Friday, August 16, 2013

To School or UNschool...that is the question

It's August...the time of year when everyone posts pictures of their children kicking off their public, private or home school regimen for the year. I have three sons all 3 years old and under and from the time my oldest son was born I must confess that how and where to school him has become one of my more anxious thoughts.

 When we lived in downtown Montgomery, AL my husband and I assumed that we would home school our boys since the public schools in that area aren't the best. Most people from our church either home schooled or sent their children to private school so I knew I would have a good support system and plenty of other children for my kids to socialize with. We don't want to spend money on private school, especially when so much of our tax money goes to fund local public schools.

Jonathan and I both attended public school in the suburbs, and we both loved it! I don't know if I'm the only one but in some of the evangelical Christian circles I've been in I've heard quite a lot about the evils of public education. Most of the arguments center around the perception that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, public school teachers are trying to brainwash our kids, and if our children learn science in public school they will no longer believe that God created the world. Well, I can't take any of that fear-mongering too seriously. Kids in public schools are just as "corrupt" as children in private school and children at home. Keeping my kids at home so that they won't be corrupted by kids at school is a tempting thought but that thought assumes that my children aren't corrupt to begin with. Situations and circumstances merely uncover the corruption that is already deep in our hearts. I think it's actually good for children to be exposed to other kids who have different, beliefs, values and morality. How else will they learn to live peaceably in the world with different kinds of people?

 Public school science seems to be a big issue especially with southern evangelicals. Well suffice it to say that we believe God created the world but we do not pretend to know exactly how God created the world. The first book of Genesis is the creation story written to ancient Hebrews in a way they can understand, it is not a technical or scientific writing (I may say more on this is another post). We strive to take modern science seriously and don't feel like it should be tossed aside or viewed as evil.

I would consider enrolling my children in a good public school. But what is a good school? From what I've heard from several educators public schools today are too focused on standardized test scores, have too many kids packed into each class, and are really only good for average students (students with disabilities and students who particularly excel often fall through the cracks). Home school can be a great alternative. At home parents can cater their lessons to the learning style and interests of each child. Family relationships are sometimes strengthened because parents and siblings are spending more time together, and there is greater flexibility in scheduling. I've met some very intelligent people whose parents home schooled them. I've also seem some young adults who home schooled and never finished high school. The same is true with products of the public school system.

We've still got a year or two before we decide where to school our oldest son and to be honest I'm not sure what we'll decide at this point but I feel like I'm seeing that the bottom line in successful schooling is parental involvement. No one way is going to be perfect. The key is knowing your child, figuring out what they need as far as learning environment and method and being their biggest cheerleader, teacher, and help meet. If something isn't working don't be afraid to change it up but fear should never be what drives you to make a decision about how to school your child.


  1. I really like this post. For now our plan is to homeschool but the reasons are not because "public school is evil". AW & I are both public school grads & we like to think we came out ok ;-) Anyway, our main reasons are so that we can emphasize Christ as the center of all areas of learning and also because we each struggled with different subjects in school. With homeschooling we can have the option to speed up or slow down a certain subject according to our child's needs. Also, I have a friend who's a public elementary teacher & her students do not get art or recess and have a very minimal music class. Those are 3 things that are just as important (in our minds) as math, reading, history & science! This summer I went to a homeschool conference & was very disappointed in the attitudes of the others there. Very "holier than thou" & straight up making fun of corporate school environments. Very shameful!

    1. Laura! So glad you enjoyed the post...I definitely think that one of the greatest pros of homeschooling is the ability to customize your curriculum and teaching style to your child. I love that you are being proactive by going to conferences and gathering materials. Anderson has one good mama! I go back and forth in my mind about which way to go for our kids. I'm not sure if I have the stamina, capacity, or discipline to home school. But I also don't know if I can give up the closeness I have with my boys that's been fostered, in part, because we spend all of our time together. Both approaches to schooling can work but their are definite sacrifices that must be weighed on both sides.