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I Went to Public School, and Here's Why I'll Be Homeschooling My Kids


homeschooling


Where I'm from, you don't see this much. Public school was by far the most common option, followed by private or Catholic schools for those who could afford it. I didn't even know a single kid who went to any type of alternative educational route, like a Montessori or Waldorf School. I'd met literally one single homeschooled kid during my entire youth growing up in Stamford, CT, and that was at a dance class - and she was pretty weird. If you'd asked me years ago, I would've never thought I'd be sitting here writing this post today. But the world is different now, and my life has evolved tremendously, along with my values and priorities. Here's why I plan to homeschool my own children:


Things have changed a lot since I was a kid.


Half of my childhood existed without the internet, cell phones, or computers in every home. I feel lucky to have been able to experience life this way, before many of the complications that came along with the big accessible technology boom. I feel that my school-aged years were simpler. There were no agendas, no ideology or policy-pushing in classrooms, no social media stress following me home. Things are different now, and those changes have left many parents cleaning up the mess that didn't exist when they were young. 7 hours is a long time in a controlled environment with a lot of influencing occurring during extremely highly impressionable years. I believe good parents that care can still instill values and a perspective on life to help foster healthy, happy children - but I also believe that doing that now is harder than ever. I'm not going to fight with a government institution (that my tax dollars pay) to un-do anything, because for me, the risk/reward just isn't there. (More on that in my next point.) I loved meeting all different types of people from all walks of life in public school, and feel that helped shape my character. My education, even in the "gifted" level classes, was honestly sub-par at best. I had some teachers that cared, and plenty that didn't. I enjoyed socializing, but not much else about the day-to-day school experience. But I also witnessed and personally endured violence and sexual assault in school that no child should be subject to, and my story is unfortunately not all that unique. The public school system has been broken for a long time, and I don't know if it can be truly fixed from what I have seen. I want better for my kids.

I didn't thrive in a one-size-fits-all school setting.


I was always creative, entrepreneurial, and craved intellectual stimulation. Not in an intense, I was some "brainiac" type of way, but the way I'd imagine most kids are before the system sucks it all out of you. Being forced to sit at a desk all day and be spoon-fed the standard school subjects was boring to me. I never understood the strategy of what I quickly learned was just a giant game of "memorization." Cram as many facts into your head as possible, and regurgitate them in this notebook and on a test later this week. Then, largely forget most of it, realize the majority isn't even applicable in real life, and do whatever it takes to get good enough grades to appease your parents or be allowed to play sports. It always just seemed like nonsense to me. Now looking back, I know why. Most kids want to learn hands-on, have mutual engagement on topics, and not be talked at all day while chained to a desk. It honestly seems more like prison than an inspiring, uplifting environment you're supposed to want to grow and thrive in. Why wasn't I taught about taxes, personal finances, how different studies and career paths can impact my future? How to grow food, or nutrition? How about the fact that women can actually only get pregnant a few days out of the month, rather than solely fear-mongering us about birth control and STDs? I mean, the list can probably go on and on for you reading this about all the things, in hindsight, you would've benefited more from in the classroom instead of studying advanced trigonometry. I'd rather teach the standard topics to my kids at the speed they demonstrate they can learn, when the time is right. I want them to be able to take as long on something as they need to fully grasp the concept, and breeze through the stuff they master quickly. I want to take them "outside the classroom" daily to see the real-life examples of what we're learning about. I want them to understand that life is not one way for everyone, and their interests and knowledge can shape their future however they want.


There are plenty of ways to "socialize" my children. And I think this stigma is BS.


Yes, were many homeschooled kids probably less socialized in the past than "regular school kids" - I would probably say that's true in many circumstances. However, this is not the case today. The homeschooled kids I've met in recent years are well-adjusted, polite, smart, and a delight to interact with. They are often as comfortable speaking with adults as they are with any age of peer (probably as a result of the different learning setting), and have exposure and access to almost all of the same activities and social events as their traditionally-schooled counterparts. Homeschooled kids can play team sports, join clubs, and go to prom. There are endless resources and groups for these children as well, with different academic environments, field trips, and meet-ups than you'd ever imagine. Most homeschool parents I know have kids with calendars as full (or even busier!) than their peers at public school. There are also hybrid programs in many areas, offering a combination of both homeschool and attendance at a local public or private institution. All this to say, my kids will most certainly not be any less "socialized" than anyone else you know - and possibly even more. It's not something I'm worried about, and if you're considering this option as well, I don't think you need to be either.


I know a lot of teachers personally. If the things that are happening behind-the-scenes now scare them, it should scare you, too.


Being in my 30s now, most of my teacher friends and family have been working in the system for more than a decade. It wasn't always this way, but the stories they tell me now are absolutely terrifying, and I won't sugarcoat that for you. I don't like agenda or policy-pushing toward children. I don't think this has any place in a classroom, where a teacher's (often challenging job already) is trying to education a full room of different kids a variety of subjects in a relatively short amount of time. You know what I don't need? To have to explain sexual preference to a first grader who is still learning how to read or try to tell time. And I say this as someone who does not care one iota about what your personal choices as an adult are. Truly. Do whatever you want. Be whoever you want. Love who you want. Be happy. But the same way I wouldn't want it taught the other way around is the point - I do not believe this is the time or place to discuss certain topics, and I do not think it's up to an academic school teacher to introduce intense, social issues of any kind to children. I am the parent. I will have discussions in my own home at the place, time, and way I see fit with each of my children. My opinion is that certain things are the responsibility of the family - not the school, and not the government. I feel for my teacher friends that have this type of pressure put on them (usually packaged up in newly rolled out "curriculums" and required readings, or being told to keep certain things from parents intentionally), and they can't go against the grain or speak up without fear of termination. Part of the good for me that came out of public school in a highly diverse city was that I looked at everyone equally. I had friends that were of all ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I loved it. The same way I would stand up for anyone bullying my friend for one of those reasons, is the same way I won't stand for the schools telling any child they are less than for what they look like, what their traditions and beliefs are, or how or where they were born. Content of character and how you treat people in the world is what matters in real life, and I won't stand for my kids to be brainwashed with anything else.


I won't let the government dictate what I inject in my kids and when.


This is an often controversial topic, but I don't think it should be. If you do your due diligence in researching different vaccines for your children, and you choose what makes sense for you and your family, I think that's wonderful. I don't judge people that do it, and I don't judge the ones that don't. I wish my local government felt the same. I am aware this issue vastly changes depending on where you live, but in my state, kids can't go to any school (public or private), if they do not follow the exact schedule recommended by the CDC. In fact, most pediatricians will not even allow a sick child into their practice if you haven't militantly followed. I made the "mistake" of asking questions when interviewing potential doctors before I had my firstborn, and was met with the most shocking and horrific responses regarding the schedule of vaccinations. That's for another story entirely, but the point is - why is the public school system telling me what I must forcefully inject in my child? I think the government overreach is appalling and irresponsible. I know many vaccine-injured children, more than I wish I did. Who is going to care for them the rest of their life? Who will pay for their treatments? Who will be responsible for the suffering they and their families endure? Yes, I know the standard response that the "eradication of many harmful diseases is due to vaccines, and you can't risk another outbreak if people don't get vaccinated in mass," and we can debate that for a lifetime, but the point is this: if mandatory injection on a one-size-fits-all timeline is the barrier between my child and an already questionable public school education... well then you can miss me with it.


I don't think humans (especially children) are meant to sit quietly at a desk for 7 hours a day.


I often wonder how many kids truly have ADD today. Are young boys just naturally more energetic with a makeup that destines them to be more active? What's so wrong with that? As adults, we have largely recreated the traditional "school environment" with many workers wasting away in a cubicle doing mind-numbing activity all day long in exchange for a paycheck and participation in society. Are we better off? I think giving my kids the option to learn from books, media, museums, businesses, different cultures, and out in the real world will make them more enthusiastic and well-rounded on more topics than a public school teacher could ever be afforded the chance to teach them. (I know I would've preferred that myself!) I also know it doesn't take hours to tackle certain subjects and lessons, and research shows that shorter periods of focused learning are actually more impactful - so 7 hours a day one-on-one with a kid is not necessary, the same way it is in a large classroom of different ability levels. I am not trying to recreate the public school environment at home, I'm looking to customize a learning experience to help my children thrive.


I know what I don't know, and have the tools to teach what I do, and resources for what I don't.


I hate when parents say they could "never teach their kids." Yes, you can. You may not be able to teach certain advanced topics, but especially for elementary education, you have more than enough tools to do so. Plus, there are so many different curriculums available to follow. Many of them the exact same as what traditional teachers are provided to execute lesson plans. There are online supplements you can use, and small group classes that homeschoolers enjoy where different parents lead subjects there are proficient in and passionate about. And you know what I'll do if my kid is ready to learn something I don't know or can't add enough value to teach? I'll find someone who can. Tutors are available all over the place for everything. The internet has brought us endless resources to learn anything we want, and it'd be foolish not to use it to our advantage.


I've worked with hundreds of school-aged kids in the last decade, and their experiences are horrifying.


Before doing what I do now, I spent hours every day teaching private music education to children, primarily between the ages of 8-18. I did this for over a decade straight, for about half public school kids, and half private. The vast majority of my students were private lessons, and I often spent time listening to how their days were going and what was happening in their life. All this to say, that I have a pretty solid handle on the trends of the youth. There were many days I'd have to call my husband on the drive home from work crying, because the emotional toll of what was being told to me in confidence was too much to handle. The pressures of school had become insurmountable for many kids I worked with. An alarming amount of students were attempting suicide, self-harming, or turning to drugs as a means to cope with the pressures of the internet and what was happening at school. Teachers would pressure them to go along with their personal narratives regarding different adult social issues, they would be ostracized for not participating in "group think" regarding politics, religion, and sexual orientation, and the social media trends and challenges left many of them confused and depressed. I could only do so much in under an hour per week trying to guide them to a healthier resolution, and thankfully music as a form of therapy is incredibly helpful. But I will never get those stories and images out of my head, because I know the truth about how this generation in my region has suffered and continues to suffer at the hands of irresponsible adults and overworked parents who don't know the extent of what's going on. I hope this is not the case everywhere, but I know it is where I am located - and it is a primary motivator to raise my children in a better place.


I choose to prioritize the education and well-being for my children ahead of everything else, and I'm okay with the sacrifices that need to be made.


I know not everyone has the opportunity to homeschool their kids, but I have personally made choices in my life to give that reality to them at this time, so I will. But this does not come without sacrifice. My days are, and will continue to be, a juggling act and careful balance of care for my kids, teaching, and working for myself. This is not an easy road. Many homeschool parents make changes or downsize their lifestyle in order to survive on a single income. It can be done. There are no amount of physical things I would rather have over invaluable (and extremely limited) time I have to raise my children. I will never question or compromise that.


I embrace a childhood experience for my kids that is custom to their individual needs, without early pressures and stress from the adult world.


I have two toddlers right now, and I am shocked every day with how different their personalities already are. It was the same for me and my sister growing up. People are so different, and that's a good thing. It should be embraced, especially in the educational setting. I want to foster a learning environment that speaks to the specific needs and interests of each of my children. I want to focus on academic topics at the speed they are capable of learning. I want to show them why what they're learning matters and how you use it in real life. I want to expose them to different things outside of what traditional school classes offer. I want them to experience, first-hand, the different cultures and careers that exist in the future, and how your knowledge and passions in life can help you design a future that excites you. I want them to play freely, engage with people of all ages, and grow without the unnecessary pressures that have infiltrated many school environments. I want them to be able to make mistakes and fail with me as their guide, before they experience how unforgiving the adult world can be. I want the chance to give them all of the tools I can to be a healthy, happy people - and I know that starts at home.


I believe all parents should be unafraid to do what's best for their kids, even if it defies social norms.

My opinions have been largely impacted by my own experiences, and I am empowered to do what is necessary as a result to create the best little humans I can. I think every parent should do the same. Some kids need a traditional learning setting, some will do better in a faith-based environment, and others need something much more flexible. No one knows your kids the way you do. Be open to different possibilities. Be open to things changing. Be willing to make sacrifices if that's what's best, and don't be a victim of your circumstances. We all have the power to adapt and do hard things. So I implore you to be unafraid in your convictions, even if they defy social norms where you're from. As long as you have educated yourself and live in a way you will look back on and be proud of, I think that's all we can do for our kids and the next generation.



 


Also if you're curious about homeschooling, this is a great podcast interview to check out from a totally normal, working mom who accidentally fell into it and never looked back! A really fun and informative listen that gets into all the nitty-gritty details, and shares how anyone can do it. :)





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