education, homeschooling

Should homeschoolers stick with the system?

Amy Platon of Scribble Ink Cafe had an article published in the Orlando Sentinel advsing homeschoolers to stick with the system.

I have much respect for parents who take matters into their own hands in an effort to protect their child. But when it comes to home-schooling, I’m worried about the big picture.

The “big picture” appears to consist of three main points:

  1. I could never homeschool because he’d have to put up with me all day.
  2. I don’t think I’m qualified.  Teachers are paid professionals.
  3. He would never forgive me.

Number three is a decent argument and although I am a passionate homeschool advocate, I’d never tell anyone they had to homeschool.  Still, the basic premise of these first arguments is “because I don’t think homeschooling is for us, it isn’t for anyone.”

Then there are the “fear-based reasons.”

  1. School-budget cuts.
  2. Bad influences.
  3. Insufficient education.

These don’t seem like fear-based reasons to me.  When a child is struggling in school, be it academically or socially, and programs they need to be successful are being cut, it is a parent’s right and duty to look out for the interests of their children.  That certainly does not always mean homeschooling.  There are a number of ways parents can become more involved in their local schools, many of which Amy lists.  But they do not always work.

Perhaps I should defer to someone who has chosen to homeschool for these very reasons.  Our decision was not based on the public schools and frankly I’d continue to homeschool even if the public schools had no problems…or if we could afford private school.  I homeschool because of what I believe about education:  namely that it involves the entire upbringing of a child, not some artificially segmented part of a child’s day.  Life and learning should be integrated and children should have the opportunity to become active members of their communities, not passive observers stuck in a classroom.

This is where some of Amy’s concerns seem based in ignorance. And I do not mean that in a negative way.  I had similar thoughts about homeschooling before I started.  I didn’t have enough contact with homeschoolers to form a valid framework for my thoughts about homeschooling.  Thus comes the question:

How can a home-schooled child have compassion for his community when he isn’t part of it?

That’s the thing–he is part of it.  My children experience community by playing catch in the backyard.  By participating in programs at the Y.  By going along with me to doctor’s appointments and on errands where they get to know our “community helpers” through frequent and informal contact rather than through a lesson delivered in kindergarten.  By stopping on the way home to watch the firemen wash their truck.  By volunteering.  By participating in community programs and events.

In short, the homeschooled child has a unique opportunity to truly be a part of their community rather than passively learn about their community.  Schools have often been viewed as “learning communities.”  But we, too, are part of a learning community.

One that extends beyond age ranges and grade levels.  To me, that is the bigger picture.

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0 thoughts on “Should homeschoolers stick with the system?

  1. “I could never homeschool because he’d have to put up with me all day”

    I think what she meant to say was “I’d have to put up with him all day.”

    I hear that from a lot of parents who proudly proclaim that they can’t wait to send their kids back to school on Monday, or after a holiday. It’s like, why have kids if you’re going to tire of them so quickly?

  2. Great post, Dana 😉 The arguments that are raised against homeschooling are troubling to me…and you have expressed thoughts that I have had regarding the socialization issue (being a part of the community) I think that argument is going to have to die once people start realizing the extent of homeschooled children’s involvement in their community. It’s a bit unfair, if you ask me…

  3. Amy is the epitome of why I homeschool: regurgitation. She didn’t ask any new questions or enlighten us with new arguments. It was the same old anti-homeschool nonsense.

    Amy is obviously a product of our regurgitation school system where one is never taught to think for themselves but only to regurgitate what they have been spoon fed.

  4. I’ve just started homeschooling my second child this year, and will be adding two more come fall.

    Although I love my four children, I need a break. Does this mean I’m a bad parent who selfishly had more than I can handle? No. While I understand Idaho Dad’s comment, surely he doesn’t expect a mother to stay with her children 24 hours a day seven days a week. Part of being a good parent is admitting when you need a break, and if sending them to school gives you one then so be it.

    I have had the opportunity to experience both sides of the coin, and am the first to say that homeschooling is not for everyone. I know many great parents who don’t have the patience to teach math and science but who love spending time with their kids playing games or going on outings. I just happen to be one of the lucky ones that enjoys watching children learn and having the patience to help them get there.

  5. Again here we go with a person who wants homeschoolers to stick with public education when they NEVER attack or put down those who choose to send their kids to private school.

    The original plan of DH and I was to use public school for K-8 and the same private religious school he attended for high school (which he was on the board of). It was DH who was the primary motivator and idea hatcher in our family to ditch BOTH public school and his beloved private school for homeschooling.

    As I’ve said before fine for every family to make the choice that is right for them. However just as public school parents don’t want to hear me tell them their choice to use public school is possibly bad or at the least not a 100% positive thing so it is that I don’t care to hear their reasons for rejecting the lifestyle we’ve chosen: homeschooling.

    In my state we homeschoolers pay our regular property taxes, sales tax and income tax like the rest of the citizens and property owners. We homeschoolers get no help or money or tax breaks or vouchers or free curriculum or advice from ‘the system’ we pay into. We just want to be left alone to do our thing in freedom.

    Have a great day Dana!

  6. My children have more compassion for our community than I did as a child.

    They come with me when we take a neighbor to the hospital to visit her husband. They are concerned when a friend has surgery. They love the neighbor girl who comes over to wait until her parents get home. (My little girls might love on her too much actually. They pull and tug at her to play with them, but hopefully she feels at home.) 😉

  7. “How can a home-schooled child have compassion for his community when he isn’t part of it?”

    For me, this is one of the most aggravating and offensive charges made against homeschooling. (Tony Jones made a similar false assertion in his Death to Homeschooling post a while back.) I wonder whether Ms. Platon believes her neighbors who don’t have children or whose children are grown and not involved in the local public schools are part of her community and capable of having compassion for it. Why would anyone believe that a child’s participation in a community is limited to involvement in the local public school?

  8. “How can a home-schooled child have compassion for his community when he isn’t part of it?”

    Amy obviously hasn’t done her research since the research shows that while adults who graduated from homeschool are MORE involved in civic and community events, more likely to volunteer, and more likely to vote than their adult peers who graduated from public school. See the National Home Education Research Institute’s report “Home Educated and Now Adults” for more details.

    The truth is homeschooled children who are now “all grown up” describe themselves as happier 3 times more often than public schooled children, attend and graduate college more often, are move involved with their own children, and MORE involved with the community that Amy would have us believe they are taught to ignore.

    Her post is based on supposition and uninformed ignorance rather than fact. The research IS out there. Homeschooling had been around long enough to see the fruits. Don’t “assume” that homeschooled children will turn out worse off than their public school peers – LOOK AT THE RESEARCH AND SEE! 🙂

    Angela <

  9. I was employed full-time when my oldest was a toddler because we truly needed my salary and especially the health benefits at the time. And not to finance a lavish lifestyle either- we rented a teeny apt, shared one economy car, got our clothes at thrift shops, had no cable/satellite or landline, etc. Anyways, I found that dealing with her after 8 hours for her at daycare and me at the office was pretty challenging. I would not want to experience that 24/7.

    BUT her behavior and attitude dramatically improved once I was able to quit my job and become a full-time homemaker. She became significantly more cooperative, cheerful, and polite.

    I think parents who have their kids in a traditional school look at how they behave on the weekend and during school vacations and think “no way could I deal with that 24/7!” The parents don’t realize that the bad behavior and attitude is often a negative reaction to spending 30+ hrs/wk institutionalized with 20-30+ peers.

  10. Gee, this person sounds alot like my hub’s sister in-law. When I even mentioned that I would be the one to start teaching him piano lessons, when he got old enough to sit and learn the piano, she just about freaked out. She stated, “A parent is not an educator. They do not teach their children anything, only teachers teach the children.” I thought that whether a parent elects public school or home schooling, that it is up to the Parent, not a teacher, to introduce a child to correct behaviors, values, morals, general caring for another, and the list could go on forever. Is this to say that parents don’t teach their kids anymore and rely solely on that of teachers to do the job for them. Well, when I see many public schooled students out in public, I can not believe the behavioral issues and displays as compared to the calmer, more polite home schooled children.

    In reading the article I feel that the writer is afraid to teach the child, would not want to spend that much time with them all day and feels that we isolate our children from the rest of society and their ability to cope with the community as a whole. Actually, you find many homeschoolers are more sociable, well mannered, quite a bit more knoweldgeable in regards to each individuals job and how society working together helps us to move forward as a group. Just because we opt to homeschool, doesn’t mean that we isolate our children from the world. I would rather be able to take my child to various group functions/field trips with other home school groups, go to different places and see how each place and persons job is important and show him all the beauty the world holds.

    Question…..Does every child the same age learn at the same rate? NO!!! But, in schools they are forced to learn or be left behind. Some are better at math, others bettter at science or history and so on. But, in regular school they are forced to keep up, even if they are struggling. Also, due to budget cuts, yes….I am bringing this issue in, many schools have a ton of students to one teacher. In one instance, there are a couple of counties I know of that don’t even have the money for substitute teachers to try and continue on with the learning process or the studies planned for that day, instead they go to the gym and sit on the floor and chat, use their cell phones, etc. This is what we call learning?!

    In contrast to the above, a home schooled child can run ahead of the schedule on subjects they love and have extra attention given to them on subjects they are not as well versed in. The wonderful thing about home schooling too is that you can rely on other home school parents, who are knowledgable in the various subjects to teach them, plus when they hit high school age and maybe you are not versed in certain areas to teach them, they can go to the community college to get the necessary training to finish high school, which acquaints them to college life too and makes them more prepared for the transition.

    The group I belong to has several individuals that have teaching backgrounds and we opt to hold classes together that would normal be found in a regular school to subject the children to learning with other children and in subjects they are interested in. In fact, I have an in-field to be able to teach science on a middle school level, plus if I took a few more classes, I would also fall in the ability to teach math, health, and business. So am I still not qualified to teach my child? In some areas, maybe not, but I would rely on the strengths of another parent for those subjects, but for the majority of it….yes I am!

    Would I rather stick my child in public school and have him be flustered that he is not up to speed on some things or bored out of his mind because he far surpasses the other kids in certain areas? Or would I rather have too much together time where we spend most every moment together and taking times out to learn? My choice is simple….I would rather deal with home schooling and not have a moment to myself. My child is only a kindergartner right now, but I enjoy running errands and pointing out the different signs, colors, shapes, textures, various jobs people have, etc. I can not tell you the delight it is to have my child sit in the car with me and point out in excitement, “Hey mom, that’s a stop sign, it is red and octagon shape, and there’s a yellow rectangular school bus.” It is amazing how much a child can learn just be spending time with you!

    I guess those who are against home schooling are either unfamiliar with all that goes on or they are just too scared or don’t care enough to try it. I guess it comes down to the old addage, “Those who can do and those who can’t just gripe about it!”

  11. I think it’s probably that they are unfamiliar with the reality of hsing. I know I was.

    DS had been to private pre-K — because that’s what you do — and then entered public K — because that’s what you do.

    It was only after having problems — he could read — that I began looking at alternatives. If the school system had met his needs, and then his sister’s, we would probably still be there.

    And now DD will be entering high school in the fall. We’re all waiting to see how that goes. 🙂


  12. Whenever I read something like the article I think about how insecure the writer must be. People who are secure in their own choices don’t feel the need to put down those who have chosen differently.

  13. I didn’t really get the feeling she was putting anyone down so much. She seemed to have an understanding that homeschoolers are looking out for their children and didn’t accuse us of abusing our children which is always a bonus.

    But this thought that we should send our children to school for the sake of other children? How about using the tax dollars I spend on the public school system for something that provide them with more assistance?

  14. Maybe the social interdependency of it all is like the vaccination cocoon concept, in her mind?

    If we can really understand where it comes from, we might be able to figure out where we differ and then present a better power of story she would actually buy into?

  15. I think she essentially makes two arguments, or at least I see two arguments in this line of reasoning:

    1) Homeschoolers have checked out of the concept of community.
    2) The public schools are losing involved parents at an alarming rate.

    The first is invalid and is what I addressed in the entry. Mostly she and others who worry about this probably only need to get to know more homeschoolers rather than six or so families who have announced the intention to homeschool. If her friends she mentions remain friends, she will likely see that they haven’t removed themselves from their community.

    The second? It is tougher, perhaps because I agree. But whose responsibility is that? And is forcing everyone back into the system the best idea? Would it help, or hurt or have any affect on the system whatsoever?

    Maybe I’ll tackle that in another entry. 🙂

  16. I think you’re right about her argument but I don’t think her reasoning is her reason, if you know what I mean. That argument is the one she makes but not the real difference in our views. As with most people who stake out this position, I get the sense that the irrational belief came first and her logical explanation justifying her belief is post facto, cooked up and latched onto by her mind to make it seem reasonable. Mostly to her! 🙂

    Race prejudice is like that, right?

    Wonder what could it be about home education that she subconsciously fears, or at least makes her uncomfortable enough to need to stereotype us all and feel virtuous about taking the “public school” side.

    It could just be environment. Public schooling as the water she swims in and the air she breathes, so it seems natural and home education seems perverse . . .

  17. LOL – I just realized Nance already said that though, and more clearly than I did!

    “I think it’s probably that they are unfamiliar with the reality of hsing. I know I was.”

  18. Yes, I believe that is the basis for most people. Homeschooling is the unknown, the unfamiliar and most definitely not the norm. Most people tend to mistake the norm for being what is right. And then have varying degrees of sophistication for their justification of that stance.

    Still, how they justify it says a lot about their belief systems and values. Amy doesn’t sound adversarial at all, nor overly judgmental.

  19. What annoys me are the people who think homeschooling is abnormal while they drive around with a “Question Authority” bumper sticker on their Subaru. These people also give lip service to the idea that public schools should teach children to “think” for themselves. Thinking for oneself tends to lead to choices made outside the norm.

  20. It’s funny how we seem to fly under the radar for a while, and then all of a sudden a bunch of articles show up about homeschooling and all the reasons not to do it. It’s kind of like that phenomenon of two movies coming out at the same time about the same subject. Weird coincidence.

    I posted a comment:

    “I find it interesting that the article ends on the note of encouraging homeschool parents to put their kids in public school and be volunteers instead. We can “share our passion for education” with everyone.

    I suppose the implication then is that we are being selfish with our passion by only spending it on our own kids. This ignores the fact that most homeschool parents are involved in co-operative teaching and many extra-curricular activities(prompting some homeschoolers to complain that they’re never “home”).

    It also seems to imply that homeschool parents have nothing else to do but educate their children, so they have plenty of time to volunteer. But many homeschool parents work part time, or work from home to keep finances afloat. If we put our kids in public schools, any extra time we might have had will probably be taken up with helping our kids with their homework (especially if you have more than one child). Since we’ll be required to find this time in the evenings and weekends (when kids are home) we might not have a significant amount of time during the day to volunteer at school. So I guess we’re being selfish with our passion either way. And I’d like to see someone tell two full-time working parents that they’re selfish for not having time to volunteer at their kids’ school. I don’t think it would go over too well.

    I also found the following to be pretty funny: “We all want to protect our children from bad influences, but if we pull all the well-parented children from the schools, then we are making the gap bigger.”

    Are all the well-parented children being homeschooled now? I think that is far from true, there are plenty of well-parented children in the public and private school systems. Homeschoolers only make up 2% of the school-age children. I don’t think there’s any reason for mass hysteria yet.”

  21. Regarding the fear that many seem to feel prompts anti-homeschool rhetoric. I think it does not help that everyone who is involved with children outside of the homeschooling community has heard horror stories concerning, at minimum, educational neglect, and at worst severe abuse. Because homeschoolers are in such a minority, and we don’t have a way to keep these homefakers from being associated with us by the media and general public, there are many people who have only ever heard of homeschooling in a very bad light. Personally, I do not enjoy, at all, being associated with that family that was at the heart of the recent uproar in California. Things that make national headlines are even worse. Does anyone remember the 10 yr old “homeschooled” girl who was burned to death in a house fire about 4 years ago? She was chained to a bed, apparently had been for quite some time, and the family told firefighters that no one was in the house when the firefighters arrived.

    It is no wonder that many people have a view of homeschoolers shaped by fear and ignorance. I may get blasted out of the community for this admission, but I used to be a child protective services worker. At the time, I wasn’t able to homeschool my children, because I was single and had to work more than full time, but I was sympathetic, because I wanted to homeschool. Some of the workers were very hostile to the idea of homeschooling, but you can’t really blame them. The ONLY people they had ever come across were the homefakers. I met a few of them. They had no more intentions of actually homeschooling than the biggest public school advocates.

    These were people with teenagers who couldn’t read. Teenagers that learned to read in a couple of months at public school. An 8 year old, whose mother had thrown him away to live a nomadic life with grandmother, because her new husband didn’t like kids. They went all over the country searching for “healing crystals” and “healing pyramids”. He didn’t know there was such a thing as the alphabet. These were actually the nicer things I saw under the guise of homeschooling. It’s easy to see where the fear comes from.

    That said, I too can relate to the feeling of not being able to stand being around my kids all day. When I worked that high stress (definitely not high pay-the average social worker still qualifies for Food Stamps) job, and then had to face picking up cranky, overstimulated, overtired kids; fixing supper, forcing them to do homework, getting baths, and bedtimes, cleaning at the house, and eventually crashing myself-every day I did not look forward to MORE time spent like that. Plus school holidays, and summer vacation was just more stress added on, because then you have to face paying 3 times as much for daycare to keep them all day. They are insecure and make you pay for it with their behavior.

    So I can really relate to how her first point comes to be made. It is an entirely different experience to be able to be home all day with the kids. My baby that has always been home with me, is much more secure and happy and manageable than the two older ones were.


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