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Posts Tagged ‘Homeschooling’

Why the Covid Shutdowns of Public Schools Are Driving So Many to Homeschooling | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on January 19, 2021

The public school system was established less than two hundred years ago, and over the last hundred years, the state has increasingly inserted itself into the realm of raising children. States do not generate anything, merely redistribute it; and when they began to offer “free” childcare and education it came at the price of buying into a system increasingly difficult to opt out of.

Joanna Miller

The American public school system fell apart this year. The overwhelming majority of American parents found themselves remote schooling from home. No consensus exists on whether or not schools should reopen, or whether they should reopen only after everyone attending gets vaccinated. Because teachers still get paid no matter what happens, anger and vitriol between parents, teachers, and other parents has increased to a point where the social fabric children lived in a year ago is ripping apart. 

A Broken Model

We can only solve these problems by returning to a true marketplace for schooling. We need to admit that the public school system model has failed. It only marginally worked under the assumption that enough parents worked the same hours and paid enough money in property taxes to keep the system up and running. However, without a societal norm in terms of who can work from home, who needs to work on-site and therefore needs in-person childcare, and who even has a job, only a relatively free market can possibly match the many different needs parents have right now.

The public school system was established less than two hundred years ago, and over the last hundred years, the state has increasingly inserted itself into the realm of raising children. States do not generate anything, merely redistribute it; and when they began to offer “free” childcare and education it came at the price of buying into a system increasingly difficult to opt out of. 

Nationally, the United States spends an average of about $12,000 per year per student in the K–12 public school system.  The average tuition for private schools nationwide is also about $12,000. Meanwhile, the parents who choose to pay for private schools pay twice. They pay tuition for their own children to attend the schools of their choice, and then they pay taxes for everyone else’s children to be educated as well. 

Many people cannot afford this, so without a functional public school system, where does this leave them? 

Public Schools Are AWOL, So Many Must Turn to Homeschooling

Homeschooling needs to be presented as a viable alternative for low-income families. I am currently in my ninth year of homeschooling. I spend between $500 and $700 a year on materials for three children. Of course, I have lost a lot of income by leaving my job in order to homeschool. When I quit my job to care for my children full time, I had been making about $40,000 a year. So, one could say it costs me approximately $16,700 a year in lost wages, per child, to homeschool.

However, it gets more complicated than that. I do not have to buy work clothes. I do not commute. My kids can wear thrift store clothes. I spend a fraction of what my former coworkers do on food, because I can cook from scratch. When my children were little, I had no time for anything besides childcare; now that they are older, we have a little hobby farm which produces much of the food we eat, as well as providing entertainment. Homeschooling can make it easier for parents to work part time. If I need to do school later in the day to take a lamb to a processing plant, or squeeze in our schoolwork earlier so my children and I can process chickens in the afternoon, I can do that.

Household finances consist of ins and outs. When you choose to homeschool, you may bring in far less in terms of lost wages, but you will also send far less out the door in expenses. If your wages have gone to zero due to lockdowns—and resulting involuntary job loss—then it costs you nothing in terms of lost wages to homeschool. 

Women Are Heavily Impacted by Lockdowns

Millions of people lost income in 2020. There were 2.2 million fewer women in the workforce in October 2020 than in October 2019. Much of this has to do with the nature of jobs crushed by the covid-19 response. Women tend to work more in service positions. For example, in restaurants, as of 2017, while 52 percent of restaurant employees overall were women, 71 percent of the servers were women. Servers are some of the first people let go when restaurants have to shift to curbside pickup and takeout. Many of these jobs may not come back.

In our chaotic political environment it’s hard to predict which businesses will be allowed to bounce back and which will not. In addition to market uncertainty, there is also uncertainty over whether or not school will even be open for children who have not received the experimental covid vaccine. This would necessarily exclude many children whose parents are understandably not convinced of the vaccine’s safety.

The only certainty is that children grow up regardless of whether or not their parents have a plan. Homeschooling allows parents to exert control over the family’s schedule, finances, and medical decisions. 

The American government grew dramatically in 2020. The Biden/Harris administration has never feigned interest in shrinking the size of the government; we can probably assume most of last year’s destruction of small business will continue. With the destruction of small business, so goes much of the control individuals have over how they bring money into the household. However, we can still control what goes out, and choosing to homeschool can help families save money and provide children an education that aligns with their values. More importantly, it sends the message to government bureaucrats that we do not need them to raise our children. Author:

Joanna Miller

Joanna Miller writes from Colorado.

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Good News: Covid Is Driving More Parents to Homeschool | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 7, 2020

Perhaps what’s more important for Americans is to focus more of their time and energy on activities they can actually control, namely taking charge of children’s education and not handing them over to the state for roughly seven hours a day, or even ten hours a day, if Kamala Harris had her way.

José Niño

There might not be a lot to cheer about in 2020. With rioting, looting, and draconian lockdowns, America seems to be on the precipice of social unraveling thanks to misguided policy decisions and the culture of divisiveness fomented by political elites and the media class.

But in any moment of crisis, there are always new avenues for innovation that make people better off. Yes, private individuals can take advantage of precarious situations and turn them around for good purposes. Just look at homeschooling.

In a previous article, I noted that Americans should use the current lockdown mania to explore distinct educational options as opposed to clamoring for schools to be reopened. Americans might actually be getting the memo.

According to certain estimates from Gallup, the percentage of children participating in homeschooling is expected to double based on figures from 2019 to 2020. Further, public schooling has witnessed a concomitant drop in enrollment, with enrollment rates going from 83 percent in 2019 down to 76 percent in 2020.

Parents have every reason to pull their children out of public schools. These institutions are not exactly safe learning environments, nor are they run on a fiscally sound basis. A study from the Manhattan Institute found US per pupil spending has surged in the last fifty years, going from $4,720 in 1966 to $13,847 (in 2018 dollars) in 2016.

Private education is usually viewed as a luxury for the rich. While posh private options such as the Exeter Academy exist, many religious schools provide budget alternatives for families disenchanted with the current school system. The average Catholic school only charges about $8,000 per student, while private schools of other religious denominations charge roughly $10,000. Just like any service available in the private sector, there are diverse choices for families of all economic standings. The same cannot be said about one-size-fits-all public schools, which continue to have money thrown at them regardless of performance.

The education preferences of Americans vary from family to family. Not all parents will turn to private schooling, so many pursue the homeschooling route. Nevertheless, the reasons parents decide to exit the public school system tend to be similar irrespective of which alternative education model they choose. Some parents are sick of the political indoctrination their children receive at public schools. Others have become concerned about the viability of virtual education in addition to the uncertainty of school schedules. For many parents, jumping into the homeschooling realm seems like a risk, but it’s perhaps well worth it after weighing other options.

While the chaotic nature of the current lockdowns and the social unrest across the nation will make many Americans shudder, trying times are when entrepreneurs begin to shine. We must remember that nothing in our world is static. No matter the obstacles that the government and other institutions place in front of us, history has repeatedly shown that enterprising individuals find ways to satisfy the desires of the masses and improve their living standards. Change is the natural order, and the state does an excellent job of propping up moribund institutions that are in need of a facelift.

In one of his more underrated works, Bureaucracy, economist Ludwig von Mises acknowledged the inexorability of change and observed why it’s important for societies to embrace it if they desire to make economic progress:

The actual world is a world of permanent change. Population figures, tastes, and wants, the supply of factors of production and technological methods are in a ceaseless flux. In such a state of affairs there is need for a continuous adjustment of production to the change in conditions.

Public schools have functioned as taxpayer-subsidized daycares where parents can take the easy way and drop their kids off for eight hours a day to receive a subpar education. Nowadays, you can add in a large dose of cultural radicalism thanks to the introduction of the 1619 Project historical revisionism to numerous schools’ curricula. The public schooling skeptics, who have insisted for years that public schools serve as indoctrination centers, don’t look so crazy once people become aware of how ensconced political correctness is in schools. Handing young people over to the state was always a risky proposition. Countless families are starting to see firsthand how far the radicalization rabbit hole has gone. A good portion likely doesn’t want to take the risk of having their children completely brainwashed and will pull them out of modern-day indoctrination centers. Better to do so late than never.

A pivot to nonstate education is not a radical concept by any stretch of the imagination. There are strong residual instincts for alternative education methods among Americans. It’s usually forgotten that compulsory public education has not always dominated American education. Private schooling, homeschooling, and localized forms of public education have been used by Americans throughout their history. It wasn’t until mass public education entered the picture during the Progressive Era—the very period that gave birth to the administrative state—that mass compulsory education began its viral spread nationwide.

The current pandemic environment has opened up new approaches to schooling such as co-ops, learning pods, and unschooling. Despite what critics say, homeschooling is not as uniform as advertised. Parents have lots of choices at their disposal during a time when public schooling is becoming exceedingly cumbersome (as if it weren’t so in the first place).

There is reason to believe the recent wave of first-time homeschoolers may not be a temporary development but rather a budding sign of an educational realignment that is unfolding before our very eyes. The path toward any semblance of economic sanity or limited government is not going to be linear, frankly. When we look at the way markets work, it involves humans recognizing problems and muddling through with solutions that satisfy people’s desires. Oftentimes it takes external shocks to the system to effect change.

Given how the modern-day administrative state has rendered most political elections nothing more than political theater, the very act of exiting the public school system is a much more decisive expression of political action. Forget casting ballots—which will usually ends up favoring candidates who do nothing of substance to roll back public administration—the fact that more Americans are looking for other education options could yield much larger profreedom results than conventional politics.

It’s still up in the air whether Americans will completely follow through with their public school exodus. But if there’s a high-yield form of political activity that can be undertaken now, it’s getting children out of the public education system altogether. Doing so is a much more effective way of bringing about political change than punching a ballot every four years in what’s constantly marketed “as the most important election of our lifetime.”

Perhaps what’s more important for Americans is to focus more of their time and energy on activities they can actually control, namely taking charge of children’s education and not handing them over to the state for roughly seven hours a day, or even ten hours a day, if Kamala Harris had her way. Much more could be achieved by giving public education the cold shoulder than by putting all the eggs in the electoral politics basket. Author:

Contact José Niño

José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook or Twitter. Get his premium newsletter here.

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5 Things I Learned Debating the Harvard Prof Who Called for a ‘Presumptive Ban’ on Homeschooling | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 28, 2020

by | Jun 21, 2020


It’s not just about homeschooling.

On Monday, I debated the Harvard professor who proposes a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling. Thousands of viewers tuned in to watch the live, online discussion hosted by the Cato Institute. With 1,000 submitted audience questions, the 90-minute webinar only scratched the surface of the issue about who is presumed to know what is best for children: parents or the state. Here is the replay link in case you missed it.

Last week, I outlined much of my argument against Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet that I incorporated into our debate, but here are five takeaways from Monday’s discussion:

While this event was framed as a discussion about homeschooling, including whether and how to regulate the practice, it is clear that homeschooling is just a strawman. The real issue focuses on the role of government in people’s lives, and in particular in the lives of families and children. In her 80-page Arizona Law Review article that sparked this controversy, Professor Bartholet makes it clear that she is seeking a reinterpretation of the US Constitution, which she calls “outdated and inadequate,” to move from its existing focus on negative rights, or individuals being free from state intervention, to positive rights where the state takes a much more active role in citizens’ lives.

During Monday’s discussion, Professor Bartholet explained that “some parents can’t be trusted to not abuse and neglect their children,” and that is why “kids are going to be way better off if both parent and state are involved.” She said her argument focuses on “the state having the right to assert the rights of the child to both education and protection.” Finally, Professor Bartholet said that it’s important to “have the state have some say in protecting children and in trying to raise them so that the children have a decent chance at a future and also are likely to participate in some positive, meaningful ways in the larger society.”

It’s true that the state has a role in protecting children from harm, but does it really have a role in “trying to raise them”? And if the state does have a role in raising children to be competent adults, then the fact that two-thirds of US schoolchildren are not reading proficiently, and more than three-quarters are not proficient in civics, should cause us to be skeptical about the state’s ability to ensure competence.

I made the point on Monday that we already have an established government system to protect children from abuse and neglect. The mission of Child Protective Services (CPS) is to investigate suspected child abuse and punish perpetrators. CPS is plagued with problems and must be dramatically reformed, but the key is to improve the current government system meant to protect children rather than singling out homeschoolers for additional regulation and government oversight. This is particularly true when there is no compelling evidence that homeschooling parents are more likely to abuse their children than non-homeschooling parents, and some research to suggest that homeschooling parents are actually less likely to abuse their children.

Additionally, and perhaps most disturbingly, this argument for more state involvement in the lives of homeschoolers ignores the fact that children are routinely abused in government schools by government educators, as well as by school peers. If the government can’t even protect children enrolled in its own heavily regulated and surveilled schools, then how can it possibly argue for the right to regulate and monitor those families who opt out?

Of all the recommendations included in the Harvard professor’s proposed presumptive ban on homeschooling, the one that caused the most uproar among both homeschoolers and libertarians was the call for regular home visits of homeschooling families, with no evidence of wrongdoing.

In my remarks during Monday’s debate, I included a quote from a Hispanic homeschooling mother in Connecticut who was particularly angry and concerned about imposing home visits on homeschooling families. (According to federal data, Hispanics make up about one-quarter of the overall US homeschooling population, mirroring their representation in the general US K-12 school-age population.) She made the important point that minority families are increasingly choosing homeschooling to escape discrimination and an inadequate academic environment in local schools. She also pointed out that, tragically, it is often minorities who are most seriously impacted by these seemingly well-meaning government regulations. Writing to me about Professor Bartholet’s recommendation, she said:

“To state that they want to have surveillance into our homes by having government officials visit, and have parents show proof of their qualified experience to be a parent to their own child is yet another way for local and federal government to do what they have done to native Americans, blacks, the Japanese, Hispanics, etc in the past. Her proposal would once again interfere and hinder a certain population from progressing forward.”

Anyone who cares about liberty and a restrained government should be deeply troubled by the idea of periodic home visits by government agents on law-abiding citizens.

Despite the landmark 1925 US Supreme Court decision that ruled it unconstitutional to ban private schools, there remains lingering support for limiting or abolishing private education and forcing all children to attend government schools. Homeschooling is just one form of private education.

In her law review article, Professor Bartholet recommends “private school reform,” suggesting that private schools may have similar issues to homeschooling but saying that this topic is “beyond the scope” of her article. Still, she concludes her article by stating that “to the degree public schools are seriously deficient, our society should work on improving them, rather than simply allowing some parents to escape.”

The government should work to improve its own schools, where academic deficiencies and abuse are pervasive. But it should have no role in deciding whether or not parents are allowed to escape.

Some advocates of homeschooling regulation suggest that requiring regular standardized testing of homeschoolers would be a reasonable compromise. In her law review article, Professor Bartholet recommends: “Testing of homeschoolers on a regular basis, at least annually, to assess educational progress, with tests selected and administered by public school authorities; permission to continue homeschooling conditioned on adequate performance, with low scores triggering an order to enroll in school.”

During Monday’s debate, I asked the question: By whose standard are we judging homeschoolers’ academic performance? Is it by the standard of the government schools, where so many children are failing to meet the very academic standards the government has created? I pointed out that many parents choose homeschooling because they disapprove of the standards set by government schools. For example, in recent years schools have pushed literacy expectations to younger and younger children, with kindergarteners now being required to read. If they fail to meet this arbitrary standard, many children are labeled with a reading deficiency when it could just be that they are not yet developmentally ready to read.

Indeed, as The New York Times reported in 2015: “Once mainly concentrated among religious families as well as parents who wanted to release their children from the strictures of traditional classrooms, home schooling is now attracting parents who want to escape the testing and curriculums that have come along with the Common Core, new academic standards that have been adopted by more than 40 states.”

A key benefit of homeschooling is avoiding standardization in learning and allowing for a much more individualized education. And it seems to be working. Most of the research on homeschooling families conducted over the past several decades, including a recent literature review by Dr. Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation, finds positive academic outcomes of homeschooling children.

There are very few movements today that bring together such a diverse group of people as homeschooling does. Families of all political persuasions, from all corners of the country, reflecting many different races, ethnicities, classes, cultures, values, and ideologies, and representing a multitude of different learning philosophies and approaches choose homeschooling for the educational freedom and flexibility it provides. Homeschoolers may not agree on much, but preserving the freedom to raise and educate their children as they choose is a unifying priority. In times of division, homeschoolers offer hope and optimism that liberty will prevail.

Reprinted from FEE.

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Thanks to Shutdowns, Many Will Learn That Public Schooling Isn’t All That Essential After All | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on May 20, 2020

When people start experimenting outside educational norms, ivory-tower elites feel almost obliged to nudge their disobedient subjects back to the government schooling plantation. Harvard Magazine had to make sure that the rubes did not stumble upon the benefits of homeschooling by publishing a piece skeptical of the practice. The article put particular emphasis on Elizabeth Bartholet’s perspective, the faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, and her call for “a presumptive ban on the practice” in the Arizona Law Review.

While some of America’s most demagogic politicians try to exploit the COVID-19 outbreak, some Americans are trying to make the most of their de facto state of house arrest.

Government-imposed lockdowns have resulted in the shutdown of a number of schools across the nation. During this period some schools have gone online, while others have closed up indefinitely. Society is conditioned to believe that children cannot possibly be able to receive an education under such circumstances. After all, education can only take place in a classroom, at least in the social planners’ view.

However, some families are daring to do the unthinkable by experimenting with homeschooling. Counter to the opportunistic political class, which views every crisis as a moment to undermine people’s liberties, a number of homeschooling proponents have flipped the script to promote homeschooling. What better time to do so, when most families are stuck at home and don’t even know when schools will open up again.

Even in times of uncertainty, people have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to experiment and try different methods without the tutelage of central planners. Unfortunately, we live in a political culture in which voluntary alternatives to state-dominated institutions never show up on the chattering class’s radar. Public education happens to be one of the rituals in the American civic religion that one dares not question lest one is burned at the stake of public opinion.

When people start experimenting outside educational norms, ivory-tower elites feel almost obliged to nudge their disobedient subjects back to the government schooling plantation. Harvard Magazine had to make sure that the rubes did not stumble upon the benefits of homeschooling by publishing a piece skeptical of the practice. The article put particular emphasis on Elizabeth Bartholet’s perspective, the faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, and her call for “a presumptive ban on the practice” in the Arizona Law Review. Bartholet invoked some of the most egregious forms of newspeak by suggesting that homeschooling is “essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18.” In her ever so enlightened view, the very thought of homeschooling is “dangerous.”

There’s a lot to break down in Bartholet’s antihomeschooling screed, but let’s focus on her assertion that homeschooling is “authoritarian.” This notion is risible. Such claims don’t even pass a laugh test when considering that the majority of the curriculum in contemporary public schools puts forward progovernment narratives when it comes to taxation, social welfare programs, war, and every other pillar of the modern-day managerial state. Parents voluntarily making educational arrangements in their children’s best interests is the polar opposite of authoritarianism, unless the definition of the word changed in our sleep.

Also, what does Bartholet have to say about the current public education system taking children away from their parents and subjecting them to more than fifteen thousand hours of school time over their K–12 careers? Some politicians don’t even think this amount of time locked up in school is enough. For example, California senator Kamala Harris proposed extending the school day to ten hours. Curious minds would like to know what Bartholet thinks about Harris’s idea. I, for one, would not hold my breath at this point. For the high priests of public education, more time interacting with the state represents virtuous behavior, whereas unplugging from the public education grid is tantamount to heresy in the managerial priesthood’s view.

Academics such as Bartholet should spare us the sanctimonious hand wringing over the dangers of homeschooling. Bartholet is concerned that homeschooling is an impediment to a child’s right to a “meaningful education” and their right to “be protected from potential child abuse.”

Education reformer John Taylor Gatto has demonstrated in his life’s work that public schooling is anything but education. In fact, he has a book titled Weapons of Mass Instruction in which he eloquently makes the case that public schooling is designed to create malleable cogs in the machine and discourage any form of independent thinking.

As far as child abuse goes, I’d invite Bartholet to take a look at what’s taking place in America’s allegedly “safe” government schools. During the 2017–18 school year, approximately 962,300 violent incidents took place across the nation according to a study from the Institute of Education Studies. In this report, violent incidents consist of rape, other forms of sexual assault, robbery, physical attacks, and threats of physical attack.

Similarly, the Associated Press found approximately seventeen thousand cases of sexual assault committed by students from 2011–15. Moreover, the number observed in that period does not portray the full extent of the problem, because a significant number of sexual assaults are unreported. For example, some states don’t even track the stats, and those that do record have different standards for how they categorize sexual violence.

Although public schools may be “safe spaces” for politically correct curricula, they do not guarantee safe environments for students’ physical and mental health. According to a study from the US Department of Health and Human Services, 49 percent of school children in grades 4–12 reported being subjected to bullying by other students on a monthly basis, while 30.8 percent reported that they themselves engaged in bullying. How’s that for constructive socialization?

Allow me to come down somewhere in the middle: some children will require traditional schooling models, albeit in a privatized setting. On the other hand, other students will thrive in homeschooling environments. Markets serve to satisfy the demands of diverse sets of consumers, not the political desires of central planners. For the political left, who claim to be “pro-choice” and “diverse,” they sure love sticking to one-dimensional models for education. The idea of nonstate education is not a radical proposition.

Throughout American history, countless Americans have built parallel educational institutions without the central direction of the state. Americans have always found ways to get around government-imposed obstacles and will continue to do so despite the draconian measures that state governments have taken during the current pandemic.

American homeschooling has increased considerably in the last two decades despite the government barriers in place and the social pressure that naysayers exert to make sure America’s youth don’t veer away from the government schooling conveyor belt. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of homeschooled students doubled from 850,000 in 1999 to 1,800,000 in 2012. Such numbers will likely grow as more families begin experimenting with education at home.

I tip my hat to the homeschoolers. They’re the ones who are engaging in revolutionary acts by categorically rejecting the public school industrial complex. Hopefully, more Americans learn about the benefits of homeschooling while government shutdowns continue and millions of Americans are kept under house arrest. As for Bartholet, she can continue decrying homeschooling all she wants. The good news is that markets don’t care about the opinions of ivory-tower elites. Regular people are the ones in charge, and they determine how services will be provided. As long as Bartholet’s idea of homeschooling prohibition does not become a political reality, she can continue yammering on about the supposed authoritarianism of homeschooling in the confines of her Ivy League pedestal for all I care.

Millions of homeschoolers and other Americans who opt for nonstate education programs will go on with their lives without having to worry about what some Harvard elite has to say about their educational choices. Once the pandemic subsides, we should start focusing more of our time on a different public health problem. That is government schooling. I’ll gladly support a permanent lockdown of government schools; that way, we can prevent the statist mind virus from spreading even further.

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Now Is the Time for All Good Parents To Come to the Aid of Their Children – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on May 13, 2020

Happy schooling! You all can do it. Just pause, think, and plan a bit.


Now that parents with school age children are homeschooling–whether they want to or not—I would like to offer some ideas towards teaching important educational skills at home.  There is so much that parents can accomplish while families are in these unique “lock down” situations.

You all are very lucky.  I hope that you understand that.  You may never again have such an opportunity to teach your own children; to influence your children.  You may never again have these chances to correct mistakes the schools have made; to fill any gaps that schools have left.

Recently, a young mother expressed her pleasure at having this time with her children.  “I absolutely LOVE my time teaching my children.  This week, we cleaned up their problems with telling time, and with making change.”    Right!  This is a time when you can focus on things that your children are missing in school.

Multiplication:  Your child may be like thousands of others who are taught to “memorize the multiplication facts” without having been taught the rationale and thinking processes behind multiplication.  Such narrow instruction limits the flexibility of the brain for future problem solving.  Here are things that I do when I teach, or remediate, multiplication skills:

1)  Cut the cover off an empty carton of eggs.  Instantly you have a great tool with which to teach multiplication up through “twelve-sies”.  Add a pile of dry beans, or buttons, or whatever small things you have.  A really fun aspect of this type of teaching is that school children of all ages can be part of learning the concept of multiplication.

Present a problem: 2 x 4 =__.    Be theatrical as you place 4 beans in one cup; then 4 beans in another cup.  Ask “How many times did I put beans in a cup?  2 times.  How many beans did I put in each cup?  4.  So 4 beans in each of 2 cups is how many beans?  Count them.  8.  Let’s write the problem:  2 x 4 = 8.  Have each child do as many multiplication problems –thinking and counting the cups and beans– as needed for full comprehension.  Let children use the cups and beans until they no longer need to use the cups and beans.

2) After the children understand the concept and logic of multiplication, have them work on memorizing the “facts”.  Allow them to use the egg carton if they need it.

3)  Once a child has worked his or her way to and through 12 x _?_, have the child make their own multiplication chart for reference until all facts have been memorized.

4)  If a child is finding it difficult to memorize, add singsong or rhythm activities.  You can even have a child move or dance.  Have practice sessions which use all senses to practice the facts:  hearing, speech, movement, touch.  When I taught at a de facto segregated school in Alabama, I had the children speak and dance while adding extra stress to each answer:  “4 x 5 is 20. Uh!  4 x 6 is 24. Oh!” and other similar noises, utterances, or rhythms.

Common Sense and Cause and Effect:   My father used to describe some children and adults as being “unable to think their way out of a paper bag.”  This would apply to individuals of all ages who have never been taught to think!

1)  Always be ready to ask questions which will get children thinking about reasons.  These are discussions which can even be done during times like car trips or waits at a doctor’s office.  Some examples:

Why do we use salt and pepper?
Why do we cut the grass?
Why does a car have windshield wipers?
Why do we need traffic signals?
Why do we put groceries in a sack?
Why do we measure things?
Why do nurses wear uniforms?
Why do children have recess?
Why do we take vacations?
Why do streets have names?

2)  Negative questions:

Why don’t your fingernails bleed when mom cuts them?
Why don’t we carry water in a basket?
Why doesn’t a doll need new shoes as often as you do?
Why can’t we pound a pin with a hammer?
Why don’t pajamas have more pockets than blue jeans?
Why wouldn’t you play catch with an egg?
Why don’t we see smoke coming from a chimney in the summertime?
Why can’t we use a calendar that is a year old?

3)  Cause and effect; Predicting

What will happen in you leave the door open in the wintertime?
What will happen if you wear a pair of pants that are too big?
What will happen if you plant flower seeds then never water them? What will happen if you make lemonade without sugar?
What will happen if your dog fights with a skunk?
What will happen if you leave the milk out on the counter all day?
What will happen if you pick up the wrong lunchbox at school?
What will happen if all the water dries up in a river?
What will happen if you put a wet glass on a wooden table?
What will happen if you stay outside all day in the hot sun?

4)  Learning to explain something in a sequence is important:

Tell me how to get a ball off the roof.
Tell me how to decorate a Christmas tree.
Tell me how to wrap a gift.
Tell me how to clean your room.
Tell me how to get ready for bed.
Tell me how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.
Tell me how to find a word in the dictionary.
Tell me how your day at school is organized.
Tell me how to make a pizza.
Tell me how to save a person from drowning.

All too often adults believe that children automatically develop common sense; instinctively anticipate what effect follows which action; understand the meaning behind all the words that we use: understand the use for supposedly simple things.  A junior high student once “confessed” that although he saw the word “bleach” on jugs in his home, he really had no idea why it was used.  Do not assume that your children know simply because you do.  Check knowledge.  One of my school teachers used to write this on the board:  “to ass/u/me”   He explained that “to assume makes an ass out of you and me.”

Reading, Writing, Spelling:  My mother, who taught special education until she was 73 years old, strongly believed that “The only children who learn to read in today’s schools—learn in spite of the teaching and curriculum.”  I have to agree with her.

1)  Unless your child is attending a private school which teaches methodical phonics, which includes both the Simple and the Advanced phonograms for the Code in which English is written, you are probably noticing weakness in the child’s reading skills.

Order a set of Phonogram cards from and help your child get those memorized to automaticity.  The directions are on different colored cards in the front of the pack.  If a phonogram refers to more than one sound, it will be important that the child memorize all of the sounds in the order on the back of the card.  Example:  “ea” represents three sounds:  /ee/, /short e/, /long a/    (ee, e, ay)    Such learning trains the brain to instantly analyze a new word with that spelling.  If the brain sees the word ‘break’ it will think through the options like so:  “ ‘breek’  (no!), ‘breck’ (no!), ‘brake’.  Oh! ‘break’ with long a.”

2)  All children (and new readers of any age) need to read aloud until they do not need to read aloud any longer.  When we are learning to read, our attempt at finding meaning in a word is usually a 5-step process:  See the word “picnic”.  Voice the word “picnic”; Hear ourselves saying the word “picnic”.  Recognize that we have heard the word “picnic” before and actually do know the word.  Think “picnic” then proceed to the next word.     When we read out loud our brains learn to skip the three middle steps:  See the word “picnic.” Think “picnic.”    Proceed reading.

3)  It is more important to teach Spelling than it is to teach Reading.  When children learn to spell the phonograms, they are learning the rules and order in which words are usually put together.  The better they learn that process, the better readers they all will become; the better they will be able to approach a spelling word using logic.

4)  Read Aloud to Your Children!  Mom also said that, “The children who are read to become the readers; the children who are not read to become the non-readers.”  I asked her about the many people I knew who read well but had not been read to as children.  She explained,  “Yes, they may have learned to read BUT do they choose ‘reading’ as a way to entertain themselves?  Not often.  Children who are read to develop the ability to create mental pictures of what they hear and become good readers who will become lifelong readers.”  Too right!

For great ideas on what to read to your children at different ages, check out or purchase the book, The Read-Aloud Handbook,    by Jim Trelease.

For help in teaching yourselves the phonograms and rules of phonics, you can find it all in my book, Read Better! For Adults and Teens.

Happy schooling!  You all can do it.  Just pause, think, and plan a bit.

Be seeing you



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A Homeschooling Guide for Public Schoolers – The Organic Prepper

Posted by M. C. on March 27, 2020

by Kara Stiff

My heart goes out to all the parents who were never planning to homeschool, but nevertheless find themselves teaching their children at home today. I chose this beautiful, crazy life, and I completely understand why some people wouldn’t choose it. But here we are. We have to do what we have to do. You don’t want them to fall behind. You don’t want to lose your mind.

Believe it or not, it’s a golden opportunity.

Caveat: these are only my personal thoughts. I’m not a professional educator, just a parent successfully homeschooling.

This advice is only for people whose greatest hurdle right now is remaining sane with the little ones. This is a high bar to clear, to be sure, but some people are facing the little people plus big financial problems, they’re sick or working through mental health issues, or they’re managing other emergencies. In those cases, if you’re keeping everyone more or less fed and warm then you’re succeeding, and you don’t need me to tell you to forget the rest for as long as necessary.

For everyone else, I do have a little advice. I’m sure you’re getting support from your school district, which is excellent. Worrying about what to teach is often a new homeschooler’s first and biggest concern. But deciding what to teach is actually the easy part, and now it’s mom, dad, uncle or grandma doing the really hard part: actually sitting with the kid, helping/making him or her do the work.

First, I think you can safely let go of the worry that you may not be a good enough teacher because you’re a terrible speller, or you think you’re bad at math. It’s good to know these things about yourself so they can be addressed, but the truth is that how great you personally are at division isn’t necessarily a predictor of success. Neither is how well you explain things, or even how well you demonstrate looking things up, although that is a priceless skill to impart to inquiring minds. To my mind, the most important skill for successful homeschooling is:

Controlling your own frustration

We adults are fantastically knowledgeable and amazingly skilled. No, really, we are! So we forget how hard it is to do seemingly simple things for the first time. I remember sitting in my college biochemistry class, listening to the professor say:

“Come on you guys, this is easy!”

Folks, I’m here to tell you that biochemistry isn’t easy for most people who are new to it, especially people who just drug themselves out of bed five minutes ago, possibly with a touch of a hangover. And reading isn’t easy for a five-year-old, and multiplication isn’t easy for an eight-year-old.

The parent has to slow down, go through it again, redirect the child’s attention for the hundredth time and explain the material in a different way, preferably without pulling out their own hair. You can develop these skills. Even if you’re new to it, and you don’t find it easy.

When it just isn’t working, the parent has to know when to shift gears and let it rest. Preserving your relationship with the child is always very important, but it’s doubly so when you’re home with them all day every day.

I think I can safely say that all homeschool parents want to scream sometimes. Many of us have threatened to send our kids to public school at one point or another (or maybe once a week). It doesn’t make you a bad parent or even a bad teacher, it just makes you human. In the last week, I have seen a bunch of public school parents join my online homeschool groups, and the outpouring of sympathy, support and good ideas from homeschool parents makes me tear up. We’re here for you. Get in touch.

Run your day in a way that works for YOU

Just because they’re usually in school for six or eight hours a day doesn’t mean you have to school them for six or eight hours a day. That schedule is a crowd control measure instituted for the good of society, not for the good of children.

My children are homeschooled primarily because I think a kid should spend a lot of time outside moving around, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do that and public school. My own public school experience was pretty different from the norm today, with much less homework and much more self-direction, but still, I feel that I didn’t get enough practice directing my own attention. Research backs me up on this: kids who get many hours of freedom develop excellent executive function, which not only makes them a valuable employee but also helps them run their own life someday.

At my house, we do about an hour of formal school work per day, six or seven days a week. The rest of the time the kids help me with gardening and animal care, climb trees and play in the creek, draw and write and read things on their own or together, and make stuff out of Legos. They have an hour of screen time each afternoon just so they will sit down and be quiet, usually a documentary. David Attenborough is definitely this house’s biggest celebrity. We’re also accustomed to spending several days of the week with other homeschool families, although obviously that is curtailed now due to social distancing.

Learning doesn’t stop when we leave the table, because kids are unstoppable learning machines when they’re not too tired or stressed out. I’m always available to answer questions and help look stuff up, and the questions are pretty frequent. An adult reads to them (or they read to us) books of their choosing at bedtime, and sometimes just after dinner, too. It’s also a pretty common occurrence in my house for a child to see an adult reading a novel, a piece of nonfiction, or The Economist, and request to have it read aloud to them, which we do. They also sometimes watch me balance the household budget.

The schedule that works best for your family might look very different from ours, and that is good. Children are people. People have very different needs, and one of the charms of schooling at home is that you can arrange things in a pretty good compromise to meet everyone’s needs. An hour or two of focused one-on-two attention per day is plenty of time for my four- and seven-year-olds to get well ahead of grade level on reading, writing, and math.

Older kids obviously need more time to get through the volume of work they’re expected to do. They can also be more equal partners in directing the learning process, though. My high school placed great emphasis on self-directed learning, and some of the classes I got the most out of were the ones I designed for myself.

This might be a great opportunity for your older kid or teenager to quickly finish their spelling so they can finally study volcanoes in-depth like they’ve always wanted to do. Or maybe they want to rush through the math, so they can work on their comic book. If they have a passion for it I guarantee they’ll be learning something important, and now you have the freedom to let them explore it.

Can we just not?

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Mississippi Democrat introduces bill to force homeschoolers to use govt-approved courses | News | LifeSite

Posted by M. C. on February 17, 2020

While homeschool parents and non-public schools currently have considerable freedom to teach children under their care according to their values, Mississippi House Bill 188 would mandate that the same courses on Mississippi History and American Government currently taught in public schools would also be required of homeschool families, as well as private and parochial schools.

Mr. Hines appears to be missing the pint. But then we know his point, it is all about …

Martin M. Barillas By Martin M. Barillas

JACKSON, Mississippi, February 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A Mississippi Democrat introduced a bill in the state House that would force parents who homeschool their children to “provide the same curriculum” as government schools in Grades 9 through 12.

While homeschool parents and non-public schools currently have considerable freedom to teach children under their care according to their values, Mississippi House Bill 188 would mandate that the same courses on Mississippi History and American Government currently taught in public schools would also be required of homeschool families, as well as private and parochial schools.

Introduced by state Rep. John Hines Sr. (D), the bill proposes:

The Mississippi History course must provide students with an examination of the history of the State of Mississippi from the age of discovery and colonization to the present with particular emphasis on the significant political, social, economic and cultural issues of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which have impacted the diverse ethnic and racial populations of the state. All private, parochial and home-based school programs shall provide the same curriculum requirements to students enrolled in Grades 9 through 12.

According to the Mississippi Center for Public Policy (MCPP), if passed, the bill “would give the state authority to dictate what parents teach their children and how they teach it.” The pro-family, pro-life organization argued that homeschool parents have the right to educate their children. It said that homeschoolers “generally make that choice because they want to set the curriculum that’s appropriate for their children free of state mandates.”

“Whether or not homeschool families in Mississippi teach Mississippi history or government – and we know most do – that is the choice of the parents, not the state,” the group stated.

Mississippi has numerous private and parochial schools, many of which are sponsored by various churches and Christian communities.

In a conversation with LifeSiteNews, MCCP communications director Brett Kittredge said that the “freedom to teach children belongs to private schools that parents opted into and are paying to send their children there, and it belongs to the parents who have chosen to make the sacrifice to homeschool. They are the ones ultimately responsible for the education of their children.”

Even though the bill is ostensibly limited to mandating courses in Mississippi History and American Government, Kittredge argued that, nevertheless, it would involve the state “where it has no business being in homeschool and private school curriculums.” He said that the bill could start a trend.” Kittredge added that Mississippi has very good laws regarding educational freedom for private schools and homeschools. “This just pushes the state into private lives and private schools. We don’t like that and we think that it sends a bad message.”

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has also condemned the legislation and has formulated a petition for parents to send to Mississippi legislators.

HSLDA stated that while “homeschooling parents embrace teaching History and Government, this bill gives the state the authority to dictate curricular content, which undermines parents’ freedom to tailor their child’s educational program.” It is parents who have the “right and responsibility” to oversee the education of their children, and it is a right that is prior to a “governmental interest in promoting and requiring education.”

Declaring that compelling homeschoolers to educate their children according to government dictates is neither necessary or appropriate, HSLDA said: “The state ought not to compel homeschooling parents to teach specific course content developed by the state or teach subjects a certain way.”

Currently, the Mississippi House has a Republican majority. Past attempts in the legislature to mandate homeschool and private education have failed.

Be seeing you




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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Homeschooling Protects Children from Violence and Marxism

Posted by M. C. on June 5, 2018

For example, how many government schools teach the Austrian economics explanation for the Great Depression — much less question the wisdom of central banking — or critically examine the justifications for America’s hyper-interventionist foreign policy?

My government school would not touch Austrian economics nor interventionism with a ten foot barge pole. We did learn about the 200 mpg carburetor the oil companies were keeping secret.

I knew back then that if there really was a 200 mpg anything, Smokey Yunick would be using it.

written by ron paul

The February mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida prompted many parents to consider homeschooling. This is hardly surprising, as the misnamed federal “Gun-Free Schools” law leaves schoolchildren defenseless against mass shooters. Removing one’s children from government schools seems a rational response to school shootings…

The spread of cultural Marxism has contributed to the dumbing down of public education. Too many government schools are more concerned with promoting political correctness than ensuring that students receive a good education. Even if cultural Marxism did not dumb down education, concerns that government schools are indoctrinating children with beliefs that conflict with parents’ political, social, and even religious beliefs would motivate many families to homeschool. Read the rest of this entry »

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