I was not a homeschool kid. I grew up in public school, and as a child I really didn’t have anything bad to say about it, except for the bullies that made fun of me. School was one of my favorite places to be as a child, and that’s part of the reason why I became a teacher. But being on the teacher side of things gave me a whole new perspective on public school.
I know Sicily would enjoy public school. I can already tell that she will be a social butterfly, just like her Daddy (definitely not like her Mommy). She will love going outside at recess to play kickball, and gossip with her friends at lunch. But that will be the extent of it. School in the 21st century is a job. Actually it’s probably worse than an adult job.
I don’t want my daughter to experience public school in the 21st century. School is not fun anymore. It’s all about testing, data, and reaching standards. Teachers are on a time crunch to get everything in before state testing in March where students are expected to sit still, keep their eyes on their own computer screen, and read/answer questions above their ability levels (at least for most of them). I want my children to come home from “school” and say they had an awesome day! That won’t happen in public school.
I knew before I even landed my first teaching job that I would be homeschooling my children. I deal with many skeptics everyday about my decision. She will become weird! No social interaction for homeschooling children! What about the arts? Well let me tell you that their is no social interaction in public school, except lunch and a 20 minute recess. The arts are becoming extinct in public schools. I know in the county that I worked in, the specials (art, PE, music, health, media, band) had to provide lessons that reached math, reading, and writing standards. The teachers in these areas are not experts in the basics, that’s why they are called specials teachers. They should be focusing on those special areas. Plus there are some teachers that won’t let students to go their band or chorus practices because they will miss something important. There is just no time for the arts.
These are my reasons behind homeschooling my children.
One on One Instruction
This is my main reason for homeschooling. A public school teacher has 20-30 students in the classroom. These students range in abilities and special needs. In one class, I had 25 students. Among those students, 5 were gifted and talented, 14 were average learners, and 6 were severely below grade level. My focus was on those below grade level students because they needed the most help and attention to be successful. So what happened to those other students? They fell through the cracks. They were taught in a whole group lesson and sent to their seats to do something while I spent the majority of my time with the below students trying to reinforce what I just taught in a really quick 20 minute lesson.
Now what about those below students during whole group lessons? They couldn’t follow along, so they were bored, which means they were missing valuable information. Finally the gifted students! The only time they got extensions was once a week during their special 1 hour gifted class. Plus I taught humanities, so I had to manage all three of these groups by teaching 6…yes 6… subjects all in 2 hours every day. This doesn’t even break down the learning styles. Most lessons in public school are geared towards auditory learners. What about the students who learn best by using their body? There is no time to teach a lesson in a variety of ways to reach all learners.
It doesn’t matter which group of students my kids fall under because neither group will get what they truly need to be successful. In a homeschooling situation, you can take as much or as little time on a concept to ensure your child fully questions, investigates, and understands every detail. You can teach your child in the way they learn best.
MORE Social Interaction
Yes, you read that right! Homeschoolers get MORE social interaction. Well how can that be if they are home all day? Yes they get more interaction with you and siblings, but does that really count? No it doesn’t!!!!!
Homeschooling is becoming more popular through the years. There are these great little groups called co-ops. These are groups of homeschoolers of all ages that meet a few times a week. Each co-op is different. Some are similar to a private school that has classes a few days a week. Others plan group projects, such as STEM projects for students to participate in. Whereas others have the parents teach lessons in a subject they are strong in. These co-ops provide more social interaction for students than public school ever will. The majority of a lesson in public school done in silence. Students may get to share an idea here or there or spend 5-10 minutes working with a group. There is no quality time for group projects.
I remember when I was in middle school we would open the walls of all the classrooms and do whole grade projects. One project that I remember quiet well is on the medieval times. The whole grade level was split into groups that did research on a particular aspect of the medieval times. We questioned, investigated, and created.
Walk through a public school nowadays and you won’t see this. You can walk through every single day expecting to see students working collaboratively for an extended period of time, but I’ll tell you that you will be extremely disappointed.
Co-ops allow for these types of projects. They allow for quality time to work together with groups of mixed ages, abilities, and backgrounds. These co-ops are what will be the greatest factor in preparing homeschool children for the real world. These co-ops will be what puts homeschool children above the “college and career readiness” students from the public schools.
Not only do homeschool students get more social interaction from co-ops, but they get it from special classes. With homeschooling becoming more popular, cities are offering more programs for homeschooling children. The library in my hometown is offering an in-depth study of the 1900’s by using the American Girl series. The local YMCA provides gym classes for homeschool students. I have found art classes, music class, and specialty classes all throughout my county. I know other cities around the United States provide a rich atmosphere for homeschoolers. So yes, they do get MORE social interaction by being homeschooled.
In today’s world, you can’t turn on the news without hearing of a tragedy. Our students in the schools are practicing for these tragedies. You never know when something might happen. School is supposed to be a place of safety. No one can learn if they do not feel safe. Putting students in an environment that practices for death on a weekly basis is not making those students feel safe. If I were those students, I wouldn’t want to feel like an attacker could pop into the classroom at any minute. I understand the importance of practicing for these types of situations, but my child is at school to learn. You can’t protect your children from the dangers of the world, but an education is separate from protecting them. Keeping them at home for an education isn’t about protecting my children. It’s about providing a safe environment for them to learn, which is what school should be about. I should feel safe sending them there and they should feel safe going there. This doesn’t happen in today’s society.
Lastly, and what may be the most important to me, is opportunities. I want my kids to enjoy learning about the world. I want them to learn through experiences. For example, this past school year on veterans day I took 5 minutes of my day to have students create cards to send to wounded warriors. 5 minutes! That’s all the time they got because we had too much to cover and “learn” that day. What did those students learn from this activity? Nothing about veterans I can tell you that much!
I want my children to learn through experiences. I want them to learn through talking with people. On Veteran’s Day, I want my child to spend a day with a veteran learning about their experiences. I want my child to go visit a wounded warrior to see what they deal with on a daily basis. She will learn a lot more through those experiences than just spending 5 minutes to whip up a quick card that may or may not get to a veteran.
Homeschool may not be the best choice for everyone. Homeschool may not ever be an option to consider for some families. I am blessed to have the ability to homeschool my children.
What is your choice? I would love to hear your reasons behind homeschooling or sending your children to public school.
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