A2Z Homeschool – Ann's Blog

Homeschooling From Ann's Perspective

Why Homeschooling is Bad?


by Ann Zeise

At first I thought I’d comment on this article in ehow by Brittney Horwitz, but thought I’d respond to her here instead. The link to her article is at the end.

Social Life

Her first concern is that your homeschool student won’t have a social life, and that somehow the social skills learned in a school environment are important. I think many of us homeschool families would say we are homeschooling because the social experience, let alone the academic experience, in our local schools were so bad, that the socialization problems with homeschooling seemed unimportant.

Homeschooled kids are seldom stuck all day with kids their same age. Having friends of all ages better prepares a young person for real adult life, which is almost never confined to ones age peers. Not only do homeschooled kids do things with homeschool groups, but they also are likely to be involved with other groups and organizations in their communities. As for not having friends to relax with, we usually had tons of kids over after school, as their parents were working and our house was a kid-friendly house with an adult, me, supervising. They’d get their homework done, and then swim, play video games, make pizza, or go to the park for a ball game.

Time Commitment

Brittney seems to think that homeschooling parents have to develop a curriculum all on their own. Those who need a lesson plan can find them free on the internet or buy them from a homeschool program. Those who want to be more child-oriented can develop casual plans along with their children to learn the skills a child needs to fulfill their own goals.

There is no state that requires homeschooling to be done at home all day long! You are not stuck at home unless the weather is so bad you can’t get out.

Brittney also claims that their are national requirements, but those the federal department of education puts out are for those programs that get federal funding, which homeschool families do not get.

Yes, being a homeschool parent does mean you have to be involved with your child’s education, but you get to be involved with the fun stuff, and not the one of being the enforcer of doing dumb homework assignments during evening hours when there are better things to be doing with your family.

Financial Commitment

Is homeschooling a full-time, unpaid job? Well, as much as parenting is. As home education is very efficient, most parent supervised education can be done in about 2-3 hours, and during the 2-3 hours of your choice, which might well be evening hours after work. Many a homeschool mom has taken her professional skills and turned those skills into a home business, often with homeschool families as their clients. I’ve known those who were CPAs, lawyers, band managers, professional actors, educators at all levels, you name it, someone has turned their skills into a homeschool business. I took the marketing skills I had learned working at Apple and turned that into a business marketing homeschooling.

What about paying for the “stuff” you use for educating? Well, first do an overview of all the stuff you had to pay for when your child attended school. I remember having to spend a good deal on a list of supplies and then handing them over for the whole class to use, even though my daughter needed special left-handed scissors. In homeschooling you can buy the quality of supplies your child needs and that you can afford. Homeschooling can cost just as much or as little as you can afford. The only curriculum that costs too much is the curriculum that isn’t used. You can borrow lots of books, videos, games, and other items at the public library, or buy used online. There are many great free resources online, too.


What about time for yourself? Time to work on your art or skills, or just take a nap? Believe it or not, your kids will also want downtime from you! You could do some co-operative homeschooling, with your kids going to their friends’ house maybe one day a week, and one day a week their kids come to yours. EAch mom teaches the whole group about what she knows best. That way each mom knows she has one day for getting a haircut or going to the dentist or painting all day if that’s what she wants to do. No one is saying you can’t hire a sitter and get out when you need to.

Homeschooling usually causes less tension in a normally healthy family. Bad days at school used to bring our children home angry and disheartened. Homeschooling we could adjust to our own comfort levels. For example, our son had taught himself to keyboard at a young age, but he was not allowed to type his homework in 2nd grade at school. At home he could type to his heart’s content, and probably got far more done, and done neatly, than he would have writing it all out longhand. Also, when homeschooling, the little things that cause tension at school, such as needing to go to the bathroom, or needing a drink of water or a snack, did not turn into huge disruptions. Like normal human beings, we took care of what we needed, and got back on task.

Social Stigma

As I get older I have come to the conclusion I don’t much like the way anyone else raises their children, and would probably have done things differently myself — started homeschooling from the get-go. But I strongly feel that parenting is an amateur sport and should stay that way. Learning how to gracefully confront busy-bodies is something we all have to learn at some point in our lives. A friend of mine had a list that went like this: “Oh, really!” “You do say!” “Everybody does it?” “Everybody has one?” “They do it how often?” “What happens next?” and so on in that vein.

So we homeschoolers tend to get our own list going for answering such busy bodies as Brittney Horwitz.

“Oh, really? No social life? I’d love to talk more but I’ve got soccer practice now.”

“No, my mom and dad don’t develop curriculum. I pretty much spend my time writing my novel, preparing for my next concert, practicing for the Nationals, saving the wolves, etc.”

“What? You don’t budget and save for the things that you find important? That’s how we manage.”

“Actually, my parents are pretty cool. We have such a good time together!”

Can my mom homeschool you, too? Well, I don’t know. Can’t your mom homeschool you, then we could do it together some of the time!”

Written as a reaction to Why Homeschooling is Bad by Brittney Horwitz, eHow Contributor.

By Ann Zeise

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Aaron Swartz, Unschooler, is Vindicated

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz

Journal Storage, JSTOR, the data base that Unschooler and Internet Activist had hacked into and “liberated” their whole library of scholarly journal articles, on Wednesday, January 13, 2013, announced that it would open its archives of 1,200 journals for the public to read for free.

But Aaron Swartz did not live to see this happen. He had committed suicide, depressed over his pending prosecution for taking the scholarly journal articles, and liberating them for the public to read. He was just 26 years old when he hung himself on January 11th this year.

While Aaron’s name may not be familiar to you, the products he worked on are very familiar. He is the creator of “RSS,” the news feed that brings you data as it is created from the sources that set it up so you can do this. You can, for example, use RSS to always receive articles in this blog as they are posted.

Aaron also co-founded Reddit, a discussion board where topics and best answers are voted on by its members, the best winding up at the top.

As an unschooler, Aaron was self-taught. He imagined a world where people could teach themselves from the very best information to be had. But that was the problem: while the internet is jam packed with opinions, most are not backed with research, including this one, scholarly papers were walled behind memberships and fees so high that only the richest could afford to get access. 10 cents a page may not sound like much, but we’re not talking indefinitely long website pages, more like typed, double-spaced paper pages, research that might be called small books. Much of this research is paid for by public grants.

Now, I’ve been asked many times to help out some student researching homeschooling, and early on I was glad to do so. I would ask to have a copy when the paper was done, but most never sent me a copy. I now ask students to first do their homework and read my site and its links first to get their answers. If I haven’t already answered their questions, then I would be glad to clarify. My reaction is not unique among homeschoolers. We’d like to see the research results, and not have them hidden buried deep in some exclusive database. Oh, and while you are at it, let’s free all research so that others who need to learn can read up, too… on any topic!

Our family, too, had a young, depressed young man kill himself back in 2010, when he was threatened with jail time. His parents pleaded to try to get help for his mental problems, but the law didn’t give a damn for the mentally depressed 21 year old. Instead the police bullied and tormented him, and not seeing any way out, he chose suicide. For both these young men, the crimes they committed were not death penalty crimes, not even life sentences, but the result was as if they were.

Here are some of the resources that provide background on this article. I may extend it later on. All I have time for today.

Internet Activist, a Creator of RSS, Is Dead at 26, Apparently a Suicide – By John Schwartz, January 12, 2013  – At 14, Mr. Swartz helped create RSS, the nearly ubiquitous tool that allows users to subscribe to online information.

Petition to remove prosecutor in Aaron Swartz case up for White House response – Published: 14 February, 2013 – A petition to the White House requesting the removal of Aaron Swartz’s prosecutor before his death has surpassed 25,000 signatures – which means the Obama administration must reply. It comes one month after the internet activist committed suicide.

Aaron Swartz’ Weblog – Aaron Swartz is the founder of Demand Progress, which launched the campaign against the Internet censorship bills (SOPA/PIPA) and now has over a million members. He is also a Contributing Editor to The Baffler and on the Council of Advisors to The Rules.

Why Aaron Mattered – By Lauren Wales, 02/01/2013  – As I listen to the news reports about Aaron’s life, so many of them seem to miss something key to his work: the unschooler understanding that knowledge is free, yes, but it means nothing if it is not implemented and shared.

Unschooler Aaron Swartz Dies at Age 26 – By Peter Kowalke, 01/12/2013 – Aaron and I briefly collaborated in 1999 on a learning exchange that we intended to turn into a college for unschoolers. But Aaron was too young, still with a squeaky voice, and I ended up making the Grown Without Schooling documentary instead.

Anonymous Hijacks Federal Website Over Aaron Swartz Suicide – By Matthew Larotonda | ABC News Blogs – Sat, Jan 26, 2013 – The lengthy essay largely mirrors previous demands from Anonymous, but this time the group also cited the recent suicide of Reddit co-founder and activist Aaron Swartz as has having “crossed a line” for their organization. Swartz was facing up to 35 years in prison on computer fraud charges.

Aaron Swartz’s Girlfriend Explains ‘Why Aaron Died’ – By Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Feb 05, 2013 – “I believe that Aaron’s death was caused by a criminal justice system that prioritizes power over mercy, vengeance over justice; a system that punishes innocent people for trying to prove their innocence instead of accepting plea deals that mark them as criminals in perpetuity; a system where incentives and power structures align for prosecutors to destroy the life of an innovator like Aaron in the pursuit of their own ambitions.”

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National Geographic Education Launches New Site


–Educators and Families Invited to Share Feedback–
–Tools Include Multimedia, Educational Activities and Customizable Maps

WASHINGTON (April 14, 2011)—National Geographic Education today announces the beta phase of its newly redesigned website, NatGeoEd.org, inviting user feedback from all interested K-12 teachers, informal educators and families.

NatGeoEd.org delivers an expanded and updated library of the National Geographic Society’s popular education content, combining National Geographic’s iconic media and expert resources with materials specifically developed to align with national education standards. The site includes a wide range of free educational resources to bring geography, science and social studies to life for educators, students and their families. The redesign was guided by extensive research conducted in collaboration with the Education Development Center and designed and developed with the expertise of Blenderbox, a New York Web design firm. Research on the design of the site will continue throughout the beta phase, and users have the opportunity to provide feedback through easy-to-use tools that are available on every page.

The site is designed to meet the specific needs of different audiences, including K-12 classroom teachers, educators in informal settings, families and students. Audience views cater to the needs of specific users — including teachers, families, students and kids — and an enhanced search tool allows users to find content tailored to their needs. Features include multimedia activities and a growing reference library — with a glossary, encyclopedia and downloadable media — to support student research and homework. Connections to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube support community interaction among educators and learners.

Many resources are designed to foster real-world learning — on topics ranging from citizen science to current events to careers — to help reinforce concepts in and out of the classroom. In addition, media and other educational materials are presented in quick, easy-to-view multimedia carousels that can be viewed in full-screen mode for easy use on projectors and interactive whiteboards. They also include preview and pop-out modes for easy planning. A new interactive map will introduce students to mapping and GIS concepts through thematic data layers and will enable users to create their own maps. Users can now customize the highly popular printable black-and-white outline maps with drawing and labeling tools.

“For more than 120 years, the National Geographic Society has been pursuing its mission of inspiring people to care about the planet,” said Danny Edelson, National Geographic’s vice president for Education. “Capitalizing on the Society’s unparalleled editorial resources, this new website reflects our commitment to provide engaging digital content to our education audiences. We are excited to be able to offer this cutting-edge platform for 21st-century learning and look forward to learning from our users during this beta phase.”
The development of the National Geographic Education website and its content has been supported in part by funding from the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon. National Geographic is one of 11 national content partners in Verizon’s Thinkfinity.org, a comprehensive website that provides thousands of free educational resources for use in and out of the classroom. Each partner creates free, high-quality, standards-based educational resources in their disciplines. Thinkfinity.org also includes the Thinkfinity Community, www.thinkfinity.org/community, an online spot for teachers, administrators and parents to share ideas and discuss education, collaborate with colleagues or ask questions of education leaders.

About National Geographic Education
National Geographic Education is the educational outreach arm of the National Geographic Society. National Geographic Education brings the rich resources of the Society to its audience of educators and learners as part of its mission to prepare young people to care for the planet. National Geographic Education creates educational materials for young people and the adults who teach them, conducts educational programs for educators and advocates for improved geographic education. Under the auspices of the National Geographic Education Foundation, it has awarded more than $80 million in grants to support efforts to improve geography education in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit NatGeoEd.org.

About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. In 2010, the foundation awarded nearly $67 million to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation’s largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered nearly 6 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

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Crazy Sock Day


Welcome to Day 3 of the first EVER International Homeschool Spirit Week! A to Z Homeschool’s Cool is proud to be the official host of Wednesday, September 26th: Crazy Sock Day!

International Homeschool Spirit Week, September 24-28, 2012

How awesome is it that Homeschoolers don’t have to wear shoes all day if they don’t want to? Today, we’re going to celebrate that fact with Crazy Sock Day! So, take off those shoes (if you’re wearing them) and show off those crazy socks. Have some white tube socks and some fabric markers? Make your own! Or, just find the craziest socks you can and roll up those pant with pride. Still wearing shorts? Who cares? Pull those crazy socks up to your knees and show your crazy sock spirit!

Don’t forget to download your FREE spirit week resource from Geography Matters by visiting CurrClick.com, the official host of International Homeschool Spirit Week.

We encourage you to share your crazy sock fun with other homeschoolers in the following ways:

• Tell your co-op and your homeschooling friends what you are doing and get them involved.

• Hit the message boards and tell everybody about the fun you are having participating in International Homeschool Spirit Week.

• YouTube a video of your family schooling, comfy cozy style! Be sure and use the keywords, tag A to Z Homeschool’s Cool, Geography Matters and Homeschool Spirit Week when uploading.

• Take a picture and Instagram your fun to Facebook! Be sure and tag A to Z Homeschool’s Cool, Geography Matters and CurrClick.com‘s Facebook pages so we can take a look at your pictures.

• Tweet about what you are doing, using hashtag: #homeschoolspiritweek

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Newseum, Washington DC


Discover unique learning opportunities at the Newseum, an interactive museum of history in Washington, D.C.

  • Learning Center classes on journalism, history and the First Amendment.
  • Free online teacher resources such as lesson plans and self-guided tours through the museum.
  • Educator-led gallery tours.
  • Professional development for teachers.
  • Unique learning plans created just for you and your group.
    Visit Newseum.org/education to learn more.Homeschools receive the school group discount when they visit the Newseum.

    Students on a teacher-lead organized field trip from public, private and homeschools grades 1 through university in the DC metro area receive free, general admission through the generous support of The Washington Post and WTOP. More information on the free admission program.

    For schools outside of the area, the school rate is $10 per student. One chaperone for every 10 students will receive free admission. Additional chaperones over the required 1:10 chaperone ratio will be charged $15 each.

    If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Maggie Crawford, Education Coordinator, at (202) 292-6663 or email mcrawford@newseum.org

    The Newseum is located at
    555 Pennsylvania Avenue
    Washington, DC 20001

    More Washington DC Field Trips

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