We have home schooled two of our children since the age of 3. My wife and I feel that homeschooling is the best option for a child, all things being equal. Of course, this requires a loving, caring, extremely patient, disciplined, creative, passionate parent. Fortunately, my children have that in their mother. Assuming you have most of those qualities and are game for the challenge and sacrifice (single working parent income in some cases), I can’t think of a single downside to homeschooling. Let me restate that. I can’t think of a single downside to homeschooling that matters.
There are a lot of detractors who raise objections to the idea of homeschooling and I have heard all of the arguments before. We have been subject to the strange looks, the endless “but what about socialization” questions and the knee jerk responses of “I could never do that”. We are used to it and don’t really care. It is a choice we have made and are extremely proud of the results and our children. We have taken this one year at a time and so far it has been great and very rewarding.
Now, the reasons that most parents choose to home-school their children fall into two main groups. First is the quality of education. If you need convincing that public school education is watered down, revisionist history with a heaping scoop of liberal programming thrown in on a good day, you aren’t paying attention. Home-school parents usually want the best quality of education for their children they can afford. A lot of home-schoolers like to make sure a healthy dose of the classics are taught (history, science, biology, mathematics) with great additions like Religion, Latin or even robot building. The flexibility to design your own course syllabus is virtually endless and issues like Common Core don’t enter into our home.
The second big group and I know I am over simplifying here is the pace of education. Home-school parents can take as much or as little time as needed with their child. Matching their teaching speed to the child’s learning ability allows the child to learn at their own unique pace. With this method, they are neither held-back by others nor left behind. They are taught until they learn and then move on to the next subject. For this reason, children have less homework (ours have none) and spend less time actually in school each day.
Time For A Change
This is fine and well, but we let our kids get a vote sometimes and my middle daughter is going into high school this year. For a lot of great reasons that I probably won’t get into, she has asked and we have agreed to let her go to a local private school instead of home schooling this year. This is a school that we are very familiar with and is highly rated academically. If it works out, then that is great. While my preference would be for the children to be home-schooled all the way through 12th grade, this isn’t necessarily a bad change. If nothing else, we had a lot of the most formative years with her here under my wife’s loving tutelage and she will still be home every night.
For me there were and still are other motivating factors to keep our children out of government influenced education system and since my daughter was going to be exposed to an environment outside of our control in some respects, I wanted to make sure I talked to her before she started. I wanted to make sure she knew my perspective on a lot of different issues that children today are faced with so that she was absolutely clear on what I expected of her when she was away at school each day.
I am not talking about the Birds and the Bees unfortunately. Remember when that was the only thing you had to worry about? I know this sounds flippant, but times sure seemed a lot more innocent even 30 years ago. Pregnancy is certainly a concern anytime you are dealing with teenagers and more so if you are the parents of a girl, but I am less concerned about her actions in that regard and more concerned about what she may be faced with when under the care, authority and guidance of others.
What I am talking about are all of the things that we now have to worry about our children being subjected to while they are under the care of educators. The educators that don’t have the same loving connection to our children. The same education system that doesn’t share our values, concerns or morals and has to answer to state guidelines, and participates in state and federal programs. They are more concerning to me than a normal part of adolescence.
Some of what I list below might sound paranoid or that I am overly concerned with trivial things and that may be true. You may think that if I am so worried; why I am letting my child go to school in the first place. That would be a fair question. I don’t think I can ever protect my children from every single thing in life, but I can try to prepare them for some of the most obvious situations they may find themselves in. My wife does an excellent job of taking my concerns in some of these areas and dismissing them as foolish and that’s fine. I would rather be proven wrong than proven right honestly.
So with all that said, I started to write down several topics that I want to make sure my daughter is aware of so that she can be alert for anything that I am concerned about and I came up with three broad topics.
Part of any school experience these days, and it has been this way for some time my wife will remind me, is the good old medical waiver. This waiver essentially says that you will allow the school to do whatever they need to your child medically if they can’t get in touch with you OR if in the opinion of their medical expert; there is no time to get in touch with you. It sounds great on the surface; I mean what parent wouldn’t want their child to receive medical care if they needed it?
Medical care inside of schools nowadays can involve prescriptions for drugs like Birth Control and procedures like abortions. I don’t want anything more than a band-aid happening to my daughter medically without our direct knowledge, consent and probably attendance. Now you can argue that parents should be informed in cases like this and always have the opportunity to opt-out and that may be so in a lot of cases. The point is that I want my daughter to know that anything health related like this is something we need to be involved in. It could be for something less dramatic like a vaccination. I still wouldn’t agree to have this done without my direct approval so my daughter needs to know my stance on all of this. When she is sitting in a room with medical personnel, her teachers and potentially friends I want her first thought to be to contact her Mom and Dad. I don’t want her to ever fear that she has to do what she is told by someone other than her parents.
Your moral values
When you are given scenarios that go against your beliefs – The most egregious example of this is the recent case of a college professor at Florida Atlantic University asking their class to write the name of Jesus on a piece of paper and then place that paper on the floor and step on it. Do you think any college would do this with the name of Mohammed?
This exercise was from a textbook (surprised?) and the class was supposed to discuss the importance of symbols in culture after completing this fun activity. This right here is a perfect example of an outright hostility to Christians. If anyone objects to this and refuses, like student Ryan Rotela did, they are suspended or generally looked down on. This weird predilection for making Christians look crazy or denigrating our religion at the expense of any other religion is not something I ever want my daughter to be faced with, but if she is I fully expect her to stand up for her beliefs regardless of the cost. I will always stand beside her for doing what is right and I want her to be fully confident in how we feel about this and expect her to act if she ever encounters something similar.
Your (our family’s) personal information
There is a growing list of examples where children are asked to collect information about their families socioeconomic status, habits and background. None of this information is necessary for the proper education of children and is only used to gain information using the child who doesn’t know better or who may be afraid to question anything they are told to do by their teachers. Surveys that ask information like what we may have in our home (guns), what our ages, occupation, health status, political philosophy, and education level have no bearing on the transfer of information to my child so anything like this is off limits to me and should be discussed with us first.
More serious is if they ask for any type of biometric data – blood samples, fingerprint, voice recording, eye scan, DNA samples as part of school program is not something I would allow. To counter this, some schools have been caught simply making the child submit without notifying the parents. There are far too many examples of privacy invasions with information we thought was secure. I don’t want anything as personal as eye scans being in the hands of some school system database.
I am sure I can think of other examples, but these are just off the top of my head. I didn’t get into safety as that could be an entire post by itself. My goal is to give my children some of the perspective I have but more importantly know my reasoning. I want nothing but the best for our children and by sharing concerns I have that they may not have considered I will ensure they know what to do when faced with situations like this in the future. I may not be able to be with them at all times, but they can know what I would want them to do.