Thursday, January 26, 2006

Homeschooling -- I think I'm missing something here

I spent some time this morning reading through blogs by Catholic moms and was struck once again at how similar I am to these women. Over the past few years, even before becoming Catholic was a remote consideration, I always noticed that the people I clicked with were very often Catholic. And this morning I was thinking yet again of all the things I have in common with most orthodox Catholic mothers…except for one big one:

It seems that many strict Catholic families homeschool their children. This one I don't understand at all. Homeschooling isn't appealing to me at all for a variety of reasons (I'm not saying I think it's bad that others do it, it's just not for me). Yet I can't help but feel like I must be missing something since so many women that I am intellectually and theologically aligned with on so many issues are adamant about their beliefs that homeschooling is the way to go.

So, if I have any readers out there who are pro-homeschooling I'd love to hear from you. My main reason for not being interested in this route is just the socialization of my children. I want my kids to get used to how society works, for better and for worse, at an early age, and being in school around other kids every day is a great way to do that. (I know that there are homeschool groups where all the kids in an area get together, but from what I understand they're not every day). I also worry about how stressed I'd be with that much responsibility every day and the fact that I'm pretty disorganized and impatient, but I could get past those objections.

The commenters on this blog have managed to greatly influence the direction of my life on much bigger subjects than this, so let's give this one a shot as well: why should I homeschool my kids?


UPDATE: I just found this great post on Selkie which, along with the accompanying comments, answers a lot of my questions.


At January 26, 2006 4:07 PM, Blogger moosejamal said...

Please don't homeschool your children. Homeschooling will deprive them of important character-forming experiences and social interaction. It may also hamper their future education and occupation opportunities.

You seem to be a parent who takes her job very seriously. I am sure you would be able to have a substantial influence from home as a caring mother.

At January 26, 2006 4:49 PM, Blogger SmartBlkWoman said...

I am also thinking of homeschooling my only daughter.

I often hear people that are anti-homeschool say, "your kids need to socialized". Ok, but look around you at the way that many children are being socialized in the American school system. I am not raising a perpetual child, I am raising an adult and thus wouldn't she be better socialized by being around adults who love her and feel that they are personally responsible for her growth? Approximately 30% of people drop out of high school, millions of Americans are functional illiterates, American consistently ranks near the bottom when our students are compared against students from other countries, and the list of failures of the public education system could go on and on. At home you can introduce values and morals into your childs education, you can move at their speed and really take time to go in depth with things that interest them.

Contrary to what some people will tell you, kids don't need to be around other kids everyday to grow up to be successful adults. I'm sure that your children will have access to cousins and other siblings, your friends children, and there are children at play dates and other outings. People that say children cannot be successfully socialized outside of public schools cannot provide any evidence to back this up. In fact they are contradicting themselves because numerous studies say otherwise.

Every study I have ever read says that homeschooled children grow up to be much more effective and well rounded adults than their public schooled peers. Look up some additional information on this and I am sure that you will see that the benefits of homeschooling are numerous.

Like you said, it has it's drawbacks though. It is time consuming and you would be responsible for the curriculum. If there is something that you feel that you can't teach your children you can always hire outside tutors ( college students in the subject maybe). If you don't know where to get started there are many home school programs online that provide all of the instruction materials you'll need. I would have to say that the worst part about teaching your own children would be the fact that other parents will think it is their business to try to dissuade you from it.

At January 26, 2006 9:07 PM, Blogger COD said...

Moosejamal is right. If you homeschool your kids they will miss out on getting bullied on the playground, and shaken down for their lunch money. You'll be depriving them of the opportunity to sit in a sterile, institutional building all day in the care of government employees who really don't have any emotional investment in their well being. They will be missing out on the watered down, overly politicized curriculum in 8 year old textbooks that were chosen because that is the publisher that provided the best kickbacks to the school board textbook committee. They will be missing out on the wonderful opportunity to learn how important it is to speak only when spoken to, how to stand in a line quietly, how to hold it all day long because they are afraid to go into the bathrooms, and how to look interested in class when they are bored out of their minds.

Really, what parent would want to deprive their child of all that?

At January 26, 2006 11:21 PM, Blogger Theresa said...

I am a fairly recent convert to Catholicism (12 years...maybe not so recent) also raised an athiest. I homeschool two kids and one is in public school. I, personally, don't see any difference in the social abilities of the homeschooled vs public schooled kids- and I know quite a few of each-I used to be a public school teacher. I've found that most folks who say homeschooling deprives kids of "important socialization" don't really know jack about homeschooling.
Why homeschool? I can only speak for myself, but at our home we have so much fun! I LOVE learning side by side with my children each day, sharing their discoveries, struggles and triumphs. Sure, it is alot of work, but then again, so is, And no job gives this kind of satisfaction. No way!
Advantages-really small class size, individualized course of study, flexibilty, variety of learning experiences, opportunity for travel...sounds like an ad for a pricey private school. Few people would dispute the advantages to that.
Homeschooling includes a vast array of methods and philosophies, from classical to unschoolers, to school-at-home, to video schooling and everything in between. You have alot of time to explore this varied and expanding realm, to see if there is a method that fits with what YOU envision your child's education should be.
If so, then give it a shot. If not, then don't. It's that simple.
Good luck to you.

At January 26, 2006 11:44 PM, Blogger Lioness said...

It's hard to imagine how anyone who attended a public school in the past quarter century could have anything good to say about it's "socialization" techniques. I've spent a fortune on therapists and medications trying to recover from mine. Here's a post I wrote on it:

At January 27, 2006 12:01 AM, Anonymous nancyp said...

I've done it the Catholic school way and am now working on Year 4 of homeschooling my two children. I will tell you this about socialization. The "socialization" that public schools allow would never be allowed in any adult workplace. Racial epithets. Coins heated with lighters and dropped down the backs of unsuspecting girls. Second-rate treatment (by teachers!) of children not born in our particular county. An adult doing this stuff would be in court, in the unemployment office or in jail. This is not how I want my children to grow up. That's why they're still learning at home.

This is all aside from the faith-based aspect of learning at home. In any faith, parents are the primary teachers of their children. When we give one hour per week to the supposedly most important subject (our chosen faith), it's not enough to counter the influence of "society" at large.

I began homeschooling because the only school available to my children was a dismal failure. I chose a Catholic curriculum because we are a Catholic family. Homeschooling and faith instruction work extremely well together...pretty seamlessly, in fact.

You definitely don't have to homeschool to be a faithful Catholic person. You definitely don't have to be religious in any way to homeschool. The benefits of homeschooling are available to all. Yes, you do sacrifice your "personal" time...but haven't you been doing that since you became a parent?

One other note...most American parents have no idea how much control they relinquish when they send their precious children into a public school. In many states, Child Protective Services can come into a school, pull a child out of class for questioning, and not ever notify the parents. (A year ago, I would have said that my previous sentence was a gross exaggeration; sadly, my friends with kids in public school have shared their experiences with me, and I assure you that these things really do happen.) In many states, teachers can provide all kinds of information to your child (about health issues, legal issues, etc.) that you do not agree with or believe your child is ready to learn about, but you have no control over this at all.

I'll close with a story from 3 years ago. After one quarter of homeschooling, my son asked me how it was that, since he didn't go to a "traditional" school at all, he had more friends than he'd ever had before in his life.

We don't keep our children in a box. They are Scouts. They attend Mass and Church activities. They do sports. One of them is a dance student. They go to the local playground and meet their friends (with me along!). They have plenty of friends and opportunities to interact with other children.

We'll be starting the high school homeschooling adventure next fall. It should be fascinating!

At January 27, 2006 7:01 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

I've been homeschooling for almost 12 years, and my oldest child has already "graduated" from home, is working 40 hours a week and is heading off to a regular ol' college in September. He keeps getting outstanding performance reviews at work and is frequently asked to train new staff.

(and he does his OWN laundry)

My next two kids are 13 and 15, have never been to school, both read above their grade level, and I know when the public schools get out becasue the phone never stops ringing for them. They have never been to any school. Well, we visited one once....

My youngest is 5. She'll never go to school either. It hasn't harmed any of my kids one iota. In fact, it has given them an advantage that is head and shoulders above their peers where we are.

People who meet my kids often comment how repectful, polite and smart they are.

Yeah, homeschooling really hurt them.

At January 28, 2006 2:47 AM, Blogger Carlotta said...

I'd also ask your kids what they would prefer, since they are most likely to learn best when they are happy to learn and if you offer good advice along the way, this can be a very good lesson for them in making responsible, autonomous choices.

We find that given a completely free choice, some kids do choose school, though we also find that when this is the case, there is a striking need for strong remedial information to correct the wrongs that schooling can permit and even encourages.

Also, despite living in very rural part of the UK (where home edding is not as established as in the US), we could perfectly well see other kids every single day of the year if we wanted to. We could go to HE meetings usually at least 4 days a week.

Plus, when they do see other kids, they don't get called in by the bell from the middle of a complex game and the socialisation is therefore often far more intense and meaningful in the HE community.

At January 31, 2006 8:51 PM, Blogger Amy Caroline said...

I have been homeschooling my kids now for over a year and it was the best thing I ever did. After one of my kids was put into a situation with a school volunteer that could have been very detrimental (possible grooming for sex abuse) I pulled them all out.

One the socialization issue, this was one of the two reasons (the same two you have) that I was worried about homeschooling. But in truth, do you spend everyday in an environment surrounded by people your same age? Or are you working together in a community of many different ages? Homeschooling, if you have more than one child, allows your children to truly bond and become a family, while also teaching them to care and look out for those younger then themselves. It also teaches them to get along with others not their own age. I make sure my kids are involved in Little Flowers (a Catholic Girl Scouts, they attend Sunday School(even though we do religion at home), and attend most of the homeschool events sponsored by my local homeschool group.

As for the stress... oh man, that was my biggest concern. I never seemed to have any patience with my kids. They were always fighting there fore I was always yelling at them telling them to stop fighting, lol. Once we started homeschooling they still fight, but not nearly as much. Having the day organized we always have something to do, which cuts down on the stress of boredom. Also, it has given my kids are opportunity to truly know one another. They have also learned to care for their little brother who is only 2 and would never really have seen them if they were in school all day.

All I know is that my eldest daughter was told she couldn't check out a book from her school library because it was beyond her reading level. When their teachers told me they were having trouble in math and I asked what I could do to help and they said... yes, you guessed it... nothing...

Well, I see my kids developing a love of reading, math, and their faith. They are always complimented on their good behavior when at the store or church. What more could a mom ask for?

Homeschooling for me was a blessing and one I will never regret.

Oh and I come from a loooooong line of public school teachers too, and was educated to be one too.

Good luck!

At January 31, 2006 9:07 PM, Blogger Amy Caroline said...

See, I was so passionate I didn't proofread and now I can't edit it and it is driving me insane! Forgive all the typos! LOL

At February 01, 2006 12:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another homeschooler here. :) Mine is a preschooler now. At 4, she is already starting to read and spell. She's quoting Shakespeare. And we've not even started schooling! My husband wasn't very on board for the exact same reason you worry about, so I've done quite a bit of reading on the subject. It doesn't help that his mother is a public school teacher who is against homeschooling (for the same ol' reasons: socialization, etc). She *is* a wonderful teacher. And she doesn't have a job next year because no kids will take her class because they don't want to actually work. She isn't too sad, though. Despite her strong objection to homeschooling, she does not lament her lack of a position. She rather despises the way the children behave today and her lack of control over her own classroom. She is proof why I want to homeschool: a good teacher kicked out because the schools don't want to be bothered with actual teaching.

Point 1: studies show over and over again that homeschooled children have far superior social skills.

Point 2: Ivy league colleges (and others less prestigious) seek out homeschooled children. (See here: They realize that homeschooled children have an internal drive to learn, have time-management skills, and are responsible. They are far more likely to be good students, to stay out of trouble, and to actually graduate. Plus, the extensive free time leaves youth open to doing extracurricular activities and internships they would not have been able to do otherwise. They also complete many high school classes with college work. This provides accredited courses, transcripts, and college credit. Others go through umbrella schools that are accredited and provide grades and transcripts that are accepted just like any other transcript. Basically, getting into college is a breeze if you keep that on your radar.

Homeschooling also doesn't take up as much time as traditional schooling. Much of the time at school is in taking roll, collecting papers, lining up, waiting for 30 children to go potty or get a drink, to calm down and return to studies, etc. And then they have tons of busy work. How many identical worksheet problems do you need to do? Homeschooling usually takes between 2 and 3 hours for the younger grades, 4-5 hours for the older grades. In reality, it takes 24 hours. Homeschoolers ingrain a real love of learning in their children that continues long after the course books are shut.

My area has tons of homeschoolers. You can expect your child to have a friend or two at least to play with every day at the park. Of course, the neighborhood children usually play together in the afternoons and evenings anyway, so that dimension is still there on top of it. Then there are the many lessons and activities and support groups and family visits. It is a common mantra among homeschoolers to respond to the question, "What about socialization?" with, "I know! I was worried about it this year, too! But we finally pared it down to a manageable workload!"

To start off homeschooling is very unstressful. Many people think they have to have lots of STUFF and purchase all sorts of things to find that in the early years they really don't need it all. You can start with a curriculum program that has done all the planning work for you if you are worried about that aspect. Many people do this for the first year or two, then start making their own curriculums when they feel comfortable with it.

Here are some websites to check out:

At May 19, 2010 8:28 AM, Blogger Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

If you homeschool your children you can protect them from Atheists who are being nasty about religion or Protestants who are being nasty about either Catholicism or taking religion seriously.

I really enjoyed getting off certain people and being homeschooled once in a while. Though in Sweden that is forbidden.

Children should be around children, but there are usually siblings (especially where marriages are allowed to be fertile) and sometimes cousins.

Understanding how non-Christian parts of society work ... well you may still have some Atheist relatives left. And understanding at a distance may be less costly.


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