475
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Work advise for a homeschool dad

A new guy started work at my day job yesterday. I found out during the interview that he and his wife homeschool four kids, ages 4-11. They use a lot of the same materials we used: Sonlight, Teaching Textbooks, Singapore Math, etc., etc. What made it more interesting was that, after the interview and before he accepted our offer, he wrote me an email to ask if this job was amenable to the homeschool life. I was glad to say that it was. We are engineers so, of course there are hair-on-fire periods of two or three weeks a couple of times per year to hit a schedule or solve a hard problem, but I think that is just the nature of the beast for jobs in general, not just engineering jobs.

My new friend told me his wife does 80 percent of the homeschool work while he fills in the rest. What people do not often understand with homeschooling is that it does not matter which parent does the homeschooling (usually both help, but one–usually the Mom–takes the lead), the other parent has to fill in the cracks with everything else. I managed the homeschooling and most, but certainly not all of the outside work (mowing the lawn, etc.) while Lorena had to handle plenty of things I would normally have done–most of it involving getting in the car to go do something. I often get more credit than I deserve for the work we did in our homeschool.

When Kelly and Christian were his kids ages, I worked at a company that is a competitor to my current employer. I worked a lot longer week at that company than my current one–probably 50+ hours per week on average with three or four weeks per year at 60+ and even 70+ hours. Still, it did not have an inordinate impact on our ability to do homeschool. On the upside with that job, I had about a 12 minute commute. If it would have been even a half an hour each direction, it would have been more difficult to spend the time I needed with the kids. So, I was able to tell my new friend he could homeschool quite well with this job, but his long commute was going to be his biggest burden.

The upshot is that where there is a will there is a way. I am glad my new friend took the job. He is actively looking for a way to move closer to minimize his commute. I think he will do great, both at his new job and in his family’s homeschool.

Betty Blonde #416 – 02/18/2010
Betty Blonde #416
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Justifying government school for all the wrong reasons

Here is an article by a woman who tries to justify her decision not to homeschool her kids. All of us homeschoolers have had to put up with the demands of ignorant meddlers who want to know how we can justify not putting our kids into traditional school. It is kind of nice that a few people are starting to get that it is traditional (and especially government) school that needs justification. Still this woman really demonstrated she has not given homeschool a fair shake nor even any depth of thought when she said:

What we’re doing here is hard. Most conservative parents want to raise kids who can live in the world without being fully assimilated to it. This is a daunting project, and there are many ways to go wrong. You can overprotect your kids. You can underprotect your kids. Some parents blight their children’s futures by monitoring them too closely, never allowing them to develop the emotional maturity needed to cope with disappointment and failure. Other parents will look back in 20 years and wonder, “Why didn’t I intervene before that problem became serious?”

Homeschooling is becoming more popular because it gives parents more control over the various stages of their children’s development. That’s readily understandable, but homeschooling can’t be a magic bullet, because kids do eventually need to learn how to navigate an unsympathetic world where most people do not love them. This is the grain of truth in the often-lazy “socialization” argument against homeschooling, and parents who reply “I wish to socialize my children myself” are missing the point. Your kids cannot spend their whole lives in the bosom of their natal family.

The socialization, overprotection, “need to learn hot to navigate an unsympathetic world” memes display profound ignorance of how most homeschools actually work. No thoughtful homeschool program leaves kids to “spend their whole lives in the bosom of their natal family,” nor is that an aim of any homeschool parents of my acquaintance. Actually, it is the traditional school students who wallow in the bosom of teachers inculcated with hard left political correctness by the mind numbing deweyite teacher education programs that are the order of the day.

So, while we are quite pleased that you feel the need to justify the dumping of your kids into these cesspools of progressivism, your justification and arguments are not well served by holding up straw men.

Betty Blonde #409 – 02/09/2010
Betty Blonde #409
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Homeschool drawing class: Grandpa Lauro

 

Yesterday would have been Grandpa Lauro’s 73rd birthday. Lorena and I were thinking about it and went back through the blog to find the portraits of him we drew as part of our homeschool drawing class when Christian was twelve. These were drawn shortly after we moved to North Carolina and some of our very first efforts, so they really were not that great, but it brought back great memories of both Grandpa Lauro and of our drawing classes.

The reality is that I have never been much of an artist so I had to study a lot myself to be able to teach our homeschool art class. I have to say, in the end, it was one of our greatest homeschool success stories. We got some art history along with basic drawing skills and had great time together. Kelly’s comic strip (you can see an example at the bottom of this post) was an outgrowth of our homeschool art program, too. Best of all, though, it put all of us together, sitting quietly, listening to classical music and drawing and talking for an hour at least three times per week for several years. I would not give that back for anything.

You can see some of my old posts on drawing by clicking here.

Betty Blonde #370 – 12/16/2009
Betty Blonde #370
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Did politically correctness kill the Liberal Arts with the help of the College Board?

GW Thielman, in an article at The Federalist helpfully titled The Liberal Arts Are Dead, Long Live STEM, makes the point that what goes for a Liberal Arts education today has become incredibly illiberal. STEM, of course, being the acronym for fields in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. He believes the focus of “liberal arts” education these days is more about the politically correct zeitgeist of the day than the preparation of students to think critically. He gives a great explanation of this point I have tried to make frequently on this blog.

STEM curricula have been critiqued for supposedly neglecting the humanities, but students who major in STEM obtain more credit hours in languages, arts, and human interaction than their humanities counterparts obtain in scientific fields. Rhodes College professor Loretta Jackson-Hayes has explained the benefit of liberal arts for STEM students, but liberal-arts students could likewise benefit from cross-training in the more exacting disciplines.

Students who pursue STEM majors are also better at the humanities than liberal-arts majors are at the sciences. Harvard law professor Harvey Mansfield in The New Atlantis observed, “Science students do well in non-science courses, but non-science students have difficulty in science courses. Slaves of exactness find it easier to adjust to the inexact, though they may be disdainful of it, than those who think in the realm of the inexact when confronted with the exact.” Perhaps envy subtly contributes to liberal arts defensiveness against STEM.

This is precisely why our children earned STEM undergraduate degrees. One went on to graduate work in STEM, but the other was accepted for a PhD at a great school in a non-STEM field specifically because she had an undergraduate degree in a STEM field. Theilman goes into this in detail with some excellent supporting links.

Right after I read his article, I ran into another article by Stanley Kurtz in National Review titled How the College Board Politicized U.S. History. I believe it is about precisely the same problem. The article discusses how the College Board, the company that makes standardized examinations like CLEP, the SAT and high school AP tests is degrading their AP materials by politicizing in a disturbingly politically correct, left-wing way. He is not the only one. You can read more about a group of highly credentialed historians made a statement denouncing this revisionism in this article at Real Clear Politics titled College Board’s Reckless Spin on U.S. History.

This is precisely why we are so grateful we homeschooled our children and sent them on to do STEM degrees and why I continue to push back on this kind of revisionism whenever I get the chance.

Betty Blonde #338 – 11/02/2009
Betty Blonde #338
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Homeschool program uses “A Patriot’s History of the United States”

A Patriot's History of the United StatesWe used A Patriot’s History of the United States as our principle text for the study of U.S. History during homeschool. We had not planned to do that, but needed something after we were sorely disappointed by our experience with Joy Hakim’s politically correct and simplistic A History of the US provided by the Sonlight program. This was the one glaring weakness in what we feel is a stellar homeschool offering.  Hakim’s screeds were just a bridge too far in terms of both focus and dumbed down content. Hakim’s highest earned degree is a Masters degree. Her undergraduate degree was in Government and I could not find the area of her Masters degree so who knows whether she has any formal training in History.

Two profoundly more knowledgeable, professional historians wrote the New York Times #1 best selling A Patriot’s History of the United StatesLarry Schweikart and Michael Allen are both college History professors with long lists of refereed journal articles in their curriculum vitae. The book was more readable, less agenda-driven and covered U.S. History more deeply and broadly than the Hakim books. I found an article on a talk given by Larry Schweikart about the book. The article featured a photograph of four homeschoolers who used his book as a text for their homeschool study of U.S. History and were impressed enough with the book they wanted to come hear the author speak. It is nice to know we are not the only homeschoolers that used this book. We have hope Sonlight will eventually see the light on this and make the switch, but it has been several years since we raised the issue.

Betty Blonde #332 – 10/23/2009
Betty Blonde #332
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It Was Worth It

This post was submitted to Sonlight (the homeschool curricula people) as part of their call for “It Was Worth It” stories. Homeschooling was absolutely worth it, essential even, so this fit us to a tee. If Sonlight accept my entry, I will post a link to it here.

Kelly and Christian NCSU graduation
Mothers are the primary educators in most homeschools in America today by a wide margin. That made our homeschool a little bit out of the norm. I, the father, performed the daily planning, one-on-one teaching, homework correcting, reading aloud, practicing of spelling and everything else that had to do with the academic elements of our family homeschool. Of course Mom did all the hard work–driving to lessons, practices and a million other events in addition to maintaining the household while I worked a day job. Our reality, though was that I am the only member of the family who had no misgivings at any time whatsoever about whether we should homeschool. I had plenty of misgivings about how well we were doing, but that we should homeschool our children was something I never questioned.  The whole family is grateful for our decision to stick it out in our homeschooling.

Why and How We Homeschooled

We have two children about eighteen months apart in age. We homeschooled Kelly, our oldest in the first grade just because there was no regulatory reason to put her in school and we wanted to have that extra year with her in the house. It was a great experience. Kelly got way ahead academically. The problem was that we tried to followed a well-known book on Classical Education that called for the parents to cover material following a specific pattern that was excellent in terms of pedagogical methods and content but left daily planning and the finding of materials to the parent. We rapidly found the search for materials and creation of daily plans was sufficiently time consuming that it was hard to do justice to the teaching, too. We think we did well, but we were completely burned out by the end of that first year.

The next year we put Kelly into the local government school because we knew we could not maintain the frenetic pace required to teach the kids well with the methods we used in that first attempt at homeschooling. Our son Christian did not want to be left out, so we put him into kindergarten at the same school as Kelly. That actually did not go badly, but we changed school districts after a couple of years and found ourselves in a situation where neither the moral nor the academic standards of the school aligned with what we wanted for the kids. Worse, we saw their spirits start to harden. So we decided we would try homeschooling again. We knew we would have to find another way. We had the will to homeschool, but we knew we would burn out if we did all the planning, bit-by-bit purchasing and teaching the same way we did it previously.

We looked at a lot of programs, but found what we needed in the Sonlight Core homeschool programs. We were able to replace the bulk of the rewarding, but time consuming day to day planning and purchasing with about a two week summer activity. In one fell swoop, we could buy detailed daily lesson plans and ninety percent of the materials we needed to operate our school for the entire year. It is hard to sufficiently emphasize the importance of this to our homeschool. We loved homeschooling from the very beginning, but there is no way we could have returned to it had we not had these materials and lesson plans. We were now freed up to spend the bulk of our time with the kids, teaching.

Was It Worth It? — Time With the Kids

In looking back, the time we spent with our kids was the single greatest contributor to the success of our homeschool. Within weeks after we returned to the homeschool, the kids became more optimistic and their spirits softened. We read, drew, played, traveled, skied, shopped and did so many other things together that would never have been possible had we not homeschooled. We went to museums, plays, parks and made trips to visit family in Mexico during the school year that would never have been possible had we not homeschooled. Most of all we talked and talked and talked about virtually everything under the sun in a way that was natural and not forced due to lack of time. We do believe in that old adage that, when it comes to children, quality time is quantity time.

Was It Worth It? — Academics

We have no illusions that any of us are particularly gifted intellectually, but the one-on-one time that homeschooling allowed, provided us with a modicum of academic success. When we started, we wanted the kids to get an education at least as good as that provided by a reasonably good traditional school. It became evident fairly soon that there are some fairly amazing academic advantages to homeschool. We generally got started pretty early in the morning, so Kelly and Christian would watch the other neighborhood kids line up for the school bus while they were already doing their daily homeschool work. They would still be at it when the kids got off the school bus in the afternoon. They had more time to complete more material more deeply than the traditional school kids.

There is much that has been written about the ability of homeschools to both tailor the learning for each individual child and provide one-on-one tutoring whenever it is needed. Add to that the enthusiasm a parent uniquely has for the education of their own children and the advantage is multiplied. For our kids these advantages manifested themselves as high levels of performance on nationally normed standardized tests. The kids took the ACT every year as a matter of North Carolina homeschool law. They did well enough on the ACT that we were able to start Kelly in the local community college full time after the tenth grade. She already had over a year of college credit from CLEP tests she had taken previously. Christian did not want to be left at home alone and he did well enough on the ACT, that we were able to start him full time at the community college after the eighth grade.

People ask us whether the kids were ready for college at such a young age–Kelly, with her CLEP credits skipped three and a half years of high school and Christian skipped all of high school. We were a little worried they might not be able to handle the social environment at the community college or at North Carolina State University where they entered two years later as academic Juniors. Our fears were unfounded. The uniquely powerful socialization that occurs in an active and engaged homeschooling family allowed them to fit right in. Kelly graduated Magna Cum Laude at age 20 from NCSU with a Bachelors degree in Statistics.  She is now in a fully funded Marketing PhD program at University of Washington. Christian graduated Summa Cum Laude from NCSU at age 18 with an honors degree in Applied Mathematics. He is now a Fellow of the Fulton School of Engineering studying for a PhD in Electrical Engineering at Arizona State University with funded research from MIT Lincoln Labs.

Homeschool is all about training up a child in the way he should go and it was absolutely worth it.

Betty Blonde #325 – 10/14/2009
Betty Blonde #325
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Reflection on a changing scene

View from our apartment window (Wilsonville)
It is a beautiful spring day in Oregon. This is the view from the desk in my apartment. It is only a parking lot and it is amazing how much we enjoy the trees, hill and comings and goings we see from our window. Interesting things are happening all around with no certain end. Not only with Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah in their current state of mind and body, but with work, our family in Mexico and with our kids off at college. It is nice to have a quiet place to sit and consider it all quietly. I think my reflective mood was influenced by the fact that my daily bible reading today was Romans 12.

Betty Blonde #312 – 09/27/2009
Betty Blonde #312
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Education in Finland: Homeschool is embraced, but government school is not so bad

Finland (a Nordic country, but arguably not a Scandinavian one), does a pretty good job at education. I was reminded of that when I found this article that provides a wonderful description of the educational philosophy in Finland. The article explains the Finn’s belief that less is more and how that manifests itself in terms of educational excellence. The whole culture seems to be permeated with the idea that less is more and in some cases I am sure that is true. The article suggests that philosophy is applied to everything. Whether that is good or bad is a point of contention, sometimes more really is more and better such as in faith, grace, love and Texas. Nevertheless, I certainly believe the less is more philosophy really is better when it comes to education–especially when compared to how government and other traditional schools do it here in the United States.

The funny deal is that with far and away the best educational system in the Nordic countries, Finland embraces and facilitates homeschooling while the other countries have much worse educational systems coupled with backward and draconian, bordering on barbaric, homeschool laws. The Asian/Tiger Mom model gets great test results but it has been argued that it drains the creativity out of its students after ten or so years of rote memorization and formulaic learning while the minimalistic, homeschooling Finnish model does not.

In reading this, I like to think, maybe, my Finnish roots animated some of our educational decisions. At least that is going to be my story.

Betty Blonde #307 – 09/21/2009
Betty Blonde #307
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