Trivium Pursuit

Adult Peer Pressure

Laurie,

My sister who is expecting her fifth child at the end of April is currently homeschooling her oldest two daughters, grades 1 and 3. She is knowledgeable in the classical approach, tries to use it herself, and also has helped to start a classical school that meets twice a week with paid teachers. The parents still homeschool the majority of the time and the children meet for the “extras” two afternoons a week.

Her dilemma is that she fears her oldest especially is not getting “enough” at home. The interruptions of the younger two are a major distraction. She is contemplating sending the oldest three to her church’s very popular day school next year (she has in fact received much heat over the last three years for homeschooling and she has little support for it in her church since the church has a school). The church is affluent by and large, and the conventional wisdom among young mothers there is to send the children to school as early as possible so that they, the mothers, can socialize, do volunteer work, etc. My sister is swimming upstream in that environment.

Yesterday she called me to ask my advice about school enrollment. I told her I understand her dilemma and her concerns about her children’s education and I strongly encouraged her to reconsider keeping her children home. Her oldest likes being homeschooled, but she is not “Speedy Gonzales” which is one of my sis’s concerns. My sis thinks maybe another teacher would be able to “get more out of her” than she can. I think she is really worried that they aren’t doing as much as are their cohorts at the day school. I think she wants a break. She really does so much of this alone. Her husband, who is very supportive of homeschooling and the classical approach, can’t help as much as he’d like. Is there anything more you would add to what I’ve told her? J.
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Dear J,

I think you have covered everything with your sister. In the end we have to just let go. When we surround ourselves with people who think differently than we do, and we experience very little support for our own position, then, in a moment of weakness (like when you are expecting a baby and feeling overwhelmed) we are tempted to give up and go the easy route (private school). It’s called socialization and peer influence, and I’m not talking about the children here. We as adults are just as influenced by the opinions of our peers as we know our children to be. We as adults want to “fit in.” That’s why it’s very important to properly “socialize” ourselves and avoid the influence of those who are intent on persuading us to go a route we ought not to. If you are one of those who is easily influenced by people and who likes to please people, then you ought to be careful who you surround yourself with. We all try to be careful who our children play with. We don’t want our children constantly surrounded with children who have different values, goals, and beliefs than we do. Of course, you know I’m not saying that we must never associate with those who believe differently than we do. That would be impossible and absurd. But if you attend a church where you get no support for homeschooling, if you live near relatives who only tear you down, if your friends and neighbors don’t homeschool, then it is no wonder that you will start to doubt the value of homeschooling. Surround yourself with people who will build you up, not tear you down.

Laurie

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