Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Few Reasons Why We Homeschool

I am a product of public school. I am not against government school and do not believe that homeschooling is the only option to education one's child. I do believe, however, it is a great option for children and ought to be celebrated more by our society. The sacrifice that homeschool parents and families make to educated their children is significant.

Unfortunately, homeschooling continues to be criticized by scaremongers throughout our society. More recently, the Washington Post published the article "These activists want greater home-school monitoring. Parent groups say no way." The article begins with a stereotypical fundamentalists Christian family who, apparently, are overprotective. Over at the Weekly Standard, the article is summarized as follows:
The Washington Post Magazine's cover story this week is about … the horrors of home-schooling. Specifically, the horrors of "fundamentalist Christian" home-schooling. The cover illustration for the story depicts a sinister windowless log cabin that's supposed to be your typical home school, I guess.

Author Lisa Grace Lednicer's main source for the story seems to have been an anti-home-schooling activist named Sarah Hunt, age 36, who was home-schooled herself and lived to tell the tale. Actually, Hunt seems to have done quite well for herself even though home schooling at the behest of her father had consisted "largely of reading and watching videos from the Bob Jones University curriculum."
The Weekly Standard article (read the rest here) goes on to chronicle a number of other problems with the article. It reveals a clear ignorance of bias of the homeschooling world. Not every homeschooling family are families who isolate themselves from society and are "fundamentalists" (whatever that term means now).

When stories like this are written, I am often asked why my wife chose to homeschool our two children. Below are a few reasons why.

1. Personal Attention for Each Child

In the typical public school classroom, there is one teacher per 20-30 students. The ratio is dramatically less in the average homeschool classroom. My wife and I are able to respect the unique learning ability and styles of our two children and give them the attention they need. It was my experience in public school there were many students who were ahead of the class and bored, a number of students behind the class and overwhelmed, and then there were the rest. At home, the students go at their own pace. If they need extra time on math, then so be it. This is a real advantage to the students in my opinion.

2. Stronger Parent/Child Relationship

When my wife and I first got married we discussed the question of her staying home to be a mom. The reason was simple. Who should be the primary influence of our children? It seemed obvious to us it should be their parents. The best way to accomplish this was for her to stay home. I do not believe every home should make the same decision we did, but I strongly do believe it was the right decision for us.

Home education builds a strong parent/child relationship. Public education ultimately pulls the children away from the parents and away from the home for seven to eight hours a day. Once extra-curricular activities are added, parents may only interact with their children for a few hours or even minutes a day. That is dangerous territory.

3. Statistics Show Its Better Than Public School

Like other education options, not everyone thrives and finds success in homeschooling. It may not be for everyone. Nevertheless, the evidence is clear that children who receive home education have a clear advantage. According to Brian D. Ray at the National Home Education Research Institute, home-educated children "typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests." Furthermore, homeschool students, regardless of their parents level of education, score higher on achievement tests than their publicly educated peers. Homeschooled students typically score higher on both the ACT and SAT tests.

Then there are other measures. In spite of false narratives, home schooled children do know how to interact with others. In fact studies show they are above average "on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem."

In my personal experience, students raised in home-school families are well-educated and well-prepared for adulthood. I have taught high school classes (plus I pastor several home school families) at our local homeschool co-op and have been impressed by their intelligence, manners, and character. All the accusations commonly made about homeschooling are bunk and these students make that clear immediately.

4. Parental Control Regarding Educational Choices

If your a parent right now, can you honestly say you know what your child is being taught on a daily basis?

At the end of the day, education falls under parental authority, not the state's. God has entrusted my wife and I with the well-being and raising of our children, not Caesar. Education is major part of raising children. There are constant battles over curriculum at school boards around the country that put distance between the parents and their child's education. Homeschooling eliminates this.

This can be abused, obviously. But such abuse goes both ways. There are plenty of homeschool families, always highlighted in bias news stories, who fail to provide a thorough education to their child, but increasingly that is what the state is doing. Schools are increasingly limiting student's access to matters of faith, philosophy, theology, religion, and conservative ideas. Yet in many homeschool families, even worldviews that are not shared are explored.
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