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!

Education Myths

From my book: Almost Unschooling Grama

 

If you grew up in a traditional school, you might have picked up a few misconceptions along the way. These things aren’t so much “taught” as “caught” because the system is set up one way and if that is all you have ever experienced, you may think it is the only right way. Until you “hear” the other side, you might never question your experience. Most of us have to do a little paradigm shifting when we start our homeschool journey. Here’s a list of some of the most common misconceptions.

1. Homeschooling is illegal or there are impossible requirements to meet.

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but the requirements are different in each state. Being a certified teacher is not required in any state. If you are considering homeschooling the first thing you need to do is contact your state homeschooling association. They can give you a copy of the law for your particular state and help you understand how to comply with those laws. They will also be able to connect you with other homeschoolers in your state. The support and encouragement you will get from them will be invaluable.

Do not contact your local school or state Department of Education until you know what is required. It is rare that they actually know what the law requires for homeschoolers and even if they do, they loose money if your child doesn’t attend their school so they aren’t likely to give you the whole truth. It is rare that you will get good info from them.

2. The state has a responsibility to educate my children. That is why there are laws that force children to go to school.

Fact: Parents are responsible to see that children are educated. Children who do not have a high level of parental involvement in their education are unlikely to receive a good education anywhere.

Compulsory education laws were enacted because some children and teenagers were on the streets committing crimes. People thought if they could compel children to go to school, this would solve the problem. It has not. In spite of record spending in our public schools, juvenile delinquency and adult illiteracy still abound. Juveniles with the least parental involvement are the most prone to dropping out and/or getting into trouble.

3. Making sure that children get a good education is such a complicated process that only highly educated people are qualified to oversee this process.

Fact: Numerous studies show that homeschooled students score 20% to 30% higher for their grade and age level on standardized tests than public schooled students. When parental education levels are recorded, no appreciable difference can be found between homeschooling parents who did not complete high school and those who have college degrees. (http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp)

4. A teacher’s certificate ensures that a person is qualified to teach.

Fact: If you have had a public school education, you know this one is not true. While most certified teachers love children and are truly talented. There are also certified teachers who are incompetent, neglectful and even abusive. When is the last time you heard about a school sex scandal?

5. I’m not educated enough to teach my children at any level.

Fact: The only qualification parents need to teach their children is a commitment to do whatever it takes to ensure their children get a good education. Homeschooling parents typically learn right along with their children. There are ample resources from which parents can learn what they need to teach their children, teachers manuals, Internet sites and homeschool support groups are just a few.

6. Parents cannot educate at the high school level children unless they have a good grasp on high level subjects such as calculus or chemistry.

Fact: One of the basic tenants of homeschooling is teaching children to seek out information so they can learn independently. To have one’s children pass you up in their knowledge of certain subjects is a goal every parent should strive for. This can be accomplished through independent study, correspondence courses, community college classes and apprenticeships. It is not unusual for homeschooled students to begin taking community college classes at the age of 15 or 16.

7. Children with learning disabilities cannot be homeschooled.

Fact: Children with learning disabilities who are homeschooled, like their “normal” counterparts have more parental involvement than traditionally schooled children. They are also not segregated in the home as they have to be in traditional school systems. As a result, homeschooled students with disabilities have a comparatively higher rate of success, just as the homeschool population in general. There are organizations devoted exclusively to homeschooling learning disabled students from which parents can learn and share educational strategies.

8.Homeschooling takes a lot of money.

Fact: By taking advantage of used curriculum, libraries and Internet sites, many families whittle their educational expenses to less than they would typically spend on book rentals and activity fees if they sent their children to public school.

9. Homeschooling takes a huge time commitment from parents.

Fact: Parents of children who are doing well in public school typically invest as many or more hours supervising homework, getting their children ready for school, and transporting their children to and from school and extra-curricular activities as most homeschooling parents. “The child who attends public school typically spends approximately 1,100 hours a year there, but only twenty percent of these — 220 — are spent, as the educators say, ‘on task’. Nearly 900 hours, or eighty percent, are squandered on what are essentially organizational matters.” ~Homeschooling for Excellence, David Colfax. It takes much less time to teach a few children than a class of 20 or 30. Most homeschooled students accomplish in 1-3 hours a day what takes 6 hours plus homework time for traditionally schooled students.

10. Working parents can’t homeschool.

Fact: Working and single parents are successfully homeschooling across the US. Some have home businesses, others have baby-sitters, family or other homeschoolers take care of their children while they work and homeschool during their off hours. Many working parents who homeschool find themselves spending equal or less time than their public school counterparts participating in educational activities and they do not have to deal with the negative social aspects of public school.

11. Homeschooled students will have a hard time getting into college or the military because they won’t get a diploma from an accredited high school.

Fact: Colleges actively recruit homeschooled students because they are typically better prepared for adult life and study. Homeschooled students typically present a portfolio of their work to 4 year universities or start college at community colleges and then transfer to a 4 year university.

Successfully completing one year of college negates the requirement for an accredited high school diploma in nearly any situation. Many homeschooled students are able to start taking classes at community colleges or online schools while in high school and have their first year completed by the time they “graduate”.

Another avenue for students wanting to join the military is to enroll in an accredited online or correspondence high school program. There are even some free ones out there.

12. Homeschooled children aren’t eligible for scholarships.

Fact: There are all kinds of scholarships out there that are available to homeschoolers. Some even are available exclusively to homeschoolers.

13. Homeschooled children miss out on dealing with others the same age so they cannot develop healthy social skills.

Fact: Children will imitate those they are around most. If we want our children to grow up to be adults, who do we want them to be around most? Children or adults?

Regular schools have an artificial social structure that does not in any way reflect the real world. They actually foster unhealthy age discrimination and negative peer pressure. Families are set up with God’s wisdom in mind. Older children imitate their parents, younger children imitate their older siblings and older children learn to teach and have responsibility by caring for younger children.

It is the rare homeschool parent who isolates their children. Most are involved in church, clubs, home business and other activities which expose the children to a wide variety of people of all ages while giving the parent the opportunity to closely supervise and correct the child’s social behaviors.

Statistics show homeschooled adults outshine traditionally schooled adults in the area of socialization. They have better self esteem. They are more likely to be involved in government, volunteer work and own their own businesses. Among homeschooled adults the rates of drug use, suicide, depression, crime and illegitimate pregnancy are significantly lower. The results speak for themselves.

At the founding of our country, only a small minority of people received a formal education and even then it was usually only for 2-5 years. If grouping children in classes of people all the same age for 13 years is necessary for proper socialization, producing men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and all who helped to found our country would have been impossible.

14. Homeschooled children cannot participate in organized sports.

Traditional schools are not the only place where organized sports are played. There are YMCAs, churches, summer baseball, private leagues and homeschool groups to name a few. Many public schools also make accommodations for home and private schooled students to play on their teams.