As we round the corner of this school year, Bess' kindergarten year, this question is looming in my mind: do I keep homeschooling next year? Right now, I’m very much inclined to say yes.
Though we’ve had our bumps, this has been a good year as far as Bess’ academics goes. She’s learning to read and powering through her math. She’s been introduced to Spanish and to science experiments. She’s had an outside P.E. class she loves and is learning a lot of Bible stories. She’s even memorized some poetry and is learning to draw.
So, academically, I am thrilled with homeschooling. And when I look ahead to the Well-Trained Mind plan for the first grade year, I get a little giddy. Honest and true, this is how children should be educated. I love, love, love the four year history-science cycle. I love the idea that we will be doing so much reading. I think that Gamgee will be interested in a lot of the reading too (all my kids love being read to), and even the twins might enjoy some of it, especially the life science stuff.
I don’t think the public schools are going to teach my kids as well. In the subjects they do offer, like math and reading, I don’t think their methods are as good. And then there’s the subjects they don’t offer! Spanish, music, religion . . . possibly also grammar. So, academically, I’m all in favor of homeschooling.
Where does it possibly fall down? Well, in socialization, of course. And I get the standard response: that everyone is socialized, and you just choose who your child is socialized by: a horde of children their own age, or their parents. I understand that. But I also understand that it’s important that children learn to deal with the world while they’re still children, while they have their parents’ support in helping them solve the problems they encounter outside of the home. And I don’t want my kids to get out of the house without learning to how to handle the boring people, the creepy people, the neurotic people, etc.
But . . . I’m not convinced that public schooling is the only way to learn that. One big way you learn those skills, frankly, isn’t at school, but at your first job. And I expect my kids to get a job in high school, at least. But is that too late?
Also, I expect they’ll do various lessons or sports – martial arts, or art lessons, or music lessons, or who knows what else. The idea would be not that we shield them from interaction outside their family circle, but that we let them do it in smaller doses when they’re little (sports, etc.) and larger and larger doses as they get older (a job, community college classes, etc.). I’m not sure that’s unworkable. I’ve seen a couple families do it really well.
What I like about homeschooling at least a little bit longer is that it gives us a few more years to give them a really solid grounding in our own beliefs and (good) family dynamics. Lets them solidify who they are before they’re dumped into the mix.
And here’s the other thing . . . the mix they’d be dumped into is different than the one I was dumped into. When I went to K-3, it was in northern Canada. It was very conservative, and largely supported the moral structure my parents held to. (Not entirely. There was, for instance, the pervading attitude in my elementary school that girls weren’t as good as boys.) And the schedule was different. I got to come home for lunch every day. It wasn’t eight straight hours at six years old. I don’t think that first grade in Southern California is equivalent. I should ask my brother though. He went to K-3 down here, though that was, eh, almost twenty years ago. Times change. Used to be that the girlfriend/boyfriend stuff hit in sixth grade. I’m hearing as early as second now. No thanks.
So . . . I’m still leaning towards homeschooling next year, because I like the academic aspect so much. But I don’t want to underestimate the social aspect, because there’s no use in having a brilliant child who can’t deal with life.
But I also don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking “sink or swim!” Sometimes the answer is to get a really solid foundation before you attempt the hard task. You don’t just go run a marathon (unless you want the result the first marathon runner got). You start a training program and slowly build up your endurance, so that when race day comes, you’re ready, you’re capable. And if we homeschool the whole way (or even just a bit further), I think that’s the image I want to hold in my mind. I’m not homeschooling my kids to keep them home, I’m homeschooling them to let them go.
peace of Christ to you,