Why I am Considering Home Schoolby : Samuel J Presson
posted on : 7/18/2013
There are three looming questions in my mind when I think about the future of my children:
- First, ‘What kind of world will they grow up in?’
- Next, ‘How will their character develop?’
- Finally, ‘What tools will they need to succeed in life?’
The first is largely out of my hands, being just one person I am probably not going to change the entire world. The second is primarily my charge as a parent: To rear my children to be trustworthy citizens. The third question greatly lies in the hands of the educational system in this country. Yet this is the one area that constantly makes me fear for my children’s future. Will they get an adequate education? Will they be taught to think as individuals? Will school, any school, challenge my children to be the best they can be?
The paradox of this entire conversation, though, is that I worry about my children’s education despite not yet being a parent. I cannot imagine what my feelings will be like when my wife and I conceive children and then face these uncertain realities head on.
Why does this problem worry me so much? Why am I considering homeschool? Primarily because I have worked in the system as an educator. I have spoken at length with fellow educators and several administrators. These conversations led me to do a fair amount of research on global education trends.
The most concerning trend is the fact our public education system is constantly changing the criteria for success. It was once “No Child Left Behind,” now here comes the “Common Core” despite test cases which failed to raise achievement levels. In the middle, we’ve seen numerous curriculum changes, most of which only serve to complicate the learning process. After all, math is still math. Numbers don’t change (Or at least, they shouldn’t).
How can a child thrive in an environment where the entire system is in flux? This lack of continuity is compounded by growing class sizes as budgets get squeezed. No teacher can perform at their best with 30 plus students in their classroom. Schools budgets are also a problem, with top down strategies that designate large budgets for administration and fewer dollars spent on students. The graph above from the Cato institute demonstrates how, despite ever growing education budgets, students have seen little to no improvement in public schools.
What about private schools? Private schools have long been considered a viable alternative to public schools. However, Time magazine reported in 2007 that statistics show no real difference in achievement between private and public school students “once you control for socioeconomic status.” In fact, private schools generally cost a lot of money for somewhat limited results. As a whole, they are inconsistent across the country so if I move my family from one area to another, how will I know I can find good private schools? Private schools also come with their own baggage: What will be taught, how will it be taught, and most importantly will my child be allowed to think for themselves or will they be taught someone else’s agenda? Time Magazine also pointed something else out: As the parent, I am the leading factor in my child’s education. My thought: Why then should I not take an active part in that education?
Average Test Scores: Homeschool vs. Public School
Source: Examiner.com and the research of Dr Brian Ray
For me, as a trained educator, considering homeschool is a natural choice. However, as the graph above suggests, homeschool students regularly outpace their public school counterparts regardless of social, economic, and gender factors. To other fledgling parents, I encourage you to become invested in your child’s education. No matter what school they go to, be involved. Know what your child is doing, where they need help, their strengths and weaknesses and what makes them enjoy or detract from learning.
Educational programs outside of the traditional classroom environment can also be a great supplement. This means programs that offer a solid curriculum on an individualized basis, not just homework help. MathRise® Learning Centers are an example of a solid one on one learning program that offers accelerated learning development. I would also recommend looking in music programs and athletic activities. Learning an instrument is always fun and very educational while sports are a great way to learn important relational skills. Even as a homeschool parent, I will definitely avail myself to resources like these to supplement the educational instruction and guidance I provide for my children.