One of the many reasons I love homeschooling is that it lets my family work on our own night owl schedule. I am most productive during the late evening hours.
I worked today (my husband was home with the kids) and my kids spent most of their waking, daylight hours outside playing. But here we are, at eleven o’clock at night, everyone happily engrossed in their various projects, self included. I’ve been working on planning for the last couple of hours and as I look up and around, there’s a child drawing math problems on the dry erase board, there’s an art project going on at the dining room table, a documentary playing on TV and an impromptu mythology lesson in the kitchen. The house is calm, peaceful and full of activity.
Everyone will wind down and head to their various bedrooms soon enough. The 11 year old has already read a bedtime to story to the 7 year old, just because she wanted to share the story about the legend of the bluebonnet. Even the two year old is happily creating worlds with littlest pet shops and la la loopsys in the family room.
Having watched them earlier count by tens, correctly identify cardinal ordinal relationships, work math problems for fun, and read aloud to each other, I am once again reassured that they are, in fact, learning. That this is working and most importantly, my kids are happy and enjoy learning.
Homeschooling is a controversial issue. It evokes in some images of unsocialized, awkward and downright “weird” kids. Of religious extremists and isolationism, of parents bent of shielding their children from the “real world”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Of course, for others, homeschooling is just a fact of life. By now, many homeschoolers are second generation homeschoolers. It’s a trend that has caught on and it’s still growing.
According to the most recent statistics, 1.5 million students are being taught at home. The advent of easy and affordable internet access has increased the numbers. The explosion in homeschooling groups makes the idea of the unsocialized homeschooler an obsolete one. There are even homeschooling conferences for families to attend and a plethora of curriculum and materials to be had, often available used at half price books or through a local homeschool co-op.
Families choose to home school for many reasons. Some to avoid bullying and other problems that are rampant in our public school system. Some simply to give their children a good education because, let’s face it; our public schools just aren’t cutting it anymore. Certainly some families home school for religious reasons and so that they can teach their children the values they want them to have, rather than the ones they learn in public schools which, again let’s face it, aren’t always the ones the teachers are trying to instill. Many families who aren’t very religious choose to home school for many reasons and even families that are often have other reasons for choosing to home school.
There is no doubt that a much more individualized education can be found at home, and a much more hands on, fun one at that. Forget the text books and head to your local museum for some real world learning. Talk about shielding your child from the “real world”, that’s what schools do. The real world is all around us; it’s in watching the squirrels chase each other up the trees and watching the ants build their home. It’s in learning about careers by taking trips to the actual places, a bakery, a fire station etc. It’s in the act of learning by becoming interested in something then looking it up and learning about it for yourself. That’s an important life skill that often gets missed when we try to spoon feed learning to children.
For an excellent book on homeschoolers and socialization, try Rachel Gathercole’s book, “The Well Adjusted Child, the social benefits of homeschooling”.
One oft lobbed criticism of homeschooling is that it’s done to isolate and promote a narrow world view based on the family’s religion.
While this may be true of some homeschoolers, isolation is not the primary reason that most families choose to homeschool their children. Certainly, teaching your children your religious viewpoints, doctrines, values and beliefs is the parent’s responsibility and something that is going to occur with or without homeschooling.
If religious isolationism is the intent, homeschool isn’t needed. Parents can opt for a religiously based private school or even monitor closely who their public school children associate with outside of school hours.
Sure, some people choose homeschooling in part because it allows them more latitude and control in regards to what their child is exposed to. This, however, is not the sole purview of the religious. Many homeschoolers who would identify as non denominational, secular, atheist, agnostic etc, choose to homeschool, in part, to allow themselves this same latitude and control over what values their children learn and what they are and are not being exposed to (drug use, violence, sex, foul language to name a few and sadly, this isn’t just at the highschool level).
In short, the reasons any given family chooses to homeschool their children are many and varied. This topic, like most, cannot be boiled down to one particular issue or another. To accuse homeschoolers of religious isolationism is incorrect. At any rate, any given family’s choices are really no one else’s business.