Have you heard that question yet? When I first decided to homeschool, and friends, family, and acquaintances found out, it was amazing how often and quickly that question is posed. In many cases, before I could even try to formulate an answer, I was usually smacked with a barrage of warnings and cautions, or had my questioner simply shake their head and smile condescendingly. It was maddening!
Three hundred years ago, there were two choices: a) walk 17 miles through the snow to the one-room schoolhouse, or b) have your mother and father teach you at home.
Yes, believe it or not, children all throughout history were homeschooled. Alas, the poor, misfortunate, odd little child of the 1700's. How ever did they keep from falling behind? How possibly could they have learned social skills if not from being tossed into a group of fellow nine-year-olds to teach them? How could they learn independence without being smothered by a peer group? Where did they learn the necessary skills and receive the self-esteem lessons that are found on the playground? Could sibling rivalry at home ever measure up to the greater scale of cruelty, and sometimes deadly, violence we now have in abundance in some public schools?
For the child of the 1700's, homeschooling was the norm. It was not some nutty, New Age experiment that was just introduced to society. Homeschooling was how things had always been done – and quite successfully, too! Strong, brilliant men and women who were trained as children by their mothers grew up to build the great nation that we live in today. Their mothers were moms just like us; they were willing to teach. And, they knew back then that social skills were learned and practiced in the home. Kindness, patience, tolerance for siblings, perseverance, and the hard work of daily chores were learned alongside Mom and Dad, and within the family structure.
While many parents are content to hand over the responsibilities of education, influence and inadvertent character and values training to the government for seven hours a day, I am not. The choice to homeschool my family was not necessarily easy, but crucial for us. The fact that there is a whole history that consistently demonstrates and proves the successful methods of homeschooling is a comfort to me. And frankly, the 200-year government-run, public learning experiment has not impressed me at all. Ironically, despite the low statistics and depressing national test scores, as well as the rampant playground torments, school shootings, and prejudiced curricula filled with values and philosophies in direct conflict with my own, it is I who gets the bewildered looks from other parents when they learn I am a homschooling mommy.
On an ending note, I must emphatically add that I do not "condemn" all public schools or view them as an enemy. Nor would I ever dream of judging – in any way at all – parents, who, after consideration, prayer and/or much thought, choose public, private, charter, or any other educational way or system. We all want what is best for our families, and being vastly different, it would be tremendously egotistical to believe that our way is the best for all families. Rather, "Who are you to judge another man? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand – Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." Read Romans 14.
Continue to research; and my respect to all parents who refuse to be blindly led or forced into any system, based upon peer pressure, social trends, or simply because it is the direction the stampeding masses are charging into.
Our little ones are too precious for us to let go without first being confident of the hands, hearts, and minds of those they will come under.
May God bless you and your efforts as you search for what is best for your own dear family.
Jenefer Igarashi lives in East TN with her husband, Geoff the Great; together they homeschool their six kids on a little farm. She can be contacted by email, Jeneferig@gmail.com, or thru her blog, http://Jeneralities.com