Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thoughts on Homeschooling

Peter is more than four years away from compulsory school age, but we (my husband and I) have already decided he's not going. Not to say he won't receive an education, but it won't be in public schools. Let me be clear: we're not against the teachers, we're against the system.

When we first started the homeschooling conversation, I was enthusiastic while Jeremy was guardedly in favor. I wanted to homeschool at least until third grade, with consideration for continuing beyond that time.

Recently Peter's education came into conversation and my husband replied, "Unless things change significantly, I want him homeschooled all the way through high school." I agree. Here are a few of the reasons why.

I like my son. Multiple people have asked me if I'm waiting for Peter to be school-age before I return to work. No, I don't ever plan on returning to work. I'm not waiting impatiently for Peter to be eligible for school so I can continue my own interests. He is my #1 interest! I would much rather spend time with him than spend time pursuing a career.

I want Peter to enjoy learning. I want Peter to have freedom to choose what interests him, to take field trips and do projects that engage his heart and mind. I remember trying to force trivia to stay in my brain when I would much rather have been reading a good book. (For the record, my mom offered to homeschool me, but I wanted to stay with my best friend.) I want to work with and learn with my children, not just lecture them from a textbook.

Yep, this is learning, too!

I don't want to waste our time. Did you ever miss school for being sick and have your work delivered home? I remember being amazed that I could complete an entire day's worth of classwork, and my homework, in an hour or so. A school day was 6 hours long! But that includes lunch, recess, bathroom trips, waiting in line, waiting for classmates to transition activities, and listening to directions repeated three times... there's a lot of wasted time. I would much rather have Peter at home, working at his own pace, and having free time to pursue his interests. Homeschooling also avoids having to waste an hour of each evening on homework.

Peter is our responsibility. I would rather Peter memorize Psalm 23 than the Pledge of Allegiance. I would rather he learn about Dorothy Day than Princess Diana. I want him to know that Helen Keller was an anarchist, that pH determines whether you use baking soda or vinegar to clean, and that Pope John Paul II was instrumental to the fall of Communism. It is our responsibility to raise him into adulthood. I don't want to turn him over to a system.

Homeschooling is a form of protest. I am opposed to over-testing, to school inequality, to unsupported teachers, to teachers replacing parents, to unrealistic expectations for children, and many more aspects of traditional schools. Our family will be one that refuses to surrender our children. If enough people protest, maybe the politicians running our schools will notice that we're not pleased.

If you want to read lots of good reasons to homeschool and answers to common concerns, check out the homeschooling posts at Jazzy Mama.


  1. Hi Cat. You're so sweet sending readers over to my little corner of the Web. Many of my reasons for homeschooling are like yours, in principle if not in the details. Our choice is ABSOLUTELY in every way a rejection of the public system. I feel strongly compelled to make other parents aware of their right to choose whether or not to send their children to school and to not just let school be the default.

    p.s. I like your comment policy. Anonymous cowards troll around on my site too sometimes.

  2. If your son wants to go to a public school as he gets older, would you let him?

    1. (He's my son too, so I can answer this.)

      I know how unsatisfying inconclusive answers are to yes or no questions, but the honest answer is it depends. There are a lot of factors that would be involved with the child, the school and the other options (e.g., Catholic schools are plentiful in our area and match our value system as well as potentially being less of a culture shock coming from homeschooling), so we don't have a conclusive answer. If that situation ever comes up, we'll discuss it with each other and maybe with the child.

      I will say, though, that I think our obligation as parents to do what's best for our children trumps our obligation to our children's happiness (with any individual decision, even the large ones). What the history of the homeschooling conversation in the post doesn't mention is that less than a decade ago I was actively opposed to homeschooling. Since then, negative changes in the public sector and positive ones in the homeschooling realm (e.g., there are two homeschooling "collectives" in our area that I'm aware of that offer sports leagues, etc.) have caused me to conclude that homeschooling is better than public education in our situation. As such, it would take a compelling argument to make me change my position again if these factors remain on their current trajectories. A passing desire on the part of a child would not trump our conclusion on this, but, say, a budding interest in science beyond what our budget can support would. I hope that answers your question!