[AMA] I Am a Home School Educator - Ask Me Anything!

Hi all,

Still learning how this site works, so I thought I would start off with an AMA. I home school one child, and have another child in mainstream. Ask me anything! If I can't answer, I will say, 'I don't know'.

Cheers,

Jools.

closed Comments

  • +6 votes

    Why did you pull one child out of school and not the other?

    How do you ensure they get proper social skills? I've only met one home schooled person and he was really really weird.

    • +6 votes

      Mainstream school is not for every child, as we cannot put them all in one box. I have one child that excels in mainstream school, and one that excels in home school. Both children are thriving in their choices and have the open choice to switch from one to the other (with our approval of course).

      It is a myth that children need to go to school to learn social skills. Children learn from their strongest influencers - their parents. I have only ever met polite and well socialised home schooled children.

      • +16 votes

        How many have you met in total? I’ve seen parents who think their kids are God’s gift to mankind, when in fact they are actual ratbags.

        How do you encourage social interactions that are lost in home schooling? Is your child allowed to see his/her friends outside of class time? If so, how does he/she do it?

        •  

          I have met a lot of home schooled kids. All parents love their kids and I will agree that some have rose coloured glasses. As you get to know me on here, you will soon realise that I am not one of them.

          There are no lost social interactions. And YES! my son is allowed to have friends, if that is what you mean. Probably the same way your kids have friends.

          • +5 votes

            @Jool Smuggla: So how does your child interact with large groups of their peers multiple times a day?

            Kids at school do it; before school, at recess, at lunch, after school, during school sport, etc, etc.

            This is very different from time with "friends". It is necessary to develop social skills to deal with people you don't like or might bully you.

            If you think you can provide that environment outside of school, I wish you luck. But in general the home-schooling parents I've met are conspiracy types, overconfident in their own intelligence and abilities.

            Unfortunately it is the kids who suffer in the long-term, when they struggle to integrate with society as an adult.

            The question I always ask home-schoolers (can never get a good answer): If you're such a good teacher, why aren't you a teacher?

            •  

              @field1985:

              If you're such a good teacher, why aren't you a teacher?

              Probably because the salaries suck, unfortunately.

              •  

                @chriise: It depends where you live. Sure in Sydney their salaries are pathetic, but go to a Regional/Coastal town and the same salary is quite enviable. I should know, I grew up on a single teachers salary. We weren't rich, but we never went without, like some of our friends.

              • +1 vote

                @chriise: By suck what do you mean?

                I have seen many private school teachers salaries at $115,000 +

                •  

                  @techboy: Many? To get $115k+ in the private system you’d need to be:
                  - Head of Department - obviously there aren’t all that many HoD’s around the place; or
                  - Highly Accomplished on Band 3 + professional excellence allowance - again, not that many HATs kicking around; or
                  - Some other leadership role at Level 2 or above (not that many ‘senior’ leadership roles in a school)

                  For the amount of work to get to these positions, $115k is not a lot of money at all, and that’s in the independent schools. Try knocking off $10k from independent school salary scales for public school teachers.

                •  

                  @techboy: $115K is quite extreme, typical school teacher in NSW wouldn't expect to earn more than $80K. OP has a double degree and studying Law. Likelihood is she could out earn a teacher. I'd love to be a teacher, but not worth going through the extra years of training to take a 30-50% pay cut.

              •  

                @chriise: Pays more than home schooling

            • +1 vote

              @field1985:

              So how does your child interact with large groups of their peers multiple times a day?

              Most kids interact mainly with their friends (during before school, at recess, at lunch, after school, during school sport, etc, etc); and usually in small groups. I'm not sure how you interact with large groups of peers because most of the time its going to be very short communication focused on function (and not much else).

              Unfortunately it is the kids who suffer in the long-term, when they struggle to integrate with society as an adult.

              Statistics?

              If you're such a good teacher, why aren't you a teacher?

              Here could be some good answers:
              * because I want to focus on one child and not 24+
              * because they literally couldn't pay me enough (compared to old profession)
              * because I want to nurture a particular talent which is not provided for that well in the public school system

              And because I loved to be hated, how about this one:
              * because teachers are not the be all end all when it comes to academic performance:

              "These figures, which have never been publicly reported by universities, show that in NSW and the ACT in 2015, students who scored in the bottom 50 per cent of school leavers made up half of all those offered places in teaching degrees."
              with the University of Sydney demanding the report be destroyed :). If only it had!… we might not of had this post!

              Add this little bit: "When we look broadly across Australian education at the moment, there are lots of really disturbing indicators in terms of declines in performance. Those indicators are system-wide, they're not just among disadvantaged students, and they're across all states. To my mind, these entry standards in initial teacher education are one very obvious candidate for explaining these declines."

              *please note I am not suggesting teachers are not good, many of them are highly professional. But lets not pretend that teachers and the education system does not have faults and parents aren't allowed to have concerns and if they feel strongly take action.

              •  

                @TheMostHated: "The figures".
                Yes, my sister would have been offered one of those places. She left school with a poor HSC result,joined the bank and had a successful career specialising in the short term money market.
                Chose teaching for a career change.
                "The figures" relate to places offered to those entering the profession via non standard pathways. Places are awarded based on life experiences rather than previous academic results.

                •  

                  @ramshead: You use a one case example and thats fine, because there are always exceptions.

                  The problem is when it is a large percentage:
                  "students who scored in the bottom 50 per cent of school leavers made up half of all those offered places in teaching degrees.":

                  I think around 50% would qualify as a large percentage.

                  •  

                    @TheMostHated: Your quote was a case of selective reporting ,(not unusual in the media).
                    It should have read:
                    " Students who scored in the bottom 50% of school leavers made up half of all those offered places in teaching degrees whereby the student was applying under the category of alternative entry requirements".
                    In other words, students who applied through the usual methods (atar, principal recommendation), were not counted in those statistics.

                    •  

                      @ramshead: Umm go read the article - you are completely wrong. the graph in the article proves that

                      48% of University offers for teaching degrees have a ATAR (formerly UAI) of 69 or LOWER. 22% of offers have a ATAR lower than 50. This means they are counted in the statistics (because why mention ATAR if its not included?).

                      •  

                        @TheMostHated: Your statistics are all over the shop.
                        First you say that the bottom 50% of scores get 50% of places.
                        Now you're saying 78% of offers go to scores over 50.
                        You add to the confusion by stating that 52% of offers have an ATAR of 69 or greater.
                        Sorry,all hat no cattle.
                        Over and out.

            •  

              @field1985: I am a very good cook and love doing it. I'm not a chef and don't plan to be.
              If I did I wouldn't be able to cook tea for family and friends as I would be at work cooking for customers.

              If Your a teacher you can't work and home school your children so if that was the plan choosing a job/career with more flexible hours and lower requirements might make more sense.

      • +22 votes

        Being polite is not the same thing as having social skills. The guy I knew who was really weird, was incredibly polite. Didn't stop him from not knowing how to interact with people his own age and coming off as a weirdo though.

        It is kind of like being a vegetarian where you now need to purposefully get all the nutrition you miss out on through special foods or vitamins. If you don't want your kid to be weird and never have normal relationships they need to have social contact with peers like every day, which requires special effort when they don't go to school…

      • +2 votes

        cannot agree more that parents have the biggest influence on their child. It is reseached that behaviours are learnt.

        •  

          Yes - being able to interact with peers is learnt by trial and error, which behaviours get positive results and which don't. With no exposure those skills can't be learnt. If the kid is always around adults all he learns is how to get on with adults, not peers.

      • +8 votes

        Wouldn't kids benefit from seeing how other kids interact with each other at school? Being able to see how reactions are formed, how to communicate with similar aged kids, read body language. At school you can learn from other kids mistakes, including the consequences.

        • -13 votes

          Gawd no if they are around children that bully, swear etc

          • +17 votes

            @Jool Smuggla: Being around such 'bad' influences and learning to deal with them is part of normal growing up for kids.

          • +6 votes

            @Jool Smuggla: So the best thing to do is to shield them everything? So when they're out there in the adult world, they don't know how to deal with bullies?

            Fact is life, including adult life is full of bullies. You cant just stop bullies instantly, but if you learn from a young age what is bullying, what bullying looks like, how it affects people and thus why its wrong, and how to deal with bullies, I'm sure you'll be a stronger person mentally when you're older.
            Unless you intend on holding their hands until they're in the 50s or something and never letting moving out because theres too many bullies outside.

            • +2 votes

              @Ughhh: Agree with your sentiment, in general. Except in extreme bullying cases (see my comment). (Not suggesting this is the case with OP - it is simply based on observations and some cases I came across).

              You can move schools, but if that is not possible, and if home-school is an option, even for a short period (1-2 years), it might be beneficial. It is buying time for the traumatised kid. And in the meantime, of course, counselling, help the extremely timid/scared child gain more confidence etc. One or two years can mean a very different child with a lot more maturity and more equipped to deal with extreme bullies.

              If we look at how to cure phobias, exposure therapy lets the person be exposed to the thing s/he is afraid of, but gradually, in steps. Not throw him/her into the deep end. The problem with 'sink or swim' – is that some will sink. As a parent, you will want to give your child a fighting chance (like some swimming lessons in controlled environment), before throwing the child back into the deep end. The extreme bullying environment is not a controlled one.

              The alternative could be a dead kid, or one with severe mental issues. And the choice becomes easier if confronted with this situation (provided parent has ability/resources to home school).

          • +5 votes

            @Jool Smuggla: Such behaviour is not restricted to children. There are plenty of swearing bullies in the workplace. Everyone needs to be able to deal with them, no matter how wrong their behaviour is.

          • +1 vote

            @Jool Smuggla: Studies have shown a link between intelligence and an increased propensity to swearing as well as happiness, honesty and surprisingly, have better vocabularies. I would not deny my kids the fun of swearing, let alone the seemingly secondary benefits.

          •  

            @Jool Smuggla: What's wrong with swearing?

      •  

        It is a myth that children need to go to school to learn social skills.

        I went to a small private school for a year that used home schooling curricular and often we'd have fully home schooled children attend for a week or so off and on and they were all super weird. Like children of the corn weird. I'm not sure if the religious aspect of the school had an impact on their character too or not though.

    • +5 votes

      I've only met one home schooled person and he was really really weird.

      So have I and with the same impression. Although I can't be sure of which was the cause or effect.

      • +1 vote

        It is possible that the sort of kids that get pulled out of mainstream are ones that were disabled in some way that affects social engagement and were never going to fit in anyway, so there's a higher proportion of them coming out of home-schooling, even though it might not have been the home-schooling that caused it.

        • +13 votes

          Long post incoming. Apologies.

          I'm not terribly familiar with the academic literature in this field, but I've written papers in education economics and related fields before. My sense of the findings is that there isn't really much of a relationship between homeschooling and traditional schooling in terms of objective outcomes. In other words, it doesn't really matter (unsurprising really). There are some papers which find that homeschooled children report higher satisfaction and happiness, but hey, if I was a kid and I got to stay at home and do fun things, I think I'd report being happier too!

          There are some very old studies (20 - 30 years ago) which actually find positive effects of homeschooling on academic achievement. However, I think we have to take these results with the caveat that these results were collected during a time where homeschooling was an activity for the wealthy who could afford to hire very good tutors, not the environment today where parents are the ones who are doing most of the educating in a homeschooling environment.

          In terms of the literature on who is homeschooling their children (a bit more modern), the US-based studies suggest parents who self-describe as "conservative", or "evagelical Christian" are more likely to homeschool. Parents in these categories tend to cite a distrust of teachers, liberal biases in schools, "insitutionalisation", schools no longer teaching Christian or family values…etc. In the US, the rules regarding homeschooling are genuinely whacko - in some states, parents are allowed to teach their kids creationism as an alternative to evolution (yes, this is what happens when you have idiots in Congress). These facts concern me greatly.

          Let me be clear, I respect parents who have to sacrifice their careers to homeschool their children. I thought $30,000 private school fees were expensive, but if I had to completely lose my salary to homeschool my child, now that's a big investment! However, I think we need to make sure that parents who are homeschooling their kids:

          1) Have the appropriate qualifications, or hire people who do. Let's be honest, parents without a university education probably aren't teaching their kids senior high school calculus.

          2) Are homeschooling for valid reasons. For example, there are reasons why their child cannot participate in the school environment.

          3) Same assessment for school-educated and homeschooled kids. They shouldn't be able to just write essays and reports and go on excursions. They need to face the same standard as every other child including exams, and presentations. Just like in uni, you can go to lectures or you can read the textbook at home, but at the end of the semester, everyone sits the same exam.

          •  

            @p1 ama: 1) Yes, how did parents EVER raise their kids before government controlled 'education' came along? And high school calculus is about as useful to the average human being as advances quantum physics. That is, that people who are into that stuff can choose to study it but for our day to day lives they are pretty much useless. I'll wager most parent are able to impart many more practical life skills to their kids that teachers who have never been outside of the school system. :)

            2) Who gets to decide what are 'valid reasons'? Our kids are not the property of the state and it is our job as parents to raises them in the BEST way we see fit. If that includes keeping them out of the 'system' until they developed some self-identity and independent thought then so be it. it's none of anyone else's business.

            3) It's my understanding that that is the case anyway? (Could be wrong though)

            •  

              @EightImmortals:

              it's none of anyone else's business.

              Sorry, but that attitude just doesn't work. It may be fine for a reasonable proportion of the population, but we all know people who shouldn't be allowed to tie their laces unsupervised, let alone make decisions for how their children should be cared for or educated.

              •  

                @banana365: And yet those same people end up running the whole country?

                I think you'll find that the types of people you are referring to and not going to be the type to home school anyway. You may get the odd one here and there I guess but as I said, it's none of anyone else's business how people choose to educate their kids. The state system is about conformity, indoctrination and wiping out their creativity and individuality. It begins the myth of authority that most people carry with them through their whole lives and it forces and atmosphere of 'competition' (my grades are better than yours) that also forces a false reality onto the psyches of young kids (we all get on a lot better through cooperation, not competition). Some people can see this quite clearly and other people can't. Some people have no choice in the matter due to their life's circumstance.

                • +1 vote

                  @EightImmortals:

                  I think you'll find that the types of people you are referring to and not going to be the type to home school anyway.

                  You'd be surprised. We looked at home schooling our first child and did a lot of research into it. I worked, at the time, with a guy who home schooled his kids and he introduced us to a lot of other home schooling families. There were a hell of a lot of "out there" attitudes amongst the more mainstream ones. Conspiracy theories were widespread (anti-vac being one of the more "normal" ones) and a profound lack of self-awareness and common sense was evident in many home schooling parents.

                  • -4 votes

                    @banana365: Maybe they just knew things that you didn't or had a different perspective on life. Out of those who didn't vaccinate, how many of the kids were sick for e.g.? Not sure what you mean by a lack of self awareness though…and common sense is anything but common these days.

            • +4 votes

              @EightImmortals:

              Yes, how did parents EVER raise their kids before government controlled 'education' came along?

              I'm not talking about raising kids, I'm talking about educating kids. They are different things. You can have a kid who is well raised (so they have good social skills, are polite, have a good understanding about life, are happy, responsible…etc.) but is not well educated. You can also have a kid who is well educated, but not well raised.

              You're confusing the role of a parent and the role of a teacher here. Parents teach kids life skills, teachers teach kids knowledge. I'm not saying parents don't have a role to play, I'm saying that if one wishes to teach something, one should be qualified to teach it, regardless if they are teaching their own kids (homeschooling) or other kids (in a school).

              And high school calculus is about as useful to the average human being as advances quantum physics. That is, that people who are into that stuff can choose to study it but for our day to day lives they are pretty much useless.

              It's an example to illustrate a bigger point, which is that things that kids learn in school can be highly specialised and require expert knowledge. Are you willing to put your kids in a school where the teachers don't have any university qualifications and their only claim is that they can teach your kid "practical life skills"? All I'm saying is that homeschooled kids should have access to the same level of education and qualified professional teachers as school-educated kids.

              Our kids are not the property of the state and it is our job as parents to raises them in the BEST way we see fit.

              Your kids are not the property of the state, but they are also not your property. They are independent people who need to be given the right nurturing and opportunities. Kids are taken away from parents for abuse and neglect. Witholding an education from a child is as bad as abuse and neglect and the damage that can be done to a child's future is profound. You have the right to ruin your life, you do not have the right to ruin the life of a child who does not know better.

              it's none of anyone else's business

              No, society has an interest in standing up for people who cannot protect themselves. This is not to do with homeschooling, but the idea that you can do whatever the hell you want with your kid is morally and ethically wrong. There are parents out there who will withhold medical treatments for their kids due to their whacko beliefs in medicine, there are parents out there who will teach their kids factually wrong things, there are parents out there who will hit and abuse their kids, there are parents out there who neglect and do not provide for their kids. The state has a responsibility, in all of these situations, to intervene on behalf of the child.

              3) It's my understanding that that is the case anyway? (Could be wrong though)

              No, that's not the case. Homeschooled kids do assessments created by their educators outside of the state system.

              •  

                @p1 ama: "No, society has an interest in standing up for people who cannot protect themselves. This is not to do with homeschooling…"

                But my comments were about homeschooling only and none of those abusive things you mentioned. :)

                "Witholding an education from a child is as bad as abuse and neglect and the damage that can be done to a child's future is profound."

                So who said anything about withholding an education? This whole thread is merely about giving an education outside of the state structured one. Nothing wrong with that IMO, as I said, parents choice.

                "All I'm saying is that homeschooled kids should have access to the same level of education and qualified professional teachers as school-educated kids."

                But your definition of 'qualified' seems to be limited to they went to university and paid for a degree. That might make the more qualified to teach but it no implies that they have anything to teach (other than what the state tells them to). You mentioned a parent lack of qualifications above. How many maths teachers have separate qualifications and experience in maths? How many physics teacher are physicists? Granted there would be some but then why would a parent who is a mathematician or a physicist be less qualified to teach those things simply because they don't have a 'teaching' degree?

                Don't get me wrong, I know what are trying to say, I just don't think the world is that black and white.

                • +1 vote

                  @EightImmortals: I think we probably generally agree. My gripe is that there is basically no regulation in homeschooling, not homeschooling itself.

                  The fact that parents can teach their kids anything they want worries me deeply, as does the fact that they can teach their kids nothing as well. There are parents out there (many, in fact) who are homeschooling their kids because they are anti-science and they don't want their kids to be "indoctrinated" by these liberal teachers teaching things like science. That's a problem to me.

                  I'm not even advocating that parents have a teaching degree to teach their kids, just that they have the requisite knowledge of the things they're teaching. Again, would you put your own kids in a school where the teachers have no knowledge of the field they're teaching?

                  I just think there needs to be some common sense applied. Kids can learn in whatever way suits them best (homeschooling if need be), but they need to be taught the same things and subject to the same assessment as everyone else. I think that's a fair deal.

                  •  

                    @p1 ama: Maybe. One flaw that I see with that idea is that you would then have the state training and 'approving' of parents in the same way they do with teachers which would possibly force homeschooling into the same problems that the parents in the mainstream education system. Again, it's like we are giving the state our permission to determine how we raise our kids and that (IMO)is giving the state even more power, at the expense of our parental rights and responsibilities than it already has.

                    •  

                      @EightImmortals: Do you think a parent should be allowed to teach their child (if they are homeschooled, where they do not have access to teachers and other adults, for example) that the Earth is flat, and that the Earth is 4,000 years old, and that evolution is a hoax?

            • +1 vote

              @EightImmortals: Great points, all add to it:

              All schools will teach calculus, algebra and other very narrowly used mathematics likely to be forgotten/wasted but very few teach the basics of money management that everyone should know.

              Few will offer real courses around negotiation, communication/management, strategic planning or many basic life skills.

              Schools are forced to be broad with kids wasting time on classes they have zero interest in while getting barely a taste of the things they are interested in. They leave with very little idea of what they want to do and often end up on paths they regret or switch out of later as they picked something they thought they liked. For me I liked computers so did programming at Uni but switched to business when I realised what it was really like.

    • +3 votes

      The problem is was he weird so he required home schooling or was he made weird by being home schooled, you may never know.

      • +1 vote

        We didn't home school our kids but I've met plenty of kids that were and by and large they seem more intelligent, well spoken and confident than kids coming of the education system. There are always exceptions of course but I think weirdness is part of the human race. I'm not sure it makes much difference if you have weird parents or weird teachers?

      • +9 votes

        He works better in an environment free from the distractions of other children

        How will your home school child go at university, if they decide to attend, and have to work with others?

        What about their career if they are part of a team that must work cohesively?

        • +6 votes

          Home schooled children sit external tests in order to apply for uni.

          I don't understand your second question. Home schooled kids are not freaks, they just learn in a different environment. They have just as much option for careers and uni than mainstream.

        •  

          i dont think going to school is going to determine if you can work well with others. we've all worked on team projects where someone does all the work and others do none, and if youve ever worked in government, youve seen people do amazing work surrounded by someone who doesnt have initiative to commit. none of those are home school. you either have motivation to get the job done, or you dont.
          Working in an environment free of distractions in general is extremely beneficial, and there are many jobs you can do without needing those team skills that are advertised in school education systems.
          If classrooms werent over populated and teachers overwhelmed by distractions of their own, i wouldnt support homeschooling in the current educational climate.
          I have been an elementary and high school teacher for 6 years, in Australia and Japan.

      • +12 votes

        As an introvert, all other things being equal they have extra challenges learning to interact with other people. By home schooling him, aren't you afraid that you'll be putting him even further behind? Kind of like if a kid is bad at maths, you just take away all maths from their curriculum. He won't have a fun time at uni. It is the funnest, greatest time of your life but if you can't go up to strangers and talk to them and make friends and have adventures you'll miss all of it.

      • +19 votes

        He works better in an environment free from the distractions of other children and the stress of tests.

        Define "works better", I think everyone works better without distractions of other people.

        Hey, my life would be great if I didn't have to deal with incompetent colleagues, other drivers on the road, waiting in line at the supermarket…etc. I think I'd work better under that environment too.

        So really, are you just taking from your child an opportunity to learn about how the real world works and develop the skills necessary to thrive in environments which they might not like?

        • -15 votes

          Are you asking me a question or telling me your opinion?

          • +4 votes

            @Jool Smuggla:

            So really, are you just taking from your child an opportunity to learn about how the real world works and develop the skills necessary to thrive in environments which they might not like?

            That's my question.

            In case it's not clear, what I meant is that people tend to get better at doing things when they are exposed to it. For example, if you don't like to drive or aren't good at it (but accept that it's a fact of life), then you could choose to drive a lot and hence get better at driving. Does this principle apply here too in your opinion? Why or why not?

            • +6 votes

              @p1 ama: And being exposed to stressors develops resilience/distress tolerance in children. That has been found to be critical to good mental health and success in adult life.

              •  

                @Scrooge McDuck: Elon Musk was beaten so savagely in school that he lost consciousness - I always wondered why he was so good at innovation (and business), I guess that was the critical factor in his success in adult life.
                (is joke)

  •  

    What methods do you employ for self discipline?

    Pretty sure if I home schooled my kids we would be having a health day most days and not a lot would get done.

    • +4 votes

      I will have to say some days are difficult, particularly maths days, as that is his most hated subject. We try to keep it fun and with homeschooling it does not have to be the rote learning as in mainstream. The curriculum can be learnt/taught with excursions, discussions, videos, text books etc etc

      I find that we get more done in a week than he would get done in mainstream in a month. One on one tutoring, no assemblies or pointless busy work. His school day is shorter because of this and he has more free time.

      •  

        That sounds like a positive for home schooling to me (as a student that is)

        • +4 votes

          Thanks TB. People forget that mainstream school was designed a very long time ago and it still puts all children in one box. Whilst I'm not against it, our belief is that it is not for every child.

      •  

        In high school, I hated rote and drill learning. Having now studied for 20+ years, I’ve come to appreciate its importance. Students often feel they understand something, but fail to be able to answer problems on it. Drill fixes this. This becomes even more noticeable when marking uni students’ work.

  • +2 votes

    For those wondering why home school, this video is one reason why it does not suit one of our children. Our other child suits mainstream.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okpg-lVWLbE

  • +3 votes

    Do you have a naughty corner

  • +1 vote

    Do you have to meet set standards or something when home schooling?

    (What if parent home schools kid but teaches them nothing and ruins kids life. Could this happen?)

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