I told my family about how my son is passionate about clothes and he runs around Chicago buying socks, and shoes and changing his outfits between cello and piano lessons.
I told them about how he uses the Internet to track style trends and then find stores that will sell the stuff he wants.
I used to think the best way to convince my family that homeschooling is a good idea was to show them how engaged my kids are and how much fun we have. But then I realized that homeschool naysayers equate fun with academic negligence.
I also found that forwarding heavy-handed information like the speech about why school squashes creativity only serves to reinforce my family's snark about how there's no zealot like a convert.
So I've decided the best tool for converting family is the slow and steady route of sending very small tidbits of research that doesn't provoke feelings of attack so much as feelings as thoughtfulness. Here are some examples of the type of research I'm talking about.
1. Playground politics have lasting, detrimental impact.
It turns out that if you're the last kid picked in anything it's a moment of complete humiliation, because it's in front of so many people and it's so obvious that nobody wants you. It used to be that we would brush this off as part of growing up, but that was the 1950s when the Baby Boomers became accustomed to fighting rabidly because there were too many of them.
In the 1980s, when we realized that self-esteem is fragile and should be protected to create a well-functioning adult, educators came up with the phrase "You can't say you can't play". The truth is that kids say you can't play all the time. It's how kids develop a sense of belonging. They include people and decide who they fit with. This is good for them.
In the Lord of the Flies scenario of the playground, where the student-teacher ratio is 30:1, there is no adult modeling how to say you can't play. One of my favorite blogs, Jezebel, has compiled a bunch of fascinating research into a single post that makes it clear that it's a completely inappropriate situation for a kid to go through because it wounds them for the rest of their lives.
2. There are not enough hours in the day to allow for school.
This is just simple math. If you come home from school at four o'clock, which is when most kids come home from school, and you go to bed at eight o'clock, which is when kids start going to bed, then you only have four and a half hours a day.
In that four and a half hours a day, you have to include physical exercise, because there isn't any in school, family-time, alone-time, because there is no alone time when the student-teacher ratio is 30:1, and homework. Here's a link to research conducted by NPR and the Harvard School of Public Health that concludes that the reason that kids are obese is that they have no time in the day to make good food choices. All of their activities between four and eight-thirty are compacted. And the obesity epidemic coincides with the surge in homework and concomitant decrease in family time.
3. School is exhausting for the parents.
Most parents who put their kids in school think of it as a break from the kids. But A.A. Gill, writing in Vanity Fair, explains why school is completely exhausting for the parents. There are a lot of reasons: the rules, the pressure, the strategizing, and the cost. But the bottom line is this, "education is really about fear and guilt that parents project onto their own children." Gill announced that he is done with the absurdity of navigating his kids through the education system because,"The interesting adults are always the school failures, the weird ones, the losers, the malcontents. This isn’t wishful thinking. It’s the rule."