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Home Schooling FAQs

by Brenna Lorenz

We home schooled Megaera, who is now attending Penn State University. This page is for people who are interested in the hows and whys of homeschooling.

Why did we decide to homeschool our daughter?

1) Megaera wanted to do it. 2) Megaera was willing to cooperate. 3) The schools on Guam aren't very good, and Megaera had bad experiences with both teachers and kids there. 4) We, the parents, enjoy spending time with Megaera. 5) We felt that we could give her a better education than she could receive at school and meet her needs better. 6) We didn't want her subjected to bullying, sexual harassment and drugs. 7) The schools here aren't set up to meet the needs of exceptionally bright children.

Why haven't we homeschooled our son?

1) Maybe we will someday, but right now he won't cooperate. 2) We found a good, small, Montessori-like school for him where bullying and other harmful behaviors aren't tolerated. 3) Right now, he doesn't want to do it, but he says that he might later.

Weren't you worried that she wouldn't develop appropriate social skills?

    It is a common misconception that schools promote healthy social skills. What children actually tend to learn in school is to knuckle under to peer pressure. They learn to be cliquish. They learn to bully. They learn to smoke, drink, have sex and indulge in illegal drugs. They become immersed in unsavory popular American culture. If picked on, they develop low self-esteem. They learn to conform and to value conformity over originality. Some children manage to resist all this, but why torture them? If they resist, they don't fit in.

Does she have any friends her own age?

She has friends of all ages. Megaera says, "If a person is nice, I like them no matter how old they are."

How did you find time to do it?

    Megaera did a lot of work on her own. She is an avid reader and writer. We created materials and worked more intensively with her in the evenings and on weekends. She also sat in on classes at the University from the time she was 8.

How much time per day should one expect the child to work?

    That depends on the child. Megaera worked a lot some days and very little on others. Her schedule was variable and planned day by day. At first she tended to concentrate on one subject at the expense of all others. But then she would turn her attention to other subjects later. It all worked out. Some children require a rigid schedule, but Megaera wouldn't put up with a rigid schedule. A parent has to be flexible and responsive to the needs and personality of the child.

What did we use for curricular materials?

    It is possible to purchase materials, but we developed our own. We emphasized reading and writing (composition and creative writing), arithmetic and word problems (we wrote these just for her), observation, problem solving and analysis, and classification skills. We played a lot of thought games (like 20 questions). When possible, we showed her real things (for example, real insects) rather than pictures of things or flashcards (pictures of insects).

    For example, I gave her a list of words containing short vowel sounds next to similar words with long vowel sounds, like:

cap     cape
rat      rate
can     cane
Sam    same

Then we instructed her to figure out the rule illustrated by these examples.

    Another example: She was asked to examine several different kinds of insects and describe what they all had in common. Then she was shown a spider and asked to explain why it didn't fit in with the insects.

    We spent a lot of time at the zoo analyzing why the camel had big feet, why the polar bear is white, and so on.

What about sports?

    Megaera detests sports, but she took swimming lessons. We also hiked a lot and did some snorkeling.

How does a home schooled child get a high school diploma?

    Megaera got her diploma through the Asmuyao School here on Guam, a bridge organization between homeschoolers and other "outcasts" and the public school system. They evaluated her portfolio, required her to write a term paper, and then awarded her the diploma based on her work.

Other home schooled kids graduate through homeschooling organizations or take the GED.

Don't homeschooled kids have trouble when they get to college?

    Maybe, but this problem can be circumvented by having the child sit in on college classes and gradually learn college skills. At first, Megaera just sat in class and listened and asked questions. Eventually she learned to take notes. Then she started doing assignments and taking tests. By the time she actually enrolled in college, she was already far better versed in college skills than her classmates. Learn more about this here.

Published 10/17/98
Updated 3/10/01

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