Saturday, October 2, 2010

Warnings for Homeschoolers: Introduction

I know a lot of people who homeschool; we homeschooled two of our children from 2008-10. I know that many people do a great job educating their children in this way; there are also quite a few who do not. And I also know that I am passionate about children getting the best possible education their parents can provide.

When it comes to homeschooling, there are two principles that I think are inviolable:

  • Homeschooling is not for everyone. Or in other words, there are some parents who would be wise not to homeschool their children.
  • Not everyone who decides to homeschool knows how to do it well.
The decision to homeschool is never one to be taken lightly. It is a decision which should be preceded by large amounts of both prayer and research. And whether parents decide to homeschool or not, they must remain involved in their children's education.

I intend to write a group of posts related to warnings for homeschoolers. They are mainly aimed at those who enter into the homeschool venture with less than a full understanding of what they are getting (or, have gotten) themselves into. I think that homeschoolers tend to make the most major mistakes in three key areas:
  • Curriculum: What should be covered? What textbooks/materials will I use to teach my children...or will I use videos or online education?
  • Socializing: Yes, the media has overblown this...badly. But it seems that a lot of homeschoolers err on both sides of this issue.
  • Arrogance: Some homeschoolers will tell you that there is no one that can train their children better than they can...or if they don't say it (because they have some degree of tact), their attitudes give it away. Maybe they're right—but pride can be a dangerous element in the homeschool environment. Many spurn the well-intentioned and wise advice of others. This is not good.
Please be assured that if a person decides that, after wisely considering the options, praying, and researching, that they ought to homeschool their children, I am OK with that, and I wish them well. These will be written in the spirit of graciously warning them about some perils in the path.


Josh Turansky said...

Your touching on some really good points. I'm interested in your followup posts.

I think the reason you don't hear people saying what your saying is because the stats are so high in favor of homeschooling. The success found in homeschooling can be deceptive.

Anyway, thanks for posting this.

Susan R said...

I just finished reading what you've published so far in your series on "Warnings for Homeschoolers". I think the practical advice you've given so far is sound, but I have to disagree with your initial premise that homeschooling is a 'last resort' of sorts.

The Biblical pattern for the education of children is for parents to be the primary instructors. IOW, home education should be a FIRST resort, and then other options explored if homeschooling is not viable.

I also do not believe it is prideful to say that I am the best teacher for my children, because in fulfilling my God ordained role as a parent, I should endeavor daily to be the absolute best teacher and spiritual leader of my children. It is also true that no one is going to love and desire to act in the best interests of children quite like their dad and mom.

There has been quite a bit of research to try to measure what qualities make the best teacher. Ironically, it is not the amount of training or expertise in a subject, but 1) verbal skills and 2) an affinity for children that set apart successful teachers from the rest of the pack. Check out "Stumbling for Quality" at the Abell Foundation website.

Home education should, however, be a humbling experience. Every day the inadequacies of our own characters are revealed as we interact with and model Godly behavior for our children minute by minute. The academics are easy, what with all of the resources available today. But one can't harvest spiritual fruit in a child apart from one's own consistent devotion to Godliness.