Ten Reasons to Homeschool Your Children
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There are several reasons why perfectly normal middle
class families homeschool:
- Distance to school
- Medical Conditions
- Advanced Students
- Slow Students
- Behavioral Problems
- Religious Conviction
- Conflict with government schools
- Lack of Confidence in the
- School Environment
- School Violence
Distance to school
Families who live at a considerable distance from
the local schools have homeschooled for decades. Many families who live
in Alaska are second and third generation homeschoolers. But this also
applies to many families who live in sparsely populated areas such as the
states of Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, Idaho, and
the eastern parts of Washington, Oregon, and even California. In many cases,
a trip to school can be 40 miles or more.
However, distance isn't just measured in miles anymore. Especially in
some suburban areas, traffic problems are getting so severe that a trip
to school can take 30 to 45 minutes or longer. And the parents have decided
that this isn't worth the hassle.
Many students have been forced or encouraged to
study at home because of medical conditions. A temporary stint in bed because
of hepatitis, or a longer stay because of chemotherapy or injuries suffered
in a auto accident can lead to a more permanent routine of homeschooling
as Mom and child decide that they actually like being around each other.
Gifted students have long posed a problem for school
authorities and parents alike. Government schools have three responses
to gifted students, none of which is optimal:
Put the student in the most advanced class. But in smaller schools, this
mainstreaming results in a student that is still bored for much of the
day, since the two gifted students can finish their work in 15 minutes
while the rest of the class takes 30 to 40 minutes.
An alternative is to put the gifted student in a grade that is a year ahead
of him. But this creates other problems as the physically smaller child
is bullied by those who are older -- but not smarter -- than he is. The
gifted student also misses some key instruction by skipping a grade, which
can result in academic problems years later. And if the student is truly
ready to skip a grade, the root problem hasn't been fixed -- he still learns
quicker than the students that he is now mixed with. His differences
become even more pronounced to the other children and himself. He often
learns to hide his intelligence -- rather than pushing to learn more and
The third alternative, only available in some systems, is to bus the student
miles to a Magnet school where he will be placed with other similarly gifted
students. This is a variation on the "most advanced class" technique that
simply increases the number of truly gifted kids in the most advanced class.
Many students who start as gifted in elementary
school leave high school as merely above average, since their peers and
threatened teachers have taught them that intelligence is not a good trait
to show. Everything in the traditional school system encourages gifted
students to slow down. Nowhere is there instruction that teaches these
students how to learn even faster.
Homeschooling can be wonderful for gifted students if the parents can
either keep up or have access to a good advisor. The gifted student can
push on as fast as possible, which has resulted in the press reports of
11 and 12 year olds entering college. The biggest challenge for Mom
and Dad is to keep feeding the textbooks to Junior.
The problem of the slower student is exactly the
opposite of the gifted student. Government schools deal with these students
with a mirror image of the program for gifted kids: Put them in the slower
class, hold them back a year, put them into special classes for slow students.
The result is that a student identified as "slow" is encouraged to become
even slower -- and feels bad about it at the same time.
Home school parents have many stories of this happening to their children.
Our daughter became convinced that she was terrible in math because she
missed a couple of weeks at the beginning of a school year and became confused.
This problem continued for several years as she had trouble with math,
was put in a slower class, had less expected of her, and did even poorer.
We finally decided to homeschool her starting in 7th grade. Three years
later, she had one remarkable week where she completed 4 weeks of math
lessons in 3 days -- simply to get the opportunity to go to the beach for
a weekend. And her scores are always higher when she is working faster
because she concentrates more.
Our son was a behavior problem for his pre-school.
He had stopped taking naps a year earlier and did not want to take naps.
Additionally, he is very musical and memorized new songs within two repetitions
-- unlike the class, which did the same song each day for two weeks. He
began to act up and got into trouble repeatedly. One day he was reported
as having had a bad day. My wife asked him why he didn't obey and he responded
dejectedly "I guess my brain is too dumb to behave." That afternoon was
his last at pre-school. My wife taught him to read within 6 weeks -- at
Our son was a behavior problem at his school because he was bored. Other
parents have had children become behavior problems because the government
schools have no effective means of disciplining students -- and the students
know it. However, Dad and Mom have more options at hand to control behavior
than the teachers at school do.
Many parents, upon a close reading of the Bible,
Torah, or Koran, have come to realize that God commands the parents to
raise and teach a child -- not that the parents send their children to
teachers. This responsibility includes spiritual training and imparting
of wisdom -- both of which are very difficult to do with children who are
being taught opposite values by government curricula.
Why should a Christian parent send their child to school to learn a
view of history (Darwin's) that is totally different from the parent's
deepest religious beliefs? And why should an Islamic mother send her daughter
to school to be taught by the other children that dressing in skimpy outfits
and kicking her legs high in the air as a cheerleader is the road to success?
Homeschooling used to be something only fringe sects did -- because
the schools reflected the values of most Americans. But today, many, many
denominations have decided that the values taught in the government schools
are the values of the fringe -- and homeschooling is more normal.
Conflict with government schools
The key event that triggered our decision to homeschool
our eldest daughter was when our daughter joined a counselor's group for
kid's with divorced parents. Never mind that my wife's divorce had occurred
when our daughter was 2 years old and our marriage had occurred when she
was 5! The school counselor's had apparently had some time on their
hands, so they went to each middle school classroom and had the children
fill out a form listing which groups they'd like to belong to. A few days
later she was called to the counseling office where the first group meeting
was held. We heard about the group for the first time that evening.
Upon contacting the staff involved, we asked, "Why didn't you provide a
permission slip?" The answer: "We used to, but not enough parents
would give their permission."
Many parents have had similar run-ins with the school authorities. This
has become especially pronounced recently because of several trends:
Teachers aren't the only college trained people around most towns these
days. The parents went to college, too, and weren't impressed with the
students that became education majors.
Teachers don't live in the community anymore. When I was growing up, teachers
lived in the community they taught in. This gave them a stake in the results
of their work -- if Johnny grew up to be a criminal, he might just as well
burglarize the teacher's house as anyone's. The teachers also ran into
the parents of their students at church and at the grocery store. Parents
and teachers talked often -- not just twice a year at formal meetings as
they do now. Today, teachers are even encouraged by the older teachers
not to live nearby, least they run into Johnny's parents. And thus, the
teachers don't teach what the parents want taught.
Schools have increased the proportion of counselors to students. And these
counselors have to have work to keep them busy, rather than dealing with
the few truly serious problems those students might have. So they have
begun teaching mini-courses on conflict resolution, sexual harassment,
and similar things. This leads them into more and more controversial areas.
When parent have arguments with school authorities,
there are only three ways these disputes are settled.
The staff and parents really listen to each other and work out a solution.
The staff and parents argue. A lawsuit results if the parents are aggressive.
The staff and parent argue. The parents remove their students from the
school if the parents are peaceful. Another homeschool family is started.
Lack of Confidence in
the government schools
Parents who lack confidence in the government schools
are a growing portion of homeschoolers. This lack of confidence is caused
by three trends:
The parents are now as well educated as the teachers (or better), and can
tell when a textbook is wrong or a teacher doesn't know her subject matter.
The press is continually pointing out and reinforcing problems in the government
The government schools are becoming more and more radical in curricula.
The government schools are becoming less and less stringent academically.
One of the key issues that convinced us to homeschool
was the amount of time we had to spend with our daughter re-educating her
about basic History and Geography:
"No, World War II was not fought over the Jewish Concentration Camps."
"Yes, Columbus may have cut off the hands of the Indians, but didn't he
do something else more memorable?"
"Yes, I understand that you know about South African apartheid. But can't you name any
other country in Africa?"
After a while, you just loose confidence and
decide that you can do it better yourself.
Do you really want your daughters to come home with
tales about how their 8th grade friends are trying to imitate Bill and
Monica? And do you need to hear about how 14-year-old Jimmy down the street
brought pot to school? Have you been to the school sponsored 4th grade
dances (4th!) to see the students dancing like MTV stars? And did you need
to hear the director from the Metropolitan Opera cussing at the third grade
Finally, Littleton, Colorado made us all aware of
what happens when you put the whole thing together: the valueless curricula,
the permissive environment, the impersonal bureaucracy, and the lack of
parental involvement. Many parents have made the homeschool decision over
just this point, because years ago their schools became too dangerous.
Which one is next?
Sponsored by ACSI Bulk Inks.
Copyright © 1999, Brian L. Boley All Rights Reserved.