After home schooling one of my sons for a few years and sending the other all the way through public schools, as well as teaching in a public system, I’ve come to believe the #1 shortcoming in the American educational system is that we’ve handed over full responsibility of educating our children to someone else.
A blend of home school methods combined with traditional school is the way to go, and actually the way it used to be.
Parents seem to have washed their hands of any involvement in the education of their offspring and expect teachers to do it all — from math to art, from spelling to science, with a dash of morals worked in after P.E. Parents want to send Buffy-Jo off in the morning as a blank, dull slate and have her bounce off the bus at the end of the day holding scholarships to 42 top colleges as well as the promise of head majorette in the community college’s show band, but they don’t want to lift a finger to help her get there.
If we consider ourselves to be home school teachers who also send our children to regular school, the darlings will be ahead of the game. They’ll soar when given new challenges because they’ll have the confidence of rich experiences at home. A partnership between the parent and teacher is team-teaching at its best.
Reading with them at night, painting with them on the weekends, taking them to free libraries, free museums, free concerts, walking through parks and watching musicals on PBS while playing board games all add up to a home education that will catapult them to the top of their classroom. No matter what the brick and mortar school is like, the parent will always be the most important teacher.
Moms of yesterday would send notes to the teacher saying things like, “I’ve arranged to borrow the neighbor’s stuffed bobcat next week, so Leland Ray can bring it for show and tell when you discuss natural predators of Alabama.” But today, the notes say, “Harold didn’t finish his book report this weekend. It was just too hard for him to read all those pages. He was stressed out.”
The point is to be active. Don’t just sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to nurture the brain of your little darling. If you think they aren’t learning proper handwriting (they aren’t), have them hand copy your grocery list or a few poems from a book (because they don’t study enough poetry either). My son shockingly loved to do this and said he felt like he was actually accomplishing something when he hand-wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, famous quotes or even Bible verses. We saved cursive for crazy days when we felt wild, but bless his heart, he attempted it, with great flair.
“Always be teaching” should be our theme as parents. The teachers work hard, but with classes overflowing with distractions and an over-kill of paperwork, it never hurts to give your child the advantage by double-enrolling them in your own private home school.
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