Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Homeschooling and Scouting

[Homeschool laws vary by state. Many comments about homeschooling below are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific situation.]

Homeschoolers account for 3% of all school-aged children in the United States right now.

Begun primarily by religious conservatives almost 30 years ago, today you can find homeschoolers of every religious and secular stripe.

Some homeschoolers fall under the Lone Scout or Lone Cub Scout programs.

Many units have homeschooled Scouts, and occasionally you will find a homeschooled unit. Overall, my experience has been that few councils have actively pursued this group of kids and have almost no understanding of homeschool families and homeschooling.

Big mistake. These kids are involved and often exhibit the qualities we would like to see demonstrated in our units--polite, interested, parental involvement. They often use the Scout awards as supplements to their homeschooling efforts.

So what is homeschooling?

Homeschooling is not "school at home". Of course education happens, but very few families try to repeat the school model at home: desks, fixed hours, busy work, grades and grade levels. Sure, many do at first, but they quickly realize that there is more to homeschooling than that.

If you "get" fractions, you move on and don't dwell on the endless repetition. Need help with algebra? Take as long as you need until you finally grasp the subject matter.

Homeschooling is life experience. These kids are active in sports, their churches, youth groups, hobbies, field trips and community service.

At our church for instance, 80% of the altar servers are homeschooled.

Many homeschooled kids follow their own interests outside of the basic academics for part of their days.

What does Scouting offer to homeschoolers?

People homeschool for a variety of reasons: special needs kids, learning disabilities, academic opportunities, religious values, aversion to school "social" programs and peer pressure, support of the family structure, travel and more.

Scouting offers the chance for homeschooled kids to be a part of the larger community and to explore more opportunities. It can offer a variety of leadership opportunities and value formation.

So, Scouting offers homeschoolers the same things it offers everyone else!

Monday, June 29, 2009

New BSA Immunization Exemption Form

If you haven't seen the new BSA medical form, take a look. It is universal for all levels of Scouting now, regardless of age.

One new item on it is a checkbox for the BSA's Immunization Exemption form.

This allows Scouts and their families with faith or medical reasons to not have any or all immunizations to still be able to use Scout camps and facilities. Families have to be willing to accept responsibility for anything their Scout catches.

This doesn't prevent a Scout from still receiving a physical and being cleared of any communicable diseases.

Personally, I think it will help a lot of kids attend camp (or be honest on their physical forms). Many parents don't immunize, or at least don't follow the immunization schedule followed in the United States. The total numbers are probably very small statistically.

I've heard the argument that they are going to cause "outbreaks" of diseases--missing the obvious question of who they are going to catch it from if most of the population is immunized.

What do you think? Does this help Scouts you know? Do you see any benefits or risks?

Monday, June 01, 2009

May Tweets

These were the most popular tweets for @Scoutsigns in May:

1. http://ow.ly/5sXl

BSA Speaker http://ow.ly/5sXl

106 Clicks

2. http://ow.ly/5gC5

Rocket Launch to Be Watchable On the Entire U.S. Eastern Seaboard Tonight http://ow.ly/5gC5

68 Clicks

3. http://ow.ly/55eH

Your Scouting Twitter List is Ready! http://ow.ly/55eH

51 Clicks

4. http://ow.ly/7BUv

The Accidental Webelos Scout to Boy Scout transition program...http://ow.ly/7BUv (parts 2 and 3 later this week)

43 Clicks

5. http://ow.ly/3rZL

Positive essay on the Boy Scouts! http://ow.ly/3rZL

37 Clicks

6. http://ow.ly/9KqN

Weekend Patrol Box #17 http://ow.ly/9KqN

32 Clicks

7. http://ow.ly/4PsG

Too Cool Not to Share http://ow.ly/4PsG

29 Clicks

8. http://ow.ly/8AwM

ScoutSigns: Weekend Patrol Box #16 http://ow.ly/8AwM

26 Clicks

9. http://ow.ly/5769

The Power of Tweeting (Leave No Trace blog) http://ow.ly/5769

21 Clicks

10. http://ow.ly/5oZl

The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry http://ow.ly/5oZl 

18 Clicks

Which did you like best?  The essay is still a strong shower, a month later!  Leave a comment or tweet.