Saturday, December 06, 2003

Why We Won't Homeschool Our Children

School Board: Why we won't home school our children - My wife and I seriously considered home schooling for our children. Ultimately, we decided against it; but for a reason that is a bit different than what one normally hears from home schooling critics, though the reasons most often listed by this group (social skill development concerns, etc.) certainly helped to inform our decision as well. But, I also agree with those who say that the social skills argument against home schooling is not a very convincing argument on its own. In my experience, home-schooled kids are perfectly capable and pleasant social beings, they just socialize in a way that we don't usually associate with conventional child social behavior. The problem my wife and I ultimately had with home-schooling can be gleaned in this comment by a home school advocate and practitioner, which I find to be fairly typical for homeschoolers:

There are so MANY options out there now for kids outside of school for this involvement in some form of greater supervision. A variety of sports, boy/girl scouts, karate, drama and dance, church involvement..and normal hanging out with other kids (again, homeschool families network like crazy and go out of their way to plan "get togethers.")
In my mind the two cautionary elements in this comment have to do specifically with the phrases "greater supervision" and "to plan 'get togethers.'" Both detract from a child's ability to have his or her "own" learning/life experience. All aspects of such a child's life are planned, supervised, and guarded. And all activities that such children do are tinged with parental sanction and approval. Not that this is bad, necessarily, but it certainly is a "conditioned" experience. And in my mind, this leaves little room for children to learn to deal on their own with self-control, moral behavior, and difficult problem-solving - minus the watchful, protective, sheltering gaze of the protective parent (or parental figure).

I think it is true that the most important teaching about social interaction and even the process of learning comes in the context of the home and in the way parents raise their children to think and behave ... BUT, children need an opportunity to put their discerning abilities to the test WITHOUT the umbrella of the parental and "home" cocoon. And the classroom of a good, respectable school (whether private or public) is, in my opinion, the best place for kids to come into their own.

In the end, my wife and I sent our child to a public, foreign language immersion, state charter school. It's worked great for our child so far.

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