Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:07 AM
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?
Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:22 AM
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.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:30 AM
Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:50 AM
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.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 12:10 PM
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, 18 January 2012 - 12:11 PM.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 12:47 PM
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:
- 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: everything 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.
- 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.
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, home schooling--it's kind of hard to generalize.
EDIT: Oddly enough, this video 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, 18 January 2012 - 01:18 PM.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 01:54 PM
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.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 02:46 PM
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!
Posted 18 January 2012 - 02:57 PM
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.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 03:50 PM
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 best-selling textbooks, 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.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 04:30 PM
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 starting after the kids were out of elementary school. 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, 18 January 2012 - 04:30 PM.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 04:58 PM
Posted 18 January 2012 - 05:00 PM
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, 18 January 2012 - 05:12 PM.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 05:08 PM
Edited by Darren H, 18 January 2012 - 05:10 PM.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 05:24 PM
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, 18 January 2012 - 05:25 PM.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 07:01 PM
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.
Posted 18 January 2012 - 07:58 PM
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.
Posted 19 January 2012 - 12:19 AM
Edited by Joel C, 19 January 2012 - 12:21 AM.
Posted 19 January 2012 - 01:02 AM
: And now for something completely different...
Not quite. See post #6 above.