I am thankful some local school boards and teachers associations have mandated the period starting April 2 as a time that all families in Oklahoma can practice and experience what it is like to educate their children at home.
It is amazing that these groups have put their own interests aside in order to help families recognize their own impact on their children’s well-being and education and to show families that they, in fact, do have the resources to care for their own children’s education and upbringing without the help of the state.
Home education is a burgeoning practice in the State of Oklahoma. In fact, Oklahoma is the state with the best homeschooling laws in the nation. While in other states, the education establishment battles home education, we are proud that, in Oklahoma, our teachers are so enthusiastic about home schooling that, on April 2, they will close the schools down so that everyone can practice homeschooling and see the benefits that it holds for their families.
Everyone agrees that the public school system has numerous problems. These include:
• Overcrowded classes
• Underfunded supply budgets
• Overworked teachers
• An overemphasis on testing
• Social problems with bullies
• Stringent regulations on classroom activities
• Left-leaning curriculum
These are issues that our legislature continually fails to address, and our children suffer because of it. Therefore, I am thankful that the school boards and teachers have taken a step toward helping students, even at their own expense.
However, I am happy to say that none of these problems exist in home education. You can test as much or as little as you think appropriate. If you are unsure how your child’s progress stands in relationship to his or her peers, you can take a standardized test and find out. If your child is more of a creative type and learns differently, you can put off testing and give your child the freedom to be educated through exploration. In fact, you can choose to do different things in different seasons of your child’s education, as they are needed.
The classes aren’t overcrowded either (with a few exceptions for some of the more, um, fertile members of the movement). Most homeschool classrooms have only a few members. Is that too few for you? Well, you can join a homeschool co-op and educate your children in community! Do you want to do a co-op some days and not on others? That is also a possibility.
When homeschooling, if there is a bully in your kid’s class, you can discipline him yourself! No need to involve administrators, other teachers, or anything. Just handle the problem directly. You can send the bully to time-out or assign him extra chores or whatever you deem most appropriate.
The class periods themselves are as creative or as boring as you want to make them. Is class today reading the textbook? Great! Oh, wait, someone has an issue with math. Okay, I guess it is one-on-one tutoring time. You know what would make this week exciting—a field trip to the children’s museum! Change out of your pajamas and head to the car, kids!
If you are disappointed with the curriculum, you have the ability to change it. Would you like to include a curriculum that honors God’s work in science? You can do that! Would you like a curriculum that includes the moral dimensions of history? You can do that, too! Do you prefer the just-the-facts-ma’am approach? Also available.
It is possible to spend thousands to teach your few children, or you can educate your students with a few basic supplies, online resources, and a library card. You can buy curricula that are cheap or expensive, new or used, classical or progressive. There are even programs that provide free curricula for home educating families right here in Tulsa.
Choosing a curriculum may sound daunting, but, really, it isn’t. Find friends and start with what they are doing. What doesn’t work for you, change! Alternatively, homeschool communities exist that have the entire curriculum preplanned for you and help you along the way. There are even full online courses, some of which can be had for free.
Many people don’t homeschool because they don’t feel they are qualified to teach. However, this is not a real problem. Many students learn just fine on their own. If they don’t, you can hire a tutor or find other resources to help them. Oklahoma is full of groups, communities, and associations to help homeschooling parents. Just remember, if you graduated high school, then your knowledge of the subject is sufficient for a high-school audience! One large reason public school teachers need a degree is to learn to manage a room of 30+ students who all have different needs and different families! Since your classroom will only consist of your own children, with whom you are already familiar, I’m sure you will do fine.
I am unclear about the school’s plan for families who depend on schools for assistance. Although homeschooling can be done without being financially burdensome, not every family can afford to homeschool. Some are in straight-up dire circumstances. I’m sure the people who organized this practice period have a plan, but, in case they forgot this detail, I hope that the generosity of Oklahomans and their churches, businesses, and service organizations will be sufficient.
If you are in this situation, recognize that the people of Oklahoma are among the most generous in the nation, so don’t be afraid to reach out to a neighbor for assistance.
Oklahoma teachers have to face these issues just as much as your students do. It makes educating students difficult. That’s why I am so grateful that they are making the effort to provide families all across the state the practice they need in order to make the leap to homeschooling.
Because the Tulsa area teachers care so much for their students, every family can practice, experience, and gain confidence to take control of their own child’s education.