Here at Home Education Council of America, we are getting a flood of emails this past week (May 2016) from people wanting to know about homeschooling, how it's done, how to start, how to balance multiple children, how to homeschool a special needs child, and many additional questions. Of course we can answer all of these questions, but this post is to address the current storm.
Most of the emails (over a thousand emails over the weekend) are from people saying they are removing their children from school because of the recent edict laid down by the POTUS. Now, I've been asked to weigh in on this, and have been hesitating because the reasons people choose to homeschool are usually not one issue, but many compounded issues and they vary based on personal conviction and belief. This is why I really don't feel that my personal opinion about what the POTUS just did, or what schools choose to do in response, is really going to help homeschoolers. Actually this latest reason people are giving me I might refer to as the "eye of the storm", because although the storm has been brewing for some time, things are now clearly moving to another level. The storm isn't necessarily what the POTUS just did, or what schools are doing, but rather the choices that parents are faced with.
Parents have known for years that public schools are failing, but it happened over decades of time - a little here, a little there. While we have several million homeschoolers in the United States who recognized problems and acted over the years, overall it has been easier for most parents to adapt than to take on the monumental task of moving their children out of the failed system. However this last whirlwind, the "eye of the storm" if you will, has clearly opened up the possibility of homeschooling to their minds, and probably sparked many other possibilities to alternatively educate children. Clearly this storm needs to be addressed, because I'm getting emails with all the questions.
It isn't that parents didn't know that schools were unsafe and academically unsound, I will reiterate that they merely adapted because it was either easier or they held out on hope that things would get better. But this past week, many many parents are feeling the weight of the truth. They are realizing that they have been in a storm, that things are not going to get better, and they are seeking relief. The "storm" is the decisions they have to make.
So as a prepper by nature, I'm always ready to help address the homeschooling concerns - I just can't do anything about the storm itself (other than continue to vote for people who align with my beliefs, just as any good citizen should do, no matter what your beliefs are). At HECOA we are not discrediting how big the storm is or was, were are just more focused on resolving the problems we can fix. My first thought after reading hundreds of emails this morning was - let's get people to the relief they need!
When people live through a terrible storm, they are disoriented, they don't know where to start or what to do next, they only know that the way of life they knew is gone. After a terrible storm, you will see pictures and videos on the news and all over the internet of people standing in the middle of rubble which used to be their home and looking around - still in shock. They need someone to help them figure out what to do next. Many volunteers and organizations will come in to an area after a storm and help orient the victims toward food, water, shelter, and relief to rebuild. So the task at hand at our organization, Home Education Council of America, is to help clean up after the storm and help people to restart their lives.
Homeschooling is no simple endeavor to undertake (well logistically it can be fairly simple, but mentally it is not easy) especially if the only thing you know is the public school model, and the only homeschoolers you have ever met were "weird". Society has stereotyped homeschoolers unfairly in that sense. I know, I have been leading and guiding thousands of homeschoolers every year for nearly 13 years, and I frequently give a keynote presentation about socialization.
Another concept which relief staff need to be trained in, is how to assess immediate needs and to simplify the process of providing relief. Making people wait in long lines just to find out they are in the wrong place is only going to add to their exhaustion (remember Katrina?) We can liken that to getting started with homeschooling. Quite often people start off in the wrong places for help. They go straight to curriculum and end up exhausted and feeling like a failure in a very short time because they set up a system in their home which models the very same failed system they just left behind. I'm not saying, "don't use curriculum". What I'm saying is that we need to start new homeschoolers off with setting foundations in the home first, with solid principles and goals, this is the "food and shelter" of homeschooling. Then we start rebuilding one step at a time.
This might frighten people who will ask - will my kids be behind if we start over? The first thing that I tell any new parent homeschooling is to ditch the grade levels - particularly if they are homeschooling multiple children at different levels, or if they are homeschooling a special needs child. Grade levels are going to only make things more frustrating. Without grade levels, you are never behind, but instead are focused on mastery, a much more advanced approach. Ironically, teaching mastery helps kids who were already behind to move forward at a faster pace. We talk about teaching mastery in math and language arts HERE.
Finally, parents with children in high school are often terrified and feel inadequate to prepare their children for college and beyond. I promise you - homeschoolers can go to college! Not only can they go to college, they can take early college if they want to and can take the ACT and SAT exams, and they don't have to take the GED. We actually have a course, "Homeschooling High School and Beyond", which is 16 hours of training for parents who need to understand all the logistics of high school. It includes exclusive training on "Skipping Middle School", a critical piece of information which will change the perspective on what education should look like.
In addition to the links above, we offer 3 online video conferences with dozens of hours of live video streams from a panel of more than 60 powerful mentors throughout the year. The live streams are always free and we do offer complimentary viewing of select videos throughout the year on our Featured Training page. For someone who wants immediate access to over 250 webinars, our Plus membership is available as an upgrade option.
If you have received relief at HECOA, won't you please share this post with others? Comment below the post, let us know how we have helped and how we can continue to help. Let's get in there together and help people to rebuild education in a better way.