People choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons. I began homeschooling in the fall of 2012 when after a year in public kindergarten, it became apparent my intelligent but immature son was going to have problems. He did very well at home, as did my daughter and younger son.
We lived in the Houston area when we began homeschooling, and most of the other homeschoolers we knew couldn’t afford private school. We knew a few people that homeschooled for religious reasons. (I have not found the stereotype of ultra-religious, sheltered homeschooled kids to be particularly accurate.) Living in Colorado, it’s often just more practical to homeschool in the more rural areas since the children might spend an hour or more on the bus each way.
Due to COVID, the majority of us are homeschooling now anyway
Teachers provide remote education, but the real truth is that the overwhelming majority of kids need in-person supervision to get any actual work done. My oldest child was supposed to attend public high school this year, but it has been online. And he needed tech support from me the first few weeks. My other two are homeschooling, and I have been regularly babysitting a fourth child, a little girl whose mom is a single parent.
Remote schooling for elementary-aged children does not work for many families. Children that age cannot be left alone for extended periods. Even if the teachers are on the screen six hours a day, a parent or babysitter needs to be in the house for safety purposes.
Ultimately, parents are paying twice
We’re all either taking career hits to stay home or paying for childcare so we can work. Yet, we’re still paying property taxes so that teachers can collect their paychecks. Something needs to change.
People have come up with some interesting innovations. Some families have gotten together to form learning pods, hiring a teacher to handle small groups of kids. They’re re-creating the one-room schoolhouse. People seem pretty happy with them. Parents can focus on their jobs and kids receive an in-person education. This may be a great option for dual-career families with a moderately high-income level.
However, many parents out there are not in that situation
There are a lot of single parents out there. In many lower-income households, both parents work and still have no extra money. Many people have to work outside the home. My single mom friend, whose child I babysit, can’t work from home, and she can not take her six-year-old to the warehouse where she works.
Many parents believe homeschooling is not an option for them. Most of them don’t even know where to start. If you can read and do basic math, you can homeschool through elementary school. For lower-income parents, I would like to offer some food for thought.
Elementary school-age children do not need more than one to two hours a day of directed instruction to become proficient in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Rather than spend the day trying to work from home, and supervise children learning online, set aside an hour first thing in the morning. During this hour, work intensively with the children. Then send them outside to play, or have them watch nature programs while you work.
An extra 30 minutes to an hour around lunchtime would be good to reinforce what they learned in the morning. Then they can spend the afternoon pursuing their interests while you work.
To homeschool three children, first, fifth, and seventh graders, I usually spend between three and four hours a day. However, I get to choose when those hours are, and I can get some of my more mindless chores done while homeschooling.
Children do amazingly well with one-on-one instruction
When you teach a child to read and write correctly, they learn far more quickly if you can correct them as they go. If you dedicate time to working through a reading and writing program with your child, you will be surprised at how well they do. Once your children become capable readers, they can do a lot more schoolwork with only minimal involvement on the part of the parents.
A lot of great homeschooling programs exist. I use Susan Wise Bauer’s Well Trained Mind, and my sister uses Seton. I typically spend about $500 to $700 a year on school supplies. (Although I could have lowered that if I’d joined a co-op. Also, I know that Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) will sometimes assist in finding low-cost supplies for single-parent homeschoolers. I am willing to bet there are similar programs in other states.
Now, there are more reasons to consider homeschooling than ever
Recently the US Food and Drug Administration approved the following emergency vaccines (developed in less than a year.):
If you aren’t yet prepared for your child to be injected with this particular vaccine, homeschooling will buy you some time before it becomes mandated. It is extremely difficult in Colorado to get a vaccine exemption if you want your children to participate in anything. I’m not an anti-vaxxer in general. My kids have always gotten their shots, except for the flu shot. It is not particularly effective. For many years it has been less than 10%.
Personally, I prefer to give it a good five to ten years, the standard development time, before considering my children or myself to receive the vaccine.
In the meantime, our children need to receive an education
Homeschooling will also give you a chance to teach your children your values and your worldview. Between this year’s riots and the continually changing medical nonsense spouted, I want my children to know what’s going on. The schools in my area are teaching the “1619” project as history. I prefer my children to read the Founding Fathers themselves. And since we homeschool, I can make that happen.
This year has been unbelievably stressful. The crime has been terrifying. Watching my friends’ businesses tank has been so disheartening. I have only been able to function so far by attempting to think philosophically about everything. My children and I have spent the last few months reading through the ancient Greek classics. Homer, Euripides, and Thucydides did not expect everyone to be happy and prosperous all the time. My children and I have had many discussions about this, but again, because we homeschool, we can do that.
There is not always “next year” in the development of a child’s mind
The early years are precious, and the window to learn verbal skills is not open for long. I have teacher friends that are incredibly anti-lockdown because they are deeply concerned about children missing crucial time developing verbal skills. I keep hearing people saying that there’s always next year and younger people need to stop thinking only about themselves.
We need to fix the school situation now. My feeling is the only way parents can make themselves heard is to withdraw from the school system whenever possible. Many parents have withdrawn their kids from public school. Some of those parents have former teachers calling them demanding to know what program they are using. Then the teachers try to convince the parents the program is inadequate. The more seasoned homeschoolers tell the new parents that this is illegal, and parents do not have to answer the teachers.
Most parents are more capable than they think they are
I offer encouragement to people that want to homeschool, even if you think you aren’t qualified. Children need stability, which they cannot have when schools are open, then closed, then open two days a week, then closed again. Parents should consider taking matters into their own hands and providing that stability themselves.
If you are interested in learning more, here is an excellent website with state-by-state regulations regarding homeschooling: https://hslda.org/legal
If you are already a seasoned homeschooler, keep your eyes open for people in your community considering making the switch and offer your support as much as possible. With all the new rules and mandates, I feel like I’m being swallowed alive by forces outside my control. I’m convinced the only way to fight back is to form support networks to help each other stay off the radar for as long as possible.
If like-minded parents work together, we can help our children grow more educated and more resilient.
What are your concerns about your children and their education?
Have you withdrawn your kids from school or considered doing so? Do you believe you can’t homeschool your children, and why? Let us know in the comments below.