You know what really helped me to see my world with a different lens? Reading about female genital mutilation.

It’s a big problem in some communities. girls have their clitoris removed each year. It’s extremely painful, of course, but also dangerous—hundreds of  girls die each year from infections. And those who survive endure intense pain during sex for the rest of their lives.

Westerners have made huge efforts to educate the communities performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on why it’s not safe and not necessary. The key decision makers in this arena are the mothers. The mothers decide when their daughters will do it, and the mothers often perform the procedure personally.

So the question is, why, when the mothers know how painful the process is, would they have their daughters go through the same thing? It is cultural, of course. But what the mothers don’t want to admit is that the pain they themselves endured is a waste. And also, they don’t want to risk making their daughter different from everyone else because it might end up being bad for her.

It’s easy for us to see that the mother should say no to cutting off her daughter’s clitoris. But it’s hard for us to overcome the same mental and cultural obstacle when it’s not FGM but rather homeschooling.

We have in our mind that our kids need to read what we read. They need to get through math becuase we did and we don’t want to hear that all those years were wasted. We tell ourselves that we are more valuable to society because we have degrees. If we tell our kids the degrees are worth nothing in the real world, then we have to question our own value.

Sometimes, when I get scared to be a homeschooler, I think about how much I admire the women who can protect their daughters from FGM. And I think, this is such a small risk in comparison. How can I not do this for my kids when other parents have to endure so much more to go against the dominant belief system?

The women who hold their daughters back when the rituals come calling – those women risk being ostracized by their community. They risk making their daughter unmarriageable. And they have to look back on their own lives and start questioning everything: why did their mother let this happen? Why does the community devalue the kids? How can you be part of a community and not accept basic principals of the community?

You have to ask all the same questions when you take your kids out of school.

When I read interviews of mothers thinking of holding their daughters back, the mothers are scared and tortured by the decision. When I read interviews about the mothers a few years later, they are so grateful they did it. Their daughters are so grateful. And in hindsight the decision seems so logical and easy.

The decision to homeschool is so similar. The emotional part of the decision is very difficult. The logical part of the decision is very easy. In order to cope with the emotional difficulties, we tell ourself that the logic is complicated.

It’s not complicated—here’s how I know. Many of you will say that public school is not as bad as a FGM. But that is a cultural opinion, not a scientific one. Long-term repetition of low-level trauma is worse for somenoe’s personal development than a one-time huge trauma. Here’s how I know: I was at the World Trade Center when it fell. And I tested very high for post-traumatic stress. But after talking with me, the psychologist told me my high levels are from my childhood—of repeated, subtle abuse—rather than from 9/11. If you have unpredictable, low-level stress that you have no control over, you can’t recover until the low-level stress stops.

 

 

 

 

46 replies
  1. karelys
    karelys says:

    wow, this post is so helpful in so many ways!

    I have already made up my mind (Chris too) about homeschooling. Just making up my mind has been so freeing and now the prospects of career or business or jobs or anything are so much more relaxed! I don’t have to think in ways that everything is compartmentalized. As a family we can go wherever and whenever we want or can.

    But there are things that bother in other aspects of life. And here’s the thing, once FGM made me rethink of all aspects that are so constricting but they are only cultural (therefore made up), then it was so much easier to accept homeschooling (for me). But the snowball had already started and it didn’t end there. It took over aspects of my life like religion, and politics, and even marriage.

    It was very scary for a while because now everything was getting questioned. And yes, I decided to walk away from many things because I thought it was a waste of effort and a bad investment of time and money. But there are other things that I am more committed to than ever, like marriage, not because of any other reason but my own reasons and my husband’s. Funnily enough marriage is much more painful and harder to keep at than any other thing that I decided to quit.

    So here’s the thing, once I accepted unschooling and internalized it because I wanted my child (and us) to be free thinkers and learners I just couldn’t stop there. The same principle applied to everything I did in my life. And I just couldn’t stop and now my life is all upside down and turned around because I started reading this blog.

  2. mbl
    mbl says:

    One of the hardest things for me about homeschooling is dealing with my anger/disappointment at/with my mother for having left me in such a worthless educational environment.

    I think that a lot parents lack support for their decision to homeschool from their mothers because of the real or implied criticism of the now grandmothers’ choices.

    Sorry, this is getting convoluted, but I know that it is really hard for me to talk to my mother about curriculum/no-curriculum, how much screen time, what type of screen time, legos or dance . . . It absolutely doesn’t help that she is an ‘what will people think’ ESFJ to my ‘how will dd feel about this 30 years from now if I let her have mac and cheese again today’ INFP/J.

    So, umm, back to your post, I agree that the little day to day “your time doesn’t matter” hits that kids take all day, every day have a huge impact all through adult hood. I wonder what makes some people think “I did it; so you should too” and others think “It was hell for me; there is no way I would put you through that.” Does it boil down to how optimally successful you think you turned out? Dunno.

    • Karen
      Karen says:

      Oh oh oh!!! Me too!!!

      My “but what will people think?” mother is so embarrassed that her grandsons’ are homeschooled that I regularly run into friends of hers who have no idea we do it because she refuses to tell anybody about it. It’s hilarious that she doesn’t realize how ridiculous she is making herself look especially since most of them are supportive and encouraging when they find out.

    • Sheela
      Sheela says:

      SOOOO much of my hesitance to jump into unschooling is fear of my mother.

      Fear of hurting her feelings, making her feel at the age of 76 like the very brave, outside the box choices that she made in her day (first in her family to go to college, first to travel abroad, first to own an apartment, married a jew instead of an off the boat Irish guy like her sisters, and most important, sent my sister and I to a progressive private school instead of Catholic school) are not good enough for me.

      I’ve already rejected her Catholic faith. Not faith altogether, just the Catholic part, but in her mind, I might as well have taken up Devil Worship as Congregationalism.

      Keeping my children out of school is unfathomable to her, to my father, my sister, brother-in-law, my cousins, most friends. And, I imagine, it will feel like the last, vicious slap in the face in a long line of slaps for a woman who I respect and admire and who was my hero of non-conformity.

    • Heather Sanders
      Heather Sanders says:

      I am an ESFJ. I homeschool. When I began homeschooling I did not have the support of friends or family members; they thought we were crazy. I was armed with information and a gut feeling.

      It has been years, and my parents and family believe in what we are doing, and some of they are some of our strongest advocates now.

      Every personality can come around – even those of us who really cherish a pat on the back and affirmation that we’re doing it right.

      • mbl
        mbl says:

        Heather,
        There’s hope! There’s hope! :D

        A watershed moment for me was when I realized that every decision that I made wasn’t actually “what will my mother think?” but “what will my mother think other people will think?”

        Good news, though, she has come around. After a few months she said something to the effect of “Well, I think you did make the best choice since I just don’t think you would be satisfied with any other situation.” Love the backhand. And after that she really did see how happy my daughter was and that we could take long road trips to visit her across the country.

        I’m so glad that your family has come around!

    • mh
      mh says:

      mbl,

      Me, too. I hardly ever know what to answer when my mom asks me what she should tell her friends about why I homeschool.

      I mean, why would her friends possibly care that I homeschool my kids?

      So, I just smile and say, “Well, now we’re free.”

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        That’s such a nice answer. I was so totally overwhelmed by the constant constraints of my kids’ school. That’s what I feel, too: we are free.

        Penelope

  3. Lyndap
    Lyndap says:

    Going against the grain is a difficult thing to do when we’ve been conditioned all our lives to go with “the flow”…conform…be sheep. There are some aspects of my life that I do not conform to what standard expectations are. But then in other parts of my life, I’m just as conformist as the next person. I have one child that struggles in every aspect of his life, never takes the easy road, always must pick the most difficult path…maybe there’s a reason why…perhaps he’s not afraid to go against the grain and I should allow him some more freedom to do that (but then I have to go against the grain to allow that to happen).

  4. Karen
    Karen says:

    Penelope,

    I think that this is one of the best and most insightful posts you’ve yet written. I sort of feel like I am on this unschooling journey with you as I have 2 sons almost exactly the same ages as yours. I started homeschooling before you did but was doing school at home at first. You started this blog just as I was beginning to question the wisdom of that approach and your writing and research led me to where I am now and it’s a lot better place than where I was before which was me forcing my miserable children to do it my way. The hardest part was “deschooling” myself because you’re right – there was a huge emotional cost involved in admitting that a large portion of my own education was a waste of time. What you do on this blog helped me to change my family’s life for the better, so thanks for that.

  5. mh
    mh says:

    Penelope,

    I love this topic, but even the most indoctrinaire education is not a total waste. Even the worst experiences shape people. People can find benefit in any situation.

    And having the courage to make different choices IS cultural change — there’s always that consolation, even against the strictest critics.

    Just think what this generation of homeschool kids is going to decide. They’ll probably all be Mars colonists and voluntary incubators of cancer vaccines. We can’t even imagine it now.

  6. Satya
    Satya says:

    This post is perfect for me today. I just got back from a friend’s house where their 4yo is doing division and the house is full of wholesome creative activities. My son goes to the playground and watches truck movies.

    Neither kid is in school yet but it just hit my fear zone of how if I homeschool, the responsibility of what I expose him to is all on me. School is messed up, but in a known way. What mistakes will I make, what will I miss if I go into uncharted waters? I’m willing to try but feel so intimidated doing something I don’t have a cultural model for.

  7. JT
    JT says:

    “Many of you will say that public school is not as bad as a FGM. But that is a cultural opinion, not a scientific one”

    Do you mean you’d rather have your sons experience genital mutilation than attend public school?

    Or would you yourself have preferred FGM to attending public school?

    To say ps is as bad as physical torture and mutilation is a bit much.

    • Commenter
      Commenter says:

      No really. Teaching your kids long division is just like taking a dirty clam shell to their private parts.

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      Did you actually read the article because you’ll notice that she says the decision to forgo FGM is much more difficult for those mother’s than her decision to homeschool.

      The whole tone of the article is “if they can do this incredibly difficult thing, then I can do this.”

      With regards to the trauma of school vs. the trauma of mutilation she provides you some links to research on the topic of long-term low level trauma vs. one time high-level trauma. You’d probably be best off actually reading the links and citing your differing opinions with that research than just being incredulous.

      • JT
        JT says:

        Yes, but she clearly says the one-time high level trauma is worse. So, that implies (to me) that she’d prefer the mutilation to the school experience. That’s what I was asking about. Is she really saying FGM is preferable to the “low-level trauma” of public school, and that this is the choice she’d make if she had to?

  8. Kevin T. Keith
    Kevin T. Keith says:

    Wow, you’re such a feminist heroine for keeping your kids out of school. It’s like striking a blow for sexual freedom, except not letting them have sexual freedom, or any kind of knowledge you don’t approve of. Limiting your children’s options is the new way of broadening their options! Please, enjoy the cookie you gave yourself – you deserve it.

    • mbl
      mbl says:

      Heehee! Your comment is hilarious given your linked abortion rights blog post. Have you ever taken a peek at some of Penelope’s tweets/posts/national interviews regarding the stripping of women’s right to choose?

      I agree, she does deserve a cookie. Preferably an organic, artificial color and flavoring free, guten free, stevia sweetened cookie.

      If your goal was simply to get people to click the link, kudos! Well played.

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      Remind me again how Penelope is limiting her children’s sexual freedom and knowledge. Be sure to cite actual posts as evidence.

  9. shinobi
    shinobi says:

    I do see some parallels between FGM and homeschooling, since as you pointed out, FGM is often performed by untrained mothers in an unsanitary environment.

    So too with home schooling, performed by people often with little training in childhood education, or even understanding children’s development. Undertaken by parents with no experience in educating, developing lesson plans, and evaluating learning. They take on this important task of educating their children, away from normal socialization with their peers, and at home. And those kids spend much of their time in an environment alone with their parents who think they are the most bestest thing in the world, and can’t always be bothered to make them read a book they aren’t interested in.

    These children get to grow up, free from normalized social restrictions, stern teachers, and chafing routine. So that when they become an adult they get to try to learn how to fit into a normalized social structure, deal with jerk bosses and mind numbing routine at 23, instead of at 5.

    But I don’t think that’s what you meant.

    • mh
      mh says:

      shinobi,

      I find your ideas of “normal” to be quite odd. But then again, you are free to be odd — odder even than I.

      Homeschool parents have long felt the disdain of those who know better how to educate one’s own children. Somehow — >>somehow<< — we'll survive your contemptuous blog posts.

      I'm sorry you live in a world of mind-numbing routine with a jerk for a boss. I want better for my kids.

    • Heather Sanders
      Heather Sanders says:

      I typically enjoy reading others’ strong opinions, especially when they counter mine, because it stretches, engages, and challenges my own personal mindset.

      However, your strong opinions on homeschooling are ignorant. I encourage you to check the research on your points. The two homeschooling arguments that time and research has most successfully refuted are about the necessity of “child education experts” and “socialization.”

    • mbl
      mbl says:

      Slightly tweaked, your response reads as a paean to unschooling.
      Clearly, given the caliber of those who comment here, your description of backwoods, barefoot, insular motivations seems silly.
      IRL I have noticed that for the majority of homeschooling families I have met, the impetus for HSing was problematically bright and curious parents refuse to let their problematically bright and curious kids endure the system. Many have tried various private, public, and magnet options before concluding that HSing was the only option that could begin to meet their children’s needs. Others knew this from the get-go.

      “These children get to grow up, free from normalized, but stultifying, social restrictions, stern teachers, and chafing routine. So that when they become an adult they get to try to learn how to create a healthy social structure, avoid having to deal with jerk bosses and mind numbing routine.And they can do this at 5, instead of at 23 (or never.}”

      But I don’t think that’s what you meant.

      • Princess
        Princess says:

        I was one of those bright, creative students forced to endure mind-numbing routine along with “socialization,” where the only social groups were the athletes and the druggies, while others were outside the camp. And this was at the “good,” public school in the community. At least in that era, you didn’t have school shootings and an epidemic of suicide due to bullying. I supplemented my “education,” by reading voraciously on my own, which led to publishing pieces in local papers. I guess I homeschooled myself? :) I graduated a year early and started community college at 16, where I was introduced to a wealth of learning and social options. My oldest is a student at one of the “California Ivies.” My youngest has Aspergers, and has been able to follow his passions (or obsessions rather) in film, politics, economic and popular culture. He has been blessed with positive and accepting social interactions, while I continually hear the angst concerning the shunning and bullying some friends with spectrum children endure in ps. So much for the mantra, “Autistic children need socialization.” Yes, they need positive and loving socialization, not “survival of the fittest,” socialization. Perhaps my experience will allow me to offer a word of advice to the methodological purists: I was eclectic in homeschooling my kids, trying different approaches and using what worked for each child at a particular time.

  10. Jennifer Busick
    Jennifer Busick says:

    Hah. I never had the least doubt about homeschooling my children, precisely because I was aware all along that my 13 years in the public school system were utterly wasted; an near-total waste of my time. I wasn’t going to do that to my kids.

    • Jennifer Busick
      Jennifer Busick says:

      Also, wow, I could wish for some comment moderation. Trolls should be deleted without mercy.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        I try to not delete comments unless they are totally stupid or offensive. I don’t mind people telling me I’m an idiot as long as they have some line of reasoning. It makes for more interesting conversation than if we are all in agreement all the time.

        Penelope

  11. Ru
    Ru says:

    I read this and before I even got to the point/last sentence of the post, I got lost in thinking about FGM topic itself and had to re-read the post several times to get your point. My head comes up with the thought that emotional intelligence is so hard to understand, so hard to measure, so hard to get a handle on if you had no choice in the matter. If we were all better at handling our emotions, not in a full-fledge let’s talk about feelings kind of way-, but quiet and self-assured way, we would all lead fearless lives. These woman would be making choices based on personal preferences instead of fear. You are really good at talking about your fears all the time so that your emotions are as out there as your opinions.

  12. Karen
    Karen says:

    I really like this article, but I’m having a hard time with your last sentence about low-level trauma. While there is mounting evidence that school is creating low-level trauma, especially in young kids (via high-stakes testing, increased in-seat academic time, ADHD overdiagnosis, etc.), there is also some evidence that at least some homeschoolers are also facing low-level trauma at the hands of their homeschooling parents. I came across a new website called Homeschoolers Anonymous that posts stories from young adults who grew up in religiously conservative (mostly from Christian protestant fundamentalist) homeschool families. These young people have stories laced with low-level trauma, most of which they experienced because their parents decided homeschool was the best path to total religious indoctrination. So, that scares me a bit. Even if I write that off as being some small group of religious nuts, that could be as much as 3/4 of homeschoolers (they cite a stat that says 3/4 of homeschoolers are conservative Christian families). As someone who grew up with parents who were fundamentalists for several years (they later moderated somewhat), I have no doubt that these young people faced psychological trauma.

    What do I do with that as a soon-to-be homeschooling parent? Just hope we don’t meet any of these victims of low-level trauma? You can avoid the religious homeschool groups, but is that enough? Does it make it harder to defend homeschooling? (Hey, don’t worry, it’s becoming more diverse, maybe only 1/2 of homeschool kids are now subject to low-level religious and psychological trauma …)

    I still plan to homeschool and I think it’s the right choice for my family, but I do worry about kids who face as bad as school or worse trauma in homeschooling. How do we talk about homeshooling in light of this (at least anecdotal) evidence, especially since the kind of trauma isn’t recognized as abusive (much as school-inflicted trauma is also not recognized as abusive)?

    • mh
      mh says:

      I must be doing homeschool wrong — I never meet people like this. Maybe it’s because I’m near a big city. Fundamentalist Christians isolating and harming their children? None.

      I do see people homeschool for what I consider to be odd reasons — vegan lifestyle being the main one, but also the no-plastic-in-our-home-people — but I guess everybody who homeschools has an “odd reason” for doing so, at least from the mainstream culture’s point of view.

      Anyway, I’m not a group-joiner. I don’t know diddly-squat about what happens in homeschool groups. So YMMV.

    • Jennifer Busick
      Jennifer Busick says:

      “Conservative Christian protestants” is not synonymous with a hardcore policy of total religious indoctrination; I doubt that the problem is widespread and pervasive in homeschooling as it is in public education.

      • Karen
        Karen says:

        Well, you don’t have to practice total religious indoctrination to be psychologically abusive. A conservative Christian parent can just buy a curriculum that teaches kids outright lies about the physical world around them, or teaches oppressive views of women, or teaches that people with different belief systems deserve death. Total religious indoctrination not required, and it’s still psychological abuse. (I recognize that Protestant fundamentalists aren’t the only people who do this; my husband assures me some Catholics are quite good at it too – as are others of which I am less aware.) My main point is that we shouldn’t pretend that homeschooling is some panacea for low-level child trauma, because there is plenty of low level trauma going on in lots of homeschooling families.

        • Jennifer Busick
          Jennifer Busick says:

          There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support the assertion that “there is plenty of low level trauma going on in lots of homeschooling families.” There is no research at all to bear this out. The statement is unsupportable.

          • Karen
            Karen says:

            Right. Because it could only be true if there’s a big, longitudinal research study attached to it. Here’s my support for the statement, which is based on some assumptions, plus some logic, but which probably won’t be good enough for you since it’s not a published sociological study.

            Fundamentalist belief systems are abusive to the people in them. I am not alone in this belief. Here’s a resource on religious trauma that lists some beliefs that can be abusive: http://journeyfree.org/rts/understandingrts/ (You can also just search for fundamentalist spiritual abuse or religious abuse and find an endless supply of information on it.) This is the kind of stuff that to me, qualifies as continuous low-level trauma if children (or adults for that matter) are exposed to it.

            Taking the assumption that at least some fundamentalist practices are abusive, and adding that at least some sizable minority of homeschooling families are conservative fundamentalists, I get to “low-level trauma in lots of homeschooling families.” Here’s some numbers: let’s assume that homeschooling demographics have changed dramatically, so that now only 25% of homeschool kids are in Christian fundamentalist families. And let’s assume there’s 1.5 million homeschool kids (it may be closer to 2 million). So that’s 375,000 kids facing low-level stress and trauma in their fundamentalist homeschooling families. That’s roughly the population of New Orleans or Tampa. But, maybe you don’t think that is “lots” of kids.

            At any rate, don’t take my word for it. Young people who grew up in these low-level abuive fundamentalist homeschooling familes are starting to talk. Here are dozens of stories that have been collected just since the beginning of March: http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/

            I tend to believe people when they tell their stories; I don’t assume they are all lying or exaggerating just because it doesn’t fit with my homeschool-supporting agenda. Even though I support homeschooling and plan to homeschool myself starting next year, I’m not going to support or ignore abusive practices in the name of some united homeschooling front against the government. Again, homeschooling is not a panacea for preventing low-level traumatic stress in children, since I suspect that hundreds of thousands of homeschooling children face low-level trauma in their homes fairly regularly.

          • Jennifer Busick
            Jennifer Busick says:

            You are *literally* using “fundamentalist” as synonymous with “abusive.” You are literally working from the proposition that *every single fundamentalist family* has at least *some* kind of abusive behavior.

            This is an insupportable assertion. “Fundamentalist” and “abusive” are not synonyms. The most you can say is that some fundamentalist families may be behaving in abusive ways… which you could say about any family or any group anywhere.

  13. Julie
    Julie says:

    I married a guy who had no interest in college and, after we had kids, I became a housewife while he is the breadwinner. So, in other words, most of my education was a total waste of time, and most of the things that I actually need to know in my adult life, I wasn’t taught in school. I can freely admit this, and it does not damage my self-worth in any way. It doesn’t bother me, and my husband and I even joke about it.

    However, that does not lead me to believe that all formal education, such as making your kids learn math, is a waste of time. I don’t unschool my kids, although our schedule and curriculum are much more open and flexible than a formal public (or most private) school would be. I have read a lot of unschoolers, and I’m just not convinced that it’s a waste of time to teach specific subjects. Most kids do not know for certain what they want to be when they grow up (a few do), so most of them and their parents/teachers have no way of knowing what they will need to know when they get out into the adult world. There aren’t, in my experience, a lot of kids who are thinking, “hey, I’d really like to be a pharmaceuticals rep, so what kinds of skills do I need?” yet there will be many of them who will, in fact, become pharmaceuticals reps. Plus, many jobs involve skills that you wouldn’t suspect. My husband drives a truck for an oil well servicing company. He makes good money, without a college degree, but he needs algebraic problem solving skills. He could not, in fact, have gotten this job if he didn’t already have them. I do not intend to teach my kids algebra with the purpose of making them drive trucks for oilwell servicing companies; I intend to teach them algebra because the range of jobs where that type of problem solving shows up is larger than a lot of people think, and I want them to be able to do whatever they decide to do in the end. Math, like language, is one of those skills that is much better learned when we are young, because of brain plasticity, so I believe (and, obviously, you are free to believe otherwise, and we can agree to disagree) that I would be failing my kids if we didn’t cover math in homeschool.

    • JT
      JT says:

      “Math, like language, is one of those skills that is much better learned when we are young, because of brain plasticity, so I believe (and, obviously, you are free to believe otherwise, and we can agree to disagree) that I would be failing my kids if we didn’t cover math in homeschool.”

      Absolutely! I don’t want my kids to suddenly have to learn percentages when they are first buying a house. Or to learn fractions when they are trying to see if their paycheck is correct. That puts them at a huge disadvantage.

      It doesn’t matter if they learn it “fast” because they want to. If that even happens. I want them to enter adulthood with all the skills that everyone else has, all the skills they need to do adult things, like buy a house or check the accuracy of their pay.

      • mbl
        mbl says:

        Oh for pete’s sake, if you honestly believe that it is possible for your child to be in a position to buy a house without having picked up on percentages (or discovering a nifty mortgage calculator–a skill that everyone else has) then you might want the raise the bar a bit. If, by some chance they did find themselves in such a situation, most likely they have inherited money, married it, or can afford an accountant. But I certainly feel sorry for all of the wait staff that they have stiffed in restaurants over the years.

        Fractions . . . let them bake a couple of cakes from scratch. Once the results are edible, they probably know a bit about fractions.

        Start shorting them on their allowance and see if they notice. Throw in some creative “Enron math” and see if they take the time to prove you wrong or just shrug their shoulders and carry on.

        Right after my daughter turned 4 we baked some cookies. Once we were done I put 5 on a plate in between us.
        me: If I get half the cookies and you get the other half, how many do you get?
        dd: I don’t know . . .
        me: If we each get the same number of cookies, how many do you get?
        dd:I don’t know . . .2?
        me: Okay. You get 2 and I get the rest.
        Her eyes widened to the size of the 2 cookies on her plate and exclaimed with alarm “2 and a half! 2 and a half!!”

        5= 2x solve for x and now she knows algebra.

        She is 7 now and we don’t use much of a curriculum, but occasional Life of Fred books. They introduce math in a need to know fashion with art, science, language, etc. thrown into the mix. They are supposed to last about 4 months and she reads one or two in a day and doesn’t touch them again for 2 or 3 months. Try that in a classroom.

        These days she is into balloon twisting and origami–you know sneaky fractions, geometry, estimation, 3D visual rotation and stuff.

        The point is, you don’t have to call it math. It is learning life skills. They can be covered via shopping or workshop. Good luck building useful stuff without learning about distance, measurements, and angles.

        Regarding brain plasticity, as has been stated on this blog, the foundation for math doesn’t need to come from workbooks or desk time. Music, blocks, art, and even origami will do. As P has stated, the trick is for the parent to guide the child into situations where they want to learn. A lemonade stand is great for fractions, basic algebra, econ, and marketing.

        But if your child likes workbooks, knock yourself out, let ’em loose and congratulate yourself for having an enthusiastic learner.

        • JT
          JT says:

          Really? That’s all the fractions you want your kid to know? Baking a cake and dividing it up? That’s it?

          I want my kids to know at least as much as they are learning in the public schools. And I want them to know far more complex fractions, percentages and algebra.

          Sounds like you have only brushed the surface of these topics–why? If a school did this, you’d be outraged.

          • mbl
            mbl says:

            Sorry if I wasn’t clear. I was referring to a foundation for mathematics, which doesn’t have to come from a curriculum. Giving them a real life impetus to want, need, and ask for more. And in the time frame that works for and with the child.

            I want more my child and for yours too. I don’t think school is the place to get it. We pulled our daughter from our excellent local school for numerous reasons, but, ironically, one of the last straws was over math workbooks. I was begging them to just get her something more appropriate, just the next year’s workbook. “But what will she do next year?”

            Honestly, you don’t need to worry about my daughter for at least 2-3 years. Our state requires HSers to take a nationally normed achievement test. I love the fact that the state test is good enough for PS, but not for HS. Anyway, she is a couple of years ahead, so even if she stagnates she’ll be right on track. But given that she didn’t learn anything in school, it isn’t highly likely that suddenly stop learning the way she always has. BUT, if she does, since we have a 1:1 ratio, you can bet I’ll actually know about.

  14. Linda
    Linda says:

    We became homeschoolers due to major traumatic experiences for both me and my son at the start of a school year. Had it not been for that, if it were just low level daily stress, we’d still be there. So I have to praise God that my son’s teacher was SO FOUL. So glad my son has the freedom to pursue his love of learning rather than having a gun to his head to fill out worksheets to bring up his standardized test scores. So glad he can be himself without fear of being put under a microscope analyzing his imperfections. So glad his primary social connections are to his family rather than his peers. So grateful we are off that treadmill.

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