I'll admit it! I definitely have days that I ask myself "Why, oh, why do I home school?" OK, I have a lot of those days. And I've looked into private schools in the area. But for all that, I'm still a home school mama. Why? Well, that's what I'm about to iterate.
I'm not embarrassed to tell you that guilt plays a big roll. I know every mother has angst when they send their children off on the bus, or drop them off at the main entrance on the first day, but those are mothers who believe they are doing the best thing for their offspring by sending them to school. I don't. So, guilt is a big motivator for me.
I have always been a stay-at-home mom. Before we got married, my husband and I talked and decided that we would give up anything necessary to allow me to stay home with our kids at least for the first 4-5 years of their lives. I don't like daycare centers. Not that I'm condemning you if you send your kids to one. If that's OK between you and God, good! It's a personal matter. But it's not OK between me and God or my husband and God, so it was very important to keep our kids at home. But the thing is that I did keep them for those first years. I poured myself into them constantly. We stressed obedience and God was a daily, hourly presence because I made myself very aware of "teachable moments" with my little ones. So when it came time to think about school, to be perfectly honest I couldn't even consider it. To do all that work, and then just hand him over to someone I don't know for 8 hours of the day, 5 days out of 7 was an unbearable thought. What if our values don't line up with the teacher? Classrooms are prime settings for indoctrination, and I don't want to spend what precious little time I have with my children correcting the education I'm exposing them to!
Then think of their peers. I know many parents argue that they send their kids to public schools to be salt and light. Frankly I don't think my 7 year old is ready to be salt and light. He's more likely to absorb the bad habits of kids who are allowed to do and watch things that I would never allow for my kids. Then I can watch, in a matter of hours, all that hard work and time and soul of 5 or 6 years go right down the drain. No thanks! I want his values firmly established before I send him out to be salt and light in a dying world.
Now, we send our children to school for education. We want them to be bright, intelligent, informed adults, right? OK, then why would I send my child to a public school? Listen, I know there are kids who come through just fine. I went to a public school and I like to think I'm fine, but look at the statistics. Public education is broken! We keep throwing more money at it in hopes that it will change, but what it needs is a complete overhaul! Outcome based education? Whole language instead of phonics? Why take the chance? Besides that, I want my kids educated on the facts. Text books leave out so much, particularly in the area of history. Not to mention the secular view of science without even a mention that there are other beliefs or ways of interpreting science. Then we wonder why our country is going to hell in a hand basket. I want my kids to know what really happened.
And Christian education isn't really all that different. Yes, they teach science from a christian perspective, but they base their educational style on public schools, so it's still basically broken.
But lay all of that aside. Even if none of those were factors, I would still probably be homeschooling because I want my children to learn how to learn, and to love doing it. My main goal early on is to give them a strong foundation in a phonics based reading program. I'm using a different program with my second than I used with my first, but it's still phonics, not sight words and whole language, and I'm confident that when he's done he will be as good a reader as his older brother. The reason for this is that, as Art Robinson says "knowledge is in books". Or on the Internet, but either way you have to read to get at it! Yeah, there are different "learning styles" but ultimately you need to read in order to learn. And I'm not overly worried about missing something as I teach my kids. I hope I don't, but if I do so what! If they come to a point where they particularly need that bit of information, they will know how to find it. I think that is infinitely better than covering everything required in a classroom and then forgetting it, never to be learned again.
We are about to start a bug unit in our schooling. On Wednesday we went to the Library for our normal "Library day" ever week, and checked out bunches of books about caterpillars and butterflies. They have been poured over and devoured by all, and we haven't even started our unit. To me, that alone is worth all the trouble.