Upon revealing that my wife and I home school our children, we find ourselves in heavy crossfire with an emphasis on us doing wrong by our kids. It’s interesting that the harshest attacks come from (1) single people, (2) childless people, (3) old people who grew up during an age where schools were still good, or (4) people who sent their kids to private school (be it Christian or a Yeshiva). I’ve also entertained some minor attacks from public school teachers, mostly in regard to my pride: how dare I think I can do their professionally trained job (that’s another topic though).
So I decided to do a list of ten reasons why we home school. You’ll notice certain things about this list compared to my other two lists. The five stupid reasons to opt out of home schooling dealt with the storm of stupid attacks I’ve had to weather; the five wrongheaded reasons to home school dealt with what I’ve heard some people say to justify their homeschooling: but these ten reasons are totally personal. They’re Our reasons for home schooling Our children in light of Our situation. Here’s the list:
- We can’t afford Private School. Our son went to private school for kindergarten, but with increased wage taxes, increased property taxes and increased borough school taxes; private school was rendered inviable.
- Public School is increasingly a gamble. From within the public school system, I learned that sometimes you’d get: a teacher who was teaching something he or she wasn’t trained to teach; a teacher who wasn’t trained to teach a certain age group; a teacher who hated the age group they were teaching; a teacher who would sneak in what he wasn’t supposed to teach; or a class of imbeciles who rendered all teaching null. Even my friends and family who teach at the public school level would look you in the eyes, tell you that classes are filled to the brim, that they just don’t have the materials to make certain things happen, that there’s way too much bureaucracy and that some teachers are in it for the wrong reasons. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying all teachers. Teachers generally get paid way too little to be in it for the wrong reasons but with the turn in the economy and high unemployment, priorities shift.)
- District independent. I have friends and family that have moved to certain neighborhoods (within specific school districts) because the district invests in their public schools. One neighborhood over, just because of some demographics, the schools suck. Trying to bulldoze my way into one of those right neighborhoods, and praying that it never shifts into one of the bad ones, is not the way that I as a parent should be concerned for my children’s schooling. Rather, we afford them an education that transcends districts.
- Unlimited topical breadth. In recent years, especially after No Child Left Behind, schools started denying the arts in favor of the Three R’s (Reading, Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic). The inspiration that generates education is cast to the side as an unworthy investment in hobbies. Home schoolers don’t have to limit their topics because of budgetary constraints dictated by the state. Home schoolers can teach Reading while teaching Aristotle. Teach mathematics while focusing on Pascal. Study anatomy while delving into DaVinci. Study the Byzantine empire while looking at Christian theological developments.
- No lack in parental involvement. In both private and public schools, parents get this weird sense of entitlement that they don’t have to be bothered with educational involvement since teachers get paid to do all that. Any teacher would tell you that the best education is the one that the parents are involved in. Home schooling, unless done by a home-based teacher, is inextricably tied to the parent.
- Ability to consider options. Depending on the private school, you’re pretty much stuck with one scientific explanation based on the available evidence; the same thing applies for public school. People like to say that public school gives you alternate point of views, but that’s a crock: it gives you only one point of view. You ask an adult if they’ve read Hawking’s A Brief History of Time or Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box you might get a vacant stare. You’ll find both books on my son’s reading list. Some of the greatest books of all time are religious; and yet they don’t make it onto a public school reading list. Ridiculous.
- Access to the best available materials. I can pick up the best language books, the best history books, the best mathematics books, the best books on the arts, violin lessons, swimming lessons, soccer, state of the art computers, and trips to some of the best museums in several states. Not only that, because I’m a taxpayer I have access to one of the best resources for books in the world: the United States Public Library System. On top of all this, and undergirding it all, I have the foundational basis that God is behind all these things: the same belief that motivated some of our greatest scientists to seek truth. I don’t have access to the same breadth and quality of materials in public schools.
- Tailored education. Teachers are constantly worrying about how to get the kids in the class to understand what is being taught. It is only in homeschooling where the educator can present the material to the child’s strengths to address his or her weakness in any given area.
- Manageable Classroom size. Unless you’re the Duggers, your class room size will be much smaller than current public school classrooms.
- Maximizing Down Time. A kid gets sick and he misses out on two days to two weeks of school work. A kid goes on summer or winter vacation and (unless he’s in private school or the right home) he shuts down his mind for the season. Home schoolers can support their students by reinforcing them with reading material or thought-puzzles throughout those breaks.
In the end, everyone should remember that these reasons are undeniably personal to my situation and context. I can’t afford private school, the educational system in my area is so-so, I have the fiscal means to support home schooling, my son has a unique learning situation, and my wife and I are both capable and available. Some parents may not be in the same situation. I would rather private schooling supported with home schooling but that is not a fiscally available option.
The point of these three posts is this: whatever you decide, do so responsibly, with research, with understanding and with the end goal of schooling in mind. You’re rearing up a new generation of thinkers so you have to look at all the angles before settling on a decision that is right for you. We’re not merely trying to stuff their brains so that they can go to M.I.T, we’re investing in the building up of whole Persons, or as C.S Lewis would say Men With Chests. People who can think, feel, empathize, consider and apply while seeing all these things as connected.