Well, Kaye asked why, so I’m going to answer her! If you have not read Kaye’s blog you may want to before reading mine; this is a direct response to her earlier post. Let me say also, before I begin, that we have agreed to discuss publicly our views via our blogs. We are interested in good discussion, but not in a mudslinging brawl. It is neither her or my intention to bait and we don’t want to encourage anyone else to either. Differences of opinion make for good discussion and good fodder for thought and understanding.
In conclusion to her blog, Kaye asks basically two questions: an explanation as to why one might want to home school and what is so wrong with public schools that my kids can’t go to them.
I know that home schooling is popular with the conservative and often religious right. So in recent years, there has been an exodus from school, and a growing momentum towards home education to “protect“ kids from unbiblical teaching. I also know that the school my kids would be going to is a S.U.R.S. school (School Under Review of the Superintendent)–which means that its performance is consistently. . .less than ideal. The schools that my children would go to are over crowded and to be frank some of the teachers have less of an education than I do–and I‘m not even a fully certified teacher for New York State. On top of that we are a religiously conservative family and we do regularly include the Bible in our teaching day. We live in the inner city and one only needs to look to the newspaper to see that the school my kids go to would be dangerous. So that is in short, what is wrong with out local public school.
However, while I admit that some of these issues are peripheral reasons why we chose to home school, the truth of the matter is that none of these are the key reasons for us home schooling our children. The reasons, in order of importance, are as follows:
1. I believe that it is the parents, not the public education system, that is primarily responsible for educating children.
2. I believe children are better socially prepared at home than in school.
3. I believe my children would be missing out on so much by being in school all day.
Who’s Job is It?
I fully believe that it is the responsibility of the parent to educate their children. I believe this is true if you send your kids to school as well as if you home school. The difference is that if you choose schooling for your children, you are in essence asking the teacher for assistance. That doesn’t negate your primary responsibility as a parent.
Teachers are ineffective without parental support and most who have been teaching awhile will tell you that. Teachers can tell which parents let their kids watch too much T.V. (often without having spoken to the parent), which parents make it to all their kids’ games and eat dinner with their kids on a regular basis, and which parents aren’t even aware of what’s going on. Any progress that’s made in the classroom has to be backed up at home or else it’s generally not good progress.
If I take that a step further, I would say that since I believe I am primarily responsible for my children’s education–why not home school? I don’t really have a good reason not to.
This is the first issue that many people ask homeschoolers. Yet research has shown over and over again, that homeschoolers as a group are better socialized than their public school counter parts.
Homeschooling, for most kids, is more like the real world. They get to use real life skills, often at an earlier age than their public school counterparts. They get to interact with a variety of ages of people–they’re not segregated to just one age group. Consequently, homeschoolers frequently know how to present themselves articulately to adults.
Even further in my own experience, I see my own children–not concerned with cliques and other social pressures–exhibit characteristics that I find admirable. They consistently choose the odd man out, share their things or bring extras to the park and my older kids (ages 7 and 5) are very, very good with little ones. Would they be like this if they went to school? Possibly–the home, after all is the primary influence. But because they are home, they never get made fun of for choosing the least popular kid to be on their team. In fact, they don’t even have a concept of what popularity is. These traits are encouraged in them as we see them and they are allowed to flourish. My kids are allowed to build confidence in these areas and our hope is that as they get older, it will help them make good choices. Are they sheltered? No, not at all. I look at it more like our home as the nest that the baby bird can fall back on. But we encourage our kids to use their wings as much as possible given their ages.
Futhermore, the saying goes that bad company corrupts good character. It’s not that good character easily influences bad character. Can I protect my children from all the bad influences out there? No–and I don’t want to. I think learning how to deal with people who are difficult, or even learning how to say no to people who are a bad influence–is a vital skill. However, I do think that minimizing my childrens’ exposure to other kids who say or discuss things I don’t want them hearing is worthy of consideration–especially when they are so young. We are building for them a foundation that they can stand on and use while they are learning how to “fly” on their own.
My Kids Might Miss Something by Not Being Homeschooled!
I can’t help but feel that my kids would miss something by being stuck in school all day. Their educational experience is so rich, I think school would take up too much time and could conceivably squash their desire for learning.
Their learning environment is so diverse and rich at home. . .I couldn’t possibly fathom how it would compare in school. One advantage to home schooling is that children are allowed to explore their interests. . .and have more time to do so as it does not take as long to teach one child as it does 20. Consequently, each of my children has a well developed passion for something. Am I saying that they wouldn’t have a passion for anything if they went to school? Not necessarily, but I don’t think one could say their interests would be cultivated in the same way that they have been at home.
We’ve also been on about 24 field trips this past year! I know not every home schooling family does that but our children are young and we feel like they can acquire a taste for culture so easily at this age. I guess in my way of thinking, why would I want to send them to school or keep them at home when we live in a major city and there’s so much to take advantage of. This is, in my opinion, the ultimate in “hands-on” learning.
So there you have it Kaye. An answer to why I home school my children. Is it a better choice? Not for everyone. But for us, home schooling is a superior choice and I really believe my kids are the better for it.