March 26, 2017

Thoughts and Discussions About Education in Society

My thoughts surrounding education. Not just homeschool, but also educational topics as they would relate to public schools, charter schools, and private schools. Discussions about what it means to be "educated" in our society today. May also cover topics across age demographics for grade school, high school and education at the university and collegiate level.

Finding More Info About Colleges and Universities

SchooLinks Website

As much as I can’t believe it, I’ve got a child that’s just a few years away from pursuing higher education at a college or university. It was quite an reality-check when we received the first piece of mail addressed to my son from a college. I’m guessing the next reality check mail will be when the AARP offers start coming to the house as well.

I received an email from someone through the site that let me know about a new website called SchooLinks that helps parents and students gather more information about all the opportunities that are available to us as we enter into this journey of the next stage in my son’s educational life.

I’ll be honest, frequently I wonder how my life would be different now if I had the online resources at my disposal for this type of research and self-training that’s available. My opinion is having more information at your fingertips is never really a bad thing. So, I had Kara from SchooLinks write up a little bit about the website to share with you all and just throw it out there for you as a resource to use for your family.

Education is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. It shows them how to think as individuals and allows them to grow into the person that they’re meant to be. We are lucky enough that where we live allows our children to have a free education, however, what about when they want to pursue higher education and college tuition starts to skyrocket?

Our nation is experiencing a widening achievement gap between students who have the potential to be successful in college, but are unable to afford the price of a college education. Many of these students have enjoyed a free education between grades K-12, and have been academically successful. These same students have the ability to perform well in college, however, their own education will now cost them thousands of dollars that they don’t have. Sure, there are many scholarships available, however it is extremely difficult to find a scholarship that they are actually eligible to apply for. As parents, we want to provide our children with the best education possible but a $40,000 price tag is enough to make us think it’s acceptable to settle on education.

SchooLinks is an EdTech start-up that is on a mission to bridge the achievement gap and get students into colleges they will be successful at without putting them over their heads in debt. Our children are unique learners, so why should they be restricted to where they go to college because they are unaware of their options? SchooLinks introduces prospective college students to a network of worldwide schools, thus opening them up to countless educational opportunities. Simple tricks such as chatting directly with an admissions officer significantly increases a student’s chance of getting accepted to their top choice, and SchooLinks makes this possible with thousands of schools around the world. Furthermore, features such as Scholarship Matching pairs students with scholarships that are suitable for them, which cuts out countless hours of fruitless searching that has frustrated students for years.

If our children are the future, why should they be limited to where the advance their studies? SchooLinks wants to eliminate the notion that it’s okay to settle on your education. Reasons such as “It’s too expensive.” or “I don’t know what other options are out there.” will be things of the past, and your children will be able to afford and attend the college that is the best fit for them. Lets build a stronger and brighter future and get our children linked up with their future Alma Mater, today.

Treading New Ground In Our Homeschool – Do You Co-op?

Colored Pencils

Our family is starting our 6th year of homeschooling and we’re doing something this year that we’ve never done before. We’re adding some co-op experiences for both of our children where they will be taking a few different classes one day each week. Our daughter has already started attending the Francis Schaeffer  Study Center and our son will be starting at New Life Academy next month.

When we lived in Indiana we never really pursued co-ops for the kids. I think then it was a combination of just not feeling like it was something we wanted to do and we weren’t really aware of any that interested us there. Plus, both of our kids at the time said they didn’t want to go back to “school” and enjoyed the independence of just doing schooling on their own at home each day each week.

Since relocating to Tennessee, co-0p seem to be far more prolific as well as the involvement of homeschool families in them. Still being fairly new to the area we also started to see co-ops as another opportunity for our kids and ourselves to meet with and interact more with other homeschooling families in the area. Making the decision didn’t come easily, but in the end we decided it would present its challenges but that those challenges would be worth it. The obvious challenge is the additional expenses incurred with participating in more formalized instructional opportunities and the various fees associated. The next challenge is the logistics of getting two kids back and forth to their co-0ps on their days. They’re both in the same town that’s about 10-15 minutes away from our home, but they are in different locations and meet on different days.

Our daughter absolutely loves school and has surprised us since our move by being far more social and craving interaction with other girls her age than she ever has before. She’ll be taking Geography, Intro to Literature and Art History. She’s already met with her classes a few times and absolutely loves it she says.

Our son is far less interested in the idea and frequently uses the words “making” or “forcing” to describe the decision to put him in a co-op. However, we believe introducing a little more structure back into his studies and weekly activities now that he’s entering his freshman year will be a good thing for him. He’s also surprised us by being far less social than he used to be in Indiana, so we’re hoping he’ll establish some new relationships and friends from this experience as well. He’ll be taking Geometry, Biblical Studies (Revelations), and Biology. One of the big reasons we also chose this for him is that I’ve done a horrible job of doing experiments with him in his science courses at home. Very irritated with myself on that considering I was a biology major and love studying it as well as other sciences.

Do your kids participate in co-ops as part of your homeschool experience? What have been your thoughts and experiences along the way? What are the costs you and other challenges you face with including these options in your weekly homeschool routine? Would love to hear about your thoughts in the comments below.

More of My Thoughts on Homeschool and Public Schools

Bean Family Photobooth

This post is another one that consists of my answers to questions that were asked of me during an interview process for someone else that was writing a book. As soon as it’s published, I’ll be sure and provide more details, but for now. Here are more of my thoughts on our own homeschool journey. I’m particularly interested in hearing what thoughts you may have on my comments related to public schools and education in our communities.

Tell me a little about yourself. How many children do you homeschool, and what are their ages?

I’m pushing 40 this year and parenting two children with my wife of 15 years. My son is 14 (Honeymoon baby) and our daughter is 11. I was public schooled myself in a very small town in Kentucky. We are in our 4th year of homeschooling our children.

Where are you from? (State or Province is fine).

I grew up in southern Kentucky and graduated from college in Ohio. My wife has lived her entire life in Indianapolis, IN where we still live. We’re currently looking at relocating to Nashville, TN.

Do you identify with any “minority,religious or ethnic group” you would like to disclose, in order to show support for others who may feel alone in this journey?

I don’t think so. I feel like we’re pretty much the typical Christian American family. The only minority group we’re really in is “Christian” and “homeschoolers”.

What was your initial reason for homeschooling?

There wasn’t a single “straw” that “broke the camel’s back” with us. More like a small bale of hay that kept gnawing at us that caused us to be unsatisfied with just about everything we saw in the public school system and the desire to want more for our kids and our family than what we were getting in the school system.

Have you come across any more reasons to continue with this choice since you began?

I don’t think there have been any new reasons for us, just a continued strengthening and affirmation of the original reasons we discovered initially.

What are your thoughts on the public school system?

I think the public school system has an incredible task and hurdle in front of it. I believe the biggest problem is we haven’t come to an agreement in our society of what it actually means to be “educated”. The challenge after that is we’ve put too many demands on our schools and teachers without a confirmed target for them to aim for in their classrooms. I believe there should be some agreed standards set at a national level, but the operation and execution to meet those goals should be done at the local level.

Do you experience any struggles that the average homeschooler may not?

I’m not sure, what’s the average homeschooler struggling with these days? I’m guessing we’re pretty normal.

What is the best thing about homeschooling that you and your family have experienced so far?

For us I believe it’s the freedom and flexibility to try new things and spend time together as a family. With my job I’m able to work from just about anywhere as long as I have an Internet connection. That’s allowed us to travel and enjoy a variety of experiences as a family that’s also been very educational for all of us as well. We’re hoping to visit a couple of places like Gettsyburg and Colonial Williamsburg in the near future.

Do you base your homeschooling on any of the following educational philosophies: Waldorf, Montessori,Reggio,Classical,Traditional,Unit Study, Project Based, Un-schooling,Road-schooling, Scripture Based

One of the things we love about homeschooling is the ability for us to mix ‘n match strategies and methods across curriculae and other resources.

Are you in a single or double parent household?

My wife and I both participate in the homeschooling of our children. My wife does the majority of the effort by comparison. I focus more on helping with math and science and supporting as much as I can in the other subjects.

There has been a lot of assumption about the income level of homeschoolers being very high. Is this your experience?

I sure wish it were! Since we got pregnant with our son on our honeymoon, and my wife’s desire and my support of her desire to be a stay-at-home-mom, we’ve lived on a single income for the majority of our marriage. I lost my full-time job at the end of 2013 and currently looking for employment. Even in this time in our lives, the importance we put on continuing to homeschool our children has kept us from looking at forcing my wife to go back into the workforce. That will be an absolute last resort.

What are your thoughts on public schools?

See previous answers, but I’ll also add this. I know that homeschooling is NOT for everyone. We need public schools and I want them to succeed. As I said before, we need to put education at the forefront of the purpose for our schools and get politics completely out of the classroom unless it’s for a course in government, civics and the Constitution.

Do you feel that the option to homeschool is discriminatory against low income and/or single parent households?

I’m not sure I’d consider it discriminatory. It’s just a reality. Obviously it will be much harder for a single-parent family or a family where both parents have to work due to financial strains. I think the biggest challenge is who looks after the children while the one or both parents are working during the day when the kids are “supposed to be in school”.

What does an average homeschooling day look like for you?

My family has all been night owls since Day 1. So, our normal school day starts a little later than most people would consider average I’m sure. But our kids focus on their school work and studies and are usually done towards the middle of the afternoon. Once school work is done they work on their chores and other responsibilities. Rinse and repeat. We also try to be aware of how to make any opportunity outside of the normal school day an educational experience. In our state, we just need to prove 180 days of instruction. My opinion is if I’m not hitting 365 days of instruction a year, I’m failing my kids.

Do you feel you are judged negatively for your decision to homeschool?

I’m not sure if I’d categorize it as “negatively”, more just odd and not understanding what it really means and all the details. There have been occasions where I’ve been surprised at the lack of support we’ve received from family and friends. We have a number of friends who are teachers and I think some of them felt offended that our disproval of the public school system was also a direct disproval of them as teachers. Quite the contrary honestly, if I could guarantee 70% of the teachers and administration were as interested in my kids education as my friends were, I’d probably not have as much of an issue with public schools. But our other concern is the decisions that are being made in public education that are out of the scope of influence they have as well.

Any further comments you would like to share?

I’d just say that I hope your book gets shared and promoted to more dads. I think there are lots of dads who just aren’t quite sure how to be involved as best they can. I think for many dads, as with other areas of the family, they believe their only role in the effort is to fund it. Their involvement is to work as much as possible to be the provider for their family’s endeavors. That’s important, absolutely. But many forsake the need their family has for them to be there physically, emotionally and intellectually… not just financially.