By Cathy Keim
In the long ago year of 1988, my husband and I made the decision to homeschool our children. I had previously made up my mind that I would teach my children to read figuring that if they could read, then they would be able to handle whatever came at them in school. Even in those faraway times, we had serious concerns about what and how things were being taught in the government schools. Our plan progressed to the point that we enrolled our first child into a small church school where the parents all participated in the school in various professional or volunteer positions. Since I had a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, I was given the sixth grade science class four days a week. This meant that my younger children had to go into the nursery manned by other volunteer parents.
I had taught our oldest child to read at age four, which I told the teachers when they were testing him for grade placement. They scoffed at me and said that he had just memorized the books from me reading them to him. They whisked him away to test him and came back to inform me with great wonder that he could read.
That should have tipped me off that trouble lay ahead as I was openly discounted from having any knowledge of my own child since I was just a parent. They wanted to push him ahead to the first grade class, but I didn’t want him to be with older children. They allowed him to enter kindergarten and I began teaching sixth grade science.
Within days, my sweet little son came home from school swaggering and bossing around his younger sisters. They were beneath him now that he was a big guy that went to school! I was astonished at the change. Next I found out that the kindergarten teacher was having my son read to the other children while she took care of other matters.
I was diligently preparing science lessons and science experiments to wow my sixth graders. Instead, I found that they had a pecking order firmly in place as to who was the smartest student and who was the dumbest student and they were not interested in learning for the joy of learning.
I was blown away that as early as sixth grade this very small class of students being taught by loving Christian teachers and parents was jaded and uninterested in learning for the sake of learning. I began to question why I was depositing my little ones in a nursery while I taught uninterested students and my own son was getting an inflated ego, but not learning much.
That was the end of our schooling experience. We became homeschoolers and never looked back. For many years, I did not encourage parents to homeschool. I figured it was a personal choice and I knew how much time and effort it took, so I didn’t push it on people. If anyone asked, I would wax lyrical on the many benefits of homeschooling. The benefits were many and well worth the hard work that I put into the homeschooling, but I didn’t push people to join me.
Times have changed though. If my husband and I thought the schools were bad in 1988, we had no idea what was coming down the pike. Now, whenever anybody asks, I am quick to tell them that homeschooling is the best choice. If they cannot homeschool, then their next option is a private Christian school. I would not send my child to a government school, not for the magnet program, the sports team, or the IB program. The indoctrination, the mediocrity, and the violence make it impossible for me to advise anybody to go to a government school.
My husband and I wanted our children to love to learn and to know how to find the information they needed to learn whatever they needed to learn. In the lower grades I taught to completion (that was how I described it). It meant that they didn’t move ahead until they were rock solid on the foundational knowledge. It is hard to do algebra if you don’t know your basic math facts. You can’t write well if you don’t know grammar.
I could write on and on about this, but I don’t have to since my friend, Sam Sorbo, just wrote They’re Your Kids: My Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate. With her usual incisive wit and to the point plain speaking she makes the case for homeschooling. I have written a few pieces on the ills of Common Core, but Sam puts the information at your fingertips in a quick-to-read, but devastating review of our government schools. Then she picks you up and puts your feet on the path to success as she encourages you to join her and her family on the daily adventure that is homeschooling.
I laughed out loud when she told about her son becoming the swaggering big man after a short time at school. I had witnessed the same unhappy transformation in my own son back in 1988. Happily, I can join Sam in telling you that your children can come home and shed these unwanted changes.
Sam explains how you can pick up your homeschool and travel for work or vacations without missing a beat. We found this particularly helpful since my husband would have conferences in wonderful locations like Boston, San Francisco, or Sanibel Island. We would study up on what museums, zoos, aquariums, historical sites, or geological wonders were going to be available at the conference location.
Each family will have their own unique homeschool style based on their interests and their needs. Parents, you will know your children and the bonds will be deeper between your children since they will not be separated from you and from each other for most of their waking hours. When you identify a problem area for your children, you will deal with it because they are with you and it must be done. Too many parents send their children off to let the teacher fix the problem.
This book is like hearing myself talk as Sam hits one point after another that I dealt with as a homeschooling mom. She addresses the insecurity that I believe all homeschooling moms feel from time to time (or let’s be honest: daily!). When you ship your children out each day, you can blame the school or the teacher or their peers when things go wrong. When you are the teacher, you feel that it all is on your head. The truth of the matter is that as parents we are responsible for our children’s education, so whether you homeschool or get somebody else to educate your child, you as the parent are still where the buck stops.
As Sam puts it: “Let’s not fool ourselves: homework is home school, just with more pressure, later in the day, when everyone’s tired, hungry, and grouchy.” So why not skip outsourcing the most important job you can ever have and bring it home. Read Sam’s book and if you have questions, just drop me a comment. You can start your own family’s adventure.
Here is a clip of Sam’s interview on Fox and Friends about her book.