Sunday, July 29, 2012

More in support of the Swedish home schoolers, an article from July 27th edition of The Wall Street Journal on the new fusion education, Roam Schooling.

I don't know how most people spend their second morning home schooling. I spent mine hyperventilating into a paper bag. After less than 24 hours of educating my child at home, I was struck by the realization that I wasn't up to the task and should move immediately to Plan B. Except I didn't have a Plan B.

For two years leading up to this I had watched my daughter convince experienced, well-meaning teachers that she was incapable of mastering long division when, in fact, she simply didn't like long division. Alice's ploy raised a larger concern: At age 9, she appeared to be cruising along in school without actually doing any work. To my sorrow, it appeared I had given birth to myself, another pleasant slacker fated to a lifetime of successfully studying for midterms between classes until barely paying attention stopped working. Alice wasn't learning how to learn, she was learning how to coast. Maybe I could wait and see if she came to learning on her own. Or maybe she needed a different kind of education.

Her father and I checked out a few middle-school programs known for their rigor. Each promised to challenge Alice academically but also promised hours of homework every night. I'm greedy. I want my child challenged, but I don't want her staying up until 2 a.m. every night translating "The Aeneid." I knew we had a small window of opportunity to teach Alice to love learning, but I also knew there was an equally small window for her to be a child. Her academic options seemed to lie on either side of a wide chasm: a fluffy pillow on one side, a jackhammer on the other. I tried home schooling because I couldn't find a better alternative.

It turns out I'm not alone. Today in the U.S., some two million children are home schooled, growing at an annual rate of 7% to 15% for over a decade, according to the president of the National Home Education Research Institute. The term "home schooler" once implied "isolationist religious zealot" or "off-the-grid anarchist who makes her own yogurt." Today, it also means military parents who hate to see their kids keep changing schools; or the family with a future Olympian who ice skates five hours a day; or your cousin whose daughter is gifted but has a learning disability. The average home schooler is no longer a sideshow oddity.

"I could never ever teach math," more than a few parents told me in horror at the very idea of home schooling. Or science. Or a foreign language. But mostly, it was math. Here's my secret: I can't teach math either. Once they start calling them integers instead of numbers, I recoil as from a fat, angry snake, which is why Alice takes an online math class, with great lashings of help from her father.

But the biggest thing people want to talk about is socialization. Everyone is worried that I keep my child in a crate with three air holes punched in it and won't let her have friends until she gets her AARP card. There's a long answer, of course, but I'll sum it up this way: Homo sapiens have walked the Earth for at least 130,000 years and, in this time, they learned to be human from their elders, not from their peers. Mandatory education in the U.S. is less than 150 years old. Learning to be a productive adult human by spending a third of every day with other kids might be a good idea, but it's too soon to tell. I'm still unsure that the people best equipped to teach a 14-year-old boy how to be a man are other 14-year-old boys.

In fact, home-schooled kids are just as socialized as other children. They certainly seem to grow up to be, and feel, fully engaged. One study, by a Canadian home-schooling group, found that 67% of formerly home-schooled adult respondents said they are "very happy," as opposed to the general population's 43%. Another study, published in the Journal of College Admission, found that home-schooled students perform better on their ACTs, have higher college GPAs and are more likely to graduate in four years.


I shared many of the negative preconceptions before we began home schooling, but I can see now that my kid is as socially well adjusted as the dozens of other kids she hangs out with. (Her mother still needs work.)

As we approached the end of our first year home schooling, we asked ourselves whether Alice should continue the experiment or return to what many of our friends still call "real school." At this point it no longer seemed to us like a binary decision. It was less a matter of either/or than of how-much-of-each.

I suspect that many Americans will reach the same conclusion as they adapt to new social and economic realities. Online classes have already become part of an extended curriculum for many students. In the iTunes version of public education, relevant learning experiences will originate from the large redbrick building down the street, from a recreation center downtown, from a music studio in Seattle or a lecture hall in London. As our habits evolve, it won't be home schooling as we've known it, but it won't be brick-and-mortar schooling, either. I call it "roam schooling."

Imagine that your high-school junior spends half of every day at the brick-and-mortar school up the street. Two afternoons a week, he logs into an art-history seminar being taught by a grad student in Paris. He takes computer animation classes at the local college, sings in the church choir and dives at the community pool. He studies Web design on YouTube. He and three classmates see a tutor at the public library who preps them for AP Chemistry. He practices Spanish on Skype and takes cooking lessons at a nearby restaurant every Saturday morning.

Is this home schooling or regular school? Who cares? He's learning. More important, his curriculum hits the basics but also works for him. Nobody expects all young people to download the same 20 or 30 songs on iTunes. Why should they be limited to the same dozen or so classes for school? And if you think that public education will never change because it's too big, I'd point out that the music business looked like an invincible Goliath before digital technology raised its slingshot.
Some lessons are best learned at a kitchen table, others in a lecture hall, a chemistry lab or a gym. It would be nice if students everywhere had access to every option, and more of them will, I expect, over the next decade. With each passing year, the division between home schooling and institutional schooling will continue to dissolve. We will go to the education, and the education will come to us. The bad news is that it doesn't work that way yet. The good news is that we get to build it.

—Adapted from Ms. Cummings's "The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling," which will be published on Aug. 7. Follow her on Twitter: @quinncy.
A version of this article appeared July 28, 2012, on page C2 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: My Education inHome Schooling.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Home-schooling in the modern world: Success of home-schooled children

By Shaunti Feldhahn Syndicated Columnist

Like many critics, I used to feel vaguely sorry for home-schooled kids. What a shame, I thought, that they might be deprived of the well-rounded education and social skills to become integrated, productive members of society. I never thought to question why cafeteria food fights or the predatory pack habits of teenage girls would be better for molding productive members of society.

This uninformed, critical opinion lasted precisely until I met my first home-schooled children several years ago. Within one month I met five home-schooling families, and their 13 children were among the most polite, well-adjusted, socially adept and academically advanced kids I'd ever seen. Being home-educated seemed to have given them a confidence and maturity — and yes, social skill — far beyond their years. They had many friends, but didn't seem dependent on their peers for approval — a far cry from what I remember as a kid.

I've since learned that these kids were not the home-schooling exception but the rule, which makes me wonder how anyone could look at the data and say it deprives kids of anything. In a landmark study by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, among 7,000 young adults who had been home-schooled, 74 percent had attained some college courses, compared with just 46 percent of other young adults — and 82 percent said they would home-school their own kids. On the social front, almost twice as many home-schooled adults as those in the general population were active in their community (71 percent to 37 percent) and "very happy" with life (59 percent to 28 percent).

In 1998, a Home School Legal Defense Association's study of 20,760 home-school students found that: "In every subject and at every grade level (on standardized tests), home-school students scored significantly higher than their public and private school counterparts." Younger home-schoolers performed one grade level higher than their public and private school counterparts, and by eighth grade, "the average home-school student performs four grade levels above the national average."

Obviously, home education doesn't fit every family. But the evidence makes me think it's the kids who aren't home-schooled who may be missing out, not the other way around.

A recent article in the New York Times "Home Schoolers Do Not Just Stay Home" gives a picture of what modern home schooling looks like in practice, and how museums across the USA have developed programs for home schoolers.
This Infographic on the realties of home schooling can be viewed here:

The Home Advantage Infographic can be viewed here:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Swedish Home Schoolers Need Your Help!

Anytime an authority grossly misunderstands and forbids a fundamental freedom, I just can not keep my mouth closed about it. I hope you will spread the word in your circle, and through your blog about this...

Sweden has made home schooling a crime. People are refused meeting to even discuss approval of their plans to home school, and their requests for meetings are met with fines of $20,000 per kid per year instead. There are a number of cases in Scandinavia where social services takes the children from parents like that of Dominic Johnson and Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya in Norway, so parents here are afraid not only of fines but that their children will be removed from the family and put in foster care. This means they do not feel safe to stay in the country and fight the law with acts of civil disobedience, but must leave the country to insure their family is safe. This impacts me because the one family we see on a weekly basis home schools, and will move away this fall. They are relocating the technology company the husband runs to USA. We will miss them, and are sad to see the great lengths they must go to make a choice freely available to responsible adults and parents through out the rest of the free world. It worries me even more, as the response of the average educated Sweden here is not indignity, but to defend the move to outlaw homeschooling. Puzzling.

We also are undecided about our plans for the future, and have been trying to work out a life that involves living part time in Sweden, and part time in the USA. Our schedule will not sync with the school year, so we  would home school. My home town in Florida has a very active home school group we could be a part of, even some Waldorf home schoolers. But, it would not be safe to stay in the Swedish system and not follow the school enrollment rules, so we are looking at just making the move more full time to USA so we can home school and be free to travel, with out the burden of the Swedish schedules.

There are only about 100 families home schooling in Sweden. I easily know that many home schoolers myself. I know it is a fun, exciting way to provide individualized education. In the age where we can work anywhere, certainly people should understand children can learn anywhere.

The following is a message and video about an action to raise awareness about the situation for home schoolers in Sweden.
Latest updates are available at:

"For many of you this may be a new concept, but here in little old Sweden the government have passed a new law making education in schools compulsory unless you have exceptional circumstances. This means that home educating has become increasingly difficult, and has left many people struggling with councils, local governments and the government. In many cases the situation has forced them to leave the country due to the pressures and fines placed on them because of their desire to home educate. The laws passed go against article 2 of the European convention of human rights.

So what is actually happening in Sweden today in 2012 is that families are fleeing their home country due to a new law that have been passed. This law goes against the Human Rights and is robbing    the families of their right to freedom.  Sweden, previously known in the world for being a safe place for refuges is now creating its own. And this just because families want the right to educate their children at home, something that has been proved through research over and over again just as good as any school – and often even better.

So we’ve had a new thought about how to try and raise awareness over the situation of home education here in Sweden. We thought we could end the Askö Family Camp  by setting off on a  “Walk to Freedom”. Well, our thought is to walk from little Askö to Åland which is about 170 km to the ferry in Stockholm. This represents the sacrifice made by so many of the Swedish home educators who are leaving the country they love with the endeavor to find the freedom of home educating. Åland, a Finnish island of the coast of Stockholm, has different home educating laws and home education is not prohibited and also the official language is Swedish.  So by walking from Askö (“Sweden’s international home education camp”) to Åland where many people are fleeing, we hope to portray what people are going through in order to achieve this freedom.

We were hoping to walk via Eskilstuna, Strängnäs and Södertälje on our way to Stockholm to try and make awareness in some of the bigger places on the way. Stockholm, being the capital is of course very important in this sense. We would get the ferry from Stockholm to Åland because if we don’t it’s a pretty long swim out in the Baltic sea.

With many educators moving to Åland, we are hoping that this will symbolise the struggle that some of you have gone through and that to find Freedom you actually have to leave Sweden. This, we believe, will make a powerful message to send out to society, the media and the government and will help promote awareness of the issue.

Well if you’re up for being a part of this please let us know. We’re hoping that families, parents or anyone that is interested will join. It should be a fantastic adventure, challenge and will give us all another opportunity to promote and make awareness for home education here in Sweden.

The intention is to walk the whole distance in 5-6 days and of course get the ferry from Stockholm. We were thinking to start the last day of or the day after the Askö Camp has finished on the 13th July.
If you just want to walk part of it, the start, the end, meet us at places we aim to be (if we get there), walk just a little, drive with us or carry equipment, then please feel free to join us, the help and support will be much appreciated. If you can or cannot join us but wish to help or get involved in the walk to freedom here are a few suggestions:-This is a short list of possible ways to help, if you think of anything else please let us know.

-spreading the word (inviting friends, family or sharing on other blogs and forums)
-If you know of any contacts (people within the media or potential sponsors)
-Financial aid (help with cost of ferries and possible support vehicles)

And, the more the merrier, so we hope many will join us and turn this into an awesome manifestation!"