Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Inner Sanctum: Home Schooling Exposed

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.


Arshunda said...

As the child of a teacher, I have fair knowledge of how things have changed in public schools since my "tenure" from 1980-1994. Because of what I know, heard, and seen with my own eyes, the thought of home-schooling my now non-existent children is not so far-fetched as it was a few years back. I knew only one girl growing up that was home-schooled by her mother. I could never get a straight answer out of her on this question, so I'll ask you since you've opened this up for questions: Did you ever feel as if you were "missing out" on things? I can imagine you had friends in the neighborhood who were public school kids, so I would also suspect you were able to (voluntarily or otherwise) live vicariously through their experiences as PS kids, right? Like with prom...homecoming...etc...did you think you were missing out? Did you have the option to go to public school if you wanted?

Aimee said...

I respect your parents for going into such unknown territory. I think if parents home-school properly, the results can be fabulous! If done properly, i think the children often receive a greater education. However, i think some parents opt into home schooling for the wrong reasons - as with most things in life. I completly respect those parents that take on the monumental responsibility to try to educate their kids themselves, as all teachers know even the most well-behaved children can be hard to deal with. So, hats off to your parents. I bet it helped you guys have a much closer relationship, one that some of us wish we had.

Troy said...

Oh, the stories I could tell. I know of families that pulled their children out of Christian school because they couldn't afford it. What they really meant is that their new Suburban was more important.

Sherri said...

Hi Laurie!
I am so excited to find your Blog!
I have recently started home schooling my three children, 9(girl), 7 and 6(boys). They have been in the public school, one considered to be very good. True, it has a very good curriculum and they are very much grade oriented, but to a fault. Our entire life was centered around school. The children were scared to death of those standardized tests as it was drilled in their heads from the first day of school each year that they had to do well on them. It took the fun out of learning.
There were many reasons that we decided to home school other than just needing more family time. It was a leap of faith...very very scary for me as I felt the weight of their entire education on my shoulders. It was such a huge decision, but one that I was happy to make.
The reason that I am so excited to find your writing is that I am eager to hear from someone who is on the other end of it. I have told my children from the beginning that if any of them want to go back to school at any time that we will make it work. My hope is that they will not want to go. We have joined the home school association and the local group and are trying to create a social circle. I know at this age that it will be easy to keep them happy socially, but I know it will get harder.
Thankyou so much for sharing your story. I look forward to reading the rest of it.