1. They’re our children. We believe that, ultimately, it’s our responsibility to raise our children to adulthood and overseeing their education is a big part of that. Our children don’t belong to the state and they don’t belong to any village- they live in the state and are part of the village, but they’re ours, which makes the responsibility ours. I also firmly believe that if homeschooling were not an option for us, the responsibility to oversee their education would still be ours and we would be doing our best to work with our children after school and on weekends and pretty much every chance we’d get to make sure they were learning and to do our best to influence what they’d believe about what they’d be learning…
2. Even the best of teachers will never know our children the way we do. Their strengths, their weaknesses, their struggles, their personalities, there is so much uniqueness in each child that no teacher could ever really know a room full of children and the ways they best learn, the ways they’re best motivated, the ways they best receive love and encouragement. Any one of our children could so easily get lost in the shuffle that becomes a room of 30 or more agemates. That will never happen here, even in a big family.
3. Our children won’t be left behind. When the class moves on before they’ve really grasped and fully understood a concept, our children won’t be left behind, falling further behind each time a new concept builds on the one that they never understood.
4. Our children won’t be held back. When the class slows down or stops so the teacher can “teach down” to a class that isn’t moving as fast as the brightest children are capable of. When bright children get bored in school they lose their zest for learning and they often even end up with academic and/or behavioral problems which never would have happened if they had been allowed to keep learning and exploring at their own pace. Just ask my youngest sister. I should have her write a guest post…
5. Our children won’t need to waste half their day waiting in lines or waiting for everyone to “settle down”. They also won’t need to waste hours and hours every week writing line upon line on worksheet upon worksheet and other various forms of “twaddle”.
6. Our children don’t need to be surrounded by 30 of their peers for more hours in a day than they spend with their family. As a homeschooler, the socialization “issue” really gets to me. What gets to me is that so many people see it as an issue in the first place! Outside of school, where else in society does anyone spend the better part of their day in an age segregated environment? I can’t think of any. My husband certainly doesn’t work with all people his age. When I go to the grocery store, I see and interact with men and women from teen chashiers to senior citizen greeters. We go to church with people of all ages. Even professional sports teams have a range of ages, from fresh out of college to the aged old geezers like Brett Favre… I digress.
A classroom full of children the same age is a completely artificial envrionment that we have somehow come to believe is a necessary part of growing up. Well, I don’t believe it. There will always be exceptions, but the majority of homeschoolers I know have children who are wonderfully “socialized” after regularly interacting with many people of all ages most every day.
Our children have friends. They get out of the house. Our teen plays soccer with the local Christian school. We get together with other homeschooling families for field trips and play days often, sometimes too often. Not being in a classroom filled with 30 other children their same age has not and will not be a major problem, in my opinion…
7. Our children can learn at their own pace. This goes along with 3 & 4, and is important enough of an issue when talking about the best education we can give our children to be its own point. With several of our children now several years into homeschooling, I’ve seen firsthand how very different not only learning styles can be, but also how different learning paces can be. I’ve had a couple fast learners and I’ve also had a couple slower learners. Eventually they get to the same place, but they arrive there at very different times. Our slower learners would’ve been left in the dust in many classrooms and would probably be wearing some less-than-positive labels by now…
8. Our children can learn in their own style. Learning styles should be the topic of its own post. No two of our children learn in exactly the same way. We can approach most any subject or issue in a variety of ways and even with the most mundane of necessary facts to learn we can incorporate exercises and movements that do a world of wonder for our more kinesthetic learners. Can you imagine catering to the visual, auditory, verbal, tactile, and kinesthetic learning styles of 30 different kids at a time? Either can I. Classroom teachers have my sympathy- they have a tough job, they really do.
9. Our children aren’t pressured DAILY to be “cool”. So often in our society, cool is synonymous with rebellious, with an attitude that bucks authority. Our children have more time to grow a healthy sense of self in a less hostile environment so that, hopefully, prayerfully, when they are older and are eventually exposed to more of the world’s pressures they will have a better chance of having the strong sense of self that can withstand that pressure. Our children will also miss out on the pressure to be in relationships that they are not emotionally ready for. High schools with day care centers are a sad result of our society’s acceptance of younger and younger people going way beyond going steady. That’s not something we want for our children. Enough said.
10. Our children have ample time to pursue personal interests. Our children have time to practice their violins, to practice the piano, to pursue things like photography and art, soccer, making homemade kites, flying remote control helicopters, participating in community theater productions, or anything else that suits their fancy. Most kids have little time for outside interests at the end of long days of school, followed by long nights of homework, and when they do get to pursue other interests, it often comes at the expense of time with family.
11. We can teach our children from the perspective of our beliefs. Our children are not subject to the politically correct agenda of the NEA or the personal biases of a liberal teacher. Everyone has a bias, and we have the right to raise our children with the particular belief system we believe to be right. As Christians, we believe it’s important to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Some people cry “brainwashing”, to which I would answer that everyone is brainwashed. Everyone listens to someone. We just happen to wash our brains in cleaner water than some.
12. We can introduce mature topics when we know our children are mature enough to handle it well. The tougher moral issues like abortion, discrimination, drug abuse, homosexuality, ecology in its extreme examples, pre-marital sex, smoking, tattoos, cults, and so many other issues that are thrust upon younger and younger people each day in our society, we can hold off on and wait to introduce at a time when we believe our children are ready to thoughtfuly consider the subject in light of who they are and in light of what we believe, rather than just be pressured to accept as OK without thoughtful consideration anything that a teacher says is OK.
We cannot protect our children from all of the influences we wish they didn’t have in their younger years, but living our homeschooling lifestyle means we are almost always with our children and we can guide them through the processing of things when they are exposed too early. We can discuss things right then and there. We can influence the opinions they form of the subject, just as the outside world would like to influence them. You see, like I mentioned in my last point, they are going to get their brains washed, everyone does, and we’d prefer to do the washing with cleaner water than the world has to provide.
– This list is nowhere near exhaustive, in fact, it started out with 10 points and I just kept going, but then I had to stop somewhere, dinner needed to be cooked…
Homeschooling is sooo rewarding, but at times it can also be so hard. Having a list of solid reasons, so you can know why it is you do what you do, can fuel your fire through the times when it may be in danger of dying out.
I do know that homeschooling is not for everyone, but it’s what we do, it’s where my heart is at, so it naturally becomes the perspective from which I write. It’s something I’m passionate about, and I make no apologies for that.
* If you’ve considered homeschooling, and have not yet taken the plunge, I do hope this list has at least made you think.
** If you’d never in a million years consider homeschooling your children, I still hope this list has made you think, about the responsibilities of a parent and about the individual learning needs of each child, and maybe even about the influences that are surrounding your children for more hours in a day than your influence.
*** If you are a fellow homeschooler, I hope this list has encouraged you and reaffirmed you in your decision to make and live out such a huge lifestyle commitment.