Longer Hours in a Broken System: The Future of American Schools – Part 2

As a parent I just want to know one thing, I pray about itevery day.  How do I raise strong, confident spiritual champions in today’s society?   Legacy Dad aside, I found an answer from a lifelong teacher and mother herself named Mary Menacho

“These inspirational (parents) are parents who manage the influences, the exposures, and the content that infiltrate their children’s worlds. These parents understand the value of unstructured time by limiting activities, outside lessons, and electronic media. These parents understand the role of simple toys and good books in opening a child’s imagination. They understand the power of the Internet and media as an empowering, educating tool. These parents understand that they are called to be parents – to set and enforce limits, to foster resilience and independence and responsibility in children. These parents understand that the children are not given to us to right the wrongs of one’s own childhood. Rather children are given to us so that we will nurture them into healthy adulthood.”

I believe I have found a hybrid option to the home school/private school dilemma.   K¹²K12

 K¹² is a hybrid online/offline homeschooling platform that

-   Reduces the need for a parent to be a full time teacher. (4-5 hours per day)

-   Tailors the curriculum to the student’s strengths and weaknesses. 

-   Provides all textbooks, materials and resources. (Science, Labs, Minerals)

-   Produces Standardized Test Scores that are 20-30% higher than traditional schools.

-   Did I mention it is free?  Well it’s paid by our tax dollars.

 K¹² has become the largest provider of online learning for grades K-12, they have created a top notch engaging curriculum that blends online and offline learning experiences. They also enable differentiated instruction down to the individual level — rooted in decades of educational research.  They wrap this curriculum with services that include teacher support, daily lesson plans, and a vibrant, global online community. 

 Also, I have discovered that K¹² has really taken off and won the approval of traditional homeschoolers around the country.  They also have local groups that get together to socialize, attend field trips, and meet on an almost weekly basis.  Plus, the teacher is a phone call/email away and also meets with you in person if needed. 

 It seems like a happy medium win/win situation all around. 

 However, as my wife and I discuss this , the cons of homeschooling always come up.

1.   Will my wife go crazy spending all her time with the kids and as a result, our marriage will suffer?

2.       2. Will this require radical lifestyle changes?

3.       3. Will our children suffer socially?

Number one will only be answered if we decide to give this idea some room to grow and actually start the program.  We have also talked about splitting the teaching between ourselves.  Her in the morning and myself when I get home in the evening.  

According to K¹², number two seems minimal as children will spend 20-30% of their time online; the rest is spent reading assignments or doing homework.  If you have a computer, printer and scanner; the software and curriculum guides the children.  

And finally the one I hear so often, Will our children suffer socially? 

First, this will be different for each family and for that matter, each child.  My children have lived in a foreign country, moved numerous times and are generally social champions adept at meeting new friends and socializing easily.  However, for a shy child or child with a learning disability, the outcome may be different.           

Optimistic A quick Google search pulled up the Ph.D. thesis by Karl M. Bundy entitled Socialization: A Great Reason Not to Go to School.  In this thesis, Mr. Bundy exams research about the topic and makes some compelling arguments.

The first argument from educators and school boards is that homeschooled children lack social skills and therefore suffer from self esteem problems later in life.  Mr. Bundy found that self-esteem is a concept that was born in the school system, and it is best for parents not to overemphasize the self-esteem of their children. Professor Martin E.P. Seligman, in his helpful book The Optimistic Child discusses how self-esteem has been more and more emphasized in schools during precisely the same years that the youth suicide rate has increased in the United States. Seligman suggests "optimism," a concept he defines in The Optimistic Child, is a better thing for parents to develop than self-esteem. I have read, and am still trying to confirm in other sources, that Seligman is himself a homeschooling parent. Whether or not he is a homeschooler, I know that he is a highly respected psychologist, as I have read many books and articles that cite his research, and have confirmed that Professor Seligman was recently the president of the American Psychological Association.

Also examined were the findings of Larry Edward Shyers in that he found no significant difference between his two groups in scores on the Children's Assertive Behavior Scale. But direct observation by trained observers, using a "blind" procedure, found that home-schooled children had significantly fewer problem behaviors, as measured by the Child Observation Checklist's Direct Observation Form, than traditionally schooled children when playing in mixed groups of children from both kinds of schooling backgrounds.

 While my wife and I are still not convinced that this is the best route to go, we are certainly open to the concept and are planning on researching this more in depth.  At any rate, if it all checks out, we may try it next school year as we also start our “Legacy Dad Confirmation Program.”  Which I would call a Christian Worldview Primer as well as the core beliefs of Christianity.

 If anyone has any insights, comments or suggestions please post them or email me at lance@legacydad.com