I had an interesting conversation with a legislator this week. I’ve known him for some time and received a message from him to call when I had a moment. As we chatted, he expressed his regret over some votes he had made on homeschooling bills this session. What caused his change of heart? He took the time to meet with some homeschoolers in Bismarck. He described them in one word, "Awesome!"
One statement he made was particularly interesting to me. "I realize now this is more than just homeschooling. This is about a parents right to direct their child’s education," he said. That statement, and our conversation, got me to thinking. What are the reasons why parents should take the ultimate "opt out" and consider homeschooling their children?
Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. It requires effort… a lot of it. But under the proper circumstances – and with the right attitude and determination – homeschooling can be a tremendous benefit to parent and child.
I sat down and made a quick list of the reasons I could think of that parents should consider this option. They are in no order of importance:
1. There’s no bus to wake up for in the morning.
2. No disputes with teachers or administration (you are the teacher and administration).
3. You choose your child’s curriculum.
4. You can customize your child’s learning to their learning style.
5. More one on one instruction time.
6. More hands on learning.
7. You can take a family vacation or a day off without being made to feel guilty about it.
8. No out of school activities or events that you or your child are required to attend.
9. No peer pressure.
10. More opportunity to instill good old fashioned family values.
11. Opportunities for community involvement are greater.
12. Children learn better how to become self-learners.
13. No homework!
14. Remediation is immediate.
15. Flexibility with scheduling.
16. Adult interaction.
17. No parent/teacher conferences!
18. No bullying!
Now, just to be clear, I fully realize that homeschooling is not or cannot be for everyone. But perhaps you’re among the many parents that are frustrated with your child’s public school experience. Or, perhaps even worse yet, your child is frustrated with their public school experience.
When one of our children was in elementary school, he began coming home and expressing his frustration with school. At first, I did what many do from the generation I grew up in; I told him to deal with it. After all, life isn’t a cake walk.
Unfortunately, for my boy, things didn’t improve. He spent a minimum of three hours a night on homework. Oftentimes, working through the tears. He despised his teacher– who I initially defended. Teacher’s conferences didn’t help. His teacher even admitted that other parents complained about the amount of homework, but the workload didn’t lighten.
By the end of the following school year, I accepted the inevitable truth that my son had grown to not only hate school, but he was growing to despise learning altogether. He had begged us to homeschool him. I was reluctant. But I recall finally telling my wife that if we didn’t give him the opportunity, he may not only be miserable for the rest of his school years (as would we), but that he may always despise learning.
As we sat down with our son, we laid out the ground rules. We made it very clear that this was a huge commitment and that he had to be all in. Furthermore, we would expect his very best. The commitment was made and the rest is – as they say – history.
What a joy it has been for us to have seen our boy (now a young man) grow to love learning. Don’t get me wrong, we had our bumps in the road (especially the first year), but it has not been unusual for us to find him reading, researching, or even looking up how to do Math problems on YouTube. And aside from that, the time spent with his mother is invaluable.
In a nutshell, we have no regrets. We will be forever grateful that for our boy he was able to escape public education through homeschooling.