First let me start with a little disclaimer. This is an opinion post, my personal reasons for homeschooling. If you don’t agree that’s fine and I am in no way stating that my reasons should be taken into account for every family. My convictions are mine.
So, my children weren’t always home schooled, in fact my oldest did public school for four years. He loved it at first, and so did my daughter who did two years in the public school system. So why did we jump ship? Here are my top five reason that my family quit public school and boarded the home school bus… (get it “school bus”? Okay… bad joke.)
- State standards- If you’re like me then you don’t come from a home school background at all, and the idea of getting away from state standards is actually quite frightening. In public education we grow up believing that everyone has to meet the same state standards to achieve any level of success in life. Like, how can you amount to anything if you don’t know the same 4th grade vocabulary words as everyone else, right?
The problem for me when it comes to state standards is that it is like a one size fits all education policy. State standards don’t leave much room for students who have a different learning style. For my family state standards were not a good fit. Especially when our state adopted Common Core, which is being adopted by many states. In fact if you do a quick Google search you’ll discover that “Forty-two of the fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia are members of the Common Core State Standards Initiative”. Going further it seems that the only states left that haven’t adopted common core are Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Alaska, Nebraska, Indiana, and South Carolina (insert surprise face emoji)! I could go on about common core, but that’s another post all of it’s own.
That being said, the only two options for anyone to get away from state standards are either the private school option, or the home school option. Personally, at the time that I first became convicted about making the switch, private school was not an option for us ($$$) so home school became a serious consideration. There are many wonderful home school curricula to choose from that do not follow state standards and can be adjusted to meet the standards of your family!
- The health of my children- This one is definitely specific to my family. First of all, my daughter deals with a few different health issues. She is severely asthmatic, she has eczema and several allergies. Mainly the big one is her anaphylactic allergy to peanuts. The school that my children attended was not peanut free, which would have been okay if they had some sort of policy in place to protect the children who suffer from severe peanut allergies, but they didn’t.
Every day at lunch my daughter was sat at the same table as all of her classmates, and all the glory of their PB&J’s. We even had incidents of other children taunting her with their peanut butter covered fingers, waving them in her face in the annoying “I’m not touching you” kind of manner. Her allergy is so severe that if she even touches an object that another child touched who ate peanut butter, she will have a reaction. Let me put it this way, for children to be waving their peanut contaminated fingers in her face is the equivalence to pointing a loaded gun at her. If you’re a good parent and you teach your children gun safety (ie. don’t point guns at people) do me a favor and take a moment to teach your children the dangers of anaphylactic allergies. You may think I am being dramatic if you can’t relate. It wouldn’t be the first time I have encountered this response. I once had a mom (we’ll call her Janice) exclaim to me that her daughter has a lactose intolerance and can’t have milk and that I was just being dramatic. To which I replied “Okay Janice, your child gets a tummy ache, my child CAN DIE!” Please people, for the love of all things good in the world, learn the difference between an intolerance and an allergy.
The school policy also would not let her have her EpiPen, on her. Which I understood that it was for the safety of other children, but for my daughter this meant that if she had a reaction she had to try to get all the way to the nurses office at the front of the school, by which time she could be in anaphylactic shock.
Also, her teacher was another one who did not understand or take her allergy seriously. According to that schools policy, although the school couldn’t be peanut free, the classroom that contains a peanut allergy is supposed to be peanut free. Her teacher did not enforce this and every day students were bringing peanut snacks anyways. Finally toward the end of the year she put up a peanut free sign on the door just to appease me, but even still she did not enforce it. The fact that even the small policy that the school did have in place was not even being enforced was enough for me to figure out that the only way I could keep my child safe was to keep her home.
Moving on to my oldest son. He always struggled a little bit in reading, and fell behind because of it quite a bit. He was the one who really made me realize the error of state standards and how to some kids (kids like my son) they can be more harmful than helpful. He is a brilliant boy, he just learns differently then the “standard” child. Its also no secret to anyone who has ever spent five minutes with him that he has a very hard time focusing for very long. Eventually in about first grade we talked to his teacher about the possibility of him having A.D.D. By second grade we had a diagnosis. This didn’t come as a surprise to us because I myself have A.D.D. and it is thought to be hereditary.
After the diagnosis I met with his teacher to talk about any possible extra help that the school may have available to him. Possibly some special reading class for kids like him with learning disabilities, or just in general a hard time learning. She informed me that day that the school has no such program for the kids, no special class, no tutoring, no after school programs, nothing. She told me that the school policy only offers extra help to kids after they fail the third grade. Wait a minute? So they will push my kid along even though he is struggling, let him fail the third grade and THEN they will offer him the help that he’s obviously needed since kindergarten… got it… No, not okay. So other than everything that his teacher could do for him within her power, and the best efforts we could do for him at home, the only other option that the school left me with was going to be to medicate my child.
Now, I am not anti-medication, in fact some days I still consider it (sarcasm). But that is not the road that I wanted to take for him. This was another deciding factor that pushed me to consider homeschooling as an alternative to what was offered in the public school system. I wanted to explore other learning styles to help him learn before pushing pills on him if I could help it. Which by the way he is now no longer struggling in reading and is doing pretty well in his school work!
- Freedom from schedules- Another thing that was appealing to me about homeschooling was that my family would have the freedom to take school with us wherever we go. This means that we could visit Disney when it’s not so crowded if we want to. We can take a day trip to the beach if we choose. The kids can stay the night at grandma’s house on a week day. You name it, the world is ours for exploring. We also don’t need doctors notes when the kids have sick days, and we never have to worry about truancy because of the many days my daughter has to spend seeing specialty doctors, who only schedule kids during school hours (I’ll never understand this by the way). When my daughter was in public school, in kindergarten I literally got a call from the truancy officer to let me know that even though most of her absences have been excused for illness, her name had come across his desk. Wow, even with excused absences I could have possibly faced a penalty for my child missing school because I have to prioritize her health? My bad, for keeping her alive I guess… I was pretty shocked.
Now, just because we are not bound by scheduling around a traditional school year, doesn’t mean that we don’t have routine. We may not have to do school every day, but we do have a general flow of how we do things and for the most part we stick to it.
- They’re MY kids- In the midst of my battle with the public school system, I began to feel as if I had no control over what happened with my children’s education (and from some aspects even their well being, see number 2). I couldn’t wrap my brain around the concept of giving birth to these kids, raising them up this far to the best of my abilities, teaching them everything they know, and then just relinquishing them over to the public school system as if it was my debt to be paid to society or something. To me the public school system ties parents hands behind their backs. No matter how involved you are, the state standards and school policies won’t change for your kid. The more I had no say, the more I felt this way, and the more I considered homeschooling. It just made the most sense. If I wanted to have a say in my children’s education, I had to take matters into my own hands.
- Jesus- Like I said in the disclaimer, this is an opinion piece so if this isn’t your belief that is okay. I understand that not everyone believes the same way, and I am okay with the public school system not teaching Christianity in school. As a Christian I wouldn’t appreciate someone teaching my children the ways of other world religions, so I get it. However it is important to me that my children have a Christ centered education. Again, the only way for that to happen is to enroll in private school or go with the home school option. However if that is not your thing, there are plenty of secular home school curricula to choose from as well. Personally Jesus is a part of our every day life, in everything we do, and it just didn’t feel right to me that we upheld this standard in our family except when it came to education. My kids now get to learn math, science, language arts, social studies, AND BIBLE, something that would not be offered to them otherwise. That matters to me, it just does.
So these are my top five reasons that I chose to home school. I’m sure I probably forgot something important, but hey I can come back if I need to. Let me know what you think in the comments. If you are a home school parent, I would love to hear your reasons! Are they different from mine, or do we share a reason or two? Let me know in the comments!