By Rebecca Kochenderfer
By Elizabeth Kanna
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Copyright © 2002 by Rebecca Kochenderfer and Elizabeth Kanna
All rights reserved.
Hachette Book Group, 237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
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First eBook Edition: July 2002
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CAN YOU IMAGINE A SCHOOL MISSION STATEMENT THAT PROMISED THE FOLLOWING?
• Each child's "readiness" will be considered before he or she begins an area of learning.
• Each child will be encouraged to follow his or her interests.
• Each child will learn by doing.
• Each child will be honored as an individual.
• Each child will have downtime to play and just be a kid.
• Each child will be encouraged to pursue his or her passions in life.
• Each child's special genius will be discovered, nurtured, and preserved.
No one knows and loves your child the way you do. So who is better qualified than you to help them learn?
HOMESCHOOLING FOR SUCCESS
"This is a splendid and valuable work in the expanding field of homeschooling, which the authors have rendered an attractive, exciting, and eminently practical adventure of the mind— I congratulate them!"
—Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of Magical Child and Evolution's End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence
"This concise blend of inspiration and practical resources can guide your family to educational success . . . and fun too!"
—Linda Dobson, author of Homeschooling: The First Year
William, David, Christina, and Madison Kochenderfer
Michael, Randall, Madison, and McKenzie Kanna
The early home schooling pioneers that paved the way ...
This book could not have come to be without the incredible support we received from:
Our gifted editor, Molly Chehak, and her team at Warner Books
Our invaluable Homeschool.com team: Christopher Jaime, Sherri Smith, Patricia Malama, Jackie Grubb, and William Kochenderfer
Robert Kiyosaki, Kim Kiyosaki, Sharon Lechter
Matthew Gollub and Linda L. Cook
The thousands of homeschooling families that we have had the pleasure of advising, learning from, and making a part of our lives.
FOREWORD: FOR THE LOVE OF LEARNING
I AM HONORED TO WRITE THE FOREWORD FOR this book on homeschooling, because this is a book for parents who are taking an active role in their child's education. My own success story can be attributed to such parents. I graduated from school and have done relatively well in life simply because my dad took an active role in my education and encouraged my love of learning.
My first book Rich Dad, Poor Dad is really a book about homeschooling, in the sense that it is about a parent's influence on a child's overall success in life. My real dad—the man I call my poor dad—was a schoolteacher, and eventually the head of education for the state of Hawaii. When I began failing in school—the very system he presided over—he took a more active interest in my academic education. Similarly, my best friend's father—the man I call my rich dad—took an active interest in my financial education. In retrospect, I realize that my report card of life has been more greatly influenced by my two dads than all the education I received in school. The combination of these two individuals' involvement in my education is responsible for my success in life.
Public school was a frightening and often humiliating place for me. As a mature adult, the only recurring nightmare I have is a dream in which I'm taking a test I was not prepared for, knowing I was going to fail. School for me simply meant long hours of boredom. I had very little interest in the subjects I was required to study. At PTA meetings, my parents were often told that I was "slow," "lacking motivation," and "not applying myself." Despite these labels, I knew I was not stupid. I was simply bored and could find very little relationship between what I was studying and real life. If I were in school today, I would probably be labeled as someone with a learning disability such as ADD or ADHD. I would be the poster boy for Ritalin.
At the age of fifteen, I flunked out of high school. It was the single most painful experience in my life up to that point. As the superintendent of education for the state of Hawaii, my father was certainly less than thrilled to have his son flunking school. Word spread quickly among his colleagues, and there were a few jokes about the top educator's son being a scholastic failure. I don't know if my dad was embarrassed, but if he was, he didn't show it. All he said when he came home the night I received my failing grade was "It's time for your education to begin." And begin it did.
Even though my father ran the school system, he knew it could never replace the lessons taught by a child's parents. He decided to step in and take an active role in my education. He did not focus on grades, passing tests, class ranking, which college I was going to, or how high my IQ was. The first thing he focused on was restoring my love of learning, which had been badly damaged. His lessons began when he said, "Learn to study because you want to learn, not because you have to pass a test." He also said, "Sometimes in life, we need to learn things we may not want to learn. So before you begin studying anything, even if you do not want to study it, first find out why you want to learn whatever it is you are studying. Learning how to want to learn is more important than the grades you receive."
Although I never learned to like school, my parents' intervention in my education helped me graduate. I was even awarded a congressional appointment to an academically tough military college in New York from which I graduated with a bachelor of science degree. Recently, at my thirtieth college class reunion, I caught up with old friends and reminisced about the times when we were young and looking forward to our future. It was interesting to see who had aged the most, who was still thin, who gained the most weight, who was successful, married, divorced, had kids, grandkids, and who was no longer alive. The reunion inspired me to reflect back on all of life's successes and failures. I realized that most of my success did not come from what I learned in school, but from what I learned at home.
Today, I continue to be a poor reader, yet I read because I want to learn. I continue to be a poor writer, yet I have had four books on the Wall Street Journal best-seller list. I managed to graduate from high school in spite of the fact that nearly 50 percent of those who started with me failed along the way—and many of those had had higher SAT scores, higher grade point averages, and higher IQs than I did. Talking to my classmates at my reunion in New York helped me realize that where we are today has very little to do with how well we did in school but more to do with how well we did at home, both as children and as adults.
In closing, I will leave you with words of wisdom from both my rich dad and poor dad, words of wisdom that have helped me with my report card of life . May these words assist you in guiding your children's education and preparing them for the world they will face as adults.
As my schoolteacher dad once said to me, "Life is not about grades. Life is about lifelong learning."
Thank you for reading this very important book.
IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU ARE AT LEAST CURIOUS about homeschooling. Perhaps you've heard how the number of homeschooling families is growing or you have met a family that homeschools. Maybe you're researching homeschooling out of desperation because of your child's school situation. Regardless of the reasons that compelled you to pick up this book, we want to share with you one important message: You can successfully homeschool your child.
Trust us. We have successfully homeschooled our own children, as have over two million families across America. We are not rocket scientists by profession. We don't have unlimited amounts of patience, and we do get mad and frustrated with our kids sometimes. We don't get up at six A.M. to clean our whole house before we start homeschooling for the day (although we admire those who do). We can't cook dinner and help our kids with a messy science experiment at the same time (oops, yes, we can do that). We don't turn every second of the day into a teachable moment. And we do occasionally dream about our before-children days—days spent reading the entire Sunday paper in bed. In other words, we are probably a lot like you, with one big exception: Our children have never crossed a public school threshold. Our years of observation and knowledge of how our children learn best allowed us to create a superior education for them at home.
Although our children have not yet reached adulthood, they are happy, confident, intelligent self-starters who love to learn. Whether or not our children receive a full ride to Harvard, Dartmouth, or Yale, as many other homeschoolers * have before them, we and our spouses believe that our children's home education is preparing them to meet all the challenges and opportunities that life will present to them. The education they receive at home is superior because it follows one fundamental belief, and we use this one belief as our guiding principal in all aspects of our children's education: Each of our children was born with special gifts and talents. Each of them was born with his or her own unique genius. Homeschooling is the best educational option for us to honor those special gifts because it can be tailored to each of our children's learning styles, interests, readiness, and intelligence.
The customized nature of homeschooling has led to many outstanding achievements by homeschoolers, many of whom have been in the media spotlight and are profiled throughout this book. While many educators consider customized learning or one-on-one learning as an optimal learning environment for a child's future success, we believe it is every child's birthright. So, why did the two of us decide to homeschool our kids?
My (Elizabeth Kanna's) husband, a public junior high school teacher, first brought the subject of homeschooling to my attention in 1992, when our first child was three. I thought he was joking. Homeschool? That was for weirdos! What kind of a person wouldn't send their kids to school? I had plenty of objections to homeschooling, but after reading Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax (one of the first books on homeschooling ever published), I was hooked. I loved the idea of helping our inquisitive daughter learn about the world. We had so much fun together. Did it all have to end when our daughter turned five? Couldn't we continue as we were now? Ten years and two more daughters later, my children continue to learn at home.
Our girls are encouraged to approach new subjects and milestones in their life when they are ready, not when society says they should. Rather than impeding their emotional and social progress, I believe homeschooling has put our girls ahead of the curve. My oldest daughter, Randall, recently had the opportunity to meet and interview Dr. Robert Ballard, the man who found the Titanic . Even though she was only eleven years old, she was poised and articulate when interviewing this world-renowned scientist, demonstrating skill far beyond her chronological age and public school–educated peers.
I (Rebecca Kochenderfer) was motivated to homeschool my children by the same reason I became a special education teacher: I loved seeing the spark in children's eyes when they learned something new. I wanted to be the one to see the spark in my own children's eyes when they learned to read or learned how to add numbers for the first time. But my foremost homeschooling goal is to help my children develop their natural gifts. For example, my son is a hands-on learner, and homeschooling has provided us with the freedom to make sure he has plenty of opportunities to build things, explore, and create mad science experiments.
Like many homeschooling parents, homeschooling became not only an educational choice for us, it became a lifestyle—a lifestyle based on freedom and flexibility. My husband and I made traveling a priority in our lives before we started our family and we wanted to continue to travel after our children were born. The flexibility of homeschooling gives us the opportunity to show our children as much of the world as we can and still provide them with a good education.
GET READY—YOUR LIFE IS GOING TO CHANGE
Homeschooling has the power to change your life. It has certainly changed ours. Even though you choose to homeschool for your children's benefit, something amazing happens to you, the parent. You get excited about learning again. You may remember how much you liked reading historical novels, or rediscover how much you liked science, or you decide to take guitar lessons, too, when you sign up your child for lessons. You start to see all the possibilities that life has to offer again—just like a child does. As we continue to help our children explore their special talents, we have simultaneously rediscovered our own talents.
For us, the fact that we could do something "radical" like homeschooling and succeed gave us the confidence to try other new things. One sunny afternoon in January, while our kids ran around and played, we conceived the idea for an online community for all homeschooling families. We envisioned a portal that would help families find the information and support we wished we had had when we started homeschooling our children. Three months later, we launched Homeschool.com. Three years later, Homeschool.com has become not just the number one homeschooling site on the Internet, but one of the top forty-five sites on the Internet, according to Forbes magazine. Through Homeschool.com we have helped thousands of homeschoolers across the United States and have worked with some of the leading voices in the homeschooling community. We believe we have discovered the secrets to successful homeschooling and, in fact, to a superior education. This book is intended to share those secrets.
In this book, we don't draw upon just our own personal homeschooling experiences but the experiences of thousands of homeschooling families. We also provide information, support, and resources for all different styles and approaches to homeschooling. As founders of Homeschool.com, we have had the opportunity to meet or interview some of the most respected Ph.D.'s, best-selling authors, educators, scientists, historians, and mathematicians, as well as other home-schooling experts. That experience and knowledge is shared with you in this book.
We wrote this book because homeschooling has had a profound effect on our lives and on our children's lives. So, for a few hours, a few days, or maybe forever, forget about what society dictates is "the right way" for your child to be educated and consider looking "outside the box" for your child's education. We did. And we wrote this book so that you can look outside the box and create a superior education for your children at home too.
THE TEN MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HOMESCHOOLING
1. Homeschooling is life changing. It creates personal growth for both the parent and the child. You (the parent) get a chance to rediscover your own special genius while you help your children discover theirs. Nothing you will ever do will have a more profound effect on your child and your family's future as homeschooling.
2. You are qualified to homeschool your children if you love to read to them, love to spend time with them, love to explore the world with them, love to see them learn new things, and, most important, love them.
3. Children love to learn. It is as natural to them as breathing. They have an inborn hunger to explore the world and examine what is interesting. They learn by following their interests, with one interest leading to another. This is the way we all learned as younger children and how as adults we learn after we leave school. Home-schooling families learn together and know that learning is a lifelong process.
4. Homeschooling is legal everywhere in the United States, but homeschooling laws vary from state to state. The three basic categories for homeschooling laws are: home education laws, private school laws, and equivalency laws. (See Appendix C for the laws in your state.)
5. It does not take six to eight hours a day to homeschool your child. Most of the time children spend at school consists of waiting. Design a plan that works for your family and be prepared to scratch it several times and start over. Don't sacrifice your family's happiness to "school" your children. There are many ways families home-school; find what works for you and your family.
6. Your child will not become a social misfit. Children do not need to be socialized in a large group of same-age children to become well-adjusted socially. Quite the opposite. Most parents want their children to learn their social graces from adults, not other children. Homeschoolers have healthy relationships with people of all ages, including the new mother next door; the retired couple who loves to garden; their friends at ballet, 4-H, and karate; and, most important, their parents.
7. You will not have to teach algebra unless you really want to. It is not necessary to teach pre-algebra to ten-year-olds. When your teen decides to become a scientist, or is ready to explore the requirements of college admission, together you will explore the ways they can learn algebra: in a community college class, with a tutor, or through textbooks. After years of using math in their daily lives, homeschooled teens are well equipped to teach themselves higher math. Don't worry about it when they are ten.
8. You will question yourself a lot. Maybe several times a day in the beginning. This is normal. Find a fellow homeschooling friend. Support each other. Tell each other that it's okay to sometimes feel that your children didn't seem to learn anything on a given day. They did, and so did you!
9. You do not have to starve or live in a tent to homeschool your children. Thousands of homeschooling families are able to make the money they need and homeschool their children at the same time. While you create a family business or dream job, or restructure your current job, your children will learn the most important skill of all— how to create the life of their dreams.
10. Trust in your child. They learned how to love, smile, crawl, walk, talk, run, dress themselves, and understand their world before starting school, and they will continue to grow and learn without school.
Home: The Ideal School
Joanne sits in school each day, waiting. If only she could tell her teacher all the things she is thinking about, then her teacher would know how smart she is! Her mom and dad tell her all the time how smart she is and that she is a great artist; her grandmother says she is a genius. But if she's so smart, how come her teacher never tells her so? How come her teacher never calls on her to answer a question in class? If she is smart, why does she have a hard time learning things in class? Joanne loves art, and often day dreams about creating beautiful pictures, but she rarely gets to draw in class, and the last time she did, her teacher told her what to draw. She really wanted to draw a picture of those fluffy clouds she saw that morning on the way to school. Instead, she was told to find all the words that begin with a "B" on a worksheet and then color them blue. She was given only a blue crayon. She knew if she colored a cloud blue on the worksheet, her teacher would not be pleased. She is also distracted by all the interruptions while trying to read in class, and she really does not like the story her teacher gives her to read anyway. She likes stories about little girls like her, but ones who lived a long time ago like the Little House on the Prairie books her mom reads to her. Her mom is also teaching her how to cook. She gets to touch everything ... and measure stuff ! At the end of the school day, she can't wait to get home and draw some pictures and do some more cooking with her mom. But she almost always has homework. After her homework is done, it is time for dinner and then it is bedtime. If only she could stay up a little later with her mom and dad, but tomorrow is another school day.
Joanne is six years old. She will spend the next eleven years in compulsory classrooms—eleven more years in classrooms that don't teach to her personal learning style. Classrooms that are distracting, crowded, and often boring. Classrooms that will do little to encourage her love of learning. Classrooms where her intelligence, interests, and talents will most likely never be recognized, much less nurtured.
What would happen if Joanne learned at home, where her love of learning has been encouraged since the day she was born? At home, she could have learned by touching and doing, where her paintings of fluffy clouds could cover her bedroom walls, and where she could have spent more time with the people who love her more than anyone else in the world.
"Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents."
John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education,
Homeschooling is not new. It is the way this country has educated its children for all but the last 150 years. Now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, as many as two million children in the United States are learning at home. Why the resurgence of such an educational method? Because homeschooling is the ideal school for most children, and one that our current schools won't ever be able to compete with.
Our public schools were designed on a factory principal: assembly line education to create conformist citizens. The ultimate one-size-fits-all. In the industrial age, the United States needed millions of workers for the assembly lines. Our public schools were designed to create factory drones who would follow instructions, without asking too many questions. While these schools achieved their goal in the early industrial age, the standard of education they established is no longer socially or economically relevant. We live in an age that requires higher standards and increased creativity. The industrial revolution is over. *
"The part of the brain that thrives on worksheets and teacher lectures probably takes up less than one percent of the total avail able for learning."
Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D., In Their Own Way
In his recent book, The Roaring 2000s, Harry S. Dent, Jr., one of the world's most prescient economic prognosticators, describes the ideal school of the future: "Teachers must ... cultivate a relationship with each individual student. They must determine exactly where each child is in the development process and their specific strengths and weaknesses in learning. They must give each child the individual attention he or she needs to feel valued as a human being, which generates self-esteem and motivation. By establishing a personal relationship with each child, the teacher can determine which subjects and skills need emphasis at each stage of education. They can protect children from the often cruel criticism of others by not putting them into classes and learning experiences for which they are not ready."
Dent's vision of an ideal school in the future will be one in which a child's uniqueness is honored—an idea that runs counter to the principles of our schools. We do not honor the "crazy ideas" kids have. We simply can't honor the individual in a classroom of thirty kids. The teacher does not have time. She has to keep the class moving: They must be on lesson twelve before the third week of the second semester to keep up with the state's standards.
Some might think that honoring the individual sounds "new agey" and not really important in preparing children for success. But honoring each child's uniqueness is not only what all children deserve, it is critical to their future success.
The world our children will function in as adults is a world we have never seen before—from where they will live and how they will communicate to the new business model they will utilize. And in this new world, the most highly valued skills will be creativity and uniqueness—both entrepreneurial and interpersonal. What type of education has the power to create these skills in children? Customized education. According to Dent, this is the only education that will help our children develop the skills they will need for success in the information age. Can a school that serves up a one-size-fits-all curriculum deliver a customized education to children? Of course not. What Dent calls "our top-down, left-brain, mass educational system" cannot give children the individualized education they need. Harry Dent is not alone in his vision of a school of the future that honors the individual and provides an education customized to that uniqueness.
- On Sale
- Feb 28, 2009
- Page Count
- 304 pages
- Grand Central Publishing