Monday, October 26, 2009

Advice for Aspiring Homeschooler

Crunchy Con author and BeliefNet blogger, Rod Dreher, had a reader write to him seeking advice regarding homeschooling.
A reader writes to say that his five year old came home from public school kindergarten with a flyer alerting parents that the kids are about to have a whole week of "Just Say No to Drugs" education. It shocked him that kids as young as this are being subjected to this sort of thing, and made the reader and his wife consider whether they would be better off getting their kids out of the public school environment, and homeschooling them.
Dreher advises the father to "be realistic" and as a dad he encouraged him to step in and support his wife in any way he can. Definitely good advice. Here's some of my own thoughts.

Before we can ever begin to think about HOW we are to teach a child, we must decide WHY we are to teach a child. What is a "well educated child"? Asked another way, why do you care that your child knows anything about anything? The answer is not as easy as it may seem.

Why you educate will help you determine how to educate. The schools have already thought through this question some and that's why they have drug campaigns beginning in kindergarten. They know what they want children to think and believe as they move through the system. Many parents, however, don't have have such a plan. They only know that they want their child to get a "good education" and probably go to college when they're done. But few define what a "good education" means for them. Thus, many are blindsided and aghast when their children start school and learn things they don't want them to know.

At this point some parents, like this reader, consider homeschooling and that's great. I'm a huge proponent of homeschooling and I have helped many families get started. But most successful homeschoolers that "finish strong" do so because they have some ultimate goal in mind (subject to modification as you and your child mature).

Obviously, the answer to "Why do you educate a child" will be different for every parent and it should be. God gave this child to you. As parents, you are uniquely qualified to guide his young life into adulthood. That doesn't mean that homeschooling MUST be the avenue to a "good education." But unless you determine why you're educating, you'll continue to run afoul of any method, including homeschooling.

It is a start that you know what you do NOT want you child to learn in school, such as drug awareness in kindergarten. But it is a whole different matter to decide what you want him TO know. This might include life skills, character development, spiritual knowledge, and core academic subjects.

Long term objectives combined with your child's interests and learning style will enable you and your wife to create a learning experience that is rewarding and life long.

We are about to graduate our third child in 2010 with three more to go. I can guarantee that if you do decide to homeschool, there will be rough spots and days that try your patience and resolve to continue; but rest assured that if you do continue, with God's help the end will be better than the beginning.

Related Post: Why do you educate?

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