It’s difficult to strike a balanced tone when speaking of reasons people choose to home school their children. In our day to day lives, it’s common to happen upon discussions which reflect only one point of view be it on the radio, on television, in classrooms, in our own homes. Unfortunately most major issues are simply too large to tackle from the middle of the road and so people take a side and battle from that position. That said, it’s fair to say there are very good schools available to most all US citizens, places wherein children can get a quality education. Of course, there are others and it may be these others that has lead so many to educate their own children, in their own way.
While many have chosen to educate their kids, an honest discussion needs to take place within each parent’s self. This is a fresh approach, a sincere approach to improving the home school child’s life. The message is straight forward, it’s purposely honest and lacking in soft, passive tones. Parents who have chosen to educate their own, deserve the respect this tone imparts: matter of fact, simple, non-labeling or blaming, a voice of aid.
One cannot be all things to a child. Even if the parent/educator is incredibly well adapted and versatile, socialization with others is a positive in personal development. The discussion needs to recognize the incredible strength needed to make such a decision and if the most is to be made of the decision, needs to recognize each parent’s weakness in teaching.
A significant drawback to pulling a child out of school is the socialization aspect. Speaking here of socialization in general. Children learn, experientially, that is to say, through experience, by simply being in a structured environment. Our world is filled with rules, structure, it’s how we are able to function without stepping on one another, both figuratively and literally.
There are rules of the road, unspoken rules of behavior in a grocery store, rules at the theater, at the movie complex, etc. So, being out and about, in the world is a good thing for kids as they’re developing. As a home school parent/educator, one must be hyper-cognizant of getting the home school child into the world, out of the house. Americans have extremely busy lives, this busyness is amplified when the task of educator is added to ones role. School then, is a place kids go and learn life is a series of rules, especially so at school. Home school children can get this experience, school’s don’t hold exclusivity rights but parent/educators must make concerted efforts make it so.
In addition to this “worldly” type of socialization is the more specific peer-socialization. More and more home school families are getting together with other home-schoolers and allowing the kids to mix. This is better than no peer-socialization; however, it’s tough to compete with a school in this regard, simply because school is generally 6 to 7 hours of non-stop peer-socialization. Of course there are drawbacks and “drama” with school relationships that adults can find tiring but it’s exactly these interactions that help shape the child’s ability to cope with real life situations when they’re grown. Above all, this element, socialization, should remain in the forefront of the parent/educator mind. Of the home schooled children we have contact, this is the single weakest element in their development.
On the flip side, most home schooled children have a far greater breadth of knowledge for familiar subject, they converse with a topic-maturity not often found in similar aged kids. This is why so many parents have made the home school option. It is certainly a benefit to have such focused attention and time dedicated to improving the life of one, two or more children but most often less than the teacher to child ratio found in schools.
So, what can parent/educators do to improve the schooling provided their kids? Take time to augment the learning with subjects and experiences outside of the core education courses. In many ways the advantage to provide incredible learning experiences is in the home school parent/educator’s favor. School can take place on the parent’s terms, in a place of the parent’s choosing. This allows for tremendous diversity: zoos, live theater, construction sites, bakeries, galleries, news papers, local businesses etc., all offer incredible learning experiences. Being the home school parent, party of very few, one can impose on these areas, ask questions and use the place to teach about life and how school ties into life after school. Create opportunities to get the child exposed to the world. take advantage of the incredibly brave decision made to home school.
As we conclude the first part of this mini-series on how to get most from the home school decision, one tip to achieving all three points above. Parents can look to getting a group of home schoolers together and enroll the lot of them into an experiental education based program. Outdoor education centers will provide this. It’s good to get the kids into these types of programs once or twice a year for concentrated periods of time. Camps are excellent for this.
Look for a camp that focusses on outdoor eduction and or experiential education. If the camp is noting experiential education, that’s excellent. At this point you need only make sure you’re comfortable with the company. These programs will take the kids from a few days to a few weeks. You’ll address everything mentioned above and everything addressed in the next segment of this series: greater socialization as the kids learn the rules and boundaries of the new environment, peer-socialization as they come together to form a community, a new little society and they will learn a variety about themselves and the environment by being in an outdoor setting, challenging themselves and interacting with staff.