Deciding to Homeschool Our Children and How We Got Here

I left you hanging with a little teaser on Monday, when I told you about the school budget cuts and my concerns about the upcoming school year. I told you I was trying to decide between staying at public school, moving to a Christian school, or homeschooling. A decision has been made.

Next year we are going to homeschool our children. Both of them. We have a daughter going into 6th grade and a son going into 1st grade, so it could get interesting trying to homeschool kids with that big an age gap. I’m up for the challenge though.

What Went Into Our Decision

First let me say that a big underlying theme, so to speak, that runs through my life, is to be a good steward of what God has given me. That’s the reason I try to be frugal, and it’s also the reason I take my children’s education so seriously. As a parent, it’s my responsibility to make sure my children are getting what they need emotionally, spiritually, and educationally. So here are some of the things we considered.

Quality of Education. This consideration pretty much took public school out of the running. I suppose we could have kept them in public school and homeschooled after school, but then the lives of my kids would have been filled with school and not much else. I don’t think that’s very balanced, and I can tell you the last thing my kids want to do when they get home from school is more school.

Our local Christian school has a pretty good program going, so that was a consideration. But after looking at some curriculum online, we felt that we could also give them a quality education at home.

Socialization. This subject always comes up when you talk about homeschooling, doesn’t it? The last thing I want to do is have my family become hermits in our own little world.

However, we’re active in church, and my son is into sports. My daughter has some interests that she’d love to pursue, but hasn’t had much time because of…school. So far I’ve been limiting my kids to one activity each plus church activities. I’d be willing to loosen those standards, if we had a little more time in our day. So this year my daughter is thinking about 4-H, as well as some sort of musical endeavor.

We’re also fortunate to live in a state where public school sports are required to accept homeschoolers onto their teams, provided homeschool students pass a standardized test each year. We won’t be facing that for a while, though, as there are plenty of non-school centered sports activities for our kids.

The Personalities of Our Children. My son is an easygoing type of kid, who will probably thrive in any situation. My daughter, on the other hand, is reaching that awkward preteen, middle school girl age, where she’s starting to compare herself to other kids. And here conclusions haven’t been good.

We’ve been hearing a lot of “I’m stupid” and “I’m not pretty enough” from our daughter lately, and it’s concerning. She needs a little extra time to grasp a concept, before she gets it, and she doesn’t get that much in public school, leaving her feeling stupid.

For her, I think it will be good to pull her out of a situation where she’s comparing herself to others. Let her learn at her own pace and gain confidence in herself. Teach her who she is in God’s eyes. Then, if we ever decide to go back to school, hopefully she’ll be better equipped to stand up to the pressures that come with hanging out with other teenage girls.

Our Kids’ Feelings. We asked our kids how they would feel about each of the schooling options. My son jumped at the chance to be homeschooled. I’m not sure why, but we’re going with it.

At first my daughter was opposed to homeschooling, but open to Christian school. When she realized that we weren’t going to isolate her at home and that she wouldn’t have homework every night with homeschool, she quickly decided that homeschooling was a pretty good option.

Finances. Finances are what finally knocked Christian school out of the running, though even if finances weren’t an issue, I think we might homeschool, just because of the above issues. We’re not ruling out Christian school in the future, but for now, it’s not the right option for us.

Faith. As Christians, this was a huge part of our decision. We want to teach our children to love the Lord with all their hearts. To be able to weigh things that they’re faced with out in the big world against what the Bible says. In public school, especially starting in the middle school years, we are concerned that they will be taught things that go directly against what the Bible says, and that’s not OK with us.

That’s not to say we won’t touch on controversial issues at home. We most certainly will. (Have you ever known me to step away from a controversial issue?) But we want those issues taught in a controlled environment, where we know what’s being taught and are available to answer questions. Homeschooling is the best option for nurturing our children’s faith at this point in their lives.

I’ll Be Blogging Our Homeschool Adventures

I’m sure as with every other issue I wrestle with, I’ll be posting about our homeschool adventures here on BeingFrugal.net. What you probably won’t be getting from me, at least the first year, is how to homeschool frugally. Honestly, I don’t have a clue.

Because I’m not starting from kindergarten, I feel I don’t have a lot of room for error when it comes to homeschooling. My kids, especially my daughter, need to stay up to standards. Because I’m a homeschooling novice, I will most likely buy a prepackaged curriculum, which is more expensive than piecing things together. I’m leaning toward Sonlight at the moment, though no firm decisions have been made. It’s spendy, but it’s still less than private school.

We’ve made a one year commitment to homeschooling. If we decide to continue on after that, I may look at some less expensive options. But for now, I need to use something that gives me the confidence that my kids won’t fall behind. And a prepackaged curriculum that tells me exactly what to do gives me that confidence.

So that’s where we’re at. Next year is going to be quite the adventure. I’m scared, but looking forward to it at the same time.

Photo by basykes.



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By , on Apr 29, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{78 Comments}

  1. Jack:

    Pretty much amen to the post and most of the comments. My wife and I got tired of contending with government school “educators” on an almost daily basis… I used to grade and return the letters my children brought home from the Principal’s office… usually a “D” for grammar and spelling and an “F” for content. I wrote special software for my children so that they were able to actually learn on their own. Three of my children are now homeschooling their children… with spectacular success.

    I was an early admissions student at our state university, but it was based much more on what I learned outside the classroom (e.g. sitting on the floor between the stacks at my “High” School library and downtown public library) than in the government school classrooms… which BTW were orders of magnitude better when I grew up (in the 1940s and 50s) than anything I’ve been able to see today.

    Homeschooling is the hope of our future if we are to progress scientifically, academically and politically to restore our American Republic to its former innovative entrepreneurial and sociological greatness.

  2. Brad:

    Do keep in mind that a lot of what is peddled as science today (including a bunch in the area of “Evolution”) is a lot of theories and ideas parading as firm understanding. Some has even been disproven, yet is still pushed in government school texts and such. Modern science is far less “scientific” than we are led to believe.

    Instill a love for learning about things will do more to make them truly good scientists than any amount of propaganda from the classroom. Start taking junior college classes in high school if an “academic” version really is necessary for the direction they want to go.

    Instill a healthy questioning attitude, even of the scientific elite and your child will be much better prepared to filter through the tripe we get in the name of science today.

    Brad

  3. Elizabeth:

    Go for it with the homeschooling. As a public school teacher, I have seen home schooled kids who were socially awkard because they lacked socialization and ones who had been involved in church groups, sports, scouts, etc. who were comfortable with their peers and usually better than usual with adults. I have seen kids who excelled academically and ones who struggled either because of poor teaching (their parent should never have been home schooling) or because of undiagnosed learning difficulties that needed more skilled intervention. But I have seen more positive than negative. As to the letter writer who was concerned they would not be exposed to philosophy and literature, most home schooled and privately schooled kids actually read a far wider variety, although admittedly they do get less of the modern. (And avoid Lolita, kids are exposed to sexualization far too soon, and a book about an adult and underaged girls has no business in a kids hands, even if it is considered a classic.) Many of our elementary kids read more written for school books than classics.
    The one area that I have seen home schooling very consistantly weak in, is science, but so is the public school these days. And I am not talking about the creation/evolution debate. As one person put it after listening to a homeschooling mother at our church spouting off all the “proofs” for creationism that she had gotten out of her children’s curriculum, “Kinda makes you wish she would switch sides, doesn’t it?” As to dealing with bullying, what part of being an adult does verbal and physical abuse from another kid or kids prepare you for? For every child who learns to deal successfully with bullies, there are many more who are seriously harmed emotionally and in self-esteem. Schools are aware of this and it is a major goal in many to stamp it out. Bullying by kids is not the same as difficult adults, it is the same as abuse and/or assault depending on intensity.
    Once you have built a foundation, don’t be afraid to move them back to public schools or a good private school if you find they need a more qualified teacher than you; say you got them through algebra, but they need calculus, or they excel in science and really need someone who is more expert in physics or chemistry. Not knowing their limits is a major weakness for parents homeschooling. A computerized HS biology program won’t cut it for the kid who wants to go premed, although your future business major might be fine with it.
    Expose your kids to many different kinds of people through volunteer work, mission trips, etc. which will no longer be limited because of school schedules.

  4. C W:

    I am a public school teacher with 10 years of teaching experience, 2 masters degrees, and National Board Certification. I am, and have always been, a strong supporter or homeschooling and unschooling. Teachers are not the only folks who can provide a quality education to children. With the changes in legislation (testing, bureauracy, etc.), teachers have less time to devote to individual students. We spend an alarming amount of time redirecting behavior and testing. I applaud any parent who has the time and dedication to take the reigns and educate their own children. When my husband and I have our children, I intend to homeschool them, too. I do worry about the children in poverty (whom I teach) that are not able to receive the quality of education that they deserve, but I would argue that failure is a cultural, political, and familial failure, and not something that each teacher and parent that can change. The “brain drain” from public schools is disheartening, but I owe it to my own children to give them what they deserve… Good luck and kudos to you!

  5. Nikole:

    I support your decision to homeschool your children. McGraw-Hill put out a program called Aleks that is very helpful with teaching math, since it will identify any weak areas the children may have and quickly bridges those learning gaps. If I could go back in time and with the right family situation, I would have begged my mom for homeschooling. Public schools waste massive amounts of valuable time, and I firmly believe that most of a person’s necessary education can be done in 4 to 5 hours a day. As your kids get older, helping them to fill some of their day with a job or a personal business would really be neat.

  6. Rozella:

    sorry that your daughter is feeling bad about herself but by taking her out of school wont help her give her the tools too feeling good about herself and teach her how too deals with the pressures of the realworld instead of sheltering her

    • Mary:

      Wow, not to be completely critical, Rozella, but do you know how to use punctuation?

      These posts are about homeschooling and you don’t even capitalize your sentences – did you attend public school?

      I totally disagree with your comment about dealing with real world pressures. If anything, I would think homeschooling would give a parent the opportunity to open up their child’s world to the “real world” so much more than having them attend public school for nearly a third of their day.

      I am a public school graduate. I went on to earn two bachelors (architecture and civil engineering) and a masters (civil engineering) from two “big ten” schools. I believe a love of learning instilled by my parents helped me to succeed in both school and life after. That said, I stopped by the junior high school I attended to pick up my niece one day about 8 years ago. I walked down the hallway to hear students using foul language (f-this, f-you, etc.) and not one teacher anywhere in sight. When I attended that same school – 18 years earlier – teachers left their classrooms between classes to monitor behavior. If we’d so much as yelled something across the hall – foul or otherwise – we’d have been warned to behave. I would much rather homeschool my children and be able to teach them appropriate behavior then have them exposed to what other people may feed is “real world”. It IS NOT appropriate to behave as those children were in the “real world”. If they yell an obscenity across the hall at a co-worker someday, they will be fired. If they bully or harass co-workers someday, they will be fired. Children can be shown “real world” experiences without being subjected to the sub-par public schools as they exist today.

      My nephew, now 16 and a junior at the high school I attended, told his mother one morning “just don’t look anyone in the eye and they’ll leave you alone”, meaning the other students. My nephew is nearly 6 feet tall and is an athletic kid – and yet he worries about attending this school with other kids known to carry weapons, beat up other students, etc. I DO NOT want that for my kids someday. I don’t want “real world” for them to include a knifing by another student who barely speaks English.

  7. Heather:

    Hi There! Yeah! I’m so happy that you have made the decision to homeschool! We are in the middle of our third year ; we pulled my oldest out at the end of first grade. I feel blessed that the Lord has called me to homeschool and I know it can be a blessing in your life (and the kids) too.
    That being said, it is not easy. It is good that you are not starting right away. I felt convicted after I attended a seminar (Carole Joy Seid, but more about that later) in October of 2006, I went home and proposed to the hubby that we should homeschool. In his wisdom, he thought that we should wait till the end of the school year. I was so glad I did because I read all I could get my hands on about homeschooling. One of the books that I first read was: “The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling” by Debra Bell. Then, I read most of the books , etc., referenced in her book. Of course, I used the library for most of this! Also, I would hook up with your local homeschooling organization. They can help you find a homeschool mentor if you don’t have one who can answer all types of questions for you! I would also recomend attending one of Carole Joy Seid’s seminars (check out her website) – she has some great (frugal) ideas of what to use and how to get yourself ready to educate your children (like you haven’t been doing that already).
    Don’t worry about the socialization thing. Both of my girls are well adjusted and have friends to play and hang out with.

    • Kia:

      HI-
      I have been trying for a LONG time to get Carole Joy Seid’s book list. I have purchased her cd’s but have not been able to attend a conference. Could someone PLEASE help me to get a copy of this list……It truly would be a blessing to our family.
      Thank you,
      Kia

  8. Julie:

    Hi,
    I will look forward to reading your input on homeschooling. I have two children, aged 18 months and almost 4 months. (God-willing, we will have more). I have just started thinking about home-schooling and whether it something I would like to do. There is not much of a homeschooling culture in Australia (where we are), though it is growing in popularity.

    Two specifics I would like to observe:
    (1) How you choose curriculum and whether you can “afford” to be frugal with homeschooling resources (weighing up the money saving without sacrificing your child’s education)?

    (2) How you do cope with the age disparity between your children and making best use of the time for both of them?

    Thanks for your wisdom.

  9. Deb:

    Such an interesting topic! I just found you today and had to chime in. I am planning on homeschooling my kids (ages 4 and 2), and I was homeschooled myself. The most common reaction I get when I tell people my plans is “you are a redneck who doesn’t value education”. On the contrary, academics are extremely important to me and frankly I don’t think that public school can give my kids a quality education. Math and science are incredibly important in the world we live in. All you have to do is look and see how U.S. students stack up against students from other countries and you can see we are not doing a good enough job. Furthermore, most parents I know who send their kids to public school for hours a day have to come home every night and do hours of homework. Six or eight hours a day and they still can’t teach the kids? Not very efficient, and I know a lot of kids that are completely burned out by age 11 and do not enjoy learning. I want my kids to love learning, get a good education, and still have time for other activities and just being a kid.

    As to the socialization arguements, I agree with Linda Dobson (The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child). She points out that the socialization is basically 28 other kids the exact same age as your kid, from the same neighborhood as yout kid. So your six year old will be getting the majority of his social cues from….other six year olds. If socialization is such a concern for anti-homeschoolers, they should realize that there is much more value to trips to the grocery store, library, church, museum, 4H, swim lessons, sport, music lessons, etc, interacting with wide variety of people of different ages, professions and ethnicities. Real people doing real work in the real world. That is a better and more realistic way to socialize children than by locking them in a building with 28 of their peers for 8 hours a day. Which still doesn’t seem to actually educate them.

    Anyway, sorry to get on a soapbox for my first post! I will definitely be adding you to my Must-Reads! Good luck with the homeschooling and I am looking forward to reading about your adventures.

  10. I wanted to pop in a bit about the black and white and slavery issue. It is TRUE that there has been slavery throughout the history of the earth and that blacks were not the only slaves, nor were whites the only slave owners. TRUTH should be taught. The way things are taught there are certain ‘cherry picked’ ideas (pardon my use of a term someone else used against homeschooling) that are absolutely pushed in public schools. The entire culture in the US is being pushed in a certain direction are we to believe it ISN’T happening in the schools? Come on-get real!

    I would certainly teach my children (as I did in the days I hs’ed) about the slavery issue in the US but yes–I would also point out that slavery has always existed and still does–and that some of our own white ancestors were probably slaves as well.

    That said–its been a long time since the emancipation of blacks in America this issue should be behind us now. Even the Jim Crowe laws are close to half a century in the past.

    I don’t want to minimize the impact slavery had on the US –but I get so tired of America always beating itself up for every thing and I do not want to teach my children or grandchildren that they come from some uniquely evil country. ITs not TRUE!

  11. Anna:

    Kelli, wow. Just, wow. What you’re teaching your kids re: black people owning slaves and white people being slaves is a prime argument AGAINST homeschooling. Your kids are going to have a very twisted sense of history. Why teach that? Why is that important to you? Who owned the political, social and economic power at the time? And all your kids will be able to say is, “well, white people were slaves too, so there.”

  12. hatcco01:

    I just had to comment too… I have not made any decisions about this but expect I will have to someday. I think people are biased based on their own backgrounds (I’m from public school, parents and grandparent were teachers, I hope to become a guidance counselor in inner-city public schools for at least a few years). But here are just a few of my reflections… Lynnae, you wrote, “I want my children to think. I don’t want them to just accept everything the school hands to them. I want them to question. To form their own thoughts. To be able to critically examine a piece of material and pick it apart to get to the true meaning. I don’t want them to cram to learn the right answers to a test, just so they can get an “A”, and then forget everything right afterwards.” This is exactly what I learned from my favorite teachers at my mediocre public schools. I was also told by my kindergarten teacher that I colored the sky the “wrong” color, and faced the same peer pressures mentioned above, and never quite learned how to handle them until adulthood. But I also learned about kids who were different than me, people I never would have met otherwise. I learned empathy for people with less than me, like the children of parents who didn’t care as much as mine. It helped me see that I have a lot more in common with people who I originally assumed were so different from me. I don’t have any answers, but one of my main concerns about removing smart, caring kids from suffering public schools is that it increases the likelihood that they (and their families) might continue to interpret their public school peers as being sad, mean, hopeless, cases who are doomed to fail, and completely disassociate from part of their community in favor of the more familiar and fortunate areas and organizations.

  13. I came into this pretty late but what Bob said kinda irked me. My husband is a public school teacher and I homeschool my oldest. As parents we know our children best… yes, we may “cherry-pick” what we believe our children should learn but guess what, so do the schools. For example: Slavery… it is not very commonly known that Black people also had slaves and that White people were also slaves. Why not?? Because the “public schools” don’t feel we need to know that.

    As parents, we know our children best… my son is PHENOMINAL at math so I push him harder there, I know he will do something with math when he is older. Public school couldn’t care less that my son is great at math… he should be at the same level as every one else.

    My middle son scored 50 out of 100 on his handwriting when in Kindergarden. WHen I asked the teacher why he got a 50 she said, “He has the best hadnwriting in the class so I didn’t feel it was right to give him a zero… but he holds his pencil between the wrong fingers.” Are you kidding me?? He is left handed so I am glad he doesn’t twist his wrist all up, but who really cares if he rests his pencil on his middle finer or his ring finger???

  14. shari elmore:

    OH! Don’t forget http://www.singaporemath.com. Best math curriculum in the entire world-my kids LOVE it-and it is soooo inexpensive!

  15. Kim:

    I’m just so glad to have found this forum! After a rather “bumpy” year with our daughter in public kindergarten, my husband and I are seriously considering/researching home schooling starting 1st grade. It has been such a shock to me what she has been “exposed” to (literally)and what we have endured as a family to get through this past year. I guess school just isn’t what it used to be?
    When I read the original post I really felt like someone had just put into words what my heart and mind had been thinking! Thank you to everyone who has posted encouraging stories! I’m still a little nervous, but very excited about the possibility of home schooling!!! Thank you so much.

  16. Brad:

    It looks like you have already picked something, but you might want to check out http://www.learning-adventures.org/

    We only got through 1 and a half books in several years, but it covered multiple ages well and interesting material. The price is reasonable even if you are supplementing something else.

    BTW, forget the socialization junk. Look at the social problems in most government schools. I know my junior high experience (in a much milder time) was horrible…. Those who claim homeschooling is bad for this reason should have to defend all the socialization problems of those in the government school system!

    Brad

  17. Dana:

    Sorry to keep posting Lynnae but I saw something so very interesting in the Parade magazine yesterday. Someone asked about Will Smith (the movie star)wife opening up a small school. The answer came back that many people were amazed at the curriculum that she had put together for HOMESCHOOLING Will and her children that they wondered if she would share it or teach others. She know has a small school going for children that was inspired by homeschooling her own. This tells me that even people that can afford very elite, expensive schools have an interest in their childrens education and if the schools are lacking there is no reason for parents to school their own.

  18. You’re welcome to check out my frugal homeschooling blog. I just started it, so it’s still a work in progress, but maybe it’ll give you some ideas! :-)

  19. I admire your decision to homeschool. I knew from the time my daughter was born that I would eventually homeschool her. I was a teacher before, and I am choosing to homeschool for the exact same reasons as you. Kudos, Mama!

  20. Margaret:

    @ Bob & others who are concerned that homeschoolers who teach “only” the parental religious views
    Part of teaching and training children is to teach them that not everyone believes this way and explain some of the alternate beliefs (age-appropriately of course – reasoning skills take a while to grow) that people have and how they conflict with the Bible. The folks at Answers In Genesis do an excellent job of exposing how the rock-dating, fossil record technique used by evolutionists is merely circular reasoning. The middle-school ABeka science texts echo that and do an excellent job of explaining how laws of thermodynamics & entropy actually support the Biblical view rather than detract from it. (“secular” science has no problem with those laws to my knowledge.) Bob, you might be surprised to learn that the ABeka folks state something along the lines of “the purpose of science is to harness the laws of nature for the benefit of mankind” in the intro to their JR High science texts. They also make it clear that God expects us to be good stewards of what He’s given us and this should not be interpreted to mean that humans should be careless in how we use the resources of the planet and of each other. This resembles your statement:
    “My own personal religious beliefs is that God gave us the power of intellect and it is out duty to learn about the world around us-”
    You may find more in those Christian worldview texts that you agree with than you disagree with. I’m not saying this to pick a fight, just to say the gap between you and religious homeschoolers may not be as large as it seems. In order to debate intelligently, you have to study the opposing viewpoint(s) and many homeschoolers do just that. I think the concerns that drive many to homeschooling (other than the privilege to go at the pace of the one who learns differently rather than the pace of the district curriculum & state test week demands) is that not all viewpoints (in science and health for example) are permitted in public schools and the school is not permitted to advocate one viewpoint as the ‘right’ one, so their solution is to make sure any views that involve something more than what can be measured with the 5 senses are excluded.
    Lynnae & her family are on a big journey, fortunately, you don’t have to throw in all the details in at the beginning (1st grader) you can gradually expose them as their logic and reasoning skills develop (Jr high and up)Best of luck to you and take the advice of the commenter who recommended studying your daughter’s learning style to figure out how to present Math to her. Then you can fly through what’s missing and hit the expectations for her grade with no problem. :-)

  21. Dana:

    I find it funny when people wonder if people that homeschool read nothing but very religious or Christian only books. Many people do only read that type of material but most do read the Bible. The Bible does contain many aspects of life, anything you can think of is in the Bible. The difference in reading the Bible and secular books is that the Bible has a point to the story and secular reading is just that-reading. In the Bible one will find war, adultary, homosexuality, murder, witchcraft, and the list goes on and on and on. So I can have my child read what public school children are reading but use the Bible (for most of the same material) and then see what God says and then we can talk from there. Alot of people who have started schooling their children at home maybe even using a online school aren’t even doing it for religious reasons, they are doing it because people are losing faith in our schools. I started homeschooling my third child (four children in all) because after being in kindergarten a month she started crying. Kept sending, would cry all morning before school, then before and after and then all through the weekends. Her pediatrician and a doctor from behavioral health, and also a therapist (who she saw for three months) all said to take her out of school and homeschool her. If we kept her in school they were afraid that it would be more damaging than what was already. To this day (she is in fourth grade) she still becomes very achitated if you mention her and school in the same sentence. Every year we talk and ask about her going to school and she becomes very upset. Her therapist said we may never find out what went wrong but not to push her into an uncomfortable situation such as that. Her other siblings go and are fine with school. Sorry for being so long just another way to look at why people may school their children at home.

  22. Also, one more quick thing. You used examples of being offered alcohol or misbehaving. I think that it’s a parent’s responsibility to teach right and wrong, and then let the child make their own decisions. Obviously, if a child repeatedly makes bad choices, something further needs to be done, but I think a certain amount of making bad judgements (and learning from them) is part of growing up. One of my beliefs is that it’s impossible to truly know virtue unless you know vice (which isn’t an excuse for bad behavior everywhere, but that experience is a better lesson than book learning).

  23. I find it an interesting discussion, too, and I’ve debated this with other pro-homeschoolers I know.

    For me, socialization is more than just learning how to behave appropriately for a situation. My definition of socialization includes experiencing, learning from and appreciating diversity firsthand.

  24. Lynnae:

    @Shana – I’m going to have to disagree with you. According to Dictionary.com, the definition of socialization is:

    “a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.”

    At 11 years old, the average beginning middle schooler is just beginning to figure out their identity. Meanwhile, they are being pressured to conform to whatever their peers (other 11 year olds) think is cool. Even if that means bullying, dabbling in drinking (I was faced with this on my 2nd day of 8th grade), shooting spitwads at a substitute teacher (that one was cool in my 10th grade science class), and other “unsocial” behavior.

    I believe it better that kids learn social skills from adults who are well versed in social skills, while still figuring out their identity. Yes, there are always difficult people in the world, but it’s easier to deal with them when you have the maturity to see a bully for what he truly is: someone who is insecure with themselves and whose opinion really is no reflection on you. Unfortunately a middle schooler hasn’t developed the maturity to think that way yet. I don’t feel that kids need to go through the whole bullying thing to learn how to deal with adverse situations. There are plenty of other ways to learn that. A difficult kid at church, trying to make friends at a new activity, mastering a difficult math problem. Adversity is everywhere.

    Furthermore, homeschooled students aren’t limited to only being around similar people and reading “Christian” books. Next year my 6th grader will be studying different cultures in the Eastern Hemisphere, something she likely won’t get in public school, where social studies normally focuses on U.S. history. She’s going to try out for a county choir, which will take her into nursing homes, where she can interact with older people, something she also won’t get in school.

    And yes, we will be having discussions on Creation vs. Evolution, which is again more than she’d get in public school where Intelligent Design isn’t allowed to be mentioned. Eventually when she’s old enough, she’ll be going on a youth group trip with the church…this year the high schoolers are going to Peru.

    I want my children to think. I don’t want them to just accept everything the school hands to them. I want them to question. To form their own thoughts. To be able to critically examine a piece of material and pick it apart to get to the true meaning. I don’t want them to cram to learn the right answers to a test, just so they can get an “A”, and then forget everything right afterwards. Again, this is how I got through school.

    Next year we’ll be using the Sonlight curriculum (www.sonlight.com). Before making a judgment as to what my kids will and won’t learn, I encourage you to take a look at the cores and some of the literature included in the curriculum. I think you’ll be surprised, especially in the upper grades. There are lots of discussion provoking pieces included in the curriculum. Yes, it’s Christian oriented, but it includes a lot of different perspectives.

    Shana, thanks for sharing your opinion. Even if we don’t agree, I do enjoy this discussion.

  25. Regarding socialization: there is more to socialization than just interacting with people. School provides socialization with people of other backgrounds and situations — more so than only having children socialize at church or other organized activities. For example, if children only socialize with other homeschoolers, or only people involved in certain activities, their experience with people and the world is sheltered.

    Homeschooling is good for teaching basics (and I can easily see why someone would want to do it for grade school age children, so they can learn the basics well), but what about when teaching conceptual topics (philosophy, literature, etc)? First off, a homeschooler is only going to be exposed to whatever the parent deems appropriate, and if “inappropriate” content is covered, it’s probably covered with a disclaimer. Are you going to have them read Lolita? Are you going to encourage them to debate about evolution? Second, your children will miss learning by interactions with other students. Specifically, part of learning is listening to what others say, and listening and considering the questions they ask. I can’t count the number of times I hadn’t thought of a question until someone else asked it, or the number of times someone’s question sparked another question(s) in me. I think it’s exceptionally limiting if children aren’t exposed to these things. In my experience, great discussions come from multiple viewpoints. (Consider this: in one of my high school history classes, the teacher was an aspiring politician and there were exchange students, Nigerian immigrant students, jocks, geeks, honor roll, black students, white students, “alternative” kids, rich kids, poor kids). Then imagine how all these different viewpoints contributed to discussions — and they were lively. Without that class, most of the different groups of people would never have interacted together.

    Regarding Nate: I don’t disagree that some of his achievements are laudatory. However “pro-socialist agenda”? That’s *exactly* what I’m talking about when I say that homeschooled children only have the views of their parent(s). And if he only “steps foot” inside a school once a year, exactly how is assessing this agenda? This just infuriates me.

    Regarding bullying: sadly, this happens. However, if a child is taken out of school and doesn’t learn how to deal with this behavior, where are they going to be when they go to college or get a job? Yes, children can be mean – and they tend to be pretty straightforward about it. However, the same behaviors don’t disappear as those kids get older, though the behaviors are sometimes more subtle. There are difficult people at every age, and if children don’t learn how to deal with these people, then that’s going to make it more difficult later in life. I wasn’t a popular kid in school, and I had people pick on me occasionally, and yes, sometimes I thought I was ‘ugly’ or ‘stupid’. However, that didn’t make me a suicidal or miserable person or a kid that experimented with drugs or got into trouble, and I went to college (graduated an A student and with honors and achievements) and I now run my own business.

    Obviously, I think homeschooling is severely limiting for children. At the very least, put them in a school for middle school and high school. Using “oh, well they’re involved in church and other [middle-class] activities” as a “they’re being socialized…see” example is incomplete. Socialization includes learning how to deal with people outside of your own experience, and by limiting who they socialize with, you limit how they learn to deal with other people — especially since you live in a small community.

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