When I’m deciding if I should homeschool, I don’t need to decide if homeschooling is the answer to this country’s education problems. I only need to decide if, given the school district we live in, could I do as good a job educating my children as the school district could?

I have spent a lot of time with strong performing high schoolers from our district. I do not want my kids to have the education these kids had.  It’s not the education I had. There are different values. For example, the high schoolers don’t read for fun. They don’t go to enrichment programs over the summer. These are things I assumed every high school kid did before I moved here. I was ignorant, I know. But it doesn’t change what I want for my kids.

The problem is that my choice becomes a referendum on the school district. And then all my neighbors take it personally. I’m scared to publish this. I don’t want to be alienated from our community. But I’m not sure I have a choice.

9 replies
  1. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Sometimes I think you worry too much about fitting in. Your children are your responsibility and so is their education. And so what if you’re judging the school district? By tiptoe-ing around it nothing improves.

    And the article you linked to was a fascinating read. It kinda proves the point of homeschooling, too, I think. :)

    • Lori
      Lori says:

      You can’t avoid worrying about fitting in when you live in a small rural community. If you alienate people, your children will suffer for it even if you don’t. You probably have no idea how small a small town can be — in every sense of the word.

  2. Lisa Dillon
    Lisa Dillon says:

    I think parents have quite a bit of influence in their child’s reading habits. It is sad that reading is seen as something you do in and for school and when school is out you stop reading. On an earlier post, several weeks ago, one parent commented that she let her four boys play video games all day long over the summer. Her kids are highly unlikely to read for fun and it doesn’t matter what school district her children go to. As a person who reads a lot this is what my parents did: First I had tons of books in my house at all times, I was taken to the library on average 1x a week for ten plus years as a child, my parents read to me regularly and I was given books as birthday books. Even now as an adult my mom still buys me books. I think the most important thing though is if a child is going to read for fun they need access to books that they find interesting and an involved parent.

    Also homeschooling does not have to be all or nothing.

    • Lori
      Lori says:

      A public-schooled kid gets very little free time, and if they are in extracurricular activities, even less. They want the freedom to do the things they want to do during that time. Even a kid who likes to read might spend their one free hour a night playing Xbox.

      Homeschooling gives you the chance to let kids do the things they want to do that perhaps you don’t value and still have time to read, get bored, thing of new ideas, start projects, build forts, laze around outside, etc.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        This is a big deal in our house. After school there was no time for homework. I just stopped having them do it. They practiced their instruments, and they did their chores on the farm, and that seemed more important than the homework, which was almost always worksheets. Plus, I wanted them to be able to curl up with books at the end of the day. Probably because that’s what I like to do at the end of the day.

        So we really really felt the crunch of no family time because school is so time consuming.

        And. I have to add that I think it’s absurd for me to send the kids to school but tell them they don’t need to do the homework. Totally sends a bad message.

        Penelope

        • Lori
          Lori says:

          i’m admittedly anti-homework. i ran a private school for several years and we had a no-homework policy. yet many parents *demanded* homework. the fact that we had plenty of time to cover everything during the day didn’t matter – they felt homework was necessary to prepare their kids for their educational future.

          thumbs down. kids need time to play, time to be with their friends and family, time to relax. they need unscheduled time.

          i know one little girl who loved to read until her first-grade teacher required her to read to a parent 30 minutes a night. then she started to hate to read.

          school has them for 7 or 8 hours a day – that should be enough. if they want them to do work on their own, they *still* have enough time to have them complete it during the school day. kids need a more balanced life; school shouldn’t be reaching its tentacles into their evenings.

  3. Lori
    Lori says:

    My friend’s sons told me they hated to read. They were 8 and 12 at the time. I couldn’t believe a child could hate to read.

    The local (rural, but well-off) school has an excellent reputation. Great test scores. But the kids are smart, well-nourished, and come primarily from well-off families; of course the test scores are high. The teaching is uninspiring at best. A good friend who graduated here tells me she didn’t realize how abysmal her education was until she went to college.

    in a small town, it’s hard to avoid the blowback. If you’re not extremely religious, people are affronted by your rejection of the school where they send their own children. They want to defend the school and themselves. You can try to frame it positively — e.g., since we’re self-employed, we really wanted to take advantage of our chance to travel during the year, etc. etc. — but be prepared for people to have strong reactions.

  4. le @thirdontheright
    le @thirdontheright says:

    In our then community I held a position of public and social aouthority so when we removed our two boys from the state run and only school for whole range of reasons this very notion of how the community judged the decision was real. The school was not good enough for our kids or any kids. Seeing we already did not really fit in it wasn’t a deal breaker and I did do something about the inadequacies with the department …

  5. mary kathryn
    mary kathryn says:

    That’s an honest post. Homeschoolers have been feeling this way for decades: alienated from the broader culture. If the purpose of your child’s education is to fit into your community, then the public school is the way to go. But, if you want something different, or more, for your child in his education, then you have to be bold.

    I taught high school English for about 10 years in private schools. I hated that many students only read books b/c they would be tested on them, and had to. But we’ve raised 4 readers, b/c WE’RE readers, and we value reading in our home.

    You just have to step back and ask, “What do I want my child’s life to look like? How many hours in a desk? How many hours with me? With friends? Outside? What do I want him to love? How do I want him to see the world?” Then ask what kind of education will produce that. It’s not always an easy answer, and it can change from year to year, from child to child. We re-evaluate each year.

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