Every time Damon and I mention we homeschool Pumpkin, we are asked about it – why we homeschool in the first place is one of most common questions we get.
Before I get into our long list of reasons we chose to homeschool, I wanted to make a small disclaimer. I by no means want this list to be a judgement against parents who put their kids in public or private schools. Parenting is tough and schooling is one of the many difficult decisions we all make. Do what is best for you and your little ones first and foremost.
Damon and I knew we were going to homeschool before I ever got pregnant. It was one of the things we discussed before we were married even – that we wanted kids and how we wanted to raise them. This is an important conversation I think anyone that is considering a long term relationship and future children should definitely have.
We both went to school. Damon went to public school and I went from private Christian schooling to various public schools (being an army brat we moved a bit). Neither of us had the best of experiences and that certainly effected our decisions to homeschool. I cannot say if we went to better schools or had better teachers we might not have made the same choice – hypotheticals could be given all day and wouldn’t amount to much other than “I don’t know what I would do in a very different situation.” In the end, none of us can make a truly objective decision as we are all the results of our experiences and world views.
Our List of Reasons We Chose to Homeschool
Safety – school shootings
I recently had a viral tweet about the ridiculousness of high price bullet proof backpacks when so many schools don’t allow backpacks that are not clear or mesh – an action that is supposed to deter students bringing weapons to school.
I received a few direct messages regarding this tweet, one of them a tearful response from a mom who wanted to homeschool her small children. She couldn’t bear the idea of her babies coming home singing the song that they memorized in case of school shootings – a horrific jingle to help them remember to hide and cover themselves to try and prevent being shot.
My heart breaks for all of us parents. I understand the fear. Schools are no longer safe havens of education but a battle ground in the United States and I don’t know when we as a nation will feel safe again.
Safety – bullies and abusive authority
Sadly, its not just school shootings that risk the safety of our children. Daily we see news reports of children being abused by other children, teachers, and care givers. Everything from young Muslim girls being disrobed of their hair coverings, little black girls having their braids cut off, little boys being beaten near to death on an unsupervised play ground, and sexual abuse of cis and trans children alike. Its horrific and of course I feel better equipped to supervise my child than others to keep him safe from these problems.
I am realistic. I know there will be a day in the future where my child will be without me or another parent or guardian and have to fend for himself in the face of bullying and abuse. However, when that day comes, it won’t be when he is very small and vulnerable and not yet standing on a foundation of strength of character and knowledge of who he is. Instead, it will be after I have done my best to help him build that foundation and made him aware of his autonomy, rights, abilities of self defense, what is right and wrong, and where he can turn to for safety during or after. Very young children don’t have this yet and still they are subjected to horrific situations. It breaks my heart.
One on One
You can easily do a search and see that teachers are over worked and under paid. Strikes and articles about pay cuts, inability to hire teachers, and fewer people going into the field tells a dreary story. On top of this, the ones that do work hard and try to connect with their students are set up to fail by numbers alone. 1 teacher to a classroom of 30-40 students just doesn’t allow for them to check in and make sure each student is getting the attention, care, and education they need. Instead, they are forced to acknowledge the students that are naturally bright in that subject and spend their time on trouble makers and those having a very difficult time regarding behavior. This leaves a large population of in-between students unattended to.
There might be ways to make up for this but adding on to the hours at school with extra hours in tutoring after classes is just too much for little ones.
Homeschooling allows me to work one on one with my child and hire a tutor or teacher to do the same when a subject or topic is beyond my ability to teach alone. This allows me to play to my child’s strengths, spend more time on lessons that need extra care, etc. A child cannot get this kind of care in a school setting.
Raising a Child of Virtue (World View)
When my friend, who we will call Myrtle, sent her child to school, she rightly asked to see their text books. Flipping through them, she was appalled to find that the history text contained some racist propaganda. I got a message the next day from her saying “If the principle and teachers aren’t scared when you pull up to the school, are you even parenting.” Of course I had to know what was up. The text book was calling the Trail of Tears and the removal of Native Americans from their lands the “Voluntary Native Relocation Program.”
Since then I have learned that many text books now call Slave Trade “Triangular Trade” and omit difficult history topics like the Vietnam War. Its disgusting and not the kind of white washing history I want my child to learn. Its bad enough that I grew up being taught the myth of the 1st Thanksgiving, that white people invented writing and printing paper, and other lies. I want better for my pumpkin.
This is not even including the idea of religious world view and instilling my child with virtues and beliefs that I feel are important. You can read more about my thoughts on Involving Children in Spiritual Practice, here.
Activism vs Parenting Choices
I couldn’t leave off without acknowledging an argument I’m presented almost every time I mention the reasons we homeschool. Often someone will say that Instead of homeschooling my child I should put him in school and be an active parent in advocating for better safety, curriculums, etc. The argument being that homeschooling parents are being selfish in not working for the education and safety of all children, not just their own.
I get it. Without voices and bodies and dollars in the school system, it is hard to change things for the better. However, don’t ask a parent to subject their children to something they feel is lacking or even dangerous in order to be activists. There are other ways we can advocate for safety and education.