Why homeschool is best for social-emotional development

We had a funeral for our goat. The goat was our favorite goat. For those of you who don’t know, in the goat cheese industry, which is very prominent in our area, the goat farmers kill the baby boy goats when they are born. The US imports goat meat, so there is no market for the farmers to raise boy goats for a profit. The boys are left to freeze in January.

So I rescued two. And we raised them. People told us to remove their horns, but it’s a disgusting, bloody process that we decided against. Samuel became a family pet. He was smart and lovable. But when he got older, even though we castrated him, he was very aggressive. And with his horns, he became dangerous around the kids. He thought he was playing, but he knocked the kids down plenty.

My son did not want to sell Samuel at the market because there is no telling how he’d be treated. Goats are very, very low earners on a farm. So they are expensive to treat well. My son decided we’d put the goat to sleep.

We called the vet. She came and injected the goat. Then we did a funeral.

The decision was very very difficult. And also, it’s no small job to bury a full-grown goat.

It occurred to me, after we had spent pretty much the whole day doing this, that we would not be able to do this if the kids were in school. If the kids were in school then one day the goat would be violent. The next three days we’d try to have the discussion of what to do. Then we’d schedule the vet to come during after school hours. Then we’d have to wait another day to have enough daylight for the burial.

The argument against homework is gaining traction. It’s been on the cover of Time magazine, and there are a slew of schools that have stopped giving homework. There are many arguments against homework—it doesn’t help young kids , it doesn’t help older kids get into college, and it’s just a general waste of time.

But the argument that is most persuasive to me is that it takes away from family time. The central issue is, “When do kids enjoy time at home with their family if they have five hours of homework a night after eight hours of school?” Of course there is no family time in that scenario.

Another common education argument is about how children need to be outside, in nature. It’s part of being human.

When we have daylight savings time, the three arguments converge. If you go to school until 3pm and then take the bus home and have a snack you have exactly one hour of sunlight.

People ask me how I will teach the kids math. How will I socialize them? How will I continue working? But what people should really be asking is how parents manage to teach their kids how to make important, value-laden, emotional decisions when there is so little time together as a family.


11 replies
  1. Jana Miller
    Jana Miller says:

    So true. What a hard lesson death is. We lost a good friend on Sunday. He was only 47. He had cancer.The kids will go back to school Tuesday-that is tough not to be with your family when you are going through such a terrible time.

  2. Gareth
    Gareth says:

    I have to say, I find it odd your sons were okay with just killing your pet goat, while they were not okay with selling him to someone else.

    I understand why you didn’t eat him, because I have always found goat meat to have a nasty flavor.

    But was it really kinder to kill him than sell him?

    • RachH
      RachH says:

      Goats can be super aggressive, and when they are it is unsafe for children to be around. It’s true that they couldn’t be sure whether a different owner would take good care of him or not, but it’s like that with any animal or purchase of any kind: you simply can’t know what will happen when the buyer leaves. For kids, that can be really hard to deal with, but I do think it’s an important life lesson–especially for boys–to learn. Concern like that often actually stems from jealousy of the new owner or a sense of possessiveness as the first owner, and is in fact selfish more often than not. If you love something, you really do need to learn how to let it go, and learning that early on can only help children develop both a sense of self and healthy views on love (and the fact that it must be freely given by both parties, without possessiveness).

      (With that said, goat meat is fantastic if prepared well, but the goat seems to have been more of a pet than livestock, so I couldn’t imagine them trying to butcher and serve Samuel for dinner.)

  3. Paxton
    Paxton says:

    Thanks for highlighting two issues that I think are very important; socio-emotional development and homework. We have made so many strides in understanding how important emotional inteligence is, yet this info is not being taught in schools. In some ways this is more important than math and other traditional studies.
    I realize I learned a great deal in school, however, sometimes I think that the most important class I ever took was typing. It is a skill I use every day.
    As to the issue of homework..I always hated doing homework and I too wonder about the effectiveness of it. I learned more from hands-on experience and work much more than I ever learned from homework.

  4. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    The issue of values comes up much more since we are together. It’s another occurrence of an average day, not an exception.

    My son found a YouTube video discussing how women get away with crimes that men cannot. We talked about how one crafts an argument, and that until I had unbiased facts about each case, I would not assume the creator was accurate.

    We talked about how both genders sometimes “get away with” crimes.

    This is something he found online, and since I am the one he sees/trusts most, it came up with me. Otherwise, at school, issues are shared among peers. I would likely not hear about it amid the schoolwork/snack/TV/playtime/bedtime routines of school-attendees.

    Except the last five minutes before I tuck him in. When I’m spent from the day and drowsy — not in the mood for lengthy, social justice discussions.

  5. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I love this post. This is why I read your blog. Sometimes it seems like everyone else is crazy, and you are the only one talking sense.

  6. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    This is why I’m about to pull my son out of school. I detest the endless mind-numbing worksheets that come home. It cuts into family time, nature time, Lego time, and reading time. I feel like I’m working for the school. And this is for 6 to 8 year olds.

  7. Vivien V
    Vivien V says:

    What a great article and you made some real valid points. I am really contemplating home schooling my child and your article just made me realise that’s something I really need to do.

  8. Anne Gregor
    Anne Gregor says:

    Raising a child’s EQ doesn’t means changing their personality, but it will definitely help calm intense temperaments, allowing a child who would normally be overwhelmed by their emotions resulting from disappointment and who normally shuts down for hours, to be able recognize and manage their emotions then will be able to move into problem-solving so they can feel better.


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