A gentle introduction to real world home schooling

Last updated on August 2nd, 2018  

My wife and I decided to home school our children for a variety of reasons.

People argue with our reasons so I am going to simple assume you have your reasons and do not need mine.

I can tell you from first hand experience that your child will get a far better education having been home schooled.

Homeschooling is not a monolithic thing. They are many types of home schoolers.

Some home schoolers re-create public school at home with classes and schedules. Others simply allow the child to discover whatever they want and try to follow their child’s interests. And many do things in between.

I created a registered R1 private school in the state of California in which my children were enrolled and my wife and I were the teachers and administrators. There is no certification requirement for any of the positions and the paperwork is simple to do. Most of my home school peer parents **did not** do this.

The complications of home schooling also vary by the years you want to home school.

Anything prior to the “high school” years really has no requirements, though this varies by state.

If you want your child to be eligible for athletic scholarships you must consider that your child’s “high school” years must meet  the requirements of the NCAA (National College Athletic Association). (more on this later)

A popular complaint about home schooling is “socialization”. Let us put that one aside right now. Nearly all home schoolers are far more socialized than their public school peers. More on that in a bit.

In most areas of the country (US) there are plenty of home school groups that can provide plenty of help.

There were over 1.6 million home schoolers in the US in 2017.

I am going to talk about one risk related to homeschooling. It is a tiny risk and this tiny risk is greatly outweighed by the enormous benefits to be gain from home schooling.

The only risk I was exposed to as a home schooling parent was truancy laws. No one reported me or my children, but the laws are there.

Truancy laws

Many states and localities have “truancy” laws. These are old and out-dated and rarely enforced, but you should talk with  local home schoolers about it.

The bottom line is that you should not let your children wander free by themselves during school hours. I simply avoided this and did not experience any problems. The good news is that in many areas school hours are as little as 9am to 1pm.

Having them out and about with you, or another adult is fine.

Child Protective Services

If you let your child wander free during school hours Child Protective Services (CPS, or whatever they are called in your state) might notice and come for a visit.

Public School Teachers

Public school teachers are the single most likely people to report your child to the authorities. Every home school child means less “public” school teachers are needed. Public school teacher’s unions are behind every effort to squash charter schools and home schooling.

I would strongly advise you to join the Home School Legal Defense Association, around $130 per year when I wrote this article. You can read about them and get all sorts of additional helpful information at hslda.org

The negative of truancy laws is **tiny** compared to the benefits of home schooling.

Home schoolers can go all the way:

My first child to go through my home school, which included “high school”, won the Gold Medal in the US Junior Olympics in her sport, went on to get a full ride athletic scholarship at a major university, and her education passed the requirements of the NCAA.

Home schooling is easy & fun

I started out with a more regimented design for my home school, but quickly came to realize most of the time was just wasted.

In the end, I found that as little as 2 hours per day of “schooling” far out-performed the learning I saw going on in public schools. Time was mostly invested in math, reading, and experiencing the wonders of the world.

Long ago learning was the 3 R’s, reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic.

I actually found reading and math was all I had to focus on and writing just came out naturally.

How easy is home schooling?

This is all you need:

  • Teach your child to read and write
  • Teach math via Saxon math
  • Have your child read all the works of the 1953 Harvard’s Everyman’s Library (you can skip the poetry if you want)
  • Expose your child to as much of the wonders of the universe as possible (Yellowstone, the night sky)
  • Join local home schooling social groups
  • Join HSLDA.org
  • optional “lab” classes

What about chemistry & physics and other “lab” classes?

“lab” classes are not required for a good education. Math, reading, and history are.

“lab” classes are technically “applied math”. If you are good at math in general you can cruise through just about any “lab” class because in the end they come down to math.

You will find short programs in “lab” classes are offered in your area. These kind of classes are more than adequate if you want to add “labs” to your child’s education.

One other type of class I highly recommend is public speaking. All you really need to do is have your child learn to speak in front of groups. This is really easy to do as you can start with them simply reading in front of you, and then adding more people, eventually speaking in front of their home school groups.

I introduced my daughters to physics and engineering via the construction of trebuchets (a type of catapult). We would build “barbie” castles from plastic bottles, at their suggestion, and bomb them from our tiny trebuchets. Later we made potato cannons powered by hair spray. (Am I a terrible father?)

They also participated in introduction to physics, chemistry, and geology “lab” classes that met once a week for 6 weeks. And they did participate in a biology lab class too (which is code for ‘they dissected something’). Today there are virtual lab classes. I am not a fan of virtual lab classes. If you want the benefit of lab classes you should send your child to a real lab or do the lab at home from a kit. In other words, identifying virtual rocks is way different than handling them in your hands.

What about TV?

You most definitely do not want your children exposed to commercials. The only TV allowed by most home school parents is commercial free programming such as DVDs. Older Disney movies and older musicals are great television viewing for the family.

Most kids’ television programming is quite horrible. And most of the time the “programming” is just a long commercial.

The world is not free of evil people. That your children understand this will keep them safe and allow them to recognize such people when they come across them. Hiding the truth from children will only make them victims. You can certainly protect your child from the real horrors of the day, but they need to be introduced to cartoon villains such as in the older version of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. As they conceptualize the cartoon villains they will on their own come to recognize villains in the real world.

The people who are working against your efforts are trying to isolate your children into their own limited world.

When you and your children watch an old musical (even if it has some “offensive” content) you create a bridge of understanding between you, your children, and older people who watched those old musicals when they were young. It is these bridges that are critical to helping your child communicate effectively with a broad range of people.

What about athletic scholarships?

In all likelihood your child’s “high school” education will need to meet the NCAA requirements in order to get any athletic scholarships.

These requirements change from year to year and you should definitely check with other home schoolers who have gone through the NCAA requirements or check with the NCAA itself.

When I went through the certification process for one of my children the process consisted of producing a list of classes and what curriculum was used.

Saxon math covered the math requirements.

The literature from the 1953 Harvard’s Everyman’s Library covered the language and history requirements.

For example, ‘Intro to US History’ can be covered by “Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America” (an absolutely excellent read by the way).

Basically you simply take all the books your child has read and divide them up to into classes.

But please be aware that NCAA requirements change. Check with the NCAA and your home schooling peers.

If I may digress for the moment, I would like to highly recommend books written by people who where actually there.

I find history by modern historians to be complete garbage. What better history is there than works written by the people who saw it first hand?

Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchmen, walked around America and wrote down what he saw. Adam Smith wrote down what he saw in Ireland. St. Augustine watched the Roman empire collapse just outside the window of his Church.

What about the GED (or high school equivalency exam)?

Many states have a test which allows you to “pass” high school by simply passing the test.

In California this is called the GED. Many home schoolers choose to take the GED, or their states equivalent, just in case.

That is even though your home schooling program qualifies you to “graduate” your child with a high school diploma, many take the GED too, just in case.

What about college classes?

In many states your child can take college level classes at any time, with or without a high school “diploma”. Some colleges require that you have a GED or high school equivalency certificate.

If you are pursing an athletic scholarship or want to keep that opportunity open, you will want to keep an eye on your child taking college level courses. The NCAA has a 5 year clock that gets triggered when your child enrolls in a college as a full-time student.

I find this to be terrible. Who wants to limit the learning and growth of our children?

Well sadly, the NCAA does.

Here is the requirement from the NCAA website:

Division 1 five-year clock: If you play at a Division 1 school, you have five-calendar years in which to play four seasons of competition. Your five-year clock starts when you enroll as a full-time student at any college”

So just be aware, if your child takes a full-time college load the NCAA clock starts.

What about college?

There is nothing your child that will learn in college that is worth $100,000 or $200,000.

In fact, after reading through the 1953 Harvard’s Everyman’s Library prior to college your child will be better informed and educated than 99.9% of college **graduates**.

The bottom line is that historically the “college” diploma was a ticket to higher wages.

Unless your child’s college degree is in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) or Medicine there is not much value in a college degree.

If your daughter wants to be a dancer when she grows up, have her get a math degree, while pursuing her dancing career.

Math is Math, while Science, Technology, and Engineering are **applied** math.

If your child excels at math, she can pursue any of the applied math disciplines.

Speaking of math, if you do send your child down the math path, be warned that calculus is taught particularly poorly by our educational institutions.

More advanced math, beyond calculus, differentials, and integrals (CDI), is actually far easier to learn. So if your child starts to have difficulties in the CDI part of their math career work with them and tutors to help them get over the hump. It is not that calculus is hard. It is just poorly taught.

What about the trades?

I would suggest that along with the physics, chemistry, and other introductory labs that you consider introductory labs along the lines of “woodshop”, “metalshop”, plumbing, electrical, light construction, and automobile repair.

These are again short weekly or just one day courses that simply introduce your child to the trades. I think knowing how things work is extremely valuable.

How is your child going to know if the cost of a repair around the house or to a car is worth the price if they have no idea what is involved?

Is automation and AI going to take away all the jobs?

When AT&T introduced the automatic telco switch in the 1940s 350,000 switch board operators (mostly women) lost their jobs over the next 40 years.

Do we really want millions of women today operating switchboards?

I suspect not.

Change in technology has always meant change in job requirements. For the most part people have adapted.

The need for jobs in the future really depends on the choices we make.

Some people are focused on the Earth as a finite resource that must be protected before we run out of things. They look to a smaller world population as a solution. This course would require fewer workers in the future.

Others look to an expansion into the solar system as our future. They see colonies on Mars and space stations in the asteroid belt. This view of the future sees continued growth in the population and lots of opportunity.

One clear fact about our future is the aging of the world population. The number of elderly will be growing explosively in the decades ahead. This leads me to believe there will be heavy demand for health care workers and I believe this kind of work will be difficult to automate.

The future is really what we choose to make of it.

Free markets or socialism lay ahead in the US. Which way will it go? You choose.

Closing remarks

Thank you for investing your time in reading this article. I hope you found it helpful.

If you choose to pursue home schooling I would like to congratulate you.

Diversity cannot be accomplished through the public education system indoctrinating every child into one way of thinking and one world view.

Home schoolers create individuals of a truly diverse nature.

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