Published here with permission from The MOORE REPORT INTERNATIONAL - January/February 1996

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

What does real homeschooling mean?

by Dorothy Moore

Obviously, homeschooling does not mean the same to everyone who claims to be doing it. We talk to parents every day whose concepts of homeschooling have been very different from ours. Fortunately, the ones we talk to are looking for something better and, in fact, are usually so burned out that they're looking for anything that will relieve them from the six to ten hours a day with workbooks and textbooks which they have been trying to finish page by page since they started. We wish we could have had a chance to help them before they got so bogged down, but often they would not really have listened anyway. We find that the average person's idea of education is very narrow. So we have put together a little summary of what we believe real homeschooling is about.

Real homeschooling means understanding that education is the harmonious development of mental, physical and spiritual powers of the individual. The practical and extended use of the Moore Formula of study, work and service can be the means of achieving that balance. This is study which builds a curriculum around a child's interests and readiness to learn, work starting with simple chores as soon as a child can walk and service in helping others in acts of kindness and concern.

Real homeschooling means being broad-minded enough to know that all knowledge does not come from books. Taking your children's interests and aptitudes into consideration and allowing them to be creative, express their ideas, solve problems, explore and discover many things for themselves will bring a wealth of learning to them which most of us formally-educated adults never had. You as the teacher-manager simply need to monitor and guide to keep things under control and in balance.

Real homeschooling means having a strong enough philosophy (reasons for homeschooling) that you are not swayed nor dismayed by the disapproval of relatives and friends. Just be glad that you do not have relatives who threaten to or actually do take you to court. This has happened in a few cases in the past. But social pressure is hard to handle unless you have settled it in your mind that you are doing the best for your children and their good is the most important consideration for you.

Real homeschooling means being brave enough to resist anything that interferes with your commitment to your family. It is easy to become overly involved with church work, support group duties, extended family obligations or a home business and neglect your own family. See criteria for accepting outside activities in the issue, entitled "Overdoing It" by Raymond Moore.

Real homeschooling means protecting young children from negative influences   yours or others. Probably the most pervasive damaging activity in the average home today is the overuse of television and related video and computer games. Even if the activity itself is relatively harmless, it replaces more constructive physical or mental activities, such as outdoor play, reading for pleasure or learning games. And we have observed that in most families which have those things available, the tendency is for most "free" time to be taken up with them.

Real homeschooling means understanding how children learn and being patient enough to allow them to mature naturally and not put pressure on to keep up with a certain grade level or other children.

Real homeschooling means protecting your slow maturing or learning-different child from ridicule or labeling. Help your children and relatives understand the principle of readiness as given in Better Late Than Early and that all children develop differently. Don't allow anyone to make depreciating remarks. If children are in a church group where reading is used or expected, talk to the teacher. Or better yet, become the leader of the group and find creative ways to teach the children spiritual truths without resorting to school-type methods.

Real homeschooling means being alert enough to recognize that a certain material or method isn't working and back off or try something else. Because children are so different, something that worked fine with Sally may not work so well with Tommy. Besides, it just may be too early for him. Perhaps time is all he needs. We have known of many situations where a few-month respite will bring renewed motivation for a particular subject.

Real homeschooling means taking the time and effort to teach your children to work. We see many mothers, especially perfectionists, who do most or all of the home chores by themselves. Sometimes this is because their children don't do them satisfactorily. But if this is your problem, you are doing your children a disservice. Neglecting to teach your children to work at an early age when they are willing, but very inept, is a mistake which may be difficult or virtually impossible to rectify later on in life.

Real homeschooling means being flexible enough to make adjustments in plans when an opportunity for special learning comes up. I remember an instance when an aid in a public school noticed an unusual double rainbow outside. She went to two different classrooms, including a science class, to tell the teacher about the special sight, but the teachers were not willing to interrupt their lectures. This does not mean that children need to watch every bird which comes to the feeder or every event that comes along, but there are times when we can miss a "teachable moment," with regret.

Real homeschooling means realizing that children need many and varied experiences with numbers to thoroughly understand number concepts before getting into computation. On the basis of both research and experience, we know that children who know all the combinations, but do not know whether to add, multiply or divide to solve a problem will not be successful in computation. It's like trying to build a house without a foundation.

Real homeschooling means knowing that children learn best when they are free from pressure. Children are naturally curious and want to do the things they see their parents and older children do. If you have attractive materials around, they will often choose to make use of them. This is your cue to help them if they need it, but always stop if and when frustration begins.

Real homeschooling means awareness that the active agent in learning is the child, not the teacher.