That seems to be the big question when you tell someone you plan to homeschool.
I suppose it is surprising when I tell people we intend to homeschool next year. I don't have small children and they have always been in the public school system. My daughter is almost 10 and my son is 13. He will be at high school level in one year. I'm sure to many it seems like a crazy time to begin homeschooling.
So why homeschool?
1. Faith. No matter what faith or religion you belong to, it is not being taught in a public school. Private schools of faith are an alternative choice if they follow your beliefs but this is not always an option. Cost and/or location may prevent you from having access to this avenue. The local school of faith may not be your faith. Of course there is after-school catechism and teaching at home with regards to faith and religion, but some parents want more.
Even greater influence than the teachers, are the mass students that attend with your children. Peer pressure and a need for social acceptance is still alive and well on mother earth. While you are trying to raise consciensious, compassionate human beings, their entire day is filled with selfish ideas, materialistic competitiveness and social pressure to get on board with everyone else.
What part of the 'real world' is all this supposed to exemplify because I'm not seeing it?
Better that they learn at home in a positive environment that fosters self belief and confidence. This allows a child to enjoy learning and concentrate on the subject rather than worry about what is going to happen at recess.
4. Socialization. Along the same lines as the 'real world' argument, is the socialization argument. It goes something like: Oh you are home schooling? Aren't you worried your kids will grow up to be dysfunctional social freaks because they stayed at home with you?
Socialization is supposed to be learning the' norms, values, behavior, and social skills' needed for living in this big ol' world. How exactly are you supposed to do that in a room full of children your own age who do not know the rules themselves? This creates a mini world with its own rules (think playground rules) and restrictions as students conform to the opinion of their peers rather than expressing their uniqueness and exploring their creativity. Socialization at schools should be classified as conformity, not socialization.
Gregg Harris says it well on his blog:
Most of our modem school-based socialization is of the foolish, harmful sort. Pooled ignorance leads to poor taste in clothing, music, films, and TV - the kind of people who read the grocery store tabloids and believe them. But the harm is far more than cultural. Disinterest in school, disrespect for teachers, rapacious dating, promiscuity, substance abuse, and gang violence also come in waves-- pounding waves of youth culture that erode moral standards. Even a small population of these poor creatures requires that high schools be run like youth prisons.
Good socialization is primarily age-integrated. It occurs when the young are included in the lives of older and wiser people, especially parents and other family members at home and the spiritual family of one's local church. Walking with the wise is a lifestyle, not a program. It is a club of fellow enthusiasts, not a class of uninterested age-mates. It includes working together, eating together, playing together, worshiping together, and studying together, This is where God placed the responsibility for child training and education, and it works very well in aiming children at God's highest and best targets in every area of life.
This creates a society that tells parents they do not know enough to educate their toddlers! This manner of education shows the children that the education system is more important than home education or parental guidance. That the school (and by relation, the teachers) are the ultimate authority over our children.
Sherry over at Large Family Mothering has a related article that's worth reading on this topic.
While the school system may have the best intentions, it is a government organization. And of course the government wants the best for its people. Unfortunately they look at success in terms of economics. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it is limiting. It does not expand or challenge the spiritual side of its people.
Homeschooling is not about conformity. While we do want our children to be successful from a world view, I think most people would agree that of much more importance is that we teach them to grow inside. To place a value on things with true value. To include morals and values in everything we teach, and by doing so instill the idea that this is part of life, not just a lecture from mom and dad. That integrity and honor are important. More important than materialistic wealth and economic success. And to teach our children that learning is an ongoing part of life. We should be inside life, learning. It encompasses our entire day, not just 8 hours while sitting in a desk.
6. Love of Learning. We know our children better than anyone else. As parents we are their greatest cheerleaders and their strongest support network. At home we have the opportunity to tailor learning to match the child. We can encourage creativeness and individuality. Lessons can be on subjects the child finds interesting. Slower learners have the time to learn what they need to know. Advanced learners have the freedom to dive into a topic and absorb it like a sponge. Without the distractions of a classroom, learning time is for learning, not drawn out to accommodate an entire class of students. We can have children that wake up and want to learn new things and relish the learning process because it is designed with them in mind, by someone who loves them.
7. Families. I can't think of a better way to encourage family togetherness. As a parent, you get to see your child make new discoveries and grow in a way you would never be able to otherwise. Your child gets extra time with you. Siblings can only benefit from this time together as well. Time away from peer pressure and ideas that younger siblings are not cool or fun. Ideas that tell them spending time with their family (and enjoying it) is weird or wrong. (As an extra bonus, as a home school parent you will learn along with your child. This not only is good for you but encourages your child when they see you enjoying 'school').
On a slightly selfish note, we also have a little control over how fast they grow up. Without peer pressure they do not let go of younger interests and enjoyments quite so quickly. We can protect their innocence a little longer without exposure to the latest trends, music and fads. Of course they eventually are exposed to everything but we can guide them until then, providing them with the moral fortitude to stand their ground when exposed to something wrong.
8. Location and Systems. Because of budget cuts and long distance busing, it just makes sense for some families to school at home. For some families, attending school means over an hour on a school bus, twice a day. For some it means attending underfunded schools without enough teachers or supplies. For some it means exposure to less than acceptable teachers (again, not trashing teachers, but we all know there are exceptions to every case). For any of these families, homeschooling may be the only other reasonable alternative.
9. Statistics. If what I read is true, more and more universities and colleges are accepting home school students. Perhaps this is because more and more families are home schooling every year and the results are promising. Home school students have shown to have a higher percentile on scoring compared to their in school peers. This was true regardless of funding available for the home school family, race or religion, location, government requirements or restrictions, or parent qualifications. Additionally, home school students are well equipped to attend secondary schools. Their individual style of learning and experience with research make them well suited to university.
10. God. He is the highest authority. I believe He wants us to teach our children, and I'm not alone. More and more Christians are turning to home schooling simply because they feel this is what God wants them to do. Certainly all the other reasons are good, but for many families, they are supporting reasons. Faith and a belief that this is what He wants is the decision maker.
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Proverbs 1:8
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 11:19
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9
Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children. Deuteronomy 4:10
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates Deuteronomy 6:6-9
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord Ephesians 6:4
The father to the children shall make known thy truth Isaiah 38:9
A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40