I posted a photo on Instagram of us starting year two of our homeschooling journey and a link to my post about starting year two from a couple of days ago. I received this question in response. It wasn’t rude or judgmental, the person who asked lives where homeschooling is not prevalent and wanted to better understand why we chose to homeschool and what we see as the benefits. This was my answer:
Several things really. From a practical standpoint, I can match curriculum to my children. If you want to read the post you can see how we have switched curricula to find something that fits my son. For instance, we started with math that was mastery method and found that didn’t work well. My son needed more reinforcement so we switched to an incremental method. In a public school you just have to suck it up and struggle through whatever they provide for you.
Also, it is just you and your child(ren), meaning you can give them much more individual attention than they would normally get in a class with 30(ish) students and one teacher. As an aside, I love spending time with him. That is eight hours a day that most parents don’t get with their children and I do. Practically again, that means I can quickly see whether he is picking things up and switch my approach if he needs help.
I have total freedom with the curricula that we use. That means that, while public schools have de-emphasized the humane letters, my children will receive a heavy dose. They will get 8-10 years of formal writing instruction, including college level rhetoric instruction, and a strong foundation of formal grammar, they will go through formal and material logic, they will do 8 years of Latin, they will study the arts, and they will read a lot of the Great books.
I don’t know if you are up on the whole Common Core flap in the US, but they keep changing the goals and methods here. Education is becoming much more utilitarian, much more prescriptive, and I want my children to have a normative education. Education here has been limited to the task of acquiring skills to use in a profession while I see education as the formation of a good human being. It is about so much more than just memorizing facts. When they read a book I don’t want them to stop at analyzing what a character did or why they did it, I want them to ask normative questions like, “Was what they did the right thing to do? Should they have done that?”
The goal is to keep this viewpoint as way of living life: analytical vs normative. I believe the normative should inform the analytical, the analytical should serve the normative, while modern education uses the analytical to exclude the normative. I want to cultivate wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on the true, the good, and the beautiful so that in Christ my children are better able to know, enjoy, and glorify God. Public education does not strive to do this at all, no longer has any interest in normative questions or the inculcation of virtue and wisdom. In fact, public education actively tries to avoid any discussion or contemplation of God. So I home educate.
My questions to you would be, “If you homeschool, why do you do it? Are your reasons similar to mine? Are they different? If you don’t homeschool, why not? Would you like to and cannot due to whatever circumstance or are you against it?” I’m interested to read responses in the comments.