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They're Gonna Get Schooled

I'm just not sure I want to be the one to school them.

drummer boy
You don't get to sit on the band teacher's lap in PUBLIC school.

I'm sort of like the mouse who wants a cookie. I get started thinking about preschool which makes me think about real school, which freaks me out, which gets me to consider homeschool, which freaks me out also, which makes me think about getting a pedicure and forgetting the whole thing for a couple of months.

Sometimes when I desperately need to do research on a topic crucial to my children's well-being, I throw the question out to my blog readers and ask them to pitch in and raise my children for me, or at least tell me how. I did that last Tuesday. I asked about the merits of homeschool vs. public school and I got some serious feedback. I got so much feedback that now I may need a whole spa day to recover.

How to educate your children is an extremely personal family choice, and what works for one family might not work for another. And then, what works for one child in your family may not be the best thing for her siblings.

That said, I find it extremely helpful to listen respectfully to the experiences of other devoted parents and learn from the reasons behind the decisions they have made.

For example, one of my main concerns is that homeschooled children may not have the chance to be fully socialized or participate in a wide enough variety of activities.

Farm Wife wrote, "With the homeschool resources available today, social isolation would require a conscious effort to inflict — and the top colleges in the nation are busy courting homeschoolers."

Other parents agreed that there are many ways for homeschooled children to become socialized at church and in the community, and even experience some of the painful "character-building" peer interaction normally found in public school on a smaller more manageable scale.

Jeana explained, "The difference is that these occurrences are spread apart so my daughter can work through them — instead of being all day every day. She and I talk about it when these things happen, and she has a safe, stable home environment to keep her grounded; plus her school takes place here without the distraction of the 'adolescent drama.'"

I also worry that homeschooled children will have to deal with twice the pain and confusion when they are thrust out into the world of college and life away from Mom. Jeana suggests that waiting may only improve a child's chances for success: "It is my belief that the additional growth and maturity my kids will have by the time they get to college will help them cope with the environmental changes. At the same time, the other kids/young adults will be more mature. My experience was that by college age...in general my peers were more accepting of each other."

But what about supporting my community? Don't I have a duty to encourage improvement in the public school system for the good of society? Is it enough to do what I think is best for my own children, possibly at the expense of others?

Carrie shared this thought: "We are part of a larger community and need to take that into consideration as well. That is why I am choosing to put my time and energy into public school, making it a better learning environment not just for my own child, but for many other children as well."

There is so much about homeschooling that appeals to me. I could tailor my children's education to their specific needs. When we are learning about history, I could take them to visit historical sites, offer them more tactile and creative learning experiences. The world is such a scary place and I love the thought of keeping them in the nest long enough to be fully incubated and armed with the values and moral character they will need throughout their lives.

But in the end, I am left doubting myself. Could I be the kind of teacher they need to motivate them? Would I be creative enough to make lessons interesting and dynamic? Industrious enough to ensure a quality education while also seeking appropriate social activities outside the home?

With a home education, can my children learn openness to people with different beliefs and customs? Am I capable of sharing my values, while also encouraging them to value the good in all people?

I suppose these are things I need to teach them whether they go to public school or stay home. No one else is going to raise my children for me; wherever they go, the real learning will come through life experience, coupled with loving parental guidance.

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