After reading an article linked from a friend’s Facebook page, I felt thoughtful enough to add my own comment to the long line of comments already posted in response to the subject. Many people (whether well-meaning, ignorant, or hostile) bring up socialization and economic class as barriers to the homeschooling option of education. The number of comments I see on many people’s blogs which blast homeschooling simply because the commenter has not sat down and talked to a successfully homeschooled person is saddening, yet not surprising. Much as I wish homeschooling was more widespread it still seems to carry a stigma. When I mention to people that I was homeschooled, more often than not I get a look of surprise. Sometimes I encounter questions, sometimes expressions of envy, but often I hear parents say, “oh, I could never homeschool MY kids”.
This is a misconception, I believe. Parents who say this have an image in their minds of their children sitting expectantly at a desk while they (the parent) stand in front of them with ten different subjects to teach over the course of the day. If that was truly what most homeschooling situations looked like, then I would be fearful too! But the truth is, homeschooling a child does not have to be that way. There are some subjects that require the child to learn from an adult, but that is what teacher’s manuals are for; even if the parent is “rusty” on a subject, there are many resources available to brush up on their knowledge. Many parents I know enjoy learning right along with their children! And if a subject is just too far out of the parent’s comfort zone to teach, then there are always mentors, tutors, or classes offered by homeschool co-ops that can very easily fill in a blank spot in a child’s education, if the family believes it necessary to learn the subject.
“But what about highschool?” I hear parents say. “What about it?” is my response. Most teenagers are capable of studying and learning on their own at this point. A parent should still be available for help whenever possible, but for questions beyond their reach (such as physics, advanced literature, or any other subject where the parent feels restricted in their understanding), there are many other resources for the teen to utilize. Almost anything can be learned either online or from a book at the library. Even if a parent and student cannot decipher that tough algebra lesson, they probably know somebody who could.
This brings up another important point in the homeschooling family’s life: community. They don’t have to be alone in their quest for learning! I already mentioned several helpful resources. But another key factor in the success of a homeschooled student is involvement in community activities. These can be a part of the family’s social life, such as church or other religious activity, a theater group, a local club, or many other choices. It is important for the family to be part of something together. Also, every person, whether young or old, has talents that can be developed through their community. Volunteer opportunities are everywhere. A child’s time should be spent discovering what they can do and what they enjoy. That often means experimenting with various activities, from dance to soccer to 4H to violin lessons. Little by little children (and adults) can explore and serve their community while coming to a better understanding of what they are able to do in their lives.
So much of a child’s real learning takes place outside the formal school. Real lessons are those learned through life experiences. Education does have a place in a child’s growth, but so do family, community, self-learning, exploration, and play.
While I didn’t see eye to eye on every detail in the article I read today, the general message was one I could believe. It is still just a prediction of the future, and of course everyone has their own beliefs about what the next generation of adults will be like. I see great potential for both positive and negative changes in the way our future culture functions. Of course, I am biased in favor of homeschooling, and I recognize that. Shouldn’t we stand up for what we believe will benefit children the most?
If you are interested in reading the article, go here.
This was my response to it:
Penelope, I agree with your article. I am a product of the homeschooling movement, and I can vouch for the presence of families with high income, low income, various ethnic backgrounds, single parent or two parent households, etc. From my experience homeschooling was not something only for the white and wealthy; a family would often have to make sacrifices to keep their children at home, but those who did so considered it worth their pains.
Yes, there can be problems with socialization, but no more so for homeschooled children than for those in public or private schools! There are shy or antisocial people everywhere; the vast majority of homeschooled families I have met were involved not only in sports, dance, the arts, and so on, but also had a widespread community that enabled them to network in order to pursue areas of interest in both career and educational fields.
I attended public school briefly to see what it was like. Now I have a part-time job teaching a music class for a public school. It is apparent that many of the children I see (but I am not saying all) are unable to thrive in the school environment they are placed in every day. Shouldn’t we want the best possible educational opportunities for our children? They need a place where they do not just squeak by or learn the bare essentials. This is a waste of their precious time that they should be using to blossom into the amazing human beings that they are meant to be. If school, public or private, is allowing your child to truly thrive as a growing person, then by all means, let them be educated in that environment! But if a child is not thriving, then something must be changed.