This is a topic I have been wanting to post about for quite some time. I'm not sure exactly where the discussion will go, but I would love to hear your responses and questions regarding the issue. Just keep it friendly please.
So for those of you who don't know, I was home schooled my whole life. My parents made the decision to teach me at home when I was two. This was back when home schooling was mostly an "underground" effort. At that time, parents could be investigated for keeping their children out of traditional schools. My mom had to worry about taking me out in public during normal school hours because someone could "report" her to CPS. Home schooling wasn't illegal, it was just regarded as suspicious. My parents were literally on the cutting edge of the home school movement. They helped form and lead the Southeast Texas Home School Association (SETHSA) which is now a huge support group for families in the Houston area.
I often get asked about why my parents chose home schooling. One reason is they were new believers (saved when I was about a year old) and were passionate about their new Christian walk. The other reason is there were lots of changes in the public education system at that time where alternative theories about science, religion and family life were starting to take root in the schools. My parents decided to sacrifice a second income and teach me at home based on Christian principles.
This leads into one of the arguments/excuses against home schooling: "We can't afford it."
The truth is just about anyone can afford to home school. The problem is a lot of people don't want to afford it. Staying home and teaching your own children (whether the mom or the dad is the bread-winner) often means giving up the new car, the bigger house, the expensive vacations, the trendiest clothes, the newest "toys", the fancy restaurants and the monthly spa visit. It means giving up a lot of the luxuries that the world tells us are necessities. My parents sacrificed an upwardly mobile lifestyle in exchange for a warm (smaller) home filled with the sounds of children playing (instead of cable tv) and home-cooked meals (instead of take-out) and weekend camping trips to the beach or forest (instead of DisneyWorld or Europe).
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with those other things. They are great and I am so glad that some families get to have those experiences. But they are luxuries and if those things are the only things holding someone back from considering home schooling I would advise some self-examination and priority-checking. You might come away reaffirmed in the decision to make those things a part of your life because you want your children to experience those things. You also might come away with some different ideas that you never considered before.
I'll leave things there for now. More posts on living the home schooled life will follow. Let me know what you think and if you would like me to address any particular aspect of home education.