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Why I Homeschool--Part One: (Because I was homeschooled)Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2011, at 8:27 AM
I wanted to take the next few blog posts to answer the classic question of why I homeschool. This is a question that I have been asked over and over when people find out that none of my children have ever been to a public school. There isn't one, quick answer to that question. Not only that, the reasons I homeschool today aren't necessarily the same as the reasons I started homeschooling years ago.
Since the reasons are complex, I can't just make an easy list. Just Google "Top Ten Reasons I Homeschool" and you will find pages of links to sites with lists of reasons ranging from profound to controversial to funny. My intention is not to simply make a list of the benefits (like getting to sleep in) but to really go deeper into the heart of the issue to understand why I, personally, am homeschooling my children. I'm also going to refrain from giving a number, because I don't know for sure how many reasons I have yet. There might be 10, but what if I get to 10 and then think of a really awesome number 11? You can see the problem, I'm sure. So I'll just start with the reason I first started homeschooling and go from there.
The reason I started homeschooling was simply because I was homeschooled. This is very similar to the reason that most public schooled parents probably put their children in public schools. It's what they are used to. It's familiar to them. They understand the process and how to go about registering their kids. They have a working knowledge of the system and what will be required of them, because they have been there themselves. To them, homeschooling is mysterious, full of ambiguity and questions. Concerns about socialization and college cause them to usually choose the "safer" choice -- the one with which they are familiar. I don't think a lot of parents really even consider any other choices -- public school is often chosen by default.
In the same way, I am familiar with homeschooling because I was homeschooled. So was my husband. When we got married 15 years ago, we didn't even discuss whether or not we would homeschool our children or not -- it was just sort of understood that we would, and so we did.
According to a 2003 study by Dr. Brian D. Ray, (http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/homeschoolinggrowsup.pdf), 82% of homeschool graduates said they would homeschool their own children. Obviously, if a homeschool graduate marries a public school graduate the two may later decide on a different education option, but the study demonstrates that most people educate their children in the same way they were educated.
You see, as a homeschool graduate, I knew firsthand that homeschoolers have friends, because I had friends. I would roll my eyes when we were asked if we got tired of being home all the time, because sometimes we were never home. I didn't have to worry about whether homeschoolers could compete academically with their public schooled peers, because I knew firsthand that we could.
I knew how to homeschool legally. I knew how to get involved in groups. I knew how to pick out curriculum and how to teach a child to read. I knew how to plan a school year and keep records. I knew that it was possible to teach something even if I wasn't an expert at it. I knew what homeschooling was and what it wasn't, what I needed to do and what I didn't. I didn't have to wring my hands and wonder if my kids would need therapy when they were adults, because I knew firsthand that homeschooling is a healthy environment for children. It was a natural, easy decision for us to make.
Homeschooling can be scary for those who have never tried it. For those of us who grew up with it and know firsthand what it's all about, it's difficult to imagine any other way of living.
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