Home Works

Why Not Consider Homeschooling for the Long Term?

No doubt the global coronavirus outbreak will leave an indelible imprint on whole societies, institutions, industries, homes, and individuals for many years to come.

Americans from every walk of life have had to do things we conceivably would’ve never considered before. Aside from the mad-dashes to pick up enough toilet paper and hand sanitizer to last into the next decade, in holing up in our homes as we observe government edicts to shelter-in-place, we’ve had to put on many hats lately. While many of us may be okay with donning the chef’s toque, cooking at home because of restaurant closures, we may be a bit more squeamish wearing the teacher’s hat (if he or she were to have one), or commandeering the chalk and chalkboard, in teaching our own children.

Likely, mothers and fathers nationwide are realizing there is nothing that tests a parent’s mettle more than taking on the responsibility of schooling their own children. Those who are doing this for the first time under compulsion may consider those who have already freely chosen to do this to be brave, or perhaps half-crazy. For the beleaguered mom or dad, believe it or not, there are more excellent reasons to homeschool today than at any time in our history. Technology, innovation, and the free market have provided more resources than ever for those courageous parents who might elect to take on this quest for the long term.

When I recently asked a group of homeschooling friends what drove their decision to home-educate, the reasons proffered were as varied as the students and families themselves. For several, the pursuit of academic excellence played a huge part, with one parent remarking “I am routinely horrified by the lack of education/ knowledge displayed by people who have been through traditional schooling systems.”1 Along those lines another parent said she wanted her own children to learn to “think and not just regurgitate information or pass tests.”2 These comments are certainly not intended to cast dispersions on hard-working school teachers, but rather express skepticism on the ability of the institution itself to inculcate high-level thinking skills in light of the drive for a national standardized curriculum. As college-readiness for my own sons was my chief concern, I could certainly understand these reasons.

Other parents expressed unease with the public school system over the promotion of a secular worldview that was hostile to their own.3 Such a worldview not only promotes Darwinism, but unquestioning support of LGBTQ+ issues, premarital sex, and abortion advocacy. No doubt many parents – new recruits in the trenches of their children’s education – have come face-to-face with these very issues. For example, for public school teachers using the digital platform Amaze to augment their sex education curriculum, learners are assured by a friendly and relatable narrator in a video that watching porn, “is normal, lots of people watch porn” as “many people are curious about this sex stuff.”

In another vein, a mother of very active sons stated, “I personally do not think the current learning environment in public education is equipped to handle high-energy boys . . . if you have a child that is bright, easily bored, and squirmy, they will struggle to flourish.”4 This concern over the feminization of the curriculum is not unique – the requirement for all students to sit, with hands folded on desk, obediently taking notes for long periods of time, is not conducive to learning for rambunctious males (or females). By contrast, the homeschool parent has the freedom to punctuate periods of intense study with periods of much-needed recess for naturally energetic children. As a rambunctious and hyperactive girl, I found myself in trouble often, taking out my own pent-up energy in games of “war” on the school playground (which would never be allowed today).

College psychology student Destiny Harris, who attended public school but completed her secondary education as a homeschool student, noted that the secular curriculum in government schools provides but one point of view regarding humanity and purpose of life. Students have no opportunity to consider a world fashioned by a loving God, a view which makes the observable world of nature all the more remarkable. While attending an anatomy and physiology lecture I was teaching at a private school servicing Christian homeschool students, Miss Harris’ eyes welled up with tears; when I asked her later about this, she said she was simply marveling at the engineering wonder of the human body. She later commented that in recognizing the biblical God as the causal agent for the material world, she found science so much more satisfying.  

Still other parents voiced the desire to have a greater impact on their children’s culture than the influence wielded by an institution.5 The “family” culture characterizing today’s homeschool movement makes its students easy to identify in a crowd. For one, they typically enjoy the company of their parents and other adults more than their public school counterparts, since they spend the bulk of their day in an adult world.

They are also schooled with older and younger students so they more easily relate to children younger or older than themselves. Author and 1991 New York State Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto was very critical of the artificial and institutionalized environment that forces children to spend most of their time with children their same age, stating:

It is absurd and anti-life to be part of a system that compels you to sit in confinement with people of exactly the same age and social class. That system effectively cuts you off from the immense diversity of life and the synergy of variety; indeed it cuts you off from your own past and future, sealing you in a continuous present much the same way television does.6

By contrast, for homeschool families, it is not unusual for children to study at home in the presence of an infant sibling or an aging grandparent – making them thus not sequestered from their past or future.

These examples represent only a few reasons why parents choose to homeschool. For those who have been mercilessly drafted into service, slogging aimlessly in the trenches, please know that there is a community and plentiful resources available to facilitate your success if you decide to enlist for the long haul. While the sacrifices are great, so also are the rewards.

Emily has had a lifelong appreciation for science, teaching, and research. She graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fresno with a BS degree in molecular biology and a minor in cognitive psychology. As an undergraduate, she conducted summer research in immunology, microbiology, behavioral and cognitive psychology, scanning tunneling microscopy and genetics; she also published research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, and co-authored a chapter on scanning tunneling microscopy. She is currently completing a Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology at University of Cincinnati and a Certificate in Apologetics with the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Emily has had the joy of teaching high school chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, anatomy & physiology, and pre-engineering classes over the last thirteen years. As a former Darwinian evolutionist, Emily enjoys stating the case for intellectual agency, considering the arguments posited by the intelligent design movement as much more credible than those proffered by Darwinists.

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