CafeMom recently posted “7 Reasons I’d Never Homeschool My Teen” by Ericka Sóuter. It’s not mean-spirited or anything, but it is ignorant … almost willfully so, since the points made are so well-refuted in so many places it seems like they should just Go. Away. and never bother us again. But since they haven’t, I’m going to refute them in one more place, right here.
Ms. Sóuter writes:
I recently came across the story of a Tesca Fitzgerald, who, at 12, is getting ready to start college and plans to be working her Ph.D. by age 16. Her proud mother credited her daughter’s genius to the fact that she was homeschooled. Amazing, right? But I have to tell you, that is as impressive as it is crazy. It made me wonder if I could homeschool my teen or pre-teen. With the cost of private school in New York City, the idea is an attractive one. But I quickly came to my senses and here’s why. Check out the 7 reasons I’d never home school my teen.
Before you say you’d never do something, you really ought to know what it is you’re talking about! Preconceived notions are so often wrong, as every single one of Ms. Sóuter’s points is.
1. I could probably get him through algebra and geometry, but we’d both need a tutor when it came to calculus. Sure, I took it in high school but it was in one ear and out the other as soon as the final was finished.
2. I can’t imagine his first intense classroom setting being a college lecture. Talk about intimidating.
Algebra, geometry, calculus: Get a tutor. Join a co-op. Learn alongside him. Enroll him in a community college class (which also takes care of that “first intense classroom setting” by the way). If he loves it, get him a curriculum and let him go to town on his own.
Or … let him skip it until he needs it (or finds he doesn’t need it) in college. Seriously, if you, a functioning adult, realize that calculus was “in one ear and out the other,” and you know you have never used or needed to use calculus since, and you did not retain even enough of your high school “learning” to work through a textbook with your child, then what’s the point? Just the mark on the piece of paper?
Through some sort of fluke, of which I can’t even begin to remember the whys and wherefores, I escaped high school without ever taking geometry. I didn’t take it in college either, and my life has not been blighted. As a matter of fact, I received two separate scholarships based on my ACT and SAT scores. Without geometry!
3. We’d get sick of each other by week
4. When he complains about his bitchy teacher, he’ll be talking about me.
5. When I complain about my crappy job, I’ll be talking about him.
This … I’m sorry, this just makes me sad. My kids and I have never once gotten sick of each other. I like my children a lot, and they seem to like me back.
You would be very, very surprised to realize how much of the drama in your parent/child relationship comes straight home from the school. Now, obviously if your kid has been in school and you pull him out, it’s not immediately going to be all peaches and cream, because the relational patterns influenced by school have been set for years; but homeschooling from the get-go is a great way to avoid it all.
If your parent/child issues go deeper than that, you have a lot of work to do whether your child stays in school or stays at home. I suggest starting with this wonderful post on parenting and friendship. Read How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. Fix your relationship with your child.
Bitchy teachers and crappy jobs … see above.
6. I can’t teach him the same survival instincts you learn navigating your way though mean girls, jocks, geeks, or whichever else cliques exist these days.
The survival instincts I hope my children learn by avoiding all the high school drama and cliques is that they don’t have to fit into a mold or make themselves into someone that they are not, and they don’t have to trample on the ones below them, merely in order to survive the artificial construct of school.
7. I’m not a trained educator. Parents love to complain about their kids’ teachers but it’s a tough job. Probably one of the toughest. It’s a combo of instructor, counselor, soother, conflict resolution expert, and motivator. How exhausting is that?!
“Instructor, counselor, soother, conflict resolution expert, motivator” … funny, that’s how I would describe a parent’s job!
Fortunately, I am a trained educator. I say “fortunately” not because it has particularly helped me in my homeschooling career, but because it allows me to realize that the statement “I’m not a trained educator” is 100% a cop-out. There may be good reasons why you cannot homeschool your children, but not having a teaching degree is NOT one of them.
Acquiring a teaching degree involves learning a lot of stuff like how to grade on a curve and what to do with the bored advanced kids when the slower ones hold them back, and what to do with the bored slower kids when the advanced ones zoom ahead, and almost none of it has anything to do with actual teaching.
Actual teaching is learned by stepping into a classroom and actually teaching, so the mom of a kindergartener has a huge lead on the first-time classroom teacher, since the mom has already been teaching this particular child for six years. Everyone learns to teach by teaching; nobody learns it out of a book.
I tip my hat to all those moms and dads who successfully homeschool their children. It’s clearly not something every parent can do.
You’re right that homeschooling is not something everyone can do. You have to want to do it, and you have to believe in yourself and your child in order to succeed.
There are other things, of course; but that is the primary prerequisite. The rest is just details.