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!