Society has trained me, like many other people, to have a certain image of homeschooling families. The first image is of long-skirted fundamentalist Christians who like to keep their many children (especially the girls) as sheltered as possible. The second image is of long-haired anti-establishment hippies who like to let their kids follow their every whim. I don’t actually know any homeschooling families that fit either stereotypes.
Over the years, I have taught several students in school who had previously been homeschooled. Some were a little strange and missing in major background knowledge, but so are many children who have always attended school. But others were just filled with amazing intellectual curiosity, thinking skills, and study habits rarely seen in their schooled peers. I didn’t really know the families of these students, so I wasn’t privy to their decision to homeschool in the early years and later send their kids to school. I am presuming that many of them did homeschool for religious reasons since I was teaching at religiously-affiliated private schools.
We are not religious. In fact, we are devoutly atheist. So, a large part of the homeschooling world is on the other end of the philosophical spectrum from what I am looking for. But I have found some resources and groups that either do not actively promote religion or are strictly non-religious. Although, percentage-wise, I know that I am in a very small minority. The fact that this blog name wasn’t taken yet, is a testament to that fact. We shall see how things go as I meet more homeschooling parents.
I have been pondering the problems with public school since I started teaching in the system. My son has occasionally asked if he could be homeschooled for a couple of years now. My husband figured we turned out fine on a public education, so why rock the boat. About a month ago, however, we made the decision that after the current school year, we will educate our son at home.
Who would have thought that traveling would bring my husband around to the idea of homeschooling? The man needs to be heavily medicated to get on plane. However, he loves Disneyworld! (He drives or takes the train to get there.) And he loves money-saving deals. So, to save money on a Disney vacation, you have to go when most kids are in school. The dilemma became whether we could take our child out of school (plenty of people do) to take a cheaper trip. In the end, my husband realized that it would be much easier if we didn’t have to go by the school calendar.
The realization that the school superintendent was standing in the way of our family vacation planning happened to conincide with my lamenting about standardized testing. I have been fighting with the school system about a particular assessment. This test is supposed to show how students progress over time, however, my straight-A student’s scores are see-sawing. I know that I was not going to win this fight, but at least I might make a little dent. In the end, my son won. He will not be taking anymore standardized tests for at least a couple of years. Ironically, there is only one public school activity in which the state allows homeschoolers to participate: the standardized testing. We are going to opt-out of that, something which my state does not allow public school students to do.