Defending Homeschooling

I’m trying to become a better homeschool apologist. 

I’ve believed in homeschooling since before I had children.  I’ve practiced homeschooling for 17 years.  It’s about time I begin to truly defend homeschooling.

For years I have allowed public opinion and my own fear of being offensive to temper my defense of this institution in which I have placed complete confidence for my children’s future.  When questioned, I have uttered half-hearted answers such as,

  • "Well, homeschooling is a great option, but it’s not for everyone."
  • "I’m a teacher, so homeschooling is the perfect opportunity for me…I can be a teacher and stay at home with my children."
  • "I don’t live in a great school district and I can’t afford private school, so homeschooling is really my only option."
  • "What have I done about socialization?  Well, my children go to Sunday School, Awana, baseball, dance class, library story time, YMCA gym class and homeschool field trips.


Recently, I began to listen–really listen–to my answers and what they communicate.

Here’s what I heard myself saying….

  • "For some people, school is really a much better option.  Homeschooling doesn’t work well for everyone."

  • "The only reason that I’m qualified to teach my children at home is that I am a certified teacher."

  • "People in good school districts should really just leave their children in school."

  • "Socialization is an important aspect of the school experience that I MUST work hard to replace with lots of busy activities."

I have done myself and other homeschoolers a huge disservice to allow this fladeral to make its way from my double-speaking mouth!  I’ll give myself credit for one thing.  I’m a nice person.  I try not to knowingly offend people.  But in this case, being nice has backfired on me.  In trying to be nice, I’ve undersold something that I have staked my children’s future on…and in the process given the impression that I think that homeschooling is just another option.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

So, here’s the truth as I see it:

  • School is NEVER a better option.  For some, school may be the ONLY option, but that doesn’t make it a better option.  While schools don’t fail every child, school puts all children at risk spiritually, academically, emotionally and socially. Why would anyone knowingly expose their children to those risks when there are better options available?
  • Despite what the NEA (and Elizabeth Edwards) will tell you, a child’s parent is almost always (and unfortunately, I feel the need to qualify that statement to some degree) better qualified to teach his or her children than a certified teacher.  A parent knows and understands a child’s academic and emotional needs and is better suited to meet those needs than anyone. 

  • Even in "good" schools, children are at risk.  The honest truth is that school, even at its best, can NOT compete with homeschooling in terms of producing a well-rounded, well-adjusted, well-educated child.

  • The socialization that children are exposed to in school is negative.  Period.  When children socialize one another, very little good can come from it.  Socialization is NOT about keeping my children busy running from activity to activity.  Socialization is the process of preparing a child to become a mature, productive member of society.  This happens better at home than anywhere.  Studies increasingly show that homeschooled children ARE better socialized than children schooled in public schools.

So, I have recently begun to work at being a better defender of homeschooling as a schooling option.  I’ve begun (slowly) to speak the truth to people in answer to their questions.  Guess what?  People don’t like hearing the truth.  I think I know why. 

The truth offends.  In this case the truth calls into question the schooling choices that a person has made.  The truth also demands a response.  When I share the truth with people, they are forced to face some difficult questions regarding their academic options and choices.  They are forced to consider making some personal sacrifices for the good of their children.  And they don’t like it. 

Tough.

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13 responses

  1. Absolutely!!! I am in exactly the same position as you–except that I have been teaching for less time–both public school and home. 🙂 My family and their friends are all public school teachers so I often try to cushion it but REALLY, I have used all of the first set and almost none of the second and I really NEED to fix that. Thank you.,

  2. Defending home schooling is a theme in many of your blogs, blogs that are always thoughtful, entertaining, and well written. I am curious as to why you have such a need to defend home schooling. My curiosity comes from the fact that I almost never have to defend our decision to teach our children at home. It is obvious from what you have shared on your blog that you are a very successful home schooler. I guess I assume that with success comes…peace of mind? I would love to read more of your thoughts on this subject. I will have to steal your answers and file them away for future use. They're great!

  3. Great questions, Arby! And I have great answers. You're right, a successful homeschooler shouldn't have to defend herself. Success is the best defense, right? Well, unfortunately I've found that isn't always true. I'll be responding to your questions within the next day or so…and thanks for the blog fodder!

  4. Thank you for this post. It was truly wonderful!!
    I am Jacque's oldest daughter and have seen her over here. I thought I would stop by and add you to my friends also.
    I really enjoyed reading what you have to say.
    As Always,
    Amanda

  5. What an excellent post! I know I've offended a few people (mostly friends who are public school teachers) just because I choose to homeschool. I'm not an overly outspoken individual so I definitely understand your point of view!

    And I am so glad you enjoyed the "Elf Yourself!" We've had lots of fun with it for two years now!

  6. I sometimes find it difficult to be 'wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove' when answering HSing questions. Obviously I don't want to offend on purpose, but that fact is that folks are going to be offended by the choice to HS, because it is assumed that HSing is automatically a condemnation of public schooling. Which it is, so there ya' go.:D

    When someone asks me questions out of genuine curiousity, I am much more explanatory and tactful. If I perceive someone is looking for ammo, well, I give it to 'em- both barrels right between the eyes. 😉

  7. Homeschooling is pretty common and accepted in my area, so I don't find myself having to defend it per se, but rather answer ridiculous questions about it. I literally have to concentrate on not rolling my eyes if I hear the S-word question.

  8. I enjoy reading your commentaries on homeschooling. I'm not challenged in my area too much – it's so common. I'm a licensed social worker and I work in "the system" LOL. So generally when I'm asked it's by other professionals.
    So sometimes I just say "because I can" and sometimes I say "PLEASE! you've seen what we work with! why would I put my child in with that?"

    I would NOT put my child in public school and I would only put her in Christian private school if my DH insisted and my in-laws paid for it. Neither of which will happen.

  9. I loved reading this post! This would be a good thing to laminate and keep with you when people start asking questions. Would be so much easier to whip that out & hand it to people instead of explaining it. LOL. Holly

  10. I've said variations of #3 & #4. They are true but as you point out not the full unvarnished truth. It's one of those socially awkward things like talking about being a stay-at-home parent to an employed one or about marriage to a divorced person. I have very strong opinions about those two topics but I can't just say to them "Don't you realize what you're doing to your kids?????"

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