Monday, January 4, 2010

Kudos to Homeschooling

At the beginning of the current school year, I began homeschooling my son, who is a sophomore in high school. He is still enrolled in math and science at the public high school, and we are grateful for that. My reasons for homeschooling him are numerous and personal, and I don’t see the need to go into them. The point is, I’m doing what I and my son feel is best for him. (I chuckle when people begin to ask me questions about homeschooling, and then, as if to really get me, they ask, ‘but what does he think of being homeschooled?') The fact is, he begged me to do it!

We’re both ecstatic with how things are going, and I wish I’d started sooner. That’s why I’m thrilled to see the following article in The Christian Post which reveals how home-schooled children excel as adults:

It gives the results of a survey taken by individuals aged 15-34 who have been homeschooled seven or more years of their K-12 education.

This article does much to redeem homeschooling from the rampant misinformation that exists, most of it promulgated by people who have never truly met a homeschooler and have never explored homeschooling for themselves. I’ve had educated adults who should know better "tsk tsk" the fact that they saw a homeschooled kid out “skateboarding” one day (so we must condemn all homeschoolers? Maybe he was taking his recess!)

The most common response I’ve gotten from people since beginning homeschooling is “what about his socialization?” As if being thrown into an institution which you cannot leave until 2 or 3:30 each day where kids bully, swear and do all sorts of rude and ill-mannered things to other children and their teachers is the ideal setting for socialization! My son, having attended Christian and public schools up until now, is quite socialized. He has a job and goes to youth group and a Monday night Bible study and many of his friends are those he’s made outside of high school. And if we’re honest, we have to admit that sometimes “socialization” with the peer group can be a detriment when reaching high school age, where peer pressure to date and drink can come on pretty strong.

For those who have been and will be homeschooled in entirety, the world is full of amazing home school social groups. A mom who is beginning the schooling of her fourth child comes to mind. She is completely plugged in to a terrific home school group at her church, numbering in the hundreds. They go on field trips, enroll in sports at the YMCA, celebrate birthdays and holidays together and on and on. They are just as active, if not more, than kids in regular schools.

The Christian Post article does not ignore the question of socialization. It found that “most (70 percent)” respondents “disagreed with the common criticism of home education that children have too few opportunities for socialization with other children and went as far as to claim that they had plenty of opportunities for socializing with other children. Only 10.7 percent claimed that the criticism was most certainly the case in their situation.”

Two who responded negatively to their home school socialization said, “[I was] so different from others my age and [felt] somewhat awkward” and “I feel I could have had more social interaction.” But the same can be said for those taught in a public school as well! Ask any student in any grade if they’ve ever felt awkward or that they didn’t fit in, and I bet most will answer "yes." Especially at the high school level, many students feel like they don't fit in and wish they were more “popular,” meaning they wish they had more friends. Hasn’t conformity been a recurring problem in the schools, primarily for those who don’t conform but also for those who lose their individuality or cave in to peer pressure when they do?

My point here is to praise the positives of homeschooling and lift it up as a truly viable, sophisticated and creative choice in today’s world of computers and community home school groups. It is mind-boggling to see just how many resources there are, from computer classroom programs, to charter programs that combine with home-schooling, and great curriculums (many with a Christian worldview, like the world history one I’m using).

I can also create my own curriculum: My son wanted to read “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair so we did. He wants to be a missionary so we added a Bible class. I have a degree in Journalism and experience in writing, so I’ve been able to customize an English/creative writing program. He’s participated in team sports in all of his previous phy ed classes, so now we can mix it up with bowling, power-walking with the pedometer and biking and golfing in the Spring. This Wednesday he’ll be downhill skiing.

Homeschooling is one of the coolest things I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing. In this day and age, the options and approaches are limitless. It’s not for everyone or for every child. (My oldest is in college and was never homeschooled.) But homeschooling is the perfect choice for some and it’s time for the goofy mythology and wacky rumors surrounding it to go. Hopefully as more articles like this one in The Christian Post come to the fore homeschooling will gain the universal respect it deserves.

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

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