See how many of these reasons of mine are ones you’ve already thought of. If I’ve missed any, please tell me in the comments form below.
*You can teach the kids what you consider most important. (If this includes the Bible, public schools scoff at it, making the children feel shamed and confused.)
*The kids can study what really interests them and take as much time as they want. This is called “Delight -directed” learning by Greg Harris and others.
*You can wait until you and the children see the relevance of a subject before tackling it. (In schools, on the other hand, 11-year-olds now have to learn the formula for calculating the area of a circle, although 99% of us will never have to use it. They will forget it in a year and have to relearn it in the “spiral curriculum” the schools like to tout.)
*Likewise, you can put off anything that the kids dislike until later, exploiting the “teachable moments” in life. This has to do with personal development and maturity.
* Your children can learn at their own paces, which could mean college degrees at 15 or earlier. Read the Swann family’s remarkable story if you’re interested in this.
*You are not a slave to the school calendar. Thus, you can travel in the off season and save money. (We, for example, had a ball zooming through a half-deserted Disneyland in March.)
*Your family is not held hostage by the school teachers’ nonsensical homework demands.
*Home ed is usually (if not every minute) enjoyable for all, especially now that we have the internet and home-ed co-ops in every town.
*You and the kids don’t have to be constantly stopping in the middle of something to move on to the next class, which militates against mastery. I would recommend your reading John Taylor Gatto* on this topic.
*Next reason: Your children aren’t so influenced by their many peers. This is huge.
Now here are four more reasons.
*Your children can utilize their own learning styles. You will probably want to do more research on this fun subject. Boys probably benefit most, especially considering that most of the teachers before high school are women.
* Do you have a “gifted” child? Get him out of public school! Their paltry weekly programs are mostly laughable. (I’ve seen too many clearly gifted children bored to tears, insulted, and moving toward cynicism.)
*Your kids have a lot more free time to pursue hobbies, passions, service and part-time jobs or cottage industries. Why? Raymond Moore recommends only about 60 to 90 minutes of instruction per day, followed by another hour of independent work or assignment completion. Many kids like to just read a lot after all this. What could be better?[Find more about Raymond Moore below.]
By the way, free-play time is important for a child. Kids who get to play enough in childhood probably won’t be acting like kids in adulthood. Today’s typical boy and girl are so over-booked that they often miss out on free-play time.
* Also, your kids get the benefit of a really low “student-teacher ratio”. This is something schools are always wishing for and never getting. Most classes still have 25 to 30 kids in them, with some having even more. I doubt that any teacher could overcome that disadvantage to deliver more good learning than you can with your own few children.
* Finally, your kids aren’t off in the company of strangers all day. Both parents can help with instruction if so inclined. So home education builds strong family bonds.
Now in case you’re still not convinced that you would do better than your local schools, consider this:
*Today’s school children are “divorced from nature”. (This is the latest identified crisis in public education. And yet, schools could so easily incorporate gardens and live animals if they really cared.)
*”Johnny can’t read” (an earlier crisis). Or maybe he just doesn’t like to read, which is small wonder given how it’s taught in school.
*High-school grads come out with few employment skills. This means more and more “education” and usually more time in the nest. Practical-skills classes are long gone.
*People today have low rates of cultural or historical literacy. Even ivy-league college students stumble when polled on such things as the three branches of our government.
*Kids, like, fill their speech with, like, nonwords. Few are very articulate.
*Many children are overweight and less fit than their parents. One reason for this is that recess has been almost eliminated from elementary school.
*School vending machines sell junk food: it makes the school money! (I think I once failed an interview by raising this issue on a tour of the school.)
*Bullies pick on classmates. (I once saw several 5th-grade boys accusing a beleaguered girl of being pregnant as they straggled at the end of a long line. The teacher probably never heard about it.) Some kids have been driven to suicide because of bullying. Others just hate school because of it. It is worse now than ever because there’s so much more divorce and bad television and entertainment to influence children.
* You may not be aware of it, but there’s a lot of cheating on tests and projects. Some teachers even do it to keep their scores up. Many parents have to do half of the kids’ homework to get it done on time.
*Left-wing politics dominates the schools. (In my nine years of full-time teaching and 10 years of substituting in American schools, I don’t think I ever saw a Republican other than a president on a bulletin board. However, I did witness Arnold Schwartzenegger’s Pumping-You-Up tour of the country in the early ’90’s.)
*The high schools’ studentry is all divided up into castes, which include, depending on where you live: the jocks, the nerds, the preps, the goths, the punks, the surfers, the skaters, and the kickers, not to mention the ethnic groups and several sexual deviancies.
*Profanity and obscenity are used by kids and teachers alike. One high-school guy has formed the No Cussing Club, but few join: it’s too hard to control the tongue.
*Teens are gambling even on campus. (I’ve seen it myself. )
*Kids openly discuss promiscuity, perversion, pregnancies (& orgies). Even teachers can be co-habiting and having children out of wedlock. They can bring a gay partner to school. Girls may agitate to bring their girl-friend to the dance. (Boys claim it’s not as cool for them to be gay or bi-, although they don’t mind it for girls.)
* One of the teachers your children get will probably be homosexual, making no bones about it. Several of their teachers will just be lousy.
*Teachers–both men and women–are actually having sexual intercourse with their students. True, your own child will probably never be seduced, but he may know someone who is; and he may have to listen to a lot of dirty jokes, especially in high school, where many young teachers are desperate to be liked by their students.
*There’s now binge drinking by both sexes at college and even high school–(probably not on campus, but after school).
*Marijuana, meth-amphetamine, and alcohol, find their way onto campuses even during the day. (My daughter saw a classmate holding a cigarette out the window and the teacher was none the wiser.) Some kids take booze to school in a thermos bottle.
*18-year-olds have infinitesimal voting rates. If the schools were doing a good job, wouldn’t the kids be eager to cast their first ballot like an adult?
If our schools really are run by experts, why are they so full of these shocking problems?
I’ll leave that question for you to answer. Chances are you’d reply, “I’m not so sure they are actually experts.” Or “I think I could do better myself.” You undoubtedly could.
Now here’s a kind of post script to my list of reasons:
If your goal were merely to teach your kids everything you know, you’d never finish, because you’ll be learning new things all the time. That’s one of the beauties of teaching: the teacher often learns more than the pupil. But, on the other hand, you don’t have to all the work today. The internet is chock full of websites designed for home education. They’re nice for those folks who doubt their own teaching abilities.
But before you start, may I recommend a foundational book? It is Home Grown Kids by the late Raymond and Dorothy Moore. Dr. Moore’s earlier research, which he published in his book Better Late than Early persuaded him of the benefits of delaying formal schooling, whether it’s at home or in a school. He points out that forcing young children to do close work is the reason that so many of them need glasses. He recommends not beginning formal lessons until they are nine or ten.
Is that hard to swallow? There is so much to do before then! : chores, hobbies, visitations, audio books, good PBS programs, DVD’s, related projects and field trips, playing an instrument, taking classes, clubs, helping in the family business, gardening, helping others, listening to parents read aloud, playing good games, sports, etc. that reading and writing can wait until their eyes are more mature. When it is introduced then, the kids can learn it rapidly. They will have the added advantage of knowing lots of general information, the lack of which is what prevents many young children from learning to read with ease, according to E.D. Hirsch. His series called What Your Second Grader Needs to Know, etc. is outstanding.
Children learn faster as they grow older, which is something the schools refuse to acknowledge. They insist on starting them too early at almost everything today and then bludgeoning the children with repetition until they finally get it–if they haven’t tuned out or dropped out by then. (I believe this is the schools’ way of defending against the charges of their “dumbing down” the curriculum, which they were getting for years.)
If you want to use an online program, please look into K12 (k12.com). It was designed by William Bennett, who also wrote the superb Book of Virtues. A number of states provide K12 for free to their citizens as a “virtual” public school. It even comes with a computer in my state. And my book MILLENNIUM, 1000 Years of Important Dates, from the Miserably Awful to the Truly Great is my contribution to the task of learning key dates in history. There’s a link to it at right under Resources.
Please record your thoughts below if you’re so inclined.
John Taylor Gatto was twice voted Teacher of the Year in New York City, but his conscience led him to give up teaching. He noticed that the schools drove wedges into families and put obstacles in the students’ paths to real education. He now advocates home learning.