Why everyone should homeschool

Teachers can’t do it all – not with 30+ students, many of whom have different learning abilities, plus tons of paperwork on top of everything else. Parents can help by supplementing lessons at home. It gives kids an advantage and encourages the idea that learning happens everywhere.

Again, former teacher here. Give it a try.

Critical Thinking/Math

Hide the calculators, chargers and batteries. Children will ask why the hell they need to learn algebra when the computer does it for them.

I always told my kids that learning arithmetic and later, advanced math, would help them develop critical thinking skills – which eventually would mean they’d win more arguments with me.

“Maybe you could effectively convey all the reasons video games are important if you didn’t rely on your calculator, hands and toes when adding 9 + 7.”

The ability to make independent decisions is also essential when faced with an ever-changing world. Math helps their brains to do this effectively.

Once or twice a year, young kids should open their piggy bank, add it all up, and put a third into a savings account. Review monthly statements and talk about interest, fees, and the evils of credit default swaps. Take another third and donate to a worthy cause. The last third can be spent on something fun. This teaches kids about balance, the importance of math, charity, fun, and responsibility all at the same time.

Social Skills

Get kids to practice eye contact and communicate their thoughts to people in words, rather than email or text.

History

A wise person once said, “Those who don’t know their history are condemned to repeat it.” Don’t follow in Sarah Palin’s footsteps. Bring children up in this world with some understanding of it.

Read the local newspaper at least twice a week and subscribe to a variety of magazines: Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Time, and Rolling Stone.

No, Hustler doesn’t count.

Spelling and Grammar

Irregardless and Supposively are not words. Would be great if more people knew this.

Go over the differences between your and you’re, there, their, and they’re by the time they hit 5th grade.

Stop with all the goddamn apostrophes.

Literature

Bookshelves aren’t really a storage area for movies and old episodes of Cheers. I’m a huge Carla fan, naturally, but homes filled with historical fiction and non-fiction, funny and sad stories, classics and modern bestsellers will help kids appreciate the world around them more than a sitcom.

They will never be bored or lonely if they have a book to read.

Here’s a thought about why every home should have the following reading materials:

Constitution: These are the laws that govern our society. Not a bad idea to have them handy.

Holy Book: In our home, it’s To Kill a Mockingbird. But go ahead and rock your own tradition.

For some it’s the Kabbalah, Koran, or Torah. It could be the Bible or Bhagavad Gita. Whatever sums up the foundation of your faith. Just remember that most of these books were written before people knew where the sun went at night. This reminder puts everything in perspective and encourages us not to take everything so goddamn seriously.

Other books like The Giving Tree, Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, This Land Is My Land and everything by Dr. Seuss are must-reads for children.

Read to them from the moment they’re born until they can read independently.

I promise, I’m not wrong about the benefits.

Fun subjects

What are they interested in? If it’s sports, play brain-building games and quiz them about players and statistics. This works well with science fiction, gardening, dinosaurs, race cars, and puzzles.

Lessons in subjects from math to morals can be carved out of a love of anything. Even dolls.

Find whatever they enjoy and build on it. Quiz kids on the President’s Cabinet, the names of local, state, and national leaders, as well as Supreme Court Justices and Amendments to the Constitution.

If you have to learn it first, get busy.

Religion

People say don’t talk about religion or politics, but they’re wrong. These subjects, more than anything, tell you about the person with whom you’re speaking.

Some background: At 18 years of age, I took my mother’s advice and began questioning what I was raised to believe. I’m sure she thought that, like her, I’d determine Catholicism really does kick ass and I should totally join a church on my own and recite Catechism in my sleep.

Unfortunately for my mom, and my Irish Catholic ancestors, Catholicism and I didn’t share a love connection. For many reasons, I looked into other forms of Christianity. After a year of attending Baptist churches, reading the Book of Mormon, talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses and other assorted holy rollers, I researched a paper about the historicity of Jesus Christ and determined I was no longer even a Christian.

This bummed my family out, but they didn’t disown me. Way big of them.

In my early twenties, I read the Bhagavad Gita and researched Eastern philosophies. While I took hold of yoga, vegetarianism, and the 4 Noble Truths, I couldn’t get behind the rest of the philosophies enough to join.

Marc and I were engaged at the time. He didn’t seem to care that I was agnostic, so I figured we’d just have a non-religious household.

Then my friend Julie took me to her synagogue and I immediately felt at home. The focus on study, behavior, and passive aggressive humor seemed a perfect fit. It was different, yet the sprinkling of guilt in everyday conversation was familiar and comforting. I studied for two years before becoming the adopted daughter of Abraham and Sarah – about a year before Marc and I got married.

Poor guy. Dude thought he was getting a shiksa and wound up with a Jewish wife. He’s still confused.

What is your religious history? How did you develop your current belief system? Forget about naysayers who would rather you not discuss religion. Figure out what you think and share your thoughts with your kids. It will help them figure it out too.

Learning at home helps children navigate elementary school with the swagger of self-confidence. Leaders aren’t born, they are cultivated – both by knowledge for how the world works, and by kick-ass parents.