Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Homeschool Statistics

Home education has constantly grown over the last two decades. The growth rate is 7% to 15% per year, according to Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute (Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling).

Despite what you might read in the media, home education is growing rapidly in the United States and is becoming more and more popular in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Why? There are many reasons why homeschooling is on the rise.
Homeschool statistics reveal the following as the most popular reasons parents decide to homeschool their children:
  • Can give child better education at home
  • Religious reason
  • Poor learning environment at school
  • Family reasons
  • To develop character/morality
  • Object to what school teaches
  • School does not challenge child
  • Other problems with available schools
  • Child has special needs/disability
  • Transportation/convenience
  • Child not old enough to enter school
  • Parent's career
  • Could not get into desired school
  • Other reasons

There are as many different styles of homeschooling as there are reasons to homeschool. Some of the more popular are:
  • Classical Education, including the Trivium
  • Montessori Method
  • Unschooling
  • Radical Unscholing
  • Waldorf Education
  • Charlotte Mason
  • A Thomas Jefferson Education
  • Theory of Multiple Intelligences
  • School at Home
  • Accidental Homeschoolers
  • Eclectic Homeschoolers
Which style do you currently subscribe to, or are still in the “hunting” phase? It is not uncommon for parents to spend a few years trying on different styles of schooling and different resources before they zero in on the ones that work for them. I say “ones” because many times homeschoolers use multiple resources even if they subscribe to one particular style of homeschooling. In my personal experience we tried many different types of home education until we finally landed on what I call semi-eclectic unschoolers. I say semi because we are not totally unschoolers (definitely not radical unschoolers), and we are not totally traditional school at home folks either. We subscribe to a healthy, eclectic blend of student led and Mom required. It is important to test drive theories, styles, and resources before settling on a style.

But what about socialization? This question comes up far too often as far as homeschoolers are concerned. How many times have you had non-homeschooling families ask you about your children being isolated? Data on homeschool students' activities and community involvement reveal that, on average, homeschool children are engaged in 5.2 activities outside the home, with 98% involved in two or more. Concerned zapped!

HSLDA published an excellent article on Academic Statistics on Homeschooling. A-Z Homes Cool also has a very current article about homeschool statistics.  I encourage you to check them both out.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Alphabetical Order and Technology

How many of you still use a manual typewriter? Does anyone still use cassettes or, and this is a long shot, the eight track? What about the rotary phone or a dictionary, and I am referring to a hardback dictionary, not via the Internet. New inventions are always being introduced, and new technology replaces out of date ways of doing things.

Some things never go out of date. It is important to know how to put things in alphabetical order. It is just one way to show kids how things are organized, such as words. ABC order helps us organize things, and organizing is here to stay wouldn’t you say?

Learning at an early age about different ways to sort things by various attributes is essential. Kids are taught how to put words in alphabetical order by first letter beginning in first grade. An easy way to introduce kids to alphabetical order is by playing ABC games. Playing online games is fun. Kids tend to retain more when they are actively engaged. 


Knowing how to put things in alphabetical order is crucial in order for kids to accurately use reference materials such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and telephone directories. It doesn’t matter if they use the various reference materials online or in actual book format, they must still possess the skills necessary in order to locate information they need. Later in life, alphabetical skills are important in various work situations such as filing charts, documents, and so forth.

In the past, alphabetizing as a learning skill, was mainly tied to writing or worksheet activities. Technology has changed that. Kids today are very creative and technologically adept. They create all sorts of digital products rather than just pencil and paper items. However, these digital products won’t end up stuffed in a filing cabinet, a dusty basement, or file folder. Instead, their creations/product may be cached and live online indefinitely. This is wonderful, especially for the visual spatial learner.

Kids are able to tag their creations/products so they can easily retrieve them, organize them, bookmark them…whether it’s documents, their favorite music, photographs, videos…While they will not want or need to alphabetize everything, much of what they store will benefit from being put in alphabetical order.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Digital Natives and Academics

Do you know what a digital native or a digital immigrant is? A digital native is basically someone who grows up immersed in digital technology. It is the norm for them. A digital immigrant has to  play catch-up with technology because it came along much later in life for them.

When I was in high school the biggest advancement in technology for me was taking typing on an electric typewriter (no word processor when I needed one). We had a Commodore 64 computer in our house, but you better know DOS in order to use. Windows didn't exist, much less Internet. I do remember playing Pong. Do you? In my twenties, I dreamed of having a phone I could take in my car when I traveled long distances. I remember our first color television, our first microwave, our first blow dryer (complete with asbestos), our first t.v. remote (no more getting up to change channels for my Dad), our first dishwasher, our first cassette tape player (sure beat the 8-track)... As a married adult, my first cell phone came with 10 minutes a month, and I never went over! I grew up a semi-digital immigrant.

Nobody here is telling anyone how to homeschool, but I bet that most homeschool parents and classroom teachers try to keep up with the latest in technology and how to best use it with kids in an academic setting.

Today’s students - K through college - represent the first generations to grow up with this new technology.  They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, video games, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age.  Today's average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video games (not to mention 20,000 hours watching TV).  Computer games, email, the Internet, cell phones and instant messaging are integral parts of their lives. Marc Prensky

From  On the Horizon (NCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001)
© 2001 Marc Prensky

Mr. Prensky goes on to say that "'s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. These differences go far further and deeper than most educators suspect or realize." He also states the digital immigrant is out-of-date when it comes to connecting to digital natives. Mr. Prensky believes the digital immigrant MUST learn a new language in order to teach the digital native, and furthermore, he is not convinced they can do it, or do it effectively. 

How do Mr. Prensky's thoughts strike you?

  • Do you agree or disagree, and why? 
  • Do you think your child processes information differently due to environment and technology? 
  • Do you think their brain is structured differently because of digital usage? 
  • Do you think our digital learners are at a disadvantage learning from digital immigrants or semi-digital immigrants? (I say semi-digital immigrants because even digital immigrants learn at different rates. Some pick up right away and some just scrape by.)
  • What is your digital accent?

I agree with Prensky on many issues, but I disagree with his notion that kids are at a disadvantage being taught by digital immigrants. I also disagree with his assumption that digital immigrants need to learn to speak a new language...change their accent. Many of us who are digital immigrants or semi-digital immigrants and teach, have adopted dynamic ways to engage students and promote learning in a way that challenges and encourages the student. It is wise to learn all we can about the digital native culture in order to help kids learn and grow, however, good teaching is good teaching regardless. A good teacher has the goal of meeting a student's needs by embracing his learning style, engaging them in higher-order thinking, and encouraging them to love learning. That might include using printable worksheets, an app on their cell phone or iPad, a video lesson, or an old-fashioned workbook. A good teacher uses whatever tools are necessary to reach a goal. 

In conclusion, I do believe the use of technology to further  academics is here to stay. I believe it has its place and, if used correctly, is a great teacher. I also believe most parents, learning coaches, and classroom teachers are effective in their role. They must pick and choose wisely in order to reach the student. 

I look forward to reading your take on digital natives and schooling. 

Digital Native/Digital Immigrant humor:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Standardized Testing

Have you ever heard of the Terra Nova Assessment Series? No, not the Terra Nova television series. What about the FCAT, TAKS, SAT-9, CTBS/5, or ITBS? The last one sounds a little like irritable bowel syndrome doesn't it? These strange sounding terms might cause irritable bowel or a headache if you or your child are getting ready for one. 
All of the above are references to state or national standardized tests for school-age students. The powers that be have determined that testing is the best way to measure a student's educational achievement. There are as many pros and cons to testing as there are folks who support and denounce testing as a means of showing accountability.
One major problem I personally have with testing is the simple fact that some kids are just not test takers, however, they are very bright students. Some kids have a learning challenge that interferes with paper and pencil testing, and some kids freeze when it comes to tests. The visual-spatial learner, the dyslexic kid, or the kid with CAPD, not to mention the kid with dysgraphia, are at a disadvantage as far as standardized testing is concerned . They usually do not score well on paper and pencil tests even though many of them are very capable students with a good IQ.
Homeschool standardized testing has a slight advantage over public school standardized testing in that some homeschooled kids can be tested by a qualified tester in the comfort of their own home, or in a small group setting. More breaks are offered, and possibly less stress is experienced. Some states do not require testing at all, while some require the student to be tested, but the scores are not required to be turned into the school district or authorities.
What are your thoughts on standardized testing in general and in relationship to homeschooled students? I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hello 3D Readers! myspace graphic comments
Twitter Background

Hello 3D readers! I am thrilled to have been asked to join this neat blog as a contributor. My name is Jackie. My background includes teaching in both private and public school. A series of events led me to  eventually begin homeschooling my daughter. That is one event I would not change for anything. It has been an awesome adventure so far.

I look forward to creating posts that will inform, intrigue, and encourage you. Please feel free to add your comments as we journey together. I look forward to reading what you have to say.