Disclaimer: Our kid isn’t even two.
When I was still pregnant, a couple we were having dessert with asked if we had considered where we would live for school placement, since Jack and I were at the time still looking for a more permanent place to live. I was floored: people thought about these things? Up until we had moved back to Canada, my life with Jack was formed on a year-to-year basis. Such is the nature of being international school teachers, after all.
They asked if we’d considered homeschooling. Us? Two public school teachers? We laughed and said something about the importance of socializing. I cringe a little now, but only because of what I’ve learned since then.
Fast forward about a year after having given birth and I have at this point met with another mother who is already determined to homeschool her children. At this point (or perhaps earlier), I’m intrigued. The thought occurs that I haven’t actually given homeschooling any fair consideration, so I decide to begin reading up on homeschooling.
My first book (e-book, actually): The Homeschooling Handbook, by Lorilee Lippincott. This was an excellent primer to the basics of homeschooling, detailing homeschooling approaches and philosophies, with a few key resources as starting points for reading more into each philosophy. From this I learned that homeschooling approaches can be explained as existing on a spectrum, from highly-structured to little/no structure at all. The highly-structured end is often called traditional and sometimes classical homeschooling, with the other end being unschooling.
I suppose my background as a public teacher led me to favour the traditional end, with especial note on the classical homeschooling. I searched for several months on Facebook for a used copy of The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise before realizing that the local library carried a copy of the most recent edition. Thankfully, libraries reopened a few months ago and never have I felt more thankful for this publicly-funded resource.
I read through a few more books that detailed the lives of homeschoolers, and found the experiences fascinating. Long-time researcher Richard Kunzmann’s Write These Laws On Your Children took an unbiased close look at conservative Christian homeschooling families in America and I was surprised to read about the vastly different approaches taken even within families that claimed to be Christians. I hadn’t realized that there were so many stereotypes surrounding Christian homeschoolers (or that many people adopt the misconception that homeschoolers must be a crazy religious lot). A more intimate sharing from Laura Fairchild Brodie, titled Love in a Time of Homeschooling, provided room for self-reflection. What would the parent-child relationship be like as a homeschooling parent? Would I be a helicopter parent? Overbearing? Unreasonable? Would it be better to push my children into public school after all?
I realized that at some point in my reading, I had begun to read as someone who wanted to homeschool, and not just someone who was doing her due diligence. The books I read also lead me to understand that the commonly-touted issue of socialization isn’t an issue, after all. This post by Blossom and Root is plenty comprehensive and addresses a number of socialization concerns / commonly raised questions.
So where are we now? All along the ride, I have shared my readings with Jack and we are increasingly in favour of homeschooling. The jury’s still out on the approach we’ll take. Right now I’ve quite a lot of thoughts on E.D. Hirsch’s Why Knowledge Matters (it was groundbreaking! It demands another post!) and I feel that it does call for structure, although I also don’t think that it’s entirely counter to some aspects of unschooling. To this end I’ve placed a few holds on books by John Holt, a major proponent of unschooling.
What I would like out point out is that we certainly didn’t start out this way. Yes, we are Christian, and yes, we have been praying about whether homeschooling is an option that we should pursue, but our interest is not about sheltering or indoctrinating our children. I am not a fan of acting based on fear, you see. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God gives us not fear, but power, love, and self-discipline (although in some translations, self-discipline is translated to a sound mind). Jack and I have simply weighed the evidence so far and there seem to be very few drawbacks, and numerous benefits, to homeschooling, provided it continues to be a viable option in the future. So we go on.