In Response to a Terrific Public School Teacher!

To the fantastic teacher who expressed her concerns to me the other day.

I am so glad you brought up the socialization factor. It is the other major concern for parents who are considering homeschooling (the other being concerns about being qualified) It is also probably the #1 argument against homeschooling by those who oppose it. In reference to those you have known who were homeschooled you said, “They lacked social skills, especially working within a team and confidence in themselves. They were not problem-solvers or risk-takers and struggled in decision making for their families and themselves.” The same can be said about a great number of public schooled students! Why is homeschooling to blame for those who experience these difficulties when traditional schooling is not? Could there be other explanations for these difficulties – such as the child’s personality or parental issues? Could it be that your “experience” with homeschooled students is lopsided because of your role in the public schools?

Currently, 80% of homeschooling parents point out to concerns about these socialization factors when asked about their reasons for homeschooling: bullying, sexual perversion and drug abuse. This was not my #1 issue. My daughter was not learning anything in school and I couldn’t help her because full day school was overwhelming her so much that she just couldn’t function. After school, she was an emotional wreck who just needed to take a nap. Once I pulled her out, she did wonderfully. (However, bullying was a major issue later.) I was very concerned about the socialization issue until one day she did something that was horrible to her siblings that would have caused her to be ostrasized by her classmates. I disciplined her and she went right on being a part of the family with no rejection. At that point I knew I had made the right choice. I know you strive to create this type of environment, but outside a family atmosphere, it is very hard to achieve.

We sent our older two to the public school for highschool. I wasn’t in favor of it, but my husband was. In hindsight, he says he wouldn’t do it again. Our daughter was bullied for months. She was threatened with being beat up daily, even poked with pencils in the lunch line. We complained to the administration often, but it didn’t stop until we called in the sheriff’s office and threatened to press charges. After that, it continued, but at least the administration took us seriously and tried to deal with it. My son wanted so much to be a “team player” that he put up with his teammates making fun of his sister with loud songs and jokes about “Mary Ho” for several weeks while in the van to Warsaw, with his coach driving. His coach never once told the kids their behavior was inappropriate. He finally told us what was happening, but it took a lot of courage. The vast majority of teachers and administrators would never allow this type of thing to go on, however enough of it does that parents are greatly concerned.

My kids were also seen as weird and not “team players” by those in their youth group and at school. However, a few years ago, one of their friends told me that the reason they seemed weird was because of his perception. In looking back, he told me, they were simply much more mature than most of the kids in the youth group and that they resisted going along with the “group think” mentality among those who were peer dependent.

I did not say that teachers currently believe the misconception that parents can’t teach their children. Only that the system, because of the way it is set up, instills that belief in those who grow up in it. I do believe that the system (not the teachers) is deeply flawed. My hat goes off to those of you who work within it! You are doing a fabulous job in spite of the limitations place on you. You have to put up with neglectful parents, pressures to teach to a test, and immense responsibility with limited authority to do it. I have often been told that I ought to go back to school and get my teacher’s certificate, but to be honest, I could not deal with the limitations you have. Please do not be offended by my criticism of the system. You are awesome!