Homeschool, Public and Private Schools
What is best for a child?
Homeschooling, Public or Private Schooling?
Our children mean everything to us! What could be more important than giving them the best education we can? Here, I share my own thoughts having given this topic a lot of thought over the last 19 years.
First, since every child is different and their needs emerge as they grow, one must never be too hasty and assume anything about them. Things can change over the months and years. Kids are trusting us to make a good decision for them.
I have thoroughly explored all these areas as I was both private and public schooled growing up. Having children of my own posed some challenging decisions, especially since many people we knew were opting for homeschooling. Many people I respected were homeschooling their children. They were very confident it was the best thing they could do.
Let me jump back to my college years and share an experience in one of my elementary education classes. I was on a two man debate team and guess what the topic was? Homeschooling..... I was chosen to debate for all the reasons not to homeschool your child. We won the debate, but it was hard! There are just so many pluses to homeschooling one's child. Needless to say that debate win didn't account for my choices later when I had children of my own, which wasn't too long after that.
Private School Option
For us, private school was never really an option for our children because of the money. The money alone was an almost insurmountable thing to overcome, and this was even when my husband was making more money than he ever had! Even with me doing some part time side work, it was literally out of the question. That said, it would have perhaps been my number one choice otherwise.
My brief experience however, teaching at a private school as a pre school teacher did open my eyes to a few things. One must really be involved and get to know all the teachers and everything there as much as you can. There was a teacher that had to be removed for throwing a desk for instance, when he was mad and exposed his temper a few other times. You can't assume you automatically get what you pay for in private school! Talk to your kids as well.
My experience with private school was amazing, and I think I and my parents would have sent me again. I don't know how we did it, but it was a good experience personally.
Homeschooling has so many wonderful and positive things about it, and some negative things as well. You just have to really know your child, and know what you are honestly capable of in regards to teaching them everything they need to know. I sold childrens books from a publisher as one of my jobs when my kids were young. I sold to a lot of homeschooling families, and learned so much. It wasn't for lack of community that I ended up not opting to take that route.
Picking out curriculums, doing lesson plans, planning field trips and hooking up with other homeschooling families in your areas are all positive things. Finding out what is in your particular area that gives children extra education from sources you may not have realized is a great thing to do. For instance, we have free courses here put on by our State's Conservation Department and it covers art, sciences and all kinds of things for kids. I would be doing that if I homeschooled for sure, on top of everything else.
I would hope that parents that homeschool have plans to give the parents a break now and then, as I don't know how the stay at home parent copes day in and out.
Our Final Decision
It was my husband who I let make the final call on the issue, even though I took college courses on elementary education. I gave all my input, but he is very analytical and a great thinker, and I was struggling with some guilt feelings from outside sources. I am telling you, it was the toughest decision because of how many people we knew that were pushing for homeschooling. It made others that we knew, to feel like they were giving less than the best to their kids for sending them to public school. I don't like that kind of pressure.
I want to add that between the two of us and our own levels of education and schooling, we could have pulled off the home schooling education for our kids. That is what made it even tougher, for if we weren't then that would have been our answer.
We realized our kids needed all the benefits of school, at least starting out in kindergarten. Our thought was, lets take it one year at a time, and lets not feel guilty for doing that! We never did. My son thrived there! He made friends, had a great relationship with his teacher who while teaching in a private school, had very similar beliefs and values to our own. It was an interesting year as in California that year, many teachers through the unions, walked out on their kids one day in a protest. My son's teacher remained with the kids, and even in that upsetting incident, my son learned a lot!
I have to admit, that in public school, both of my sons have benefited in ways that I simply could not have provided at home. The varying amounts of students raising their hands to give input or ask questions for instance, is a great resource you can't duplicate with homeschooling really, even in co ops. There will be real life experiences that many think they are shielding their kids from, but I found that my kids are stronger than ever. In fairness, this may not be true of all kids.
One thing I love about the public schools, is that it trains kids for the real world they ARE going to enter one day. There really isn't anyway around it. I did have a roommate in the dorm I lived in in college, that was homeschooled and poor thing, she looked like a deer in headlights almost all the time. It was like the first year was shocking and this was even in a private, small, Christian college.
I share my experiences because there is a lot being said out there about kids being sent to the wolves, and that kind of thing, if they are sent to public school. I have found this is not the case, and that the fears were not founded. It doesn't mean that things don't happen, but generally speaking I want to encourage parents who are feeling badly perhaps, about sending their kids to a relatively good public school.
Never forget that on top of public school, you are still always the parent, and get the last word, and can still teach your kids all your own values and other lessons you want them to know. My children, while in public school, have adopted our views and are very very strong people and proud to be so. Their friends respect them, and they get numerous opportunities that I couldn't have provided. Perhaps I can write another article on all of those things.
To be fair, we know of many wonderful families that have homeschooled, and short of those kids struggling at times in some group settings, OR being extremely quiet and shy in group settings, they are great kids. They would probably say they would do it again. I know of at least 2 families that stopped homeschooling part way through, put their kids in public school, and both parents and kids are happier for it.
All this goes back to what I was saying initially and throughout. Take one year at a time, even review things part way through a year if need be. Take each child individually and then look at the local schools and be as fair and honest as you can be. Don't feel guilty for doing what you think is best for your children, whatever that ends up being. Listen to your gut instincts with each child. Parent's often know what is the best or when something seems "off."
Wishing you the best in your endeavors with your kids, or grandchildren, or perhaps your students if you are public school teacher or private. They are precious and grow up so fast. It is an honor to teach these young minds and so important.