Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why Do I NOT Plan to Homeschool

It’s going to be a long and rambling post, so fasten your seatbelts. My friend Nicole at Tired, Need Sleep wrote a very interesting and thoughtful post trying to decide whether to homeschool her children going forward. I suppose that many parents who can afford to stay home with their children weigh this decision at some point of time trying to decide what’s best for their family and their children. My opinion of homeschooling changed significantly since I started writing my blog and interacting with many creative and intelligent homeschooling moms who had different reasons for choosing the path they are on. I used to view homeschooling parents more as ultra-religious control freaks trying to shield their kids from secular influences. But still, I personally don’t plan to homeschool my daughter and let me share the reasons for my current point of view:

I loved school. Let’s be honest – a lot of what we do is influenced by our own experiences, especially early experiences. I always loved going to school, I don’t remember being bored even when I knew the material, I liked “being a smart one”, and I had good relationship with practically every child in my class. I didn’t go to school here in the States, so my memories might be irrelevant, but I still feel it would be wrong to deprive Anna of the fun to be on her own with her peers.

I have faith in and respect for teachers. I read this comment on one of the blogs I read: My daughter left me to be with a bunch of strangers. They tell me that these strangers are better equipped to teach her all that she will need to know to get a job and be a productive citizen. It rubbed me the wrong way. It’s not how I feel about Anna’s current and future teachers. They are not strangers, they are my partners in educating my child. Hopefully, they chose teaching because they had passion for it, and they were trained for this. They also see hundreds of other children and hopefully will be able to recognize my child’s strength and weaknesses as well, if not better, than I do. I hope that both me and my husband will be actively engaged in school activities and volunteer if we can.

I have seen the village, and I do want it to (help) raise my child. I saw the opposite of this phrase on some homeschooling blogs, and it also rubs me the wrong way. I wish I were so convinced that I can give my daughter everything she will ever need. I don’t believe that she will be surrounded by drug addicts, gang members, cultists and atheists the moment she leaves her sheltered home. She will be living “in the village” one day, and maybe it’s better if she learns to appreciate and respect her wider community when she is a young child.

I am not religious. I recognize the fact that some homeschoolers might decide against public schools for religious reasons. I don’t have the same reservations, and therefore I hope that my daughter will do just fine in a public school.

I believe in my child and in myself. I believe in my ability to teach my child family values. so she is able to distinguish between right and wrong, to stand up for her ideals and to resist peer pressure. I did this, my husband did this, and I want my daughter to learn how to do this. I believe in my ability to move from control to influence, to support her choices, to step in when needed and enforce the rules. I never want to abdicate the role of the teacher, but at some point the teacher should become a mentor, stand back and watch her child fly by herself.


Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

This is not "rambling" at all, but a very well thought out and to-the-point post. I appreciate your point of view and you've given me a lot of food for thought. Thank you. I feel the same as you do on certain points, and yet... I am not totally there yet. I'm thankful that I have a couple of years to work all this out and come to a decision that works best for our family. Thank you again for a such a good post and for sharing your thoughts about this!

Sheena said...

I'm glad you wrote this post. I thought I was the only one out there in the blogs I knew that was deciding NOT to homeschool. I have M&M in two preschools right now for a total of three days a week. I was just telling my husband that I'm glad we decided to do this because if I just waited until she was 5 and going to kindergarten it would have been a very hard transition. Sometimes I have a hard time thinking about what she will encounter in schools as she gets older, but I know that if I teach her correct values here at home that she will be all right. I might just have to write a post about this too because it's been on my mind a lot lately.

Infant Bibliophile said...

Thank you for sharing this. I've been letting the thought of homeschooling enter my mind a bit lately, and it is nice to read a reasoned opinion in favor of school (for your family). I hadn't thought about how much I enjoyed school (and "being the smart one" - ha, funny, but true). You've given me something to think about. In our case, I'm only thinking about preschool at this point, and a lot of my hesitation with school is that my son has multiple food allergies that it scares me to rely on someone else to police for him.

Christy said...

This is a great post and I understand every single point you made. I loved school too and would not have wanted to be home schooled. I have been a teacher and while I worked very hard, I did see many teachers who did not. Unions make it difficult for teachers to be fired and there is not a lot of incentive to be a great teacher. It has to be something you love. I have always believed in putting 100% into a job and I wanted my students to learn as much as possible in my classroom (8th grade English). I also loved what I taught. If parents are involved, they can try to get the best teachers for their children but it doesn't always work. My oldest had a HORRIBLE 5th grade teacher. I picked up the slack at home. My children will go to public schools. I will, however, be very involved in their education and I will also continue to teach them at home. I occasionally feel a twinge of pain when I read negative things (on home schooling blogs) about people who choose to send their children to school. It is a personal decision and what works for some does not work for others. Luckily, we live in a free country and we can make the choice to do what is best for our children! I'm sorry this was so long.

Autumn said...

Good post. It helps figure things out by writing all one's thoughts down, and you've done a great job at it. :)

Though I respectfully disagree with your point that homeschooled kids are deprived from having fun with their peers. Most homeschooled kids I know belong to a co-op where they frequently (as in, many times a week for a few hours each time) interact with their peers.

I totally agree with your point that children need to learn how to interact with their wider community, which ironically, is one of the reasons we'll be homeschooling.

I'm sure Anna will thrive in whatever educational environment you and Lars choose for her, she's such an eager learner.

April said...

As I was reading your post, I nodded my head at a few points. I loved school and all of my memories of it also. I had some wonderful teachers. 3 of whom I even keep in touch with to this day! I am going to send my daughter to school, but I will never let that stop me from teaching her at home. Thanks for the post.

Our Little Family said...

Wonderful post. To be honest, the thought of homeschooling had never really even entered my mind as a possibility for MY child until I started reading so many blogs! Ha! As a teacher myself, I can agree with so many things Christy said. There ARE amazing teachers and there ARE teachers that... need to be, umm, refreshed. :) I think that regardless of the teacher, I will ALWAYS be here to work with Maddie, support her and be an active part of her learning.

In fact, I LOVE reading how Anna goes to preschool and you STILL work on things at home. It doesn't have to be one or the other.

I think the key is finding what works best for YOUR child. Given what I know about Maddie's personality and my husband and my own thoughts on education, she will, most likely, be going to a public school (while not OUR neighborhood school, but that's another issue!).

I'm starting to ramble, so I'll just say... Great post. :)

Julie said...

What a very interesting post. I'm amazed at how similar our thoughts are on almost all of these points. I respect moms who homeschool, but I couldn't do it. I do, however, work very hard to keep up with what my kids are learning in school, and to supplement it at home. I always loved school as a child and I hope I can help foster that love in my kids.

Orange Juice said...

I think you'll be surprised at how many of us don't plan on homeschooling. I'm open either way and will take it as it comes. Right now Z is in preschool 2 days a week and at home the rest. He loves it so much I might up it to 3. I think values and religious reasons are only part of the decision, we have to think about what our children want and where they will blossom the most.

The Harris Family said...

This is a great post and I really appreciate all the thought you put into this. I agree with you on pretty much everything. We will not be homeschooling either (well we still have 2 year to change our minds). However we will continue with our activities and learning as my kids grow...I don't feel my job of teaching them ends once they enter school. I do admire all of these mothers that do homeschool and put so much effort into it.

SANDRA said...

I really enjoyed reading your post. I think you have done a wonderful job with your daughter. After reading your post. I can see that you have put much thought and care into making this decision about what is best for your child.

Our decision to homeschool came about from having a special needs child that we felt need a curriculum tailored to suit his needs.

PisecoMom said...

I absolutely believe that every family has to choose the path that suits them best. Personally, I decided to homeschool for many reasons.

I'd like to (respectfully!) disagree with your point that homeschooled kids will not be raised by "the village" and will not learn to appreciate and respect the wider community.

For us, one of the best things about homeschooling is that my kids can interact with people of all ages and not be in a classroom with kids all the same age, who live in the same neighborhood, for much of the day. Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to use the real world (the real village!) as a classroom and meet a diverse cast of folks while volunteering, finding mentors, and exploring our community.

I do think your points were clear and well thought out. It's funny, though - I agree very strongly with your last three points (I want the village to help raise my child, I am not religious, and I believe in my child and in myself) - and I see those points as reasons TO homeschool! :)

We all choose our own paths & obviously you are a very involved parent with lots of love, so I'm confident that your family will be best suited by the path YOU have chosen.

growinginpeace said...

I don't homeschool my children for many reasons, some of which correspond to your reasons, and some of which are deeply personal.

I was one who loved school and thrived in that environment.

I have never wanted to be solely responsible for teaching my children. But I am absolutely great at supplementing their education. My strength is science (having been in biotechnology for 12 years).

Anyway, because you suggested it to me, I wrote a post on it here:

Thanks for asking me.

I think you are doing a great job with Mouse. :)

Casey @ The Wonder Years

Ticia said...

My number one reason for homeschooling: so I can sleep in. Okay not really, but I did hear a 3rd grade girl tell me that's why she loved homeschooling.
Great post.

whisperingwhispers said...

I want to commend you on all the work you do with Anna. Most of the teachers I know wish more parents worked with their children in the early years to prepare them for school.

It doesn't matter if you are sending Anna to public school or was deciding to homeschool her the work you are doing with her now is going to make her a successful student.

That just shows that you are a GREAT parent!

Adriana said...

This post was very timely for me because I have just started looking into homeschooling. My oldest son is 3 so I have a couple of years to make a decision. I am a public school Spanish teacher (part-time now) and we are raising our sons to be bilingual. There are several reasons that I am considering homeschooling none of which are religious. One of the main reasons is that I am not happy with the bilingual education opportunities for the boys. I am very interested to talk to other parents who are doing bilingual homeschool.

nadia said...

Great post.. i choose not to homeschool and I agree with many of your points

MaryAnne said...

I don't currently intend to homeschool my kids, but I'm leaving that option open as a short-term alternative if our local school situation doesn't work out for one reason or another. Right now one of the kindergartens in our town (not the one my kids will go to) has classes of 26 kids to one teacher - too high a ratio in my opinion...

The girl who painted trees said...

You have written a great post. I think it is wrong when one camp makes another camp feel like they are not making a good choice for their child. We as parents have to make the decision that works for our family.
I was a third grade teacher before I had Bear and I know that as long as the child has parents that are involved with their education (goes to parent teacher night, reads to their child every day, provides enrichment learning opportunities etc) then their child will be successful in school regardless of whether they have a good teacher or not. Teachers, for the most part, are great, it is the system that is not so great. We are considering homeschooling only so that Bear can continue to have the trilingual environment she has currently. However, Bear is strong willed and so am I so we feel like homeschooling might not work for us. She might need a place to become her own little individual. There have been a lot of posts around about "Why we homeschool." It was refreshing to see the other side of the coin. Thank you.

Christie Burnett said...

Thank you for your kind words about faith and respect for teachers. Most teachers are passionate about the profession they felt called to but we really need to continue to promote the idea that for children learning and teaching is about partnership between family and school, you don't sign away your responsibility for their education when you leave them at the classroom door.
I posted about this topic here;


Phyllis said...

Perhaps you would feel different, however, if your school experience or you could see that your child's school experience was different than you have described you have experienced. What if the teachers taught false information? I don't mean because of religious reasons; I mean that I had to look up things and point them out to my class because my teachers were teaching wrong information. What if you saw some people treated unfairly and that if some cheated they got away with it because they were popular, even with the teachers? What if, despite the fact that you were mild-mannered and respectful, you occassionally got beat up just because you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time...and it was just a hallway to a class you were going to? I could go on and on about why I hated my schooling experiences and didn't want my children to experience them, but I think you have the idea. I know eventually kids have to face the "real world" but I have ever faced the things in my adult world that I was subjected to as a child. And even so, I am better equipted now to deal with them than a child. Children sometimes are victims of a failing system. I am glad that you and your daughter are not, but some people are, and it makes some people angry and bitter.

Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree said...

SO nice to hear this perspective! Thank you. I loved school too (though a little daunting in High School), but overall loved my teachers and learning! It is a breath of fresh air to hear your thoughts on this issue!

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