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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Your Child Will End Up a Social Outcast (and other things non-homeschoolers say)

I recently had an interesting chat with a young lady about homeschooling. She was very anti and I was very pro (obviously). Before the conversation could get past, "I home school..." she pounced. Her laundry list of arguments against homeschooling I had already heard countless times before, but it made me smile nevertheless.

Argument #1
"Your kids will be social outcasts!"

This argument has to be the most used but it's also the one that always makes me smile when I hear it. No, my kids are not socially outcast. They know how to make friends and more importantly, how to treat them. It's also important to point out that most homeschooled children are involved in extracurricular activities outside of the home. That could be in the form of music lessons, sports activities, book clubs, play dates, homeschool group meetings, or religious activities.

Argument #2
"Parents are not qualified to homeschool or teachers have to earn a degree but parents do not."

When it comes to whether or not a parent is qualified to teach their children, I leave that to the state to decide. Many states have homeschooling laws that require a parent have a high school diploma or equivalent in order to keep their kids home.

The argument about parents having to have the same education as a teacher from the same grade they are teaching is an interesting debate that I love to have. Teachers need to be able to function in a classroom with many children who range in abilities. College courses for teachers include the psychology and social foundations of children. They need to be able to understand the diverse cultures the children in their classroom come from in order to identify with and understand not only the child, but the entire family. Also, as more children with special needs are mainstreamed into the classroom, teachers need to have the skills necessary in order to teach them.

Parents are their child's first (and in my opinion, best) teachers--and a college diploma is not required! From birth we encourage language and motor skills, critical thinking, religious (or spiritual) guidance, and morals. As children grow, those basic lessons grow more complex.

Those parents of children with special needs have most likely spent a lot of time understanding and learning about their unique children. As a result, they are able to tailor a curriculum suited to their child instead of leaving it up to another person.

Argument #3
"It's too expensive."

This is, by far, my favorite argument. Everyone who knows me understands that I love a good bargain. Cheap is good, free is better. That said, homeschooling doesn't have to cost more than sending your child to public school.

At the beginning of this school year I did a  break down of the costs of sending one of my children to public school. Here is what I came up with:

New Clothes: $200.00 (includes shoes and outerwear)
Classroom Materials: $150.00 (spread over the year)
Class Supplies: $100.00 (spread over the year)
Birthday Celebration Supplies: $30.00
Class Pictures: $30.00
Book Fair: $20.00
Lunch: $522.00 a year ($2.90/day)
School Gear--a t-shirt with the school logo: $10.00
Fundraisers: $30.00
School Trips: $30.00
Total: $1142.00

Surprised? I know I was when I came up with that figure--and it's an estimate!! The actual costs would probably be higher because of the extra money given out for the general store and snacks at lunch. All of my numbers (except for the school lunch) are an approximation of what I would typically spend on ONE of my children. Some costs, like lunch and clothes are necessary. Others like school gear and pictures are more social obligations played out by peer pressure. Those kids not opting in are singled out by those kids who partake in the activity.

When you weigh those costs against the costs of homeschooling, you'll find that you'll be spending around the same amount, if not less! For instance, new clothing is a must, but instead of buying a large wardrobe so that my child will have a variety of items in the closet to wear, I can get by with a smaller selection. Also, because I'm not buying classroom supplies for the entire classroom (typically the teacher requests things like Ziploc bags, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and tissues) I save money. I also don't need to purchase a bookbag--more savings!

The one area most homeschoolers spend their money is with curriculum and the options are huge. Packages can be pricey. This year we chose to skip the packaged sets and create our own. We set off to our local homeschool store, which is a haven for a good deal. If you have one close by I highly recommend paying them a visit! After selecting all the materials we needed, we spent approximately $200.00. And when I say $200.00, that includes school supplies like paper, pencils, pens, etc., in addition to text and workbooks.

We will still wind up paying for things like trips and lunch but we negate the cost by being able to take trips and eat lunch as a family.

Argument #4
"How will you know that your kids are learning if they never take a test?"

Many adults grew up with the idea that testing is the only way to be able to tell if a child has learned the lesson. I was one of them. I grew up going to public school where every week we would be given spelling tests, math tests, history tests, science tests, language tests... You name it, I was tested on it. However, I came to realize that testing has its flaws. For instance, I took Spanish for two years in high school. We had a test every week and I held my own, passing them and ultimately the class. If you ask me today if I remember everything I was tested on and passed, I would have to say no. The few words I do remember from Spanish class didn't stick because I was drilled and tested. They stuck because the lesson I learned them in was engaging and I was paying attention.

Now, before we go any further, let me make it clear that my children ARE formally tested once a year--as mandated by our state homeschooling laws. Many states pass laws regarding testing for homeschooled children--some don't. However, even if our state did not mandate standardized testing once a year, we would still opt in. These tests are a valuable asset to homeschoolers to gauge where their child stands and to see if curriculum adjustments need to be made.

Argument #5
"When you pull your kids out of school the school suffers because their funding goes down and the rest of the kids in the school will be at a disadvantage."

It's a fact that public schools receive money based on the amount of students enrolled. The more students, the more money. When parents take their kids out and opt to home school, the school loses the funding for them. If many parents decide to take their parents out of one school, you can see the problem that might cause for the school.

If we are being honest though, many parents take their kids out of public schools because they don't like, agree with, or are upset by the curriculum, practices, environment, staff, teaching styles, or red tape that cause their children to miss out on a quality education. It's not fair to expect parents to leave their children in a struggling school because, if they pull them out, the school suffers more.

The argument should be, why are schools struggling in the first place and how can you fix those shortfalls to help the kids who remain get a quality education regardless of how many kids are left in a classroom due to homeschooling?

I'm sure many homeschoolers have heard similar points of view from opponents of homeschooling and if you haven't, I hope I've been able to arm you with information for that fateful conversation that will eventually come your way!

If you have met similar people, I'd love for you to comment and share with us how you've dealt with the situation!
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1 comment:

  1. Hi I just happened to land onto your blog. What a great post! You really got all the major arguments covered. I can recall so many times having the above arguments hurled at me... here's what I say... "Bring it on!"
    Love the cost breakdown and I agree the actual cost must be higher and then having to spend that on two or more children. I really do go a lot by your "Cheap is good, free is better: philosophy but as homeschoolers we may choose to invest in some expensive material here and there only because we end up using it with more than one of our children which simply distributes the cost.