Friday, August 23, 2013


Every Student A Home Schooler

Every Student is a homeschooler. You say but my child goes to public school. Do they do homework? My grandson is in kindergarten. He has homework. Homework is school at home. Especially in the early grades, parents are expected to participate in homework. Sounds like homeschooling to me. Then, of course, there are those who do school at home instead of public school. This section looks at the strategies and examples of homeschoolers. Even though your child attends public school many of these principles can apply to your situation.

How much can be learned when learning is very focused? The Swann family is an example of what can be accomplished with a family focuses on education. Alexandra Swann tells her family's story and journey with home schooling in her book No Regrets How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen [Kindle Edition .99ยข]. This family's journey was often motivated by their religious convictions about education. Other homeschool families I personally know have many reasons for choosing homeschool. I know none of them who regretted the experience. I followed the story of the Swann family over 20 years ago. I have use their example in my working with my step-daughter Stephanie. I was fond of saying we sent Stephanie to public school during the day for socialization. At night we did home school together. I the teacher and her my sole student.

The Swann family wanted a Christian education for their children. In 1976 when they started to home school such a movement did not exist. They were told that children could only learn from real teachers who were certified like those in public schools. So Mrs Swann decided to start teaching Alexandra who just turned 5. Mrs Swann figured if she could teach Alexandra to read then she could do home school. Alexandra quickly learned to read and was flourishing. The Swanns enrolled Alexandra in the Calvert private school. Calvert is located in Baltimore, Maryland. Calvert has a highly structured distance education program. The program was frequently used by missionary families from around the world.
The school day at the Swann's home lasted for about 3 hours per day. During the 3 hours, there was total concentration on school work. In education this is called 'time on task'. At the Swann's school time on task was 100% on task. In the best of traditional school situations time on task is 50%. Also unlike traditional school Alexandra and her brothers and sisters received a lot of personal attention from their mother who was the teacher. Mrs Swann did not have a college degree but she figured that she could easily comprehend and teach the daily lessons. Most homeschool mother-teachers I know do not have college degrees, but are successful teachers at home.

There was no homework at the Swann school. Homework in a traditional setting is to help provide one-on-one attention with parents at home. Individual attention is hard to obtain in the traditional classroom. A teacher often has 20 or more students in the room. With this many students to take care of teachers try their best to work with all the students. But time is just limited. My experience knowing homeschool families is that all school work is done during school time and help is immediate. 
The Swann school went Monday through Friday, twelve months a year with time off for holidays. There were no summer vacations, Christmas or spring breaks. My 6 year old grandson is experiencing his first summer vacation after kindergarten. He is quite upset. He keeps asking for school and wants to know if today is the day he will start 1st grade.

Although I will be mentioning how Alexandra did in school, it turns out her 9 bothers and sisters followed the same courses and pace of education. Calvert allows students to move at their own pace. As Alexandra completed a required unit, the tests were mailed to Calvert for grading. Alexandra completed 1st grade in 2 1/2 months and started 2nd grade. In fact after 6 months Alexandra finished 3rd grade. By 7 years of age Alexandra started 5th grade. The family moved to New Mexico where homeschool was a legal option. 

By 10 years Alexandra started high school. Alexandra eventually had 9 brothers and sisters. . Mother was continually there as the master teacher. Children sat around a large dining room table working on their lessons as mother tutored one of the children. Alexandra finished high school in 18 months of study. Most of the homeschoolers I know often choose to go to school year round. Most are anxious to complete high school in 2 years if possible. There is no skipping any required courses or examinations. Most middle and high school students go to school and watch teachers perform all day lecturing. Homeschoolers, on the other hand, spend their days reading books, completing questions and writing papers instead of  listening to lectures. 

At eleven and a half Alexandra was ready to start college and did so with the Brigham Young University External Degree Program. This program allow 95% of the work to be complete at home. BYU still offers correspondence courses for the completion of middle school, high school and college. The course work at BYU is expected to take four years. The courses are college level courses and very  demanding. At just 15 years old Alexandra was the youngest person to completed her bachelor's degree from BYU. 

Mrs Swann was amazing. For all ten of her children, she read every book and every assignment to help her children. This meant reading every book, worksheet and written paper from 1st grade through a master's degree. No child was left out or left behind. All 10 children completed college at an age when most students are thinking about starting high school. My step-daughter, Stephanie needed help in school. I personally read every book, assignment and paper which was required from 7th grade through 12th grade. Although she attended regular public school, I worked continuously with her at night to ensure her success at school. 

Alexandra at 16 years of age finished a master's degree from California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). CSUDH runs an external master's degree program in humanities. Again all work for this master's degree can be completed from home. After graduating Alexandra was hired by the local community college to teach history. Alexandra went all the way from 1st grade to a master's degree all at home. So at 17, she was teaching students who had just graduated from the local pubic high school. 

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