A Public Teacher’s Thoughts on Homeschooling

Let me start by saying that I very much support those who choose to homeschool their children. I have friends who homeschool and they do such outstanding things, sometimes I secretly wish my boys could be homeschooled…by them!

That being said, I always find it interesting to talk to people who homeschool. I am just interested, especially as a public school teacher, why they choose to homeschool. It seems that the reasons are all over the board — which is nice, by the way; they are making the personalized choice for their family. But I have noticed lately that there seem to be two camps of thought and both of them have to do with keeping children from the other camp of thought.

Stick with me here.

On the one hand, are my progressive/liberal friends.When I ask them why they homeschool they cite wonderful reasons about personalized curriculum and hands-on learning. But many of them also worry about the right’s grip on education and the cuts and the conservatives who are busy banning books and science.

My conservative friends (yes, I have them), give similar reasons, but they also talk about sheltering their children from the liberal agenda and influences that steal innocence from kids way too early.

My first thought was: Holy cow…they are homeschooling their kids to keep them away from each other!

But that is really oversimplify it, isn’t it?

My first reaction is to argue about how “public schools work!” and scoff at the idea of keeping your child “sheltered.”

But who am I do that?

I know I do my best to be a great teacher to my students. But let’s face it, my students are high schoolers who see me for an hour a day. What about little kids who spend all day with their teacher? Even the best teacher might not be able to offer exactly what a child needs like a parent in an individualized curriculum.

And what is so wrong with wanting your children to be sheltered a little longer from the evils of the world? Kids these days do grow up too fast. Parents of the students I have at the junior high level are constantly complaining and fretting about how their children are being exposed to talk of drugs, alcohol, oral sex, and more. I can’t even wrap my head around my little 3.5 year old knowing about those things in the next 10 years.

One of my friends put it this way, “we are building up our children’s armor before sending them out into a dangerous world.” The armor, in this case, is based on their religious beliefs, but it’s really the morals and ethics you want your children to be able to stick to when they are faced with hard choices.

As much as I believe in public education, I am not arrogant enough to claim it is for everyone. I think it does work for most, but you know your child best.

My one request is this: when you are making your choices for the education of your children, please do it for them and not for you. Do it because you believe it is what will be the best possible thing for them…not for your feelings. Ultimately, it is our job as parents to make ourselves unnecessary — and whether it happens earlier or later, it needs to happen.