In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, social networks are lit up like pinball machines with comments, questions, and ponderings from parents about whether they should just pull their children out of school to homeschool them. While I completely understand the reaction, I want to share my thoughts on why I think choosing to homeschool should be more than a reactionary response to specific current events.
1. Quick choices based in fear make children feel unsafe
While we ALL feel less safe in light of the recent attack at Sandy Hook and previous attacks in other public places, the chances of us or our children being a victim of a mass shooting are still infinitesimally small. While the constant news media coverage makes us have strong empathy for the victims, the downside is that we feel, perhaps unreasonably, that the same school we have felt comfortable sending children to day after day is suddenly unsafe. By making a quick decision to homeschool a child based on this feeling of fear, we are likely confirming to the child that the world is a generally unsafe place instead of putting the tragedy into perspective and realizing that while these incidents are beyond heartbreaking, they are still quite rare. If you feel uneasy about sending your child back to school, it would be better not to voice that fear to your children directly, but instead, to take some time and do your research about homeschooling, and then make the decision after the initial fear has passed.
2. Homeschooling requires real time and commitment
Maybe you feel as though homeschooling is the best choice for your family in light of recent events – – and maybe it IS – – but be aware that it requires time, energy, and dedication that you may not be fully prepared for. Even if one of the parents in a family is already staying at home full time, he or she would probably be quite surprised by how much their day would radically change if homeschooling became part of the equation. No matter what style of homeschooling you use, or what curriculum you follow, parents who educate a child at home are deeply involved in their learning. They need to be available all through the day for teaching, support, guidance, and direction. I might even dare to add that homeschooling parents aren’t well known for having an abundance of “me-time”. Not that this should discourage anyone who is considering homeschooling, but it’s definitely a factor to think about before making a quick decision to pull a child from their current school situation.
3. Homeschooling is a lifestyle
And by that, I don’t mean the stereotypes that people have of homeschooling families such as they are all required to have eight children or that they are all precocious little adults-in-kids-bodies. What I mean is that becoming a homeschooler can have it’s own form of “culture shock.” While you might envision pulling your child from school and schooling them at home as merely an EDUCATIONAL choice, the truth is that you are making a choice that will affect most every aspect of your child’s life – – their self-image, their friends, their hobbies, their priorities, their outlook toward society and their place in it. ALL of those things will be markedly different once they move from the realm of the “schooled” to the “homeschooled.” These changes are often quite welcome for parents who have slowly and thoughtfully made a decision to teach their child at home, but for parents who pull a child from school quickly, these changes can feel sudden and not necessarily easy to adjust to.
My positive experiences with homeschooling have made me one of the strongest proponents of it anywhere, and I feel disingenuous by ever discouraging someone from bringing a child home to learn. But, with fourteen years of homeschooling experience under my belt, it feels only fair to at least advise parents to really put a LOT of thought into the decision and to be aware of all the factors involved before committing to something as life-changing (for good or bad) as becoming a homeschooling family. My best wishes of peace, sound judgment, and surety for all those of you who are pondering this choice today.