Why Parents Choose Home Schooling
By Chris Jeub
A Homeschooling Article from Focus on the Family
She innocently asked, "So, where do your children go to school?"
Of all casual questions one teacher could ask another, this one always creates butterflies in my stomach.
"Well, uh, my wife and I tutor them," I say. Then I try to think of something to change the subject. But I never think of anything quick enough.
"Tutor them?" she might say, squinting her nose and ruffling her brows as if I had held a cockroach up to her face. "You mean, you home school them?"
These situations inevitably lead to an hour-long apologetic on why we educate our kids at home. This should not surprise me. Home schooling is still unusual and a bit radical. Teachers and others in education — or in any field, for that matter — naturally question new, innovative practices.
But home education is not so rare anymore. Twenty years ago there were roughly 15,000 home-schooled students in the United States.
By 1991 the U.S. Department of Education figured there were 350,000 home schools in the U.S. and 40,000 in Canada. Today estimates stretch over 2 million home schools nationwide.
The world of education has had to adjust to this exploding movement. There are many magazines and newspapers for home schools, numerous home-school curriculum distributors and countless home-school network and contact groups.
Why do parents choose to teach their children at home?
Home-schooling parents believe that children can learn basic life skills — working together, sharing, showing respect for others — without formal classroom experience. The students can develop social graces by being involved in community and church activities.
Pat Farenga, publisher of Growing Without Schooling, a catalog of home-school resources, has written:
"Group experiences are a big part of education, and home schoolers have plenty of them. They write to us about how they form or join writing clubs, book discussion groups and local home-schooling groups. Home schoolers also take part in school sports teams and music groups [in nearby public schools], as well as in the many public and private group activities our communities provide. These young people can and do experience other people and cultures without going to school."
Our children have many church and neighborhood friends. Our community has a home-school contact group where they often get together for field trips and outings that give our kids more than enough socialization.
We have gone on camping trips, facilitated soccer tournaments, traveled to speech and debate tournaments and coordinated educational classes.
But not all socialization is necessarily good for a child. Certain social plagues like drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, violence and gangs damage a child's growth and development. A home-school environment frees the child from the increasingly persuasive peer pressure prevalent in many schools.
The positive side of socialization — building respect and communication, getting along with and relating to others — is wonderfully fulfilled in a home-school setting. Behavioral psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner concluded that "meaningful human contact" is best accomplished with few people.
While some parents choose to teach at home to promote positive socialization, others make the decision for academic reasons.
Any teacher will agree that the smaller the class size, the more learning takes place. The one-on-one tutoring atmosphere is the healthiest, most productive and most progressive atmosphere for a student's academic success.
People ask how parents — especially parents with little or no post-secondary education — can teach children every discipline available to public school students.
Although I have my degree in English, am I qualified to teach math or science to my kids?
My wife has a business administration degree; is she able to teach the language arts? With sufficient information and dedication to the task, we certainly are.
Even if parents do not have an abundance of academic training themselves, they can find solutions to fill the gaps.
For example, many home schools will team up with other home schools to exchange skills. I traded skills with another home school family by going to their house once a week to teach English to three of their sons. In return, their mom taught algebra to my two oldest daughters.
Most communities today have enrichment classes students can sign up for much like college students sign up for electives. Here in Colorado Springs, the High Plains Christian Home Educators support group has hired a full-time administrator who coordinates 60 classes for over 200 students. Cooperatives such as this are becoming more popular as home schooling grows.
But education is more than individual academic courses — more than teaching what the teacher knows or training students in a particular skill. It is actually passing on a worldview. Separating the disciplines — as if English had nothing to do with math, and science was unrelated to civics — promotes a fragmented vision of true education.
Home-school parents see their role as the single most important responsibility they carry. The family helps to build strong minds and healthy personalities.
Along with strengthening the family and setting firm foundations for kids, home-school parents discover some personal pluses.
Wendy and I are now much closer to our kids, more in touch with their needs and feelings.
Families of Faith
It is no secret that public schools have not taken religion seriously. Fear of church and state laws keep some schools from even mentioning the influence of religion in American life.
Instead of recognizing religion as part of our culture, civil liberties organizations have fought hard in the courts to make religion illegal in the classroom. This has been too bad.
With the exclusion of religion many parents have felt compelled to go elsewhere — even to their own homes — to teach their children basic moral and religious truths to provide a well-rounded and liberal education.
Alicia and Alissa attended public school through first- and third-grade respectively until I completed college and Wendy returned home from full-time work (to unpaid full-time work).
While Alicia's grades were excellent, she needed to be home for security's sake. Alissa, on the other hand, loved the social contact at school but struggled in basic writing and reading skills.
Wendy and I noticed positive changes immediately in Alicia's esteem and Alissa's academics. They both become more confident. I can only accredit this improvement to the loving and affirming atmosphere of the family.
Homeschooling Articles from Focus on the Family
(Click picture to go to site)
Take a look at some famous home-schooled students:
Andrew Carnegie, Charlie Chaplin, Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Florence Nightingale, Woodrow Wilson and the Wright brothers.