Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

Homeschooling

66 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

Something really odd happened yesterday. My wife and I talk a lot about the education of our two kids, and have both firmly agreed that homeschooling would not be the best option for us. We even recently moved so that our kids would have access to a better public school district, as we are both fans of public schooling.

But then my wife had a conversation with a friend yesterday who has decided to homeschool her kids through elementary school, and my wife's thinking completely switched. She now wants to give homeschooling a try, at least through third grade and with the potential to enroll our kids part time in art and PE classes in a public school. I never thought I would say this, but hearing her rationale for this decision along with a good curriculum plan has me near convinced. It doesn't hurt that she has a decade of teaching experience.

I would like some feedback on this idea from anyone who has made similar decisions either way. Any good or bad experiences with homeschooling?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

[quote name='M. Leary' date='18 January 2012 - 10:07 AM' timestamp='1326899256' post='265517']
It doesn't hurt that she has a decade of teaching experience.
[/quote]

I think this is key. As someone whose family and career are invested in education, I must say I've always bristled at the "anyone can teach" mentality behind a lot of homeschoolers. People who would never consider doing a lot of other things themselves without the necessary skills sometimes jump into the whole homeschool thing without considering what skills and resources are helpful.

That said, this doesn't seem to be the issue in this case. Same thing with my wife and I. She's a trained teacher. The decision of where to school our child is more open to us than most.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Suz was an education major before switching to nursing. She has been responsible for all our children's formal education to date, wouldn't have it any other way, has never looked back. Sarah, our oldest, has been accepted at Christendom College. She got a 2200 on the SAT.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I was homeschooled all the way up from kindergarten, and now I'm a couple of months away from a Master's degree. Neither of my parents have formal training in education, but they did go to a lot of conventions and seminars when I was younger. There was a pretty big homeschooling group in our area, and I got to do things like drama and playing on a basketball team through that group (homeschooling is big in Indiana).

By the time I was in middle school, both of my parents were working, so I did most of my work on my own. That probably isn't the best plan for some people, but it helped me to learn how to manage my time and figure out things on my own. I'm also the kind of person who likes doing things on my own; if your kids are really social, homeschooling might not be the best option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

[quote name='Anders' date='18 January 2012 - 08:22 AM' timestamp='1326900169' post='265518']
I think this is key. As someone whose family and career are invested in education, I must say I've always bristled at the "anyone can teach" mentality behind a lot of homeschoolers.
[/quote]
Bristle no more, my friend. Studies show that while there is some variation between children of parents with little education, as opposed to children of parents with advanced degrees, the whole sample of homeschool children still vastly outperform their public school peers (80% or more in all subjects, for all children). You can read the peer-reviewed article [url="http://www.academicleadership.org/article/Academic_Achievement_and_Demographic_Traits_of_Homeschool_Students_A_Nationwide_Study"]here[/url], or [url="http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/200908100.asp"]read a summary[/url] on HSLDA's website.

[quote name='Tyler' date='18 January 2012 - 08:50 AM' timestamp='1326901853' post='265524']
By the time I was in middle school, both of my parents were working, so I did most of my work on my own. That probably isn't the best plan for some people, but it helped me to learn how to manage my time and figure out things on my own. I'm also the kind of person who likes doing things on my own; if your kids are really social, homeschooling might not be the best option.
[/quote]
I don't know, I actually think one of the prime advantages of homeschooling is that is encourages children of various personalities to become autodidacts. [i]I[/i] bristle at the idea that homeschooling is bent toward only one kind of personality. The whole point of homeschooling is that you have the freedom to adapt education to meet the needs and particular challenges of every student. Studies have shown that in every kind of school setting, from Public to homeschool, that the catalyst for academic achievement is at least one individual who invests in a student on a one-to-one basis. HS is custom-made for that kind of interaction.

Out of curiosity Michael, if you don't mind asking, what initially made you and your wife think homeschooling wouldn't be a good fit for you all? Edited by Joel C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

FWIW, I'm a product of homeschooling (all the way up through high school) and I seem to have turned out fine (well, relatively speaking). At the same time, I've run across many homeschoolers who don't seem all-that-well-fitted to functioning in the real world; the take-away, I guess, is that much depends on who's doing the schooling.

If I may, here are a couple of contrasting lists. They're personal, but perhaps they'll be helpful since they come from a product of the process:

Pros:

[list=1]

[*]I was able to study at my own pace--which resulted in me graduating a little earlier than most kids my age.
[*]The study was mostly self-directed, which meant I could follow my interests into whatever rabbit-warren I desired. This can be a bad thing--I'm pretty well-grounded in certain areas of literary study, but not so much in the hard sciences--but it can also be an exceedingly good thing. (Also: [i]everything[/i] is school. Including trips--we once went to South Dakota and prepared by researching the history of every single state through which we would pass).
[*]I seem to have skipped over cliquishness and distrust of adults during my teen years. Perhaps that's not entirely the result of my education, but I like to think that being homeschooled played no small part in it.
[*]No bullies. Since I was a bookish kid, that was probably a good thing.

[/list]
Cons:

[list=1]

[*]Socialization. I know, I know--there's homeschooling groups and all that. My family have never been joiners. As a result, I got all my socialization from my church--which is to say, mostly white (or white-passing) lower-middle class kids. I think I could have benefited from some diversity.
[*]Self-absorption. Related to the above. "Know Thyself" is kind of difficult when there's no-one to contrast oneself with.
[*]It's probably my milieu, but there are an awful lot of self-righteous homeschoolers, and I'm afraid some of this rubbed off on me, even with my family's non-joiner status.
[*]This is a bizarre one, but I seem to have missed out on all the social markers that most of my peers take for granted. Prom? Nope (and I know that some homeschool groups have proms--but not us). Grades? To this day I can't figure out how old someone was in the "tenth grade." Moving to a new school and having to make new friends? I know it's painful, but only in theory since I never experienced it until college. Those are all little things, but I do feel like I missed out.
[/list]

So yeah. My experience was mostly positive, as was that of [most of] the other homeschoolers I knew. The difficulty is that--since it's, well, [i]home[/i] schooling--it's kind of hard to generalize.

EDIT: Oddly enough, [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xJHt-m3VX6o"]this video[/url] has been circulating among my home-schooled friends on Facebook. I think it actually demonstrates most of the points on both of my lists above--though perhaps a bit unintentionally on the "con" side. ;) Edited by NBooth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

This is all immensely helpful. Thanks so much for all this feedback. All of you are quite smart and eloquent and interesting, so just identifying yourselves as homeschooled is enlightening to me.

[quote name='Joel C' date='18 January 2012 - 01:10 PM' timestamp='1326906649' post='265527']
Out of curiosity Michael, if you don't mind asking, what initially made you and your wife think homeschooling wouldn't be a good fit for you all?
[/quote]

Three things:

1. The social issue. My daughter is fairly introverted, and I have always thought homeschooling would exacerbate that.
2. The diversity issue. How will she become aware of cultural and economic diversity, and develop the skills to interface with social differences and disparities?
3. The personal development issue. In a larger group setting she would encounter and experience the kind of broader decision-making skills she will need as an adolescent and adult.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

FWIW, [url=http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?showtopic=3856]link[/url] to our existing thread on homeschooling, which focuses more on the legal issues around this subject.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

We spent a fair amount of time in a church that was made up primarily of families that homeschooled, working with teenagers in that church. My brother's family also has chosen that path, though we have not chosen homeschool (our oldest is in first grade). A few things have guided our decision. First, we have come to see the school as one further opportunity to engage with our immediate community. With so many households on the go all the time, we have wanted to take every opportunity to be active in our community, to know our neighbors, and to really connect with them. We've enjoyed being involved at the school as a family largely for this reason.

Second is the diversity issue. My experience (and I recognize it's limited), is that homeschool groups tend to be made up of white, middle to upper middle class families. Far be it from me to look down on those people . . . I am one! But my wife and I grew up in an extremely diverse environment (we were the minority in HS), and that was a good and formative experience for us. We'd like our kids to have something approaching that experience as well. Third is the social issue. My kids are very social. I cannot imagine my first grader watching his neighbors get on the bus every morning (it stops in front of our house) and then have to be without that interaction all day.

We do have very few concerns about our local schools or district, either educationally or for other reasons like safety. That doesn't mean we agree with every choice--there's no way Kindergarten needed to be full day--but on the whole we have been pleased with the way they've helped our son to grow and develop. We also tend to think of our home as a place of learning--it's filled with books, we're constantly quizzing each other on this or that, and we're exploring different parts of our area or country with an educational bent. I want to create an environment here that honors and encourages learning. In that sense, maybe we are homeschooling!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I'll agree that the data on the academic performance of homeschooling is compelling, as well as the opportunities for personal development, etc. I will seriously consider it, especially given the kind of environment that we want to create for our son, where all of life is a kind of education.

But I can't shake the feeling that many (although, to be fair, this DOES NOT seem to be the case with most of you who were homeschooled) Christian homeschoolers are motivated primarily from fear and a desire to keep their children apart and "unsullied" from the world. I have the same misgivings about many (again, NOT all) private Christian schools.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

[quote name='Anders' date='18 January 2012 - 01:57 PM' timestamp='1326916657' post='265550']
But I can't shake the feeling that many (although, to be fair, this DOES NOT seem to be the case with most of you who were homeschooled) Christian homeschoolers are motivated primarily from fear and a desire to keep their children apart and "unsullied" from the world. I have the same misgivings about many (again, NOT all) private Christian schools.
[/quote]

That's a fair assumption, particularly regarding the...more vocal Christian advocates of homeschooling. I've encountered everything from "mildly protective" to "flat-out weird"--and if you look at the [url="http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-03-08-home-school-christian_N.htm"]best-selling textbooks[/url], I think you'll find that they tend to come from A Beka and Bob Jones, both of which are most likely to appeal to protectionists.

Which, of course, says very little about any of the homeschoolers--former students or parents--posting here, but it does give a sense of the general environment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

This subject came up recently with my wife and mother-in-law. Sarah and I decided a couple of years ago not to home-school and to send our kids to public school. Sarah has flirted with the home-schooling idea since, but never very seriously. She has a part-time business and, although she's favorable toward home-schooling and thinks she might be good at it, she didn't feel fully committed to it.

Recently, my in-laws came to visit, and I was blind-sided one night to sit down next to my wife and mother-in-law, who were, it turned out, discussing home-schooling. Sarah turned toward me and said she was thinking again about doing it, but she thought it might be good to do it [i]starting after the kids were out of elementary school[/i]. This is not how most home-schoolers I've known pursue home schooling. They usually home school earlier in the child's life. If they elect to send the kids elsewhere for schooling, they do so later in life.

I pressed as to why Sarah had experienced this change of heart, and my mother-in-law -- a wonderful, Godly woman I might add, although more Fundamentalist in her beliefs -- said that the girls might suffer socially in junior high. That's when the ostracizing seriously kicks in, she said (she's nearly 80 years old, which doesn't make her wrong). My wife, who had a tough junior-high experience at private school, looked stricken at the thought of our kids experiencing what she'd experienced. My junior-high experience was similarly miserable.

But that wasn't all. No, my mother-in-law raised the prospect of bullying. Bullying! It's been in the news a lot lately, you see. It's getting worse. Or something like that.

That's when I snapped and fought back, laying out, with barely suppressed anger, that every rationale my mother-in-law and wife had just given to me for home schooling was rooted in fear that the kids might be hurt emotionally or even physically. No positive reasons to home school, just negative ones. I told them that, and said I'd never let my kids be home schooled based on such muddled thinking. Are there risks to sending my kids to public school? Sure. Do I want them to be miserable? No, although most everyone I know had a bad middle-school experience and lived to tell about it. But the bottom line is, if you can't come up with better reasons for home schooling than those, then the discussion is over.

For now, at least. Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

[quote name='Anders' date='18 January 2012 - 02:57 PM' timestamp='1326916657' post='265550']But I can't shake the feeling that many (although, to be fair, this DOES NOT seem to be the case with most of you who were homeschooled) Christian homeschoolers are motivated primarily from fear and a desire to keep their children apart and "unsullied" from the world. I have the same misgivings about many (again, NOT all) private Christian schools.
[/quote]
I was homeschooled, and this is exactly why my Mom chose to take us out of public school--the sex ed curriculum was too gross and too early. They couldn't afford to put us all into private school, but as some of us (I'm 3rd of 7) grew up we went to Catholic school for periods of time in order to correct specific problems, esp. rebelliousness. Leary, this is one takeaway from my family's experience: Natural rebelliousness can be exacerbated pretty strongly by homeschooling, esp. if one parent works away from home and thus there's no 2nd person to enforce discipline.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

For us, the decision is weighing the balances of opportunity rather than fear.

1. A key part of us leaning toward public school is the chance it provides to become integrated into our community and school life. For us, the public school decision was a part of our overall ecclesiology.

2. Homeschooling offers us the chance to teach our kids things they aren't going to learn at school, as we would follow a classical curriculum and supplement with Latin instruction. We would also have the opportunity to try out different forms of education, like travel, that we wouldn't have available. Edited by M. Leary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

Joanna and I have never even considered homeschooling -- mostly because Joanna is not at all interested in being our daughter's teacher (although she'd probably be very good at it) and I can't afford to leave my job (although I'd probably enjoy being a stay-at-home dad). I grew up in a church that, by 1980s standards, had a relatively large number of homeshooling families, and all of my peers who were homeschooled transitioned successfully into college life, often at large public universities. I'm certainly not opposed to homeschooling, but I've devoted my career to public education and am an advocate for it. Rory's still a couple years away from kindergarten, but, like John, I'm looking forward to becoming an active parent in our local schools, and I regret that those schools have lost a lot of good [i]families[/i] (including many of our friends) to homeschooling. Edited by Darren H

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

[quote name='Darren H' date='18 January 2012 - 06:08 PM' timestamp='1326924529' post='265559']...I'm looking forward to becoming an active parent in our local schools...[/quote]

I was also. But now I am trying to think from different angles about alternative ways that we can be involved with the life of our local community. Perhaps there is an similar alternative. Edited by M. Leary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

My wife and I were both homeschooled, though our experiences were different on a few levels. Since my family moved every four years (my dad was in the Air Force), my mother decided that teaching us at home would give us a more stable educational environment. She was also a trained music teacher, which probably influenced her decision. I ended up attending a private Christian school for high school, unlike Audrey, who was homeschooled until graduation. I think I turned out okay, and was more than ready for college, but I do envy Audrey's home education. She had a larger family than I did (6 siblings to my three sisters), was active in a large church (we rarely attended) with a healthy homeschooling co-op, had a large extended family in the area, and had greater curriculum diversity (we did straight A Beka). We now attend the same church she attended with her family, where the homeschooling community has grown almost exponentially. We'll probably educate our kids at home, but we have a few years until we have to make decisions in that direction.

One thing I have noticed, knowing a lot of kids from church both homeschooled and not, is that the socialization issue has two sides. Homeschooling parents have the option of removing their children from society, which can lead to crippling social inadequacy. Most of the families I know, though, are very active in the church, in the homeschooling group, and in the community at large, and because of this, the children are comfortable socializing with most everybody. Most (not all) of the kids who regularly volunteer to help in the nursery or who join the adult men's and women's groups at church are homeschooled. Attending any school can lead to greater opportunities to socialize with one's own peer group, but rarely do you get to spend time with anyone else. Most of my friends from high school were from 3-4 classes behind me or my teachers, and as an undergraduate I talked to my teachers more often than many of my classmates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

[quote name='M. Leary' date='18 January 2012 - 05:00 PM' timestamp='1326924044' post='265558']
2. Homeschooling offers us the chance to teach our kids things they aren't going to learn at school, as we would follow a classical curriculum and supplement with Latin instruction. We would also have the opportunity to try out different forms of education, like travel, that we wouldn't have available.
[/quote]

Besides the travel part, is there any reason you can't supplement public schooling with a bit of added home education? During Summer break, for instance. Not that you'd want to overload your children, of course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

And now for something completely different...

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJHt-m3VX6o&sns=fb[/media] Edited by Joel C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Joel C wrote:
: And now for something completely different...

Not quite. See post #6 above. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

Well, obviously missed as it wasn't embedded. :)

For those still making a stink about homeschoolers and socialization, here's a [url="http://www.netzwerk-bildungsfreiheit.de/pdf/study_15_years_later.pdf"]study for you.[/url]

...And [url="http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/HomeschoolingGrowsUp.pdf"]another study[/url] from 2003, with similar results. Edited by Joel C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

[quote name='Joel C' date='19 January 2012 - 12:27 AM' timestamp='1326954473' post='265576']
Well, obviously missed as it wasn't embedded. :)

For those still making a stink about homeschoolers and socialization, here's a [url="http://www.netzwerk-bildungsfreiheit.de/pdf/study_15_years_later.pdf"]study for you.[/url]

...And [url="http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/HomeschoolingGrowsUp.pdf"]another study[/url] from 2003, with similar results.
[/quote]

FWIW, the Canadian survey actually points to socialization as one of the regrets most mentioned by homeschoolers:

[quote]More than one-third
mentioned an aspect of the social challenges
of being home educated. These comments ranged
from simple reflections such as “I feel I could have
had more social interaction” to more angst filled
ones such as “[I was] so different from others my
age and [felt] somewhat awkward”.[/quote]

I also notice that these studies fail to mention [i]with whom[/i] these kids are interacting. I suspect that the majority of homeschoolers interact with members of their own class/race/religious preference; that was certainly the case in my own education. And yes, I'm aware that public schools are often segregated by demographics--and the "private school" boom in the South immediately following desegregation didn't help that. My point is simply that there seems to be even more splitting going on when you get to homeschoolers. [url="http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0053/twps0053.html#char"]This[/url](decade-old) study from census.gov seems to bear my assumptions out:

[quote]Home schoolers are like their peers in many respects. Table 2 shows how they compare, using data from all three surveys under consideration. Home schoolers are not especially likely to be young or old. They are about as likely to be of one sex or the other, with perhaps a slightly greater percentage female. In some ways, however, home-schoolers do stand out. Home schooled children are more likely to be non-Hispanic White, they are likely to live in households headed by a married couple with moderate to high levels of education and income, and are likely to live in a household with an adult not in the labor force. [/quote]

These numbers seem to have stayed consistent [url="http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=91"]through 2007[/url], though the number of homeschoolers doubled.

In this case, the problem isn't (as it's often assumed to be by pro- and anti-homeschooling people) how well the kid can hold up a conversation. It really has to do with richness of experience. If a parent believes that encountering (and becoming friends with) people of many different backgrounds is important in a child's development, that parent will have to work a bit harder to make sure it happens. Because it probably won't at the regular home-school co-op.

EDIT: Here's [url="http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/tables/table-hsc-1.asp"]some numbers[/url] ("number and percentage distribution"). These numbers aren't meant to prove anything; I'm just posting them because they're interesting in themselves. Edited by NBooth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

[quote name='NBooth' date='19 January 2012 - 06:50 AM' timestamp='1326981011' post='265586']
FWIW, the Canadian survey actually points to socialization as one of the regrets most mentioned by homeschoolers:

[quote]More than one-third
mentioned an aspect of the social challenges
of being home educated. These comments ranged
from simple reflections such as “I feel I could have
had more social interaction” to more angst filled
ones such as “[I was] so different from others my
age and [felt] somewhat awkward”.[/quote]
[/quote]
Well, let's put into perspective that a third isn't even a majority of the homeschooled individuals surveyed, and that even the people in that third weren't unified in answering the same way. I'd be interested to see the ways in which people would feel about their socialization in public school, but unlike homeschooling, there don't seem to be many studies available to reference.

[quote]I also notice that these studies fail to mention [i]with whom[/i] these kids are interacting. I suspect that the majority of homeschoolers interact with members of their own class/race/religious preference; that was certainly the case in my own education. And yes, I'm aware that public schools are often segregated by demographics--and the "private school" boom in the South immediately following desegregation didn't help that. My point is simply that there seems to be even more splitting going on when you get to homeschoolers. [url="http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0053/twps0053.html#char"]This[/url](decade-old) study from census.gov seems to bear my assumptions out:

[quote]Home schoolers are like their peers in many respects. Table 2 shows how they compare, using data from all three surveys under consideration. Home schoolers are not especially likely to be young or old. They are about as likely to be of one sex or the other, with perhaps a slightly greater percentage female. In some ways, however, home-schoolers do stand out. Home schooled children are more likely to be non-Hispanic White, they are likely to live in households headed by a married couple with moderate to high levels of education and income, and are likely to live in a household with an adult not in the labor force. [/quote]

These numbers seem to have stayed consistent [url="http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=91"]through 2007[/url], though the number of homeschoolers doubled.
[/quote]
Actually, the studies are saying different things. If we just take ethnicity as a reference point for a moment, one is showing the actual percentage breakdown of the entire homeschool population, and the 2007 census numbers you're quoting are showing the percent of homeschooled children in each ethnicity compared with school-aged children in that ethnicity as a whole. In the census survey, the ethnic breakdown actually diversifies fairly significantly from 1994 to 1999. White children drop down to 71% from 91%, the percentage of hispanics doubled, and the percentage of blacks nearly tripled. The more mainstream homeschooling becomes, the more diverse it will become as well.

However, I do want to drop back and make a point I was going to make earlier, but had thought against it for the sake of avoiding a long argument. People make a big deal about homeschooling diversity, but there are some very troubling problems in the public school system as well. In my mind, a socially-diverse school setting—if such a thing can even be found by most parents—does not a diversity-friendly child make. It presumes that interaction alone will sort things out. It's also based on the presumption that a majority of schools will not only have a diverse makeup (which is increasingly not the case as schools become [url="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2010/0527/Economic-segregation-rising-in-US-public-schools"]economically[/url] [url="http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1638595-2,00.html"]segregated[/url]), but also that such a school would do a good job in helping a child [url="http://articles.cnn.com/2011-01-27/us/pennsylvania.segregation_1_segregation-neighborhood-schools-system-students?_s=PM:US"]synthesize[/url] those differences in a meaningful and mature way.

I'm not saying that by turns, it's therefore easy to provide a diverse environment for a child other places. It's hard in any setting. However, I personally tend to think that there are plenty of ways to expose a child to different economic, racial and religious backgrounds than their own, besides putting them in a school environment. A parent who is invested in such interactions themselves have the potential to draw their children into a much deeper and profound understanding of race/income/religious differences than simply putting them in a school setting. If the home doesn't reflect the values of interacting with diversity in a meaningful way, then any lessons learned in an outside environment will likely be wasted, and any problems with classism, racism, income inequity or any other kind of injustice experienced in a school setting will only have the potential to be widened. Edited by Joel C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

[quote name='NBooth' date='19 January 2012 - 05:50 AM' timestamp='1326981011' post='265586']
FWIW, the Canadian survey actually points to socialization as one of the regrets most mentioned by homeschoolers:

[quote]More than one-third mentioned an aspect of the social challenges of being home educated. These comments ranged from simple reflections such as “I feel I could have had more social interaction” to more angst filled ones such as “[I was] so different from others my age and [felt] somewhat awkward”.[/quote][/quote]
Alright, so I attended private school, public school and was homeschooled all at different times. Depending on the circumstances and the child, I can see resorting to all three as a parent.

I've always found the socialization objection to homeschooling meaningless. How involved your family is in the community and how many different sorts of friends (from all different walks of life) your child makes entirely depends upon the parents and the individual child, no matter what type of schooling you are engaged in at the time. When my brothers and I were homeschooling, we still played on so many different sports teams (city leagues and public school teams, many of whom will let you in if you can win a spot on the team) that we always had a large number of other friends (even outside the homeschooling community). Playing baseball, football, basketball and soccer all year round, with a father who coached teams with other dads, we didn't have a problem being sheltered or "protected" from the outside world.

But it wasn't just sports - one of the advantages of my homeschooling years was getting to work jobs that my schedule didn't allow during my non-homeschooling years. You make friends on the job. You make friends if you regularly attend a church. You make friends with all the other kids your age in the neighborhood. You make friends in within the homeschooling networking community. You make friends when your parents take you to other events in the local community. Finally, the problem of some kids not having social skills existed during the years I spent in the homeschooling community and the years I spent in private and public school. Some of us were good at socializing. Some of us were not. In other words, socialization is only going to be a problem particular to homeschooling unless your parents are protectionist reclusives or just plain crazy. Instead, socialization is going to always be a problem for some (the shy, the outcasts, the uncool), and a test of character for everyone else when deciding how to treat them.

Also, by the way, bullying and peer pressure exists with any group of children, anywhere, period. Human nature is the same no matter what type of school your kids attend. One of the worst bullies I met as a little kid was another homeschooled kid. So you're not going "protect" your children from bullying by homeschooling them, unless you just forbid them to hang around with any other children.

Yes, there's a protectionist "religious right" element within homeschooling. And yes, they may even still be a majority (they certainly were in the '80s and '90s). But if your family is actually not shut off from the rest of the world, then all that rhetoric isn't going to matter when your children meet and make friends with other children. I had homeschooling friends who were socially awkward and sheltered and the blame lay 100% with their parents. I had public school friends who were socially awkward and sheltered and the blame lay 100% with their parents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

Golly, I seem to be playing devil's advocate today.

[quote name='Joel C' date='19 January 2012 - 09:51 AM' timestamp='1326988275' post='265589']
Well, let's put into perspective that a third isn't even a majority of the homeschooled individuals surveyed, and that even the people in that third weren't unified in answering the same way. I'd be interested to see the ways in which people would feel about their socialization in public school, but unlike homeschooling, there don't seem to be many studies available to reference.[/quote]

It's not a majority, but it's a healthy minority. I don't know how it is in Canada, but in the U.S. there seems to be a significant problem with people over-reporting their own happiness and minimizing levels of distress. If you factor that in, the numbers at least suggest that the socialization concern isn't just a bogeyman that can be exorcised by quoting a few statistics/survey-type studies.

[quote]Actually, the studies are saying different things. If we just take ethnicity as a reference point for a moment, one is showing the actual percentage breakdown of the entire homeschool population, and the 2007 census numbers you're quoting are showing the percent of homeschooled children in each ethnicity compared with school-aged children in that ethnicity as a whole.[/quote]

Actually, they're not. The second link addresses the question "how many children are homeschooled?" and has this to say:

[quote]More White students were homeschooled than Black or Hispanic students or students from other racial/ethnic groups, and White students constituted the majority of homeschooled students (77 percent). White students (3.9 percent) had a higher homeschooling rate than Blacks (0.8 percent) and Hispanics (1.5 percent), but were not measurably different from students from other racial/ethnic groups (3.4 percent).[/quote]

That's pretty much exactly what the previously-quoted section says: "Home schooled children are more likely to be non-Hispanic White, they are likely to live in households headed by a married couple with moderate to high levels of education and income, and are likely to live in a household with an adult not in the labor force."

The link I put in at the bottom--the demographic stuff--wasn't added because it did anything at all for my point. I just wanted to get some general data in there for the heck of it.

[quote]In the census survey, the ethnic breakdown actually diversifies fairly significantly from 1994 to 1999. White children drop down to 71% from 91%, the percentage of hispanics doubled, and the percentage of blacks nearly tripled. The more mainstream homeschooling becomes, the more diverse it will become as well.[/quote]

Sure. The question then becomes how much these groups will interact. Unfortunately, the studies don't seem to address the question.

[quote]However, I do want to drop back and make a point I was going to make earlier, but had thought against it for the sake of avoiding a long argument. People make a big deal about homeschooling diversity, but there are some very troubling problems in the public school system as well. In my mind, a socially-diverse school setting—if such a thing can even be found by most parents—does not a diversity-friendly child make. It presumes that interaction alone will sort things out.[/quote]

It doesn't, really, presume anything of the kind. It [i]does[/i] suggest that a diverse environment is [i]more helpful[/i] for producing diversity-friendly kids.

[quote]It's also based on the presumption that a majority of schools will not only have a diverse makeup (which is increasingly not the case as schools become [url="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2010/0527/Economic-segregation-rising-in-US-public-schools"]economically[/url] [url="http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1638595-2,00.html"]segregated[/url]), but also that such a school would do a good job in helping a child [url="http://articles.cnn.com/2011-01-27/us/pennsylvania.segregation_1_segregation-neighborhood-schools-system-students?_s=PM:US"]synthesize[/url] those differences in a meaningful and mature way.[/quote]

[1] There are problems with school systems in the U.S. Part of the decision i/r/t home- private- or public-schooling involves looking at the local schools and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.

[2] No child is going to synthesize anything in a meaningful or mature way. Their brains aren't even done cooking until the college level. Schools [i]can[/i] and [i]should[/i] take measures to make sure that difference is respected--by cracking down on bullying and so on. That, however, takes us far afield of the subject at hand.

[quote]I'm not saying that by turns, it's therefore easy to provide a diverse environment for a child other places. It's hard in any setting. However, I personally tend to think that there are plenty of ways to expose a child to different economic, racial and religious backgrounds than their own, besides putting them in a school environment. A parent who is invested in such interactions themselves have the potential to draw their children into a much deeper and profound understanding of race/income/religious differences than simply putting them in a school setting.[/quote]

Sure. But if (for instance) you live in a state where you're required to have a covering, aren't you more likely to seek out like-minded people? So we have Christian groups (probably middle-class and white, almost certainly heteronormative) and atheist/nonreligious groups. If I'm involving my kid in activities mandated by the covering, they're almost certainly going to be interacting with people just like themselves.

[quote]If the home doesn't reflect the values of interacting with diversity in a meaningful way, then any lessons learned in an outside environment will likely be wasted, and any problems with classism, racism, income inequity or any other kind of injustice experienced in a school setting will only have the potential to be widened.
[/quote]

Doubtful. The home environment is important, but the phenomenon of rebellion that occurs during the teen years suggests that it's not a determining factor. School can just as easily be a way of escaping a bad home life (though that's obviously not an issue for the folks considering home-schooling here). Besides--if you actually interact with someone of another race it's harder to maintain bigoted opinions (racism and classism--as social-structure issues--are better addressed in the previous point i/r/t declining diversity).

All of this is pretty far afield, though. The point I was trying to make isn't that public schooling is to be preferred--it's that homeschooling has its own set of unique challenges.


[quote name='Persiflage' date='19 January 2012 - 12:22 PM' timestamp='1326997376' post='265593']
I've always found the socialization objection to homeschooling meaningless. How involved your family is in the community and how many different sorts of friends (from all different walks of life) your child makes entirely depends upon the parents and the individual child, no matter what type of schooling you are engaged in at the time.[/quote]

I think I mentioned that my own family isn't known for joining things. I tried 4-H and was bored out of my skull. But my point in bringing up the socialization quote was to point out that a significant number of homeschooled individuals (myself included) [i]do[/i] feel that they missed out on certain kinds of social interactions, and it's the sort of thing one wants to keep in mind when considering the issue. (FWIW, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the most unhappy kids came from the most protectionist/regressive homes).

[quote]When my brothers and I were homeschooling, we still played on so many different sports teams (city leagues and public school teams, many of whom will let you in if you can win a spot on the team) that we always had a large number of other friends (even outside the homeschooling community). Playing baseball, football, basketball and soccer all year round, with a father who coached teams with other dads, we didn't have a problem being sheltered or "protected" from the outside world.[/quote]

...which underlines the point about the socialization issue being very individualistic. I never played sports (except a brief stint at a baseball camp) and I felt little desire to interact with other people. That's fine and all--but as a result, I tend to not maintain social relationships as well as I should. This isn't directly because of my education, but I don't think it [i]helped[/i], exactly.

[quote]But it wasn't just sports - one of the advantages of my homeschooling years was getting to work jobs that my schedule didn't allow during my non-homeschooling years. You make friends on the job. You make friends if you regularly attend a church. You make friends with all the other kids your age in the neighborhood. You make friends in within the homeschooling networking community. You make friends when your parents take you to other events in the local community.[/quote]

See above.

[quote]Finally, the problem of some kids not having social skills existed during the years I spent in the homeschooling community and the years I spent in private and public school. Some of us were good at socializing. Some of us were not. In other words, socialization is only going to be a problem particular to homeschooling unless your parents are protectionist reclusives or just plain crazy. Instead, socialization is going to always be a problem for some (the shy, the outcasts, the uncool), and a test of character for everyone else when deciding how to treat them.[/quote]

I don't know how a shy person might feel being characterized as a "test of character," but these points are well taken.

[quote]Also, by the way, bullying and peer pressure exists with any group of children, anywhere, period. Human nature is the same no matter what type of school your kids attend. One of the worst bullies I met as a little kid was another homeschooled kid. So you're not going "protect" your children from bullying by homeschooling them, unless you just forbid them to hang around with any other children.[/quote]

Yup.

[quote]Yes, there's a protectionist "religious right" element within homeschooling. And yes, they may even still be a majority (they certainly were in the '80s and '90s). But if your family is actually not shut off from the rest of the world, then all that rhetoric isn't going to matter when your children meet and make friends with other children. I had homeschooling friends who were socially awkward and sheltered and the blame lay 100% with their parents. I had public school friends who were socially awkward and sheltered and the blame lay 100% with their parents.
[/quote]

This is key, and it's why I'm trying not to get too broad in my arguments here. I don't get the impression that anyone on-board here who homeschools/wishes to homeschool is a protectionist. Obviously not. The homeschooling community is pretty varied (even if it's not exactly "diverse") and broad arguments and statistics simply don't apply to individuals. In the end, it's up to the parent and their understanding of what's best for the child. Edited by NBooth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0