Home > Education > To Homeschool, or Not to Homeschool: That Is The Question (Pt. 2)

To Homeschool, or Not to Homeschool: That Is The Question (Pt. 2)

November 16, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

After our initial discussions on homeschooling (click here if you missed it), my wife and I tried to talk about other things but we’d always end up talking about if/how our feelings were changing, new research we found, or anecdotes we’d heard about homeschooling. Our discussions often played out like a game of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, where one of us would bring up a point in favor of homeschooling followed by a similar point against homeschooling. These are some of the things we came up with in support of homeschooling.

Why We Should Homeschool

1. Kids These Days

Remember Whitney Houston when she was awesome?

The 3 kids who could actually sing, sang this song while the rest of us stood around picking our noses our class sang this song for our 6th grade graduation. Perhaps the parents in the uncomfortable seats of our multipurpose room felt the same way that day as I do today: if these children are our future, we’re screwed.

Shortly after D1 was born in 2008, I found this article: A Nation of Wimps and I also read a book with the same title. The book was just ok, often given to hyperbole, but the article brought up a point that my wife experienced firsthand as a high school teacher.

Talk to a college president or administrator and you’re almost certainly bound to hear tales of the parents who call at 2 a.m. to protest Branden’s C in economics because it’s going to damage his shot at grad school.

My wife began her career as a high school teacher in 2004, and every year, she had at least one hyper parent who constantly advocated for their child. For example, one particular parent scolded my wife saying, “You’re ruining his chances of getting into college!” To which she replied, “Your son ruined his chances by skipping my class repeatedly. And besides, a ‘B’ in Algebra isn’t going to ruin him.”

Another point in the article I also witnessed.

In the hothouse that child raising has become, play is all but dead. Over 40,000 U.S. schools no longer have recess. And what play there is has been corrupted. The organized sports  many kids participate in are managed by adults; difficulties that arise are not worked out by kids but adjudicated by adult referees.

I went to a kid’s soccer game once and the behavior was appalling. “RUN! KICK THE BALL! RUN! NO! THE OTHER WAY!!! STOP PICKING THOSE FLOWERS!!! STOP PICKING YOUR NOSE!!!” Instructions were yelled out constantly and when one kid accidentally knocked another kid down, the parents went at it, while the kids just stood idly by.

These two examples have more to do with particular parents more so than the public school system, but you don’t have to search too far to find a parent who wants to shelter their children from any pain or hardship, e.g.,  parents who have their kids wait with them in their cars for the bus, or wheeled backpacks to prevent back problems, or a bottle of Purell attached to those backpacks.

And my wife and I were able to see products of that parenting climate firsthand when we led the college group at our church. Increasingly, we found the students unable to make even minor decisions without some sort of guidance. We found students who were deathly afraid to make mistakes, and risk-adverse. And yet, many of them had a sense of entitlement though they themselves haven’t sacrificed much, if anything at all.

So if these fragile, entitled kids are our future? We’re screwed. Thankfully, through this here daddy blog, I’ve met some pretty incredible moms and dads so all hope is certainly not lost. But schools are still filled with a lot of bratty kids and parents could have undue influence on the staff. Do I want to shelter my kids from that? Yes, but no more than those same parents who would criticize us want to shelter their kids from pain or failure.

2. My Wife is a Teacher

My wife began her teaching career shortly after we were engaged in July of 2004. That first year was terrible. She often worked from 6am to 1am trying to get everything done – she knew all the custodians by name as they had to unlock the doors to let her our. I often delivered her dinner and had to force her to eat as she often neglected to eat. As if the first year of teaching weren’t demanding enough, I got sick and spent two weeks in Johns Hopkins for surgery.

The next year, things got marginally better. She only worked from 6am to 7pm and she actually had time to eat lunch. Now in her 7th year, she’s a pro.

Since my wife has that background and went through those difficulties, lesson-planning and instruction aren’t very daunting to her. And remember, she’s cheesy wonderful, so she’s excited about teaching the kids how to garden and take care of the earth, planning trips to museums and other countries, etc…

One of the biggest struggles she had as a teacher was dealing with parents. If we homeschool, she only has one parent to deal with, and trust me when I say that she knows how to deal with me this parent very well. A little too well for my taste, actually.

3. Flexibility

My wife has these grand plans to travel the world with our family. She’s low-maintenance frugal and would rather spend money on experiences than stuff (I am blessed beyond measure. For serious). We also love visiting some friends we’ve met in Chiang Rai, Thailand and plan on taking our kids with us on family missions trips. And homeschooling gives us the flexibility to do that.

4. Curriculum

Along with parents, one of the frustrations my wife has with public schools is the increased focus on standardized testing . Combined with discipline issues, preparing for standardized tests takes up much of her time as a teacher, which leaves very little time to inspire students to love what they are learning.

In our research thus far, we like that we can craft the curriculum as we see fit. Our curriculum will be based on what our kids are interested in supplemented with things they need to know for college entry rather than our kids having to meet certain performance criteria mandated by the state.

So these were the four Pros to homeschooling that dominated our early conversations. Next time, I’ll discuss the Cons we came up with, but for now, are there any other Pros to homeschooling that you have experienced/witnessed that I haven’t mentioned?

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  1. November 16, 2010 at 11:40 am

    You definitely got the big ones. I would check your state’s laws regarding homeschool because they vary greatly. In Utah all you have to do is submit an affidavit saying you’re homeschooling and you agree to teach them for the same number of days and hours as public school as well as teach the same subjects. In Washington state, however, you have to be overseen by a licensed teacher if you are not a licensed teacher yourself, and you have to have your child tested quarterly so the state can be sure you aren’t screwing your kid up better than they could.

    • Pop
      November 16, 2010 at 3:54 pm

      We’re currently looking into that. Looks like it’s far easier to home school in Maryland than it is in Virgina.

      And no one could possibly screw up my kid better than I can

  2. Kim
    November 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    The fact that your wife is liscensed teacher (spelling) would mean you guys can academically handle this. It’s one of the reasons we’ve considered it. It sounds like you guys are thinking this through waaaay more than a lot of people who decide to do it. We aren’t doing it, but so far, here’s my thought process, “Jr high is 3 years away. There’s no dress code in jr. high. We have got to have a dress code! Home school then? *runs screaming into the night* Private school? Did we win the lotto? Convent?” *sigh* we may be having your discussion someday.

    • Pop
      November 16, 2010 at 3:55 pm

      That’s pretty much my thought process too.

  3. liv
    November 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    have you considered small affordable private schools at all? our kid goes to forcey, which may be a bit far for you (depending on where you are exactly) but it’s been awesome because she’s getting a solid education with a nurturing environment and christian teaching all woven in. it’s diverse, it’s got good resources and costs much less than a lot of other schools in the area.

    • Pop
      November 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm

      We did look into Forcey – not too far but it does get pricier. While it’s not too bad, especially compared to other private schools, it’s still not significantly lower than my wife’s take home pay. But that’s pretty much the only private school in the area we can afford with all our organs intact.

  4. November 16, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I’m fascinated by your home school journey. You’re family is very fortunate that your wife has an educational background. My husband and I have ZERO experience other than common sense and self-education. I’m definitely also looking forward to reading about the cons you’ve come up with.

    • Pop
      November 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm

      We definitely feel fortunate in that way. In fact, the wife has said on several occasions, “What if I was made to homeschool?” But we’re also sure that while her teaching credentials can’t hurt, if we end up homeschooling, it will be very different from what she is used to.

  5. November 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Hello,
    You neglected to mention the most important reasons for homepreschooling/homeschooling: Teaching our children about the Lord and teaching them good character. Relationship is the most important part of homeschooling…helping our children grow close relationships with the Lord, with us as parents, and with each other. Additonally, homeschoolers have opportuinties to nurture close, life-long friendships with other families/children; friendships based on like-mindedness and common interests, versus the “I’m your friend because you sit next to me in class” or “I’m your friend b/c we play together at recess”–shallow type of “friendships.”
    Homeschoolers nowadays have so many opportunities. Most cities have wonderful support groups that offer things like park play days, field trips, camping trips, PE, Co-op classes, choir, clubs (ours offers chess club, creative writing club, etc), graduation ceremonies…some even offer proms or socials for older kids (our daughter took a volunteer/apprenticeship position that has now lead to a job at a Bible college.) There are also support/social meetings for the parents. Homeschoolers are not socially backwards as television portrays them to be. We have so many social opportunities that we have to pick and choose carefully, so that we are home enough to get our written work done! Between church, our homeschool group (almost like church family), music lessons, spring baseball, friends and family, we keep very busy.
    I hope you’ll visit my blog and check out my archives on deciding to homepreschool/homeschool. You’ll find them here: http://susanlemons.wordpress.com/category/deciding-to-homeschool-or-hompreschool/ . You might especially enjoy my article that compares institutional school to homeschool here: http://susanlemons.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/making-the-decision-to-homeschoolhomepreschool-comparing-institutional-schools-with-homeschools/ .

    We’ve homeschooled for 18 years now–this year we have a Senior, a fourth grader, and a second grader (we also have one who has graduated and is off to college). I have to say that while homeschool is a serious committment that has its ups and downs, it is worth every minute of it. It is a lifestyle choice that is a blessing to the whole family…it builds family unity and sibling bonding, and it allows us to provide our children with a quality, Christian education that we can afford.
    Blessings,
    Susan Lemons
    author, Homepreschool and Beyond
    http://www.susanlemons.wordpress.com

    • Pop
      November 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

      Very good points, Susan. Though I will say that while homeschooling may make teaching kids about the Lord and good character easier, it’s not exclusive to homeschools. My wife and I are both products of the public school system and we are both firm believers and I like to think we have upstanding character (though my wife may debate that point when it comes to certain things I do 😛 ).

      The one thing homeschooling does afford that would be difficult to achieve in a public/private school system is the relationships built between the kids. There seems to be something about learning with your siblings rather than attending the same school together–maybe it’s common suffering?–that seems to develop really strong bonds.

      Thank you for stopping by and I’ll definitely be visiting your site.

      • November 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm

        I too am a product of the public schools, as is my husband. I understand that teaching children about the Lord and good character is not exclusive to homeschoolers. I just believe that it is much more difficult to do nowadays, since the culture around us and the school curriculum itself doesn’t support this effort anymore. It’s tough to counteract 6 hours a day, 5 days a week’s worth of “training” at school in the time parents have left at home.
        Additionally, homeschooling allows us to look at our entire currciculum through the lens of our Biblical worldview…
        One point I didn’t mention before that some of your other readers have brought up is the ability to individualize the curriculum. It allows our children the time they need to pursue their own interests and passions. Our oldest has spent a lot of time pursuing art, for instance, and our dd not only reads, writes, and speaks Japanese, but spends hours perfecting her writing skills. These interests/hobbies often morph into careers as the children get older. Additionally, homeschoolers have the advantage of being able to individualize their methods and curriculum to meet the needs of their children. When children struggle, you can slow down and make sure that they “get” the concept before moving on. When children are advanced, they can move ahead without waiting on the rest of the class.
        Finally, to those parents who spend hours every night making sure their children do their homework, or just enriching their children’s education: You might as well be homeschooling! In fact, you already are.
        Blessings,
        Susan

  6. liz
    November 17, 2010 at 12:22 am

    I think it’s great that you are putting so much effort and thought into it. You really are analyzing all aspects of it before making your decision.

    • Pop
      November 18, 2010 at 10:21 am

      Since it’s tied in with where we buy our home, it’s a pretty big decision. Homes in the DC area are still pretty pricey, and even more so in areas with a good school district, so definitely approaching this with lots of thought and prayer.

  7. November 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    “…if these children are our future, we’re screwed.” – HA HA HA!!! I always think of the graduation scene in “Say Anything” when I hear that song.

    On a serious note, I am pulling for you. I would LOVE to homeschool. DH and I floated the idea around briefly, but I have to work full-time, so I couldn’t do it justice. I love how many areas have such a strong homeschooling network these days. Best of luck to you in your decision making!

    • Pop
      November 18, 2010 at 10:27 am

      It’s been fun finding out other people homeschool in our area. We still haven’t made a final decision yet, and looking up networks in our area and laws is the next big step.

  8. November 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    one thing that really appeals to us about homeschooling is how it allows for time for your child to pursue unconventional interests. With regular school all day life gets so hectic that there isn’t much time for other interests. I would love my son to be able to pursue music or art or foreign languages and homeschooling would allow time for that.

    • Pop
      November 18, 2010 at 10:34 am

      That’s one of the things we are most excited about. D1 seems to have enjoy music, so we’d definitely like to help her pursue that.

  9. November 18, 2010 at 9:52 am

    OK, after reading this post, I can only say one thing. You and your wife must log on to Sonlight.com for homeschooling curriculum and their chat room/forums. You will make instant dying to help friends, and make some real connections. You can lurk and learn so much.

    Go.Now.

    Your children and HAPPY memories, await.

    Seriously, the best thing about homeschooling?

    It’s why my kids like themselves.
    No one told them something was wrong with them, EVER.

    • Pop
      November 18, 2010 at 10:37 am

      Lurking and learning.

  10. November 18, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Pop, I admire you guys for taking this decision on with such judiciousness. I think it’s awesome. I have several friends who homeschool and it is a great fit for their families.

    I also think most of your points are super spot on.

    I do, however, disagree with your slight generalization that “if you put your kids in public school, you will raise bratty, indecisive children; whereas if you homeschool, you will not have bratty, indecisive children.” I realize that you say it has more to do with the parents than the school. But it has EVERYTHING to do with the parents and not the school. I would never blame a school for my responsibilities as a parent.

    Last year, my kid had a disengaged teacher. Checked out. Uninvolved. I could see that, if left to her devices, my kid would fall behind. Did I LET him fall behind and then say, “public school, you suck and you didn’t meet your responsibilities to my kid?” No. Ultimately, I am my child’s best and often only advocate. I actually put him on an online homeschooling curriculum called Time 4 Learning to supplement his work and make sure he didn’t fall behind. He ended up having a great year and is doing well again this year with an excellent teacher.

    I realize that some parents would have sat back and just pointed fingers at the school. I get that. But a lot of parents don’t.

    I’m not saying the public school system is perfect. Nor do I think it is for everyone. But I do think it’s dangerous to place too much ownership of a child’s behavior and progress on the school. It is a slippery slope.

    And let’s not forget..just because people homeschool doesn’t mean their children can’t be bratty, or fragile.

    Great post, Pop. I’m off my soapbox now.

    • Pop
      November 18, 2010 at 10:43 am

      I love the snark and wisdom you dispense when you’re on your soapbox. And you’re absolutely right about my generalization and especially right that it has more to do with the parents than with the school system itself. At least at my wife’s school and a few other schools some close friends have firsthand experience with, parents like yourself are in the minority. We have however, found a few public school systems where the parents are involved and you can see the impact that has on the kids they are raising.

  11. November 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Sounds like some very lively discussions occurring at your house!
    The issue for me is that if all the educated, calm, and good intentioned parents pull out of the public school system how in the world will anything ever get better? It is EAXCTLY like the book The Lorax; “UNLESS people like you care a whole awful nothings going to get better. It’s not.” My husband and I are planning on being the parents that try to make improvements in the system.
    But I completely understand the struggle and the desire to pull out entirely. Frankly I don’t have the patience or desire to keep my kids home. I loved school way too much!

    • Pop
      November 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm

      Funny you should mention that Abbie – that was one of my arguments against homeschooling. And that Dr. Seuss sure knew what he was talking about!

  12. November 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

    We have enjoyed reviewing your website and would like to thank you for adding your comments that have assisted some of our homeschool families. Several of our homeschooling families have commented about having you as a part of our parent resources and have shared their desire for ED Anywhere to recognize you as a contributing member of the homeschool resources groups.

    ED Anywhere has completed its review of your website, wants acknowledge a seal of approval of your website and services. We agree with our homeschool families that your blogs and articles are found to be beneficial for our home school families. In reading the several articles that you have provided for the public, we see you as an example and contributor with excellent insights for our homeschool families.

    With your permission ED Anywhere would like to add this website to our directory of resources so that other homeschool families and students can enjoy them as well. ED Anywhere has over 1,500,000+ visitors a year and with thousands of students worldwide, your website would be an excellent resource for our homeschooling parents. Please check to see if your homeschool group is added to our homeschool group directory.

    ED Anywhere provides the best in homeschooling resources such as yours as will as: accredited high school diploma, GED Prep, middle school & high school classes, technology classes, remedial classes, tutoring, and the best curriculum for middle school and high school students for the past 10 years. ED Anywhere has also been rated #1 by homeschool.com and received several awards for excellence and service to homeschoolers and the community.

    Email us at info@edanywhere.com if you want to be added to our list or if you want a guest user id and password. We appreciate all that you are doing for our homeschool community. http://www.educationanywhere.com or http://www.edanywhere.com

  1. December 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm

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