Saturday, January 14, 2012

Should We Homeschool?

by Kyle Louque

I must begin by stating that I write on the subject of homeschooling not as an expert or even someone who is a product of homeschooling. I have a private school education. While I am grateful for the financial sacrifice that my parents made for my education, I have to weigh the good with the bad when deciding how to educate my own children.

To anyone striving for successful parenting this calls for an honest evaluation of parental values. Many factors have to be taken into consideration in order to make not only good decisions, but to make the right decisions. What is the current state of our private and public school systems? How are the students in these types of educational systems evolving? Are factors such as politics, secularism, and relativism infiltrating the minds of the students? I, like many concerned parents, have reasonable cause to be alarmed when considering how things have changed over the years.

Those who bear the honorable title of Father or Mother know what a blessing and a gift from God the innocent souls of their children are. We should also be aware of the grave responsibility we have of bringing these souls from their developmental years into adulthood. Undoubtedly, educating our children is high on the list of parental priorities. Knowing much has been given to us and according to Scripture “to whom much is given, of him will much be required” (Lk 12:48), should we not evaluate our priorities and establish a value system that we will honor before God?

We should all be grateful for the life experiences we have had, that cause us to question ourselves and look at things more truthfully. Acceptance of truth opens our eyes and instills integrity. Webster defines the word integrity as: uprightness, soundness of character, and moral wholeness. I mention this because a parent possessing integrity will seek to have a clearer understanding of the vocational duties of a parent.

These duties are divinely instituted and are the obligation of every mother and father. Also, this type of parent will accept the responsibility of fostering virtue and knowledge while protecting their child’s exposure to sin and corruption. This is a responsibility that so many parents today are failing in. Lastly, this parent will compromise nothing in doing what is right for their child’s spiritual, social, and academic advancement. This means considering doing what is actually better for the child rather than what is easy, convenient, and considered “the norm”. It is these ideals which will help you to honestly approach the question, which many parents today hardly consider: Should we homeschool?

Making the Choice
It is the exclusive decision of the father and mother to determine the best way to bring up their child. Count yourself extremely privileged if you live in a country where the parent is blessed with the freedom to choose how to educate their children. It is a disappointing fact that most parents are not properly informed about their choices and because of this, rarely stop to evaluate all available options. Many parents never even consider homeschooling. I believe this is because most parents are not aware of the many advantages and benefits which only the informed know about.

Another reason why homeschooling is overlooked, is the parents feel inadequate to teach their own children. I can assure you that the majority of parents are quite able to follow a homeschooling curriculum. Be honest and ask yourself these questions: 1. Am I smart enough to teach my child the ABC’s, adding & subtracting, etc.? (The first years are simple elementary subjects and as the curriculum advances so will you from just following it.) 2. Do I see the value in limiting my child’s exposure to sin and corruption, while fostering virtue and knowledge during his or her developmental years? 3. Am I willing to honor God, by doing what I know is right when it comes to educating my child; not only in academics, but more importantly in spirituality? Any loving parent would answer yes to these questions. Ironically, many of these same loving parents choose to follow the crowd, regardless of what is in the best interest of the child.

Who’s Making the Rules?
We, as a society, have evolved into the culture we now share. Each generation has pushed the moral limits and tolerance of a society supposedly designed for the better good of each individual. Many, who call themselves Christians, have adopted a “take it on the chin” mentality. This passiveness offers no resistance and in its silence allows the progression of today’s evils. The same Christian heritage, which made this country great, is now being removed from our schools and government. A teacher in one school was fired for making references from the Bible during a lesson involving the theory of evolution.

In another school, a young girl was banned from wearing a chastity ring engraved with Sacred Scripture. These are only a couple of examples of the many atrocities that are being implemented in our schools. I would like to quote Mr. Robert E. Ritchie, of The American TFP, when he wrote, “I’m asking you to pray and help me promote the Rosary with a great sense of urgency, because here in America we are suffering from a horrible wave of impurity. Impurity that aims to steal the innocence of your children and grandchildren…impurity on TV…impurity in schools and colleges… I believe we’re seeing the beginning of a religious persecution. What do you think?”

In many areas of our society, Christian values are being replaced with secular agenda that undermines and deteriorates families. In some schools, children are required to read books which include homosexuality. Other schools have removed prayer and even the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. What we are acquiring from all of this is disorder and dysfunction. It is no wonder that there are so many inappropriate teacher/student relationships. Will this madness cease?

Any parent striving to raise Godly children will see: that it is obvious why homeschooling is not only a good choice, but is now becoming a necessity. For many, what I have written is a confirmation about what you already know. If you are like me, then you will have concerns and questions about choosing to homeschool your children. I think a good place to start is by overcoming some of the myths and objections.
Overcoming the Myths and Objections

“I don’t want my children to feel like they missed out.”
One evening my wife was eager to show me some home videos that she had picked up from her parents home. The videos were from her homeschooling days. I was amazed to find clips of the many dances, plays, social events, and graduations of the homeschooling students. This was, in appearance, very similar to the events that we had in private school. Now I understand why my wife laughed at me when I asked her if she felt like she “missed out” because she was homeschooled.

“I wasn’t homeschooled and I turned out OK.”
Someone could ask me, “Why are you going to homeschool your children? You weren’t homeschooled and turned out OK.” In response to this statement, I would give the following answer: Yes, I am alive and well, however, I struggle daily to overcome my faults; many of which have origin in my youth. I was in the private school system for 13 years. I know how bad behavior, bad language, profanity, cruelty, and disobedience, to name a few, are passed on like a virus from child to child. In my opinion, the greatest attribute to homeschooling, is that the values of the parents are preserved and less likely to be undone by students who are a product of failed parenting. Learned behaviors, whether good or bad, are nearly impossible to remove once they take root in a child.

“It’s too late. I have already begun sending my children away to school”

Is it ever too late to do something right or make changes for the better? It takes a firm belief in the real values of homeschooling for one to see past this situation. Homeschooling should not be considered just another option, but rather, it should shine like a jewel compared to the alternatives. So, how will the child adapt? I have witnessed firsthand the results of this transition in a child’s life. My wife and one of her siblings did not begin homeschooling until after completing some years of public school. Both have become fine adults.

“My children will grow up to be antisocial if I homeschool them.”
I find it ironic that what some people choose to think about homeschooling is sometimes just the opposite of reality. For many parents, choosing to believe the “antisocial myth” is just another way to rid themselves of the obligations of parenting. The reality is that many children in the public and private school system have, at one time, been bullied or mistreated. Often these situations go undetected by the staff and unreported by a child afraid of retaliation. With the adults severely outnumbered by the students, it is impossible to keep an eye on every situation. If a child has any reason to become “antisocial”, it would most likely occur from being scarred during their childhood. This is no secret. Just read the news and you will regularly find these people. Educate yourself on the childhoods of the many serial killers and deranged people of our times. More often than not, it was something in their childhood that caused the disorder later in life. Look at the school massacres, which are becoming more frequent. It is actually the students from this environment that are more likely to be antisocial; not the homeschooled.

“My parents went to public school, I went to public school, and my children will go to public school.”

If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that that the classrooms of today, are by no means the classrooms of yesterday. Our grandparents and great grandparents chose how to educate their children during a different time and culture. In fact, they would be scandalized by the filth and corruption that is readily available today through the television, radio, internet, and in our classrooms. Therefore, the choices they made in educating their children should not predetermine the choices we will have to make. The homeschool environment is whatever you make it. If you choose, each day could begin with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance (not removing the phrase “one nation, under God” like many schools are now doing). Reading can include books based on faith, lives of the Saints, or wholesome classics (In other words, books that do not teach homosexuality or corrupt political thinking).

“I want to send my child to a Christian school.”
Did you know that there are solid, Christian, homeschooling curriculums? With a little research you should also be able to find Christian homeschooling groups to interact with. My wife and many of our friends graduated from a Catholic homeschooling academy. The academy provides a great atmosphere for each family to remain individual yet with enough events to keep the students and parents connected. We are also associated with families who choose to educate, independent of structured groups. It was actually meeting the students that convinced me there was no other way for my own children to be educated. I can honestly say they are the most polite, spiritual, intellectual, well behaved and well dressed students I have ever met. I must give credit to the parents who refused to follow the crowd and used their God given intellect to make good decisions. I have found that many of these families share the same difficulties that we have. It is great to share our experiences with people who are of like mind and have the same value system. I feel as though I have found a treasure that I do not want to lose.
“Homeschooling my children would be too great a sacrifice.”

I saved this myth for last because I feel that it is the most important to understand. The single most reason why parents dismiss homeschooling relates to a misconstrued understanding of sacrifice. More specifically, this deception relates to the sacrifice of time and money. This belief is a delusion which will slowly manifest itself over time. Initially, shoving off your innocent children to school seems like a good way to kill two birds with one stone. The children learn something and Mommy gets to keep her job. In reality, the children are now subject to an increasing exposure of violence, bullying, disobedience, sex abuse, drug abuse, profanity and many other disorders amongst the students themselves. And if this is not bad enough, some school systems are adding to the fire by removing prayer and pushing political and homosexual agendas. Many parents convince themselves that the values they teach in the home will survive the vulnerable developmental years and later, peer pressure. This is a gamble on the child’s ability to cope with issues they are not equipped to handle. The sad reality is that many of the children, who succumb to the corruption, are punished by the parents who set them up to fail.

So how does this all tie into the sacrifice of “time and money”? That “precious time” is now being spent on futile efforts to reason with a confused and out of control adolescent. What about that extra income that Mommy was able to make while her children were away at school?

I can say firsthand that I have seen parents spend oodles of money on therapy, drug rehabilitation, and unexpected grandchildren due to peer pressure and corrupt influences found in our school systems. So in reality, this is the ultimate sacrifice of time and money that parents should seek to avoid. In the case of successful homeschooling, sacrifices are quickly turned into rewards. Not only do these rewards have the potential to last a lifetime, but they can pass on for generations.

The Bright Side
Sure, the grim realities concerning our school systems are enough to make any responsible parent leap towards homeschooling. Aside from this, there are many other positive benefits to homeschooling. Even if our school systems and the students were everything we hoped they would be, there would still be advantages that make homeschooling appealing.

These advantages benefit each member of the family. Since each family is different, the advantages can vary. Allow me to give a few examples:

Many fathers travel alone for business purposes. This can be a lonely and difficult time for many men who would not use this time wisely when in another city, state, or country. This is also a difficult time for Mom, who now suffers the absence of her husband, and must tend to the children alone. Homeschooling allows the possibility for Dad to take the entire family with him. To Mom and the children, the atmosphere is “vacation like”. The change of scenery creates excitement for everyone. During these trips, schooling can take place just as well in a hotel room or a park table. Children are more likely to cooperate, knowing recess may involve a swimming pool or nature hike. Dad accomplishes his work, while enjoying his family. Mom takes advantage of the cooked meals and room service. The children have a ball swimming and exploring. Everyone wins.

Aside from Dad’s business trips, we have the children’s field trips. Homeschooling opens up a whole new dimension to learning this way. I remember during my private school years, the excitement of going somewhere with my class for the day. They could have taken us to the local trash dump for all we cared. We were just thrilled to be out of the classroom. The downside was that at the end of the day we had to get back on the bus and promptly return to the school. Homeschooling takes fieldtrips a step further. Let’s say you decided to explore the Redwood Forest in California or visit historical sites in Europe. No problem, just pack up the family and stay for as long as you like. The fun and excitement associated with learning this way will enrich your child’s education and promote a genuine interest in learning. The money saved on a private school education will easily fund these excursions. I enjoy meeting with other families who use their homeschooling advantages to the fullest.

I will give one final example, though I could go on and on, of the many beneficial aspects of homeschooling. Let me be the first to tell you that homeschooling is good for your health!

Homeschooled children and parents are less likely to become sick with the latest bug, virus or fungus. I cannot recall a single year during my days in private school that I did not come down with some sort of sickness. A “common” cold, the flu, stomach viruses, lice, ringworms, pink eye, and the list and goes on. This seemed normal at the time, since everyone I was associated with came down with the same illnesses. I see families now that are going through the same thing. First, one of the children catches something at school and then comes home to share it with mommy, daddy, and the rest of the family. This is not normal. It is predictable and avoidable.

Parental Courage
What our society needs is a good dose of parental courage! Where are the parents who are willing to take a stand against the many atrocities committed against our children in our school systems? As parents, we have our children for a relatively small portion of their lives. They will go on to be everything from Priests, carpenters, and business professionals; to murderers, gangsters, and drug dealers. The decisions we make as parents will greatly influence the paths they will choose as adults. There is no guarantee that your child will succeed or fail with any type of upbringing. Children from similar walks of life have all turned out different. They will become adults and have to make their own decisions. However, for now you are the one with the responsibility. The quality of their lives and possibly their salvation hinges on the decisions you will make as a father or mother.

Any parent would suffer tremendous guilt if their child died or was seriously injured because of their negligence. This would be a parent’s worst nightmare. With so much emphasis on protecting our children from physical injury, why is it that so little is done to minimize the risk of spiritual injury or spiritual death? We insure our possessions so that they can be replaced. We wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. We eat healthy to prevent health problems. We brush our teeth to prevent cavities. Will we not prevent our children from entering a classroom that has removed prayer? We will not prevent our children from being mistreated by wayward children? Will we not prevent our children from being corrupted by some teachers who push the secular agenda? What’s crazy is that many parents make an effort to raise well mannered and respectful children, only to let them attend a school where they will learn the same things they tried to avoid. What a waste! Not only is it a waste, it is a crime against the child who didn’t have a choice.

The Path Less Traveled
Will everyone agree with your decision to break from the “norm” and homeschool your children? Not likely. Do you consider homeschooling to be an intolerable sacrifice or do you see it as a way to earn rewards? That depends on what you, as a parent, consider to be of value. If you are honestly considering homeschooling your children, then know that you are not alone. Many courageous fathers have stepped up to the plate and encouraged their wives to be fulltime mothers and educators of their children. Many courageous mothers have traded worldly careers and embraced the most honorable and prestigious of occupations: Motherhood.

As a man, I am inspired by other men who are living virtuous lives. However, nothing inspires me more deeply than a mother who gives herself completely to her children. For all this she is rewarded richly with children who respect and admire the gift of their mother. The father will also share in the rich rewards for leading, honoring and providing for his family. The effect that this will have on their family will shine like a beacon of hope to other families who are lost and in despair. The effect that this will have on our society is invaluable. I am grateful to the families who have inspired me. I can only aspire do the same for others. I hope that in some way I was able to convey that if there ever is a time for homeschooling, it is now.

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