The decision to home school your child is, for some people, too daunting to even consider. Where to start? How do I know what to teach? What are the guarantees?
It’s true that the idea of home schooling, as opposed to jumping on the public or private school treadmill society condones, seems ludicrous. Why bother? (It’s so much work!) The schools in my district are excellent! (Compared to what, I must ask.) I can’t possibly do the math they give these kids! (Neither can the teachers – that’s why all these math-tutoring places have sprouted up everywhere!)
I have a secret I’d like to share:
It’s not as hard as you think.
There are so many options for schooling online these days. The home schooling community has exploded with curriculum, and public schools have gotten into the business, too, offering K-12 online or “home school for free”. Some organizations actually pay you; they offer a modest stipend for your child’s enrollment, enough to take the kid to museums and such throughout the year (while they collect the generous government’s education money that would otherwise accompany the child to their community school.) It is incredibly easy these days to get the information you need just by searching the web.
One of the reasons I started blogging was to show how simple home schooling really is. Still, people who have read my blog often ask me, “What’s it really like? Isn’t it hard?” I have to smile. You kind of have to live it to believe it, you know, because all of us have been indoctrinated with the line that our bricks-and-mortar schools are necessary – to the point that “socialization” is now the best excuse some people have for sending their kids off. (I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that my kids desperately need to socialize for eight hours a day, only to bring home the work that should have been done at school.)
Home schooling is so easy; it’s actually hard to mess it up! The fact is, your child could miss an entire year of grade school and go back the following year with little to no repercussions. So much of what our kids do in school is repetition. My fourth grader is doing (again) the same grammar that my second grader is covering. His is a bit more in depth, but they are both looking at possessives, for example. (Something many adults can’t even get right!) My second-grader typically asks to do some of his older sibling’s math problems – he likes the mild challenge they present. The second most important thing (okay, these might be slightly out of order) is how fantastic it is to have a strong relationship with your child, such that he listens to you and you to him. I will say that sending him to school for eight hours a day did absolutely nothing for our relationship. (On the contrary…)
Sorry, but if you think schooling your own child too difficult, you’re gonna need a better excuse.
Just for fun, let’s look at the “safe choice” of sending the child to the public school (or even private, frankly). Do you know what the “good” public schools do on the last few days of school? They show movies – and not even educational movies! How good is good? Check out the book Not As Good As You Think: Why The Middle Class Needs School Choice or just watch the video. According to the Huffington Post, in 2010 US education scored 487 (out of 1000) in math, 500 in reading, and 502 in science. Although in my book that’s a failing grade, the term they use is “average” for our standing in world education. Add to that the extra education our kids are getting: global warming, lifestyle choices, and even certain political ideology as accepted doctrines, bullying and the early sexualizing of our youngsters. Can we be sure that school is the safest choice?
Compare it to buying a house. You love the house; the inspector says it’s great, the neighborhood is right, so you purchase it. You may not realize until after you’ve moved in that the roof leaks or that it’s drafty. (The inspectors always have disclaimers in their contracts for such things.) Well, you can repair the roof or apply caulking. (Hire a tutor.) But the draftiness is caused by a faulty design of the heating system. Buy a few sweaters. (Hire a therapist for the kid.) But… What if the house’s foundation is defective, such that, 12 years down the road, the house actually starts to sink? (Your child can’t get a job, because no one taught him anything about the skills needed to hold one. Instead he was counseled in entitlement and socialization.)
Luckily, your insurance covers the foundation issues, because nothing will undo the deficits in your child’s education and he’s moving back home.
Children’s lives are at stake and society is outsourcing their care to contractors who have been proven to be mediocre, at best. Would you hire a builder who scored “average” (or less) on his house-building skills?
Casually observing that it’s too scary to home school, requires too much work, or is too risky, are all frail excuses, and they don’t address the real issue. The question we are forced to ask is, can we afford not to?