Read an Excerpt
Frequently Asked Questions About Homeschooling
As homeschooling parents and disseminators of information about homeschooling, we are constantly asked questions by parents considering homeschooling their children, or by the just plain curious. Here we offer our responses to some of the questions that come up most frequently. Q: What about socialization?A: Because this is the most frequently asked question, we have placed it first. Parents need to consider that in the average school day of 6 hours, the child spends approximately 1 1/2 hours "socializing"—two 15-minute recesses and 1 hour at lunch. The rest of the time the child usually sits at a desk, separated from the other children by the invisible wall of "good behavior." Plus, as the school atmosphere becomes increasingly restricted and dangerous, the socialization that occurs is not particularly "social."
Homeschooling parents, on the other hand, often find their children have too much socialization—weekly park days, skate days, and field trips. Besides planned events, children who live in urban or suburban areas come in contact with people all day long. Most neighborhoods, which is where a child's playmates usually come from (and always have), include children of varying ages, whether homeschooled or conventionally schooled (that is, attending public or private school). Families in rural areas have to take steps to ensure that their children—whether homeschooled or not—come in contact with others on a regular basis. The fact is, children taught at home have more time to socialize freely without being told what to play, when to play, and where toplay. If organic, pure socialization is to take place, it is in the homeschool setting.
Q: What about critical or skeptical family members?A: Usually, a skeptical family member is concerned about academic and socialization issues. (People who don't live with your children may not see the positive spiritual and psychological changes they go through once they are no longer in an age- or peer-dependent environment.) Try inviting the skeptic to park days or field trips to let them see what your daily life is like.
This brings to mind Michael's mother, who was very skeptical when she first heard our plans to homeschool. Before our son reached the age of six, she didn't believe we wouldn't send him to school. When school enrollment time came and went, and we didn't change our plan, she was worried and decided to pay for our first-grade boxed curriculum. She also came out to Los Angeles from Chicago and accompanied us on our routine the first week of her visit.
We remember the week distinctly: Monday, a field trip to the J. Paul Getty Art Museum; Tuesday, homeschool gymnastics class (with about 15 families); Wednesday, Yamaha Music School (with 10 other children who weren't homeschoolers); Thursday, park day (with 20 to 40 other homeschooled children, playing for approximately four hours); Friday, chorus at the Yamaha School (with 25 non-homeschooled children). Our son was occupied with trips to the library, doing his curriculum in the early mornings, and listening to Michael read to all of us in the evenings. She quickly realized that not only was her grandson not socially deprived, but he had a culturally and academically rich life, filled with music, chorus, gymnastics—training he would not receive in a school setting. After her visit, we heard from relatives that Michael's mother spoke with much pride about what a great life Lennon had!
Q: What if all my child's friends are schooled and she feels "different"?A: Had you asked us this question five years ago, we would have answered differently. We probably would have said to do little things like buy a lunch pail and pencil and paper pads at the beginning of each school year and try to incorporate more "school-type" things into your lives. We would not have said with the pride we now have, how fortunate and privileged he is to be homeschooled! We were squeamish in the early years and sometimes felt that we had to hide. Over these years, our son has taught us that we should be proud to be homeschoolers, that we should feel different because we are. We view his sense of pride in being homeschooled as righteous and healthy. In today's society, there is constant talk about building self-esteem in children. If you knew that homeschooling your child would give her a tremendous sense of self-esteem—far beyond what she would gain in a school—would you do it? Foster the difference and be proud of it!
Our son has taught us that we should be proud to be homeschoolers.
Other frequently asked questions that are answered in the book:
·What if my child goes back to school? Will the school accept him?
·What if my child does not want to leave his school friends?
·How will I know if a homeschool group is right for me?
·My teenager wants to be homeschooled, but my husband and I both work. Is this a good idea?
·What will the neighbors think?
·Should I let my children play outside while regular school is in session?
·Is it harder to teach high school than the elementary grades?
·What if I can't stand to be with my kids all day?
·Are there African Americans who homeschool?
·Should I get involved with the independent study program (ISP) with a public school?
·I've never been a bookish person and did not like school. How can I possibly teach my children?
·Homeschoolers seem to occupy the far left or the religious right, whereas I am somewhere in the middle. Where or how do I fit into all of this?
·Don't teachers know something about "teaching" that we as parents should know to teach our own?
·If I have three children I want to homeschool, do I have to teach three levels of math, science, and English each day?
·When will my child ever use calculus, trigonometry, algebra, or geometry?
·I enjoyed school activities like the prom and the science fair. Aren't we denying our children these things if we homeschool them?
·Are we losing a sense of community when we remove our children from school?
·What about homeschooling an only child?
·Will my child have a high school diploma?
·How will I know if my child is "where he should be" in various subjects?
·Should I use a prepackaged curriculum?
·Why should I homeschool?
·Is there a "downside" to homeschooling?