The Case for Homeschooling
I am super-excited about getting started with homeschool preschool for Nathan next week. That being said, something that has really surprised me is how controversial homeschooling is. At the mention of the word, people make all kinds of assumptions which are not true. They assume that I must be a religious fanatic when this decision has nothing at all to do with religion. They assume that I am going to raise a socially isolated child when that simply isn’t the case. I try not to take it personally, but after awhile it gets to me.
Lots of stay-at-home moms (SAHM) keep their toddlers at home and may or may not enroll them in a preschool type of program until they are 3 or 4 years old. Nathan isn’t old enough to be in those programs yet (he’ll be two this weekend), however, he is very bright and is intellectually ready for preschool types of learning activities. I am simply trying to provide him with mental stimulation and teach him in the process while I am staying at home with him. I am labeling my efforts as “homeschooling” because I am following a Montessori preschool curriculum, and a school curriculum taught as home qualifies as homeschooling. It should be a GOOD thing that I care enough about him to provide him with the attention and these opportunities instead of doing whatever else stay-at-home moms do, yet people flinch at the mention of homeschooling. Why is that so controversial???
That being said, and I am about to stand on the soapbox for a moment, but people really should support a parent’s option to educate their child through homeschooling or through the public education system, whichever one they choose. Do I have total faith that the public education system (PES) is in line with my goal to raise a child into an emotionally healthy, well-rounded, productive member of society and family oriented husband/father? No, I do not. Here’s why:
The public education system is NOT an “ideal social environment” for young, vulnerable, developing minds.
In the PES, there is a serious epidemic of school bullying. People argue that “bullying helps them grow.” They argue that kids need to be exposed to this to learn how to handle difficult people and that this helps them be well-rounded. Really? I think that is a bit like saying that you should put your child around drugs without adult supervision to “learn how to handle” drugs. I do not define being ‘well-rounded’ as saying no to drugs, sex, and surviving the playground bullying/abuse and sexual harassment experience as the pro-PES folks do. I define being well-rounded as having a solid, thorough educational foundation, a realistic sense of self/good self-esteem, being of solid character, good work ethic, and approaching life with a good attitude.
Bullying, like drugs, is a negative thing that they should not be exposed to during childhood. The thing is that bullying is largely a problem with immature adolescents, not in the adult world/workforce, so all this is teaching them is how to deal with difficult kids as kids themselves. Its just not necessary. Those adults who DO use bullying, guess where they learned it? Either at home or the PES. A child who is not exposed to these experiences will recognize that these people are emotionally toxic and to stay away from them. As an adult, if they are exposed to bullies, they will at least have the capability to avoid them or take positive action against these bullies in the workforce in stead of being victimized like they are in the PES. Consider this:
“1 out of 4 kids is bullied and 43%of kids have been bullied while online. Some kids are so tormented that suicide has become an alternative for them. Not just the kids on its receiving end, but the parents, teachers and others who may not understand how extreme bullying can get.
• 1 out of 4 teens are Bullied.
• As many as 160,000 students stay home on any given day because they’re afraid of being bullied.
• 1 out of 5 kids admits to being a bully, or doing some “Bullying.”
• 43% fear harassment in the bathroom at school.
• A poll of teens ages 12-17 proved that they think violence increased at their schools.
• 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.
• More youth violence occurs on school grounds as opposed to on the way to school.
• 80% of the time, an argument with a bully will end up in a physical fight.
• 1/3 of students surveyed said they heard another student threaten to kill someone.
• 2 out of 3 say they know how to make a bomb, or know where to get the information to do it.
• Playground statistics – Every 7 minutes a child is bullied. Adult intervention -4% Peer intervention – 11%. No intervention – 85%.”
Bullying at school is a NOT a “childhood rite of passage.” For those who were bullied in school, I am sorry your parents allowed that to happen to you. Teachers of the PES are grossly outnumbered by kids and it is impossible for them to prevent this kind of peer abuse.
As the folks of Stomp Out Bullying sums up that, “There will always be conflicts between kids, but bullying is intentional cruelty, harassment, and emotional, physical and sometimes sexual abuse. This behavior can set the tone for a lifetime of intentional cruelty or worse. And the consequences to the victim can seriously affect them for the rest of their lives.”
The middle school aged years are a time of many changes and experimenting. We all know that newly minted teens are not exactly prime examples of great decision-making skills. Neuroscience backs this up, stating that the area of a teens brain responsible for impulse control and logical thinking skills is not yet fully developed. This makes them vulnerable to the pressures to try drugs, sex, and other things that kids (Kids!!!) should not be exposed to. Consider this:
Around 20% of seventh graders, 30% of ninth graders, and almost 40% of 11th graders reported that they had been offered an illegal drug at school in the previous year. Even more have been offered alcohol. In high school, around 50% of them gave into peer pressure and tried illegal drugs and almost 70% have sexual experience, with 50% of them having had sexual intercourse.
The PES is NOT the ideal education system for kids:
Aside from being distracted from learning by bullying abuse, peer pressure, and other negative social experiences and fears, there are several issues with the education system itself. The fact that kids grossly outnumber teachers in the classroom creates several issues.(It is not the teachers’ faults!) The system is designed to maximize the group of kids as a whole instead of maximizing each child’s potential individually. The teacher spends a lot of time simply trying to manage the average of 20 kids or more under his/her care. This means that lots of kids fall through the cracks educationally, so to speak. The bright ones spend time waiting around and unstimulated, and the slower students end up feeling pressured, ‘stupid’, and often do not learn the lessons well enough to move on to the next topic. Furthermore, if a child has a strong potential in one subject and advances quickly, they are held back from learning more because they have to stay on par with the group of the same age/grade level. To prevent a bright, curious mind from advancing their natural-born potential in a subject is nothing less than a tragedy. Experts all agree that one of the biggest flaws in the PES is that the “one size fits all” approach to education is not effective at the individual level.
The price for this so-called “social learning experience” is simply too high between bullying abuse, drugs, lack of proper adult supervision and guidance, the potential to be left behind or forced to slow their learning. The price is just to high for my child. He deserves to have the opportunity to experience an un-adulterated childhood without being bullied or pressured into bad, potentially life-altering decisions. He deserves the chance to fully develop his educational interests and have the resources to do so. He deserves the best, and I can provide the best for him through various homeschooling options. So please, before you judge me or label me for our homeschooling decision, realize that I am intelligent enough to do my research and thus made an informed decision as to what is best for my own child.