Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We Homeschooled . . . The End

Somehow the kids survived all of my imperfections and grew up to be intelligent human beings.
But I made some mistakes. They did take some remedial courses in college because, to be honest, I insisted we could conquer the foreign languages of biology and algebra on our own, when I should have hired tutors to help with the subjects that were just beyond me. Algebra Wars saw casualties on all sides. If we hadn’t run out of kids to teach, I would have done some things differently after learning these lessons.
Fortunately, my kids are still speaking to me. 
The best part was how much we loved having them at home.  Educating them there gave us scads of time to enjoy them. There was plenty of time for long talks around the table. While we chased rabbits, they learned to be critical thinkers. We spent long hours in the library, where they checked out every single book on their favorite subjects.  For our son, that meant pursuing his interest in all the weapons mankind has ever produced. A couple of years later it became clear he’d developed an unshakeable grasp of world history, world geography, ancient world geography, and world culture while reading about arms and armor.  But this was no hidden agenda from a book list. He just had time to pursue his passion with the side benefit of education.
We didn’t completely leave the public school system in the dust.  One irony of home education is we purchased all of our own expensive supplies and curriculum while still funding those same items for our neighborhood school, just like every other citizen.  In other words, we paid twice. On the up side, since paying our taxes gave us the right to make use of local programs, we enrolled our daughter in chorus classes in junior high and high school. You can’t have a chorus experience with only two kids, believe it or not, so we’re thankful for the great music teachers she had during those years.
The reactions of the general public were always interesting when we told people we were a home school family. Wide eyed surprise was usually followed by the almost scripted comment, “I could never teach my kids—they’d drive me crazy!  I don’t have enough patience.”  True enough. I wasn’t always patient and sometimes we drove each other crazy.
So why did we do it?  What’s the bottom line, the short answer, the 4-1-1?
Here it is—we brought our kids home so we could be the main influence in their lives.  The education they were getting around the corner was good, but it didn’t take a genius to see they were fighting for their lives on the playground.  And at the end of the day, that was not only unacceptable, it was unforgiveable.
The number one criticism—disguised as a question and directed at home educators—is this, “Aren’t you worried about socialization?”  Our simple answer was, “Not anymore.” 
More than forty years after the resurgence of homeschooling, and with two generations of guinea pigs now grown to adulthood, the evidence supports what the research has always shown—homeschooling works. It even outperforms conventional education.  And nowhere is this seen better than in the area of socialization.  All we need to do is google ‘socialization of homeschoolers’ and the proof is there.  Research shows homeschoolers are more comfortable in a wide range of social settings than are kids in public schools. That’s because kids behave like the people they spend most of their time with.  If they spend all their time with ten-year-olds, that’s the behavior they’ll mimic.  If they spend most of their time around adults, their behavior will reflect that instead. 
It was a no-brainer.  And I met that criteria.
Now that our kids have kids of their own, sometimes the question comes up, ‘will they or won’t they . . . home school?’  Whether or not they decide to home school is between them and God.  It’s not a decision to make lightly. It’s as serious a commitment as deciding to become a parent in the first place.
There were days—okay months—when I thought my own home school retirement would never come. But the second time around this education track proved to be the right one.  We stayed the course and saw it through.  Both of our kids graduated college with honors.  Our daughter graduated summa cum laude with a music degree in three years instead of the normal four. Our son went on to earn his master’s degree in theology, and I don’t argue with him about anything anymore. He could call me a dope five different ways in English and it’d take me a week to figure it out.  
The main thing I want to say here is home schooling works. It’s a valid option which deserves the same respect as its counterparts of public, private and charter schools.  It works even if parents don’t have college degrees.  At its mediocre best, it gives kids a good education.  At its more common norm, the education received is on a level with that of Plato. It produces socially well adjusted men and women who are self-disciplined and know how to think for themselves.  It graduates responsible adults who care about the world in which they live, and generates gratitude in the hearts of parents who are given the gift of extensive time with their children.
It even produces mature mothers whose character weaknesses are exposed and dealt with while they teach their children at home.
Imagine that.

(Photo by permission, Kevin Dooley's Photostream, Flickr. com creative commons,  (Dr. Larry Shyers, "Comparison of Social Adjustment Between Home and Traditionally Schooled Students," unpublished doctoral dissertation at University of Florida's College of Education, 1992. Dr. Shyers is a psychotherapist who is the Chairman of the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling.)


  1. I used to write articles for a monthly homeschooling mag. Enjoyed it immensely. I think it's a wonderful thing that you did. Good job!

    1. No, kidding, Liz! Wow! I'd love to hear about that sometime! Thanks, too, for the encouragement. I thought it was time I wrote about it.