I recently read an article about a family's decision to start homeschooling. More accurately, it was one woman's story of how she went from saying things like "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard! The bus stops right here! It takes them away for eight luxurious hours of the day! Why would you not send them to school?" when she learned their new neighbors were homeschoolers to becoming an active proponent of homeschooling herself.
We only made the official decision to homeschool within the last year and although it was something we were strongly leaning towards for years, I wasn't always on board and Joshua REALLY wasn't sure of it. In fact, to say we were both anti-homeschool would be an understatement. Words like those kids, overly religious, under-educated, and freaky were tossed around like they weren't insulting, ignorant and rude.
My first serious exposure to homeschooling came when I worked for a family with 10...yes, TEN children who technically practiced what's called un-schooling. I didn't like it. I saw deficiencies in their education but surprisingly, I also saw what it did for them as a family. I saw how close they were and how mature the children were. I saw how secure the parents were-they were totally open with me and I with them. I tried to be tactful about it when I told them I was "unsure" of the whole thing. I didn't understand it and didn't expect to do it when we had our own children.
I was concerned about "socialization" because growing up in the public school system had taught me that my children HAD to be with other children of the same age. That gave them more "real-world experience" because they'd learn to work out problems with others in the classroom. Now, I see that being locked inside a school, forced to be silent for hours and unable to do the most basic things like go to the bathroom without first raising their hands does nothing to show them the real world. And in our son's case, it would have only led to bad behavior marks...he's an active four year old boy who needs the freedom to be able to study for a bit and then go outside, run, play, yell...basically, just be a child.
My next concern was what about subjects you're not (meaning the parents) naturally good at?--really I was wondering what I would possibly do with a child who needed to learn complex mathematical theories when I struggle with them myself. But eventually, I learned that the basis of homeschooling is to teach your children to teach themselves. To be independent. If there's a subject they need to learn that you're not comfortable with, you work through it together, or you find someone who can teach it to you both. It fit with our perspective of parenthood. We believe it's our job to prepare our children for the world-a world which is unfortunately putting America to shame academically.
I learned that despite spending more and more money-on average over $10,000 per year per student, America ranks 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math (source: 2010 PISA). Homeschooling gives our children the academic advantage they desperately need in a global economy...
(graphic from homelifeacademy.com with source documentation HERE)
I also learned that a parent's dedication and hard work can overcome a lack of specialized training...
I began seeing children behaving in despicable ways. Talking to their parents with absolutely no respect. They weren't bad kids. They had good parents but they would go to school to be "socialized" and ended up just like everyone else...which I guess is one of the reasons people send their children to school. But it's not something we want anymore.
Deplorable behavior and inexcusably low test scores were only enough to make me seriously consider homeschooling. I still thought about ways we could avoid homeschooling because it scared me...we'd live in a "good" school district and I would supplement their education...we would be strict and would fight the negative influences...light inside the dark and all that but once we had our children and looked them in the eye, we realized that we couldn't accept something that wasn't the absolute best for them. Sending them to school wasn't the best academically or socially. It's not always easy and there are days that I think I'm in over my head but it's worth it-our kids are worth it and that's why we don't send them to school.
Whatever you decide to do, just remember before you say you could never homeschool, I said the same thing not too long ago and now, I wouldn't have it any other way.