Frequently Asked Questions

Heter's Haven

1.   How do I choose the best way to educate my child…?



          There are so many variables in education that this is a very individualized question.  The reality is that as a parent you are going to have to work hard to educate your child.  Each method will require different types of effort.  You need to consider your personal skills and values along with your child’s strengths and weaknesses.  You will also need to know the educational options in your area.  There are three main options to consider.  The most commonly considered options are public verses private schools.  A more maverick approach to consider is to educate your children yourself with homeschooling.  Below is some information to help you make your decision.



Public Schools -


The most common choice is the local public school.  Historically, public schools have been very influential in creating society as we know it.  It was the way my parents chose to educate me.  It is probably how most of you were educated as well.  Local schools are publicly funded and curriculum is state mandated.  Parental involvement level is a personal choice.  However, for most students to be successful, parental involvement is a must.




Public education is free.  There are some very wonderful public schools with some awesome teachers.  Most of the children in your area are probably enrolled in your local public school.  Many groups and associations follow their local public school calendar.  There can be educational choices within the public school system.




There is usually a set curriculum.  Teaching styles, environment, or social expectations may not the best match for your child.  Your child is exposed to an abundance of values and philosophies which may not be aligned with your family’s value system.  Some schools are not as receptive to parental concerns as they could be. 


Private Schools -


Private education is a common choice in some circles.  Privately funded and privately owned, these schools are often affiliated with a religious denomination.  Some are focused on a specific curriculum or style.  Occasionally, they are totally independent from any affiliation.


Pros -


Parental involvement is accepted and appreciated.  Because parents are paying for their child to attend, private schools may be more responsive to a parent’s concerns about their child.  Many private schools have high academic standards.  Parents may be able to find a private school that compliments their spiritual and/or educational value system.


Cons -


This method can be expensive.  Some schools require a lot of resources of both time and money from parents.  While this is wonderful for the children, it can be overwhelming for some parents.  Because private schools are often looking to fill seats, there may be students that you would not have anticipated being accepted into the school.  On the other hand, some schools are so selective with enrollment that children are not able to experience children with other social, economic, racial, or intellectual differences.


Home Schools -


Parents choose to educate their children in their own home.  Usually, it is Mom who becomes the teacher.  Though, grandparents, friends, and tutors have been known to be the primary teacher.  The curriculum, as well as the spiritual and educational focus become the responsibility of the parents.


Pros -


This method provides students with the most individualized program.  Students are able to master skills in their own time.  Students with “different” learning styles can be educated effectively.  Student’s strengths can stressed and weaknesses can be addressed.  Flexibility is available.  Peer Pressure does not become as much of an issue with this method as it can be with public or private schools.  Curriculum choices are many and varied.  They can be readily attained because of the many homeschool resources available these days.  This choice can become a wonderful way of life. 


Cons -


Parental involvement can be intense.  The teacher must be able to set and accomplish educational goals.  There is a temptation to allow life’s every day challenges to overshadow the student’s educational goals.  This can leave your children with a less than adequate education.  This method requires persistence and perseverance.  Financial commitment, though not as demanding as private schools, can become an issue.





2.   What about charter schools…?



          Charter schools are in reality public schools.  They are publicly funded with tax dollars, but are not required to answer to the local school district.  Each charter school has its own educational emphasis or “charter.”  In California, schools apply to the state to establish charter schools.  I will list a few examples of the types of charter schools in our local area.  There is a school emphasizing career goals; one focusing on fine arts; one requiring students who attend to wear uniforms; and several that focus on home education.  Some charter schools require campuses attendance and some allow for home education or independent study.  Because charter schools are funded with tax dollars, they will not pay for curriculum with an obvious religious bias.  Some charter schools have a set curriculum and others allow parents to choose supplies from approved venders.  Some charters will even give parents the option of using educational dollars toward activities such as karate, dancing, music lessons and the like.


While purists do not consider those who use a charter school to be true homeschoolers, many parents who educate their children at home through this method would disagree.  Charter schools with a program for homeschoolers can certainly be a supportive entry into the world of homeschooling.  Financially, you cannot beat this method, however, you must be comfortable with the fact that the charter school retains ultimate educational control.





3.   Reading is finally beginning to click with my child, but the school wants to retain him.  What do I do…?



          This is such a difficult situation.  You will notice the pronoun “he” used in the above question.  I most often hear from parents of young boys who are about 7 or 8 years old and at the end of second grade.  Some children, particularly little boys are not developmentally ready to read until they are between 6 and 8 years of age.  Unfortunately for these children, that puts their natural biological development at odds with academic expectations.  Our society, while well meaning, is emphasizing academic achievement goals that are not possible for some children to attain.


Some options to consider are…


Retain your child as the school suggests.  This may be most beneficial for the child who is emotionally immature or small in stature.


Ask to advance your child to the next grade with academic support such as tutoring, time in the learning center, or the support of an Education Specialist.  There can be some emotional damage to some children who are retained a grade if it is not handled with extreme care.


Try looking for another educational option that may be more compatible for your child.  Perhaps there is a private school or a charter school that is a better match for your child.  Homeschooling is another option.  Academic ability and development is easier to manage in this environment.




4.   When should I start my child in kindergarten…?


          You know your child best, but, there are laws that mandate the age at which your child must be enrolled in school.  For instance, in California, a child must be enrolled at the age of 6.  If you are having to make a decision, my bias is that latter is often better.  Though there is the occasional precocious 4 year old who may be ready academically, socially, and developmentally, most children fair better waiting to 5 or 6.  It gives the child a step up as they compete with classmates.  They have more maturity to handle separation from family and adjust better in school.  Free child care is not a good enough reason to send your child to school at an early age.  And though some children are academically advanced at 4 years old, as their peers develop and catch up those children often become much more average. In addition, academic burnout is becoming an issue for elementary age children.  I find that disturbing.





5.   Should I consider home schooling…?


          You have to know yourself it know if this is an option for you.  The biggest challenge to home schooling, is that education absolutely must be a priority in your home.  Life has so many distractions that it is easy for the education of your children to be put on the back burner.  You have to be willing to be parent, teacher, and disciplinarian.  Teachers, administrators, schools, or other students cannot be used as excuses for your children’s learning ability or behavior.  It is all your responsibility.


          On the upside, home schooling allows for so much individuality that students can excel if given the opportunity to do so.  A parent can encourage their child’s strengths.  Weaknesses can be worked on little by little without them becoming overwhelming obstacles.  The course of study can be tailored for each student.  Quick students can expand their learning opportunities and slower students can take their time on subjects as needed.  A child who struggles in on academic area does not have to be held back in other areas of study.  There are many kinds of intelligences that are difficult to encourage in a typical classroom.  Students with high physical or creative intellect can be encouraged and challenged within a homeschool environment.


          There is flexibility in scheduling.  A child does not fall behind if they have a sick day.  Students can just pick up where they left off in their lessons.  Family activities and commitments can become part of the homeschool schedule.  Work schedules can be accommodated by adjusting the time of the school day.  Daddies with different work hours can still have time with their family.  The all-important family meal can be breakfast, lunch or dinner.





6.   What about socialization for my homeschooler…?


          This is the most common question I get about homeschooling.  At one time, I called into the Tom Sullivan Talk Show in regards to public school teachers who choose to home school.  Even with someone as educated and interested in issues as Mr. Sullivan, it was the first question asked.  For homeschoolers this such a basic question.


          Most homeschoolers agree that not all socialization is positive.  As a classroom teacher, I worked very hard to make all children feel valued.  But, children can be very cruel.  A child who is considered either too bright or too slow may not fin in socially.  The class clown is often a child trying to hide issues of insecurity or learning differences.  It is all too easy for a child to become bullied or become the bully because of being an outcast among his/her peers.  Homeschooled children are not exposed to the severity of negative socialization that other children come in contact with every day.


          On the other hand, in my opinion, learning to deal with peers is a learned behavior and a child needs chances to learn these important social skills.  But, the remedy is so simple.  Sunday school, Little League, Soccer, homeschool associations, and play dates are ways to easily allow for social exposure.


          My oldest children went from being in daycare every day while I taught in the public school system to a homeschool style situation in our small private school.  The steps I took to transitions my very social kindergartener to home schooling was pretty simple.  Sunday school was already a weekly experience.  We joined our church’s home school ministry on Fridays.  Because my guys were so used to seeing children daily, we added a weekly play date to our schedule.  Over the years, we have included (not all at once, naturally) Little League, soccer, gymnastics, dance lessons, cub scouts, karate, drama, a Keepers of the Faith club, and our church’s after school ministry as they have become of interest to my children.


          Personally, our family is very blessed to be a part of a homeschool support group.  We get together of Fridays for activities, field trips or play days.  Our teenagers have a semiformal event each year.  After the activity time, mothers are able to visit with each other and find support.  Our children

have buddies that attend the group.


          I once had a father who was considering homeschooling quiz me on what his child may miss out on because of homeschooling.  It was amazing. Because of the support we parents give our children and each other, we could not find an experience that was not provided in some way.  There are so many opportunities for socialization that as a family you will have to decide the level of activity involvement that you find acceptable.





7.   What is the best curriculum for my child…?


          Curriculum must be comfortable for the teacher to use as well as meet the needs of the students.  One way to help us discover the type of curriculum that will work best for a student is to be aware of their learning styles.  There are three learning styles.  While children acquire knowledge in all three ways, they tend to have strengths in one or two styles.  The three learning styles are…


Auditory learners - The children learn best by listening.  The students love lectures and CDs or tapes.


Visual learners - These are the see and do students.  These children tend to do very well with basic text books.


Tactile or Kinesthetic learners - These are the touch and move students.


          I attempt to match the curriculum to the child as much as possible.  This means that I do not use one publisher or style of text.  As you choose curriculum, it will need to match both you as the teacher, and your child’s learning style.  If you need individualized help with designing a course of study for your students, contact me for a private consultation.


When discussing education and learning, I get these seven questions the most often.

1.   How do I choose the best way to educate my child…?

2.   What about charter schools…?
3.   Reading is finally beginning to click with my child, but the school wants to retain him.  

      What do I do…?
4.   When should I start my child in kindergarten…?
5.   Should I consider home schooling…?
6.   What about socialization for my homeschooler…?

7.   What is the best curriculum for my child…?

Scroll down the page to find the my thoughts on these questions.  If you have other questions you would like to discuss, contact me.