Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Homeschooling Dilemma

I've been sitting on the fence with regard to the whole "Homeschool vs Public School" debate for a few years now.  It is a serious decision towards which I have given, and continue to give, a lot of thought.  But, now that I have one (almost 2!) school age children, a decision must be made!  I can't sit on the fence forever!  A friend asked me the other day why I want to Homeschool, and it got me thinking - I should make a list about what I like/dislike about each option.  Perhaps this will help move me along in my decision making process.  And I hope to have some input from any readers willing to share their opinions on the subject! :)

(Disclaimer: I mean no disrespect toward anyone else's decision to Homeschool or Public School - these points relate only to my own children and circumstance.)

Why I WANT to Homeschool:

~To keep my children more 'unspotted from the world' (James 1:27) - There is SO much evil out 'in the world', even among young children now, that I LONG to keep my children from.  I know they will be exposed to it eventually, but I would love to be able to 'shelter' them while they are so young.
~I MISS them when they are gone!
~The FAMILY is central to God's plan, and as such, I feel strongly that we should spend as much time together as a family as we possibly can.
~My child (at least Angel, so far) is gifted, and I don't feel she is adequately challenged in the public school setting.
~I want my children to be educated in more than just 'academics' - I want them to be well versed in the arts, home economics (sewing, cooking, cleaning), agriculture (farming, animals), etc.  This is more easily accomplished in a Homeschool setting, as public school is much more time-consuming.
~Teachers don't love my children in the same way, or nearly as much, as I do, and are often not as gentle as I would be.
~Help surround my children /associate with people of similar values (most homeschoolers are Christian, or at least religious, educated, and have the utmost concern for their child's well-being.)

Why I WANT my children to experience Public School:
~There are certain things that Public School offers that I, personally, can never teach my children - to respect/honor/follow/obey another adult or leader, for example.  Making their way in a large group.  Being exposed to a huge variety of people from different ethnicities, social backgrounds, cultures, abilities (eg - Angel has two special needs children in her class - this has been a huge learning and growing experience for her to interact with them on a daily basis; an experience I couldn't have afforded her, short of adopting or giving birth to a special needs child.  And, while I know homeschoolers do meet lots of different people, most homeschoolers are Christian (or at least religious) and with very similar values, so there is not nearly as much variety in their 'circles'.
~Along these lines, in addition to learning acceptance of others, I want to allow my children opporunities to 'let their light shine' (Matt 5:16) and to be an example to those around them.  After all, Christ spent his time among sinners and publicans, because that is where He could do the most good. (Matt 9:11-13) Obviously this is possible in a home schooling environment as well, but, in my opinion to a lesser degree, when those around them have such similar values.  I believe that every Christian family pulling their child out of 'secular' or public education is wrong, and would be devastating to our society at large.
~My purpose in parenting is to teach my children to think/act/choose for themselves.  I would rather have them 'practice' making their own decisions on 'small' things in Kindergarten (ie - whether or not to share a toy or tell a 'potty' joke), than be near them much of their lives and then 'throw them to the wolves', as it were, when they are an adult, and faced with much more serious and significant decisions.
~Where I tend to 'coddle' my children, teachers are often more demanding and expect more from my children, holding them to a higher standard or helping them achieve more.
~I LIKE being the 'kind mother', and would have a very difficult time playing the role of teacher/principal/disciplinarian and demanding excellence/etc in academics.  It has been nice to have Angel be challenged at school, and then come home to relax, 'let her guard down', and just be loved by me (the 'nice mommy').
~Along these same lines, "absence makes the heart grow fonder".  When Angel is with me 24/7, we sometimes have a tendency to 'butt heads', so-to-speak.  She likes to 'push my buttons' and, admittedly, I don't like them to be pushed.  Our relationship has improved dramatically since she started school, as she misses me while at school, and, since our time together is limited, we truly enjoy it and try to make the most of every minute.
~Though I consider myself 'educated', I am not trained in education.  I am often astounded by teaching techniques/ideas/etc implemented by Angel's teachers.
~Also, unlike her teachers who devote hours to developing and planning curriculum, while running my household, serving in the church, and tending to the needs of my individual children, I don't have nearly the time they put in, and I fear I would fall short in providing them the education they need.
~"The Glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth" (D&C 93:36) - I value education very highly and feel it is of the utmost importance for my children to learn as much as they can, and have as many learning and educational opportunities as they can.  I never want to feel that I 'short-changed' them or didn't provide/offer them as much as I possibly could.

It strikes me, as I'm writing this, how truly blessed I am to have so many wonderful educational opportunities and resources available, literally at my fingertips, for myself and my children.  What an amazing world - and time and place - in which to be alive!  I suppose that, when I really think about it, either option would serve my children well.  Aren't these the most difficult decisions; those made between two good choices?  But how grateful I am for so many wonderful options!


Steve said...

Such a personal decision - but not a reversible one! Good luck!

Jana and Brett said...

I love this post. The most important point to me is your 2nd one in the second paragraph...the society would be devastated if it wasn't balanced. I am a teacher, although I'm not a seasoned one because I decided to stay home and be a Mom to my babies while they are still babies. My dream is to set up my own private school..kind of like a co-op group wherever I'm living. (And that is always my Plan B if things get really bad!) But the thing that I love about life is I can still find the good! My grandma says there will come a time where the good will be non-existent...then the Savior will come and we won't have to worry about homeschooling.