Monday, June 23, 2008

Questions About Homeschooling

Over at Mommage there's a post that brings up a lot of the usual questions about homeschooling. Venice mentions that she came close to homeschooling several times, never taking the plunge because things would improve at school. She was also bothered by two things:

One was the lack of social interaction, and the other was the fact that I am not a teacher and am not qualified to teach.

I have to think Venice can't actually have come too close to homeschooling because those two questions are fairly basic and a little research would have dealt with them quickly.

The first one is an easy one.

I'm quite sure that if most parents with the socialization concern gave a few moments thought to all the socializing their children do outside of school they'd see why homeschoolers look puzzled when the matter is brought up. In the last week my daughter has gone to soccer practice and a game, a school dance with her cousin, performed in a concert, and has had neighbourhood kids knocking on the door nonstop. Tommorrow night she heads out for a Girl Guides camping trip to a horse farm (Yes, I know you all just winced at the thought of me dealing with a 9 year old girl who's been bouncing off the walls with excitement for the past couple of weeks. Yes, I know I have your sympathy).

School is simply one place where socialization happens. When a kid doesn't go to school, other oppotunities for socialization present themselves. Very often they're opportunities schooled kids might not have any chance to experience, like my daughter's work as a helper at a preschool where she mixes with younger children and adult teachers. I can't make the case my kids will get the same socialization as schooled kids but that's not something I'm interested in anyhow. It will be different but different is not a bad thing.

The teacher thing seems trickier on the surface but really isn't. In the past I've given my reasons for not worrying about my lack of qualifications but another thought often reassures me. I haven't yet met a teacher-turned-homeschooler who's claimed her training was indispensible or even of any great use when it came to homeschooling. I've even known a few who claimed it was worse than useless and even got in the way. The simple fact is that homeschooling is to teaching what carpentry is to working in a furniture factory. Yes, the carpenter and the worker both produce furniture but the environment, the skills and even the basic tools used in each situation may be dramatically different. The training one requires may hamper the other.

The skills that have been useful to me in homeschooling are the ones I developed as a parent, the ones most parents use when teaching a child to ride a bike, fish or when tutoring them in algebra or history so when Venice asks later:

Should parents be required to take courses certifying them to teach, or should they be taken at their word that they are qualified?

...My answer would be that they should be taken at their word. If the state assumes I have the skills to parent then they should assume I've got what I need to homeschool. I think this would be more obvious if those calling for certification actually took a look at how homeschooling often works rather then comparing apples and oranges.

Head over to Mommage if you've got anything to share with Venice. Her post is a polite call for opinions.


molytail said...

ugh, I read and have all sorts of thoughts but I'm not very good at putting them down in this sort of situation....I just want to go "argh", roll my eyes, and close the page. (hers, not yours LOL)....

"the "parallel society" of the homeschool is incompatible with social cohesion and harmony."

say what? *headshake*

Where's my coffee.....

Venice said...

I happened to come across this and felt the need to further explain my situation and opinion.

My child had severe behavioral problems and was ultimately placed in a school that specialized in his particular difficulties after being dismissed from preschool, kindergarten and first grade in other schools. I only considered homeschooling because I feared it was the only way he would get an education. One reason I decided against it was because he lacked the ability to socialize with other children outside of school. Another reason was the level of difficulty in controlling his behavior. Most of our time together was spent in endless struggles that eliminated any opportunity to teach.

I stand by my belief that not all parents are qualified to teach their children at home, regardless of the circumstances, and it could be a disservice to the child to assume that a parent is capable of providing him or her with a proper education.