Trivium Pursuit

Why Homeschool?

Dear Laurie,

I do not disagree with you that it is our responsibility to educate our children and am trying to see what is the best way to do just that with my daughter. I have also looked into Classical, Christian private schools that are very parent involved and as of now I think this is the best option if a good school is to be found in our area. I was also wondering if you might tell me why you would opt for home schooling as opposed to a school such as this. I would appreciate any help or response you may have time to give.

Krystal
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Dear Krystal,

You have raised a very interesting and important question. Why would I want to homeschool my children if I had the option of sending them to a very good Christian school, especially a Classical Christian school. There are dozens of Classical Christian schools popping up all over the country now. Classical education has become very popular.

I’ll start off answering your question by giving a little of the history of our family. We started homeschooling in 1980. When our oldest was 9, in 1984, Harvey became unemployed. The lumber yard he was managing closed down. In his search for work he and a close friend decided to open a private school based on the philosophy of Charlotte Mason. Harvey was going to be one of the teachers. I forget now what he was going to teach, probably Greek and English grammar and math. They worked very hard at setting up this school, organizing how the classes would be scheduled, deciding on curriculum, etc. But there was one problem, no students. No matter how hard they advertised, they could get no students. They were quite disappointed. Harvey went on to other things, but our friend later established a conventional private school, with plenty of students. And we moved away to a different area.

If Harvey had been involved in this Charlotte Mason school, our children would undoubtedly have attended it. In fact, if we had stayed in the area they would have attended the school our friend started. He is an excellent teacher. But that was not to be. Harvey did not start a school, and we did not stay in the area. At the time, we were disappointed at both of these outcomes in our life. We did not yet understand, like we do now, the real value of homeschooling.

Homeschooled kids get a good academic education. But then, kids attending a good private Christian school, especially a Classical Christian school, get a good academic education, too. When you homeschool your children you are able to instill in them your Christian values. But then, kids attending a Classical Christian school will be taught Christian values, especially if their parents back up that teaching at home. So, what’s the difference? Why would I want to expend the effort to homeschool my children if I could send them to a good private school?

The difference is the heart. Most children who attend a school, be it private or government, Christian or secular, classical or traditional, will be pulled toward their peers. Their hearts will bond with their peers, and the parents will lose the hearts of their children. Oh, sure, the child stills loves Mommy and Daddy, but the heart, the affections, the attentions, the very life of the child becomes bound up with his peers. It’s called socialization, peer group socialization. If you had asked me in 1984 why I homeschooled my children, I would have responded that I wanted my kids to get a good education. I wanted them to learn Latin and Greek. Today, I would tell you I homeschool because I don’t want my kids to be socialized by a peer group; I want to keep the hearts of my children till it’s time for them to marry and leave home.

Rick Boyer in The Socialization Trap says, “Peer socialization breaks down family relationships….[it] separates kids both from their siblings and their parents through time commitments, interests and emotional bonding.”

I don’t know if I have answered your question. I didn’t fully realize all this till just recently. Write me again with your thoughts. (This letter was written in 1998.)

Laurie

One Response to “Why Homeschool?”

  1. agm Says:

    Today, I would tell you I homeschool because I don’t want my kids to be socialized by a peer group; I want to keep the hearts of my children till it’s time for them to marry and leave home.

    This is exactly the point, unless you are happy with drastically reducing your childrens’ success in this plane of existence. School is about learning to survive and deal with the world and network with others. Those who learn these skills will not only be materially more successful, they will lead happier lives because they have a better grasp of how to live with others and will be better achieved to reach their goals and do something worthwhile.

    I have yet to meet anyone who was homeschooled who weren’t behind everyone else in some respects. I myself didn’t learn how to rely on others and work in a team until I was a junior in college. And I am one of the more normal and successful people I know to have been homeschooled. If you homeschool your kids, you are choosing tradeoffs based on your beliefs, but you also may be irremediably handicapping them if they choose to do something in which the competition is always getting better. YMMV, but to me, it is tantamount to child abuse to so thoroughly put a kid behind in social development/skill acquisition/network development. A school with non-familial relations and large social groups is absolutely critical to complement quality academics — lacking either creates uncompetitive people in a cut-throat environment.

    Signed,

    Pursuing a PhD, homeschooled until the day I entered university, eventually learned to deal with the handicap.

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