Prospective homeschool parents have to face fears, doubts and myths that keep them from taking the decision to homeschool their children. This article is an attempt to do some myth-busting, dispel the fears and disqualify the anti-homeschooling excuses that prevent many parents from the awesome experience of homeschooling their families…(yes, not just the kids, the parents get HOME schooled too!)
1. I don’t get on with my kids/ My kids have bad attitudes/ My kids won’t listen to me.
This, to me, is one of the best reasons to homeschool. Instead of running from discipline issues that need to be tackled, loving parents need to embrace opportunities to teach and train their children to be respectful and obedient. They need to learn to reach their children’s hearts, not just apply various methods of behaviour modification and punishment, but actually build heart-to-heart relationships with their children.
Ignoring a problem issue or expecting a teacher to deal with it, does not show love and commitment to children. They will test their boundaries and they need parents to care enough to establish and enforce boundaries. Homeschooling facilitates plenty of opportunities for parent-child relationship-building.
2. I am not well-educated/ I can’t teach subjects like Maths and Science
Research has shown that the level of education of homeschooling parents is not a factor determining successful homeschooling. Even parents that dropped out of high school have successfully homeschooled their children all through high school. Parents who did not have a good school career are often able to fill in the ‘gaps’ in their own education as they progress through various concepts with their children.
Homeschool curricula are designed to be used by parents that are not trained, professionals and for students pursuing self-study. In most cases, clear instructions are given, parent guides and solutions are provided. Some curricula even provide instructional DVD’s where a teacher teaches the new concepts for the benefit of both the parent and the student.
As a last resort, homeschoolers can also do what school-going children do if they battle with a subject – they can go for private tuition.
3. I can’t afford it.
With all the options and choices of curricula available plus free resources available on the internet, there are no grounds for this excuse. Most homeschooling families survive on one income and still give their children a good quality education.
At the very worst, you can limit yourself to spend the same amount as it would cost to have your children attend school, without the extras like school clothing, lunch money, contributions to fund-raising and other school-related expenses.
Since most of your money will be spent on books and materials which can be re-used with younger siblings, you can get a lot of value for your money.
4. My children just LOVE being with their friends
If your children prefer being with their friends, than with their family, perhaps they have already developed an unhealthy peer dependency. This might not seem to be a problem at preschool or primary school level, but just wait until they hit the teen years!
As an alternative, homeschooling enables children to build good relationships with both their parents and their siblings. When their identities are strongly rooted in their families and they have good family values, then children are better able to develop healthy friendships outside the home.
Homeschooling enables parents to choose the social interactions that their children experience. Parents can keep them from negative peer group pressure or bad influences until the children are old enough to gradually be exposed to them and are mature enough to make good decisions and build good relationships.
Homeschoolers don’t just stay at home. They also socialize- just not during school time!
Research has also shown that in general, homeschoolers have better social skills with a wider ranger of age groups than school-going children, whose social interactions are largely limited to their own age group.
5. I don’t have the patience
When I first started homeschooling, I read somewhere that you only get patience if you need it!
The same is true of other character qualities that homeschooling parents need such as perseverance, humility, self-sacrifice, compassion, diligence, etc.
It is through homeschooling that our characters are shaped, moulded and matured and we become equipped to do what we are called to do.
6. I am scared of failing.
I often tell my children that, “Courage is doing what we have to do, EVEN WHEN WE FEEL AFRAID.”
It’s amazing to me how many parents are afraid that they might mess up their children’s education, but they seem to have no fear that some teacher might mess up even better!
When you see how many children suffer for various reasons in the school system, it is even more amazing that parents are willing to entrust their precious blessings to total strangers for 6 hours of the day or more!
As a parent, you love your children like no teacher ever will, you have their best interests at heart and you are able to give them a tailor-made education, suited to their individual needs.
Unless you are not committed to successful homeschooling and dealing with the parenting and discipline issues that may crop up, there is no reason why you should not do an equal or better job than a paid professional.
Now, I am not saying that any parent can be a school teacher – no, I think one does need special training to teach a class of 35 plus children that are not your own in a school situation…but I do believe that committed parents can do a good job in homeschooling their own.
7. Will I cope? I am stressed out already.
Many outsiders see homeschooling only as an added responsibility – the burden of the academic training of their children. However, to give it a different perspective, homeschooling is a lifestyle that brings a lot of flexibility to a family’s day-to-day life. This might be just the thing to help a stressed out parent cope better with the demands of a family.
Since everyone is together, not rushing out in different directions, life is usually simplified. Children are home and can be trained to help out around the house too.
Sometimes a parent may initially need to stop certain outside activities or commitments, like additional church programs, sports or hobbies. However, this is not always the case and many homeschoolers are equally, if not more involved in their communities than non-homeschooling families.
Sometimes these activities just need to be re-scheduled to accommodate the homeschool lifestyle.
Learning to adapt and put family first is often a good thing. I know of too many people whose children are treated like second-rate citizens for the so-called good of the community, so that parents can find approval from their own peer group for their good deeds and commitments!
8. We have such a nice teacher/school.
There certainly are some very nice teachers and schools with good results and good reputations. However, does the teacher or the school’s values match your family values? Will the nice teacher always be the one to teach your child?
Often a school is legally bound to teach a curriculum which may be in conflict with your beliefs. No education is neutral. If you don’t know what your children are being taught, perhaps you should find out the underlying belief system.
No matter how nice the teacher or the school, only YOU have an intimate love relationship with your child and ultimately you are responsible for your child’s education, whether you delegate that responsibility to a school or not.
9. I need more stimulation/ I can’t just stay home / I love my job.
As career-workers, many of us initially find our identity in our job, satisfaction in the approval from our co-workers, boss or simply the pay check at the end of the month.
Choosing to stay home as a wife and mother demands a shift in one’s mindset and accepting that at the end of many days and months there is no tangible reward. You come to realize that raising well-educated, confident and secure children is one of the greatest achievements that one can strive towards. For many of us, its obedience to a God-given calling.
Although the stimulation may be of a different kind to that of a job, homeschooling can be very stimulating for parents as it offers you the opportunity to learn and explore topics of interest along with your children. It affords you the time to enjoy educational trips, tours, outings, co-ops, crafts, hobbies, sport and even home-based business opportunities.
(Many homeschooling parents, like me have website-based businesses that earn them a good income and they get to work at their own pace! See links below.)
10. My parents, in-laws, friends, neighbours or church, etc. won’t approve.
For some reason, we all like to have the approval of others, especially those whom we respect and with whom we have intimate relationships. However, if you and your spouse are in agreement that homeschooling is best for your children, you need to have the guts to stand up for your convictions.
To many non-homeschoolers, homeschooling is a foreign concept and people don’t understand why you are NOT just doing the done thing and sending your children to school.
Sometimes people feel that by your choice to homeschool, you are silently judging their choice of schooling and rating it as second best, so they attack your choice because attack is their best defence.
Ultimately, you are responsible for your children, not your family and peers…and a good answer is to tell others that you feel your choice is best for YOUR family but you realize it may not be the same for other families. You don’t even have to explain your reasons!
Many homeschoolers have had to face criticism and skepticism from outsiders, yet in the end, the ‘proof has been in the pudding’ as they say. Many times, after a few years, others have seen the good fruit of a homeschooling family and they have earned the respect and support which was lacking at first!
By Shirley Erwee of http://www.shirleys-preschool-activities.com/
Shirley is a mother of five and has been homeschooling her children for over ten years. She is the author of various homeschooling curricula, from preschool to high school. Her websites offer encouragement to other homeschooling parents. To find out more go to http://www.south-african-homeschool-curriculum.com