Cake
  • Log In
  • Sign Up
    • I used to be a part of rather a niche group of parents, educating my own little slice of the ~3% of US students who homeschool.

      Now? The number is closer to 100% homeschoolers. Quite precipitously, parents by the tens of millions have been thrown into homeschooling their children.

      Weird became normal. Normal became weird.

      I've received exactly one question from a friend regarding how she might tackle a particular educational challenge with a child. From what I see on Facebook, many parents are being sent lots of assignments/suggestions from their children's teachers and just muddling through as best they can by cobbling together some of the free resources made recently available online. One poor friend was given an entire school day schedule from each child's teacher that she was expected to adhere to at home.

      There's been some discussion in the homeschool community about whether we'd see more people homeschool once they got a taste for it, but I see some major impediments to that:

      - Doing something by choice feels different. It allows for anticipation and planning. This sudden change is disorienting rather than exciting for most.

      - Trying to recreate school at home as some teachers are pushing for is doomed to fail. The HOME part of homeschool is essential and delightful. School can be shorter, sweeter, more tailored, and more comfortable, but not when you impose the timing and structure of a classroom.

      - Finding your groove with homeschooling takes time. While the days seem to stretch on for some parents right now (if memes are any indication), a few weeks or even months aren't likely sufficient to allow a family to relax into a new relationship and have confidence in the dividends of this method of education.

      If you recently found yourself one of the 100%, how are things looking at your house?

    • I wanted to share with readers and regulars a few resources on Cake for homeschooling

      1. An interview with @amacbean16 on homeschooling

      <><><>

      2. An interview with the editor of Playing with Math: Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and Passionate Teachers

      The book I put together, Playing with Math: Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and Passionate Teachers didn't fit in the usual categories. It’s math ed, but not classroom-oriented. It’s about math for kids, but written to the adults in their lives.

      <><><>

    • I don't have any experience with regards to homeschooling, but it's interesting to see just how much more parents appreciate the work that their kids' teachers do at school now that they are the ones responsible for the education of their children.

      I've seen a number of tweets like this. Hopefully teachers get the respect they deserve after this pandemic is over.

    • Thanks for starting this thread - I had been thinking of your successes as a Home School Teacher.


      We are lucky where we are: kids in this area were sent home with a Chromebook and each morning (as opposed to a ton of photocopies) they get daily tasks from the teachers as well as lessons online.


      Yesterday the “book club” even met online.

      The day has been shorter and so far successful. For that I am grateful.

      Technically, right now, they have one more week left online. I can’t see this happening , so I wonder what will happen more long term.

      If you have 3 things to suggest to help create a successful learning experience at home what would they be?

      Curious.

    • That sounds like your school has really gone above and beyond with the teacher figuring out the logistics of how to educate virtually. I'm glad it's been a smoother transition!

      I love your question.

      Your kids are currently doing school at home, which is working fine. Plenty of long-time homeschoolers use this approach as well. However, I think the lasting positive impact on our family from homeschooling will primarily come from two things: shared experiences and rich content. A third key to success for us is focusing on routine (rather than schedule.)

      To elaborate:

      - A shared experience is something where you are alongside your child, learning and enjoying with them. Our favorite vehicle for this is family read-alouds that make us think, laugh, cheer, and cry together. The vocabulary works its way into our family vernacular, and characters and lessons from the story become stepping stones for big conversations months later. Other shared experiences might be tackling interesting challenges together, freewriting together, or creating art together. Leveling the playing field is a powerful way to demonstrate what life-long learning looks like for our kids.

      - Rich content is sadly sometimes lacking from large school classrooms, perhaps because tastes among children differ, because their ability to appreciate beautiful things is often underestimated, or because wonder and an enlarged soul aren't things that can be measured on a standardized test and thus have had to take a backseat. My preschoolers memorize Shakespeare and love the way the words sound. My 7 year old boy can snuggle up and listen to poem after poem (silly ones, but also ones that move us both). We study art, nature and classical music, just because it's lovely. You can find curriculum that weaves in all these things, or if your curriculum is already a set thing, you can take 15-30 minutes a day and rotate through beautiful extras. This dovetails nicely with the idea of shared experience above, since all of these things can be appreciated just as well as an adult.

      - Routine, not schedule - We do math first thing after breakfast, but it isn't always the same time every day and the curriculum might vary. I always read books aloud at lunchtime, but sometimes that's just a few pages and sometimes it's much more. A routine allows for the consistency necessary to move the needle on education, while maintaining space for the flexibility that makes homeschool grand.

    • I love these ideas - especially the idea of “shared experience” and all that goes with it.


      I am going to think about possible (small) projects which will be fun!

      (Hopefully)

    • Spending 3 weeks with you and your 5 kids in Costa Rica was an amazing homeschooling adventure for me too. Count me as one of the skeptics when you first started homeschooling years ago, but to see how it actually works in practice was very eye-opening.

      One thing was reading Summer of the Monkeys out loud for them, a masterpiece of writing imo from Wilson Rawls, author of Where the Red Fern Grows. Your kids absorbed every little detail and had amazing insights into where they thought the story would go.

      Btw, I didn't know Disney made a movie of it.

      But what surprised me most was the kids' writing assignment from you to cover the Coronavirus outbreak... The way Caitlyn humanized the story by opening with the story of the Chinese doctor who blew the whistle and then died... You ought to post that story here, it's amazing. And so were the other kids' versions.

      Speaking of monkeys, actually spending a day in an animal preserve in Costa Rica, learning all about their care and feeding, and then actually preparing their food and feeding them is not something most school kids get.

    • Absolutely, although with caution. Many of the ideas for making sense of maths are likely to be new to parents (many of them are new to teachers!). But if parents adopt a "learning together" approach with their children when it comes to sense-making in maths, then these ideas can be as poweful as they are in the traditional classroom. I would say tread carefully, refer back often, and ask if unsure!

    • Since some people who teach children think that teaching Greek and possibly Latin are key to a good education, this gives me an excuse for a "Dad Joke."

      Let's be honest though, those of us who tell "Dad Jokes" will find an excuse even when one does not exist. 🤪

      So at the end of this post are two Greek words, but it is essential that one speaks English to understand the joke. I am linking each of the Greek words to a Wikipedia article which explains the real meaning of the word, but the humor is not based on what the words originally meant but how the words sound to a person who speaks English.

      The Joke:

      A greek mother said to her rambunctious son, when she gave him a new pair of pants, "Εὐριπίδης, Εὐμενίδες"

    • I think many families will find those books useful. Of course, the quality of homeschooling education may go down the longer schools remain closed.

    • I can see the potential for quality to go down but one thing I am noticing is the frustration of the kids. They are used to a more interactive learning experience specifically with their teacher and with each other. That is not happening. We had a lot more tears this week and I have changed up the day to have more breaks.

      @amacbean16 so ... when the kids have a "bad" learning day at home?

      We have our own book club started and that has been fun -- we picked a book that no one has read (Pages & co The Book wanderers) and that has been fun! Thanks for the make our own project idea.

    • "Bad learning day" can mean a lot of things, but usually assuming the basics are there (sleep, exercise, fresh air), I focus on reconnecting. Warming up hearts tends to open up minds.

      You mentioned they're "used to more interaction." Can you elaborate? Ages would be helpful as well as what you're asking them to do that they're struggling with.

      My 9 year old, for example, spends 20 minutes a day on math, and I try to make myself available for teaching or fielding questions during that time. We'll put on classical music, and everyone else does math at the same time (though at different levels).

    • I have no doubt that the whole Covid 19 plays a part in stress for all of us and that no matter how I explain it that worry happens. But I think what is missing for her is the whole class atmosphere where there is fun and games and the whole classroom. That interaction is missing at home.

      I have realized last week that I do need to be more available for certain times and certain parts of the day more. I do not necessarily need to sit beside but I need to be available for a question or 10!

      I used your difference of "home schooling" vs "being schooled at home" the other day ( I did cite you) and I do think it is an important distinction in all this!

    • Ah, ok. One of the biggest hurdles right now is that everyone who is homeschooling was thrown into it without desire or time to plan. The change was so abrupt that it added lots of stress, and most parents are trying to juggle work at the same time.


      A lot of the common advice for homeschooling just doesn’t apply because parents right now are doing something so much harder than homeschoolers ever have!

      I’m glad your daughter misses her classroom. It shows how positive her experience at school has been. ❤️

      Maybe brainstorm with her what some fun breaks could be in her day? Or what silver linings to this experience are? There are experiences unique to a classroom that she’s missing right now, but board games, fort-building, math under a tree, bug hunting, be your own DJ, cooking a fancy lunch, etc. are perks unique to homeschooling and might add some delight to this temporary situation.

    • This post was spot-on, I think, and really speaks to the new ground that’s being broken world-wide with education. It’s not truly homeschooling or distance learning. It’s something completely new, and we would do well to recognize that:

    • The Covid-19 pandemic changed my lifestyle for the better. Finally I don't need to drive 25 miles to the office every day (and 25 miles back), instead I can work from home. Technically, I always could, but the managers wanted to see people in the office. Now they not only allowed working from home, they requested everyone to do it.

      Being at home, I can better monitor what and how my son is learning. I have never been a huge fan of American public schools. Just think about it: thirteen years spent in a fenced compound not unlike a prison. Low ceilings, round-the-clock artificial lightning, windows permanently covered with "teaching material" to prevent distractions (what if kids see a bird or a cat outside, this can disrupt the "learning process" for a whole minute), horrible furniture with chairs permanently bolted to desks with the backs angled as if to intentionally cause permanent spine damage. Have I mentioned four-minute breaks? How one can move from one end of this compound to another in four minutes AND be able to visit a restroom? This is a place of torture, not nurture.

      And what do students learn during these thirteen years? It is considered completely normal to spend three years to learn how to read! Just think about it. Some states hold back third-graders from promotion if they cannot read, but this should not take this long! What this points to, is these schools still use inefficient method that teaches reading as if English were Chinese, and encourages guessing instead of teaching decoding techniques. English is not a 100% phonetic language, but it is about 80% phonetic, and this is large enough percentage for phonetic method to be successful. Luckily, when my son went to first grade, there were many Filipino, Thai, and other Asian kids in class who did not speak English, so the teacher had to fall back to phonics to efficiently teach English. It is appalling that phonics is used only as a the last ditch effort, but also confirms that it works.

      Because kids "learn" how to read for the first three years, they are missing a lot of other stuff. The whole school schedule is top-heavy, with anything of interest starting in high school, and even in this case it is not mandatory and very abridged. Do American public schools teach geography? Astronomy? Is foreign language mandatory? How long do physics, chemistry, biology, foreign language classes take? In many other countries subjects like algebra, geometry, physics are taught from middle school and take three, four, five years, not just one year. How much physics is covered in American high school course? Mostly mechanics and E&M. What about thermodynamics? What about optics? Nuclear physics? Do you know that in some districts about a third of high schools do not offer physics or chemistry at all?

      Because of ineffective method of teaching reading American kids get at most 8-9 years worth of knowledge compared to kids in other countries, unless they take honors and AP classes in high school. Is it a good system to basically slack for nine years only to jump into high gear for the last four years in a pathetic attempt to get something from the "free" school system?

      Thus, I was happy to stay at home myself and to have my son at home with me. He is in middle school now. I checked his math homework. Not in a single year did I see a math textbook provided to him, so I went out and bought a complete set of math textbooks from elementary to high school, physics textbook, chemistry textbook. He reads real literary books, not hollowed-out Scholastic ones. I do dictations with him. I do retellings, that is, he reads a book or an article or watches a video then writes about what he read or saw, adding his opinion on the topic. We do some poetry. Writing this I realize we need to do more.

      My son aces all the district's tests, being at least two years ahead, not because he is gifted or a genius, but because I work with him, I teach him at home, and have been doing it even before Covid-19 shutdown, I've been doing this since day one. One may wonder, why I have't switched to homeschooling. Well, I am disorganized, my son is disorganized. The military-like structure of public school has one positive aspect of keeping him in line, he respects his teachers and always completes homework, much less so when I give it to him. Forget all these fluffy words about caring and nurturing and bringing the best out of every student, this is just propaganda. Public school is like a military camp, and teachers have very specific commands that work with kids. You will never see these commands in any literature on pedagogy. I am not able to commandeer him like his teachers can, and I haven't tried to build a rigid schedule for him to follow, heck, I cannot even do one for myself.

      So, I've been enriching his school program with some of my own. If he were outdoorsy type, this would severely impact him, but he likes to stay at home, and — sadly — he does not have many friends, and no friends at all among the close neighbors. He says his schoolmates don't like to hang out with him because he is a geek and is too smart. Kind of gives a perspective, considering that he is not too smart, he is completely normal, from my point of view.

      All in all, the Covid-19 shutdown gave every parent an option to do proper schooling at home, to repair damage public school did to their children. It is sad that kids with disabilities can have individual learning plans, they can have some days at school and some days at home, but normal kids cannot have that. I will try setting one up the next year for my son. Also, there is an option of early graduation, three years of high school instead of four. I am going to look into that too.

    • Commute time can be rough! We moved so close to my husband's workplace that it takes him 5 minutes to get home, and sometimes that isn't long enough for him to process the emotions of his workday and prepare mentally to shift into husband and father roles. I think there may be a sweet spot for some people, though I'm sure there's a way to incorporate a practice with similar benefits even working from home.

      In terms of the schooling, I hadn't thought about how different science and math topics may be taught over more years in other countries. Interesting! We certainly don't teach reading as efficiently as we could, and I think there are at least three reasons why that's the case:
      1) We put all kids on the same timeline. Some kids aren't ready to read until 8 or even later, so having them shoulder to shoulder with 5 year olds who are ready to read causes slow downs and frustration for everyone.
      2) We don't inspire them with great stories first, so that they'll have a desire to read. So many of the easy readers today are inane (Dora the Explorer, I'm looking at you!). My kids take off early with reading because they are wanting more great stories.
      3) We don't teach them phonetically. They're guessing based on picture association and generally from a whole word approach. That's crippling them for spelling as well since they're so closely related.

      I wonder... what would you say the object of education is? It sounds as though you prize efficiency, and don't feel as though nurturing or relationship are very relevant. What would constitute or demonstrate a successful pre-college education in your opinion?

    • I don't mind nurturing, I am just saying that the school system is facetious by claiming it provides nurturing environment for students, while in reality it does not.

      Successful pre-college education... I don't know. More than is provided now in less time. How much more, what exactly it should include, well I sort of spelled out in my prior post.

      Other countries have national curricula for schools, have national tests/requirements for school graduation and for college enrollment, the U.S. does not. This leaves SAT/ACT as the only national equalizer and a yardstick, and now many colleges are dropping these tests from their enrollment requirements, so there is a very broad margin for interpretation of the quality of secondary education. As long as people think they are "successful" whatever that means, they are fine with what they get, even if they get very little.