To homeschool or not, that is the question I’ve been pondering lately. Since my son was born I’ve casually gone back and forth on the subject of homeschooling. Recently, my husband and I have started doing our research and making homeschooling a serious possibility for our son’s education.
One of the greatest concerns my husband and I have with homeschooling is socialization. We want to ensure that he will have a solid network of fellow homeschooled kids to socialize with. The last thing we would want would be to rob him of rich and important relationships with his peers. While homeschool socialization may prove to be a challenge, is the alternative, the socialization kids get in schools today, really that great or productive? As adults, When we get into an annoying adult situation how often do we say, “this crap is ridiculous. I feel like I’m in high school!” Touché!
Personally, I hated school. Even though I was a so-called ‘popular’ kid I never liked it, did poorly with grades, was picked in a lot, and never felt like I fit in. A fat lot of good that cheerleading uniform did me (I know, barf. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?) A low self esteem developed at home carried over into my school experience, and I can tell you that school all but destroyed the little bit of self esteem I did have, and also gave me plenty of outlets to express my insecurities in negative ways. Bad boys, parties, uninspired teachers and dated lesson plans that could lul a colicky baby to sleep, a school system that pushed failing students through to the next grade to keep their scores higher, and ill equipped school counselors that suggested I may have a mental illness because I dyed my hair a lot in my junior year of high school (yeah, that’s the problem genius), all combined to make mine a really great school experience.
Now, I do attribute much of my unhappy school years to my home environment, which for sparing you the details was, to say the least, dysfunctional and unsettled. Because of this factor I often think that my son’s experience in school would be a happier one. Friends or classmates I had whose home lives seemed relatively ‘normal’ or let me say, functional, seemed to always have the best school experiences.
So… by choosing to homeschool my son, am I simply projecting my past experiences onto him? Or am I responding to an actual lack in the education system.
Another concern is safety. Increased gun violence and the threat of sexual predators, along with the militia-style protective elements that are being put in to place to prevent these threats, do not provide the safe, or relaxed environment that is needed to foster learning.
So…as far as safety goes, I question if I am simply being over protective, or if I am responding and adjusting the plan to respond to a very real safety issue in schools.
Our other major concern about sending our son to school is curriculum. The biggest problem I’ve seen goes something like this: HIghest rated schools are rated so because of their standardized test results. The higher the score the more funding they receive. Therefore, their top priority is grooming students to test well on these cookie cutter test, (read: massive lack of any type of creative or individualized education). The schools that are ranked lower, have poorer test scores, and receive less funding. Therefore, they have less resources with which to improve. The only light at the end of the tunnel I’ve seen, aside from straight up private schools, are Montessori or creative and performing art schools.
Maybe homeschooling is the new answer to these problems that are developing in society, specifically an increasingly violent culture and a disgusting lack of funding and respect for education. In some ways I feel that I need to play more roles as a parent because I see these roles faltering when played by others in the public sphere.
This is not to say that there are not amazing teachers and counselors, I know there are. But I also know they are over worked, underpaid, and in the minority. If I could be assured that my son would be taught by one of these teachers and be in a relatively safe and relaxed school environment, than I probably would not consider homeschooling.
The good news is my family still has three years to make our decision. The even better news is that educational decisions do not have to be forever. You can make the decision to homeschool or not on a year to year basis, which is what we will most likely do. The most important thing we will do is allow our son a say in what type of education he receives when he is able to do so. As our son takes part in the discussion about his education, he will hopefully be able to look at learning in a more wholistic way, which will foster a lifetime love of learning.
He will also most likely think he has the weirdest parents on the planet and say under his breath, “why can’t they just send me to school somewhere and be done with it like all of the other normal parents?”
Sorry kid, normal parents is the one thing you just didn’t get!
Are any of you currently homeschooling or considering it? Anyone totally against it? I’d love to hear from you guys!