Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!
Today, I’m going to answer a few questions about homeschooling. Though I obviously feel that homeschooling is the best choice for us (otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it!), please understand that as I answer these questions, I’m not trying to deride other forms of education. Instead, I’m trying to defend homeschooling as a viable method of education.
I have a question about homeschooling; coming from a non-homeschooling background. Even with an assortment of materials & resources, how do you feel confident that you know “enough” about a subject to teach your kids? I know that question can seem snotty, but I’m truly not trying to be. I have a BS & a MS in mathematics education & taught high school math for several years. So, from my perspective, I don’t think I could ever have a proper knowledge base in all the fields & sub-fields of English, math, science, social science, art, etc. to do a proper job of thoroughly educating my children. I’m not confident that I could do a better job than people who have made it their life’s work to study & teach a particular subject area.
I fully acknowledge, of course, that as a parent, I am my children’s number one teacher & have a bigger impact on my child’s life than anyone else. We do talk about & explore language & math & science & all those other things, but I don’t think I can replace well-qualified teachers.
This is certainly a common question about homeschooling, and I think probably the best way to answer it is to point to the success of homeschool graduates. Every study I’ve ever read on the topic has found that, at the very least, homeschooled students do as well as their traditionally-schooled peers, and oftentimes they do better.
So, I think this question is more theoretical than anything…though it might seem impossible, homeschooling parents are somehow managing to produce students who are at least as well-educated as traditionally-schooled students. I could give you lots of anecdotal evidence of this (for example, I was at the top of all my college classes, and my homeschooled siblings, relatives, and friends have had similar levels of success.), but studies have shown this to be true pretty much across the board.
In the early grades, the subject matter is really just not that complex. I’d imagine most parents are capable of teaching their children to read, to write, to do arithmetic, and so on. I’ve been homeschooling for 6 years now and I have yet to come across anything in my children’s curriculum that is remotely confusing to me.
Of course, as the children get older, the subjects get more difficult. However, I don’t necessarily think the parent needs to be an expert in every area in order to give their children a good education. A huge part of homeschooling is learning now to figure things out for yourself. For instance, when I got to high-school level math, my mom didn’t give me a math lecture every day. Instead, I read the book, figured out how to do the problems, and came to her only when I got stuck (at which point she would read the book and help me figure it out). Even now, that’s how Joshua and Lisey operate with much of their schoolwork. They’re 9 and 10, but they are already learning how to teach themselves.
Knowing how to read a book, process the instructions, and figure out what to do has served me so, so well in life. I’m hardly ever afraid to try to learn a new skill because I’m confident I can teach myself. I’ve never taken a single photography class, but I’ve learned a lot simply by reading about photography. No one ever taught me a thing about blogging or all the technical stuff involved with setting up or maintaining a website, but I’ve managed to figure it out just by reading.
If parents are too overwhelmed to tackle a tough subject without support, though, there are options. Some parents handle difficult subjects by utilizing a tutorial service or having their children take a class at a local community college. Sometimes homeschooling parent work together and swap skills (for example, a mom who is good at chemistry might work with a mom who is an excellent writer).
Without getting personal, does your child decide on going to public school or is it for educational reasons?(1 out of 4) Just a question…no judgments.
When I first read this question, I was a little confused, and then I realized that I wrote a confusing sentence in last week’s Q&A post! I mentioned that Sonia had started school in the fall and that I was now homeschooling 3 kids. Sonia started school, yes, but like my other kids, she’s doing school at home. And the reason I’m only homeschooling 3 kids is that Zoe hasn’t started any formal homeschooling yet.
We plan to homeschool all of our children for the foreseeable future and this will not be a decision that is left up to them, at least for now. We are very firmly convinced that this is what is best for our family and our children.
All that is sort of moot, though, because our children have absolutely, positively, NO desire to go to a traditional school. They love being at home, they love all the free time they have (because homeschooling is very efficient), and they love our flexible schedule. In fact, they are vehemently opposed to the idea of doing anything except homeschooling, and that’s exactly how I felt when I was a kid.
So, it’s not at all like we’re forcing them to be homeschooled…they are at least as sold on the idea as my husband and I are!
Do you think that your kids will be prepared for “life after” their k-12 education? (Not that public school does a great job of this – this is something that swirls in my head. I wonder if you wonder about it too.)
The amount of time I spend worrying about this is somewhere right around nil. I sometimes worry about other aspects of homeschooling (Am I doing enough to help them love learning? Am I making this knowledge practical and lively?) , but I am absolutely confident that my children will be ready for life after high school.
Mostly, my confidence stems from seeing that my siblings and I have all been well-prepared, as have my homeschooled friends, relatives, and acquaintances. We’ve done well at college, in the workplace, in our churches, and in our neighborhoods.
Of course, there are some homeschoolers who are dorky and socially inept, and they probably aren’t going to do that well in real life. But, some people are just going to be dorky and socially inept no matter where they go to school (and kids who are that way will probably be much less miserable at home!), and anyone who’s been to school knows that socially inept people don’t only exist in homeschools.
As a footnote, I’d like to offer up this list of famous homeschooled people. Without formal, traditional education, these people were able to accomplish amazing things. While I know that traditionally schooled people have also accomplished amazing things, reading over this list gives me great confidence that homeschooling is not going to have a detrimental effect on my children. And more than that, I personally am quite confident that homeschooling is going to give them a solid education and will prepare them well for life after school.
If you’re interested, here’s some information on the studies that have been done on homeschoolers. If you’ve got any to add, do leave a link in the comments!