We used to home school

After twenty-five years of service, the Salvageable Family Home School has closed its doors. That’s not bad news—we celebrate the high school graduation of our youngest child and the successful educational paths they all have chosen.

All have been accepted into colleges. All who are not currently enrolled have completed their Bachelor’s degrees in four years or less. They graduated with honors. Two went on to complete Master’s degrees. All of them are currently employed, even during the virus crisis.

Our decision to home school was not made lightly, but in a sense we were led into it. At the time, I was associated with a church that had a private school, and our children were aware of school children outside the house at various times. They were interested in school, and they were mentally ready, but their birthdays put them just past the starting age as set by the state. I knew that schools sometimes made exceptions regarding those dates, but the school leaders said, “If we make an exception for you, we have to make an exception for anyone else who asks.” They did offer a compromise—two years of half-day kindergarten meant for four-year-olds before entering the full day kindergarten meant for five-year-olds. We declined.

We knew a family in the neighborhood who homeschooled. Two of their daughters sometimes watched our children. They were doing well, and we took advice from them. We agreed that we would evaluate the situation year by year and not commit to home schooling all the way through high school. Little did we know that we would be educating our children for the next twenty-five years.

Starting with a book called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, we began to assemble a home school library.  Saxon Math met our needs in that department, and we found other books that did the job. The summer after we started home schooling I had a job offer and we moved, so there was no pressure to put our children into the church’s school. From time to time we participated in home school cooperatives, but it often seemed that we could accomplish as much at home as we could gain from a cooperative.

One advantage of home schooling is being able to work at the child’s pace. Students who pick up a concept easily do not have to wait for their classmates before moving on to something new; students struggling with a concept can have extra explaining and practice before moving on without hampering anyone else’s education. Also, no time is consumed traveling to and from school or waiting for a bus; that gain in time allows more instruction, more leisure time, or more time to contribute to family chores. Life skills such as cooking and laundry become part of the educational plan. Interesting conversations at mealtime are part of home schooling, and field trips are easy to arrange with little or no planning required.

One concern some people have about home schooling is “socialization”: how will home schooled children learn to make friends among their peers? Home school cooperatives are one answer, church activities are another, and organized athletic events are a third. Several of my daughters took up Irish dancing and have reached the championship level. Moreover, not only in my family but in other home school families I have known, the children are more natural at socializing with people of different ages. They have not spent their days in a room with one adult and a couple dozen children their age.

Not every family should home school. Doing so requires a massive commitment of time as well as a financial investment. Public schools and private schools provide a valuable service for our communities. The irony has not escaped me that we finished home schooling at a time when many families are having their first experience of home schooling. Most will return their children to the public or private schools as soon as they open, but some families—including the students—may be finding value in home schooling. They may be considering continuing the home school experience even when schools reopen. For those in that position, I offer encouragement and best wishes. J.

14 thoughts on “We used to home school

  1. For myself, I never had much problem with costs, other than using the books. Let me explain, you can do a lot with what’s around the house, and most people today have computers, though the libraries (when they open), and some schools provide laptops, even online schools. But I will say, put 25 kids in a classroom with me, without any supplies, and they’ll learn quite a bit. We’ll provide our resources, find ways, and learn from our experiences and more.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I got into teaching, having worked in a lot of other fields, sometimes making more money, but I realized I couldn’t work only for money. I had to find something I could give back. I found teaching, after my bachelor’s degree, due to friends in the field. As I taught, I realized the best ways are the one’s closer to home. Teach the curriculum, but be real. Home schooling parents, provided they want what’s best for their children, will do far better than what we’re seeing in many institutions today. And the children will love the parents for taking this time to truly educate. And with time, with talks, they will find out what they want to do and you guys can walk the path together, learning from each other.

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    • You state the positive case for homeschooling very well. There are, of course, costs to consider along with the benefits. Homeschooling is a huge investment of time and can involve extra financial expenses (although some of those can be balanced in other areas). Teacher-parent conferences are awkward, especially when the child is struggling with one subject in particular or with education in general. (And no child goes through twelve years of education without struggles at some times.) In the end, the cost is worth the benefits, but parents who choose to homeschool also need to consider the cost before they commit to the full adventure. J.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m currently homeschooling my grandchildren and LOVING it! We sent our own children to a Lutheran parochial school, and to be honest, it wasn’t that great of a school, so when they hit highschool we sent them to public. Overall, we were not really happy with their schooling experience and I often regretted not taking their education back into my own hands. If I had to do it all over again, I would choose to homeschool.

    Two of my grandsons (they are brothers) are autistic. My husband and I live with them and our son, so when everything went into lockdown, I began homeschooling them. There are SO many cheap or free resources out there (yay, internet) that practically anybody with the inclination to homeschool can easily do so.

    We really only need about 90 minutes a day of instruction time/seat work to get through the formal curriculum. I give them LOTS of time for free play because that’s how young children learn best – through games and play. It’s a natural form of self-education that’s underutilized IMO. We use everyday moments to reinforce concepts we’re learning in school – we can practice our fractions when we’re in the kitchen cooking, that kind of stuff.

    You know, I have long secretly considered myself to be an educator, though I have no “formal” credentials; yet I am probably every bit as capable and informed as a “credentialed” teacher – I just lack the piece of paper that says so. That’s given me pause, and caused me to question the whole system of higher education. I’m starting to see a university education as an elitist institution, an overpriced way to distinguish the “haves” from the “have nots”. If I want to be a “real” teacher, I’ll have to pay a lot of money for a piece of paper that deems I am so. And yet, here I am, capably educating my grandchildren without *gasp!* the magic piece of paper! My granddaughters have both gone up a reading level since I began working with them. They got behind in their schoolwork at the beginning of the pandemic but will likely be caught back up by the end of the year. This is not just stop-gap measures until the “real” teachers get back to work; no, this is real education and I am a real educator. Who cares if I have the paper? It’s the results that matter, is it not?

    I should probably stop here…I have huge issues with our system of education, as you can probably tell. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great option for those who are more interested in an actual education and not just the piece of paper you get at the end of it.

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    • My wife and I both attended public schools. She majored in education with emphasis on English, got her certificate, and taught three years in public schools and one year in a Lutheran school. I have been associated with various Lutheran schools over the years. My wife and I agree with you–all it takes to teach is knowledge of the subject and love for the students. In our home schooling and in my college teaching, we focused on that and tried to help the students learn how to learn. Afterward, they begin to teach themselves. J.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Any one who takes on this challenge should be commended. Those who really do a good job are not only creating a safe environment for learning, but bonding with their children in a totally different way. I have several friends who homeschool. Those who are successful, take the time to lay out plans for learning. Some launch trips that allow research into a subject the kids are studying. Those who leave it to the internet are losing out on some wonderful experiences with their children. Socialization comes from outside activities, also designed to enrich the lives of the children. Congrats for a job well done. I’m sure it isn’t easy.

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  5. We homeschooled. Our youngest is 20 so I am a retired home educator. We began just as our state legalized homeschooling, over 30 years ago. I am not sure what parents and kids today are experiencing is even remotely equivalent to what we did, so I’m not sure homeschooling has been given a trial.

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    • Some public officials oppose home schooling, because they fear that parents will pass on bigotry and intolerance to their children. The truth is, most home schooled children are far more accepting of people who are different than those who pass through public classrooms. And the education opportunities in a family far outnumber those in a traditional classroom. J.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. seems we’ve all been homeschooling these days!!!
    As you know, I was a high school teacher for over 30 years.
    When our son was diagnosed with a learning disability in the first grade and I knew our systems SPED program at the time was not what I wanted for him…I almost quit then and there and homeschooled him.
    But I knew I would be no good for him as math and science requirements increased.
    Plus we probably would have killed one another.
    My hat is off to all homeschooling parents.
    Congratulations to both you and your wife!!
    And yay for all your kids and their success!

    Liked by 1 person

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