Archive for August, 2010

Homeschooling – The law in Indiana

Friday, August 20th, 2010

All kinds of opinions exist as to the regulations and laws as it relates to homeschooling. The HSLDA has an excellent page on this. I will be focusing in this article about the laws in the State of Indiana were we reside.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

Indiana is one of the least regulated States when it comes to homeschooling. Indiana is a no notice state. Unless your child is already in the public school system you do not need to notify anyone that you are homeschooling. You simply do it. If your child is already in the public school system you need to provide the school a letter informing them that your child will be educated elsewhere. That is it.

In Indiana you do NOT have to register your child. There exists a page on the Indiana Department of Education providing a form to register. It is not required. The form is here for anyone who is curious.

The compulsory ages for education in Indiana are from 7 to 18, unless the student graduates early or drops out at 16 or 17. The school year is generally 180 days.

All non-public schools are exempt from the 180 days requirement. Homeschools are treated as private schools in Indiana based on case law. According IC 20-33-2-20, parents are required to keep attendance records in case the State Superintendent or local school system Superintendent wishes to verify enrollment of a particular child.

No specific subject requirements exist for homeschools, but the education must be provided in English. The only other requirement is that the “provided with instruction equivalent to that given in public schools” (IC 20-33-2-28). What is equivalent cannot be determined by the Board of Education. For multiple reasons it is probably a good idea to keep records of a child’s progress and not just attendance.

Each State has its own requirements when it comes to home education. I suggest checking out the HSLDA’s page on this at http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp as well as check out your own state Department of Education web site. Some state web sites can be a bit inaccurate, so I would verify the information provided there with the HSLDA, state and local homeschool groups, and the law itself.

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states of the United States. As with anything like this do your homework on it before you begin.

Book Review: Real Education by Charles Murray

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Nate and I have resolved to post every day, but alas, it is 11:45 p.m. on “my” day and the meaty, philosophical piece that I started is saved as a local draft on his iPhone.  Instead, I thought I would share a review of a book that I posted a little over a year ago on Visual BookshelfReal Education by Charles Murray fits well with my educational philosophy, which I will be discussing in more detail in posts to come.  So without further ado, my review:

In Real Education, Charles Murray steps out on a limb by criticizing many of the conventions of today’s public education system. For those with idealistic views of education, beware: although Murray’s criticisms are fair, his ideas may seem abrasive.

He comes down hard on what he calls “educational romanticism,” or the assumption that any child can do anything.  For example, he points out that half of students are below average (statistically there is no way around this). And it’s true! Too many people are going to college, yet high schools seem to be pushing harder than ever to have more students go in that direction.

His proposal to emphasize technical/vocational education makes perfect sense, since only 20% of jobs require college degrees. As someone who has a Master’s degree and would probably be [financially] better off working at McDonald’s, I can attest that many of his criticisms of the college system are valid.

I could go on forever listing points where I agree, but I will leave it to the reader to agree or disagree. He lists an impressive bibliography, yet writes in an engaging style that feels as if he is having a personal conversation with a reader. Highly recommended for educators, parents, or anyone interested in (particularly those frustrated by) the state of education.

May I add to the list of recommended readers: homeschoolers and potential homeschoolers.  Although we had already decided to homeschool when I found the book, it helped me cement my decision.  And with that, it’s nearly midnight.  Farewell!

Why Classical? – An introduction

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

There are many schools of thought on homeschool methods and curriculum.  Mandi and I are choosing to follow a modified classical model of teaching.  This post is the first in a series which will explore the reasons why we chose the classical method.  Both of us will share our perspectives on the issue and some of the history behind this decision.  First, we thought we should provide a brief overview of the method.

The book and web site The Well-Trained Mind is our guide on the method.  The model itself hails back to the time of Socrates.  For K – 12 education this is often called the trivium because it proceeds through three stages.  Each subject can be taught using this method.

The three stages include:

  • Grammar – Learn the facts of a subject.
  • Dialectic or Logic – Learn the logic or lack of logic in relation to the facts.
  • Rhetoric - Learn to express a coherent viewpoint based on logic and the facts.

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These stages are roughly applied at the following “grade levels:”

  • Grammar: PS/K – 4
    Roman Colosseum By: Jimmy Walker
  • Dialectic or Logic: 5 – 8
  • Rhetoric: 9 – 12

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Your mileage may vary so to speak.  Children develop at different rates.  Some children may go faster and others slower.  This one of the benefits to homeschooling, that children can learn at their own pace.

Subjects are not taught as separate items, but as interrelated as they truly are.  This allows connections to be made across various disciplines. Another unique distinction is the entirety of human history is taught three times once during each stage.  The final significant difference is the teaching of the classical languages of Latin and sometimes Greek.

We will go into more detail about the classical method and how we apply it in future articles.

Free Resources: Slow and Steady, Get me Ready

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Thumbnail of Slow and Steady Get Me Ready progress recordThe Well-Trained Mind, at least the version we own, recommends using Slow and Steady, Get me Ready by June Oberlander as a preschool curriculum.  The book describes one developmental activity for each week of a child’s life from birth through age five.  It covers everything from developing gross motor skills to packing a travel bag.  Not only is it well-recommended and comprehensive, it’s free!  You can download a PDF copy from the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC).

Levi will only benefit from one year of the activities, but I intend to try some of them with the younger kids as well.  If nothing else, it will give me fresh ideas to entertain them.  To keep track of their progress, I created a spreadsheet with cells that correspond to each week the program.  I’ve shared it here in PDF and Excel formats. Feel free to customize the spreadsheet, print it out, make copies, and share with your friends!

Levi, reading and Starfall

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Levi watching starfall.comLevi is watching Starfall.com on our TV. It has everything from letters to small books. Levi and Isaac both have enjoyed and learned from this web site. It has helped Levi in his love of letters and in starting to read.

I would call it like an interactive Sesame Street. Not only does it teach letters in language in a fun way. But, it also provides small game “quizzes” that make the learning fun.

Levi really loves his letters almost to obsession. One of his favorites is the silent E video. Starfall uses songs and games to teach phonics and exceptions in a fun and memorable way.

Starfall pumpkin

Another favorite of both boys is the the Pick a Pumpkin game. It gives them different options to make their own pumpkin. This game specifically teaches the short U sound. I still can hear it sing “uh, uh-uh, uh-uh-uh.” Yeah, I have heard it that much.

In closing, Starfall.com is an excellent resource for teaching children to read. It requires Adobe Flash Player, so it may not work on your smartphone. It should work on your Mac or Windows based PC.

Blue bees?!

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Blue Mason BeeMany of you may have wondered why on Earth the bee in our header is blue.  As the mascot of our home school, we have chosen the Blue Orchard Mason Bee.  You can see what real blue bees look like in the photo at the left.  These friendly little gals make excellent pollinators for the small orchard that grows in our yard.  (Yes, there are “guys” in this species, too, but they don’t tend to venture far from the nest).  They are non-aggressive and rarely sting, even when threatened.

Why did we choose Blue Mason Bees as our mascot?  They represent many of the values we wish to impart: industriousness, helpfulness, and gentleness.  Their involvement with pollination signifies the cultivation of knowledge.  Throughout history, bees have been written about–often even revered.  Because our curriculum draws so heavily upon history, we like how the bee connects us to the past.

Thank you for joining us on our educational journey, and remember: Si sapis, sis apis–If you are wise, be a bee!

A new beginning

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

It’s been almost four years since Mandi and I decided to homeschool our children–well at that time, one child, Levi.  Two more children and a lot of changes later, here we are.  We recently joined the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and on October 1st, Levi will have his first official day of “Preschool.”  The ironic thing is we have been doing that for several years.  Starfall has in many ways helped both boys to learn to their letters and even read.

We plan on following a neo-classical model of home education most specifically based on The Well Trained Mind.  It is is hard to believe that more than four years have passed since I became a father.  Time really does fly.  It is now time to take that next step together as a family and begin teaching our oldest child, Levi.

I hope you will come back as we post our progress, events and thoughts.