Kelly, over at 'Families against Feminism', wrote a series of great posts, in which she discussed the benefits of homeschooling, explained why she and her husband decided to homeschool their children, and gave answers to common objections made against the decision of parents to give home education to their children.
While I'm not a parent yet, I thought I would share my insight, as someone who spent 12 years in different public schools. Better do this now, when the memories are still more or less fresh!
I was always a top student, but you know what? The more I think about it, the more certain I am that it was all thanks to natural curiosity, love of learning, being a bookworm and kind encouragement from my mother. Almost all I know about history, geography, languages, literature and everything you can classify as 'general education', I learned on my own, from books, or with a private tutor who gave me a boost which propelled me towards being autodidactic. Sure, we were taught grammar and spelling in school. Do you think I remember any of the rules? Of course not! I learned it only thanks to Mother, who cultivated my passion for reading and writing. The only thing I didn't learn on my own was math. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, I realize I was actually more homeschooled than public schooled!
When 25, 30 or more children are gathered in one classroom, confined to a strict schedule and supposed to do the same assignment at exactly the same time, do you know what inevitably happens? The weaker children are left behind, and the brighter ones are bored. Children become distracted and lose their concentration. This is not a wise use of time and energy.
Children flourish when they get lots of individual attention, especially the insecure ones, who carry the burden of feeling like a failure on their little shoulders – a feeling that is completely unjustified. I know it, because I've been tutoring children and teenagers for about 5 years now. I enjoy it tremendously and see the children make great progress. And I'll tell you something; this is not because I'm such a great teacher. I have no qualifications. But I focus on their needs, listen to their difficulties patiently, and show them they have my full attention. I praise them and do my best to make each one of them feel like a success. This is very hard to achieve even in a very good private school. Private schools can often solve our other concerns, for example regarding the moral content of what our children are exposed to, during classes and breaks. But nothing beats the loving and knowing attention of Mommy.
Teaching is a noble profession, but busy and irritated teachers can sometimes be so inattentive! I remember how once, as a little child, I completed a reading assignment in the first ten minutes of the class (we were supposed to be doing it during 30 minutes) and started drawing. I was so absorbed in my work I didn't hear the teacher snap at me. She complained to my mother and suggested that maybe I'm not qualified enough; and perhaps something was wrong with my mental development! I was taken to a psychologist who said I'm an 'extraordinary' child and very intelligent for my age, so no wonder I'm bored during classes.
I'm not sure how things will turn out if I'm blessed with children, like I hope, but here's what I think: even if our children aren't exclusively homeschooled, we can't leave their education in the hands of schools alone. And don't think you can't teach your children because you're less qualified than a professional teacher! As their mother (grandmother, aunt, big sister, family friend…), you know them much better, and have such a wonderful opportunity to appeal to their individual strengths, encourage them and praise them!