Teaching Online – Home Schooling Book Review

If you are considering teaching online, or if you are a homeschooling parent and would like to have your kids learn online while at home then maybe you need to do a little bit of research. Maybe you need to consider what’s out there, and the various hybrid courses and technology issues which surround the world of Internet courses and online teaching.

The other day, there was a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed why there never needed to be any poor weather days that prevented school. If the inclement weather was so bad that the school buses couldn’t run, or the blizzard made it impossible to get to school, then each student could learn at home on their own computer. The article made some compelling arguments, and I found similar points of contention in a book on the subject.

In fact, I’d like to go out of my way right now to recommend this book to you, and it is a book that I do own of my personal library. The name of this book is; “Teaching Online – A Practical Guide” (College Teaching Series – Second Edition) by Susan Ho and Steve Rossen, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA, (2004), 339 pages, ISBN: 0-618-29848-7.

There is a great overview of online teaching and what it’s about, and although it is written from the perspective of the institutional educator, it surely helps parents understand what they are dealing with when they choose which courses, online syllabuses, and information they wish their children to read and learn. Teaching in an online classroom is not easy, but those that have the skill and talent to pull it off, are the most desired and sought after instructors.

Why not pick up a copy of this book so you can familiarize yourself with low-tech and high-tech solutions used in Internet education. You can also find discussion forums where you can interact with teachers, and how they use whiteboards, chatting features, and instant messaging to make the online classroom feel at home. Why not learn what the teachers go through when they put together their training programs, and how they prepare themselves for their students.

It seems to me as a parent I want to know how the online teaching system works, what type of software and hardware works the best, and how the teachers are going to interact with my kids. You need to know these things up front, it’s very important, and that’s why a recommend this book to you. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Home Schooling and Un-Schooling

There are several fascinating and successful ways to teach children. All of them have something special to offer. We recommend using a combination. In this article we will discuss one known as “Un-schooling.

Un-schooling is based on the knowledge that all people, including children, have a natural desire to learn. Watch the toddler as he focuses on learning to walk, or talk.  Normally no one forces him. It is like breathing. Wanting to learn is part of who we are, unless it has been squashed at some point in life.

OK! One might ask: then why do I find myself having to push my child to read? The un-schooler would answer: “because you are not un-schooling”. This method tells us to pay attention to the child’s natural rhythms. Just as we know when we are hungry, the child knows when and what he is hungry to learn. Use that natural tendency, and you become a facilitator rather than a teacher using many different things to stir the child’s inner enthusiasm.  Some examples will help to give clarification.

Example One

Koty had learned all of his phonic sounds, and could read all of his early reader books.  He also enjoyed sounding out large words like “premium” as he and his mother traveled around town playing a word game. But he had no desire to pick up a book and read it. He preferred, instead, to have his mother read to him as she had from the time he was little. Mother was becoming a bit worried, because other kids his age were able to read better than koty.  But she had read the book “Better Late Than Early” (a book about Delayed Academics) by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, and, as a result, decided to patiently continue reading to him.

As time passed she began to question her decision. One day Koty again asked her to read a book for him. He was fascinated by the picture on the cover, and wanted to know what was inside.  “Sorry Koty”, she replied, “I just don’t have the time right now”. Koty, anxious to learn what was inside this interesting book, began reading it by himself. He did put it down until he had finished. Mom even allowed him to read late in bed to nurture his enthusiasm.

What a miracle! Just as the Moores had indicated, Koty’s enthusiasm was lit. From that day forward he became an avid reader, and advanced several grade levels in a short time…passing his peers.

Example Two

I know a teacher who moved to a wilderness area. Due to her location it became necessary to home school her large family. Until the children reached the age of seven she used the “Formal Method” to teach them the basics (Note: Most un-schoolers would tell you that is not necessary because one can un-school from day one.) After that it all became un-schooling.

The family needed a home, so she took them to the library where they began researching. They helped design the family home, do the blue prints, and build it from the ground up. In the process they expanded their ability to read, do geometry, drafting, art work, measuring, and many other lessons. But they (and Koty) were thinking about accomplishing a goal rather than just learning for the sake of learning (The un-schooler would add: unless that is the child’s interest).

It is interesting to note that all of her kids received scholarships to Yale University. She did something right.

Example Three

Mom is cooking and asks her child, who is eager to help, to cut the apple. She has him/ her cut it in half, and then again in fourths. She even asks her little one to measure a half of a cup of milk.  That’s right, the child is learning, and you have become a facilitator.

In un-schooling learning is driven by the individual’s natural learning instinct, curiosity, need to feel competent and whole, and even their need to have fun!  As a parent you have likely used this method from time to time without even being aware that you were un-schooling. Awareness is what will help you to expand your ability to nurture your little one’s natural desire to learn, and to retain it for a life time. Have fun being a facilitator.  

Home Schooling Nine to Twelve Year Olds and Socialization

When home schooling a child between nine and twelve years old, there is a lot of pressure for peer pressure. Keep in mind that not all children undergo this pressure to be with and like their peers, while distancing themselves from their parents. These preteens still need plenty of attention, eye contact, positive reinforcement and praise, personal communication, and good interaction with their parents. Believe it or not, children at this age do still enjoy being read to. Keep having positive attitudes toward learning; focus on making learning interesting and engaging. Make sure you use positive constructive criticism with the least amount of academic pressure possible. Focus on providing a safe, secure learning environment that encourages love, acceptance and reassurance. This will, in time, raise their feelings of self worth and help them understand where their values lie.

At this tender age of hormones, mixed emotions, changing feelings, group planning in curriculum is suggested. Preteens prefer learning skills that have a reason or purpose in real life. For instance, instead of offering busy work in language arts, ask your child to write a letter to a manufacturing company in regards to a defective household product for you. Not only would this make the child feel important but the learning task would be a skill much needed in real life. When learning math, use real life examples with money and budgeting, perhaps even balancing a checkbook. Use graphs and charts to set goals with earned money and savings. Reading about science from a textbook is one way to learn the subject, but performing experiments or identifying specimens in nature is much more engaging. Daily and weekly chores are necessary to learn responsibility and accountability as an integral part of the family.

Remember to always model what you want to teach. Learn new topics together. Dissect a grasshopper for science, work on the family budget together, etc. Homeschooling allows parents to design a curriculum that benefits their children. Find out where your preteen has strengths and weaknesses and plan your curriculum around that.

Homeschooling and Socialization:

When parents talk about home schooling their children, the most common concern is regarding socialization. Parents are concerned that their children will not learn how to adapt to social situations. Unless the homeschooling parent decides to isolate their children completely from the outside world, this is impossible. In fact, children who are home schooled have more interaction with people of all ages, not just their age group. The average home schooled child attends more educational field trips during the year than the non home schooled child. In addition, home schooled children have more opportunities for after school activities, such as music lessons, sports, and hobbies.

Children who home school feel equally comfortable with younger children, peers, and adults of all ages. Children who home school have daily social interactions with the family, neighborhood and the community. Because of this, studies have shown that children who home school have higher self esteem. Children who attend school do not experience real world situations, while home schoolers are definitely more prepared for the real world.

The type of socialization that is experienced in schools is often negative. Large school settings harbor conformity, teasing, bullying, defiant behavior, popularity contests, and competition. No wonder home schooled children have higher self esteem; children at home are learning kindness, patience, sharing, respect, and understanding. These home schooled children are not exposed to peer influences which foster peer dependency. Peer dependent children show diminished positive socialization, such as self-worth, confidence, reverence for their parents, and trust in peers. Although home school children may play with other children in the neighborhood and experience this peer dependence, strong morals and values are being taught at home that override these negative experiences.

Home schooled children learn to listen to their own instincts and let that guide them to make their own decisions. Conforming to a peer social group that does not value individuality does not foster independent thinking, which is necessary for a successful life.

Home Schooling – 4 Steps to Knowing Where to Start

Whether you have decided to home school or are just looking into the option, there are some steps you can take to help you know where to start. The most important place to start is with your child assessing who they are and what they need.

1. Observe your children. How do they play? How do they interact with others? What do they enjoy doing and not doing? Do they enjoy loud or quiet? Do they enjoy creating or filling in the blanks? Answers to all these questions will help you know where to start when planning your home school.

2. What is your long term goal? Write down what you want your child to be like when they are 18 years old. You can be as detailed as you want. What kind of character would you like them to have? What kind of qualities would you like them to have? Remember that people who write down their goals are 90% more likely to meet their goals. Obviously, you don’t have total control over how your child turns out. Much of who they become will be determined by the choices they make. You will be able to help guide those choices though.

3. Think about what you want your day to look like. Do you want to be completely involved in your child’s studies or do you want them to be completely self-taught? How much time do you have to devote to home schooling? Do your children respect you and listen to what you say? If they don’t do that now, then you may need to address that issue right away. Do you want a more flexible approach to your day or do you want a more structured schedule?

4. Look at what is available for homeschooling. This can be an overwhelming thought. I could write a whole book on what is available for home schooling. Basically, you just need to know how your child learns best, what kind of style you are comfortable with and go from there. Remember that more is not always better when purchasing books. You can always buy more later or borrow what you need from the library. I have resources available that send you a sample of many different types of curriculum that you can look at in your own home.

Homeschooling does not need to be difficult or overwhelming. When you know your child and yourself, you are able to view all the options available and make an informed choice.

Home Schooling and Learning Communities – A Book Review

Home schooling has always been popular, and yet for a brief period in our history we didn’t hear a lot about it, today, all that has changed, as home schooling is definitely back in vogue. The No Child Left Behind Act instituted under the Bush Administration with the help of the former Senator Edward Kennedy was brought forth out of frustration, as kids were actually graduating High School, but could not read or write. This of course was unacceptable, and something had to be done.

Nevertheless, the challenges and problems are systemic in nature, and so many parents want no part of our public school system; some say it’s a dangerous place for kids due to gangs, drugs, violence, others say it’s a giant babysitting event at the tax payer’s expense. No matter where you stand you also realize that we are not meeting our educational challenges in this great nation. Perhaps, it’s for this reason that you are looking for alternatives, something that works.

Well then, I was recommended a very good book to read a few years back, and I read the whole thing and was intrigued at what I learned, so much so that I’ve recommended it to everyone I’ve met thinking on the issue of education. I even placed it online in the reading room of our Internet type think tank. The name of the book is;

“Creating Learning Communities,” by Ron Miller and William N. Ellis, published by CCL-LLC and the Coalition for Self Learning Communities, eBook Digital Edition, (2000).

The book talks about not only schools as learning communities, but also addresses the community as a place of on-going learning, and how groups of folks can get together and learn, mentor, educate and drive knowledge, wisdom, and valuable information. This is a living book, with research on learning communities and new chapters being added online.

The philosophy is straight forward, so too is the approach it takes. Learning should be a lifetime endeavor, it’s not something you finish and get a diploma for, and this book is filled with resources and information, places to go to help you whether you are home schooling, or want to learn how to better teach. I’d recommend it to any and all home schooling parents and community advisors, also to educators to expand their own horizons.

Section III is all about the information age, and how computers, the Internet, and other technology devices make all this possible, and shine forward into the future. Please consider reading this book at your first possible convenience. I highly recommend it.

Reference: http://www.creatinglearningcommunities.org/download/download.htm