Sunday, July 15, 2012

Save Money!

It's almost time to get back to school. Four to six weeks from now and school starts. Except we took Jack out of traditional school last March. To home school him. Or unschool him.

Jack's mom (my wife) and I went into a Staples store the other day. Then we walked into the store next door. A Target store.

We found prominent displays in high traffic aisles in both stores. Displays of back-to-school supplies. Pens in packs of three. Single pens. Pencils in boxes, 12 to a box. Colored pencils. Loose paper, plain or lined. Erasers. Glue sticks, big or regular size. Rulers. Paper tablets bound with wire. Paperclips. Neon colored highlighters. Sharpies, regular and colors. Book covers.

Do we need a new book bag this year. Or is it a backpack? The kind you put on your back over your shoulders? Or the kind you pull by the handle and it rolls on wheels?

We don't need any of it. Nothing.

Benefits of homeschooling:
Saving dollars.
Less time spent shopping.
Less stress.

I highly recommend educating your child/children at home. Homeschooling.

Not only will your kids be better off. Be more successful. Smarter. More inquisitive, courageous and confident.

But you will Save Money.

Take that day trip you've been thinking about. Make it two days. You have more money now.

"Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy - these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another." - John Gatto

Monday, June 11, 2012

This Just In: Cursive Out

The teacher told Jack, "Your handwriting, your printing is so nice, so clear, so legible that you don't have to learn cursive."

That was in fourth grade. We pulled him out of school to homeschool/unschool him this past March (when he was in sixth grade).

Now look at this:

Cursive Writing No Longer Necessary

Not sure what it means in the long run, or even short run. Also not sure how significant it is.

But I thought it worth noting.

So it's now noted.

Special thanks to


PS. There's stuff about wasted time on rote learning in the article, too.


One small step for keyboarding.

One giant step for diversified education.

Change, even a little bit, is pretty significant, right?


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

HomeWork: The Cunning Flip

The homework tonight is read pages 32 to 33 and answer the questions on page 35. Also do the even numbered math problems in chapter three of your math book. And remember to start the outline for your mid-semester project.

So much to do. So little time to do it.

Parents receive an email at home that conveys the homework assignments for today.

Parents pick up where the teacher leaves off.

The school's mission statement: We will teach your children. We will educate your child.

The school takes on this mission. This responsibility. This obligation.

The parents are obligated to leave their kids with the school. The school is obligated to teach the kids.

And what if the child isn't taught? Doesn't learn? Fails?

Can the parents have a meeting with the teacher?

A parent - teacher meeting?

And ask: Why?

Yes... well...

Unless the obligation to teach and educate has been cleverly flipped from the teacher and the school.

Over to the parent and into the home.

The cunning flip.



A parent - teacher meeting happening right now.

Let's listen in...

Parent:  My child isn't doing well in school. My child says he hates school. My child doesn't like going to school. Why does my child hate school? Why does my child not like school? Why does my child feel bad about not getting all the school work done? There's just so much work to do. It seems so overwhelming, so impossible to finish. And it seems like my child's self esteem is suffering. Suffering in the name of education.

School teacher:  I completely understand. Let me ask you a quick question: Are you, as the child's parent, helping in a positive way with your child's homework? Supervising the homework? Encouraging completion of all of the homework? Doing the homework yourself? Did you receive my email? You know, I send you a homework email everyday.

Parent:  Oh, my. How clever of you.

School teacher:  Yes. Homework is really a linchpin in traditional education. Homework keeps alive an illusion. The illusion that the obligation undertaken by the school, to teach the child, is too big. Too much to do alone. Parents need to participate. To share in the accountability. Parents need to reduce the size of the school's obligation by helping at home, sharing the work. Parents need to shoulder the responsibility of teaching. Of educating their child. It's a lot of work. It's too much work for one institution. And... and this is important, the very most important part:  If something goes wrong, the child doesn't do well, the child fails or some how isn't educated, the school cannot be blamed. The school cannot be found at fault. That would seriously hurt the grand tradition of the school. We just cannot allow such a thing to happen. And, so, we have.. homework.

Parent:  Yes. Of course. And I want to do my part.

School teacher:  I just knew you would understand.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

What the heck is socialization?

We took Jack out of school. That's what we did and that's what we told our friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers, everyone who would listen, even Jack's doctors.

His pediatrician thought it a good idea.

Most everyone else asked:

What about socialization? Won't Jack miss that? Won't Jack miss being socialized? School allows kids to be socialized. If Jack's not in school, how will he get socialized?

So I ask back: What is socialization?

Is this socialization:

Getting up at seven to be in school by eight.
Crossing the street with a crossing guard telling the kids, "Hurry children. You don't want to be late. Move along. The cars are waiting."

The children getting into their seats with hands folded on their desks before the first bell.

The teacher addressing the class, "Quiet children. Look at me."
Later, the teacher reminds the kids, "No talking, children."
Then, at the 50 minute bell, "OK, everyone put away this book and get out that book. ... In silence, please."

At the lunch bell (how Pavlovian, the bells) teacher says to class: Let's walk quietly to the cafeteria. And remember, the quietest table at lunch gets to go out to play first

At recess the yard duty adult (a volunteer parent or another teacher) keeps the kids in control: No running. Stop playing, that game it's too rough. Don't kick the ball. Don't throw the ball. No yelling. Don't play with the sand, gravel, rocks, wood chips or anything. You might hurt yourself or, even worse, someone else. Quiet, please.

In the afternoon, a trip to the library is the class walking in silence, in single file. The teacher saying, "When you hear me snap my fingers, look at me, stop what you're doing, remain quiet. No reading out loud."

At the three o'clock bell teacher dismisses the students one at a time. The quietest first. The "best behaved" first.

And at home, "OK, Jack. Time to do your homework."

Then later, "Let's try to get you to bed a little earlier this evening. It's a school night, you know."

Then, even later. Jack's dad says to Jack's mom. "You notice how quiet Jack is. I hope he's OK."

So the answer to:

If Jack's not in school, how will he ever become socialized?


Socialization happening in school is a myth!


And the fallout from perpetuating the myth is


to our kids, ourselves, our society.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'll be your best friend...

Friend, friends, friendship.
Support, support groups, get togethers.

Absolutely integral to our life. I need help. I need someone to talk to. What can I do for you? How can I help?

There's movies made about friends. Toy Story comes to mind. Ferris Bueller's Day Off shows Cameron and Ferris helping each other.

We have music. Jeremiah was a Bull Frog, was a good friend of mine. Simon and Garfunkle did a nice job singing Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water.

This wonderful lady, mom, homeschooling guru, community leader, homeschooler of three boys. Introduced last blog. Initials: AF. She's a good friend to our family. She gives hugs. And great advice. She knows her stuff.

When we first pulled Jack out of traditional school, AF helped us. In many ways. Guided us. She also made a comment that has haunted us. AF said we would make and meet many new friends in the homeschooling community. Which we have. She also said, to Jack's mom directly, "You will lose a few friends. You'll lose a friend you would never expect to lose. A close friend." And her words disappeared into the air.

Did you ever see the movie, My Cousin Vinny? There's this scene about a broken water faucet where Marisa Tomei says to Joe Pesci, "... dead on balls accurate." Pesci repeats, "Dead on balls accurate?"

Accuracy is a good thing. Usually. Especially when recalling the past.
Tough to be accurate when foretelling the future.

Jack's best buddy in school is Billy. For years. They play together. Create music together. With drums and guitars. Create video games together. With both their names on the finished product. Will be in business together in the not too distant future. Partners. Friends. Best friends.

Jack's mom and Billy's mom, Jenny are also great friends. Coffee together. Talk together. Help each other. Don't consider differences. Trust one another. Jenny and Jack's mom, buddies.

We took Jack out of school to homeschool him. About three months ago. Since then Jack has not seen or talked with Billy. Since then Jack's mom has not visited with Jenny. Jenny answered a text, finally. After many, many texts. Phone call messages have gone unanswered.

After three weeks or so, Jenny answered that she is Soooo Busy. And Billy is away... visiting...

And so AF's words reappear, come back out of thin air, "You'll lose a friend... a close friend." .

Jack's mom and dad discuss Jenny and Billy. Discuss what AF said.

We come to realize a down side of homeschooling.

Jack's dad: AF said... you'll lose a friend.

Jack's mom: "Yes, But did she have to be so goddamned, dead on, accurate?"


A friendship dying.

But wait. There's more.

No time for crying. We have breaking news.

A special graduation party is coming up in a couple of weeks. Billy will be there. Jack will see his best friend for the first time in three months. Don't know about Billy's mom attending. We hope she will.

And now, finally, a Jack update: Jack is doing great over the last three months. Becoming more independent. Motivated. Realizes he is capable of so many things, even without a teacher standing over him. Much happier. Experiencing freedom. Being free.


Still, after all is said and done, it hurts to lose a friend.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Decompress for how long?

So, now we have an 11 year old at home. Not going to school every morning. Home all the time. Not gone from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm.

Did you ever count the hours a child spends in school? Eight hours. Add an hour for homework. Nine hours. That's too much. Unless you are the parent or parents and traditional school is your babysitter. I mean daycare center. Then 8 or 9 hours is not too much. Then 8 or 9 is not enough. [Question: Can I help you find an after school program that will keep the kid till 5?] [Answer: Yes, yes. That would be so perfect. You know I'm just so busy.]

Family timed robbed. Can never be returned. Time spent away at school.
Unknown value. Unknown loss.

Continuing on.

Jack's mom and I know next to nothing about homeschooling. We *do* know Jack was not happy to go to school. Traditional school.

Pre-school seemed OK. Kindergarten was OK as best we can remember. But at age six in the very first grade, Jack started whining.

Kids whine. No kid *likes* to go to school. "Jack is normal", said other moms.

And this type of uneasy battle continued through grades 1,2,3,4,5, and into March of grade 6.

Before I go on, let me talk about a fabulous lady, woman, mom that Jack's mom and I met a couple years ago. She is mother to three boys. Ages now: 11, 8 and 4. She homeschools/unschools all three. She's great. She's a friend. She's trusted counsel. She's awesome.

One time, about a year ago, I mentioned to her how Jack doesn't like school. Dreads going to school. Hates homework. And his behavior is even wearing down his parents. Wearing us down to the point we were questioning the methods and mind games children are subject to in a traditional school. ("methods and mind games": see, we were even starting to think negatively about this wonderful school Jack was attending.)

This wonderful mom that homeschooled her kids didn't hesitate in her response. "If you ever want to homeschool Jack, I'm the one to see. I'm a homeschooling leader in the community."

So that's what we did. Jack's mom and I asked this homeschooling leader in the community, "Now what? We pulled Jack out of school. He's home all the time. Loves to play video games. Seems happier, but it's only been a day or two."

Wonderful homeschooling leader-mom says he needs time to decompress. To expand. To get back to his original size. To get back to size regular. Size normal. Behavior normal.

Whatever that is for Jack, he needs to return to it, embrace it and, ultimately, be it. It will take time.

How much time? we ask.

She smiles and says, "One month for every year of traditional school."

Did you ever count the years a child spends in school?

For Jack: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and half of 6. Equals = Six and a half months.

That takes us from March to September.


Homeschooling, here we come.

Or is it: Homeschooling, here comes Jack.

Either way, it better be good. It better be GREAT!

It better be fun and something he likes. Something Jack loves.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The science project that broke the camel's back.

We pulled our 11 year old son out of school today.

No, not really. It was about two and a half months ago. Early March 2012.

But I'm just getting around to writing about it today.

Jack is/was in the sixth grade. The science project assignment was his third in three years. In the fourth grade I helped Jack. Fifth grade, mom did it all. This year I asked his teacher to excuse Jack from the project all together.

Email: Dear teacher, please excuse Jack from the science project. Thanks, Jack's dad.

A BIG meeting with mom, dad, teacher and principle ensued and resulted in: "Jack's teacher will help Jack do the science project." [Quick comment: No adult ever said, "Jack should do it all himself." I wonder about that. (Not really.)]

Anyway, Jack did minimal science project work at home. He and his teacher reported back to us that, indeed, teacher was helping Jack in the classroom. Jack turned in the project when it was due. What could go wrong? We were done.

A message from Jack's teacher showed up in mom's email the next day. [Point of information: Jack's finished work was a five minute video.] In the email was this message from his teacher: Hi, how are you? Everything is fine in the classroom. Jack is doing great. (My comment: Candy should be so sweet! But then...) And, oh, by the way, Jack has to be a person in his science project video. Could you just have him re-film the science project again? With himself in it?

That was in early March, this year. It was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I'll speak of earlier straws, other camels and related happenings in future blogs. But for now...

Do you want to listen in on a conversation between Jack's mom and dad that took place in mid-March, just a few days later?
OK, here's the setting: Jack is showing signs of life, and even happiness. You can hear him in the background.

Let's listen:
Jack's dad speaking to Jack's mom: "You know what?"
Jack's mom, answering:  "Yes. We should have pulled him out even sooner."

Homeschooling, unschooling... the early days.

To be continued...