Friday, June 14, 2013

Homeschooling Reflections

My friend Dena posted this article yesterday, and I found it a nice focus for some of the reflection I've been doing over the past couple weeks.

I have been formally homeschooling for 11 years now. Next Friday, when our school day ends, I will have educated three children through elementary school, two through middle school, and seen one successfully enrolled in community college.

Over the years, very few people expressed doubt that I could educate my kids. What I heard about a LOT, which the article touches on, is "all the things my kids would miss out on". I could respond, like many homeschoolers, with a sarcastic "Like bullying and peer pressure?" . I prefer a more positive and realistic view...whatever decision we make for our kids, they'll miss out on something. (How would people react f homeschoolers were in the habit of turning that question around?)  The only question is, for your particular family in your particular circumstance at this point in time, will the things your kids miss out on be more valuable that what they gain for that choice? I like to think we all make the one that's the best, or at least try, and know that no decision comes without compromise.

My kids have grown to be intelligent, compassionate, socially apt, and in at least two cases hardworking individuals. I feel confident that the decision I made for my family was the right one. I also feel that while I wish I had known a few things sooner than I did and while I really wish I had conducted all these years with more patience and grace, I'd not change the basic philosophies I've followed.

Now, my eldest is set to start college at 16, to complete his last two years of high school and get an associate's degree at the same time. For the first time in a few years I am hearing (though only from  a handful of people), about the things one of my kids will miss out on. Of course he will: both the potential positives and negatives of the campus experience, and of course those two years of debt he'll miss out on. Of course college is an investment, but we come from a family that saves up and buys cars cash, instead of taking out payments, and have never had credit cards, so you can see where we're coming from. I can't even say what decision my younger  kids will make in 10th; they are different people and this might not be right for them, although I have tailored my kids' education toward being ready for college two years early (both for financial reasons and because I don't agree with the infantilization of adolescents in our culture). But it's like all the earlier decisions: any choice you make will have pros, cons, and things you'll miss out on, and you just try to make sure the balance is right for you.

One thing I want to comment on from the article: 
Similarly, the common myth that homeschoolers “miss out” on so-called “socialization opportunities,” often thought to be a vital aspect of traditional academic settings, has proven to be without merit. According to the National Home Education Research Institute survey, homeschoolers tend to be more socially engaged than their peers and demonstrate “healthy social, psychological, and emotional development, and success into adulthood.” 

The public ( and presumably private) school students are obviously not rated by parental improvement. Homeschooling is hard work, and except for "that one family we all know", very few people would take it on unless they planned to be fully involved. One thing years of  being friends with and working with other parents in my (a)vocation has shown me is that it doesn't matter what type of educational situation you pick for your child, involvement is the key to success. May we empower all parents to be involved.


At 1:49 PM, Blogger PrincessKitty said...

Nicely put!

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Lone Star Ma said...

This is a good post. I think it takes all kinds and that there are a great variety of educational arrangements that all have a lot of value and will or won't work for different families at different times. There are some political trends at present that I think are proving very damaging to the education of children who are being home-schooled as well as children who are being educated in the public schools (equally damaging to both groups) and it does seem to me that many home-schooled parents are less willing to examine those trends, as they have been sold well as being advantageous to home schooled students, even though they are not. We need solidarity. That said, I think home-schooling is a fine option for education; there are many fine options.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe said...

May I ask what trends, Lone Star Ma?

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Lone Star Ma said...

Mostly corporate reform trends. It is easy to see how they hurt public school students by the constant stupid testing mania and by siphoning away public funds, but they are often sold to home-schooling parents as providing services that seem very good, but do not in fact end up being equal to what is taught either in schools or by dedicated parents - like the virtual charter schools run by private companies. Studies show that kids in parent board-run charter schools often have good results (not results that can really be compared with public schools due to the creaming those schools engage in however, and I say that although my own kid is at one) and kids who are actually being educated by their parents often have fantastic results, but that these virtual charter schools run by corporations are often watering down the effectiveness of home-schooling and public schooling by seeming to offer things that parents and schools feel would help a lot (higher maths, sciences) but not providing good results. They are, however,managing to siphon away public funds, while not providing the rigor that those funds would provide outside of the for-profit arena (whether in the public schools or under the auspices of parents). They have very manipulatively created a market for themselves among parents and school districts both, but studies do not back up their value. Not to say that parents and schools should not use the parts that work for them, of course, but for them to get full public funding for bits and pieces when they cannot perform the full service is not right. Hence the problem with their for-profit model.

At 4:46 PM, Blogger Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe said...

Yes, I see that. It's unfortunate.


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