The recent "guidance" from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education may have you wondering about a subject that is taboo among public school teachers: homeschooling your own children. It's a tough topic, partly because so many people are ignorant of state laws regarding homeschooling. Besides thinking homeschooling is illegal, many people think it's neglectful. You'll have some assumptions to overcome.
One assumption people will make is that if you teach in a public school, you should be loyal to the system and all that it stands for. Meaning, keep your child in school. Another is that you won't be able to manage homeschooling and holding down your job--one or the other will suffer. Still another is that your child will automatically fall behind. I've heard it many times: the one-time homeschooled child re-enrolls in public school, and teachers whisper about placement testing to find out "which areas have the most gaps." But homeschooling doesn't have to leave gaps. It fills many that the public school cannot.
It is true that many parents who withdraw their children from public school in order to homeschool them are unprepared to do so. They may sign their child up for online classes, or they may try following a more traditional curriculum. Either way, it takes time and dedication to make it work, and some families just aren't up for the task.
But parents should not let the difficulty of the journey keep them from making a positive change in their child's education. God calls some parents to remove their children from public school. If you're one, know that public opinion ultimately does not matter. Homeschooling is legal, affordable, and fulfilling. And there are people and organizations there to help you.
This topic isn't purely academic to me. I was homeschooled K-12 by my mom, inspirational author Susan Page Davis. I know whereof I speak. Now, even though I teach in the public school system, I made the tough choice to homeschool one of my kids. My middle child is enrolled in the public school where I teach, while my husband and I homeschool our firstborn using Google Docs as a planning interface. I create lessons that align with the state standards, linking to relevant Internet content and tapping into Reagan's God-given interest in art and science. It's not perfect, but she's thriving--something she was not doing in public school.
Every homeschool family has a personal reason (or reasons) for choosing home as school. No matter your beliefs, home is the best place to teach values. Now that the White House is reaching in and illegally bullying students and staff of America's public schools, I expect homeschooling to attract a new wave of followers. If you're among them, here are a few parting thoughts.
1. The Left does not like homeschoolers. If you do it, do it well. Document everything. Have your child create a learning portfolio. Know your state's laws.
2. Join a homeschool co-op. Other parents can help supplement your teaching, and you and your kids will make lifelong, like-minded friends.
3. Teach your child the Word of God, and prayerfully trust God to bring that child into the flock.
4. Tap into select activities of the public school system, from music or PE class to extra-curriculars and even testing.
5. Embrace liberty. It comes from God because of His love.
Homeschooling is not for everyone. Do your research before taking the plunge. For starters, Reader's Digest recently posted 13 Things Homeschoolers Wish They Could Tell You. And here, read David French's reasons why it's time to declare independence from public schools.