I started writing this blog to figure out if I should homeschool or not. It took me only about a month of blogging to realize that there is overwhelming agreement in the education reform movement that a customized education is best for kids. The issue with homeschooling is not whether it’s best for kids. The issue is whether or not parents can handle doing it.
I homeschool because it seemed to me that it was like breastfeeding: Of course it’s the best thing to do for the kids, it’s just difficult. So I told myself that even though I had no idea what I was doing, it’s clear to me that even starting with no idea what I’m doing is better than putting the kids in school.
There are a lot of ideas we have about school that, it turns out, are totally wrong, and learning these things gave me the strength to take my kids out of school.
1. Parents don’t need to be professional teachers. It turns out that homeschooled kids do as well on tests if their parents are teachers than if they are not teachers.
2. Test scores don’t matter. The schools that are well funded enough to not need federal money do not teach to tests. They teach for grit and perseverence which are traits that matter in life. Of course it is intuitive that test scores don’t matter in life—we have known for decades that good grades don’t mean good careers.
3. Kids learn on their own. You already know that you learn what you want to learn. And of course kids have things they want to learn. Peter Gray is an education professor who writes a blog called Freedom to Learn. This blog really resonates with me. Lisa Nielsen is an New York City teacher and administrator, and on her blog, The Innovative Educator, she advocates letting kids decide what they want to learn. These people are part of the cacophony of educators saying that school actually gets in the way of kids learning.
4. Traditional school is a babysitting service for kids while parents work in factories. We didn’t need kids to sit in chairs all day when their parents farmed. But once the parents went to cities to work, there was no safe place for the kids to run free and learn. School saved kids from long days in factories. Other than that, there is no evidence that kids need to be in school all day in order to be good, productive, happy citizens.
5. Homeschoolers develop superior life skills to non-homeschoolers. The common criticisms of homeschooling are baseless – for example, socialization. (Do you even know what socialization means?) Colleges love accepting homsechoolers (even though college is probably a vapid goal to begin with.) And the initiative homeschoolers develop, since no one is telling them what to do, means they will outperform non-homeschoolers in the workplace.
This knowledge overwhelms me. I’d feel guilty sending my kids to school because I know there is no reason to do it. I knew I was using school as the best babysitting service in the whole world—which it is.
Once I took my kids out of school, I learned probably the most fundamental thing about education: it’s a joy to be home with the kids all day watching them grow and learn.
And my day-to-day existence has very little alone time. For example, to get this post written, I had to tell my son twice to stop talking to me. Also, he read over my shoulder and said he didn’t know that I had no idea what I’m doing and then I had to stop and have the conversation, which is hopefully educational, about why it’s okay to try stuff when you have no idea what you’re doing. In fact, it’s important to try stuff in that exact situation.
I homeschool because it’s definitely right for my kids and my family. I want to spend time as a family learning together, eating three meals a day together, and having a relaxed, not-rushing-to-work-and-school lifestyle.
I figure out how to do it as I go along.