Debunking Myths About Homeschooling

There is lots of misinformation about homeschooling. So today, I’m going to set the record strait by debunking myths about homeschooling.

Debunking myths about homeschooling

Second Generation Homeschoolers

I had the honor of being a product of both private school and homeschooling. I attended private school in my early elementary years and was homeschooled thereafter for a number of reasons.

These days, I homeschool my two boys. Well, my oldest. T is a tad too young for standard teaching yet, but in a year or so, we’ll start tot school. Whenever I share my love for homeschooling, I receive a range of reactions from fellow parents. It spans from concern, to disgust, to sheer puzzlement. Others love the idea, but you can see the concern on their face as they ask questions like, “won’t they miss having friends?” “How will you know if they are up to par with public school kids?” Lastly, I hear a common exasperation, “I don’t think I’d have the patience for it.”

Today, I’m sharing some common answers to tired, clichéd stereotypes and assumptions surrounding the homeschooling world. As a second generation homeschooler, I’m debunking myths about homeschooling.

Debunking Myths About Homeschooling

I’m Not Qualified or Smart Enough to Teach My Children

Yes, you are. Public school teachers have support and direction and so do homeschooling parents. In fact, in most large cities, there are homeschooling conferences for parents and their “professional development.” There is a huge selection of teach-led curriculum which offers plenty of explanation and instructions to properly teach it. In addition, there are support groups, both online and local, to learn from other parents.

I know this is controversial because we all love and appreciate teachers. However, being a teacher doesn’t mean you’re smart. Statistically, education majors (teachers) have some of the lowest SAT scores by intended major. If you look at the 2016 report from Collegeboard.org, it finds that out of the 38 intended majors, teachers are 26th on the spectrum. The only mean scores beneath them are careers that don’t require degrees like culinary professions, agriculture, construction, and security. Education majors score poorly on the SATs and those scores have been declining since the 1970’s. To put it bluntly, most teachers just aren’t impressive academically. So yes, be assured you’re likely as “smart” as the average teacher. Teachers are just average people who have big hearts for teaching children.

Teachers
Courtesy of Pexels

My Children Won’t Be Socialized

This is by far, the most ignorant, irritating thing someone can say to me. However, I do understand why someone would assume that. But if by “socialized” you mean bullying, drugs, underage sex, drinking, mass shootings, and suicide, then you can keep your public school “socialization.” My in-laws teach in a small town in Canton, Ohio. In one year alone, their small town school district experienced a cluster of six teenage suicides. Children consume candy laced with narcotics. Bullying (along with cyber bullying) is an everyday occurrence.

Many people believe homeschooling coops children up in a house all day. Homeschooled children have as much social interaction as any other kids. These days, there are so many social outlets for kids taught at home. There are co-op classes, play dates, field trips, church ministries, sports, band, science labs, summer camps, orchestra, debate, drama clubs, and other extra-curricular activities. The difference is that you can be selective with whom your child associates. In public school, you have no control of your child’s classmates.

Homeschooled Children Are Sheltered

This leads us to our next myth. When I’ve explained the previous reason, most people will then say I’m sheltering my children from the real world. Believe me, as a homeschooled child, I was anything but sheltered. Being taught by my parents helped me gain real life experience; things you don’t learn from a text book. I began working at thirteen, doing accounting for a small business. Also at thirteen, my poetry was published in a chapbook. By sixteen, I bought my own car (and paid for the insurance and gas myself). At seventeen, I was living in Europe alone training in art. By twenty, I was a curator at a gallery in England. Contrary to popular belief, parents don’t coddle their homeschooled children. Rather, they are quick to adopt self-sufficient behaviors.

Homeschooled children aren’t sheltered. They are rooted. Children are grounded by parents instead of being influenced by strangers and peers. You firmly established your children in your family’s values going out into the real world.

My Child Will Fall Behind Public School Kids

Part of homeschooling is doing away with the boundaries enforced by the standardization of public schooling. Your child will flourish beyond the boundaries of grade levels, which is a product of public school education. That’s because homeschooling is more mastery-focused than grade-focused. You move on when you master something, not when the school year is over.

When I entered college, I found it shocking how many young adults didn’t know basic geography. Shockingly, they couldn’t tell me why we entered World War I or with whom we fought. (Kaiser Wilhelm who?) Most had never read classic literature. In fact, most couldn’t even name the seven parts of speech. It was shocking. For all they are taught, few understand (or remember) the fundamentals.

My own mother-in-law said they no longer assign book reports in her 8th grade class because kids get the book synopsis online. A cashier clerk I met (earning her masters degree) couldn’t compose a letter or use a postage stamp. We have high school graduates who can’t read cursive. Also, in a recent study 32 million American adults are currently illiterate despite the last few generations having access to compulsory taxpayer-funded public school. Nineteen percent of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. Homeschoolers score 15-30% higher on standardized academic achievement tests.

public school

Homeschooling Is Expensive

I’ve also heard claims that homeschooling is for the rich and conversely that homeschooling is for the poor. It’s clear, many people just have no idea what homeschooling costs are. Parents choose how much or little they spend on curriculum. Homeschoolers spend an average of $600 per child annually. It is still much cheaper than charter or private schools. There are lots of options for used curriculum. If you have multiple children, you will most likely be using it more than once. Also, if your child is kindergarten or younger, there is a lot of free curriculum available. Many states even offer public school at home, online.

Homeschooled Children Are Abused

Give me a break. I’ve actually heard this more than once. There might be odd cases where unfit parents hide behind homeschooling to keep their children hidden and abused, but those are extremely rare cases. In most instances, the 2.3 million homeschoolers come from loving homes seeking the best for their children.

Homeschooling

I Can’t Work and Homeschool

Not true! I know a lot of homeschooling parents that work from home virtually and homeschool. In fact, I know a doctor who works part time at a clinic and homeschools her kids when she’s home from work. These days, there are lots of ways to do it. For example, depending on your state, you can even have someone else do it. For instance, in Texas, you can homeschool up to five children (yours or others) before the state requires you to have a day care certification. Some parents work different shifts so they can homeschool in shifts.

Also many parents work a 40-hour week and homeschool for 20 hours a week. Did I mention that schooling goes by a lot faster when you only have a couple of kids to teach instead of classroom of 30? Remember, with homeschooling, you aren’t locked into specific hours, days, or even the time of year. Homeschooling allows for maximum flexibility.

My Child Won’t Do Well In College

Nonsense. These days, colleges are recruiting homeschoolers at the highest rate ever. They are desirable because homeschoolers are typically highly motivated and independent learners. They also typically outperform their publicly-schooled peers. In a recent Huffington Post article, homeschoolers graduate college at a higher rate and earn higher GPAs.

Homeschooling is Only For Religious Families

Not true! These days there are a growing number of secular families joining the homeschooling circle. There are lots of secular parents who are displeased with the educational and social problems of public schooling. Like faith-based homeschooling, there are lots of curriculum and support circles that don’t incorporate religion.

Homeschoolers Just Play All Day

Debunking myths about homeschooling

Part of this myth stems from the fact that homeschooling kids are out and about during the day. Others just simply don’t think homeschooling is serious learning. Both assumptions are wrong. Homeschoolers have the flexibility to leave during the day and continue studies later, but everything is also a learning opportunity. Grocery shopping becomes a real life math application. For example, have your child figure out how much the 30% sale is or have them perform mental math as you fill the cart. Most homeschooling parents take every opportunity to teach life skills and incorporate learning into everyday situations. Conversely, at a young age, play is healthy and necessary for cerebral development. Homeschooling allows parents to balance play and studies as suited for each child.

Homeschooling Is Just For White Families

At one time, this may have been relatively true. However, over the last decade or so, minorities (like myself) have been taking back control of their child’s education. In fact, homeschooling by minorities is surging. Blacks in particular turn to homeschooling to protect their kids from the low expectations towards their race, especially for young black boys. For minorities, homeschooling is often sought to level the playing field and thereby providing every advantage to their children.

In Conclusion

If you are considering homeschooling, I hope I have helped dispel some misinformation. Debunking myths about homeschooling is very important because I think a lot of interested parents, don’t pursue it because of misconceptions. Understand there are pros and cons to both systems. This post isn’t meant to be snippy or condescending. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice for each family.

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How to Improve Your Toddler’s Speech Delay

If your toddler is struggling to speak, here are some of speech therapy takeaways to help us improve your toddler’s speech delay.

How to improve your toddlers speech delay
All photos courtesy of Unsplash

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The terrible twos are hard enough, but they are harder for the mom whose child isn’t talking. There are new levels of tantrums when your toddler is straining for you to understand him or her. I know. I’ve been there. We went through speech therapy that cost about $500 every two weeks. Today, I’m sharing the things that helped us and will hopefully help you improve your toddler’s speech delay.

Our Story

My toddler was two when I knew something was wrong. We had meltdowns multiple times a day when I struggled to understand him. He couldn’t articulate when he was sick, hurt, or angry. Therefore, these feelings manifested violent eruptions of emotion. I blamed myself. Was I doing something wrong?

But here is the thing, I’m a very hands-on mom. We homeschool. I sit and play with my little one. I read to him, talk to him and engage him. Sadly, I felt judgment from family and mom friends. My son knew his colors by 18 months and shapes by 24 months. He knew his complete alphabet by 30 months. His only delay was speech.

I took him to numerous doctors, starting with our pediatrician. The first specialist we saw was a Pediatric ENT since so many speech delays can be attributed to a hearing problem. Once that was ruled out, we went to a neurologist and neurosurgeon who assured us there was nothing wrong. Both told me they thought he’d benefit from being away from me (more on that later). We started speech therapy but it was ridiculously expensive because at two, insurance doesn’t consider it a true delay yet. While speech therapy didn’t work miracles, it definitely helped and here are the takeaways that helped us. Please know this should not be a replacement for medical advice. I’m not a medical professional. If you’re concerned about your child not speaking, consult a licensed medical professional for a diagnosis. There are physical and mental problems that can create a speech delay.

Focus on Beginning Sounds

When children start to babble, you may notice beginning sounds babababa and dadadada. As it turns out, children learn certain letter sounds before others. The b, m, a, h, p, n, w, t, and d are first sounds and first sounds are easy! Would you believe some sounds aren’t mastered until the age of 8? The J, Z, X, Zh, are some of the last letter sounds learned. Likewise, when children start forming actual words they also start with the same beginning sounds. Therefore, focus on words that start with the beginning sounds.

Alphabet

Consonant – Vowel Sounds

In addition to beginning sounds, children also do better when words are consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. For example, ”mama” and ”dada” are both consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. For instance, if your child is struggling to say train, model the word choo-choo instead. Over time, your child will master train.

Hold Things Close to Your Mouth

The speech therapist pointed out my son never really watched my mouth. He looked at my face, but he wasn’t studying my mouth to see how I was making sounds. So she had me hold objects directly to my mouth and repeat the word. The key is to get your child to focus on your lips all day.

Baby Sign Language

Studies show that babies who utilize baby sign language have an easier time transitioning to words. Baby sign language is not ASL, although there are many similarities. Many of the hand movements are simple so that a baby can do it easily. Baby sign language helps your child in different ways. It first teaches them they must communicate to get what they want. Grunts, pointing or whining will not make themselves understood – they can speak or sign. Intergrate signing into your everyday routine. Continue to say the word as you sign. Help your child by doing hand-over-hand teaching. In other words, grab your child’s hand and teach them how to make the sign. Signing helped us in the interim. It reduced tantrums because if he couldn’t say the word, he could sign it. Here are books I recommend for learning baby sign language.

Short & Sweet

Many people will tell you not to baby talk to your child. However, many children need things simplified into keywords only. Some children have a difficult time distinguishing where words begin and end in a sentence. To them, the sentence is just a rapid cacophony of sounds. For example, instead of saying, “Okay let’s go to the car. We need to go to the store and get stuff for dinner before daddy gets home” simply say “Bye Bye. Car. Store.” Let them clearly hear the key words. Over time, you’ll add additional words.

Say One, Add One

Which brings us to our next point. As your child says words, you will add an additional word. By modeling this, you demonstrate how to combine words to form sentences. For example, when your child points to the fridge for a snack, you might just model “open” at first because that is the most important word. Once your child masters “open”, you say “open fridge.” Once they can say “open fridge,” you might model, “open fridge please” or “open fridge snack.” The point is, once your child masters the word, you’ll add an additional word.

Don’t Correct

You read that correctly. I know what you’re thinking. Believe me, I had the same thoughts. I corrected my son all the time. He would say bapple instead of apple. So I would correct him and say, “no, it’s apple.” Many kids who are non-verbal also have confidence issues. They are less likely to talk if everything they DO say is wrong. The speech therapist said to model it correctly, but in a positive way. For example, “Okay, I’ll get you an apple.”

Read

This might seem like a no-brainer. But many non-verbal children aren’t that interested in books. In fact, when a child is watching TV, they hear 300 words less per hour. My husband and I are both avid readers. I read to my son every day as an infant. But once he learned to walk (12 months), he was no longer interested in sitting – especially for a book. I was so discouraged, but I kept reading to him. Well, it was more like “at him” and “over him.” Even if he was playing with something else, I read.

I got him reinterested in books, by finding “lift the flap” books, sometimes called “peek-a-boo” books. Books that kept his little hands busy as we read. He was bored otherwise. The other thing I did was just point to the pictures and say the word. In other words, instead of reading it verbatim, I’d point to the pictures and say “Dog. Dig. Grass.” Focus on the most important words.

Child reading

In fact, when a child is watching TV, they hear 300 words less per hour.

Play Time Is Learning Time

Playtime is a great time to teach your child because they don’t realize it’s a speech lesson! For instance, if you’re playing cars, drive the car along the track and say, “go, go, go. Stop!” If you’re playing with a baby doll, you can model words like eat, night-night, baby, etc. The important thing is to say the word over and over. Remember, stop and hold the doll or car up to your mouth occasionally when you say it. Stacking blocks? Use the words “up and down.” Take every opportunity to focus on vocabulary building. Submersion will ultimately help improve your toddler’s speech delay.

Even snacks can serve as teaching time. Instead of giving your child all their snack, give him or her a little bit and withhold the rest. This is a great time to teach the word and sign for “more.”

Outside Speech Help

As mentioned previously, there are lots of causes for speech delays, including hearing problems and mental delays. Children learning multiple languages (like English and Spanish) also can be delayed. You should definitely consult a doctor if you are worried about your child not talking. Speech therapists can work directly with your child, but it’s up to you to do the “homework” they give you. Ultimately, it’s up to you, the parent, to do this kind of teaching all day long. The public school education system also has resources for speech delays.

Today, my son is doing really well. He has made incredible improvements over the last year. Doing these things have helped exponentially! The last thing I want you to know is that it isn’t your fault. Sometimes there are no reasons. Children develop later than others. You’re doing a great job mama. I sincerely hope this helps you and your little one. Even if it isn’t on your time table, your little one will learn how to talk!


The post, How to Improve Your Toddler’s Speech Delay first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

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