When I had my first child, who is turning 10 years old next month (oh Mylanta, where does the time go?), I was in a very different place than I am now. Understandably so… Nevertheless, I honestly, like most young parents, didn’t know what I was doing! At 17 years old, I knew very little about the world, relationships, child-rearing, work-ethic, God, handling money, relating to others, education… the list goes on!
Flash forward to present day, more specifically, around when my second child was born (nearly 1 year ago now!), and there have been lots of changes, indeed! I’ve done lots of soul searching in the past 3-4 years, and changed many aspects of our lives (sometimes, to my husband’s dismay =) ). I’ve become much more health conscious, set up an envelope budget system to get our (many) bills caught up, and like I hinted in my previous post: decided on a “parenting style”. Now, that’s not to say I subscribe to a cult-like idea of how to parent my children, and do ritualistic things to ensure that I’m following the “grain”… Not at all. I follow my own idea (and the bible of course) on how to raise my children, but I do look into studies and articles which reinforce my idea that children thrive best when closely connected, and gently corrected with love and attention.
Naturally, among these studies, I have found many “bunny trails” to peak my interest in other areas of our lives. One of which is the choice to educate at home. Now, there are many factors to consider in this equation, and it’s not for everyone. Things one should ask themselves when considering home education, include, but are not limited to:
- (If your children are already attending public school) Is the current system working for us?
- Do I enjoy spending time with my children – lots of time?
- Which type of schooling do my children want/prefer (if both styles have been discussed or tested)?
- Do you have strong religious or political views that don’t coincide with the public school system?
- Do one or both parents stay home or work from home to enable this lifestyle?
- Can you afford it? (depending on what type of schooling, you may choose to use a curriculum, but also there is the cost of traveling, museums, co-ops, fun group activities, and of course the lost income of the parent staying home.) *this can vary greatly, depending on many factors!
- Are there many resources available in your area to compliment a diverse learning environment?
- Any other concerns your spouse and you might have.
After much prayer, research, discussion, and 4+ years of dealing with public schooling for my son, we have decided that homeschooling is the right choice for our family. Ideally, our daughter, when old enough, will never have to see the inside of a traditional classroom (unless she chooses to!). I was asked, when withdrawing my son last month (mid-April), by his principal, why we chose this. Out of curiosity, he said, he asks all parents what helped them come to this decision. Honestly, the answer is that there wasn’t one specific reason… There were many factors that lead to this decision. The current system wasn’t working for us. My son was not thriving in this environment. I, being a stay at home mom now, felt like my children would benefit most from being home with me. Many of the secular and downright worldly ideas taught in school directly clashed with our faith. I want my children to be happy, healthy, free-thinking, individuals with the freedom to choose what to learn and` when to learn it.
Now, I’m sure someone reading this subscribes to the common misconception that home-schooled children are “sheltered” & “unsocialized” but not only is this wrong, it’s actually quite opposite from the truth! Think about this: In public school, evolution is taught as the absolute truth. I remember books filled with Darwin and his theories, photos of monkeys “evolving” into men, and talk of dinosaur fossils from millions of years ago. Now, what I don’t remember hearing is anything about this information being an ‘opinion’ or ‘one of many’ ideas about how the world came to be. Thankfully, at home, I was exposed to the bible, and other information supporting what I believe to be the truth. This is not to say that I will do what the public school system is doing, but on the other end of the spectrum. I don’t plan to teach my children Creationism only, while avoiding touchy subjects like evolution, big-bang, etc. I plan to expose them to everything. Explain what we believe, and why, and (so far my son, being the free-thinker that he already is, believes what the bible teaches) pray that they follow the right path.
As far as socializing, if you think spending 7 hours in a 18×18 room with the same predetermined 15-20 people your age day in and day out for 185 days a year while not being allowed to talk about or do what you want for 6.5 of those hours is socializing, then I don’t even know what to say. All of that, combined with after-school time-sucking homework activities, doesn’t leave very much “free time” now does it? My children will have plenty of time to see their friends (99% of which are different age groups and attend different schools), meet new friends (church, play-groups, internet, neighborhood exploration, & more), & “socialize” (morning, noon, evening, so much free time now that they aren’t subject to arbitrary things like 8:00PM bedtimes, homework, & school bells.
Again, homeschooling is not the right choice for everyone. Your family dynamics, lifestyle, feelings, & environment will all affect the way things will work themselves out. Making any big decision for your children should take both your spouses and your children’s feelings/needs into consideration. The most important thing in parenting is to have both mom and dad on the same page. Without this, there will be discord and chaos, both of which will be more harmful than any “parenting style” or choice of education you could ever choose for your children.