The Choice to Homeschool
Part 2 in the Homeschool Series
By Tracy Lamperti,
Psychotherapist, Educator, Consultant
This is the time of year when parents all over are questioning their children’s education for the following year, particularly if their child is entering preschool or kindergarten.
What about socialization?
HS kids are so great when it comes to socializing! They tend to be children who can mix with a variety of different ages, kids and adults. When it comes to siblings, someone should do a study about homeschooling and "sibling rivalry or warfare". I'm sure it would show that homeschooled siblings get along far better than "other" schooled siblings. Not just my children, but this is what I see everywhere I go! In my experience, they learn to work things out and see that the best, or only outcome is to work things out.
As I said in part 1, when we started homeschooling, we were part of a large group of families. It was great and the kids mixed together and at times broke off in their age groups. Over the years, families made different decisions about schooling choices and our group dwindled to just a few of us. I’ll be the first to admit, this was really hard and disappointing. It really pressed me to reach out and facilitate more connections for our children. We became active in Girl Scouts, town rec after school activities, town and church activities and engaged the grandparents as often as possible. In fact, for at least the last few years, we are the only homeschooling family from our town. I wish for myself and for our children that we were part of a larger group, but it has not been an issue that has compelled us to make a different decision.
Will you homeschool in high school also?
Plenty of families do, however, as our children get older and smarter, and need a stronger educational influence from adults other than their parents, we move more toward other choices. It is doubtful that our son will enter a public school education ever, for a variety of reasons. We have chosen to enroll him in a nationally accredited school for three core classes. Next year we may opt for 4. He has live teachers and classmates all around the globe. He uses chat and Skype when he needs to interact with them directly. He and I recently had a conference with his math teacher who was in North Korea! Our daughter takes a heavy class load from one company via pre-recorded video instruction. She is of the age that she can still imagine that the teachers are teaching her directly.
For our family, we enter into a sort of reflective, evaluative mindset every April, reassessing the needs of our children, our family, ourselves, etc. to determine the best plan for the next year. The children are part of that to some extent but the power to decide has never been turned over to them. Not so far anyway.
Can homeschooled students go to college?
I know many homeschooled students who have gone on to college. In fact, the feedback I have gotten from their parents is that the colleges are very friendly to homeschooled students who can show success in their schooling portfolio, because these are individuals who already have a proven track record of motivation, success and self-direction. I know some families whose children have taken classes at the community college while also taking their high school classes and completed their high school requirements (which would be a GED, unless they have met all of the requirements of an accredited school) and within a year, completed all of the requirements for their associates degree, putting them academically AND financially way ahead.
How can you stand to be with your kids so much (and vice versa)?
Well now, this is a challenging one. In my opinion, we have to take our mind out of the modern day stereotypes of the parent/child relationship, which society would have us believing is all about increasing conflict and power struggle. Yes, as a psychotherapist, I know all of the major theories of child and adolescent development and individuation, etc…. The whole issue is complicated by our “complicated” lives of this century, where families are strapped with more expenses than ever, forced into two income necessity, many broken homes, pressure to have our kids going from one extracurricular activity to the next, every day of the week, etc. I can really only speak to how we try to manage it. We try to make the best choice with curriculum. We try to keep in mind that our children are our highest priority and it is not our children who have chosen the homeschool life, or many other parts of their life. So if we have chosen it, we need to make it work in a way that is best for them. That means accepting that some things will be given up in lieu of getting other things.
What if your family and friends think you are crazy?
We didn’t have a huge amount of support or any encouragement for our decision to homeschool. It helps to be in a marriage where we know that together, we make these important decisions for our children. To not have the support from a spouse…that’s another story. For us, we just remember that in our little part of the world, it is a little “crazy” of an idea to homeschool. The grandparents are living and working in a community where their friends are attending their grandchildren’s school concerts and keeping a brag book of all of their school awards and accomplishments. That’s not usually the case for grandparents of homeschooled kids. In time and trying to avoid conflict, we have found that our children’s grandparents have been proud to step into the homeschool world and feel really important about having a skill or expertise that they can teach their grandchild in “school.” Try not to stress out about other people’s opinions. There are lots of people who have considered homeschooling, even if they didn’t end up doing it and will respect your decision.
Are you guys…”anti-public school?”
We are NOT anti-public school. As I said in part 1, I had wanted to put my son in school in Kindergarten and again in 3rd grade. It didn’t work out. We have considered putting our daughter in public school every year and chosen not to. NOT because of an “anti” issue, but because homeschool is the choice we want to make for her. Public school has many benefits for children and families. So does homeschool. Public school has disadvantages. So does homeschool. As a side-note, as a psychotherapist, I interface with the public schools almost every day. I never want to have an “us/them” relationship. There are many school personnel that appreciate working with me, knowing that my children are homeschooled. There are some who steer away from me. I think they are uncomfortable about it.
While we are not “antiHS” it is a commonly accepted fact that whoever controls the education, steers the moral, ethical and social issues of the nation. I'm not going to tell anyone not to send their child to public school, mine might in fact end up there. But if you do, either make sure your values line up with theirs or figure out how you are going to keep you own child from being a pupil in an indoctrination camp. Public schools are not values-neutral and they are educators. My point isn't for every child to be trained up as a Christian, as I am, but rather for children to be taught facts as facts, theories as theories and beliefs as beliefs.
For example, are you ok with your 12 year old being given an aspirin by the school nurse? Sorry, they aren't allowed to.
Are you ok with your 12 yo being given the morning after pill? Well, sorry again, because it doesn't matter if you are ok with it or not. Already, if you live in NY, they can give it to your little girl without even telling you.
Plug in any issue here;
Your kindergartener being “corrected” when they reference the Birth of Christ at Christmastime, or when they say something about a creator of the universe?
Teaching your child the new rounding methods in the common core.
Methods of teaching reading.
Who marriage should be between.
Whether Johnny uses the boys’ room or girls’ room if he feels like a she.
As far as I know, we still live in a free country with a Constitution. We are free to believe what we want and speak about our beliefs. It is very disappointing to hear when theories are being taught as fact and when those teaching the theory as fact are directly mocking those who state their belief as a belief regarding the same topic. It’s troubling to me that students are graduating without being about to sign their name in cursive and troubling that they will not be able to look at an original historical document and read what it says because they do not read cursive. But they can text like nobody’s business. …btw, u no w@ i mean? I mean that really sux. ufb.
Teachers are under an incredible amount of pressure during the school year. Some studies show that they are dealing with behavioral issues more than 45% of the time and trying to fit in all of the curriculum at the same time, and then being evaluated and ranked based on MCAS and now Common Core standards. Homeschool clears away much of this. We can teach from a standard curriculum from 20 years ago if we want, and our HS’d student is likely to turn out just as successful as the PS’d student.
There are examples of success and failure in both arenas. I can personally attest to the fact that some HS’d children are NOT being educated at home. It’s a horrible shame to the homeschool community but a devastating disservice to the child. I can also personally attest, from my professional experiences, that there are teenagers that have not been educated and cannot read and are walking with cap and gown to receive their diploma. There are adults who were HS’d and are leading big companies and commanding high salaries. The same is true for PS’d adults.
Let me leave you with this interesting trivia. Actually, take a look at it yourself. If we humans have these evolving brains, why do the speeches need to keep getting dumber and dumber? Every parent, whether their child is public schooled, private schooled or homeschooled, needs at be involved in their child’s education. It’s the parent who needs to ensure that their child get the best possible education, even if that means your public schooled child needs to be homeschooled on the side.
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