Defending our decision to homeschool

Anyone who has made the wise, wonderful and challenging decision to homeschool their children will be able to relate to this post very well. You know what I mean when I say you pretty much have to defend your decision! The ever inevitable eyebrow raises you receive when asked "have you booked your child into a school yet?" and responding "No, we have decided to homeschool our children." The expressionate concern from someone when they find out that you have decided to personally be responsible for your child's education. The comments and questions about a child's "social" development, the "worries" about isolating your children or wrapping them in cotton wool and so on.

My first thought is that not all, but some of these people seem to have forgotten that we as parents have our children's best interests at heart, far beyond what they do. Therefore the decision to homeschool is based on very good and thorough reasoning and thought. It's something we have obviously put time, effort, discussion, prayer and research into in order for it to have become what we believe to be the best option for our family. Unfortunately there is no way of saying this to these people without making us sound offended and them sounding like morons. Therefore we have to smile and take the time to explain all the details of why we chose to homeschool. We must ease their concerns with answers in order to be left alone and not be looked down upon in our decision to homeschool.

Part of me wants to use the old "I don't care what people think, its none of their business!" Though this is in a way true, it is not a fruitful way of dealing with the resistance to homeschooling that we face, because it leaves no room for educating peoples ignorance or inspiring others to take the plunge and perhaps even homeschool themselves, or at least accept that homeschooler's actually do know what they are doing... and that it is a good thing!

Another difficult obstacle to overcome is how easy it is to actually offend by unintentionally making another parent feel guilty for placing their own children in the government or even private schooling system. If we aren't sensitive to the fact that some people who react this way have kids of their own whom they do not homeschool for their own reasons, we run the risk of looking like we are actually judging their decision to NOT homeschool, even if we are not doing so at all. So it makes it quite a sensitive subject to dive into with another parent!

I am personally a confrontationalist. I'm not really too worried about offending someone if I know my intentions are right and my way of going about a subject is not badgering or nasty in any way. The way I see it, if I explain it factually and with a dose of calm, I don't see why someone should be offended. It doesn't make it any easier, it just means I'm not going to be the most popular person in the world but you know where I stand and why I stand there.

I'd like to hear how other homeschooling parents respond to resistance/concerns about their decision as I am new to all of this. My children aren't even school aged yet but we made the decision before we even started our family so Its always been what we've wanted. Though now our daughter is a toddler and where we live you have to book some schools 2 - 5 years in advance to get a spot! So people are starting to ask questions.

Here are some of the comments and questions I have received so far in regards to homeschooling my children:

" that legal?"
"How do you know your kid is on par with other kids their age?"
"How do you know what they need to learn every year?"
"Don't you think they will suffer socially?"
"Don't you think they need a bit of life experience that school gives them?"
"Don't you worry that they wont have any friends?"
"How are you going to find time, it seems like a huge job!"
"Why would you do that? There are so many schools to choose from!"
"Don't you need some kind of degree or qualification to teach?"
"don't you think you are being a bit over the top doing this?"

I have answers for each one. They may not be the best answers, but they are the ones that came to me when asked and seemed to satisfy most. Not all, that's for sure, but most people.

Firstly, "oh is that legal"... answer: YES. As long as you register that you are homeschooling with the government.

Q; "How do you know your kid is on par with other kids their age?"
A: The government sends out an educational assessor on a regular basis to your home to check out what you have been up to. They will look at your child's work, ask some questions and so on to see where they are at. They make it a requirement that your child is on par with local schoolkid stats or you are forced to send them to school if your child does not improve at home. So their are things in place to make sure your child keeps up. Plus, ask any educational assessor and they will tell you that the home schooled kids tend to be far more advanced educationally beyond their out-of-home schooled peers. Must be due to the one-on-one teaching. Among other things.

Q; How do you know what they need to learn every year?
A: Its quite easy to get hold of local school's curriculum outlines. Plus you can work your own curriculum to suit your child and preferences. Their are educational superstores such as Wooldridges whom provide teachers guides and curriculum's which are available to anyone who wants to purchase them for home use. Therefore if you want to as a homeschooler, you can teach the exact same thing as a school teacher would, or even better, choose for yourself a curriculum which will meet the years requirements and work for you and your child. There are also curriculum's available on the Internet too.

Q: "Don't you think they will suffer socially?"
A: No I do not think that. Firstly, homeschooling is not actually an ancient ritual put to death many eon's ago by people in bonnets and top hats. It's a thriving method of teaching and their is a community out there! There are online networks for parents who want to organise social activities for their home schooled children. Their are regular group picnics and so on for the kids along with joint learning experiences. For example, off the top of my head recently I have heard of a homeschooling dad who teaches kids surfing in the warmer months. It can be your child's form of sport, he charges nothing because he teaches his own kids so its just as much of a blessing to them to have company as it is to others. They make a morning of it, have the surfing lesson then have breakfast on the beach together. Parents welcome to attend. Another example is a retired science teacher offering homeschooling parents the option of science excursions where kids will learn about all different science related things through activities and group play. Etc Etc Etc. Oh, and also, the educational assessors that come and check out the kids for their educational development purposes, have a habit of mentioning how socially ahead the home schooled kids are compared to public schooled kids. The home schooled children seem to be much more confident, able to hold eye-contact and make conversation with adults more effectively than other kids. So that's encouraging!

Q: "Don't you think that they need a bit of the life experience that school gives them?" (usually, this is referring to learning to deal with bullies, learning routine and being made to work in a team etc etc.)
A: Homeschooling presents itself with all the same opportunities of life experience as other schooling does. It is just that it is in a different environment all together, and I feel, a much more constructive one. Bullies will still be met in the playground, but mum or dad will be there to monitor and then discuss the incidents afterwards making it not only a life experience but a fruitful learning experience. Teachers are rarely there when bullying happens in schools, and regardless of what one thinks, there is no benefit for a child to be bullied and picked on with no justice, instruction or rectification of the matter. Most kids who get bullied learn nothing but the false understanding that they are not good enough and worthy of rejection. Yes we will encounter trials and disagreements in life, but as adults we are equipped to deal with them in a mature manner, children need guidance and understanding in these matters and left to "deal with it" can be harmful. (This matter actually deserves a post of its own so ill leave it at that for now).

as far as routine goes, this is achieved by parents being organised and passing this on to their kids! Dropping them off at school, having them go to the same classes each week, lunch at a certain time, picking them up at three etc is merely one aspect of an entire life's worth of routine. A homeschooler can easily mimic school routine if they so choose. They also have the ability to Teach a child how to successfully create routine for themselves.

Teamwork comes with siblings learning certain things together, activities with mum or dad such as baking or problem solving together and of course the extracurricular activities your home schooled child will be involved in with other children such as sport or music. Don't even get me started on discipline. Public schools do not discipline, ever, at all, they cant. Private schools sometimes discipline, and in my opinion, ineffectively. So lets not even go there with the discipline factor. Home schooled kids have the chance of being better disciplined by far.

Q: Don't you worry that they wont have any friends?
A: No, I do not. To begin with, I think its excellent for a child to understand that family is far more important than friends. Schooled children have a tendency to lean on friendships and trust friends far more than their parents or family by the time they reach high school. It is a cultural thing that is pushed from every avenue available and It has contributed to the destruction of the family unit. Although it is healthy and nice to have some good friends, it is not healthy for children to trust other children more than they do their parents, or like and want to be with their friends more than they do their family. Homeschooling helps to create a very stable and loving family unit. I'm not saying you have to homeschool to have a good close family, please don't get me wrong, but I'm saying that homeschooling is one of the beneficial ways to establish family first and foremost in a child's life which biblically is the way it should be. Not only this, but the child will certainly still have friends. Other home schooled children they meet at activities and of course, their friends of like age from church.

Q: "How are you going to find time? It seems like a huge job!"
A: Homeschooling takes less time than it does in a classroom. You do not have one teacher trying to grab and keep the attention of 20-30 distracted young people who would rather be doing something else. Therefore what it takes to do in a 6 - 8 hour school day (depending on the school) can be done within 1 - 3 hours a day with you and your own children. I met a woman with 4 children and she said primary aged, between the four of them, mostly one on one as they were different year groups, she only needed to do about 3 hours every second day with them! As they reached high school it changed and became more demanding, but still not as long as a normal school day. Plus you can work around life and do whats best for the family. Time management is essential and a Long subject, but how will I find time? don't you worry about that. Ill make time for the sake of my children's future. It's more important than anything else I could waste my time doing. May I add here, that homeschooling opens up the educational experience to a whole new level. Therefore boredom and inability to focus is less of a problem. For example, little Abby may be learning all about reptiles. Rather than staring at a text book full of information, she can go outside and SEE them, or be taken to a reptile park for a guided tour with a questionarre youve written up to fill out along the way! They get to experience learning not just sit there and listen and read all day.

Q: "Why would you do that? There are so many schools to choose from!"
A: (the answer would vary in depth of explanation and content depending on the asker being saved or unsaved, a parent of school aged children or not and so on..) Why? Firstly we feel personally as a family that this is the way God wants us to do it. Plus I confidently believe I can do a better job at educating my child than the education system can as I feel one-on-one will benefit my children much more, and I can focus on their personal skills, talents and interests, leaving out irrelevant things as they get older, and focusing on things that will actually be of use to them in life and the workforce. I also feel that placing them in the governments education system exposes them to immoral and unbiblical teachings such as the big bang theory being "fact" which it is absolutely not, and scientifically proven to be impossible for that matter. Plus the way subjects of a sexual nature are taught in schools and related topics such as abortion are unacceptable. many times Social and workplace ethics are completely left out or if included are vaguely touched on and not taught correctly. This mixed with allowing our children to be surrounded by other foolish and unmonitored children for most of their waking week is asking for trouble. The word says bad company corrupts good habits. Sending them to school is throwing them to the wolves and giving Satan the opportunity to indoctrinate them with opposing teachings to what we would be trying to instill in them. Children need the best start possible... we believe we can give that to them more effectively than a school could.

Q:"don't you need some kind of degree or qualification to teach?"
A: Surprisingly and thankfully, no. And your ability to teach your child effectively is judged in your child's progress anyway. Therefore if one was not able to keep up or teach well, it would show up in the child and measures would have to be taken anyway. Again, the educational assessors play a part in this. Plus, teachers work of curriculum's, we can too.

Q: "Don't you think you are being a bit over the top in doing this?"
A: No. Why is it over the top? Because its not doing what the majority are doing? Because It's "old fashioned"? I see it simply as something we as parents have decided to do in our Children's best interests. And in that instance, is not over the top at all. I look at the word and If homeschooling is over the top? Jesus and His disciples were just fanatically over the top freaks with the way they lived their lives! So in that instance, call me OTT all you want.

So there are some of the ways I've been answering the questions thrown at me. Most people tend to accept what I have to say, some get offended or think I'm an idiot. Either way, its not going to change my mind or my course. I'd like to point out that although I strongly advocate homeschooling as the best option for children, I do not believe that parents who choose not to homeschool are bad parents. I also understand that some families do not have the option of homeschooling due to legalities in their country/state or due to financial, mental or health reasons. I also understand that it is every families duty to seek out the best options for them with much prayer and information gathering. We aren't all going to agree on what the best course of action is regarding our children's education and I do not condemn or judge those Christian parents who choose not to or are unable to homeschool. I have merely given those who are homeschoolers (or will be) my responses to questions we all face, and also given a perspective to those who are on the fence.

I have ALOT more to say on the subject, but this is becoming a book so I shall leave you with whats here.

Bless you all in your educational endeavours and may your decisions glorify God and lead your children closer to His heart :-)