I’ve been homeschooling for a little while now, and blogging and advocating, and I do believe it is the best thing you can do for your children and your family. While I’m ready to concede that not everyone is “cut out” to be home educators, I will certainly also point out that school is not any idyllic educational forum either.
Our educational system is universally recognized as broken. But I recently learned this fascinating correlation: it was designed during (and because of ) the industrial revolution. As we are all slaves of trends, or the spirit of the times, so were the schools which developed. Based on the manufacturing assembly line, our little people were first divided by age, something seen nowhere else in life (most divisions are merit-based, not age-based) and then they were given, like on the line, a series of “subjects”, each with its allotted time. When we break the layout down in this fashion, of course, it starts to look absurd. What works for building cars and computers is hardy appropriate for educating small and impressionable children! And yet here we are.
Perfection is not attainable. Okay, so that’s a given, but where do you go from there?
It has been proven over and again that kids learn differently and organically, not on some arbitrary time-schedule that some bureaucrats decide. That kids would stumble in our institutions is almost a given, in the rigid environment it provides them. Is it any wonder that the kids are sent home with homework, even if they are capable of assimilating all the instruction?
When parents say they wouldn’t be able to homeschool, I simply ask if they do homework with their kids. Inevitably they answer in the affirmative. That right there is homeschooling. Then, unable to resist, I ask why they accept that the school gets the child for 7 and a half hours a day and still sends home homework. If the plumber comes to fix my leaky faucet, and leaves a few screws and joints for me to tighten, would I be okay with that? Hardly! Yet our children come home with work (and I’m speaking mainly of the grade-school students) and we just shrug and lament it, but for some reason accept it as a necessary evil.
The biggest impediment to people finally deciding to homeschool is their own assumption that the education their child receives in school will be, if not excellent, then at least good, but unfortunately that’s just no longer the case.
If our school system was terrific, do you think we’d have Sylvan, Mathnasium, and Kumon franchises opening up everywhere?
We no longer rank anywhere near the top in education worldwide. That’s quite a statement for our great and proud union, and yet no one seems able to do anything about it. Bad teachers cannot be fired; good ones cannot be promoted. We are engulfed in lose-lose contracts with our teachers’ unions, so much so that in some places school boards are abandoning the unions altogether. And they are saving money.
Nowadays there are so many different ways to homeschool, it boggles the mind. You can just do public school online, if you are really die-hard conformist. No more bagged lunches and yelling, “Get in the car or we’re gonna be late!” Or you can join a co-op or a group and sign your child up for lots of classes and field trips.
I had a new acquaintance on the phone the other day and when she discovered that we home school she sighed, “I always thought about that, but I would have to make so many adjustments… I don’t know. It’s too scary to even think about!”
Too frightened to think?
I answered her like this. “Do your research. It’s not nearly as scary as all that. Educate yourself before you write it off, because five years from now, you really don’t want to be sitting there wondering why you didn’t bother.” Let’s face it, you could take a year off from school and just spend time with your grade-school-aged child, take up sewing or fishing (or both), and her schooling would not suffer, in the long run. Even when I was in public school, in fifth grade I got a pass in English for the entire semester because they were repeating the previous year’s content.
So if you’re wondering about it, but you’re too afraid to try, or unsure of yourself, just know there are a lot of other people out there who observed that public school simply wasn’t good enough, and they felt compelled to offer their child an alternative. Then take the plunge, and keep telling yourself, “I could do worse – and leave them in public school.”