Published here with permission from The MOORE REPORT INTERNATIONAL - January/February 2003

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

How to Have a Great Homeschool Program

by Raymond and Dorothy Moore

[The following article was excerpted and adapted from "How to Have a Great Homeschool Program" located at the back of the Moores' book School Can Wait.]

If you are thinking about the possibility of homeschooling, or even if you simply want to explore early childhood to know more about how your child or children develop and learn, you have done the right thing by reading this book. It will help you decide why you want to educate your child or children at home. This becomes your basic philosophy and will help you set appropriate goals, which you hope to accomplish by your decision. You will need to assess the resources, which are available to you and finally you will want to determine the methods you will use, based on your philosophy, goals and resources. We will discuss these further to help you make some very important decisions.

PHILOSOPHY. Any teacher certainly needs to know why he is doing what he is doing. And the parent-teacher is no exception. Your philosophy is basic to your commitment and your willingness to follow through. If you decide to teach your children at home because it is popular, or the private school is too expensive, or you don't like the school or the teacher, your commitment is hollow, for the conditions could change.

On the other hand, if (1) you realize that no one understands and loves your children as well as you do, (2) you want to be directly involved in their physical, mental, and emotional growth enough to make a sacrificial commitment, and (3) you realize that warm, responsive parents are master teachers, homeschool is for you!

Several years ago Steven Gray, Ph.D. did a study of homeschools in Southern California in which he asked parents two questions: What were your reasons for deciding to homeschool? And why have you continued to homeschool? For the first question, the attitudes seemed to focus on negative qualities of the schools, such as the values conflict between the home and school; personality changes in their child; dissatisfaction with school quality, in some cases, even safety of their child; children with special needs including readiness; time demands, such as homework and school activities; and academic failure.

The second question brought more positive responses, because of the satisfaction parents found in their decision to homeschool. The most cited reason was the real family unity and improved socialization because of increased communication and interaction at home. They also appreciated flexibility in curriculum, methods, and time constraints. All the negatives about school had been healed, such as restoration of motivation, more positive behavior, academic success and enjoyment of their children. We have heard all these positive responses from families everywhere.

GOALS. You may be tempted to think that your purpose for your child is to help him excel academically. After all, isn't that what school is all about? But such goals, though worthy, are relatively unimportant compared to your basic, long-term goals to help your children (1) develop excellent character and a healthy sense of self-worth; (2) develop high moral and behavioral standards; (3) become responsible members of the family and society; and (4) become friendly, sociable, service-oriented individuals. You may also decide you want to avoid early home separation, peer socialization, and the often unhealthy competition of grades, sports, and materialism. These over-all goals should be consistent with your basic philosophy of education.

A lesser set of objectives need to be kept in mind for the mastery of academics -- Student Learning Objectives (SLOs). The Moore Formula Manual sets these out in approximate age levels rather than by grades, which do not take in the readiness of the child. The early grade objectives are unfair to many children, especially boys, who do not mature as early as girls. Refer to SLOs, but don't be a slave to them. They are guidelines to the academic goals you want to meet, and they help you determine how well you are progressing. As you review them periodically, you will be surprised at how much you are accomplishing, and they will keep you aware of some things, which need to be worked on. Break SLOs down into quarterly, monthly, even weekly goals, yet not just to assign certain pages in the textbooks or workbooks so that you can complete them in your school year. Rather these objectives should be much more basic in what you hope your children will accomplish in those time periods.

RESOURCES. Don't worry that you don't have the materials, opportunities, or facilities which the traditional school affords. The home is normally equipped with superior laboratories (the garden, kitchen, garage, or basement) and innumerable real-life experiences. In addition, you have a whole community of learning possibilities, including the store, the bakery, the fire house, etc., and usually parks or woods and the public library. Also you can invest in your own tapes, maps, and books instead of school expenses such as clothes, tuition, and other fees.

Make a list of your resources and don't forget the talents and interests of people -- your own extended family, neighbors, and friends. Brenda Lewis tells about a retired lawyer friend of her fourteen-year-old-would-be-attorney son who asks him dozens of questions. And there's a horticulturist who shares his knowledge while he works with his young apprentice neighbor in his orchard and garden.

Do write out your philosophy, objectives, and resources, with your whole family's help. Don't do it only because it may be required by school officials, but for occasional times when that inevitable question arises: Why am I doing this anyway?