Pat Higgins Memoir
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|Title||Higgins, Pat - Interview and Memoir|
|Description||Higgins, a Lawrence, Massachusetts mother of four, recalls her experiences with home schooling. She discusses her decision to teach her children at home, curriculum, advantages and disadvantages, difficulties, legalities, and support groups.|
|Creator||Higgins, Pat b. 1953|
|Contributing Institution||Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield|
|Contributors||Moore, Linda [interviewer]|
|Digital Format||PDF; MP3|
|Relation||HOME SCHOOLING PROJECT|
|Rights||© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this material, please contact: Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield, One University Plaza, MS BRK 140, Springfield IL 62703-5407. Phone: (217) 206-6520. http://library.uis.edu/archives/index.html|
University of Illinois at Springfield
Norris L Brookens Library
Pat Higgins Memoir
H535. Higgins, Pat b. 1953 Interview and memoir 1 tape, 74 mins., 24 pp.
HOME SCHOOLING PROJECT
Higgins, a Lawrence, Massachusetts mother of four, recalls her experiences with home schooling. She discusses her decision to teach her children at home, curriculum, advantages and disadvantages, difficulties, legalities, and support groups.
Interview by Linda Moore, 1990 OPEN See collateral file
Archives/Special Collections LIB 144
University of Illinois at Springfield
One University Plaza, MS BRK 140
Springfield IL 62703-5407
© 1990, University of Illinois Board of Trustees
'!his manuscript is the product of a series of tape-recorded inteJ:views on home schooling conducted by Linda Moore for the oral Histo:ryOffice, Sargamon state University in the surmner of 1990. She also transcribed the tapes arrl edited the transcripts.
Pat Higgins was born on July 18, 1953 in lawrence, Massachusetts. She arrl husbar:d, Art, have four children: Christina, Chelsey, Matthew, arrl Julia with ages ranging from ten years to ten months. 'Ihey have been home schooling for five years. Pat's memoirs are full of infonnation arrl advice gleaned from her own experiences arrl reactipg,from selecting curriculum to support group membership. She willinglydiscusses the problems she has going fran being Mom to Teacher, the people 'Who have been instrumental in forming the local support group, arrl same of the books a novice home schooler should read.
The years since the early 1970's have seen a slOW" but steady growth in the number of home-schooled. students despite the availability of public schools arrl the growth in the number of private schools. Exact numbers of students are difficult to obtain, but estilllates run as high as a quarter of a million students who are today :being taught in the home. Public school educators ard their organizations have taken starrls against home schooling ani generally regard it with suspicion. Legal requirements vary from state-to-state ani courts in various areas detennine its legality. Reasons for choosing home schooling over the traditional classroom setting va:ry greatly from family to family. The one basic belief all share is the desire of parents to be more deeply involved in the education and development of their children.
Linda Moore was born in Warrensburg, Missouri and grew up in Decatur,
Illinois. She graduated from Millikin University in Decatur and has taught social Studies at various levels in Decatur Public Schools. She is a graduate student in the histo:ry department of sangamon State University. Linda and. h.usbani, Jack, have three sons.
Readers of the oral histo:ry memoir should bear in min:i that it is a transcript of the spoken word, arrl that the inteJ:viewer, narrator and editor sought to preserve the infonnal., conversational style that is inherent in such historical sources. Sarqamon state University is not responsible for the factual accuracy of the memoir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge.
The manuscript may be read,. quoted arrl cited freely. It may not be
reproduced in 'Whole or in part by any means, electronic or mechanical,without penni.ssion in writing from the oral Histo:ry Office, Sangamon state University, Springfield, Illinois 62794-9243.
Table of contents
Introduction to Home Schooling • 1 curriculum • 2 legalities 4 Green House Home Educators 7 Sample Day • .11 Academic Envirornnent • .12 Advantages and Disadvantages .13 Christy1s Evaluation of Fo:nnal SChooling . .15 Retrospective View • .16 Mom vs. Teacher. .17 Advice for New Harne Educators. .18 curriculum • .19
Pat Higgins, June 28, 1990, Mt. Zion, Illinois.
Linda Moore, Interviewer.
Q: Pat, I '11 just ask you about your family, if you could name your kids for me and. tell me how old they are.
A: sure. Christina is ten and. a half, Chelsea is six, Matthew is, I have to stop and think, Matthew is three and. a half and. Julia is ten months.
Q: And. your husband?
A: Art, and. he's an erqineer at Illinois Power, I don't k:J:1aN what else to say about him. He's nice.
Q: That's okay. I thought so When I met him. (laughter) And. our subject is hCII.'Ie schooling'. Have you always hCII.'Ie schooled your kids?
A: Yes, well, sort. of. We had Cbristy at the YMCA in their, maybe it was called Ready, Set, Go, sc:ma of their daytime prcgra:ms for the kids, three mornings a week where they went swimming and did creative ll'OVel'l\el'lt. Not a lot of academics. I wasn't at all interested in academics. That last fall before she tumed. five we put her into a program. It was at that point that I became acquainted with someone else who was home schooling. I read. some materials, gave them to my husban:l and. he read them arxi we decided that we "WOUld home school her. We had just had a little one, Chelsea was turning nine months old right around there, she [Christy] was sta.rtin;J to have some problems with Chelsea. Little thing's would show up. She wasn•t quite as happy at school or at pre-school as she had been. She was having little things crop up and. we decided maybe we "WOUld just go ahead and take her out of the Ready, Set, Go prtXJram. So we did and she seemed quite content to be at hCII.'Ie and was real excite:i, and then she started ki:rrlergart.en at home. So we've really home schooled all through her school years. It was the early pre-school programs that we put her into, and. they were stictly two and three days a week for swimming and creative m:wement, thing's like that.
Q: What was there about home schooling" that appealed to you?
A: Well, several things. Initially in reading the lxx>ks we were very inpressed with the idea that children are socialized by their peers so easily before the ages of eight to ten in early years bothered us. we felt that we wanted to be her prima:ry influence. And. so we initially chose to do it because we wanted to give her those few years before eight to ten to develop her ideas and. principles and get them from us. My husbarrl worded it, "Well, if someone's going to brain wash our children, we want to do it." At the time, secondarily, we were concemed about the curricull.UU that was being used. in the publicschool systems, the humanism, secular humanism, that stuff that was croppin:;J up in materials. So just from a purely Christian point of view we felt like hone schooling was what we wanted. NOW', that could have .been solved by using the local Christian schools, but the idea of peer socialization c:ouldn•t have been solved by usinq the Christian school. So it was a two-pronged. sort of t:J:ti.rg. We were wrried about the peer depen:iency and also what she was learning', the actual curricull.UU. We decided to go ahead and hone school. We were very fortunate. I've got many friends who have pulled their children out of school, they've never :really had a lot of problems that I've heard of, but it's harder for the parents to decide to do it. It was Iml.ch easier for us. We just kind of grew into it.
Q: So you didn't have any explaining to do to your children about not being in school?
A: Not :really, well, a little bit because she'd spent th.ree yearsgoing by the local k.:inie:rgarten where she'd be going' and would think, "'!hat1s where I 1m going' to go to school. '!hat's going' to be rrr:t school sane day!" or what have you and we had to then explain that, "No, we'd c:hosen to do this." It wasn1t bad at all because sane of her goodfriends were hone schooled. '!here was another family that had moved in, our pastor and his wife, and their children were going to be home schooled. As a matter of fact, their oldest started the same time ours did, but their oldest is two years older than Christy. Theybelieve very finnly in delayed education so they waited until she was seven and then started her. She's very bright, you want good experience for them. So really the fact that there were other children Christy's age who were bei.n;r home schooled at the time helped her, too.
Q: What about curricull.UU?
A: Oh, that was so Iml.ch fun at first. '!here's so Im1ch to choose from arrl we would look over all the catalogues and. read all the l::looks, ani I wrote all the canpanies. I also had frierxls in Texas who home school and I called. 'lhey'd been home schooling for sane ti:me, so I called Becky arrl I would ask her, ''What do you use?" and ''Why do you use this?" In the meantime [I] went to visit a frierrl out in Maryland, not know'ing that she was planning pn home schooling. We 1re very close as sisters, but it's just somethir:g', I'd mentioned it, we ldnd of hemmed and hawed a little bit, this was when they were younger. I got out there and I said, ''We're pla.nn.ing on home schoolin]'' and so was she. I don't know' how that never came up in our conversations. Arrl we talked. to each other, we planned, we used the same thing. Well, after everything was said and done we chose to go with Hewitt Moore Child Development Center. He believes in a delayedapproach to fonnal education and we used that for the first year with a whole lot of other stuff. Oh., it was great! I mean I had so Im1ch fun bUying things. (laughter) It was a terrible waste of rooney now because I had ovartxru.ght. I just had too Imlch stuff. I 1mgoing into rrr:t second. one now, I just did k.i.n:le:rgarte with Chelsey. I used. a readirJ;J program and cuisenaire rods and. that was about it. An1 I'm
Pat Higgins 3
sure she's just where she should be for kin:lergart.en. Next year Ihave a lot of materials and I '11 just [use] a real less fonnalapproach than I did with Christy and just play it real easy. With herI've just leamed a lot.
Q: You said you're sure she's where she should be.
A: If there's a should be. I've watched the children in the
neighbo:rhood. She knows her colors, I mean, they spend a whole yearworking on colors and she knows. She can read, she's reading atkindergarten level, reading well. so I feel that that's, you know, asfar as her ltm3lJage arts, she does well. Numbers, maybe she needs alittle more work in writing them, that sort. of thing. But shecertainly can count and add and she loves doing it and she enjoys it.I think she1s ready for whatever kindergarten's supposed to teach
them, readiness for school. I think she would be. I've never testedher. I had Christy tested at secon:1 grade, usirx] the school test herein Mt. Zion. They allowed me to brirx] them home, because they saidthe results wouldn't· be valid if I took her into a classroom becauseit would be totally a different envirornnent for her. I brought themhome and she was doil'x] very, very well. The test scores were gcxld..That's the last tilne we had her tested. That was secon:i grade. 'lhirdgrade we used Calvert. curriculum and we used Teaching Adviso:ry serviceout of Baltimore, Matyland, so I knew she was where she should bethere. She has a transcript and grades from there. last year we puttogether our own curriculum. I would have tested her this year usingIowa Basic Skills from Bob Jones University but chose not to because Iwent ahead and decided to use Calvert. again next year and they addedtheir own tests. They'11 make sure she's at the level where sheshould be for their material.
Q: What is the Teachirg Mviso:ry Service?
A: '!he Teaching Adviso:ry Service out of Calvert. is just an additional
service you pay for and they will grade tests that you send in,evaluate compositions, that sort. of thing. '!hey write the children anice letter and keep records. It's interesting, calvert., they do usesecular books. It's not a Christian school, but it's a traditional
approach to education. I can still monitor what she's learning.OCCasionally, I did have to say a few th.inJs or say, ''Well, this ishow I believe" and then we'd look in the Bible or what have you. Butfor the most part, I'm very pleased with it. 'Ihey provide me with adaily lesson plan, just make it so easy that I chose to use that againnext year because of having the baby and another child. Chelsey'sgoing to take more time with first grade. So I just think I'm t:ryingto make it easy and I decided we'd-it's a little ~ive--we'd bite
the bullet and go that route.
Q: Did you feel qualified as a teacher? I didn't ask you youreducational backgrourxl.
A: My educational background, I 1m a chemist, I'm not a chemistanymore. I have a bachelor's degree in chemistry. I worked atStaley's [A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company] for ahnost five years inresearch. I have no experience at all teaching aside from SUnday
school, but yes I felt qualified fran ev~I had read. '!he children weren't going to hit anyt:lti.nJ I didn't know about for many years. When you're teaching one-on-one it's different fran needing to have a knowledge of classroom control, which is very important, I think, for a teacher in a classroom. But for a parent, I taught them. to tie their shoes and jlJilP rope. I figured if I could do that, I can han:lle the ABC's. So one-on-one, yes, I felt very qualified. I don't think my college backgrourrl had anytb.jnJ to do with it. So, even myhigh school background.
Q: Do you anticipate doing this how long in the future?
A: Well, it's a year-by-year thing. I can see us pertla,PS going" through junior high ani then putting them into high school. You know, I've always thought we'd put them in Mt. Zion schools, but right now
I'm thinking more like if we choose to put Christy in, say before
junior high starts, we would probably put her into one of the Christian schools in the area. Knowing now what I know about the highschools, I have a lot of frien:ls from the neighborhood whose kids are in high school ani junior high, or intennediate an:i I've just heard so
much. so many say, "Pat, you're doing the right thing, you're doing"the right thing." 'lhese are people whose kids are in the school. '!hat makes me think maybe I will go with the Christian schools when the time comes. I don't know about high school, though. By that time, I hope Christy has enough, you know, is able to stand for her own rights, her own values, her own ideas, well enough to counteract what she would get that we would disapprove of at the high school level. We'll just have to wait ani see. She may not be. We'll just have to evaluate it when the time comes. From what I urx:Ierstarxl, we have
academically good schools out here, so that hel.PS us as far as the academics go. There are other things she can gain from being" in a larger school, then I think she can get at home.
Q: You've mentioned your frien:ls. Have you run into people who've said, "Oh, you're crazy'' or •••
A: Not many. Most of my frierrls are very, very supportive. InitiallyI had a few that were very skeptical. I had a situation I don't know if it was home schooling, but what I un:ierstood it was. someone didn't know what to say to me, so she just didn't talk to me for a year. (laughter) I mean it was really odd. I just went out of my
way to be extra nice to her ani that worked out. Arrl I've really had very little conunent about it. once in a while, someone might saysomething, but for the ITOSt part, people have been very supportive.
Q: Can you explain the legal requirements or are there any for the state?
A: Sure. First off, Illinois is the number one most easy state. They rate them, one to whatever number, twenty-five or whatever. And Illinois gets a one on ease for home schooling.
Q: Who is they?
A: 'Ih.e Home School legal Defense Association did it and they'reprobably the people in the know about the legal difficulties in the states. In Illinois we are set up as a private school. 'Ihe Illinois Compulsozy Attemance raw requires that all children between the agesof seven and. sixteen be educated in the four basic areas of language arts, science, social studies and. math. Period. 'Ihat's it. In the public school system except those who would come un:ler the privateschool jurisdiction. We fit into a private school catego:ty because of a legal decision that was made in 1953. Because of that we have veryfew requirements. Just that we educate our children. NOW', that's the legal status. so local school authorities seem to be urrler the inpression that we need to educate our children five hours a day a hundred eighty days a year, that we need to teach all the subjectsthat are taught at the local public schools, that we need to open our homes for home visits. '!hey just haven't quite figured out that we don't need that. 'Ihey're very kind about it, they're very open, I have a very wonierful relationship with them. 'Ihey mail everybodythis letter that they have to sign, the voluntary compliance fonn which we do not have to sign. For a long tilne the Illinois State Board of Education would not allow us to sign the same, I fo:r:get what it's called, it's the sheet that the private schools sign, I should know that, but anyway it's a blue sheet that the private schools ••.
Q: Is that the housekeeping, atterxlance kin:i of thing, just how manykids are there?
A: How many children are there, what their ethnic backgrounds are and when you do fill this out you agree to teach those l1I.Ill1bers of hours. '!hey used to let us fill that out. 'Ihey're now allowing us to fill that out again which is better because it keeps us in that same grouping of private schools that we want to be in because that's where we gain our legal status, a private school. But they don't tell people that that is a voluntary cx:m1pliance fonn. So we try to be verycareful to tell people they do not have to fill this out, as a matter of fact, it's preferable for them not to fill it out. We don't want to be hard to get along with, but we don't want to set precedents that ~law. Ia'WS are just not made in CQn)ress they're also made just by setting up a precedent an:i eventually that becomes law. We don't want to do that either so we try very hard to be careful how we react.
My husbani and I write a letter, no, we didn't do it this year, but every other year we•ve written a letter telling the Macon CountyRegional School Superintendent that we are home schooling, that we'11 be teachin;J our children in the basic areas that are required by the Illinois CoRp.llso:cy Attendance raw, and. always we've given a few reasons why we choose to home school, and we •ve also in our letters in the past opened our home, said you are welcome to come visit at our home at our invitation. '!he last time Mr. [Neal] I..oveall visited I reiterated that point. "You were in our home at our invitation." spoke on the phone. I mean, he accepts that very readily. He's wonderful, he's been very kind to us. other people have had problems, not problems with h.bn, but just the whole situation isn't as easy for them. He's been very kirxi to us. our local school, the Mt. Zion School District has been worrlerful, very cooperative. We couldn't ask
for a nicer relationship with them. I'm pleased with what we've had with our public school system.
Q: Do any of these groups ever ask you exactly 'What you're teaching" or to see any curriculum?
A: '!hey did the first time they came out. '!hey said, ''We know we can't approve or disapprove it but we1d really be interested in seeingwhat you1re using.11 '!hey were rather inpressed.. It's interesting. we lived. in another house, the one right behind us over here and we had an extra room that was set up as a school playroom and it looked real heavy with little school desks and it looked like a schoolroom. '!hey were very impressed with that. I guess that's ilrq;>ressive to school people. But you kl'low they liked that. I don't kn.ow, it's interesting. We just had a nice rapport with them. It's worked out. Blt legally in Illinois all we have to do is agree to teach, and theyhave no right to tell us what curriculum to use, even the hours of the day they can't really tell us. 'Ihe problem with that, though, is that really our children are StlpE!%Vised twenty-four hours a day, three hun:lred sixty-five days a year so it's easy to meet that requirement even if they did inp:)se it on us.
Q: Any reason why Illinois would be like that? Have you read anyt.l'U.nJ or seen anything?
A: '!hey just haven1t gotten enough action together to get the legislation goirq to make it a little more difficult. There's been some effort to make it a little bit harder on us. But the last time somet.l'ling came up at the state legislature level, there was such a tremendous lobbyirq effort done by the people, by the hane schoolers. 'Ih.ey had never seen such a well organized lobbying effort, they said. Arrl it was immediately changed though they hadn't meant to make it hard for us to hane school. We have a lobbyist that's representing
hane schoolers that1s paid by the Christian Home Educators Coalition which is done through donations. So he's keepirq an eye on thingsthat are happening at the state level. Good lobbying efforts, I think, table-top lobbying things like that are making it easy for us right now. I don't think things will stay that way. I think we're going to see some effort made, I mean the National Education
Assooiation has one of the planks in their platform or whatever youcall it, they've got it in writing that they don•t like to see hane schoolingo '!hey donIt like uncertified teachers teachirq a00 thatIS 'What's happening. So NFA1s powerful lobbying group, they1:re against us, we're goirq to have I imagine attempts made to change legislation.
Q: You're obviously well read in this. can you tell me what state maybe would be the worse? other conditions?
A: Oh, yes, North D::lkota. I think that and maybe Iowa's bad. But North Dakota is really bad. Michael Farris, I think, is the name of the attorney of Hane School Legal Defense, I think, it was either Michael Farris or Chris IO.icka giv:in;J a speech at a national convention that was very interesting. I have a copy over there. T.heysaid, at a convention for the hane school sup[X>rt group leaders, state level leaders, "If there are five hundred of us in this room, five
thousand of us in this room, we might have five thousand different reasons for home schooling. You111 never get us to agree unanimously on one issue, whether we should delay education, start it early,whether the state should have this control. 'Ihe one thing we can all agree on is that we're glad we don't live in North 03kota." So that's what he said. '1hey make it very, very difficult, requiringcertification, just a lot of things, I couldn't even go through all the things that make it so difficult, very difficult. Iowa just had a bit of legislation they were tJ:ying to pass that was going to make it very difficult for home schoolers. 'Ih.ey called a sampling of peoplethroughout Illinois arrl other states around the countt.y to call the goven10r in Iowa as well as the head of the Senate chairman conunittee arrl the House chainnan Education Committee in order to tell them that we really disagree, just doing a little bit of lobbying there. It was defeated, the bad legislation was defeated. Rut it was very close by one or two votes, but it was defeated. So there in that case the people that were settirq up doing the calling hying to get this bill defeated decided that they didn't want huge quantities of mail goingin or huge quantities of calls, but just a few letting them know that other states in the nation were watching what was goin;J on. Home School I.egal Defense Association does an excellent job of defendingpeople in these states arrl tJ:yin:'J to make sure that the states abide by the constitution, our Constitutional rights to teach our children.
Q: ItIs certainly interesting.
A: It's interesting for me to talk about it. I had this all in mymini say three years ago, four years ago when I was doing a lot of talking about it, when I was setting up in my CMn. mind our philosophyof education am why we're home schooling, this sort of thing. Now, it's gone, it's legal, it's okay. At this point now, it's just nuts arrl bolts for me. Ani I have to think back to same of this stuff again am remember same of my reasons even for home schooling. I mean
that soun:ls horrible, but once you've made the decision you just go on.
Q: 'Ihat's terrific that you can do that arrl enjoy that freedom here.
Christy would have been in kindergarten,
A: It's wonderful, maintain it. I really praise the IDrd for that. I hope we
Q: What about your support group?
A: We started out very small. '!here were Kiln Perry. At one point,
so it's been five or six years ago. She [Kim Perry] rented a room at the YMCA and invited people who were interested in home schooling to came. I didn't go to that. 'Ihat was before we decided to home school. But it was a nice meeting and that was it. Well, then we started home schooling. I met the Waltons, a family in Decatur at the YMCA, but they had been home schooling for same time, using a school in, I can't think of the name of it, Clonlara, they were using that school. Mike arrl Ginny Dodds, our pastor ani his wife were home schooling their children, Kiln arrl Rich Per:ty were schooling theirs arrl we would meet and have picnics ani talk and that was basically a little support group.
Q: When was that?
A: '!his was in 1983, 1984 maybe right around in there. 'Ihat was when Christy was in kiniergart.en ani first grade. No, in kindergarten.Then in first grade there were a few more families who were home schooling: the Winters and the Boyds. So we would get together and Rita ani I 'WOUld say, "let1s have a Valentine party." So we got together and had a Valentine party. Another time one Saturdaymoming, we said, "let's look at curriculum all together." Another couple wante:i to know more about home schooling. So I said, "COme on over to the church and. we'11 just have coffee and we'11 look over curriculum and we'11 just talk to each other." 'Ihe Koks had moved into town about this time, Rarxly an::1 Marilyn Kok, and so all of us sat arourd and talked about curriculum. Jennie Hlldspath was one of the initial families. We all sat around an::1 discussed curriculum. Well, from there about a year later, there were more people involved, more people wanted to have an actual support group, organized group. So a group of us met at the library and we started out at Faith BaptistChurch, they opened up their doors to us. That's my church an::1 we were very fortunate. For a while we met there an::1 we talked about what we wanted out of the group and it took many meetings to decide what we really wanted out of the group. A family chose the name, Green House Home Educators because we're nuturing our C'hildren, plants are nourished in a green house so that they1re strong when they get out into the world. From there we organized into a more oJ:ganized group, so we've :been in existence ncM, I don't know. Isn't that awful, probably four or five years, four years, three or four years.
'Ihe first few years my husbam and I basically did initially most of
the leadership. Then the Winters were involved and last year was myfirst year off as the leader, which was a worxlerful year. The yearbefore I did it, but my heart wasn't in it exactly. I was pregnant,just a lot things and it was just kini of ha.rging in there. Julie Pangrac has done a lot of -work, so this is my first year entirely off the board. Then we have a whole new board on that's going to have a lot of new worrlerful things planned. we plan things together as field
trips, things that the kids can do as a group that maybe they couldn1t do alone. Rock Springs [Environmental center] opened the doors to us
and we have classes out at Rock Springs. It1s great. '!he YWCA works with us. '!his year we had a good swilnmi.n;J program. Who else has done things with us? Oh, CUb Foods, you know', the nonnal trips that kids take. 'Ih.e pre-schoolers, SUe Kunzeman did a worxlerful job plarmingpre-school field trips for the kids this year and every month they went to another neighborhood place, Del's Popc:om Shop, the grocery store, the J?ost Office, the fire house, things like that. once a month there's a field trip planned for Springfield. We used to do more. More people used to go to the Springfield trips. Now we're f~it1 s harder to get up there because those of us with youngchildren firrl it to be a long day. What else? Workshops, a ff!M workshops, parties for the kids, socials for the adults, monthly
meetirgs where we can leam about different curriculums, curricula, I should say, le:;Jal things we have people from other support groups that came, we've had those in the past. we plan on havi.rg" the lobbyist in from Springfield who's been lobbying for us. It is. Neal Loveall has
come before to talk about how he sees his relationship as Assistant
Regional SUperinterxient of Sch.cx>ls. T.hat one was interesting in the attendance. Sane people don•t want to be known as home schoolers, they're closet home schoolers. Not too much any more but they still are a little navous about that. '!his year Nan Wallace organized the spelling bee for the kids an:l we participated in the spelling bee. What else? 'Iheresa. Churchill did an article on home schooling four or five years ago an:l at that time we got a lot of interest fran peoplewho saw the article. A lot of people have mved in. When East Park
[Baptist Academy] closed we had several families come from East Park, so it was good that we were there.
I think the group's changed. Initially we started out wanting to know about curriculum, What was it they all did, what the legal problemsand gocx1. things were, how do you teach, how do you organize your time. We've kin:i of gone nCM, many of us don't need that any more so 111Uch. Now the new people still do, but we're ready to go into what can we provide for the children? Where are the art classes that the kids could have? Maybe could we have a 111USical? Could someone give us a workshop on hCM to do canpositions? I could see down the road, it's just been mentioned, it's not something official, but what about sports? What can we provide? What kirrl of sezvices can we provide?We just did a survey an:l Julie Pargrac compiled the results, I guessit was a twenty-page report. I've just ccnne back from vacation and haven't seen it. I'm interested in hearing what we find out, what people want out of the group. It will be interesting. I think the profile has changed over the years. I find for me at this point, it's the socialization that I get for my children out of the group. I'm not as interested in the IOC>nthly meetings arrl the support because I
don't feel the need for it. I'm pass that point. I know what I'm
doing is good an:l I knCM that I've got to make my CMl1 mind up about a lot of it and I know I'm goirq to disagree with other people. some people will never :put their children in [fonna.l schools] ani never plan to. I think in tenns of probably puttin;J them in, things like
that. I'm not saying you don1t need support. Another thing, but I probably have a support group already, not needing the larger groupright now. Our church is so fortunate. We have quite a few home sch.oolers at church, wonderful heme school families.
Q: T.hat was Faith [Baptist Church]?
A: '!hat was Faith, yes. We have, I don't know how many families out there I can't even think, seven.
Q: Your pastor?
A: Yes, he's home schoolin;J, wonderful family. Ginny [Dodds] ccnnes
up with her own curriculum, does a worx:lerful job. '!hey are both educators anyway ani so her first love is teaching and so it's wonderful for her children. '1ll.e Koks, Randy and Marilyn Kok, wonderful hane schoolers and they have mal:Velous children. If I start nami.rg them, I'm goin;J to miss samebody. John and SUe RUnzeman have little ones, and they're planning on home schooling in the future. I can't think, I should know' more, I just can't think right now.
Q: But a support group, for people just starting out?
A: It's real ilrportant to have that.
Q: It looks lonely to home school sanetimes.
A: Right. Ar:rl so that's why I say I will stay involved and active in this group. I don•t necessarily do it nc:::M so much because I need SUP.POrt, but the other :people do. Ani even the last couple of years,we've needed it. '!hose who have been in home schooling already, viev.r it as a ministry, an opportunity, that's basically what I want, an opportunity to help others. 'lhe school district calls me with names freq:uently of :people they'd like me to talk to about home schooling. '!hey called me yesterday and one of them said, ''Where do we fird curriculum?" 'Ih.ey'll call and they'll talk to me al::lout it. A lot of those that I get are :people gruntled with teachers. I don't consider that a real marvelous reason for home schooling, but I'm not one to say don•t or do. I prefer not e.van:]elizing home schooling, you knOIN, it's a lot of 'WOrk and if someone chooses to home school, that's wonderful. But they've got to realize it's a camm.it'buent and you don't want just every Tom, Dick and Harry suddenly decid.ing they don't like their schools and they're going to pull them out and home school because that's just not the answer.
Q: You get that in private schools, private Christian schools, disgruntled with the schools.
A: Or :people cc:ming in and saying we don't like the p.lblic schools, so we're going to give you ours, our children aren't doing well in school there so we're going to you, kids that have trouble.
Q: And this isn't necessarily the answer for e:verybody?
A: No, it's not.
Q: 'lhe group sounds real good, like it answers a real need. Are you aware of people who do not belong to the group that are h.a:ne sdloolers?
A: Yes, a few. We'll hear about them and we'll call them and they'll choose not to join. A few, not a lot. '!hey are out there. SOmeone once said, if you :know of four there are probably eight. If you :know twenty, there are probably forty. I don't hOIN true that is in Decatur, but we :know that there are quite a few. We lo:'lew of about forty families who are on the mailing list who are home schooling and sane who are not members of the group. 'lhe majority of the people I Jmor..T who are heme schooling are Christians. sane are :people who home school for other reasons. I have good friends who are devout Jehovah's Witnesses who home school. There you c:c:rae into with our group. We've chosen to affiliate with Illinois Christian Home Fduca.tors. We have a 01ristian stance. Any voting :member signs a statement of faith, it's a fairly generic one, but it's the basic doctrine that we want our children to learn to evan:;elize, but so do a Jehovah's Witness, you knOIN. We're happy to have anyone participate, but if they want to be voting members, isn1t that aWful? I can't remember nc:::M. We heJ.mned and hawed about that one. '!he leadership for sure had to sign the statement of faith. I think maybe that's what we
did the first year and were goir:g to talk about chanq.ing some of that later, I'm not sure.
Q: In most of the home schoolir:g situations, Mom is the teacher, right?
A: T.hat's right. There are some where the Dad does the teac:h.irg and that's neat. It really is exciti.r:g. In our family, definitely Mom's the teacher. My h:usban:l gives a lot of support, but he admits freely that I'm the teacher. You know', he's the head of our hcane, but actually I make all the nuts and bolts decisions (laughter) when it comes down to this. I talk to him about curriculum. When I have problems with sarnethirg, I'll ask him for input on, 11HCIIN can I make her excite:i about this?" My oldest daughter is a good stude:n:t, When she's interested in it she's very good. When she's not intereste:i, sometimes she111 just tum off completely. I think that would happen even in a public school setting. lioi.lever, I will say in a public school or even a private school or I should say fonnal school, I guess, the teachers are probably trained to present ideas in a lot of varyirq ways. You know', they get the opportunity to do that to keep it interestir:g. Sometimes, for us it's just try to get this in so I can get the baby chanqed or what have you. There are times When many parents, and I'm one who wonier if, ''Wouldn't this be easier?" or ''Wouldn1t she be better off if she were taught away?" Every once in a while we have our problems. She's just turning ten, puberty is getting' in. So it's kind of interesting for us. It's gettir:g to be a whole new ball game lately.
Q: I wanted you to kind of give me a sanple day. You've got the baby nCIIN and you•ve got the older • • •
A: Oh, boy, it's been really, really difficult to have a good sanple, but I can give you my ideal day and then give you some of the other days that happen. Ideally, I would get up early. You get up early and by eight o 1clock I like to have the children done with their hair, their clothes, their breakfast, their bed and ready to start school. Before Olristy starts her acad.em:ics, she does forty-five minutes of piano. '!hen I present her lesson plans, t.h..ings that she can work on by herself individually. 'Ihen Chelsey goes in for piano lessons. But in the meantime, Julia needs to be fed or played with and I put her down. She takes a morning nap right 'flC1iJI, so she goes down for a nap. '!hat leaves me with Chelsey and Matthew, Christy's doirq her little thing nCIIN. So I've done piano with Chelsey. Matt has to be played with a little bit so I 111 pull out the cuise:naire rods or the play dough or sanethir:g or call a neighbor down the street and see if he wants to play for a while. By that time it's probably ten o'clock, by the time I clean the kitchen, try to get in a load of clothes. 'Ihen it's time for me sit down with Olristy and do a little more school. So I present another part of the lesson an:i we discuss her sheet, whatever and she goes on with her imependent \IOrk and I take Chelsey in and we do her ~. It only takes ten to fifteen minutes for her to do her rea.d.i.n:J this year. Next year it'll be a little more. An:i then we do lunch. We eat lunch, clean up after lunch, Olristy continues with any work she's got left, Chelsey and Matt can play with frienis. Matt sometimes takes a nap. I read to them. By this time 12
Julia has gotten up arxi I've played with her. 'Ihis year we moved. We did move a year an:1 a half ago. D.lring that year and a half, I was pregnant which was very difficult. It was a hard time. Arrl. then when Julia cane, the baby, it was just a whole new schedule. She came at the beginning of August which neant it was just a whole new sort of ball game. So we really haven't gotten down to a state, I guess someone words it, "You get to a new state of nonnalcy."
But this year I'm hoping to be able to write everyt:hing out on paper
and have specific chores for the children to do. Olristy should be
able to do a lot of her work alone nt::M. calvert will make it that much easier because she can even look at the teacher's plan an:1 see what's coming up that day. I '11 be able to look ahead a little
better. Olelsey will still be very, ver.y loose. We '11 be very loose with her education. We '11 have a gocxi reading progLa:xu, I'm not sure just what I •m goi.rg to use yet, probably writing Road to Readin;J which is what I used with Cllristy. It's a gocxi progtam. Ani then you want to trade books with that. We'll have one day a week we'll go to the
librcuy, maybe every two weeks we go. we go to the nursing home twice a month to visit with the people there. We have another shut-in
frien:i the kids are goin:J to be going to. We txy to use the school calen::Jar as much as possible. Iast summer we finished thil:d grade the day before Labor Day an:1 started the fourth [grade] day after. It was
horrible. We went all summer off an:1 on. 'lbat's not good for me and not good for them. I want to move in. we really haven't. I'd like to get rid of all this wallpaper. I want a little bit of time to do a little moving in.
Q: So, you're done rtCM?
A: Yes, we're done with fourth grade. We didn't quite finish our fourth grade history book ani w got half way through our science
book. I fourxi that science repeats itself every year. So rather than
try to cram in a lot of book work over the summer, and have her dislike it and dislike it ani dislike it, I thought we'll stop an:1 she'11 start again next year. I used to worry, worry, worry,
expecially about science, because that's my love. My husband.'s
backgrourrl, too. But I'm not air:f 100re. I realized that you go ~every single field that you need to know again in junior highan:1 high school in a complete, comprehensive way. So, I'm not worried about not having finished fifty pages or m:>re. History is the same way. so I'm not as worried as I thought I'd be about not finishi.rgthose two books. I'm even thinking out loud. (laughter)
Q: Do you have a roam here that's school?
A: Right l10W', no, not in this house. We1re usirg the kitchen table. We have a lower level that's ki.rrl of set up as school, I mean, a basement. But it's unfinished, painted, but unfinishen. until we
finish it, it just isn't the same. so we fini that we terrl to use the kitchen table. It1s different. I liked having our little school roan before. You felt like you were doing business then, but this has been nice for Christy. She1s happy at the table. We use those book
cases there for our school books. '!hat does the trick. I am going to have to do sanethin:j, though. Chelsey needs the alphabet arourrl so
that she can leam to write properly. I do need to get her desks up,
I'11 probably put them in this area. I have school desks down stairs. Just go along with the rest of the decor, right? (laughter) The thing about having a school room is you can put maps up and keep them up. We'll have to do it here same how. It would be nice to just put
the maps up. We're probably going to take out one of those [bookcases]and put a map on the wall there and use the smaller bookcase. That'11 give me a school area. '!his desk here actually stores the camputer.It1s a camputer desk. 'Ihe whole thing is set up and made for a camputer. one of the side drawers is the printer. So thisI the whole
area can be used for school. That1s another thing. The kids do use the camputer for learning some good math and some of those things.
Q: Now Matt, isn't really ready to start school yet.
A: He tells everybody he's going to be in pre-school. I probablywill let him just play with pattem blocks or cuisenaire rods and playdough again. Ani read to him, that kin::l of thing. He plays on the
carrpxter. He's got a math game he uses on the computer so it makes him feel like he's part of it. He plays. He likes to play I.eggos and
animals and the little boy across there is just his age. '!hey playtogether and they play guns. I don1t know. It's got to be in the genes. I wasn't goi.rq to have guns and violence arourrl and he took the girls' Barbie doll or Ken doll and put the leg down on it and tumed it into a gun. I thought, "I'm not going to worry about it a
bit." You know.
Q: I'm havi.rq a big BB gun battle right now. I refuse that. Mythirteen-year-old wants one badly, and I've just always maintained that I'm not goi.rq to have one. But I think it is in their genes.
A: I think it's aggressive. 'Ihey're just so much mre aggressive.
I've always had girls. I'm the oldest of four girls and it's so different. (laughter) It's kin::l of fun. I think the problems later are different, too.
Q: Advantages and disadvantages. I guess you haven't been in publicschools strictly, maybe there are t:hi..rgs you've seen.
A: I fini that children I see who are home schooled tend to get alongbetter with a broader age spectrum than the children at the publicschool level. samethings that1s real obvious to me. Christy's agemates in the neighborhood are much more interested in boys and looks and clothes. Cllristy•s very careful about her clothing and extremelycareful about her hair and all those things that little girls are careful about. But there's more of a competitive spirit am::mg the other kids as far as those things go. 'Ihey just grow up faster,basically and Cllristy is mortified to think, I said that in the paperthat kids grow up faster, she's not as grown up and she was justmortified that I would say that. But it's more the ki.rrl of growing up
that I'm glad that she's waiting. She's still a little girl and she still likes to play games and naturally she's changing now. But she's ten-and-a-half. I mean the other kids are doing this at eight and a half, wearing make-up. So I feel like that's an advantage.
Disadvantages, obviously there's that tilne element that home schoolingtakes. I'm working" and yet you have to tell yourself that. I can't keep my house up the way I 1d like to. I found when I m:wed in or even at the other house, every three minutes was spent cleaning up or picking up or straight.enin] up. And then I'm not playing with the children. So I solved that problem a little bit. We did hire someone to come in arrl help me clean. It's wonderful. Every other week. But that's hard, too, because you write a check for this and you'rethinking that's a lot of money and you feel guilty that you're not keeping your own house up. But it's just one of those t.hin;Js. In tbe sunnner she'll just come once a 100l1th to do some general cleaning. I can do my own floor when I'm not schooling. The disadvantage thoughis the time element it takes.
Really, I think children do need to play with other groups of children. Maybe not all the same age and I think that's artificial to put them all with a group of ten-year-olds. It's nice sometimes. Christy likes playin:J with her own age mates but putting them in a classroom with age mates isn't the same as leaming to get along. But they do need some of that. We live in a neighborhood with a lot of children so Cllristy's never had problems with having playmates until just recently. '!here are fewer here than there used to be her age,but that1s one of the disadvantages. If you aren't around other kids,you've got to, I believe, make opportunities for you kids to be with other kids. We make sure that they are involved in classes at the YMCA and the home school support group. I mean that's what it's for to provide opportunities. unfortunately that's got to came in at a t:iJae when it1s cornrenient for our schedule because by the thne youteach several children, same of our families are teaching five and six children, that's late afternoon. It takes all day to do that. so I think that's one disadvantage. You have ready-made activities for the kids at school and you have to come up with your own. '!here's more CCil'l'petition at school arrl I think maybe that's good. I think that would be good for Christy sometimes to have a little canpetition.
She's a COI'Cq)etitive girl, but there1s no one here competing arrl she sort of gets bored with leaming, I think. I think maybe that's a disadvantage. I tey" to be real fair. Mostly it's advantageous,that's it. One-on-one they leam so much, they can go at their speed,if she doesn't understarxi math that day, we can do it another day.'!his year on the other harxi, she could do two pages a day every dayand get done early because she understood it quickly. You know, it just varies. One-on-one is nice. It's a good way to teach.
Q: I was reading an article on this, increasing a child's self-esteem.
A: From what I've read, I haven't done a whole lot on self-esteem. I
guess I mentioned that to a frien:i recently. Someone mentioned writing a letter to the editor about self-esteem in home schooling and I said, ''Well, that aspect I just hadn•t done a lot of study on." But looking at other children who are home schooled, I would say it's true that home school children for some reason, seem to have a higher self
worth. I don't know Wn.y. I don't know if it has something to do with the group atroc>sph.ere when they're young, this peer dependency, I don't
knOW" that I see it in rrrt Cllristy. I think maybe as a first-hom, I'm
a pretty ha.rti task master, am. I have to be really careful about that. Because I tend to expect perfection and. that's not good.
End of Side One, Tape One
A: I haven't done a lot of read.ing so I can't really say too much. I have heard people say to me they see home schoole:i children havinghigher self esteem. 'Ihat's just a real pe:rsonal sort of evaluation. '!hey're not competing against other children all the time. 'Ihat's got to be kir:d of good, in some ways. '!hey don't have to canpare themselves and. what is it Dobson says, "You either have looks, rroney, or brains, or you're not:hin:J." '!hey don't have that ki.r:rl of evaluation of other people. Christy's camnent is, "God. doesn't look at me, he looks at what's inside. It's okay if I'm not beautiful outside, I'm beautiful inside, 11 even though, I don't knc:M that she doesn't think she's beautiful outside, but she just will say that to me. 'Ihat sort of thi:ng'.
Q: Arr:f rromi.ngs she wishes she were on the school bus?
A: Oh, definitely! Oh, definitely! An:i we've had some rip-roaringrromings every so often. It's horrible, but she might have had that at school. In retrospect those rromi.ngs I think, ''Why isn't she on that school bus?" but then I think, ''What if I'd sen:l her to school like that?" She nee:ie:i a nap. She needed a rest. She needed. time away from books t.cx3ay. After we'd had an altercation, if she'd been in school she couldn't have had that. So that part of it is good. But yes, there are rromin;Js when she wishes she could go to school like other kids. lJhere are rrornin;Js when she'll come up and. say, "I'm so glad I 1m home schooled. I want to be home schooled for college." Kids are just such creatures of the manent that I have to remember that because I'm not, so I might take things awfully pe:rsonally. It's just been real interesting lately. Maybe this year will be an interesting year for us. I'm afraid I'm too ha.rti on her sometimes, that I'm having to loosen up. She's my first and. I expect her to be just perfect. That's not the way it works am. I've got to loosen up.That1s an evaluation of myself.
She did go to school once. Her day of school was a field trip to the public school for a day. 'Ihe very erd of second. grade, what happened? She went on the bus, but the teacher lived next door and. Diane said,
"I'll take her to school if you don't want her to ride." I said, "No, she wants to ride the bus. 11 So she went for the day. Diane tried to call me all rrorn.ing, in the middle of the rro:r:n.irg to let me k:now' she was doirg just fine because I might be worrying. I was off gallavanti:ng. I didn't worry a bit. I was next door actually. Diane said she did beautifUlly. She said, "Boy, she's readi.ng as well as my best student." Cllristy told me that the kids were walking around holdin;r han1s, she had lots of little frierxls in this class anyway. She just had no trouble at all. Christy's evaluation when she came hane, ''Mom, I just couldn't take it. At lunch time, everybody wanted to sit by me, and I could only sit by two. I couldn't hand.le it." 'Ihat was real funny. 'Ihat was her second grade evaluation of school.
She liked it. She did quite -well. It seems like socially she was able to enter in. 'Iha.t was secorrl grade. I don't know what 'W'OUld happen nt:M. I think she'd do fine, but we'd just have to see.
Q: I..ookin:J back, what would you do differently?
A: The first year I praba}:)ly I wouldn't be as hard, I 'WOI.ll.dn't be as hard a taskmaster. I wouldn't purchase quite as much stuff because what you have are a lot of things an:i you feel guilty that you haven't used it. I think the biggest thing is I 'WOUld probably loosen up a little more.
Q: Were you nervous that first year?
A: I got nervous toward the en:i when I hadn't completed all my books. Oh, it's January an:i I've only got one semester left. Well, we did finish. I really wasn't nervous about teaching her. I just was nervous about getting the books done. I wanted ~kid to be super smart you knc:M', that's something I knew when she was a tiny baby, I'd have a problem with that. I've ta.J.kai to frien:is about that an:i I said, "It's something I'm going to have to work with because our children are worthy regardless of who they are or what they do. 'Ihey're worthy just because they're children." 'Ihey're people,they're God's people, you know. Arrl that's something I have to
[remember] because I ten:i to be a very task oriented, "You are good because you did this" type of thing, you're not. 'Ihat goes totally contrary to my viewpoint of total depravity an:i I'm very strong about that. But you understan:i what I'm saying. 'Ihat you're worth something because you're a human being type of ~.
Okay, what else would I do differently? I tell you, we've had same real, not a lot, but it's usually same terrible fights, I guess the word is. Terrible! Ani that's me acting like a child an:i I would try very hard. Another thing is I'd get up earlier an:i han:lle our Bible study differently. '!his year we finally are working on a better Bible study an:i I would do that differently. My own personal time would be more productive, too.
Q: What were the fights ahout, gettirg started.?
A: Oh, I would get so an;p:y when Orristy would hurcy through a paper arrl not get any of them right. Not get any of them right when I knew she knew how to do it. 'Ihat was our first terrible, terrible fight. It was a horrible fight. She was in seconi grade, yes, it was in secon:l grade, Bob Jones math an:i she did a terrible job one day. Terrible. Well, instead of being philosophical and saying, "Okay, honey, we'11 just work on it tanorrow. 11 I just said, "Honey, you didn't even think. You didn't even try," on and on and on and on. The poor child is getting it heaped on top of her and the next day she did the paper and did it perfect without any problems. Now that same identical argument has happened since then. 'Ihis year, "Honey, youdidn't even get half of these right, Christy. That's an F. Do you know what an F is?" You know, with no grades they don't really have a concept of what it means am I was horrible. It was me. I was horrible. Instead of say~, "Iet's see what the problem is, okay,
let's 'WOrk this out together." '!hat's the beauty of home schoolingthat I should be able to do that. Instead I was upset that she got so much Wl:'On3"· And really it's an in:ticbnent on me as a teacher that she got them wron:f, not on her. When a child gets that many wrong, it's
either that or she just wasn't trying. In this case, it was probably
one item that she tends to get careless if she's in a hurry samet.llnes. Ani she does have to learn to be careful. I mean that's part of my
job to teach her to take care about the little things. But I don't have to ruin her self esteem doing it an:l I think sometimes I'm prettyharsh ani I have to be careful about that. I don't complilnent enough any more. I think I •m so busy with the other kids. I used to do more camplimenti.rq. I've noticed. lately, I ten:i to be let's get it done and go on. "Christy," I said, "if we don't get the house clean today, you don't get to go swinnning. If it takes three days, you won't swim for three days." You knc:M, that sort of thing instead of saying,
"You've really helped me a lot. Thank you." I've noticed lately, I'm not helping here. I don't think that has to do with home schooling as mch as, but it may. My husban:l was working many long hours for a while. He isn't right nCM, but his overtime was horrerxlous. So I would have them twenty-four hours a day ani it would just get worse and worse.
Q: How do you go from being Mom to teacher ani back again without that break, you know, physically leaving a building?
A: It's just too hard. I'm m:stly always Man at this p:>int and I haven't fourrl that to be a difficult transition because number one I have been home with them. From the time they were little, I was the one there who read to them and taught them hOW' to tie their shoes or what have you, all those little things. I haven't fourxl that to be a difficult problem. I thought it might be, but it's not. I say that today, I'm tryirg to think. (laughter) I do think sometilnes maybeChristy doesn't take me as seriously as she would take someone else who was wearing a hat that said teacher. You know, I think maybe
that's true, I'm not sure. But I think that's true. I..ots of peopledo, I mean, I don't have the authority. Maybe that's part of I've noticed. this sununer. We had a long discussion today about the fact that I'm her ITOt:her and I deseJ::ve respect. She can either respect me because she loves me or she can respect me because I'm going to spankher if she doesn't. I don't k:now if that's right or not. B.lt out of love or out of fear, but I'm goirg to get respect. Does that SOUI'Xl right to you? I don't know. It's my first one. And it's not that she was ever even bein:j rude or really nasty. It's just little thingslike saying "Yes, Mcmny" when I talk to her or "Yes, yes," whatever ack:nowledging. Not contradicting me when I say samethir:q, you know, "You did this." "No, I didn't." '!hat's calling me a liar. That's disrespectful. I don't know if I'm just getting a little peeved with her because we're very much alike an:l I see things in her, I don't knCM. '1hese are just little personal things, they don't have Imlch to do with hane schooling.
Q: But they're things you would encounter :being with your kids all the time?
A: Yes, you don't get It'D.1Ch of a break. '!hat's one thi.Iq I'm veryfortunate because Olristy1s old enough l10W' at ten ani a half to leave with the children while I run to the store. So at least I don't have to load four children into the car to go pick up a gallon of milk. I'm beginning to see same benefits in that area, because I have a daughter home in the day time. 'Ihat means that she can sit for me anci sit for the neighbors. She occasionally watches the neighbor'schildren. Or this is even worxierf'ul, I can say, "Olristy, watch Julia while I teach the ather children. 11 I know' I'm goi.rg to be doing nore of that this year. I'm meani.n;J to set up a much 100re rigid schedule than I've had in the past in order to get everythiiq in that I need to get in. I've been fortunate. Olristy's four years older than the next child. '!hat means I've had four years of her without havinganother child. I have so many friends with five kids ani they're all in school arxl they're home schooling all of them. I have it made from that aspect. Of course, that means I have three younger ones all the time, you know'.
Q: What advice would you give someone that's looking into home schooling?
A: Do a lot of reading ani a lot of praying ani a lot of taJ.kirq to other people. Get into a support group ani get keyed into a support group sane where. '!here are support groups available in all the states. Arrl I think that would be important. Fin:ling one other person who has similar situation as you. I talked to a frien:l today
and she has four children with ages sllnilar to mine are. She had gonethrough some of the same discussions with her children today that I had gone through with mine, that I was just talking about. Not the respect necessarily, but your children have to get alon:"J, have to love each other. Talk to each other the way you would talk to Jesus, this sort of thing. Ani I thought, ''Wc:M, it's okay. She's going through
the same thing I am. 11 Arx:l that helps to kncM that I'm not crazy.
Q: What kind of things would you read?
A: I would read books by Raynon:l ani D:lrothy Moore, I would get Mary Pride's Big Book of Home ~'cathy Duffy's I don•t kncM the name of her book but it's a curr1culum guide. Mary Pride's book is just a new one earning out this August. What else? Ted Wade has a manual out that's good, Greg Harris has one out that's fairly good. '!he local libraries often have these. Olr local Mt. Zion Libracy just got a new book on home schooling ani I haven't read it. I checked it out ani
gave it to another frierxl to read while I was on vacation. I can't
remember the name of the person who wrote it, but call them. I would recommerri contacting the Harne School I.egal Defense Asscx:iation especially if you're not in Illinois for legal protection. You pay$100 a year arxl they provide you with an attorney if you have a problem legally and they're very, very good. Very helpful. Olristian Liberty Academy satellite School, they have infonnation available.
Then ch.oosirg a curricultnn, read what you can ani I would recarmnend starting out as easy as you can. Sometimes the easier stuff costs a little Irore lOOl'ley, though. I fourrl in directing people with curricultnns there are trade-offs. Not in quality of curriculmns
available, but in the ease of using it. calvert is extremely easy to use. It's a little more costly because I have to toss it all arrl use it all over again. You have to conpare the price of it to a privateschool as opposed to the other curriculums available on the market. If I used Bob Jones every year, it would be minimal cost. It might be $300 the first year, but then I just have to buy $3 wrth of wrkbooks or so every other year for the other children, once I have the hard backs. But I would choose curriculum-wise wisely ani not too much. But the big thing would be to do a lot of reading, a lot of praying an:l a lot of ta.l.kirq to other home SC'hoolers. And t:cy to do it as much in advance as possible, bec:a.use it's real disconcerting to fini out that you decide in July to home school and have to o:rder yourthings then. '!bat's when all the schools order theirs, arxi you'd like to get yours ordered by May and Jtme. Mine's not ordered. yet, but
it's close. (laughter) I take that back, calvert is ordered, but I need to order a few things for my daughter. Milly Pride's book is justwonderful. I would recommend her. Her curriculum, I don't honestly
agree with evecyth.ing Mary Pride says, she has other books, too. And I may not necessarily agree with evecyt.hing, but it gives you a start. I wouldn't agree with evecyth.ing Dorothy ani Rayrroni Moore say, but
it's a start. John Holt, the late John Holt, has several books out. And he was an advocate of home schooling he may have been a Christian, I don't know about his stand with the I.o:rd, but he didn't do it from a Christian perspective. He did it from a children learn what they need to know' on their CMl1 sort of perspective. I don't know what I'd do with that. I don't know if Christy would sit down an:l read a historybook if I didn't tell her to, I really don't think she would. But he's got materials out there that are good to read.
Q: Are these places very cooperative with you? These curriculum people.
A: Oh, they're wonderful. Oh, Bob Jones is wonderful. 'Ihere again,I know you came from East Park so we may have different viewpoints on Bob Jones university, I don't know. But I wouldn't want Itrf children to go to Bob Jones as the university. Academically, they're fine. It's the rules arxi evecyt.hing. I've had pastors from there. It's not that I'm totally opposed to it, but their curriculum, it's wonderful. Oh, it's wonderful! 'Iheir materials are great. If you have a question, you call an 800 number, you can call them and you can talk to the people who wrote the books often. 'they're wonderful. I've called them and said, "Tell me why it's better to use a precursive alphaDe.t than manuscript." And she talked to me for twenty, thirty,forty minutes. 'Ihey're wonderful. I'm very pleased with them. A Beka I haven't dealt with as much. A Beka hasn't made it as easy for home schoolers. Initially, it was very difficult for home schoolers. '!bey made it very difficult for home schoolers. Bob Jones made it very easy. It gave me a pretty bad taste. I like what I saw from A Beka but I didn't like their attitude. Eventually they are ncM treating us much like Bob Jones does. It's a big lllarket. If you want to sell your books, arxi that's sad. See, Eab Jones did it initally more as a savice sort of thing. Bob Jones even set up a home school newsletter they sen:1 out on a monthly basisI or I donIt know everr other month we get this home school newsletter. Just on their ma1linglist.
Q: That's unusual. I think of A Beka as being first, being kind of a leader in that. Maybe that's because they':re the one I heard of first.
A: Right. What happened., they had the materials there, they also had their own home school video course, you knc.w. You could get their materials but you had to enroll as a home schex>l correspondent, veryexpensive. You could buy their materials retail, you couldn't get the teacher's guides for some of them, you couldn't get the answer text for same of them initally. They wouldn't allCM you to have them. I guess you'd get the answers, maybe not the teacher's guides. 'Ihey were not as easy. They, of course, wanted you to enroll in their school. Probably to have same control CNer their materials, tex>. I mean I will give them that kin:i of credit. It probably wasn't to be mean or to make you spend nore noney, although that was what it was doing, it was probably more to have oontrol over the way their materials were being used. However, when you had Bob Jones come on the scene then, of course, their materials came out much later. A Beka saw the need for a Christian curriculum, Christian books, so they went ahead ani they devised one. '!hey took public school books, from what I un:lerstand. and from what I've read, they kind of took a gradethree book and made a grade two science book. 'Ihey're very advanced,their materials are good, very advanced an:l that's good for children that are advanced. If they're not advanced, they have trouble. If they can't read at four an:l five years old, they have trouble. But that's what they did when they were coming up with their curriculum. When Bob Jones did theirs, they did it completely from scratch. '!hey saw the need, but they did it fast. A Beka came out with gocxi
materials fast. There was a need and they provided it. Bob Jones came out with their material more slowly, they're still coming out with some, but I feel they've taken more time to actually to make a whole integrated sort. of curriculum, is it curriculum or curricula? I get them mixed up. I think that's the difference. '!hat's nw own personal evaluation. I've done same reading and gleaned that from books. They're both good. I've used them both. I think A Beka.' s
histo:ry is fantastic although I used Bob Jones this year and I've liked it real well. So, I like them both. 'Ihe problem that I think they have [with] a lot of Bob Jones teacher's guides, more often they're obviously geared toward a classroom. some of them you don't need. You don't need an English one. You don't knc.w, though, before you order if you're going to need them or not. I could always seni them back. I do use them somewhat. A Beka. I didn't buy a lot, theydidn't have them available at the tilne. Eventually, they did get the teacher's guides available. But I couldn't use them. '!hey wouldn't allow bane schoolers to buy their, they called it sarne1:lti.rq, but their teacher's guide. All you could get were the textbooks an:l maybe the teacher's text or sameth.i.rq. so, it wasn't as nice. Bob Jones justmade it real easy for us. Alpha omega is another curriculum supplier.They're wonierful. '!hey are administered through Surrnnit Cbristian Academy out of Texas to get their materials or an address of the publisher. 'Ihey'll answer questions, talk to you, sen:l packets out, I wouldn1t. 'Ihey're good for a begirming home schooler if you are careful to add to it and use the parent guide with those. otherwise, it's just workbooks and that gets tired for the children. calvert's been good to us, been cooperative, like I said, been doing it for a
hun:lred years so they know what they're do~. People have been home schooling a long time and I'm sure prehistor1c times. (laughter) But calvert has been providing a curriculum available for home schoolers,
think it's about ninety-eight years now. Something like that.
Almost a hundred years so they know what they're doing. I mean, that's credibility because they've been doing it a long time. A lot of missionaries, people all arourxl the world use them. That's what we're using now.
Q: T.hat's terrific. Anything in closing? T.his is your last chance to really :iinpart some advice or • • .
A: I don't really think so. I think hane schooling is a worxlerful, viable option for educating your children. I don't think it's the only way to go. I wouldn't evangelize as far as home schooling goes.I wouldn't try to recruit home schoolers, but I think if someone is looking for a way to educate their children in their own home under their own wings with their own ideas, one-on-one, I think it provides a wonderful alternative to the public school or the private school. Sometimes, even financially, it's the only alternative for people who would like to use the private school approach ani can't. I think it's been wonderful. My family's close because of it, I'm sure. We have our little fights, I've spent a lot of time talking about that, but we're an awfully close family and I think it has an awfully lot to do with our decision to hctne school. I like what my husband says, "If sameone•s going to brainwash our children, we'd like it to be us." And they're goirg to be taught and. influencecl by someone and I'd rather it be us.
Q: one last question. It just occurred to me. What if one of the kids develops a leamin;J disability or something that's out of yourscope? I:b you have an answer for that in your min:l?
A: I would have to at that point probably first use the evaluation
procedures available through the public school system. our taxes payfor that. '!hen evaluate the situation at that point. We justrecently got a new issue of 'Ihe Teac::l1i.n;J Home, it's a wonderful monthly magazine. 'Ibis month's was on the teaching of special
children and I haven't even opened it. I just got back from vacation
to read it. I understan:l for some children it's the best way to gobecause their needs could never be met in a classroom. Often in talking [with] a lot of people who have trouble that's when they
choose to hane school because of the problems with their children.
Often leaming disabilities in little boys are the result of startingthem too young. I mean, that's been documented. starting them early. so if you wait until they're ten years old, nothing says they have to learn to read at six. Sane of them are ready at nine and. ten and theycould just pick it up in a ffiM hours. If we could just ClOl'lVince ourselves of the truth of that and not try to be corrpetitive like I said my daughter is where-she-should-be type mentality. We don't need
that. I think le.amirq disabilities it [home schooling~ can be verygood. otherwise, if it's something I couldn't handle, 1f it's beyondwhat I'm capable at that point and I really pray and this is true even if it's just personality problems I'm having, I pray God will help me not to be so proud that I hurt my child by saying. "I'm home
schooling. I'm going to keep it up," you know'. '!hat he'll make me sensitive to what I need to do to help her. But yes, I think certainly, home schooling can provide some real answers to people with problems with leaming [disabilities]. It can also, like you said, be beyond saneone's scope arxl they'11 need to be open to other thingsavailable. I had a frien:l who, I'm not exactly sure all the reasons why, she was unable to teach one of her children one year. She had home schooled. 'Ihe other one went back into school, the younger one wasn't ready to be in the classroan. So she chose to pull her child back out again, but she couldn't teach him herself. Another friend was using the same curriculum, happened to be Calvert. So this other
friend taught that little boy with her children, all three children were in the same grade. Arrl it workrd out real well, you know. It was good for her children to see another child bei.rq taught and it helped this friend. 'Ihat was a situation where you had a child who had same few-difficulties.
Q: A solution will be foun:l.
A: I did forget to mention one methcx:l of teaching that home school
tries. We talked a lot about A Beka and Bob Jones. Konos Cl'laracter CUrriculum, Weaver Cl'laracter CUrriculum are just two of several that are called unit methods for teaching. An::1 you take a unit an:i cover
all the different branches of education un:ler one unit topic. For
instance, in Konos they wanted to use character traits. So there's
attentiveness, stewardship, responsibility, on down the line. [Bill]
Gothal:d' s traits, they call on same of his materials. Now he uses
this method. Bill Gothard also has teaching materials available that
can be used using character traits. And what we do in attentiveness, we study science, we study bims because they have very sharp vision, or you have to be sha1:p-eyed to watch them or what have you. You study horses. You study the eye because bein;J attentive arrl watchingcarefully. You study the ear, the eye, birds, tracki.n:}, maybe Indians
and you study all these different things unier this whole area of attentiveness. You study what the Bible has to say, it's wonierful! I used it! I have two volumes over there and. I plarmed on usirq it this year. It's very nother intensive which means I have to spend a lot of time at the library, I have to do a lot of preparation. I'm not sure if I want to do that this year. But I should be. It's a wonierful way to get the whole family involved. Have |
|Collection Name||Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield|
|Title||Pat Higgins Memoir|
|Source||Pat Higgins Memoir.pdf|
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|Collection Name||Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield|