Guest Author - Julie Renee Holland
When you have spent the early years of parenting deepening your bond with your child, the idea of sending your little one off to school at what suddenly seems a shockingly young and vulnerable age can be disconcerting. Does homeschooling make sense?
I was part of the early home school generation nearly 30 years ago when parents across the US were first taking their kids out of school in large numbers. These early homeschoolers were inspired by educator John Holt and his "Growing Without schooling" newsletter. Where homeschooling had once been done by a few who cited religious reasons, more and more mainstream parents were taking their kids out of public schools and making a go of it at home. The predictions by educators were pretty universally dire. My own elementary school principal sat my high school educated mother down and said, "You are ruining your daughter. You are going to take her home and ruin her." My mother came home in tears and asked me if she was doing the right thing. I reminded her that I was reading before I started school so I wasn't really sure what they had done for me in almost 4 years.
I wasn't a genius and my parents didn't ruin me by taking me out of school. I recently joked to a friend of mine that I have no social skills because I was home schooled. She responded thoughtfully, "No, I don't think you are missing social skills. I think you are someone who likes to tell the truth a lot and not everyone can handle that." If being a truth teller is what homeschooling brings, our society needs more home schoolers!
Who I would have been with formal schooling I do not know. I do know that I have always had a fierce independent streak that has had me marching to an internal drum that no one else can hear. Schools as we currently know them were designed to educate children so they could one day work in factories - this is why rote learning and conforming to the norm are such cherished parts of the typical school. I've never been much good at conforming so I guess home schooling did ruin me for that.
I look at my siblings who were also homeschooled, as well as my now grown and growing nieces and nephews. We all have very different personalities, and the way my sister home schooled her kids was very different from the way my parents homeschooled. There are some common threads that I believe homeschooling has woven into each of us. Each of us will stand firm for what we believe in, though we disagree vehemently about those beliefs. Each of us believes there is more than one way to accomplish something, though we are pretty well wedded to our own ways.
Each of us learned to read at a different time and pace. Some had learning disabilities and learned to read years after the public schools would have declared them failures. Some of us read early, before the schools would have said we were ready (my kindergarten teacher banned me from reading in the classroom until she said I was "ready"). Yet each of us has a thirst for and a love of knowledge. Not one of us is comfortable just watching TV all evening or accepting the status quo. When we need to know something, even the latest bloomer is elbow deep in research.
We are all doers. If we see something that needs doing, we do it. We don't sit around waiting for someone to tell us how. Several of us have run businesses and some of the younger ones are talking about going into business. Most of us have pursued post-secondary education.
I knew I was going to be a writer around the same time my parents pulled me out of school. I believe that the freedom of pursuing my own intellectual course gave me the tools to do that. Yes, I went to college, but the seeds of belief in myself came from what I learned to do outside of formal schooling. Three of my nephews and my oldest niece have all studied music at the college level and have performed publicly while in college so they obviously didn't miss out on music lessons at home.
One of the things I cherish most about the years I was homeschooled is how much extra time it gave me with my family. Instead of being rivals, my younger brother and I were close friends as teenagers and often attended youth dances and other activities with the same group of friends. My nephews and nieces are very close, my oldest nephew just got married. He actually scheduled his honeymoon to start after his parents left town so he wouldn't miss out on time with his brothers and sisters.
There are many ways and reasons to home school. If you decide to home school, there are thousands of internet resources available. You can purchase a formal curriculum if you want some guidance. If you want to do things free form you can choose to Unschool. No matter how you choose to do it, home schooling offers great opportunities for you to continue to grow your bond with your kids.