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Frequently Questioned Answers About Homeschooling

By Tony Silva
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #8, 1995.

Believe me, we have the answers to your questions...
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Note: An “FAQ” list (it stands for Frequently Asked Questions) is the online way of providing answers to “newbies.” But since homeschoolers frequently have our answers questioned, we have decided that an FQA (Frequently Questioned Answers) list makes more sense. This column was inspired by the FQA list posted on the Internet by Dave Mankins (dm@world.std.com, dm@hri.com). We included some, but not all, of Dave’s FQAs in the following article, by his permission.

You’ve probably heard a million times that there is no such thing as a stupid question. I’ve pretty much made a career of blowing this theory out of the water.

Answering questions about our homeschooling lifestyle, we have to recognize that there is a difference between “stupid” and “ignorant” and respond to questions accordingly:

IGNORANT is when you act stupid because you don’t know any better.

STUPID is when you know better but act ignorant anyway.

With the above observation as our ground rule, let’s review some of the Frequently Questioned Answers which homeschoolers encounter in our everyday lives.

Q Why not take advantage of a perfectly good public education?

  • Public education is neither perfect nor good.
  • We want our kids to be able to read their diplomas.
  • Our children are allergic to bullets.
  • We can teach our own children more efficiently at a lower cost while protecting them from the negative aspects of public education.

Q Do you have a problem with TV?

  • Only when it’s plugged in.
  • Yes . . . .we only get the Barney channel.
  • Yes we want news and public affairs programming besides Inside Edition, Hard Copy, Cops, and Donahue.
  • Of course not . . . . We bought ours from Mary Pride!

Q What do you do about curriculum?

  • We make it up as we go along.
  • We don’t believe in curriculum; it’s too limiting.
  • We read newspapers and then write essays debunking what we’ve read.
  • We start with a scope and sequence of learning objectives appropriate to our children’s skills and select our resources based on reviews of curricula that may meet our needs, and recommendations of others who’ve used them.

Q How do homeschoolers teach reading?

  • We try phonics.
  • If phonics don’t work, we try whole language and rote programs.
  • If whole language and rote programs fail, we teach Writing Road to Reading.
  • When all else fails, we buy actual books and make reading materials available to our children. When we get really desperate, we break down and read to our children until they catch on.

Q Do you homeschool for religious reasons?

  • Not really, but we did pray about it. We also consulted our minister who told us that teaching our own children was a major tenet of our faith.
  • Only on Sundays.
  • That depends on your definition of “religious” and “reason.”
  • Religion in some form has an influence on how many people educate their children. Everyone who believes anything is influenced by those beliefs.

Q How do you deal with historical revisionism and political correctness?

  • We only buy history books published before the Eisenhower Administration.
  • We avoid textbooks approved by our state review board.
  • We seek the advice of a local university history professor . . . and then do the opposite.
  • We try to teach our children about historical events and people without regard to their ethnic, cultural, or gender backgrounds. We believe it is possible to show respect for the diversity that helped shape our nation without showing disrespect for historical fact.

Q What is a “Unit Study?”

  • A detailed biography of Frank Zappa’s daughter.
  • A one-semester course on weights and measures.
  • The homeschooler’s answer to “Outcome Based Education.”
  • A cottage industry for creative folks like Amanda Bennett and Gregg Harris.
  • An in-depth, interdisciplinary exploration of a subject which holds your child’s interest and recognizes that some knowledge escapes the bonds of mere textbooks.

Q Aren’t you concerned about “Socialization?”

  • Only when the neighborhood schools let out.
  • Yes! With 4-H, Scouting, the soccer team and gymnastics lessons, we almost run out of time for church services, support group socials, and school projects. Not to mention that we’re sometimes too exhausted to hit the books.
  • Yes! That’s why we homeschool . . .
  • Not really. We have the advantage of monitoring our child’s peer groups. They have a variety of opportunities to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds. Their experiences are usually positive and they mature faster.

Q How long will you continue to homeschool?

  • Until our kids teach us as much as we need to know.
  • Until we no longer get those little “resource packs” in the mail.
  • Until someone in our household can read and make change.
  • As long as we have children and value their ability to learn, achieve, and become responsible citizens.

Q How do homeschooled children grow up to be normal members of society?

  • By growing strong enough, in the bosom of their family, that the things you think they need to be sheltered from aren’t harmful to their psyches, should they ever actually encounter them.
  • I’ve worked all my life, sitting in a crowded room with people exactly my age, listening to an older person tell me what to do, haven’t you? I can’t imagine anything better!
  • Shouldn’t society grow up to be normal for homeschooled children instead? As the Amish farmer once observed, “I’ve seen normal and I don’t like it.”

Q What should the standard homeschooling curriculum be?

  • The Bible.
  • The World Book Encyclopedia.
  • A good supply of Usborne books. Can I sell you a few?
  • “Curriculum” is such an institutional word, don’t you think? I prefer “library card, clay, and tempera paint,” myself, followed, should my children wish it, by “microscope, microcomputer, library card, clay, and tempera paint.” Did I mention “library card”?
  • “I’ve seen normal and I don’t like it.”

Q How do you spell “homeschool?”

  • “home school”
  • “home-school”
  • “homeschool”
  • “home’s cool”!
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