Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Homeschoolers

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Homeschoolers
And then there are the social aspects of going to school. Homeschooling parents tend to want to shield their children from negative influences. But this quest often runs counter to the idea that schools represent society and help promote tolerance. "No parental couple can offer a breadth of education [that can] replace experienced teachers," says Kraus, of the German Teachers' Association. "Kids also lose contact with their peers." (excerpt taken from above article)

I beg to differ with Kraus (surprise, surprise). This is probably the most argued point about homeschooling. I have heard “certified” teachers gasp and say things like, “who do they think they are (homeschooling parents). It is a slap in the face to think they can do our jobs.” I must admit at one point I thought it a bit insulting myself. After all I had attended college for six years to become a NY State certified teacher. I had to take out student loans on which I still owe lots of money. What would make a parent think they were equipped to do my job? Well, thankfully some of my prideful thinking has been corrected. Maybe it was my experience as an elementary school teacher that led to my change of thinking. Maybe it was becoming a parent myself, or a combination of the two.

I have taught in the projects and in a beautiful suburban village. I have worked alongside some of the finest teachers there are. There is no limit to the influence a teacher can have in the life of a child. There is a saying “to teach is to touch a life forever”. How true that is. I often think of a few teachers I had. They bring tears of thankfulness to my eyes. They were the ones who made me want to be a teacher. I hated school. But there were a few teachers who made me want to change that for others, to make school different, even if just for a couple of students. So I am not saying there are not wonderful teachers out there, making a difference, believe me there are and I count it a blessing to be able to have met them.

However… the thing that I did see that saddened me as a teacher were how children whose parents were working so hard to instill in them certain values were exposed to certain things that could never be taken back. I do not think that the young age of six or seven is the time to start explaining why certain people do certain things to the degree that this would involve. Yes, children know that not everyone does things the same way, but to have them exposed to this on a regular basis and think it isn’t going to affect them negatively…well, that is too much of a risk for me. I remember how it broke my heart to see the look on a child’s face when they saw one of their classmates misbehaving. Please don’t think I am unsympathetic to those children who were acting out. They were some of my favorite students. They have their own set of problems that led to their acting out behaviors. I did my best to help them and give them the attention they craved.

So yes I believe in the parents’ decision to “shield their child”. After all aren’t we as parents called to do that? I also believe it is the parents’ responsibility to train their children and help them to build a strong foundation so they will know how to handle certain situations in the world. It is not the country, state or school district’s responsibility, it is the parents’. As for the statement Klaus makes about kids losing contact with their peers; Hogwash! There are so many homeschooling activities available as well as other community activities with which to be involved, if the parent wishes. What about the interactions homeschoolers get to have among their siblings? You don’t hear too much about that, but how precious it is to have siblings learning alongside one another. Parents can do a fine job of educating their children. I am sure there are some homeschoolers that are not taking seriously their obligation to teach their children, just like there are some teachers that do not take seriously their responsibility to teach their students. Does that mean that the state has the authority to determine who is best to teach your child? I think not. In this wonderful country of the USA, let us remember that our country was founded upon the God-given right for individuals to pursue life, liberty and happiness. If we don’t remember this principle it may be taken away from us. May that never be!


  1. I agree with you. I was blessed with only one child, a daughter. She attended public schools through the fourth grade. At that point, I was ready to take her out and away from the public school system and quit my full time job. The Lord was changing my heart and thoughts. I was nervous about homeschooling her because I only got as far as a handful of college classes without a degree, but thankfully a dear friend of mine had home-schooled her children from the start and gave me the confidence to begin. My husband was with me and I dreaded telling my dad who had a master's degree in education and taught school for 33 years. However, I was quite surprised to find out that he gave his blessing on this adventure. I suppose he knew how hardheaded I am and that I'd do everything I could to ensure she had the proper education. I home-schooled through the 12th grade and then she took the GED test without taking the classes first and passed with flying colors. The lady at the tech college where they were giving the tests told me that most homeschoolers surpass others in the test scores. She learned the trade of cosmetology and though working for someone else now, she hopes to have her own shop one day. She had quite the culture shock though around the other girls in the class and told me the first day that she didn't know girls talked like that. I knew what she meant. I told her to remain strong in her faith and to be a light to them. They came to respect her and even apologized to her when they had a slip of the tongue. One girl even said one day that she didn't think my daughter liked her and my daughter said, "No, I care about you." The girl didn't quite know what to make of that and changed the subject. I will NEVER regret our homeschooling experience. I raised her in the ways of the Lord and to this day she is still reading her Bible and praying every morning.
    Sorry this was so long, but this topic has always been a soapbox for me. ;-)

  2. Sharon, thank God for that encouraging friend of yours. You have obviously done a wonderful job with your daughter. You must be very "well pleased" with her. My husband has started using "well pleased" instead of the word proud with our children and I like it too. :)


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