Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Homeschooling Series I

These are month old or so (Heidi's cheeks are much chubbier now), but I realized I never posted them--and WHAT A SHAME BECAUSE SHE'S SO CUTE (are Mom's allowed to brag incessantly?):





Anyway, on with the topic at hand. In this first of several posts, I am going to outline and cover all the arguments I've read and considered as we came to and researched the decision to home school. I'll start first with the generally-accepted pros and cons, and then get more specific with citations of sources and stories in later posts. That said, what follows is a list of options for educating your children as well as what I know (which I'll confess is definitely not everything) of the pros and cons for each:

PUBLIC SCHOOL (publicly run, publicly funded)
Pros:
  • Because public school is the course for large majority of children, your child will have a "normal" childhood
  • Some excellent teachers who are experts in individual subjects
  • Opportunities for good kids to have a positive impact on struggling kids
  • Large social scene for kids to make friends and feel a part of the group
  • Free
  • resources and facilities to create orchestras, plays, sports teams, etc which require large group participation

Cons:
  • Some poor teachers who are neither experts in anything nor demonstrate any kind of effectiveness with the students, but they have tenure so they can't be fired
  • Academics are, for the most part, not stellar when compared to other options
  • Morals are quickly declining in most if not all schools
  • Opportunities for struggling kids to have a negative impact on good kids
  • Social scene is contrived and competitive--not to mention does little to prepare the kids for the real world since the real world is always a mix of ages and experience
  • Grades are more important than knowledge
  • Learning is most often class work, less often real experience and is therefore less effective
  • Without the context of religion and overall meaning, knowledge of dates and facts benefit children little ("Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim 3:7)
  • subtle indoctrination and inculturation of athiest, humanist, socialist, and homosexual/bisexual agendas--which are most dangerous when the inherent subtly means kids don't even realize they need to discuss it with their parents
  • For kids who are either behind OR ahead, the bulk classroom style is ineffective
  • "No child left behind" has been dubbed by teachers more accurately as "no child gets ahead"
  • Self esteem is "taught" instead of "earned"
  • Parent involvement to ensure change for the better rarely yields any real change in the system
  • SO much wasted time
  • Children grow accustomed to being entertained and told what to do instead of developing initiative and curiosity

CHARTER SCHOOL (privately run, publicly funded)
Pros:
  • Have shown in many cases incredibly effective teaching and have had great success with children even in minority areas where other schools are clearly failing
  • Are free to attend because they are also funded by tax dollars
  • Are allowed non-traditional teaching methods
  • Are allowed restrictions on almost any criteria for enrollment
  • Often have focused vocational training or specialize in certain subjects

Cons:
  • Are often in such high demand that the only way your child gets in is by luck (a ball is randomly selected from a machine, just like the lottery). This means one of your children could get in while another doesn't
  • Because they receive tax dollars, they are still limited and ultimately controlled by government interests and regulations

PRIVATE SCHOOL (privately run and privately funded)
Pros:
  • Parents can choose from a variety of focuses (including religious) not available in any publicly-funded school
  • Privately funded means if they aren't both more efficient and getting better results than public schools, then they go out of business
  • Because parents can easily transfer their child to another school, the administration has more incentive to listen to parent concerns. Therefore parents' involvement usually has a lot of power to create real change

Cons:
  • Can be very costly, especially for families who struggle financially

HOME SCHOOL OR CO-OP (privately run and privately funded)
Pros:
  • Because children have more time with parents and siblings, relationships are inevitably much closer and deeper
  • More freedom to impart religious and political ideology more in line with parents' values
  • One-one-one attention and smallest possible classroom size means tailored education for each child
  • Flexibility of time means more field trips and traveling; which lead to a greater variety of hands-on experience and effective, memorable learning
  • Flexibility of curriculum means your children can pursue what they are most interested in. Consequently, they learn better, remember more, and don't have to stop pursuing a specific skill just because a class bell rings
  • Flexibility of timing leads to greater curiosity and initiative on the part of the child, yielding lifelong learners who understand the joy of learning
  • The teacher can adjust the materials to the learning style of each individual student
  • The teacher loves the child more than any other teacher ever would
  • The child is protected from many negative outside influences until they are old enough to stand firm amidst fierce winds (this can be seen as a con, too, and is listed as such for discussion later)
  • Because certain skills (piano lessons, latin lessons) as well as regular "homework" are part of the school day, where public school students must do them outside of class, this means that the child has more time in the afternoon to actually be a child
  • Take "educational" vacations anytime you want
  • Attend anything you want of a learning nature, even political and legislative meetings. Because these are often during normal school hours, most children would have to miss them.
  • Are consistently and considerably above the national averages for standardized test scores

Cons:
  • People are always watching and often judging to see how well Mom is doing
  • Moms can easily get into the tendency to compare their own schooling strategy with other homeschoolers
  • Moms may be tempted to go overboard, trying to prove their children are neither academically nor socially inept
  • Moms have to encourage and teach your children even when they don't feel like it (although, so do any other school teachers)
  • Homeschool requires more monetary investment than public schools (although much less than private schools)
  • Power struggles between parent and child are of a different nature
  • Home life has distractions that are not present in a formal school setting
  • Keeping the house clean is nigh to impossible
  • Trying to find the methods that work best for your family is a long process and Moms often feel they've "figured it out" just as their last child is off to college
  • Pressure involved with going against the grain and still having to fit your child into standardized testing and college-recognizable credentials

"Pseudo" Cons (I call them that because they are often seen and interpreted as cons, but when you do the research, you learn they're actually either non-issues or--even better--genuine pros):
  • Socialization, socialization, socialization
  • Kids are "over-sheltered" and the lack of exposure to the "real world" limits them in future endeavors
  • "Mom time" often gets pinched down to nothing
  • Moms get tired of being around the kids ALL THE TIME
  • Impossible for moms to lecture topics relevant to different grade levels while at the same time as bouncing a fussy baby
  • Families who homeschool are "retreating" into safety, which is bad because (1) they're chickening out of the "real world"; and (2) they're selfish to deprive the world of their good influence


In the next few posts, I will be discussing these "Pseudo" Cons at length in order to journal my own thought processes and "conversion" to home schooling, increase awareness for people who know little about homeschooling, and finally to encourage those who also might be thinking about homeschooling.

2011Res: To Matt: I love your flexibility with this whole house thing. To my girls: Heidi, your coos are so hard to resist. Can I just savor you all day instead of doing laundry? Dear Mr H: today I will give you a foot rub when you get home :)

4 comments:

Mara Schasteen said...

Wow, very interesting stuff. I remember trying to make this decision myself for my older two children. Then, baby number 3 came along... then number 4... and I said, "Not going to happen. At least, not yet."

:) Love you, dear.

Finn Clan said...

Hi Cous,
Thanks for posting on this topic, I find it extremely interesting. I'll admit that I've harbored all of the typical hang-ups about homeschooling, & so I'm very interested to read about the variety of viewpoints that are out there on the topic. Kalispell will be starting Kindergarten this year, & I have lots of anxiety & hang-ups about public/charter schools too... Lots to ponder & consider. So thanks for sharing, & I love the photos of Hiedi. She's darling!

Natalie said...

I have to say that I'm not sure how to feel about the topic your addressing. I respect you a lot, but I worked with Autistic kids in home programs and our goals on a daily basis was to socialize and to teach through behavioral modification, and developmental programs. I don't want to debate any of this with you, but I have a lot of experience on what it takes to truely socialize children and when I read your blog, I feel like you're assuming that your readers have had no experience with socialization, and that we have not thought of all the other numbers besides 1 & 8. Not trying to be confrontational, Just sayin......still love ya :)

Natalie said...

@ Natalie--I am VERY interested in your perspective. I thought about adding a blurb about autistic kids since I know that is a whole different ball of wax. But since that is likely not what my girls will face, I didn't add it. Still, what--in your opinion--is optimal socialization for autistic kids? I am very curious.