Thursday, August 2, 2012
The Homeschool Debate
I accidentally unleashed a firestorm debate on Facebook by simply asking for homeschool information from my homeschooling friends. I was merely soliciting information from them to add to our decision making process. Instead of receiving said advice, I started a debate of homeschool versus public school and socialization versus the lack thereof.
The debate between homeschool and public school has been taking place for longer than I even know. The debate points have changed little while both homeschool and public school have changed greatly!
I have my own opinions on this debate. First, may I point out that I am a product of homeschool. I hold two bachelor degrees, graduated Magna Cum Laude from a public university, and taught in the public school system.
I graduated from homeschool in November of 1994, a semester early. When I graduated, state law did not yet allow (or perhaps had just allowed. I can't remember the exact timeline) homeschoolers to simply graduate. We had to have a GED or a degree from a correspondence school. So, my high school diploma is a GED which I passed with flying colors and had my choice of colleges to attend.
Homeschool was very different when I was in school. There were not a lot of choices as far as curriculum and very few parents continued to homeschool through high school. As I moved from middle school into high school, my friends moved from homeschool to public school. The subjects were deemed too difficult to teach at home. I was all alone my freshmen year, by my senior year, there were enough high school homeschoolers to count on two hands. Today, parents who homeschool don't even worry about high school or diplomas.
For me, geometry was a nightmare and there wasn't a curriculum that worked for me. In fact, I didn't really grasp geometry till I started gardening. Today's homeschoolers can learn Russian or even geometry without their parent's assistance through DVDs and online courses.
Homeschool has morphed into a uniquely American creation. We should all be proud of what it has become no matter where we stand on the homeschool versus public school debate.
Today, parents and students can choose a variety of ways to homeschool. There are co-ops that offer classes to all levels from pre-k to high school. Some offer these classes throughout the week and you can choose which classes to take. Others offer classes once a week and parents teach. Then there is the mix of private school and homeschool, where the student is taught in a classroom three days a week and the parent downloads assignments from the same teacher the other two days a week.
You can participate in any sport or any extracurricular function via these co-ops that you can in public school. There is football, cheerleading, sign language, music, etc. There are field trips, playdates, study groups, Bible studies, conferences (for all ages, not just the parents), and the list goes on.
The opportunities to socialize quite likely outnumber those of public school because of the flexible time schedules. Some families homeschool year round, taking a month off between semesters to visit family and friends who live out of state. Deep connections are encouraged because you must go out of your way to see your friends. You don't sit next to them everyday, so you make time to spend with them no matter where they live.
In all honesty, it does not matter which avenue of education grants the best socialization. What matters is what is best for that child's personality? Where does that child get the best education? Where will that child be best prepared to succeed in college and beyond? Where will the child find the best role models, social circles, and friends?
Each child is an individual. Each family is unique. Each school district is different. Each classroom environment is different.
While a public school classroom is perfect for your 11-year old Johnnie, it might not be right for 9-year old Susie. While a particular school district worked well for your kids, perhaps moving to a new school district found them to not be so cooperative. While the education of one school or district was above and beyond imagination and would well prepare your child for med school straight out of high school, another might not be good enough to get the same child into college.
While one child may be an extreme extrovert and need to be surrounded by students and in a classroom, another may be an extreme introvert, overwhelmed and anxious in the classroom. While one child may choose an excellent set of friends and role models, another child might migrate toward the trouble makers.
I'm not either pro-homeschool or pro-public school. I have seen it from all angles and am now seeing it from the parent's angle. That angle is in choosing what it best for my child this year. This year it may be homeschool. Next year it may be public school. My child changes every year and so will his needs.
Each and every family has the right to evaluate their child or children and their needs. No one knows their child like them and the entire debate of homeschool versus public school is moot, except between mom and dad. Each choice, regardless of your opinion on homeschool or public school, should be respected.
This is after all a free country. The subject of homeschool shouldn't open a firestorm of debate anymore than mentioning a child is going to public school opens a debate.No parent puts their child in any school without great consideration. That's why public schools have ratings. That's why the school district is listed on real estate information. All parents carefully consider their child's education and those decisions are not taken lightly.
Take heed that when a parent chooses homeschool over public school, it was not without considering all the pros and cons on both sides. In the end, whether they chose one or the other, it was because they thought it was best for their child!
Posted by Cynda Western Felini at 4:38 PM