I wrote the post linked to above a couple of years ago, and I have had some other thoughts recently on the issue that I wanted to share. I also wanted to correct my quote attribution on the original post. “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” It was said by Jiddu Krishnamurti and not Ghandi. On facebook, someone used the new “Question” feature to ask whether homeschooling was better than traditional schooling. This is my response to said question:
I dispute the idea that home schooling is not as good for socialization as a traditional school for a few reasons:
* I have met children who could only play with other children their own age and felt uncomfortable playing with children other ages because they were so accustomed to their own peer group at school, while home schooled children tend to have an easier time playing with anyone and being friends with everyone from adults to toddlers.
* Some of the things that kids teach each other through traditional socializing at school goes very far against what lots of parents are trying to teach kids at home. They tend to be disrespectful, arrogant, rude and sometimes downright malicious.
* There is a vast difference between socializing and socialization. If the 7 hours a day my kid is at school, he is spending all of that getting socialization because he is socializing, that is unacceptable. If my kid were at school, it would be to learn. If he is socializing that entire time, then I definitely don’t want him there.
Well socialized kids are able to be responsible and effective members of a group. They can show some leadership skills, they can be respectful, they can compromise and they can help each other. Kids who experience a lot of socializing, on the other hand, may not. They may have only learned how to cope within that group. That is a frequent downside to being in a traditional school setting. Teachers do the best they can through group projects and other interactive learning situations, but those do not always work. It can be much easier to show your kids yourself, because there are fewer of them than in a traditional classroom, what kind of behavior is acceptable, and what is not.
Because you lack the same kinds of time constraints that you have in a traditional school setting, you can actually allow kids to work on those skills more if they are homeschooled.
As far as the quality of education goes, different states have different standards for what the parent has to do to homeschool a kid. If you can actually take the time to work with the kids, they tend to be more advanced academically than their traditionally schooled counterparts, as well as having better logic, reasoning and critical thinking skills. More of that depends on how resourceful and creative you are as a parent than how qualified you are as a teacher. For example, I do not know calculus. I struggled with it when I took it in school and I never really got it myself. When my kids get to the point that they need to learn it (assuming they ever get there, it was an AP class at my high school, and not necessary for my degree) I will find other resources so my kids can learn it, and I will try to learn it right along with them. I am definitely not qualified to teach calculus in a high school, but that doesn’t mean that my children can’t learn it being homeschooled: it just means I have to figure out a way that will work for them that is being managed by me, but not being taught by me. Thank goodness for the Internet.
As you can see, I am biased toward home schooling, particuarly over public schooling. At the same time though, there are circumstances that may necessitate other methods and resources. That is OK. You have to do what is best for your children, no matter what anyone else thinks.
The question that you really need to answer with regard to all of this is whether or not your needs are being met in the current circumstances. If they are not, those circumstances need to change. If you are at home and not learning anything, you may need to go to school. If you are at school and not learning anything, it may be time to go home.
Another respondent said that though you can substitute the social experiences you have in a school setting for others when homeschooled, that it does not compare to spending 7 hours a day in that social setting. The way I see it, kids shouldn’t be socializing in class, at least not very much, at school. That depends on the teaching style and what the teacher is teaching a little bit, but few teachers don’t teach in a lecture format, which means if you are socializing, you are missing out. That leaves lunch and recess for the socializing, and in my school each of those only lasted about a half an hour. That was six hours in class where it is unlikely that I would be socializing, and if I was, I was also probably having a discipline problem with the teacher. From a logical standpoint, this argument doesn’t hold up real well with me.
I have descended from my soapbox.