Why Home School?

From the initial gentle coaxing towards first words and steps, on through deciphering text on paper, mathematical equations and issues demanding critical thought, maturation through education is a necessary component of the individual life, the development of culture, and the preservation of people groups. Whether it is through age-old oral traditions or the militaristic drills of some select societies, gentle discovery through eyes and hands, or the blood-and-sweat lessons of darkened streets, an education will happen.

The question is not whether or not our children are receiving an education. The question is whether or not this education is one of worth.

The current solution for the education of the North American young person is to send them out of the home and into a formal public or private school. The move of history and trend into compulsory formal education, as well as the financial desires and limitations of most American families, concludes that (a) the best education is one that happens with “real” teachers in a “real” school with “real” classroom interaction. And (b) that the only way to survive and thrive in our current economic environment is to encourage all caregivers to be employed outside the home, while ensuring that all family members are able to live at a level of comfort and material gain beyond that of the majority of the global population.

Unfortunately, these two conclusions do not lead to the most desired outcomes (though actions stemming from trends and comfort do lead to predictable results). Today, the quality of a “normal” education is plummeting. Today, literacy and critical thinking are drastically underdeveloped in North America’s young people. Today, guardians of the future generations of thought and action are somehow content to let overcrowded classrooms and disgruntled (and exhausted, underpaid, under qualified…) individuals instruct their young people in everything from arithmetic to morality while they spin in circles towards the “American Dream”. Consequently, students are graduating year after year with fewer abilities and less concern. As they dive into the work force and the leadership teams of our nation, they too are sending their wards back into this rapidly degrading system.

And we wonder why our children are so unfocused.

And we question why teenagers are simmering with such frustration and discontent.

And we ponder the decline in our global standing in matters of literacy, science and civil contribution.

And we shuffle off a few more dollars so that “no child is left behind” and push young minds towards the “correct” answers on another test so that bureaus and suits can pat themselves on the back and know that Moms and Dads around the nation are punching in time cards and flipping burgers and grinding the wheel of this carousel.

Could there be another way? Yes! There is a better way. Embrace your child’s mind, step off of the carousel, and choose the best education for the future generations. School your child in the best of classrooms: the home.

In an age of drive-through enterprise and drive-by solutions, schooling from the home presents the space, structure and stability for quality education. When compared to the excessive ratios of thirty or more students to one teacher in the public system, the greater student-to-instructor contact alone is a significant incentive towards the home-based classroom. There is simply no way that one teacher can effectively attend to the individual issues and questions of an entire student body. The sad reality is such that teachers are encouraged to “teach to the middle” wherein those struggling are left to flounder and those more advanced are left to entertain themselves. (This is a key reason we see students promoted to the next grade without the actual grasp of concepts, as well as the North American phenomenon of “functional literacy” wherein citizens are able to express very basic concepts of reading and writing, but lack the ability to actually engage with or respond to written ideas.)

Next, the structure found within the interwoven curricular choices and the central philosophies of the family promotes an integration of basic academic concepts into the applied sphere of daily life. What is presented in the formal curriculum is supported within the expression of family life, and vice versa.

Finally, the sense of stability and flow which stem from the partnered leadership of a parent-teacher strengthens both the environment of the home as well as the scaffolding necessary for long-term retention and application. There is the awareness and reinforcement of roles, balanced authority and daily responsibilities.

Yet, even with these obvious and compelling reasons, many caregivers continue to send these young lives away from this ultimate classroom and into the crowded sector. While agreeing that home schooling could indeed be the better academic decision for their children, they are concerned that the social development and extra-curricular opportunities of their children will be limited or even impaired.

But where should the central concepts of social and extra-curricular interaction spring from? The home!

The minds of children are intricate and impressionable, threaded with questions and rapidly changing conclusions as they observe their world and the consequences of choices. Concepts such as true friendship (loyalty, forgiveness, kindness); responses to issues such as bullying, body image, and drugs and alcohol; engagement with questions surrounding spirituality, sexual orientation and morality; along with other foundational concepts of daily life and global interaction have now been placed in the hands of pre-teens for the sake of peer groups and social acceptance.

Having a large group of peers or possessing the ability to express current trends of dress, speech, or entertainment are not the marks of a maturing or thinking individual. Unfortunately, the current (if unofficial) statement is that these expressions are indeed of greater value than a mind able to carefully compare and contrast, or a heart sensitive to the needs of others, or a brain able to actively engage with literature, figures and advanced concepts.

Of course, consideration of ideas and values different from the home is an important component of development, but in time, with informed guidance and in tandem with the maturation of the mind and the development of critical thought. In what other group or period do we place the full authority of personal development and authoritative decision into the hands of children and adolescents?

As we face a growing population which is only functionally literate, in a period of declining morality, economic crisis and global unrest, the question of the education of our children is really no question at all. The young minds and futures of our nation’s children are hungry for knowledge and thirsty for guidance. Stepping away from the public classroom and drawing our families back into the home-based classroom may cost a portion of our personal time or income, but we will receive a return infinitely greater as we invest in the minds and futures of those who are truly valuable.