Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: AOL and homeschooled boys
Re: AOL and homeschooled boys
Gross, David C
Tue, 2 Feb 1999 10:55:36 -0600
[LONG, I'm sorry]
Some of you may recall that I recently posted a similar question about AOL
and homeschooled boys (see the 22 Jan SOUTS-L archive, "Another Webelos
Question"). I'd like to share what I learned and how it came out (resolved
In my situation, the dad was pushing to have his home schooled boy finish
AOL in 4th grade and advance to Boy Scouts immediately. When I pointed out
the "6 past 4th grade (or 6 past age 10)" requirement, the dad suggested
that, as principle of his home school, he would sign off on *any day*
necessary to meet the 6 past 4th grade requirement (!). Furthermore, he
planned to have his "school" work on the activity awards and Scout knowledge
until they were "done" (!).
I received much advice from the list on this situation (and much of it was
useful :-). IMHO, the best advice was:
1) Find out from the local school board what the records
requirements are for home schoolers,
2) Get a Boy Scout handbook and go over with the BOY & DAD the
challenge before them in the first year,
3) Neither raise nor lower the "bar" when it comes to signing off
4) Have a conference with the dad about why the "rest of Webelos" is
important for his son, both in life and further success in Scouts.
I did all of these. Our local school board told me about the records
requirements that the state requirements home schools to keep, which include
grade assignment. The next time I saw the dad I asked to see the *records*
(not a letter from the dad), so that "I could get the paperwork in order".
I was careful to give him a way out ("when you get a chance, ..."). I have
not received these records, and don't expect to (see below). Our area does
*not* make grade assignment by testing. Grade assignment by parents is
somewhat arbitrary here, but is supposed to be based on work which is also
in the record. I could not find a BSA source defining grade levels or other
special policies for homeschooled children. That's about all I can offer on
the home schooling question: don't argue, just ask to see their (whole)
school record. Hopefully, you won't see "finished 4th grade in 2 weeks".
At the next den meeting, the dad (well, the boy was at least physically
there :-) said that they had completed 8 activity awards (!). I spent
three hours with them that night asking the *boy* to tell me about each
thing he had done, and as you might expect, we ended up tossing out about
half (stuff like he had no idea how to check oil or that it was in a car --
a requirement "he" choose for Handyman). His attention wandered a lot, but
we kept at it. I praised him for work I could see that he had actually
done, and strongly encouraged him to keep working on the ones he didn't
quite have yet. I pointed out that most boys have the advantage of about 8
hours in den meetings to work on one award (hint, hint), and that he was
doing very well soloing. I "encouraged" the dad to sit there through it
all, with him growing somewhat frustrated about his son's performance. I
discouraged this, saying I thought the boy was right about where he ought to
be -- after all, many times I will ask a boy if he has "done his best", and
if told no (yes, they will tell me "no") will suggest that the boy to go do
some more work. I regularly apologized for the time required, but pointed
out that most boys do about one a month.
Then (!), I pulled out my new (my, it's cool!) Boy Scout handbook, and
starting working through Scout -> First Class. Occasionally, the dad would
hint that they "hated to keep me here", and I always replied, "oh no, I am
very glad to see a boy this excited about Scouts, and if he is eager to do
the work, then I'm here to serve him" :-)
When we got through Tenderfoot after an hour, the dad (never the boy)
finally asked "so, when can we get the AOL?". So, I opened back up his
Webelos book and read off the requirements backwards, working toward "6+".
I asked "When do his records say he will finish the 4th grade?" (as if I had
no idea what he might say), and the dad *reluctantly* said "May" (hooray!
notice the "subtle" change from before).
So, I said, "well, 6 months past there is November". Then we worked out
when 10+6 would be (before November) and decided that's what the *boy*
should shoot for. I said I'd be there to help all the way and make sure he
received the award as soon as he earned it. Of course, this is more work
than I had planned for me (I had planned to transition him to another
Webelos den), but I'm here for the boys (say three times daily :-)
Then I asked the boy to load up my den supplies. After he left the room, I
had a (gentle, I hope) talk with the dad. We talked about what he and I
thought was best for the boy based on our observations that night). I
emphasized that I wanted the boy to succeed in Scouts -- and that in my
opinion, as demonstrated that night, the boy was not yet ready to work in an
environment like Boy Scouts (boy-run, typically reduced parent support,
self-starter, no one planning his advancement for him).
Bottom line: I think we were able to build some Scout spirit into the dad
and the boy, that they better understand what "do your best" means, and saw
most of the Scout law in operation. I think we have retained this fellow in
Scouts, and found a good path for him to follow -- without
embarrassing/angering anyone. The boy will have some more time to grow.
And I think we have maintained our integrity (Joshua 23:6 "without turning
aside to the right or to the left"). And it only cost me one evening!
Now that I've said it came out pretty well, somebody will post the top ten
ways I fouled up <VBG>
Thanks again to the list (and I apologize for the length).
David Gross (Eagle/3, WL, CA)