We both started our careers working as public school teachers and also as private school teachers. Many people are aware of the shortcomings of public school but our experience showed that private schools are only slightly better as an alternative. Public schools suffer from 1) large class sizes 2) a factory based approach to education that leaves slower students behind and prevents gifted students from reaching their potential, 3) violence and bullying, 4) spiritual deprivation, and 5) a curriculum that at its roots is a government education based on a worldview that is frequently at odds with the child’s parents. Private schools usually have smaller class sizes, decreased violence or bullying, and parents can pick one that aligns to their worldview but where private schools frequently fall short is with their budgets and in the oversight/expectations of their teachers. Except for some of the most elite private schools, many of them are struggling to keep their doors open and for that reason they can not pay their teachers what is needed to attract the best educators. Additionally, the shortage of funds may make administrators hesitant to suspend or expel troublemakers, especially if those troublemakers are offspring of large donors! Many parents are surprised when they take their child out of private school and re-enroll them in public school that suddenly their child is struggling in school because they are significantly behind their public school peers in testing results and academic performance.
So why did we choose homeschooling? Homeschooling offers the smallest class size with ratios sometime as amazingly low as one teacher per student. Homeschooling is by far the safest environment with virtually no violence or bullying (save a grumpy mother every now and then :>) ). Homeschooling provides students with an educational experience rooted in a worldview identical to their parents and that supports (if desired by the parents) the sharing of spiritual principles. Perhaps the best reason for homeschooling is that it is truly mastery based education that allows the pace and schoolwork of each student to be custom tailored to their abilities. For example, if a child picks up math quickly but has a hard time with language arts, they can move ahead faster in math and take their time learning language arts. The parent, also the person who knows the child best, is able to assess when understanding is achieved and moves forward to the next lesson only when the child is ready to proceed. Public schools have a difficult time providing mastery based learning environments because they need to teach the masses so the pace of the learning is set by the state and the kid has to learn the designated lesson…not the lesson they are ready for but the lesson that is scheduled for that day. Technology may improve the ability to provide adaptive learning but few schools are evening trying to pursue this approach as its viewed as expensive, difficult for teachers to manage and assess students, and impractical. (If you would like to learn more about mastery based learning in public schools I recommend starting with this post on “The 5 myths about Mastery-based Learning“)
Those were the main reasons we started homeschooling but many more have surfaced over the years. For example, our children eat healthier than they could eat at public/private schools, they have more access to computers since they each have their own, and they know and spend more time with their parents in a day then some public school children spend with their parents in a week. We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to home school our children and would highly recommended homeschooling as an option for those that want the best for their children.
Ironically, in the last couple years our children are technically considered “public school students” by the State of Georgia. We used to home school our children with a curriculum we paid for ourselves found at K12.com. The State of Georgia partnered with K12 several years ago in what is now referred to as Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA). GCA is a publicly funded (free to parents) state wide homeschooling program (most states now provide similar free homeschooling programs). All of our school-age children are currently enrolled in GCA. The best thing about GCA is that each of our children are assigned to a public school teacher that monitors their progress, holds them accountable, and is available if they need assistance. This has changed the dynamics at home in a positive way because now the teacher is the one asking our children to do the work and as parents we are just helping them to understand the material and encourage them in their studies.
The homeschooling section of our blog will include more information on GCA but we will also discuss many of the other excellent homeschooling programs our children have participated in over the years. One of the biggest concerns we hear from people regarding homeschooling is the myth regarding lack of social interaction. Our children participate in 1) sports via Crown Athletics, 2) school dances at The King’s Academy, 3) orchestra, PE, foreign languages, and other classroom electives at Timothy Ministries, 4) youth group outings with North Point Community Church, 5) missions trips with GlobalX.org, and 6) special homeschooling only events held at places like The High Museum of Art and the Georgia Aquarium. We will cover all of these in upcoming posts but we would also like to answer any specific questions you have regarding homeschooling. Please leave us a reply on any of our posts with your questions and we will be sure to provide you with a timely response.