Christian Home Schooling

The Christian home schooling movement is taking over North American as parents get frustrated with the poor quality of public education.

Initially, I fell into homeschooling. Oh sure, as a new Christian, early in my young adult life, I vowed I would and made plans to remove my eventual children from the venue of worldly teachers and to instruct them in godly paths by teaching them at home, but marriage, and my first born, quickly led me to see that that possibility might not be realistic.

You see, my first son was what Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and Attachment Parenting Advocate, termed "high needs". He was thought to be profoundly deaf, he was colicky, he couldn't self-calm and both my husband and I walked and drove miles in an effort to get him to sleep. Many a night my exhausted husband strapped on the corduroy Snuggli and walked outside in the dark to sooth a baby who had cried my nerves raw.

And our second child, while not colicky or as desperately needy as the first, proved himself to be high needs as well.

So the truth is, like many other parents, we looked forward to the day when we could have some time to ourselves during the school hours.

Again, though, our eldest son quickly disabused us of this notion as well. Preschool was a nightmare. No teacher could control his impulsive behaviour and he regressed into wetting himself almost every school day. Medical specialists diagnosed him, at age three, with Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD). And preschool learning fell to us. My husband instituted a regime of computer learning for this eldest child, and by the time he had achieved an age appropriate for public school kindergarten, he tested out at Gr 7 reading (decoding and comprehension ), Gr 3 Science, Gr 2 Mathematics, and was thought to have an IQ well into the genius range. However, he had fine and gross motor delays, and a Gr 1 psycho-educational evaluation suggested huge discrepancies between certain of his abilities. The public school system couldn't deal with that. We were told to stop teaching him at home, because his "advanced" levels in certain subjects were too difficult for the public school primary teachers to deal with and we should allow those skills to atrophy so they matched the lowest common denominator in his classes.

We opted to homeschool in the afternoons and allow him public school in the mornings for continued socialization.

By Gr 4, repeated attempts at full time integration had failed. What supports the schools could offer were inadequate, and not only was the child frustrated, but so were his parents, his teachers and his siblings. He had a marvelous, dedicated and well-trained teacher that year, one who had undertaken her Master's work in special education and who had several discipline and other "reality therapy" style of courses to her credit. We rode out the year with her, but illness kept the child out of school the last couple of months.

Gr 5 was a nightmare and one month into the school year, we gave up the fight for integration of any kind. We brought our special needs son home to school. What relief! Not only for him, but for us! No more daily phone calls with teachers about his behaviour. No more behaviour plans or IEPs. No more concerns over riding the bus to school. No more daily transport at a time later than the regular attending students, so as to avoid school yard taunts and brawls. We enjoyed it so much that all around us people could see a change in the child, his health and in the family dynamics.

The following February, because of health concerns and further frustration over the dynamics occurring in the public system for the other two children - we brought them home to school too. We are not alone.

Everyday, more and more parents opt to take back their child's education from a system which is no longer dedicated to excellence and turning out responsible, contributing members of society, but which caters to the faltering skills of students who have barely learned to read or to cypher by the time they reach high school.

Some opt to keep their children home, on religious grounds. Others opt to keep them home for safety or health reasons. And still others opt in because they know that they can provide a more sound and challenging education for their child by purchasing curricula and other educational materials themselves - study materials that an underfunded education system could never hope to provide. Some of those homeschooling parents have not even graduated high school themselves.

And therein lies the rub. Many detractors of the homeschool movement focus on the lack of education of the parent as a means of proving that they could not possible provide a quality education to the children in their care. Like many large special interest groups, the public education system has come to believe that it alone is the only possible way, and it refers to historic methods of schooling as archaic and inherently doomed to failure. But the truth is, it has only been in the last two hundred years that public education has replaced private education. Most of the great leaders of history did not have 12 years of public education. Some of them could barely read and yet they shaped the world.

We have to remember that as parents, each of us teaches our children on a daily basis, whether or not we choose to send them to another person for their formal education. There is no teacher who comes to your house to teach your child to speak his first language. There is no trained educator who teaches your child to crawl or to walk. There is no building to which you must send your child daily, for her to learn to dress herself, or to brush her hair, or to make a bed. Parents have come to expect that their job is to teach children basic skills, and the rest is up to an underfunded, faltering system which is more currently concerned with who has to share a textbook and how to control the burgeoning teen pregnancy rate, than whether my child, and yours, will be able to do more than work at McDonalds when they graduate.

The truth is, even teachers who hold Masters and Doctorate degrees are opting into the homeschooling movement. Some (male) principals in the public school system, choose to leave their children's schooling in the hands of their stay-at-home wives.

Don't believe the myths. Almost anyone can homeschool their children. Many countries now have correspondences courses (or radio schools like Australia) for homeschooling, and their are hundreds of curriculum choices for private education at home. There are even, for those who have the funds, private, well-educated tutors, willing to revive a system whereby children receive their education at home under the guidance of a teacher who lives with them - once only the option of the wealthy and titled.

But if you contemplate the idea of homeschooling your children, and are only held back by the detractors who renounce you because of your own lack of education, or lack of specialization in education and teaching, think again! You can homeschool. Look for you local homeschooling parents association and talk to some of the parents involved there. I believe you will find a kindred spirit and a bolstering of your own, which will renew your belief in yourself and your own abilities to provide a quality and advantageous education for your cherished children.

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