A lot of parents who are choosing a more natural approach to parenting, are also choosing to homeschool their children. Based on what I’ve heard from those parents, the many of them feel almost forced into homeschooling because of other choices they’ve made, for example, choosing to forego vaccination. There are benefits to homeschooling, as there are benefits to sending your children to a public (or private) school. There are trade-offs to both, and it’s a decision each parent needs to make based on priorities, as well as each individual situation.
First of all, it’s important to understand the definition of homeschooling. According to home schooling expert Isabel Shaw, it is “learning outside of the public or private school environment. The word ‘home’ is not really accurate, and neither is ‘school.’ For most families, their ‘schooling’ involves being out and about each day, learning from the rich resources available in their community, environment, and through interactions with other families who homeschool.”
According to a July 13, 2011 article in Education Week, homeschooling is on the rise. In fact, from 1999 to 2009 the number of children who were homeschooled rose from approximately 850,000 to 1.5 million. The article goes on to say that data suggests that the main reasons parents choose to homeschool their children are to provide religious instruction (36 percent), their child’s learning environment (21 percent), and not being happy with the local schools (17 percent). I think parents who are looking to raise their children via a more natural approach could easily fit into any of these categories. Since religious instruction also encompasses moral beliefs, I feel that one is a no-brainer. Respecting the Earth and incorporating that into learning is certainly a moral belief. In terms of the child’s learning environment, while that includes increased violence in school, it also could refer to an environment where children are forced to be vaccinated, whether that’s what a parent wants or not. Lastly, not being happy with local schools seems like it could really refer to any aspect of the school. It could be school policy—for example I heard one mom who was told that while her children did not have to be vaccinated, if another child at the school were to have whooping cough, the non-vaccinated child would be excluded from school for a minimum of 3 weeks. I imagine that could make some parents very unhappy with a school.
Until recently, I think homeschooling might have been a more difficult option, but as it picks up speed and gains popularity organizations are emerging to support homeschool families. Families are now working with one another to involve their children with activities outside of pure academics. I would encourage parents to search the Internet to find local organizations. My advice when doing a search is to include the words “homeschooling,” and “organization.” Then, add the name of your town first. If nothing comes up, move on to you county, and then state or region. The idea is to find the most localized group you can.
If you do choose to homeschool your children, I think it’s important to include activities in your child’s life that will help him socially. Maybe a club, or an organized sport would be a nice addition. As much as we love our children and they love us, it is important that they get an outside influence and that they have organized social interactions with other children. It’s also a good idea for them to interact with others when mom is not around, just to help build a little independence.
Still with all of the benefits of homeschooling, it’s simply not an option for everyone. And, that’s okay. My children will attend a public school. My husband and I both work full-time and we are both products of a public school education. But, we are also the product of parents who put the time in with us after school. Just because my children will attend a traditional school, does not mean that education stops when they leave the classroom. Kids are constantly learning, so as long as parents keep them engaged and stay involved in their education, then I’m of the belief that you’re doing right by