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Richard Hood: Castaic ideal place to teach from home

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Posted: October 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.

For those already home-schooling or those thinking of starting on this fun adventure, I thought I’d pass along some insights from Castaic home-schooling families. Some of these families have created their own curriculum, some use a private, public or charter school curriculum, while others “unschool,” which is where kids learn by engaging in real life: shopping, cooking, building, banking and starting their own businesses.

Perhaps the “best bang for the buck” for Castaic home-schoolers is having our beautiful lake all to themselves for most of the year, in addition to its play areas and open spaces for biking.

The Boy Scouts group is a tremendous organization for learning how to set and reach goals, as well as teaching how to relate to both peers and adults, not to mention confidence-instilling outdoor survival skills. Scouts can earn more than 100 merit badges in different subjects.

Absolutely free and great resources include local libraries with their educational books and DVDs.

Under the heading “deepest learning,” these families relate that having their children spend time in the real world of real applications was a particular benefit, as were having time for their children to follow their passion.

Also mentioned were the inspirational “can-do” biographies of great statesmen, inventors, missionaries and scientists.

Strategies of “convenience” that I thought would be helpful to share were the local paseos for biking, as well as the county bookmobile, which allows online ordering and local pickup.

Having books and foreign language CDs to listen to while driving expands learning effortlessly. And of course, there is the Internet available to enhance almost any learning experience, e.g., mom and child are reading about, say, Rome, and are then able to go online to take a tour of the Vatican’s hidden passageways, or the catacombs, or the Coliseum.

Or, a book or movie may mention a particular country’s national anthem, but how much better is it to be able to go online and instantly listen to it?

Having the flexibility for field trips midweek when things aren’t at all crowded, and having Dad take a surprise vacation day to go with them is memory-making, as well as convenient.

Character building is a concern in all types of educational settings, and home-schoolers are no different.

One family raised more than $3,000 for pediatric cancer research through Alex’s Lemonade Foundation, teaching their children that they don’t have to wait to accomplish something great for others.

Another 19-year-old started his own neighborhood pet service called “Super Duper Pooper Scoopers,” which pretty much describes the job, but not the fact that while he spends a portion of his earnings on hobbies, another goes to savings, and another to charities such as Heifer International and Voice of the Martyrs.

Doing things right is part of character building, and home-schooling provides this opportunity with instant and constant quality control. A fun possibility along the lines of character building is Lego League, with its promotion of teamwork within young groups of motivated kids competing in problem-solving “challenges” ranging from robotics and nanotechnology to adaptations for the handicapped.

Some moms wondered about support before starting to home-school and found veteran home-schooling moms to be a wonderful resource, not to mention area home-schooling organizations that supply ideas, chats, group P.E. classes and special classes by experts as well as other parents with specialized interests.

Being able to live their kids’ interests and waking them up with “Guess where we’re going today?” were mentioned as great memories, as was changing plans due to a rainy day and taking turns reading all day in a pillow fort in the middle of the living room.

So why do parents do it?

Home-schooled kids seem to develop a multitude of interests, hobbies, and talents due to the efficiency in which the academic work is finished.

Social distractions can be more easily controlled and become growing, rather than traumatic, experiences, and subjects learned can be easily applied, so that the child knows why he or she is learning it.

Parents don’t have to wonder whether their children are keeping up, and they get to “connect the learning dots” for their children to give them an understandable picture of the world.

Many parents receive compliments because of their children having learned adult manners, but a big reason for doing home-schooling, simply, is being able to spend time with your children.

Richard Hood is a Castaic resident.


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