I am not actually obsessed with the subject of home schooling, but I have written about it often. I firmly believe there is no better form of primary and secondary education than having at least one interested and capable parent, able to supervise the curriculum provided by accredited sources.
Decades ago, home schooling was different than it is today. Fifty years or so ago, when my cousin and his wife decided to educate their five children themselves, they had to be well schooled in every subject, decide on and purchase appropriate textbooks, formulate a curriculum, and fulfill all duties of a classroom teacher. It was not for the faint of heart. Because they did a great job, their children went on to college and are now each successful in their chosen careers. Nowadays, a parent needs two skills to home school.
First, they must have the willingness and ability to connect to a myriad of resources. I was stunned by how much is available. There are many TED talks and YouTube videos on every subject you can imagine, plus blogs giving anyone connections to other home schooling parents, detailing their successes and even some failures to avoid. Khan Academy offers free online lessons and interactive exercises on just about every possible topic. Project Gutenberg offers over 45,000 e-books at no charge to build a virtual library. There are smart phone/tablet apps for learning languages and other subjects. There’s even a website devoted to resources for homeschooling kids with autism, ADHD, learning disorders, and others with special needs. That is just a small taste of the abundance of tools available, whether for homeschooling or to augment traditional schooling.
The second set of skills required of a parent is the time and willingness to organize and supervise the activity, and provide the necessary discipline to carry it through. Those skills may not be natural to some. A single parent with two jobs, needing to feed, shelter and clothe his or her children might not be the most likely candidate to oversee home schooling. Some parents may not be willing to sacrifice the time and dedication necessary. It requires a hands-on, “always on deck” supervision of the activity. I don’t intend to say this to discourage anyone, but only to suggest anyone planning to embark on this path, to prepare in advance by educating oneself on the resources available. It would include connecting and learning from other parents, whether online or in person, who have successfully home schooled.
Many of the parents I know who home school, have themselves been educated in the same way. In their opinion, no one else is more qualified to educate their children. I believe the adage, “when you want a job done right, do it yourself”, applies here, and best describes my attitude.
With the recent recurring stories of violence in public schools, even in private schools, on the news, I cannot help but think that some parents might want to take the step toward providing an education in an environment where their children can feel safe – their own home. Reports are that children nationwide are feeling varying degrees of trauma due to those incidents, even when the violence has never happened in their own schools or in the schools of their friends. It’s now commonplace to practice drills in most schools “in the event” violence does befall them. Arming teachers is not the best answer. How safe does your child feel?