Homeschooling Why and How

Homeschooling and Socialization

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From the  HEWITT RESEARCH  FOUNDATION . . . A SYNOPSIS by Raymond S. Moore

(by permission)

For more than 40 years some of us have been concerned that most children are surrendered by homes  to institutional life before they are ready – with serious implications for the children, the family, society,  nation and world, including economic and moral disaster. In the late 1960’s following a stint at the U.S.  Office of Education, I became convinced that our children were victims of dangerous trends toward  earlier schooling. We had reasons to be skeptical of school claims for early academic achievement and  socialization simply because “young children learn so fast.” By giving our schools “green grain” for their  mills, we make their task impossible. Although challenging conventional wisdom and practice was not  a pleasant prospect, colleagues around the world have more and more given support to our research,  some reversing historic positions to do so. We offer here a synopsis of our books (Better Late Than Early, Home-Grown Kids, Home-Spun Schools, and Home-Style Teaching and our monograph “Research  and Common Sense” from Columbia University’s Teachers College Record, Winter 1982-83.), and chapters  in more than 30 college textbooks in various languages.

Our conclusions are actually quite old-fashioned. They seem new to some because they differ largely  from, and often challenge, conventional practice. Our early childhood research grew out of experiences  in the classroom with children who were misbehaving or not learning because they were not ready  for formal schooling. Concerned first with academic achievement, we set out to determine the best ages  for school entrance. But more important has been the socialization of young children – which also involves senses, coordination, brain development, reason, and social-emotional aspects of child development. These conclusions come from our Stanford, University of Colorado Medical School, Michigan  State and Hewitt investigative teams who did basic research, and also analyzed more than 8,000 early  childhood studies. We offer briefly here our conclusions which you can check against any sound research  that you know (It is thoroughly documented in our book, School Can Wait) (note:  this was one of the most influential books I read and even though it’s old, it’s good info):

Readiness For Learning.

Despite early excitement for school, many, if not most, early entrants (ages  4, 5, 6, etc.) are tired of school before they are out of the third or fourth grades – at about the ages and  levels we found that they should be starting. Tufts University Psychologist David Elkind (be sure to scroll down — he has a lot of good titles) calls these  pressured youngsters “burned out.” They are far better off wherever possible waiting until ages 8 to 10 to start formal studies (at home or school) – in the second, third, fourth or fifth grade. They then  quickly pass early entrants in learning, behavior and sociability Their vision, hearing and other senses  are not ready for continuing formal programs of learning until at least age 8 or 9. When earlier care  is absolutely necessary, it should be informal, warm and responsive like a good home, with a low adult-to-child ratio.

The eyes of most children are permanently damaged before age 12. Neither the maturity of their delicate  central nervous systems nor the “balancing” of the hemispheres of their brains, nor yet the insulation  of their nerve pathways provide a basis for thoughtful learning before 8 or 9. The integration of these  maturity levels (IML) comes for most between 8 and 10. It is not fair to test children for formal learning  before at least age 10.

This coincides with the well-established findings of Jean Piaget and others that children cannot handle cause-and-effect reasoning in any consistent way before late 7’s to middle 11’s. And the bright child  is no exception. So the 5’s and 6’s are subjected to dull rote learning which requires little thought, tires,  frustrates and ruins motivation, stimulates few “hows” and “whys”. Net results: frequent learning failure,  delinquency. For example, little boys trail little girls about a year in maturity, yet are under the same  school entrance laws. HEW figures show that boys are 3 or 4 to 1 more often learning disabled, 3 or  4 to I delinquent, and 9 to I acutely hyperactive. So, unknowing teachers far more often tag little boys  as “naughty” or “dumb”. And the labels frequently follow them through school.

We later became convinced that little children are not only better taught at home than  at school, but also better socialized by parental example and sharing than by other little children. This  idea was fed by many researchers from Tufts, Cornell, Stanford and California. Among the more prominent were (l) Urie Bronfenbrenner  who found that at least up to the sixth grade, children who spend  less of their elective time with their parents than their peers tend to become peer-dependent; and (2)  Albert Bandura who noted that this tendency has in recent years moved down to preschool, which  in our opinion should be avoided whenever good parenting is possible. Contrary to common beliefs,  little children are not best socialized by other kids; the more persons around them, the fewer meaningful contacts. We found that socialization is not neutral. It tends to be either positive or negative:

(1) Positive or altruistic and principled sociability is firmly linked with the family – with the quantity  and quality of self-worth. This is in turn dependent largely on the track of values and experience provided by the family at least until the child can reason consistently. In other words, the child who works  and eats and plays and has his rest and is read to daily, more with his parents than with his peers,  senses that he is part of the family corporation – needed, wanted, depended upon. He is the one who  has a sense of self-worth. And when he does enter school, preferably not before 8 to 10, he usually  becomes a social leader. He knows where he is going, is independent in values and skills. He largely  avoids the dismal pitfalls and social cancer of peer dependency. He is the productive, self-directed,  citizen our nation badly needs.

Negative, me-first sociability is born from more peer group association and fewer meaningful parental contacts and responsibility experiences in the home during the first 8 to 12 years. The early peer  influence generally brings an indifference to family values which defy parent’s correction. The child  does not yet consistently understand the ”why” of parental demands when his peers replace his parents  as his models because he is with them more. Research shows that such peer dependency brings loss  of (1) self-worth, (2) optimism, (3) respect for parents and (4) trust in peers. What does the child have  left to lose? So he does what comes naturally: He adapts to the ways of his agemates because “everybody’s  doing it,” and gives parent values the back of his little hand. And . . . he has few sound values to pass  on the the next generation.

So home, wherever possible, is by far the best nest until at least 8 to 10. In a reasonably warm home,  adult-child responses, which are the master key to education, will be 50 to 100 times more than the  average teacher-child responses in the classroom. Where there is any reasonable doubt about the influence of schools on our children (morality, ridicule, rivalry, denial of religious values, etc.) home schools  are usually a highly desirable alternative. Some 35 states permit them by law under various conditions.  Other states permit them through court decisions. Home schools nearly always excel regular schools  in achievement. Although most of them don’t know it, parents are the best teachers for most children  at least through ages 10 or 12.
If we are to believe sociologists Frederick Le Plav, J.D. Unwin or Carle Zimmerman, we must spend  more time with our children in the home, lest our society like Greece and Rome, be lost. The conditions  are now identical to theirs. Let’s have more loving firmness, less indulgence; more work with you, fewer  toys; more service for others – the old, poor, infirm – and less sports and amusements; more self-control,  patriotism, productiveness and responsibility – which lead to, and follow, self-worth as children of Cod.  Parents and home, undiluted, usually do this best. Home-Spun Schools (Word, l982) will tell how others  did it. And Home Style Teaching (Word, Feb. 1984) will give you new confidence as a teacher whether  you teach in home or school.

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