This post touched me, just because of my own history.
Homeschooling can work – I certainly enjoyed most of my experiences growing up. But my siblings suffered, due to a parent’s major health difficulties. They did not have the same opportunities that I did, nor the same experiences. I went to a head start college program at seventeen, and yet my siblings are trying to become the technology addicted young men who never move out of the parental basement.
That said, some of my good friends have Master’s degrees and are very successful. Others are a heck of a lot more normal than they have any right to be, based on the way they grew up. Those of us who didn’t have struggles tend to keep our stories silent, unless among our own kind. I personally don’t care who knows I was homeschooled, but those who are best educated and from a similar background as I tend to keep their origins quiet.
What I do know, is that homeschooling is a commitment. It’s an endurance race. If fits some kids better than others (I was a self-learner, my mother would assign me work and I would just do it with very little explanation necessary – outside of math). But it’s easy to founder when life hits. We utilized many, many resources – co-ops, sports, other activities, especially as I entered high school. But I think parents do themselves and their kids a disservice if they don’t examine themselves on a year to year basis, and make sure it is still something they can accomplish.
I appreciate that I have a close relationship with my family, and homeschooling allowed us to pull together through some really difficult times. But we still had our struggles. If I were in a position to have kids, I would homeschool through some of elementary school, and then see how it was going. You will find extremes of all kinds in the public school system, too. There are parents who just don’t know how to be parents.
I love the concept of charter schools, some of which I find have a happy medium between homeschooling (increased parental involvement) and a more public accountability. Resources. Etc.
All these rambles to say – yes, there are problems. Control and abuse may perhaps be easier to hide in a homeschooling situation, but then I think those things would still exist for those families in a public school setting. That isn’t everyone’s reality. I think those of us who emerge relatively unscathed tend not to sound it off much, and we tend to be normal enough that no one guesses our schooling origins.
Here’s the thing. Lately I’ve come across several articles and/or blog posts bashing homeschooling. Not for the usual reasons, and not by the usual people. No, these articles have been written by former homeschooled kids, some of them college grads, who had such miserable experiences with homeschooling that they are dead set on discouraging any- and everyone from attempting it.
My heart aches for these kids. It bleeds tears. I can’t help but think of Big’s Beautiful Girlfriend. She was homeschooled, and I met her long before Big did, because she was a regular patron at my library. She was one of my faves. She would come in on Saturday and, as long as I wasn’t too busy, we would talk about the whole world. She was so bright, so capable of probing the depths of any conversation. I loved her before she ever promised herself to my oldest son.
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