Getting Schooled

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up

I do love me some infographics and this one is especially interesting. I’ll include the information in its text form below so that it’s accessible to folks with screen readers and who prefer their numbers without images.

Maybe this is a case of looking for data that support my choices, but I sure do like what I’m seeing here. Our experience corroborates many of the assertions.

  • We live in a state that requires notice of intent to homeschool and testing. (Tennessee also recognizes private “umbrella” schools that are allowed to set their own standards for their enrolled families. We enroll with an umbrella school. So, while I call us homeschoolers, we technically operate a satellite campus of a private school.)
  • My husband and I both have college degrees — mine’s a master’s.
  • We are homeschooling  two kids.
  • We homeschool due to our negative experiences with our public schools’ approach to educating brilliant kids with autism. (I’ll leave the rest of that story for another day.)
  • The kids routinely score in the 90th percentile and above on standardized assessments.
  • They are absolutely involved in our community and are politically aware and active (watch out!) and read voraciously every single day.
  • We spend about $150 on enrollment fees and another $540 for access to our online curriculum. Add in memberships to museums and some supplemental materials, and we spend right at $1000 a year for two kids’ education. (This, obviously, doesn’t reflect the fact that I teach them for free — or in lieu of working full time — which would make the actual opportunity cost of homeschooling about fifty times what we pay for curriculum.)

I’m so hoping that the “When They Grow Up” stuff works out beautifully for our kids. I mean, that’s kind of the whole point, no? I want them to have wide open educational and career opportunities. I’d love it if they saw their homeschool experience as giving them an advantage and as being a good thing overall. It’s my fervent desire that our decision to pull our kids out of the public system and do it on our own is a rollicking success.

Let’s face it. I fretted over which stroller to buy for a year. I rarely make a decision lightly given all of the fun ways to weigh the options! So scores and neat statistics demonstrating the prudence of our choices are reassuring.

But you know what? So is the right now, really real experience of having good days where they are learning at their own paces in their own styles and reading for both content and pleasure and playing with their friends and trying new things and wandering into an art project that takes all day and into the night and the next day, too.

So, yeah, I like this graphic. But I’d homeschool even if it wasn’t as pretty.

—  —  —  —  —

The complete text content from the infographic displayed above is pasted here. It should be noted that this infographic and the data below were from a commercial website promoting master’s degrees in education. Caveat emptor.


Once upon a time, all children were homeschooled. But around 150 years ago states started making public school mandatory and homeschooling eventually became illegal. It wasn’t until the 90’s that all states made it legal again. Today, with more than 2 million homeschoolers making up 4% of the school-aged population, it’s the fastest growing form of education in the country.


  • 1840: 55% of children attended primary school while the rest were educated in the home or by tutors.
  • 1852: The “Common School” model became popular and Massachusetts became the first state to pass compulsory attendance law. Once compulsory attendance laws became effective, America eventually relied entirely on public and private schools for educating children. Homeschooling then became something only practiced by extremely rural families, and within Amish communities.
  • 1870: All states had free primary schools.
  • 1900: 34 states had compulsory attendance laws.
  • 1910: 72% of children attended primary school.
  • 1960: Educational reformers started questioning public schooling’s methods and results.
  • 1977: “Growing Without Schooling” magazine was published, marking a shift from trying to reform public education to abandoning it.
  • 1980: Homeschooling was illegal in 30 states.
  • 1983: Changes in tax law forced many Christian Schools to close which led to soaring homeschooling rates.
  • 1993: Homeschooling become legal in all 50 states and saw annual growth rates of 15-20%.


32 states and Washington D.C. offer Virtual Public Schools – free education over the internet to homeschooling families: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia (DC), Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

4 States offer tax credits for homeschooling families: Iowa, Arizona, Minnesota, Illinois.

10 States don’t require notification of homeschooling: Alaska, Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut.

14 States require notification of homeschooling: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Delaware.

20 States and D.C. require notification of homeschooling, test scores and/or professional evaluation of students: Washington, Oregon, Colorado, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, New Hampshire, Maine, D.C., Hawaii.

6 States require notification of homeschooling, test scores and/or professional evaluation of students; plus other requirements like curriculum approval, parent qualification, home visits by state officials: North Dakota, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island.

No Federal help is available to homeschooling families yet. The IRS says that homeschooling costs “are nondeductible personal, living, or family expenses.”


Home schooling is the fastest growing form of education in the country.

  • 1999: 850,000 homeschoolers (1.7% of the school-aged population)
  • 2003: 1.1 million homeschoolers (2.2% of the school-aged population)
  • 2007: 1.5 million homeschoolers (2.9% of the school-aged population)
  • 2010: 2.04 million homeschoolers (4% of the school-aged population)
  • From 2007- 2009 home-schoolers increased ate a rate of 7%/year
  • From 2007- 2009 public-schoolers increased at a rate of 1%/year


Education Level of Homeschooling Parents (Fathers/Mothers)

  • No High School Degree: 1.4% / 0.5%
  • High School Degree: 8.4% / 7.5%
  • Some College: 15.4% / 18.7%
  • Associate’s Degree: 8.6% / 10.8%
  • Bachelor’s Degree: 37.6% / 48.4%
  • Master’s Degree: 20% / 11.6%
  • Doctorate Degree: 8.7% / 2.5%

Number of children in homeschooled families:

  • 1 child: 6.6%
  • 2 children: 25.3%
  • 3 children: 26%
  • 4-6 children: 35.9%
  • 7+ children: 6.3%

Most important reasons parents say they homeschool their kids (students, ages 5-17, 2007):

  • 36 %: To provide religious or moral instruction
  • 21 % : Concern about the environment of other schools: safety, drugs, and negative peer pressure
  • 17 %: Dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools
  • 14 %: Unique Family Situation such as time, finances, travel, and distances
  • 7 %: Nontraditional approach to child’s education
  • 4 %: Child has other special needs
  • 2%: Child has a physical or mental health problem


Standardized achievement tests: On average, homeschoolers rank in at the 87th percentile. (Note: The 87th percentile is not the test score. It is the percent of students that scored lower… so, only 13% of students scored higher.)

  • Boys: 87th
  • Girls: 88th
  • Reading: 89th
  • Language: 84th
  • Math: 84th
  • Science: 86th
  • Social Studies: 84th
  • Core: 88th
  • Parents income <$35,000: 85th
  • Parents income $35,000-$70,000: 86th
  • Parents income >$70,000: 89th
  • Parents spend <$600/child/year: 86th
  • Parents spend >$600/child/year: 89th
  • Neither parent has a college degree: 83rd
  • Either parent has a college degree: 86th
  • Both parents have college degrees: 90th
  • Neither parent has a teaching certificate: 87th
  • Either Parent has a teaching certificate: 88th

Grade Placement compared to public schools:

  • Behind: 5.4%
  • On track: 69.8%
  • Ahead: 24.5%


Homeschooled Adults’ Perception of Homeschooling

“I’m glad that I was homeschooled”

  • Strongly Agree: 75.8%
  • Agree: 19.4%
  • Neither: 2.8%
  • Disagree: 1.4%
  • Strongly Disagree: 0.6%

“Homeschool gave me an advantage as an adult”

  • Strongly Agree: 66.0%
  • Agree: 26.4%
  • Neither: 5.7%
  • Disagree: 1.5%
  • Strongly Disagree: 0.4%

“Homeschool limited my educational opportunities”

  • Strongly Agree: 1.0%
  • Agree: 4.2%
  • Neither: 6.6%
  • Disagree: 29.2%
  • Strongly Disagree: 58.9%

“Homeschool limited my career choices”

  • Strongly Agree: 0.9%
  • Agree: 1.2%
  • Neither: 3.9%
  • Disagree: 18.8%
  • Strongly Disagree: 75.3%

“I would homeschool my own children”

  • Strongly Agree: 54.8%
  • Agree: 27.3%
  • Neither: 13.5%
  • Disagree: 2.8%
  • Strongly Disagree: 1.6%

Homeschooled / General Population

  • Participate in an ongoing community service activity (71% / 37%)
  • Consider politics and government too complicated to understand (4.2% / 35%)
  • Read a book in the past six months? (98.5% / 69%)
  • Continue on to college (74% / 49%)

“Taken all together, how would you say things are these days–would you say that you are …”

  • Very happy (58.9% / 27.6)
  • Pretty happy (39.1% / 63%)
  • Not too happy (2% / 9.4)


Average homeschool family spends $500/child/year.

The average public school spends $9,963 per child per year, not including capital expenditures or research and development.


“Does this count?”

Bernie's Sprite in MetalAs we’ve walked this homeschooling journey there are a handful of questions that have become kind of predictable.

Most often it’s the “what about socialization??” one we get from folks. Whole books and blogs have been written on this topic. So I’ll leave it with my standard, short answer: I still get the shakes when I recall my 5th grade teacher, Ms Everhart, screaming, “We are not here to socialize!!!”  Homeschoolers definitely socialize and we don’t scream at our kids for doing it.

Other questions we field regularly are about testing or curriculum or state oversight — you know, how does this work? I get those questions about 3 times a week and have standard answers for them, too.

The really hard homeschooling questions come from my kids as we work through this process together.

Their favorite questions? “What’s the plan?” and “Does this count?”  The first one I can answer pretty easily — in the moment if not for the long-term (eek!) — by handing them an agenda or telling them the schedule for the day. The second one is tougher because it kind of breaks my heart a little.

See, my kids have spent enough time in public school to know that there are endorsed activities — the work you get credit for — and then there is that other stuff that you are welcome to do on your own time, but which “doesn’t count” toward your grade.

I get it. It’s the way school currently works. The teacher has a rubric passed down from on high. S/he comes up with an assignment that meets some part of that rubric, gives it to the class, collects it, grades it, and puts a check mark in that box.  Next.  S/he may really want to see the kids do fascinating, creative stuff, but there really isn’t a place to put that into the rubric, so s/he smiles and says, “Cool*” and moves on.

But it doesn’t count.

Gosh, this seems backwards.

In my kids’ jargon, this whole scene is an epic fail.

When I walked into my studio this morning, Gillian had just clicked send on her daily homework email. She’d gotten up early, completed her core course requirements, and emailed me her scores and written assignments for my responses. She looked up and said, “Good morning, Mama. Does my scarf count as art?”


Sigh. I would love for my kids to know in their marrow that whatever they do counts. I don’t mean that they should expect a grade for everything they do. I want them to get the bigger view; to recognize their contributions and experiments and dalliances and projects as meaningful whether or not I’m going to give them some kind of officially-stamped educational credit for it.

But she didn’t want a lecture on my learning and life philosophies. She wanted to know if what she was hoping to do next merited doing by whatever yardstick we measure homeschool credit.

So, here’s my kid who got up early, and did her assignments without my even having to ask (and, incidentally, taught herself to knit on a loom, designed a whole series of scarves she wants to make, and found all of the materials to make those scarves) questioning the value of what she’s going to do next.  What do I say to her?


“Of course it counts! It counts because it’s absolutely an artistic expression, it demonstrates competency in a skill, and produces something you find valuable and beautiful. But, Gillian, you need to know that even if all it did was interest you and you want to check it out and there was nothing to show for it or to grade or admire at the end, it would still ‘count’. It would be just fine to do.”

We went on to discuss colors and yarns and designs and patterns, but the conversation stuck with me all day.

As I snapped a picture of Bernie’s metalwork sign (above) and Gillian’s scarves in progress (below) and watched their minds work through the problems of creating these artistically-interesting and technically-challenging expressions it really hit me how lucky — is that the right word? — we are that we, as a family, get to decide how to spend our days and what to study and, yes, what counts.

But how rare is that?

How many cool, wonderful ideas and opportunities pass us right by because we aren’t getting graded/paid/congratulated/noticed for doing them?

As Mary Oliver (1992) asks in this excerpt from her lovely poem The Summer Day,

QuoteI do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Indeed. So, get on with it because you, my dear, get to decide what counts.

* or whatever it is that the kids want to hear these days

Oliver, M. (1992). New and selected poems. Beacon Press: Boston, MA.

Gillian's colorful scarves on looms

Oh, She’s That Kind of Nerd!

Nerdy Crafter

Why, yes! Yes I am that nerd who solved a 25X25 Sudoku to determine the placement of these supposed-to-be-random squares.

But I’m not compulsive enough to pull out the 49 squares I’d already made and attached before I came up with this brilliant scheme.

So not only is it not random, it doesn’t actually follow the Sudoku pattern rules completely.

So, does that make it a Random Pattern?


Good News: Bad News

Navy Placemat

The good news is that I completed my second place mat while scoring 100% on my statistical analyses this week.

The bad news is that I was forced to eat the prop after taking this picture and odds are high that I’m going to need a glass of milk to wash it down and low that anyone around here is going to feel sorry for me and bring me one.

Making the Moves so that my Child can Dance

Gillian Picture Day

I’ve been struggling with something for a while that suddenly became very clear for me this week.

Several months ago — after I got past the shock of having Berns enrolled in a private school that allows him to work from home — I started getting these little nudges to do the same for Gillian. I kept batting them down for several reasons. As I worked through each of my concerns I was left with two remaining excuses to keep things status quo: we love her team at school and things weren’t “bad enough” to make a change seem worth the drama.

So, as these things tend to go, the more I turned away from this intuitive nudge, the louder the signals became. I do believe in purpose and order in our universe, even when I want to pretend otherwise. I knew we were headed this way, but kept telling myself “in middle school!!” and then when even that timeline seemed to be stretching it as we watched Gillian getting more and more uncomfortable, “the end of the semester!!” So, it really came as no shock when I got the call on Friday sending her home for the 4th time in 2 months with nits in spite of endless poisonous and prescription treatments, combing, and laundry.

But I was still kind of in the stew. And then I “accidentally” rediscovered the link to Sir Ken Robinson’s TEDtalk on creativity. While I don’t necessarily agree that schools — in general — kill creativity. I do believe that they are a better fit for some kids than for others. In this talk Ken talks about a famous dancer and choreographer, Gillian Lynne. Yes. That’s her real name and its real spelling. I’ve read the book he references (It’s actually titled “The Element”) and bawled when I read Lynne’s story. It reminds me so much of two of our girls — Skye, our professional dancer, doughnut maker, and upbeat ed assistant; and her baby sister, Gillian.

I’ll include Ken Robinson’s 19-minute TEDtalk on Creativity and the three-paragraph excerpt that won’t stop running through my head here.

And the third thing about intelligence is, it’s distinct. I’m doing a new book at the moment called “Epiphany,” which is based on a series of interviews with people about how they discovered their talent. I’m fascinated by how people got to be there. It’s really prompted by a conversation I had with a wonderful woman who maybe most people have never heard of; she’s called Gillian Lynne –have you heard of her? Some have. She’s a choreographer and everybody knows her work. She did “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera.” She’s wonderful. I used to be on the board of the Royal Ballet in England, as you can see. Anyway, Gillian and I had lunch one day and I said, “Gillian, how’d you get to be a dancer?” And she said it was interesting; when she was at school, she was really hopeless. And the school, in the ’30s, wrote to her parents and said, “We think Gillian has a learning disorder.” She couldn’t concentrate; she was fidgeting. I think now they’d say she had ADHD. Wouldn’t you? But this was the 1930s, and ADHD hadn’t been invented at this point. It wasn’t an available condition. (Laughter) People weren’t aware they could have that.

Anyway, she went to see this specialist. So, this oak-paneled room, and she was there with her mother, and she was led and sat on this chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes while this man talked to her mother about all the problems Gillian was having at school. And at the end of it — because she was disturbing people; her homework was always late; and so on, little kid of eight — in the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian and said, “Gillian, I’ve listened to all these things that your mother’s told me, and I need to speak to her privately.” He said, “Wait here. We’ll be back; we won’t be very long,” and they went and left her. But as they went out the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out the room, he said to her mother, “Just stand and watch her.” And the minute they left the room, she said, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said, “Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick; she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.”

I said, “What happened?” She said, “She did. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room and it was full of people like me. People who couldn’t sit still. People who had to move to think.” Who had to move to think. They did ballet; they did tap; they did jazz; they did modern; they did contemporary. She was eventually auditioned for the Royal Ballet School; she became a soloist; she had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School and founded her own company — the Gillian Lynne Dance Company — met Andrew Lloyd Weber. She’s been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history; she’s given pleasure to millions; and she’s a multi-millionaire. Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down.

–Sir Ken Robinson, TED 2006

I can’t watch that video or read those three paragraphs without knowing, deep in my intuitive Mama soul, that Gillian needs to spend her days feeling successful and happy and dancing and creating art and writing stories and, yes, getting the core curriculum under her belt. She’s spent enough time trying to hold it together and be a good girl and make it through a day only to lose it and be embarrassed by her own inability to sit still and be quiet and wait for others to catch up to what she’s figured out hours or months ago.

As I’ve been struggling with this decision, Gillian’s been making plus and minus lists all Fall as we tried to figure out what parts of her day and week are working and which ones aren’t. It’s narrowed down to the fact that certain people are wonderful and important to her, she wants to participate in her class’ holiday program, and the rest is painful.

So, as awkward as the timing is, my husband, wasband, and I have talked it over and we’ve asked Gillian for her input. We’ve all decided it’s time to enroll her in The Farm School Satellite Program so that she can catch up on what she’s missed while being out of class because of the endless nit picking — both the literal kind and the more hurtful social kind — that she’s encountered this Fall. She’s ready to make the change and we, finally, are too.

The process is pretty simple. I’ll enroll her in The Farm School, they will request her records be transferred, the local school system will want any textbooks and library books back, we will sign an “everything is in order” form at her elementary school and she’ll be transferred.

Gillian had one request and I’m hoping we can make it work. She really wants to be able to go to school and see her classmates and support staff and say goodbye to everyone. The end of the school year is always excruciating for her, so I know this will be tough.

But, she’s a brave, funny, kind, loving, and talented girl. She’ll be fine.

I, on the other hand, may need to set a schedule to rewatch Sir Ken’s video to remind myself why I’m taking this leap with her.

How I Spent November’s Self Care Day on the 6th

November 6

When I first started the Self Care on the 6th thing, it was really the result of a rant. So I didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about the variations on how the day might go. I just launched.  I’m actually proud of myself for this fact. I don’t tend to be a leaper as much as I’m a precontemplater. So, launching… that was amazing.

And here we are three months in. Self Care Day on the 6th landed on a Sunday this month. It also happens to be the day most of the United States flops our calendars back to “standard time” and gain an extra hour in our day. It’s always a tough adjustment for me. My circadian rhythms are evidently etched in titanium because it takes some serious sleep deprivation before I get on a new schedule.

So, today I rested during that extra hour. I slept until I woke up (no alarms) and managed to sleep about an hour later than I usually do. It was wonderful. I only felt a tiny bit guilty as I reminded myself that sleeping in was a act of self care.

My second act of self care today was allowing my string of blog silence continue in spite of the fact that I had a self-imposed deadline. I wanted to encourage y’all, but I took my own advice and didn’t try to pour from an empty cup. I am working on refilling it as I recover from a pretty harsh relapse, and just don’t have the eloquence or the energy to write. So, I didn’t.  I’m here to report that it feels really good to follow my soul urgings in that way.

What I really wanted to do today was be present with my family. With that in mind, I used my extra hour to teach Lizzy to crochet. It’s a meticulous process, but she has the determination to learn. I love this woman. And, yes, she’s a woman now. She turned 18 this week. She’s been asking to learn to crochet for a while, so I got her a great handmade bag, a big hook, and a skein of yarn as part of her birthday celebration. There’s something precious about passing down this very rewarding art to my daughter.

I have another family-focused urging tickling the back of my head. I have been in precontemplation mode about homeschooling our youngest daughter for a couple of months. The question is, can I follow my intuition on this big a decision or am I still harboring fears about re-making that leap?

So, I’m going to use the extra hour one more time. We’re going to sit down as a family and talk about the future and how we’d like to go about living in the now while keeping an eye on then. What does education look like for our family? What does work look like? How do we schedule our days? Our months? Our years?

Living on purpose requires a bit of courage, suspension of disbelief, and pausing to take stock. It also takes time. Good thing we got that extra hour today.

Cold, Rainy Camping: or A Good Day for Zen Doodles

Ned Andrew has an annual retreat he attends and we all tag along.  We get the better deal as we get to hang out in a cabin and take walks around the lake while he sits in meetings.

This year it’s raining. A bunch. So, we’re stuck inside.

Good thing we have plenty to keep us busy.

I’ve got a box of great pens and little pieces of paper to doodle on.

Zen Doodling

The kids are engrossed in a game.

Rainy Camp Games

Champ’s holding down the fort.

Rainy Day Champ

Maybe it will rain all week…

Zen Doodle Green

Boo’s Reading: A Dog’s Purpose by W Bruce Cameron

A Dog's Purpose by W Bruce Cameron

On Wednesdays, Berns and I go to several appointments across town. There isn’t time to come home between them, but there is enough time to get some lunch and take a look around in a couple of shops. Sometimes we hit Edgehill Village, and there are other times when we go over to 12 South, but we tend to end up in Hillsboro Village most of all. There are a couple of restaurants we like there, Natural Selections has cats for Berns to pet, and one of the only really real bookstores in Nashville is on that stretch of 21st Street.

Berns hates choosing books. I can’t explain it because I don’t totally understand it. I mean, he reads an entire book just about every single day. I think it has something to do with the executive functioning/frontal lobe skills required to distinguish between choices and narrowing then down to a selection. He has a hard time choosing socks, so a bookstore has to be somewhat overwhelming even if he’d like nothing better than to read something from the shelves. So, when he asks for a book, I’ll go without meals to buy it for him.

W Bruce Cameron’s A Dogs Purpose: A Novel for Humans was such a book. We were at Bookman/Bookwoman in Hillsboro Village digging through the stacks when Bernie asked for this title. I looked it over, not really sure why he wanted it. When I asked him, he couldn’t explain it except to say that he really liked the subtitle — it was funny. So, okay. We bought it.

As is typical, he devoured it in about an afternoon. I tend to wonder if he actually reads the books or just flips pages, but I should know better. I’ve had a book-a-day habit since the 2nd grade. When I would turn in my the summer reading list, I always got a head shake from the librarian.

“Sure,” she thought, “you read 126 books this summer. Yeah right. And I’m the Last Emperor.” Sometimes they would actually say it out loud. Only I had read them and she wasn’t emperor of anything, much less the last one, and, in one of her rare moments of maternal pride, my mother would say, “Ask her anything. She remembers everything about all of those books.” She was right. I did.

So, I know that it’s possible and I’ve quizzed Berns enough to know he remembers what he reads. Getting it out of him is a whole different challenge.

I may have covered this already, but give me a little latitude. I have four kids and a dog and a husband and go to grad school and work and sometimes I repeat myself.

Back to the challenge. We learned through testing and lots of experience that it is just nearly impossible for Bernie to write. He can tell you in incredible detail all sorts of fascinating things, but when you ask him to jot it down you get unintelligible scrawl that, if it were actually words, might be about two and a half sentences worth. Putting him in front of a computer with a keyboard doesn’t help except that you can make out the letters he selected, but can’t really find words unless you are incredibly creative. It isn’t laziness. It isn’t obstinacy. It’s just not something Bernie’s brain is wired to do.

So, how do you get a book report out of a kid who can’t write and who has learned after years of being forced (at times he was actually strapped to the chair — another blog post, but the things *they* do in the name of therapy to kids with disabilities is just appalling) to produce written work that he sucks at it and doesn’t want to do it and can’t do it even if he did want to do it?

He dictates it as you type it into a word processor. You read it back to him. He corrects it orally. You post it to his blog. He tells his family and friends it is there. They respond. He’s thrilled and asks to do it again.

So that’s what we’re doing. Bern’s second review is up. Go take a look. And no worries, Berns avoids spoilers in case your inspired to read something he reviews.

What does homeschooling look like?

Boo with Blocks

As I’ve mentioned, I am an accidental homeschooling mom. While it isn’t my first go in the home education rodeo, it is still somewhat a new thing this time around. It takes some time to completely switch gears, rework your schedule and your life, and get some of the “now what!?!?!” out of your head and replace it with “here’s how…”

Boo is a math and spacial genius with a massive vocabulary, a love of reading, and an affinity for all-things electronic. He is not a writer in the sense that it is almost impossible for him to take spoken or thought language and put it into any written form. Keyboards don’t help. It’s as if his brain decided to use those circuits for something else.

So, if he can’t write, how can he be a genius? Let me first say that I don’t use this word lightly. Genius is as genius does, my grandmother would say. Yes, he tests off the charts in every academic and achievement assessment thrown at him. His IQ scores — as little faith as I place in those — are consistently through the roof. So, he has the paper cred. But without any of that, the reality is that we knew this kid was smart before he ever spoke his first word. It’s something just innate. The sad truth is that no one got to experience any of this brilliance as he was being bodily removed from classrooms because boredom turned into unsanctioned creativity.

I wish I could say that the minute I brought him home everything turned into a series of wonderful brain-stimulating activities interspersed with museum visits and park dates. Well, we have done each of those things, but the reality is that I’ve been in a denial-induced shock and only sort of half-committing to this thing. We have and use a core curriculum. I’ve bought a dozen magazine subscriptions that he reads cover to cover the day each issue arrives. I can’t keep him in books –he reads them faster than we get them from the library. He has robotics and electronic circuitry kits, craft supplies, and manipulatives of every type at his reach. He’s learning, but I haven’t really been in it with him.

We’ve been fighting some recently. I want him to do his educational stuff and he wants to do something else. I want him to clean his room and he wants to do something else. I want him to come to dinner and he wants to do something else. I’ve never had this kind of relationship with this child and I don’t believe it’s just a bunch of changing hormones.

The good news is that I think I’m finally coming back around. Yes, me. I think I needed an attitude adjustment.

Boo didn’t choose to be home with me any more than he chose to have autism or be brilliant or be a boy or be at all. He’s a kid who likes what he likes and has a pretty strong neurological excuse to be a pain in the neck. Yet, for the most part he’s a sweet child who really does want to be in relationship with folks — including and especially me — in spite of what his diagnosis might indicate.

So, this morning, after spending the week in a bit of despair about the whole thing, I relented. Instead of doing the “first work then play” mantra I’ve been harping on for weeks, I brought out an unopened block set that was stuffed into a toy bin the day after Christmas. I handed him the pieces and he had challenge #60 completed before I got the cards open. He completed 6 more in the time it took me to get my camera.

Champ the Weather Dog made his appearance and I kept my mouth shut as the two of them worked together rather than telling Boo to leave the dog alone and get back to work. We did hit the online curriculum pretty hard this afternoon, but it wasn’t a fight this time. It was a treat to spend the day with my amazing kiddo.

Even if it took me a while to get with the program.

Boo Petting ChampBoo and ChampChamp Helping Boo

Block Challenge 5

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...