Many adults remember their school years with horror and unconcealed distaste. Nonetheless, they pack their own children off to school, as is right and proper. The parents don’t know that they have a choice not only between state and private education, but that there is also a home schooling option.
When choosing between home schooling and regular school, it is important to assess both options from the point of view of your comfort and convenience, as well as from a long-term perspective – what will your child’s life be like when they reach 30? Will they become a successful and happy adult or will they follow in the footsteps of millions of miserable people, desperately trying to make ends meet from one payday to another in the endless round of routine universal discontent?
The comfort and convenience of working adults requires that another adult take responsibility for the child during the day. School is an obvious, affordable and time-tested choice. Everyone does it: the child is watched and gets an education. Unfortunately, it is not always true that the child is engaged in something useful for future success.
There are too few free public schools where education is really high quality; we cannot consider them as a mass phenomenon. Unfortunately, we are not in Finland, where children study in a comfortable play space, the classes are free form and there is no need to sit motionless in an uncomfortable chair. Even I, an ardent proponent of home schooling, would send my children to a Finnish school without fears for their physical or mental health.
Naturally, there are private (and quite expensive) schools where employees are interested adults who love children and who use up-to-date teaching methods and children, of course, like such schools better than staying at home or even attending clubs. However, if we take a regular local public school, the situation is dismal. “We work as we’re paid,” is the teachers’ excuse. “What do you expect from free education?” rhetorically ask the officials.
What about socializing?
Proponents of this argument are embarrassed when asked, “What about socializing from June to August? Is there none at all?” How can you socialize in the 45 minutes in class or manage to do it during a 10-minute break? The problem is not the socializing or lack of it, but that parents are shy to admit their own egoism. They have to go to work, who’s going to earn money if they don’t? Then again, everyone does it and we have to too.
The price of such socializing and the parents’ unwillingness to trust their own experience is often unbearably high. Are you ready to accept that 12 years spent by your child in school will cause irreparable harm to their health? Or do you really hope that it will not happen to you? I don’t want to scare anyone, but statistics of the Ministry of Health of Russia, for example, are appalling. Over 50% of perfectly healthy children come to first grade. In 12th grade there are over 90% with health issues. Every other one has vision problems, every third one has something wrong with their gastrointestinal tract and practically everyone has scoliosis to a greater or lesser degree. None of this is surprising! For twelve years, every day the child sits still and tensed, stressing out for fear of being called on and listening to the barks of “Don’t fidget! Don’t talk! Pay attention!” that are mostly directed at them.
Such relations are unnatural both for educational purposes and for purposes of socializing that everyone talks about. People don’t learn from books, but in the process of interacting with their teachers. The lecture mode of teaching has been acknowledged as the least effective of all a long time ago. All through the ages, the learning process for both knowledge and skills began with the apprentice helping the master in their work, learning the trade, doing the most menial work, then easy tasks which grew more and more complex until, in a few years, he became an independent master.
How we learn and how we should learn
In ages past in Europe the parents introduced a child to their work. Farmers’ children started helping around the house at the age of 3-6 and became full-scale workers by the time they were fifteen. Tradesmen’s children helped out in their fathers’ shops and in a few years a trader’s son would be a shop assistant under his father’s supervision. Noble children went to military schools at fourteen so that they could lead army divisions by the time they were twenty.
This generational continuity no longer exists in our present-day society. The parents go to the office and their work is something faraway, mysterious and obscure. In the meantime, practically in a parallel reality – in school, absolutely strange women (and sometimes even men) make children memorize useless facts that cannot possibly help them become a respected member of society. They won’t help to make a decent living and most certainly will make no one happy.
In order to understand a child’s perception of the school program imagine that you, an adult, must memorize totally useless Wikipedia articles every day. The information in these articles is not in any way related to what you do and cannot be used to improve your work or your skills. However, you must spend hours every day to learn it by heart and to repeat it by rote. For years and years. Every day you realize more and more just how far away this accumulated knowledge is from your real life and work.
Have you imagined this nightmare? This is how schoolchildren live. And all the while their parents aggravate the problem by being unhappy with their grades. They start scolding, punishing them for C’s and teachers’ complaints or poor behavior, which is manifested by the natural wish to move around, to talk or to conduct and amusing experiment.
Homeschooling as a cure-all for school misery
If you do not have access to good and affordable private schools, you can choose an Individual Learning Plan and homeschool your children. Such a choice does not necessarily mean that you have to quit your job and become a teacher. Essentially, the child has no need of many-hour classes from morning to night. It actually takes 10 times less time to memorize an obscure and useless set of facts at home than it does in school. Both tutors and free online learning programs do the job beautifully. Besides, parents usually hire tutors or send their children to special classes by the time they get to take the SATs. So, in 100 hours with a tutor or in 200 hours in a good class the child is taught everything that a school teacher cannot teach them in a thousand hours.
That said, the child gets enough sleep, can eat properly and free up time for things they are interested in, be it sports, intellectual and creative growth, or avid reading. At home you can create the ergonomically adapted workplace and not make the child use “one-size-doesn’t-quite-fit-anybody” furniture. Instead of sitting still for hours, the child can move when their body needs it, not when the bell rings. By doing away with school you create an environment where the learning process is more natural and effective.
In addition, the learning (memorizing) of the school program will now easily roll down the slope of personal motivation – the faster you get it done, the sooner you can free your time for interesting things.
Such an approach teaches children a useful adult skill of valuing their time and being effective.
How to motivate the child to study at home
“He won’t do anything. I have to force her even now, what will I do then? He’s restless!” These are the objections of some parents to homeschooling.
You can’t really call the “I-couldn’t-care-less” attitude to classes and homework “restlessness.” It is simply that school work is not important enough to the child. Look at such “restless” kids when they’re building a Lego super-mobile or trying to pass another level in a video game. They will spend hours staying as focused as possible.
The conclusion is simple – your child is smart and does not want to waste time on impractical, obscure and boring stuff that they will never use.
The goal of homeschooler’s parents is to ensure the quickest mastering and most effective memorizing of information. That is why the children are sent to speed-reading and memory improvement classes and, often enough, to classes to improve logical thinking such as chess, for instance. Such training enables them to read, process, and memorize school information easily and very quickly in order to “pass and forget” exams and quizzes.
Don’t expect your child to become an A student
One of the arguments shamelessly used by opponents of homeschooling is grades. Allegedly, children who are home schooled rarely get A’s. Yes, that is a fact. Homeschoolers are often under-graded. This is not because the children don’t know or do their work, but usually because the teachers are subjective in their evaluation, pick on them, and demonstrate their disapproval in any way they can.
The parents have two options: one is to pay for online learning and test on all subjects online and the other is to simply ignore it. Most homeschooling parents pick the latter. It is only in the senior year that they choose a private school, where the grades are fair and where the child’s knowledge is fairly assessed. If a degree with honors is needed, children easily get it, without suffering through years of humiliation.
School grades don’t mean anything
School grades have no function other than playing a certain role in college admittance process. Grades are not an indicator of how successful an adult is. They paint no true picture of the child’s abilities, express the subjective point of view of the teacher and often serve as a tool for blackmail or punishment.
When parents pay too much attention to grades, especially if they punish the children for C’s, the adults grow up dependent on opinions of others and fearing their own confidence. They constantly feel inadequate and always expect someone to praise or scold them. They spend their life in fear of someone “misunderstanding” or criticizing them. That approach leads to never achieving any success; furthermore, that type of people is less and less popular in society with every passing year. Growing unemployment is a sufficiently objective indicator of that.
Don’t train your children to overestimate the value of someone else’s opinion. It is best to train them to be motivated by their own interests, achievements and results.
Natural growth and shaping up of adequate self-esteem happens in sports, where indicators are objective, where you can practice and improve your abilities and skills. You don’t have to eat anyone’s humble pie to get a good grade. You don’t have to play favorites to win a competition.
People with reasonable self-esteem realize that they have to invest in themselves, not worry about what others think of them. Self-development helps them to be successful and such adults achieve much more in their life than their peers – the former “teachers’ pets.”
The statistics in USA, Canada and other countries where schools do quite a decent job demonstrates consistent results: homeschooled children have much better careers, higher income and, oftentimes, a better family life as adults. That is, of course, if the parents take care of their children’s education: invest in them, take them to classes, pay for tutors and allow them to choose the subjects they like.
The scenario when homeschooling includes a present of a tablet and textbooks should not even be considered. It is a bad way that leads to pedagogical neglect and discredits the idea of homeschooling. Those kids would be better off at school. Yet, if the parents are ready to undertake the teaching process with the help from tutors and classes, homeschooling beats a poor free school on all counts.