Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our Family Vacation

Our first trip to Great Wolf Lodge. We scored half price rooms a few months back and planned a late January get-away. We stayed for 3 nights. Homeschooling friends also went to the lodge that week, for the first 2 nights we were there.

The weather was not great on the drive to Niagara Falls so traffic was a mess. We left early so we could go to the butterfly conservatory before heading to the hotel. It was a very nice place but Izzy was terrified, especially when I stopped near a feeding dish and some of them started to land on me.

We could see the Lodge across the gorge from the park area when leaving the conservatory. The kids were chomping at the bit to get there.

We arrived before 1pm and though our rooms were not ready (not guaranteed until 4pm) we were issued out wristbands and decided to hit the waterpark. The wristbands are very cool in that they work as your room key, lock for the lockers and a way to charge stuff to your room. Though by the last day Rob and I were dying to get them off. Alex still has his on. It will be a week tomorrow.

The place was fabulously clean and the lifeguards seem pretty diligent. Everyone is quite friendly. There is a lot for the whole family to do. Alex was tall enough to ride all the slides. Izzy was a big fan of the lazy river and the wave pool. I preferred the hot-tub myself. Especially the outdoor one!

Just after 3pm I was able to check in to our room. The lady at the front desk asked it it was okay that we were at the end of the hall on the water park level. I figured, why not?! Well, the place is deceptively large and it was a running joke our entire stay about the amount of time it took to get back and forth from the room. The place is massive!

The kids were thrilled with the bunk beds. The fact that their room had cable was the icing on the cake. We don't have cable at home anymore and this was just an added treat.

I was happy that they thought to add laundry lines in the room to help dry our bathing suits. I noticed a lot of small things they added for our comfort and made us very happy with our mini-break choice.

At 8pm each night they have story time. We had friends over to our suite for a pizza supper than after relaxing a little met upstairs to the kids could watch the live show.

It was a busy day and it wasn't long before the kids were out cold.

The next morning was a breakfast buffet at the Antler Shanty. The food wasn't amazing but the selection was pretty decent. We purchased an add-on meal plan. Something like $45 an adult buys you a breakfast buffet, lunch and drink at one of the smaller cafes or pizza hut and one dinner buffet. I found it to be a pretty good deal since it included the taxes and gratuity. We only purchased one meal plan for each family member because we left the park or brought food for the meals.

Followed by some activities and crafts in the lobby.

Then another romp in the waterpark.

Over the stay there was:

A religious experience for Izzy when she had her first manicure at a spa. The place is called Scoops and designed for little girls. The said it was, "...the best day of her life." My little girly, girl!

Play time at the arcade.

A severe case of the (over-tired girl) grumps.

A ride on the SkyWheel - a small version of the London Eye. It was horrible, at least for me. I am terrified of heights and yet, in a moment of insanity I suggested this would be a great way to see the Falls lit up at night. I paid $10 to have a panic attack! The worst part was that there was no one else there and he let us go around an extra turn!! I wanted to faint. It was pretty windy too and the car rocked quite a bit on that last run. The kids thought I was hysterical. Happy to have entertained them.

Of course, there was a trip to the Falls with a quick stop for hot chocolate at Starbucks.

It was pretty chilly and we made the kids walk from the Skylon Tower down to the edge of the Falls. It was cold, wet (obviously) and they weren't very impressed. The Falls isn't exactly pretty in the winter.

We got to go behind the Falls. One of the decks is closed in the winter but we got up pretty close.

There are two open passages behind the Falls. This one was frozen right over but the second one was pretty cool. I didn't get any good pictures of the second one because a giant amount of fast rushing water isn't easy to capture on film. Alex got pretty soaked though getting up as close as he could.

The last morning was a quick breakfast and me packing up the car while Rob took the kids to the waterpark one last time.

Before we left Niagara Falls, we still had to use up our tickets to the show 'The Fury'. The website says, Experience the Creation of Niagara Falls in 4-D! The temperature will drop 20 degrees. Water will bubble and spray while snow falls all around. Standing in the mist on a massive platform you will feel the full wrath of Mother Nature as the floor tilts and trembles beneath you. You'll never look at the Falls the same way again!

On the way home, we passed through Niagara on the Lake, grabbing some wine from our favourite vineyards.

We really did have a good time. It was nice to just be away with Rob since he has been so busy lately. We will definitley go back. Poor kids were so upset to leave. They do a great job of taking care of families there and was pretty impressed.

More On The Co-Op

This has been something I have dreamed about being a part of since I heard of a group from a homeschooling friend that attended one about an hour west of us. It is a group that has been going for several years and my friend was a big part of their success. Now that we lived further East, we thought, wouldn't it be nice to have something like that closer to home.

It took a while to find a venue. We eventually found a library willing to give us the community room for 2 hours, every other week. In turn, a librarian handles 15 minutes of reading (material related to the topics) and also puts together a table full of books for us to check out at the end of the session. It is a win-win situation. The libraries depend on funding from book circulation and we provide homeschooling families from surrounding communities to come in and check out a lot of books.

Since my friend had been involved in a co-op before, she knew what worked and what didn't so we put a lot of work early on into setting the tone for the group. There are rules, like participants must contribute to a session at some point by hosting it themselves. It is a co-op, after all, not a few moms trying to educate the masses. It isn't a drop-off service either and parents are required to attend and help out. More basic rules too, like being quiet during activities or not running around and distracting the group.

The kids range from about 3 years old up to 8 or 9. We try to gear the activities to a second/third grade level. There is usually something for everyone. Here is a sample outline of a previous session:

Topic: Solar System/Gravity

ARRIVAL TIME (greetings & set up)
1:00 – 1:15
Please ensure you are ready for the librarian to start at 1:15

1:15 – 1:35
Readings and circle activities based on the day's theme

1:35 - 1:50
Children can share their learning on the day's topic with the rest of the
group(this is a voluntary part of the program)

1:50 – 3:00
For this session there will not be centres and all activities will be run as a
whole group.

We will be doing a number of different activities and experiments examining the
orbits of the planets, there relative sizes and discovering how they are
governed by Newton's laws of Motion.

We will be walking the orbit of the earth and discovering how the tilt of the
Earth on its axis effects the seasons/equinoxes. Using hands on activities and
experiments we will be exploring Newton's 3 Laws of Motion and how they relate to the planets in our solar system. [Example activities included making balls out of newspaper and attaching them to strings so the kids could whirl them around their heads to see how/why the pulling kept it in a circle rather than throwing it off into the room; and using magnets and ball bearings to see how one celestial body affected the movement of another.] We will examine how a combination of inertia and gravity keep the planets orbiting the sun. We will examine the sizes of the different planets and how that effect the amount of gravity they have. We will discover how gravity would effect our weight on each of the planets.

Clean-up and sign out library materials

It has been a great success and is something parents can be proud of while the kids just have fun learning together. We started with 4 families and now have a pretty solid core group of 9. We are averaging 20-24 kids lately and word of mouth has been spectacular. I see great things for this group. The only problem I see in the future is having too many people interested.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The "Mensa" Co-op

Apparently, this is the nickname given to us by the husband of one of our members. Funny and probably a little true. We aim for the brass ring.

Today's co-op was awesome! It was the one I have wanted to do ever since I heard about a group in Mississauga doing it. A couple of moms made a comet out of dry ice, ammonia, sand and corn syrup. Then it was put in a display where the sun (with holes poked through and a blow dryer attached) slowly melts it. As it melts and the gases are expelled it forms a tail. Though the tail wasn't as big as we would have liked, it was still very cool.

One of the other projects was to create craters. We took containers with flour and a little hot chocolate sprinkled on top and dropped different size marbles from different heights and angles creating the crater, rim and ejecta blanket surrounding them. The kids learned why we can see so many craters on the moon (negligent atmosphere doesn't break them up or slow them down upon entry) but they are hidden on Earth (due to our weather, the shifting plates and a large surface area of water).

Other activities were using ball bearings and magnets to see what forces cause objects to hit one planet and not others.

I just love this co-op. I especially love the days we do science stuff!!

In The Car on the Way Home from Julia's....

Izzy: I am going to marry Rowan. He asked me and I said yes.

Alex: Ughhhh...

Me: What Alex, I thought you liked Rowan? Why can't he marry your sister?

Alex: Because they would be a bad combination together. It is just a terrible idea.

Me: Why?

Alex: Because he took Izzy and Eliana's toys and hid them in his room. If they get married he might end up taking Izzy's toys and hiding them in his room.

Izzy: No. I don't care. I am marrying Rowan.

Me: So, where are you going to live if you get married?

Izzy: Well, we will live in an apartment. Then move to another apartment. Then buy a house.

Me: How? You need money. Who is going to go to work every day.

Izzy: Rowan.

Izzy: Hey mommy, you and daddy were friends before you got married right?

Me: Yes, we met at University.

Izzy: Were you friends when you were kids like me and Rowan and then got married when you were a grown up?

Me: No, we didn't know each other as kids but daddy was still a teenager when we met.

Izzy: Well, we are getting married.

Me: Can Eliana be a bridesmaid?

Izzy: Maybe.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Note To Future Self

Never, ever attempt to paint a kitchen in a small house with two children running around. It is bad for my mental health. Boy, if this kitchen isn't done soon, I am going to wind up in a loony bin some where.

My Favourite Things!!!

I am killing time between coats of paint and really am not interested in the big pile of dirty laundry ;-)

My iPhone. Rob and I each got a 16gig 3Gs phone and we may love them more than each other. Techie families with gadget obsessions are the the worst! Yesterday, Rob called me from work while I was chatting with a neighbour. I interrupted her to answer the phone, thinking it must be important because he has only texted me from the office since we got them. Turned out he just wanted to say hi, lol.

Bananagrams. We have had this game for about 2 years but I had no idea how fun it was until my sister-in-law noticed we had it and showed us the game. Addictive and so much fun. I had just been using the tiles to practice reading and spelling with the kids. We break this game out so much I bought another pack to add extra players.

Angie Sage. Alex burned through her Araminta Spookie books in record time and we are starting the Septimus Heap books.

The colour cornmeal. It is what I am painting my kitchen right now and I love it!!! It is so bright and warm. Now I just need to pick some $*#&%# colours for the rest of the house. Not my forte!

Starbucks Vanilla Rooibos Tea. OMG. It is fantastic! I am a real tea fanatic and have about 20 different kinds in my cupboard right now. Not to mention a fancy, schmancy tea maker on the counter. I had it in a latte last night and wow, it is like dessert in a cup.

My new MEC Shoulder Bag. I have had many purses but this bag is the bee's knees. Holds everything I need. Great organization compartments. Love the handle on it. Don't think I have ever spent just $19 on a hand bag but this is my favorite by far. I love all our MEC stuff. Won't buy a backpack from any where else.

Clean Eating Magazine. I love magazines though I don't buy many any more. Too many ads in most. I used to like Cooking Light but I find they have more articles and less food these days. Clean Eating, I think, is one of the best healthy food magazines out there. I keep every subscription and have tried many of their recipes. Excellent read!

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. A bread cookbook by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I have mentioned this book in other posts. This is the book with my pizza and white bread recipe. The one everyone loves and people beg me to make for them. So simple, and truly works every time. Just picked up their new book, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a day but haven't made anything in it yet due to the tail end of the kitchen reno. Place is tarped up like a Dexter kill room. Another favourite thing, by the way. Loved that show since the first episode aired in 2006. One of my all time favourite tv shows.

I'll come back and add more if I can think of anything else!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Few Truths About Me:

Inspired by some fellow hs bloggers (Kez and Butterfly plus many others, I am sure!).

I have pretty much stopped watching the news. I know about Haiti and feel horrified for the people there...and will try to give in ways that I can...but life is so much less stressful since I stopped watching news. I read a little online and keep up to date on the big stuff. I used to get so worked up - angry at politicians, sad for the babies that lost their lives to crazy parents, disgusted by drunk drivers that kill a family of 4, etc... I still have those feelings but I can't invest so much emotion to all the sadness and horrors in this world 24-7. Sometimes I feel a little stupid hearing something important second hand but not enough to jump back into the abyss.

I need to lose a lot of weight. A lot. Down 25lbs right now but a long way to go. Not stressing over it. For me it is all about health. I could care less about bikini wear ;)

I love food. Okay, not a secret. Not just eating food, but cooking food and feeding others. I am a genuine food snob. Do not bring parmesan cheese in a can into my house. Or any kind of "helper" for some form of meat. Or fish sticks. I don't think my kids even know what a fish stick is. My almost 7 year old loves quinoa and asks for the sushi with fish eggs on top.

Dare I say it? Only Rob knows this so far, I think, but...I love Jane Austen Fan Fiction. There, I said it. Good ones - and there are a few. Sure, Austen would probably be horrified at what is out there (and I have to say that while I had high hopes for Pride, Prejudice and Zombies it was a real disaster) there are some really good writers who just will never get paid to write this stuff. I can remember being a kid, reading a book that really grabbed me and thinking about alternative situations for those characters and plot. What can I say? I just love it.

I love movies. As a teen I think I saw almost one a week in the theater. My favourites are period pieces, zombie movies (hence the PP&Z book), end of the world movies (much to Rob's chagrin, lol), dark comedies and some sci-fi (like the new Star Trek or Serenity). That last one is a late introduction to my repertoire and is really just what happened after living with my husband for over a decade.

I come from a pretty mentally unstable family of origin. So unstable that I cut off all ties with my parents about 6 years ago - no contact at all. This sounds really bad and depressing but it is not. I am happy, healthy and have worked this out many years ago with the help of my therapist. I am usually pretty open about this but I tend not to write about it on this blog. Kind of bums people out.

I love a clean and tidy house. I just have no interest in doing anything to keep it that way. I hate house cleaning. Almost as much as my husband which, frankly, is a lethal combination. I'd hire a house keeper but I am fussy about my stuff being touched.

I love massages. Real ones by professionals. I can't do it though because I am so ticklish. Nothing like a squirming client on the table to make you regret career choices.

I really, genuinely do not care what other people think. Thanks to a few years of therapy. Conflict, however, is a whole other issue. I hate arguments and confrontation. Makes me sick to my stomach. I have to mute the tv when people on it are yelling at each other. Those morons who yell at people all the time on the Fox network are living my idea of hell.

I think I was born an atheist. Never once have I been able to believe in God. I wanted to a few times but it just isn't in there. My dad is an atheist and my mother roman catholic. My brother and I each chose a side. I had an amazing upbringing in this regard. Atheist dad was really good friends with a priest, who adored me and let me participate in all sorts of religious rituals. I went to a catholic school up to grade 6. My dad got his degree in religion at university. There were always discussions going on. It was fantastic. I love the ritual and ceremony that comes with religion and the community too. I just can't get into the god part.

I talk and write too much. But you knew that already. :)

Not Always Sunshine and Lollipops

A homeschooler to be asked what the downsides to homeschooling are for some of us in the trenches. I didn't have to think to hard, they are things I have the luxury of griping over with some of my fellow hs mom/friends. The kids run off and play while we sip tea and discuss whatever is on our minds. Very cathartic. Not just getting stuff off your chest but hearing other families are in the same boat too.

Anyway, here was my response to the post at motheringdotcom:

Everything in life isn't perfect...

...and neither is homeschooling. Though I find it infinitely better than the alternative.

Down sides for me are:

- Less me time. I am always on. I am a mom, chauffeur, teacher, friend, disciplinarian, librarian, guidance counselor, therapist, cook, shopper, etc. It never ends. Not that this isn't the way for most moms and dads. Still, dh gets to take a vacation from work and I realize there is no vacation from homeschooling mom.

- Money. It is flying out the window. I know homeschooling is only as expensive as you make it but in order to accomplish what I want, it takes cash. There is no funding where I live. I want my dks to have art classes, french classes, go to gym, join scouts, is not cheap. I find the material for the few curriculums we have chosen are relatively well priced but there is always the consumable stuff you go through...or something you may not have laying around needed for a science experiment that week. Playdates and field trips can cost too, whether is be gas or the cost of a yearly pass to the zoo.

- Driving. There is a lot of it. Homeschoolers tend not to live next door to each other. In my area we visit 4 cities (that border each other) regularly to visit our closest hs friends and parks. Activities for us are clustered but not in the same building so we drive to art, then 15 minutes away to gym, then, well you get the picture.

- My own level of motivation and guilty conscience. I am I doing enough? Does ds know X. How is dd's writing coming along? Have I spent enough time on lessons? Have we read enough this week? Has ds been on the Wii for 3 hours now? The further I go along in this hs'ing adventure, the less guilt I feel - probably because I see they are fine and I haven't completely ruined them.

- A clean house. I have neighbours who have the house to themselves for more than 6 hours a day. They can clean it while the kids are gone. Not us. Also because we are one income and because we spend a good chunk of change each year on the kids we have bought a small house - which is filled to the brim with books (that are everywhere ) and just life.

- Not getting many breaks from each other. The dks and I are together a lot. Sometimes it would be nice if someone else would take them for a few hours each week. Just long enough for me to miss them.

I love homeschooling but it isn't always easy. I still wouldn't trade my life for anything though. I love this life, warts and all.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


You know, several times a week I think to myself that I need to get X written on my blog but time and inclination have been getting away from me.

We started back on the kitchen. The kitchen we have not touched since, oh, late last February? What can I say, it was functional and we had other priorities such as the children and down time. I am halfway finished painting the room. No small feat with all the stuff on the go and two children under foot. We started on the weekend when the kids were away at their aunt's house.

The kids are doing really well right now. Alex has hit his stride in piano. He is playing with two hands now and not really shuffling back and forth when he had to switch hands. He is reading the notes really well and best of all, he now plays for himself! I no longer have to prod him to sit at the piano each day.

Izzy is a little worker bee. She always has a pen in hand and is writing letters, numbers, words...and pictures, lots and lots of pictures! She is really getting into art class now and the teacher sees a real difference in ability since the last session. Reading is coming along very slowly but she is interested and we aren't pushing it. She asks how to spell things and what words say. I think it will just come one day when she finds the material that motivates her. With Alex it was Calvin and Hobbes.

I have new science books that came in last week but we haven't touched them yet. I'll post about those when I have something to review. It is the R.E.A.L. Science books and there are 3 subjects - Earth and Space, Life and Chemistry. It is set up to do 2 days worth of material for each week. I am looking forward to it. Quite a bit will be review for Alex (my science buff) but new for Izzy. The material ranges from grades 1 - 3, I think and I hope to cover any gaps I may be missing right now.

The really big deal lately is all this planning going on for some exciting new homeschool ventures. The co-op is going well but we are still trying to cement a core group of families that will actively participate in the club. We need a certain number for the library to keep giving us free space.

It looks like we have scored big with a french teacher for the kids too! One of the mom's started looking into a french tutor to hang out with our kids (about 9-11 of them) and teach them a little french. The search took us on an unexpected path and we discovered a real french teacher with a Montessori bent that is going to come up with a full curriculum and lesson for our kids once a week. The only problem is that this will not be a cheap venture. For at least $30/week for both kids it will certainly put a dent in the pocketbook but I think she is worth it. I hope so!

I am so excited about french. A little sad that I know a few families that were interested won't be able to afford this class but I think it will be amazing for my kids. Here, the kids don't start french until grade 4 unless you are in immersion and it sounds pretty half-assed, if you ask me. Growing up in Northern Ontario, I have higher standards for the kids and their french lessons. This will be a very small class, with 5 or 6 kids, and we should be able to do quite a lot pretty fast.

It feels good to have someone else take the reigns a bit, educationally speaking, and I hope this works well for us. I can't bring the enthusiasm and freshness the kids need to get jazzed about a subject like french. Rob and I talked about what was important to us, what was important for the children to learn (from good teachers and resources) and we know that when it comes to the arts, music and foreign languages we have to fork out the dough to give them the excellent education we are striving for. Between the two of us, we can easily handle the rest.

I have to say that overall I am very happy with how homeschooling is turning out. It is pretty close to what I imagined in my head. Over the weekend Rob and I were out snooping in new home developments and drooling over some pretty (large) homes. Wondering what we could afford in two or three years. Daring to dream big. A few days have passed though and while we will definitely want to upgrade houses in a few years, I think we should do what we did when we bought this house. Figure out what we can afford and spend a lot less. We aren't exactly where we want to be, financially, but I like being able to give the kids what they need without worrying about the bills.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Venting - Ontario begins rolling out all day JK :(

Funny enough, the school Izzy went to didn't make the cut for next year.

Anyway, a list of schools came out this week announcing which ones will be offering all day junior and senior kindergarten next year. I am alternately sad and disgusted. First of all, call it what it is, government funded day care. Don't go off telling the world that this is going to help our economy by making our future workforce smarter.

I know it is optional. Though they won't rule out making it mandatory in four or five years when the program is fully implemented. This means they would have to amend the education act too. Right now education is mandatory from 6 to 18 or graduation). This would mean pushing it down to age 3...because good chunk of babies born later in the year are three when they start JK here making it 15 full years of mandatory schooling. (For my friends who do not hs please understand that I see a huge difference between learning and schooling since we are learning all the time and not always in school or after ager 3 ;-))

I know that many kids are in daycare all day. Daycare has lower child to care giver ratios than school, I wonder will the board of education adhere to those numbers. Not likely. I also know it can be a challenge to deal with a child only in school for 3 hours while you work 8 or 9. Why not offer alternate day schooling, like in some districts. Or have a daycare attached to the schools. Or at least admit to the public at large that it is still half day kindergarten with some daycare thrown in on the house.

It really bothers me that the government is instituting this program. At an additional 1.5 billion dollars each year you would think that the money could be spent better elsewhere. Our colleges and universities are suffering. Our public and high schools are crumbling due to lack of money for maintenance. I can't see why circle time is more important to our society at this time over new chemistry books...or even enough books for each student? It is the Province trying to solve a daycare issue at the expense of an already maxed out education system.

A fairly well-known homeschooler from BC (Miranda, aka Moominmama) once said something on a board that has stayed with me for a long time. I am paraphrasing: We started with kindergarten to introduce kids to the school system and prepare them for grade one. Then we added Junior Kindergarten to prepare the kindergarteners for Senior Kindergarten. Then we added all these preschool programs to get kids ready for just never ends.

So I wonder, what is the point of all day school for 3, 4 and 5 year olds. If it is about getting people working and spending more money, okay, admit that and stop pretending that this is solely for the benefit of our children. Do not tell me that this makes kids happier, healthier and smarter. Aside from my anecdotal evidence to the contrary, studies that show a real benefit to structured early education are based in urban and lower income places. We know that at home, at school or at daycare, what matters most are involved parents/educators who care and commit to their children's education.

Oy!!! I could go on forever. I know that this world isn't filled with stay at home moms baking cookies, lol, nor should it be. I want choices for my kids - especially my daughter. What I want is for people to take a really good look at what is best for the masses of young ones we are marching off to school and acknowledge why we are doing it.

Anyway, rant over. I am getting more agitated and repetitive. Funny how I hear that homeschoolers only do what is best for themselves. I do care. A lot. I am just thankful that I can dislike a system and be able to remove myself from it too.

Just had to put this out there!

Copied from The Washington Times (because sometimes links get lost):

HOME-SCHOOLING: Socialization not a problem

Sunday, December 13, 2009
By Michael Smith

One of the most persistent criticisms of home-schooling is the accusation that home-schoolers will not be able to fully participate in society because they lack "socialization." It's a challenge that reaches right to the heart of home-schooling, because if a child isn't properly socialized, how will that child be able to contribute to society?

Since the re-emergence of the home-school movement in the late 1970s, critics of home-schooling have perpetuated two myths. The first concerns the ability of parents to adequately teach their own children at home; the second is whether home-schooled children will be well-adjusted socially.

Proving academic success is relatively straightforward. Today, it is accepted that home-schoolers, on average, outperform their public school peers. The most recent study, "Homeschool Progress Report 2009," conducted by Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, surveyed more than 11,000 home-schooled students. It showed that the average home-schooler scored 37 percentile points higher on standardized achievement tests than the public school average.

The second myth, however, is more difficult to address because children who were home-schooled in appreciable numbers in the late 1980s and early 1990s are only now coming of age and in a position to demonstrate they can succeed as adults.

Home-school families across the nation knew criticisms about adequate socialization were ill-founded — they had the evidence right in their own homes. In part to address this question from a research perspective, the Home School Legal Defense Association commissioned a study in 2003 titled "Homeschooling Grows Up," conducted by Mr. Ray, to discover how home-schoolers were faring as adults. The news was good for home-schooling. In all areas of life, from gaining employment, to being satisfied with their home-schooling, to participating in community activities, to voting, home-schoolers were more active and involved than their public school counterparts.

Until recently, "Homeschooling Grows Up" was the only study that addressed the socialization of home-schooled adults. Now we have a new longitudinal study titled "Fifteen Years Later: Home-Educated Canadian Adults" from the Canadian Centre for Home Education. This study surveyed home-schooled students whose parents participated in a comprehensive study on home education in 1994. The study compared home-schoolers who are now adults with their peers. The results are astounding.

When measured against the average Canadians ages 15 to 34 years old, home-educated Canadian adults ages 15 to 34 were more socially engaged (69 percent participated in organized activities at least once per week, compared with 48 percent of the comparable population). Average income for home-schoolers also was higher, but perhaps more significantly, while 11 percent of Canadians ages 15 to 34 rely on welfare, there were no cases of government support as the primary source of income for home-schoolers. Home-schoolers also were happier; 67.3 percent described themselves as very happy, compared with 43.8 percent of the comparable population. Almost all of the home-schoolers — 96 percent — thought home-schooling had prepared them well for life.

This new study should cause many critics to rethink their position on the issue of socialization. Not only are home-schoolers actively engaged in civic life, they also are succeeding in all walks of life. Many critics believed, and some parents feared, that home-schoolers would not be able to compete in the job market. But the new study shows home-schoolers are found in a wide variety of professions. Being home-schooled has not closed doors on career choices.

The results are a great encouragement to all home-schooling families and to parents thinking about home-schooling. Home-schoolers, typically identified as being high academic achievers, also can make the grade in society.

Both "Homeschooling Grows Up" and "Fifteen Years Later" amply demonstrate home-school graduates are active, involved, productive citizens. Home-school families are leading the way in Canadian and American education, and this new study clearly demonstrates home-school parents are on the right path.

To read the full study or a synopsis, visit

• Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at 540/338-5600 or send e-mail to