Discussing home education in all its magick and frustration, with a sprinkling of parental musings here and there.
While the public school system is very convenient (though, as many people will agree, inherently flawed, though it was just fine for many of us), there are several reasons for a parent to choose homeschooling.
For some, the local school system might be undesirable for a number of reasons. There may be a problem with drugs or gangs, or a record of poor performance by teachers and students.
Teachers might only “teach to the test”, leaving children unprepared for higher education.
Another reason might be due to a child’s learning differences. Some schools are well equipped to educate children with special needs, but others lack sufficient funding or personnel to give these children the individual attention they require.
Bullying, whether by fellow students or teachers, might be yet another reason for parents to withdraw children from school, or never enroll them in the first place.
Some parents do not like the controlled social environment at school. Children are limited to a group of peers their own age, and to very specific times of day when they may interact with others. For some children, a day of enforced quiet does not work for them.
A child might also have a birth date that places them in an undesirable place as far as attending school. My eldest son was born in December of 2002 (his brother will be born in January 2013). He was as capable of kindergarten work at the age of 4 ½ as his cousin, born in May of the same year (and therefore 5 at the beginning of the school year). Yet he would have been forced to wait another year to attend if we chose public school. Fortunately, some schools do test children and accelerate them based upon their abilities, so this is not necessarily an issue with all districts.
A parent might simply find the one-size-fits-all method of education off-putting.
Parents might also have religious reasons for educating their child at home, whether their goal is to accommodate their religion (for example, many Pagans have holidays that do not coincide with a government or bank holiday schedule), or to avoid overwhelming contact with other religions, or religiously biased teachers.
Regardless of why a family chooses homeschooling, it is a matter of personal choice. We must take into account our lifestyle and our child’s needs, as well as our views on public and private education.
Some families have certain biases to overcome with regard to home education. One parent might be eager to try homeschooling, while their partner has objections. There remains an enduring stereotype about homeschooling – that it is the province of conservative Christians rearing little “armies for God”, teaching young earth creationism, and indoctrinating their children.
Even if you are neither a conservative nor a religious homeschooler, you still face challenges and outside prejudices. Whether people ask you if you are “qualified” to teach your child, quiz your child just to “make sure” he or she is learning, or simply think public school is the way children ought to be educated, there will always be critics.
As with Paganism and its various paths, what matters here is not living up to the expectations and biases of others, but finding what is right for you. Homeschooling is not for everyone. Your family is unique and no one knows your children better than you do. Some are very well suited to public, private, or charter school. Some better off in a home environment. Only you can decide what is best for your family, and go from there.
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