For years I have thought about homeschooling my family. I was a public school educated child for almost my whole life. Only one quarter of my Freshman year of high school was any different. I was allowed to do independent study, and it changed my whole outlook on education. Suddenly, I was master of my own course. I could pick how fast I wanted to learn the material and I was to be responsible for my own reporting of what I learned. I realized, I was really bad at self discipline. It would have been so much easier for me if I had been home schooled from the start. I would have learned self discipline in a much different way. I also would have not picked up such horrible habits of cheating and lying. I know my mom could catch me in every lie I told. I would never have succeeded in deceiving her as I did with my teachers.
I learned a lot in those few months and my return to public school the next year. I realized that my education did not count the same way from independent study to public school. I had a teacher who gave me an F because I didn't inform him of my progress in my math class in independent study. It dragged my whole grade down for the year to a D, which later had other effects with the military and college. I raced ahead in some areas and drifted through on others. I was amazed at how many credits I was able to accumulate in so little time.
It would have been nice to continue that way but really it would have been better if I had started homeschooling in Kindergarten. But I did not (through no fault of my parents) and I can now use some perspective with my own children.
Getting a taste for public school is intoxicating when kids are very young. I had both good times and bad times. The good times were that I liked my teachers and they taught me interesting things. When I was included in games on the playground I put my whole heart into it. The bad times were that I was lonely. I was not good at relating to the other kids and I didn't understand them at all. I couldn't read them or get their intentions as the other kids did so I was often ignored and left to play by myself. I kept trying but it was rare that others wanted to play with me. The other drawback was that our curriculum kept changing and as soon as I learned how they wanted me to learn they would change it and I would have all these new rules I didn't understand. Flipping from phonics to see-n-say was really hard. I wanted to phonetically spell stuff out but was told not to do that. Spelling wasn't considered important after 3rd grade and I was surprised I was doing "baby stuff" when I went to a country school for 6th grade. That was a skill that got me into a lot of trouble later on. I had to learn how to spell when I was 19 because I realized that my poor spelling could have gotten me dishonorably discharged from the military. How embarrassing.
The allure of learning new things and making friends is very basic. We love these things when we are young. The competition, the epiphanies, the rewards are all very stimulating. I know that if my boys delve into the public school life, they will love a lot of it. It would be very hard to pull them back into the realm of home and learning there. I want them to love to learn.
There is an unfortunate side to public school. There is the typical stuff like bullies (you can't legislate that away), cheating, lying, sex, drugs, alcohol, negative peer influence, poor teachers (I never met my 7th grade teacher as we had substitute teachers the whole year), cliques, gangs, and way too much sugar. Then there is the less obvious stuff like classroom pacing, curriculum modifications, class material you don't want them to learn yet, gaps in education, hidden messages, subversive language, everything PC (down to the textbooks you learn from), lack of information on important subjects (morals, religion, etc), and on and on. Too much for me to articulate here.
Every time I contemplate the options available to our children I see no other choice than that of homeschooling. There are so many pros with homeschooling. There are so many cons with public school. I feel like allowing my children to step into the world of public schooling is like a real life Pied Piper of Hamlin. I shudder at the thought.