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« Off to spend time with Mc Dreamy | Main | 60 seconds to apologize »

11 February 2009

Comments

cat

Oh I so agree - they have to live in the real world, however hard it might be.

Andrea

Great post and I agree with everything you said! The best argument I've heard about home schooling is that kids might get a better education that way, which I think is plausible. Also, I live in an area where private schools are expensive and public schools are crappy. So, if I didn't have to work full time, I can imagine homeschooling as an alternative to either public or private (hey now that I mention it, that makes a lot of sense). Guess I can't really say yet since my daugher is only one.

dawnielle

Well my ADD, dyslexic has been home with pneumonia this week and guess what I've been trying to do??? Make up work!! UUGGHHH Could never do it. I would SUCK as a homeschooler. Thank GOD for all the fabulous teachers who are charged with the learning and care of our kids everyday!!

Oh and yes, now that the porkchop has turned the corner you can fell VERY sorry for me that I've been home with sick kids for a week and a half now!!

Jane

I must say I agree with pretty much all you have said here.

I think the concept of home schooling is great (as long as it is done for the good reasons - not Aryan separatist type ones ) but I do think it takes hard work and dedication - not to mention patience, and I don't think I could do it. I am very impressed with those that DO though. Wow!

My reasons not to are:
1. I HAVE to work full time to support myself and kids - so SAHM is not an option for me.
2. I don't think I have the patience nor aptitude for it.
3. While I want to be very involved in my kid's education and helping to develop their minds and teach them to have their own opinions I don't want to be solely responsible for it. It feels like too much of a daunting task and challenge - for ME. I like being able to supplement rather than be RESPONSIBLE kwim?
4. My kids love GOING to school. They love their uniforms, teachers, friends, tuck shop, school, routine, discipline and everything that comes with it. When I fetch them they often ask me why I am so early. Sure it would be different if we home-schooling from the beginning, but they are so comfortable with their main stream schooling that I have no reason to change that.

I still think home schooling is a nice idea though.

BUT I must point out thought that I know 2 families who do home school with children who were not coping at regular school - haven't established exactly why, but it seems at least one had some form of 'learning disability' and so her mom decided to home school her which seems to work for them. So for them it was a plan B after main stream didn't work for them.

Me Mel

Its me, I have felt bad all night about the tone of this post, all judgy and nasty. Sorry. I know people often home school kids who just don't manage to cope well in mainstream education, people home school for a hundred reasons and for some kids, it is the best thing. But, I still have my but, I continue to stand firm in my negatvity to those who do it because they do not want their kids exposed to the real world and judge those Christians who do.

Charlie

Why would we bother training teachers if educating children is so easy we could all do it at home?!

I also agree it's not just about education, but also about life and preparation for the real world.

Tracey

Too late and too tired to add my comment/actual views on this subject but just want to say yay for Mel, you say it so often how the rest of us shy away from for a myriad of reasons. you are awesome babe - and every time I read your column I think YEBO, couldn't have said it better myself. xx

Anna in IL

I agree that I, too, worry for the children who have never been exposed to the "real world." Sometimes homeschooling is the right thing, for a variety of reasons, but doing it to "protect" kids doesn't seem like a good reason to me.

Curious - do you have home schoolers in South Africa, too? I always think of it as an American thing, but of course we Americans always think that everything is ours. :)

Janine

Agree. I would never have had the courage to say the things you said. I've said them all in my head, though. It's so complicated, isn't it? I hate the smugness, but then I wonder whether I'm just seeing them as smug because I'm insecure about my own choices. Thanks for bringing up a difficult topic.

Pippa

As a Christian, a teacher for the past 7 years and a mother for as long, I have very firm points of view about Home Schooling. To me its the same as when you attempt that Chocolate cake in those recipe books from France. The chances of it coming out as the Pro Chefs intend for it to be are minimal. Looks easy enough, but unless you understand Food Science and have studied with Jaime Oliver, it's not going to happen.I personally think that for parents to Home School unless they really have to is an arrogant approach. There is so much more to teaching than eager wannabe supermoms assume their is. We studied, slept on notes and wrote Thesises about the correct way to teach an addition sum and then covered ourselves with the 10 other possible variables. To assume to be able to do it better is a crazy idea. I would never assume to be able to do a better job than those holding the degree. If you are unhappy with the learning environment, find another, enroll in a Christian School, but I have too often seen the product of eager beaver moms needing to return to school with hundreds of Social and Academic gaps. For What?

Lindsay

AGREE!!! As a teacher, I could never home school my child- EEK! The thought of being with her 24/7 does not appeal to me, yes I love her with every bit of my body, but teaching is hard work. I agree that children need to see life from all angles, experience it, learn right and wrong and school is the perfect place to do that. I teach at a Government, Christian based school and I feel it gives the children an all around education. It's also vital to learn to get along with all sorts of people, that's why each class goes to a new teacher every year, so they are exposed to different teaching style- not all teachers are "good" for all children. Oh, I could go on and on....

Coral

Lots of strange thoughts from Planet Coral:

I would love to hear from a person who has been homeschooled, from 'the-Christian-not-wanting-my-kid-to-see-the-world' type. And how they found the real world. Was it a shock that not everyone loves you like mommy does? Is it hard to deal with the competitiveness of the real world and work ethics? Which sometimes are utterly unethical?

Another point is if I home school my child, is she / he going to turn out a mini-me, with my opinions, my values on life, and is that right? What happens to their potential to be better than I? They do not get to debate with lots of others and learn how to deal with conflict of opinions, and their right to have another opinion. Especially on religion.

Am I right that there are downloadable sheets to follow to use as a syllabus, and to follow in a formal classroom mode? Like the syllabus says we tackle division today, download these worksheets and fill in and mark, here are the answers? That would appear to be the easiest way to handle the subjects, I should imagine.

I think it would freak me out to have to do those XY graphs in maths again, and to teach my kids, they were a nightmare!

And your post was what a lot of people think, but we are not brave enough to say it!

KES

Wow... as someone who was homeschooled all the way to high school graduation, I have to say that I am feeling really discouraged by the opinions held both in this post and the comments.

I agree that it is not good to homeschool your children out of a sense of superiority to the world or being smug. But the VAST majority of home school moms I have met (my own, and the mothers of the hundreds of children I interacted with through various homeschool activities through the years) are secretly constantly slightly overwhelmed and feel that they are somewhat inadequate to the task, but really feel convicted (called, you could also say) that they need, for one reason or another to homeschool. Thus, they are very humble about it.

I was homeschooled not to keep me from seeing the world, but to insulate me from its worst parts so that my parents could introduce them to me safely when I was ready. I got into religious debates all the time as a 7-12 year old, because my best friend was of a very different Christian persuasion than me. Once I was 12 till the present, I started to discuss religion with more and more non-Christians, and yeah, at the beginning, I was a classic misinformed bigot. But I was also TWELVE. Aren't all twelve year olds bigoted in their own way?

Sigh... I don't want to go on forever in your comments, but I really do feel like I need to represent the wonderful experience that both I and my husband had as homeschooled children. There seem to be so many bad stereotypes represented among your reader's opinions, and I really would like to take the time to address them all, but I suppose I won't now. I'll check back later, and if you give the ok to keep on spamming your comments with my pro-homeschooling spiel, I'd love to do so. :)

The Spear

I is homeskoled an I are fyne.

Jeanne

I don't have kids and wasn't homeschooled myself, so I don't feel qualified to say too much Mel, other than good for you for raising this controversial topic. I do worry abotu people who want to shield their kids from the world by home-schooling them, for the same reason that I worry about the girls at Oprah's academy. If you insulate a child totally from certain elements and people in the world, what the hell is going to happen when they have to enter the real world?? Because we all know that the world is anythign but a sheltered environment. How will shielding teach them coping skills?? Or critical thought??

Just my 10 cents' worth :)

Wobs

All I can say is for whatever reason, home school must be incredibly hard and energy sapping. I admire those that can do it - I know I certainly can't. I also want to be the Mom not the good/bad teacher, PT coach, etc., being "just a Mom" is enough hard work at the moment.

Maria

I won't even begin to respond to some of the comments...just the post:)I also don't want to argue the pro's/con's of homeschool vs. public school. They are just opinions after all. And statistics can be proven to back up both homeschoolers and public schoolers. Whatever.

I see where you are going with this. Holier -than -thou homeschoolers drive me CRAZY too! Opinionated I- hate- public- school homeschoolers drive me crazy too...all this and I homeschool.

I have strong opinions on why I homeschool, mostly because its a hard path to go against the status quo and I am continually called upon to defend my choices by relatives, friends, schools, total strangers, articles, and...er...blogs...and if I don't measure up to what others think homeschool should be (I'm too Christian, too eclectic, too strident, too easy going, too opinionated, too intense, not intense enough...my kid does too much, my kid does too little...)even a little bit I get more criticism than your average public school teacher. So pardon us homeschoolers if we are a little sensitive!

But it sounds like you might be too. Aren't we, as mothers, always sensitive to a criticism, perceived or otherwise? Why not make an effort as women to honor each others choices whether or not we agree with them?

And granted, it's your blog, you gotta rant... I mean, who doesn't, right? It's your forum, your soapbox. Go for it.

But let's try, as adults in our every day life to cut the broad, sweeping generalizations (for example: All public schools are evil.) Let's examine a different viewpoint whether or not we agree and whether or not it annoys the heck out of us. And then let's go merrily on our way and say, as you did "NO WAY could I do that, nor do I want to..." And likewise, as homeschoolers maybe we could say the same..."There is no way I could ever public school, nor do I want to!"

Just a choice. And some of us are annoying about our choices. But it's still just a choice. Nothing personal.

Luke Holzmann

[smile] If you read a lot of homeschooling moms' blogs--and I do--all of these issues have been addressed ad nauseam, and, I think, very well.

I will try to address each of the points briefly here:

1. I want time away from my kids.
A: You get time away. Homeschoolers typically spend less time "doing school" and their children are free to run off and do other things. My mom started and ran a company in all of her free time while homeschooling four 2-4 kids.

Also, most homeschooling mothers I've talked with describe the great joy they had--and still have--from spending so much time with their kids. I think it may be an expectation thing, or something you just need to experience to understand. I'm not sure.


2. I don't want to be like those religious nuts who keep their kids from "the big, bad world."
A: So don't. I think you are missing what homeschoolers actually want. Rather than keep their kids from seeing real life, homeschooling parents have the opportunity to let their children experience things appropriate for their age and development. As their children become mature enough to properly handle new experiences, they let them out little by little. That's our role as parents, and why we have rating systems for TV and movies: To help us decide what our kids should be exposed to, and when.

3. I want my kids to be "hip & with it" and fully indoctrinated by pop culture.
A: Cool. I love media--and I create my own and imbibe lots of it. But there are very good reasons to take this kind of inundation slow. It's not that we should never experience Britney, nor avoid commercials, but rather: Why jump on them? Why start out life focusing on such... unimportant matters that don't bring true happiness? Better, is it not, to focus on character development so when we later start to interact with pop culture we can do so appropriately, wisely, and well?

4. I'm an analytical person; I don't want to become one of those mystic types who "hear from God" as their trump card.
A: I'm not that way either. That is a personality difference, and it works really well for those who are on the "mystical" spectrum of things (my wife is more like that). If you are closer to the "analytical" side of things, you can still homeschool. Your reasons will just sound different. In the end, the motivation is the same: To do what is right and good.

5. I can't stand the stereotype of those people who hide away from the world, name their children after Biblical characters, and have a "avoid the world" mentality---and I never want to be one.
A: There are many, many homeschoolers like you--just as there are many who are not. Homeschooling allows you to raise your children as you want, and if that is as a very cool, very modern ambassador for Christ: More power to ya! While I have no problems with people like my sister, who has named her children after Biblical characters and is going to move to the middle of nowhere and start a farm, I am more like you: I'm happy to be connected with modern life, technology, and the way the world is now. And I look forward to raising my kids to interact in this modern world through the powerful tool that is homeschooling.

6. I'm not a good enough person to homeschool my kids; I'd likely blow up at them.
A: I can relate to this fear as well, as I am a rather high strung person myself [smile]. But just as becoming a parent will offer me an opportunity to grow, so will homeschooling. Homeschoolers I talk with tell me that their kids become a joy in a way that their never were when they went off to school. I look forward to experiencing that joy.

7. I couldn't be with my kids 24/7.
A: See point 1.

8. I want my kids to be exposed to other beliefs, cultures, experiences that my home can not provide.
A: Good! Homeschooling allows for this much more than public school. Classrooms are homogeneous: All kids are the same age and studying the same material. Homeschooling allows children to experience people of all ages and opens them up to interact with many different aspects of life. Especially if that is a focus of yours. Others have written far more eloquently on this point, so I will leave it at that: Homeschooling blows classroom schooling out of the water on this point. Hands down.

9. I'm too insecure in my ability to homeschool.
A: Give it a try. You may surprise yourself and discover a joy and a strength that you didn't know you had. Homeschooling can be snuggling up with your children and reading a book. How much better can life get?

10. I don't want my kids isolated.
A: You answered this one yourself: Get involved in other activities--church groups, sports, activities...

11. I don't want to be a smug religious snot.
A: Again: So don't. It's your life, you don't have to try to fit into the stereotype... most don't.

12. Kids need to be in the mainstream of life so they can swim in it.
A: I agree. But they should learn how to swim first, yes? Homeschooling starts them off in the shallows with you, so you can teach them how to paddle and float. As they gain ability, you can move them farther into the stream until you eventually let them go. And since they will be able to swim, they will be the lifeguards saving people, not those nasty folks who drown others in their attempts to stay afloat.

13. I don't want my kids to be shocked when they suddenly experience "real life."
A: Dead horse by now: So don't. Get them out there in areas that are appropriate for them. I was homeschooled until high school and it was not a shock to go to public school... well, expect for the areas where I couldn't believe how easy things were, how immature some of my classmates were, and how lame the system was. I loved my high school experience--aside from those aspects of it--and it was very good for me... because I had been well equipped. My wife was homeschooled through high school, and did fine in college. And, honestly, there are things that should shock us out there in the "real world"--things that aren't real but very much a part of some people's lives (e.g. the sex industry, the drug wars... but I've been prepared for even those because of my home education that was devoted to a worldwide perspective and included many lessons that had to do with some of societies greatest ills).

Bonus: 14. Parents can't be teachers... who do they think they are?
A: Parents teach their children to walk, talk, dress, eat, etc, etc, etc... homeschooling is just the natural next step. And, yes, parents can teach their children. In fact, for many reasons, they can do so better than a classroom teacher. I have already taken up too much space to really delve into this one, but I'll point out a few reasons:
Personalized lessons
One-on-one tutoring
Going at the student's pace (fast or slow)
Knowing the child's learning style
Being able to adapt to the child
Access to great curriculum (they can choose)

...and I know teachers who have had to teach, say 5th and 6th grade when they had prepped all summer for 2nd and 3rd. Teachers are often at a huge disadvantage due to the system... something parents don't experience.

Besides, my wife was an ed major, and I've talked with many other ed majors, and what you learn are classroom management skills more than any secret teaching tips that parents haven't already naturally figured out.


...all that to say: I think people should do what they feel is best for them and their children. Homeschooling is not for everyone. Public school is a very good option for some families (I tend to think that homeschooling might be even better). I am very glad for those teachers out there to have dedicated their lives to the children of parents who can't (or won't) homeschool. It is very needed, very good, and very important. I am not saying everyone should homeschool.

But I am saying: Homeschooling is a great option, with many very compelling reasons to give it a try, and absolutely the best option for many, many families. Have you seriously looked into it yet?

You should.

~Luke

KES

Thank you, Luke, for saying what I was too tired (at 3:3a am US CST!) to say..
I'd just also like to add that the other side of the "special" spectrum often benefits from homeschooling too. I shudder to think what it would have been like for me in a public school, because I LOVED to read, advanced extremely quickly, etc. In that case, my mom was more of a facilitator for my education, once I knew the basics of reading, writing, and math. And yes, for things like higher maths and sciences, there are lots of curriculums that help moms teach those subjects they are not familiar with, or tutorial programs or teaching co-ops where lots of homeschooling moms and dads get together, and form classes where they each teach a speciality subject (drama, music, PE, biology, etc) or collectively hire someone else to do so. I was a part of several of these organizations, and each does have a shelf-life of time to where the parents can't stand each other any more and they break it up and form a new one, but I LOVED them. They were the answer to that socialization question for me.

Julie Blake

As a homeschool mom, I do take exception to your tone. I would also like to point out that there are tons of homeschoolers who are neither Christian nor holier-than-thou, and your tone seems to be more anti-Christian than anything. While I am a Christian, and as such it does taint every part of my life--as it should. I would like to point out, though, that there are sanctimonious type in every walk of life--even non-Christians--who think they have all the answers. I think the important point to make here, is that being in America, we expect and enjoy a certain level of freedom--freedom to raise our kids as WE see fit. Don't you think it's nice we have the CHOICE to homeschool or not? How mad would you be if the government told you that you HAD to homeschool? I would guess the same as I would if they told me I HAD to send them to a secular, humanist school...you know, the public ones?! As far as over-protecting, I would be more concerned for those kids who are not protected from the world at all than the ones who are over protected. Believe it or not, even Christian homeschooled kids do see daylight and probably a lot more of than some of the public school kids who are closeted in a hermetically sealed, airtight,no windows, recycled air school for 8 hrs. a day. My kids and I enjoy the freedom and ability to sit under a tree or on a swing or in the grass and read all the books we want or do our math or study biology...whatever. I will be the first to say choice is the best....homeschooling is definitely NOT for everyone. I would just like it if you displayed a greater level of tolerance for those of us who do choose to do so. Just like we tolerate you sending yours to public or private school.
Julie

Shauna

"I also agree it's not just about education, but also about life and preparation for the real world."

I completely agree, and I homeschool my kids. We live, learn, play, and are involved in our community and in the real world every day.


V

My SIL homeschooled her kids till the oldest decided he wanted to go to public school. I was initially out of necessity as they live on a game farm but are now close enough to town for him to attend a school. But the school he is going to is a 'bush' school and does not have the same rigid routines as a normal school. I must say we were all concerned that she was homeschooling esp when hearing that they only did about 2 hours a day of schooling. And to a certain extent our concerns were justified when it was found that he had to drop back a grade when he went to proper school. I do however think that they did benefit in many ways as their parents would take them out on a mission to identify plants or animals etc. They generally try and incorporate teaching the kids into their lives a lot more than most of us generally do.

Anyway, it is an interesting topic and I do not think you were judgemental to all homeschoolers at all.

Meg L.

I'm not going to dig through all the comments to find points to disagree with.

I wanted to talk about your fear of being with your kids 24/7 - The fact is that much of the tension you might find from spending time with your kids that is bracketed by public school is eliminated when you remove the stress that public school brings to both your child - Do you like to be boxed up with 20 to 30 other people for 8 hours? - and your family - How many times does your family's plans have to change to accommodate things the school throws out?

Yeah, my schedule gets thrown in a loop because of life, but mostly we have some awareness of what might do that and can plan ahead. Children bring issues home from school that families have no control over.

As for teachers being trained to teach - HAVE YOU EVER LOOKED INTO WHAT MOST TEACHERS ARE TAUGHT?? - up until high school level it's all about classroom control - um, sorry, but when I'm teaching my own family, I don't need to worry about how to keep 20 kids on task.

And my kids are certainly not restricted from the "modern" world. Shot, most strangers look at my dd (14) and with her black clothes and tri-colored hair wonder if they should be keeping their darlings away from HER!! OTH, she is smart as a whip, knowledgeable, and as sweet as can be when she volunteers with the troubled reading program at the library. Homeschooling her has allowed her to be the PERSON she wants to be - with both her taste in music and clothes not forcing her into acting like the trouble-maker she looks like.

And as for going to college? My older child, ds (18) is a freshman at a nationally top-ranked college. Yes, he's had to adjust to dealing with grades and tests (we didn't) - but for the rest of it, there hasn't been a problem. He's free to do what he wants and he has no problem with it because he is doing what he wants and know himself well enough to be self-confident in his choices.

All that said, homeschooling is only one way to educate a child. There are times when it is the best and times when it isn't. It's only the best when the entire family is considered and it still works.

I never tell anyone they HAVE to homeschool or their child will end up a waste-case. OTH, I have been a public school parent, I have been a private school parent, and I have been a homeschooling parent.

I DO NOT try to speak about something I haven't tried and do not fully understand.

Flicka

I know some AWESOME, AWESOME homeschool kids in the church I go to now. They and their parents are so cool, I cannot even tell you. They go to a "real" classroom once a week with other homeschool kids to use a science laboratory and they are super crazy smart. One of them, my adopted "little sis" is the smartest, most advanced 16 year old I know. She and her family volunteer in the inner city and believe me, she's well acquainted with the main stream. None of these families have been sanctimonious with me and told me that we have to homeschool Sam. (Actually, no one's brought up the subject at all.) They are, however, a HUGE reason we are entertaining the notion of doing so.

HOWEVER, I had a childhood friend who, along with one of her sisters, was homeschooled and she was a HUGE MESS. Her parents were extremely sacntimonious and legalistic and refused to believe anyone when they said that the problem was with my friend, not with all the schools they sent her to. I got in trouble for upsetting B. every time we were together because inevitably I hurt B's feelings and she'd cry so hard she got a stomach ache and had to go to bed. Turned out she's bipolar and needs medication. She still lives at home to this day because she cannot handle the real world. Homeschooling is just one part of a major problem in that household but it certainly did B. no favors.

I guess my point is that I understand where you are coming from but homeschooling is really not the point. (I did see your apology and dear, no worries. Your tone was not nearly what you think it was.) The point is the heart behind the action. If the heart behind the action is trying to hide the child, keep the child as a child and not let him mature, then homeschooling will always go wrong. But if homeschooling is done with a heart towards growth, a heart that understands the unique and individual needs of that child and what will best foster that child's development, well, it can be WONDERFUL. Just like anything else in life, the heart motivation must be right and must be in tune with the Creator. Otherwise keeping Ezekiel away from the Bad People will only result in rebellion, tears or dysfunction later on.

Make sense? I love you madly, dear sister.

xoxo
Flicka

Thoughts of THAT Mom

What Luke said. I wholeheartedly agree.

I am a Christian who homeschools my children. I am bugged when ANYONE is "holier-than-thou". I have seen it from fellow homeschoolers as well as from public and private schoolers.

We all have choices and do what we believe is best for our families. We don't all agree. People can agree to disagree. Neither party is "bad" or a lesser person for believing as they do.

I would like to add, though, that you would be surprised at how much you enjoy having your children home to school them.

Amy

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