Do you already homeschool? Or, maybe you are “homeschool curious”?
Homeschooling is a form of education that is currently experiencing a surge in popularity. Families are turning to homeschooling for a variety of reasons, many of these reasons are backed by research and studies.
I doubt you need me to hash them all out here, but to name a few:
- They want to spend more time with their kids.
- Homeschooling is more efficient.
- They want to protect their children from an education that includes indoctrination into a system designed to benefit someone other than their children.
- They want to teach their children more about their own ideology, faith, beliefs, culture or traditions which are often not taught in school.
- Homeschool can be tailored to the individual student where traditional schools do what works best for the majority.
- They want to protect their children from bullying, violence and bad influences that are often found in schools.
- They want their children to be confident and capable. Many of today’s schools breed stress, low self-worth and dependency.
- They want to give their children the best education possible. Many public schools are lacking in academic rigor and achievement.
- They want their children to be able to focus more on what they are interested in.
- They want their children to learn real-world skills in the real world.
- They want their children to be self-disciplined and good managers of their own time and resources. Traditional schooling encourages children to rely on authority figures to tell them what to do, when to do it and how to do it.
- They want their children to have opportunities to explore their creativity. Schools can stifle individualism, either by overbearing administrators and teachers, or by cliquish peers.
- They want their children to be entrepreneurial and innovative. Schools teach students to be good bureaucrats, good employees and good, conformist citizens. They make children afraid to be wrong and afraid of failure. Homeschool parents teach their children that is okay to be wrong and it is okay to fail, as these are inevitable parts of life.
- They don’t want to be slaves to the school-year calendar. They want to be able to travel whenever they want and take advantage of less-busy times, days and seasons to do things.
THE TOP THREE REASONS
This is not a comprehensive list. Families that homeschool can have countless, complex reasons for not putting their children in traditional schools. However, I have a theory that if you know someone’s top three reasons, then you can get an accurate idea of what their homeschool is going to look like.
Often times I have encountered families who are what I call “homeschool curious.” They have a lot of questions about homeschool, and even though they seem to agree with a lot of the positive benefits of homeschooling, their fears and doubts are keeping them from taking the leap.
This is completely understandable! Especially if this family has read about, heard about or encountered homeschool families that have vastly different priorities for their children’s education than they do. They see someone else’s homeschool and think, “Homeschool is not working for them, what if it won’t work for me either?”
The problem in this scenario is not that homeschool failures are making the rest of us look bad. The problem is that we tend to judge other people’s success by our own standards. If you homeschool, then the chances are extremely good that you are meeting your top three goals.
DIFFERENT GOALS, DIFFERENT STANDARDS
If one person’s top three goals are:
- To spend more time together as a family
- To teach their children about their Christian values
- To have more time for their children to focus on their own interests
And someone else’s top three goals are:
- To give their children the most rigorous academic education available
- To have their children taking college courses at 16
- To teach their children to be entrepreneurs
…then the first person is going to look at the second person and think that they are completely missing the point of homeschooling. They may think that the other person is uptight and harsh. They may feel that the other person is setting up an unreasonable expectation for homeschooled children as a whole.
On the other hand, the second person is going to look at the first person’s homeschool and think that they’ve completely missed the point of homeschooling. They may think that the other person is flighty and undisciplined. They may even feel that the other person is being a poor representative for the movement as a whole.
Who is right and who is wrong? Well, they are both right and they are both wrong. There is nothing wrong with having either set of priorities. However, they are both making a mistake in measuring the other homeschool family against the ruler of their own priorities and goals.
CONFIDENCE IN YOUR OWN STANDARDS
Homeschooling isn’t about meeting other people’s standards. You should be confident enough to make your priorities, make your goals and then stick to your guns! If you want to meet someone else’s idea of what would work best for your family then send your kids to public school. The message of our culture is loud and clear that it is what you should do.
The next time you find yourself judging the success of another family’s educational decisions, remember that their goals may be different from yours. If you already homeschool, then the next time you encounter someone who is “homeschool curious,” listen to them and try to introduce them to the kinds of curriculums, philosophies and other homeschool families that would help them accomplish their unique goals.
Of course, I am not arguing that parents have the right to abuse their children, either by neglecting to educate them or by being cruel and harsh overlords. Having children is a huge responsibility. Only you are responsible for your children’s education, whatever choices you make. When we send our children to public school, we may be tempted to believe that their education becomes the state’s responsibility. It does not.
My point is that if parents are responsible for the choices that they make for their children, then they ought to have the freedom to make the choices that they decide are in the best interests of their children.
What are your top three goals when it comes to your children’s education? Is the form of education you are currently choosing helping your family to meet these goals?