(This was given to me by a good friend, Renae Pelo, the year before I took the “plunge” into homeschooling – it was instrumental in helping me have the courage to begin my own homeschooling experiment. I’d like to also thank Sherrie Hatch for gifting me the book “A Thomas Jefferson Education” two years before I dared read it, Stella Rainwater for being the brave pioneer who showed me by example that I could do it, and Cristie Gardner who showed me the amazing, positive products of her family’s experiment.)
THE HOWS and WHYS of HOMESCHOOLING For the Pelo’s of Charleston
“We began almost 15 years ago when Melody (mom) decided she was not ready to put her children into someone else’s care while they were still so young and vulnerable. It bean as a spiritual journey that started by talking to a Homeschooling mom who asked… ‘Would you send your son to war without arming him completely? Then why put a young child in a battle zone without their full armor’ (this takes time while they are young)
“I thought about this a lot, and I began wanting to have them at home until they could recognize right and wrong and make good decisions for themselves. It also seemed to me that there were more important things than academics for a young child such as character development, learning compassion and getting along. As time went on we began to see many advantages of how our children were enjoying each other and developing great friendships within the family, finding ways to help them fulfill their own personal missions and getting individualized attention. And probably most important was the fact that we wanted God to be the very CENTER of all that they are learning. Since He created all things and knows everything about everything, it makes sense that we learn about Him, and let Him teach us about everything.
“We have tried many different techniques and are constantly changing methods, but the children have proven that they are learning constantly and more effectively when we just give them resources and just get out of the way.
“Our oldest studied a couple of weeks for the ACT, and did well enough to get into college when she was 16. (This was enough to prove to us that without formal education, life is full of learning even enough to prepare for college.)
“Every child has different gifts, talents and goals, and we are learning from all of them and revising as we go. It has been a great journey and we believe that it will have lasting benefits, that our children have learned to think for themselves, and know where to find answers, and not rely on others to tell them what and when to learn.
” – A reminder that reading is a most important tool in education. Keep them reading.
” – Allow them to participate in extra-curricular activities, sports, drama, clubs.
“We have times when we wonder if we are missing things, and why we are doing this, and we have made big mistakes, but we do see so many benefits that we keep on going, the best part is, as the children are growing up – we can see we got more time with them than most parents do, and we have no regrets.”
Here are a few more notes that my friend gave me:
Thoughts on Challenges of Homeschooling
1. If you have been public schooled as a parent, you must overcome the idea that there is only one way to learn, you need to reminds yourself often about why you decided to use this method, and that your home is not meant to replicate the school.
2. During the young years, our children had to work extra hard to feel included at church because the others tend to hang out with those they see every day at school.
3. One challenge when you do the UnSchooling method, you have to step back and let your children be BORED sometimes and wait for them to decide that they are responsible for their learning — this can drive a parent crazy!
4. There is also a need to get the children to be accountable for the way they use their time, even if you don’t have structured learning, there needs to be a block of time set aside for learning.
5. Overcome the fact that some people won’t agree with your decision, but be comfortable enough, read enough and know enough that it doesn’t matter what others think, there are many ways to educate and parents choose what is best for their families.
Home Schooling Thoughts from the Pelo Family
This comes from our personal experience over the years we have homeschooled, and yet every family will have a way that works best for their situation. We have gathered ideas from many resources and people to make our style… maybe one of these ideas will be helpful to another family:
1. Every family finds THEIR unique style.
2. Most families who home school find greater success with not trying to imitate the public schools.
3. Follow the interests and talents of each child.
4. As they increase in age – increase THEIR responsibilities for their education.
5. Be a RESOURCE instead of a teacher, children can so easily self-teach even when they don’t know they are learning.
6. Find out what learning style your child has-many books out on this subject, visual learners, auditory learners, hands on …etc.
7. Remember that everyday life is full of learning opportunities – cooking to measure things, shopping to learn math, reading instructions…
8. Enjoy your time together — remember each child has tremendous capabilities and if we don’t block up the way they can do amazing things.
9. We like to visit with each child weekly to find out what resources they need for the week. We also bring in specialists to teach things that they want help with.
10. One year we combined with other families and had people with skills of knowledge of some place or culture come and share with us once a week.
11. We have developed a scholarship plan. This is used for earning money towards college, some of the kids really take advantage of it.
Books that are Great Resources
1. The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook – Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore
2. Family Matters – David Gutterson (a high school teacher who home schools his own children)
3. The Teenage Liberation Handbook – Grace Llewelyn
4. Dumbing Us Down – John Gatto
5. The Sudbury Valley School – a school that has a great unique teaching style
6. Better Late than Early – Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore
7. The Parenting Breakthrough – Boyack (this helps with daily chores and how to evaluate what each child is needing to learn)
8. Homeschooling for Excellence – David and Micki Colfax (these boys all went to Harvard)
9. Home Grown Kids – Moore
10. The Unschooling Handbook – Mary Griffith
11. Teaching Your Children Values – Linda and Richard Eyre
(I have not read most of the above books, but I will add to this list the books that tipped me over the edge…)
12. A Thomas Jefferson Education – Oliver DeMille
13. Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning – Oliver DeMille
14. A Thomas Jefferson Education: Home Companion – Oliver DeMille and Diann Jeppson
I hope this post can be helpful to someone else who is thinking about taking this brave and out-of-the-box path for his or her family.