Homeschooling is a polarizing subject. Some see it as the best thing a parent can do for the development of their child, while others insinuate that it’s tantamount to child abuse. They cite the proper lack of socialization, the lack of mandatory reporters, and nonmandatory testing as more than enough reasons to outlaw it. Not only are these arguments easily debunked, but they exist in a fairytale.
In the real world of public education, 30 plus people have to sit in a single room for eight-plus hours of the day, listening to and obeying a single person who holds the power over them. They cannot eat unless it is lunchtime. Even breaks — maybe twice a day — are regulated and controlled. Now that’s up to you to decide if that’s a picture of federal prison or public school. Regardless, the point remains. Public schools brush over the actual educational needs of the child to instead regulate and control — hardly a picture of proper socialization.
Conversely, one of the most beautiful parts of homeschooling is the ability to customize and change the programming depending on the needs of the child. For my family, a lot of our education revolved around socializing. Thanks to my extroverted mother we had something almost every day that helped strengthen our ability to communicate and deal with the ever-changing world around us.
Starting at a young age, all of us kids were involved in a sport; we played, coached, or umpired. This taught us the value of teamwork, perseverance, and doing hard things. When a ground ball is coming at your face at 40 miles an hour, you learn rather quickly how to work as a team or feel the physical consequences of that. Between my two brothers and myself, we have over twenty fives years of being active in the world of sports. That’s a lot of hours, and a lot of time spent learning.
We were also involved in a co-op, as most homeschooling families are. We went to multiple classes in a day that ranged from kids our age to working on group projects with our entire family. I honestly hated co-ops for most of my life, but I realize the wisdom of them now. By working with kids of all ages, I got used to teaching and learning with people of all ages. This capacity has become incredibly valuable to me. College classes are mostly people your own age, but faculty and staff are not. Learning how to communicate with people of all ages is invaluable, and is a skill that takes time to learn. As a TA for my department, I have to work with and teach students of all ages which is a skill that takes time to develop.
As my brothers got older they got involved in speech and debate. They competed all around California in parliamentary pro, extemporaneous, and team events. In high school, they got more public speaking experience than most adults I know.
Instead of doing speech and debate, I got involved in a rescue and mentor ministry. There I worked side by side with professional horseback riders to rescue and retrain horses. I learned how to work with a team of vets who took me under their wing and helped me navigate the difficult world of horse ophthalmology. Listening to the professionals and learning how to ask scientific questions broadened my love of science and its ability to find cures. With this ministry came the opportunity to work closely with struggling youth and mentor them through rough patches in their life.
We also were highly involved in our religious community. Through children’s clubs and Sunday schools, my parents encouraged and sometimes forced us to get involved and serve. By putting others first we were taught to be thankful and grateful for all that we have. It also forced us to work with people from all backgrounds and ethnicities. In public schools, you are often forced to only be with people from your area code, and you go from one grade to another with the same group of kids that you started with. Not only does that limit your outlook of the world, but it’s also harder for students to transition into a world of all ages and backgrounds.
I do not write all the things my parents did to brag about our education but to show the beauty of homeschooling and what it can look like. While my brother and I had a very similar childhood, we all had different experiences in homeschooling as mom and dad crafted our education to suit each child and springboard them into the next step of their life, whether that be college, a trade school, or straight into the workforce.