Friday, September 14, 2012

"It's better to have your kids out and away from you"

Small rant coming on... I wasn't going to post about homeschooling anymore since my children are now adults, and yet I feel compelled to return to the subject one more time. A friend made the subject statement, and my hair nearly burst into flames. Homeschooling is still in my blood, and beliefs like the one above always hit a nerve! The idea that separating children from their parents is ideal, healthy even, bothers me. The family unit is the most important unit in a child's life. But how strong can the unit be if childhood mainly consists of forced separation with only hectic weekends to allow for possible family time?

Governments want to take kids and put them in school settings for most of their childhood. Some children are traumatized by that separation. That doesn't mean there is something wrong with those children OR that the solution is to separate them from their families even earlier so that they'll get used to it. Each child is a unique individual with different needs, personalities, and levels of maturity. Some are going to be introverts, no matter what! Parents can treat each child as an individual and meet and teach to individual needs. Governments have to treat them all the same, as if each was an identical gingerbread boy cut from the same dough with the same cookie cutter.

Elementary education has changed over the years. When I was a child, kindergarten was a half-day program, and it was optional; it was meant to prepare children for first grade. Kids didn't have to know anything to be admitted into kindergarten, and it was a lot of fun with a little education mixed in. Somewhere along the way, kindergarten evolved into a full-day program with some knowledge already expected and more structured teaching, and kids needed 4-year-old kindergarten to prepare them for 5-year-old kindergarten. Now, we need a preschool program to get kids ready for K4. Does that not seem crazy, that each program seems to create a "need" for another program to get them prepared for the coming program? When, pray tell, do they get to enjoy their childhood? When do they get to learn by unstructured play and exploration? As long as people think it's better to have your kids away from you for the purpose of learning how to deal with being away from you so they can successfully participate in some government-mandated program, programs will continue to be created for earlier and earlier ages. 

In an ideal world, it would be up to the parents—who know their children better than anyone else—to decide when a child is ready to go spend their days in a classroom, if they intend to send them to school rather than homeschool. I'm in no way saying that everyone should homeschool their kids. I'm saying that you shouldn't embrace earlier and earlier children's programs as a necessary part of a child's life. And I want to point out that for every "backwards" homeschooled child you might know, there is another backwards child attending a traditional school. A greater percentage, in all likelihood, are found attending school. I was one of them. I was just as bashful in 12th grade as I was in kindergarten. I'm sure if you attended school somewhere, you had bashful or anti-social peers in your class mix. Pinpointing homeschooling as the cause of such behavior is just silly. Am I right? You know I am!

My daughter spent her entire childhood with me. Graduated, got job training, got a job, then got a second job, and made employee of the month in just a few months. She's been working successfully for more than a year now. She didn't have to be separated from me on a full-time basis to reach her potential. Plenty of homeschooled kids grow up to enjoy successful lives as adults without early-childhood separation to teach them how to do it. Independence training has its place, of course. Homeschoolers get to choose when that training takes place for each child. To my mind, the closer to the teen years that occurs, the better. 

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