To Home School or Not?

My daughter will be turning 5 soon and of course shortly behind that is kindergarten. My wife wants to home school. I on the other hand want my daughter to go to regular school and to compliment that at home with some of the same stuff that she would get in home schooling. How can getting the best of both worlds be bad?

Originally I was against home schooling because of a lot of the usual concerns that are associated with home schooling. Socialization, will my daughter be able to learn enough to keep up with kids her age, and what will it mean for her prospects for college and job opportunities when she is grown up. My wife has shared a lot of different view points and topics on the web regarding the topic of home schooling, and I think my concerns regarding all those common concerns have been removed. My daughter is very active in different events and groups and is a huge social butterfly. Studies show that children can be successful in college and beyond when home schooled. When looking at the curriculum list of what should be learned by the end of kindergarten, my daughter already has learned a lot of that from what we have taught at home.

It was actually the realization that she already knows most of what she will be expected to learn in kindergarten that made me think about home schooling a second time after having already decided against it. At times I thought I could see our daughter being home schooled, at least to start with. But as I think about it more I don’t see any benefits to home schooling that she could not get from going to school. And I do see benefits from going to school that would not be available in home schooling.

First, my daughter loved going to pre-school. She loved seeing her friends, going to learn, she loved her teachers. She cried and still has moments where she will be in tears about not going back to pre-school since my wife is not going back to classes until the fall herself. She constantly asks when she is going to kindergarten and when she will make new friends. I am concerned if we don’t send her she will lose that excitement and that love for going to school. I think it is important that she look forward to going and learning. And I can see her continuing to be excited about learning with home schooling, but if she is not going to school how long will it be before she doesn’t want to go?

Second, I am afraid that she will see all the other kids her age going to school and feel like she is weird or strange because she is not doing the same as all her friends. Childhood is hard enough without feeling like you are different from everyone else your own age. I can imagine myself when I was younger, if I was not going to school and everyone else was I would of felt weird or out of place. I don’t want to put her in that situation by a choice I have made for her.

To go along with this, I think as she realizes she is doing something different she is going to ask why she is not doing the same as the other kids her age. One of the main reasons many people do home schooling is because they feel it’s safer. This was true before recent events and I am sure some people have only become more convinced by those events. I know this has been a topic of conversation for several years with us. But I don’t want us to set an example that our daughter should make choices based out of fear. When you make choices out of fear you are not always making the best choice. Not to mention, schools are not the only places random innocent people get hurt or killed by evil happenings. It has happened recently at malls, at places of worship, even at movie theaters. I don’t think it’s plausible to avoid all those places on the small chance that something may happen.

Another reason often cited for home schooling is the failure of schools to educate students. I truly believe that how well students learn has a lot more to do with the foundation and the support the student has at home and less to do with the quality of the school system. I do agree some school systems are better than others. But I don’t think the lack of education in our youth is as large a fault of the education system as it is the lack of support from parents. Our daughter has two parents who are very interested in her education and are going to be very involved in that education. I had some teachers who had positive impacts on me. I had some teachers who did not. But I was not made worse by any teachers I had. The more positive interactions my daughter can have the better she will be off for it. Home schooling will reduce the possibilities she would have for those positive interactions and role models.

Another benefit that is often mentioned is one of being able to control what theories are taught to her and limit the bad behavior examples she would be exposed to. And that is true. But she is going to be exposed to those theories and examples eventually. In my opinion it is better for that to happen sooner rather than later. If she is exposed to them earlier what mom and dad think and believe still will have a huge impact on her. As she gets older peer pressure and what her friends think is cool is going to have a much larger impact on her actions. While I think what mom and dad believe will still have an impact and that we will have set a strong foundation, it’s not going to be so cool to agree with mom and dad. And the theories, for example, the big bang theory or evolution. We can explain this is what some people believe, here is what we believe and why. I don’t want her to be brain washed when it comes to what to believe but I want her to be aware of all the different theories and make her own decisions. And the best way for that to happen I think is to learn about them when she still is interested in what her mom and dad believe. I also feel that it is important to be exposed to diversity. Different people, different nationalities, belief systems, religion beliefs, etc. What opportunity is there for that in home schooling?

One thing I have heard about home schooling that I do tend to agree with is that a benefit is that the pace of learning can be set to the needs and talents of the individual instead of waiting for the whole class to catch up. And this is definitely a big benefit, but this can happen with honors classes as well as with us as parents continuing to teach new topics at home. So this benefit can be experienced in either environment.

Another benefit for us personally would be the ability for my wife and I to be home more often in the evenings. Currently we work separate shifts, me days and her nights. This is so we don’t have to place our daughter in child care. If she is going to school, we will be able to have more time to spend together as a family at home. We currently make sure to meet up at work in between shifts and have dinner in the break room so we do get to have dinner as a family. But our daughter enjoys having both of us at home in the evening when we have the opportunity. Is that not a benefit of not home schooling?

I think home schooling is appropriate for some people. I have nothing against it in theory. There are children who do not or would not learn as much by going to school as in home schooling. But I am not seeing that being the case for my daughter. So, what have I missed? Are their benefits I am missing? Drawbacks of going to school I am missing? I am sure my wife would be appreciative if you could help me change my mind on the topic!


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10 Responses to To Home School or Not?

  1. sage_brush says:

    Perhaps the advice of a veteran home school mom (25 + years) can expand your thinking on this a little. The two articles I link here are from a Christian perspective. Hope this helps you a little!

    This one is on the notion of “socialization” –

    This one lists the top ten reasons to home school –

    • joec0321 says:

      Thanks for sharing. And the stats are impressive. But I keep thinking a lot of those stats are the result of parent involvement. Students in public school would have a much lower rate of parent involvement than home school students therefore that percentages would be expected to be lower simply because fewer parents are involved. So again I am back to thinking its an indictment on parents and not necessarily the educational system.

      • sage_brush says:

        You are welcome. I agree that parents bear the weight of responsibility in or out of the government school system – but from your perspective with a five year old – you have yet to experience just what does take place in those “schools.” Even the best, most caring parents, can not compete with the forces that now govern secular education.

        If I may make another recommendation, please visit Charlotte Iserbyt’s site (American freelance writer and whistleblower who served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education )

        Her complete book is available for download – free!

        Another eyeopening if not downright shocking resource I recommend is – “The Harsh Truth About Public Schools.” [Bruce N. Shortt ]

        Tell your wife I’m on her side! LOL! (I think I’ve covered most of the bases) 🙂

  2. Eddie Zigmann says:

    I can speak from past experience one con of home school is the missing out on connection to other people, it kinda affects your social skills as I was home school for my High School Years and I know I lack some social skills I feel may be do to that

    • sage_brush says:

      Eddie – All of my kids were home schooled the exact same way. One is shy – the rest are out there. Going to government high school has made several of my daughter’s friends very – very insecure. It is the parent’s responsibility to involve their home schooled teens in group activities – like volunteer work and home school clubs; but to be truthful, my kids were all working at least part time jobs (life guarding, babysitting, etc.) by the age of 14. They didn’t have time to realize they weren’t being “socialized!” 🙂

  3. Nicky says:

    My oldest son went to kindergarden in a good public school district. We were unhappy with the amount of learning taking place in the classroom. My son was reading before others but was made to keep pace with the class. Some students were just learning their phonics. Thanks to No Child Left Behind, his teacher, liek somany, had to teach to the status quo. I agree that parent involvement has a lot to do with a child’s success. After that first year, we decided to homeschool him.

    So many people are worried about socialization. My children are as well socializied as any public school child. They have friends that are both homeschooled and who attend public school. They don’t feel weird or out of place because they are homeschooled. They are actually quite proud that they are homeschooled. All three of my children, ages 10 and under, have social etiquette, are well mannered, and can carry on intelligent conversations with other children, their peers, and adults. They are involved in activties and attend co-op classes. My daughter is a social butterfly and thrives in a homeschool setting. All three of my children love to learn and that has never wavered. I teach to their strengths and they flouish.

    You were concerned about opportunities to be exposed to diversity. The home school community is extremely diverse. In my area, we have both secular and nonsecular families with a broad range of socio-economic, and ethnic backgrounds.

    • joec0321 says:

      Thanks for sharing Nicky.

      With your son, did you try to teach things outside of what the school was teaching that were more advanced? Did it not work? I can see that being an issue with my daughter but was thinking it could be supplmented with things we teach at home that continue to advance her level of education. Maybe I am just nieve about being able to have the benefits of both worlds. I know at some point they would start to offer accelerated or honors classes to address the kids who were further ahead than others their age but I understand that probably does not happen at the kindergarten or even first or second grade level.

  4. Nicky says:

    Joe- We did teach more advanced subjects. The problem was that he became bored and wanted to “play” in the classroom. He had already mastered the material and didn’t understand why he had to repeat the material. Therefore, he wanted to do other things, get up and move around. He was constantly in trouble for being too active/fidgety. A similar problem happened with a friend. In kindergarden, her daughter was reading at a 3rd/4th grade level. Her teacher recommended that she be home schooled. Her teacher said that she wasn’t able to challenge the child because she “HAD” to teach to the average student. Rather than punish her daughter for an advanced reading level, they pulled her out and started home schooling.

    One thing to consider if you decide to enroll your daughter in public school is peer pressure. You mentioned it in your originial post. Honors or Gifted classes don’t start for a few years. As she grows up, being the “smart kid” can be a stigma.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting the best of both worlds. We all want what’s best of our children. My advice is start homeschooling her in kindergarden. She is still young. If you love it, continue. If not, enroll her in public school in first grade.

    • joec0321 says:

      Nicky – I certainly understand the “smart kid” stigma. I was one of the “smart kids” through school. I don’t think it’s an issue about if we would enjoy home schooling or not because I am sure we would. I think my main concerns is how much it seems to me that she really wants to go to school. And something I had not considered until last night when the wife and I were discussing it is that my daughter seems to be driven by competition. The competition to be the best in everything. Not sure how she would get that in the home schooling environment. Still lots of time to think and pray about what would be the right choice.

      Appreciate your willingness to discuss and share!

  5. Pingback: Anyone Notice I Was Gone? | A Cup of Joe

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