Many thanks to Dana for coming up with the bloggy button and the idea that we should all be blogging in honour of Nebraska's (and Florida's!) official Home Education Week. Today the topic is:
What I Miss About Public School
(Yes, I'm tweaking it just a little because the "How we got started homeschooling" is an emotionally draining topic. Maybe I just need to repost an older post I did on this...)
I'm not a very good student, but I do remember a few things here and there from my school days. One is the concept of "opportunity cost." Opportunity cost is what you miss out on by choosing one thing over another. So if you spend your $20 on going to the movies rather than on bubble gum, you'll miss out on the bubble gum. Then again, if you spent your money on bubble gum, you'd miss out on the movie.
Sometimes in our fervent desire to win converts to homeschooling, we forget to mention or gloss over this concept. I've read a few blog entries here and there about parents who found that homeschooling "wasn't for them" because they miss time alone. Or they missed interacting with other parents and being part of a PTA team. Or their children didn't get to see certain friends as often. Or it's just a plain old lot of work and they don't feel like it any more.
There are very few things I miss about public schools for Elf and Emperor. I do get a bit sad for them on Valentine's Day. They miss making Valentines for all their chubby-cheeked friends each year. They miss decorating cupcakes with them and the class party.
As they get older, they'll miss playing an instrument. Sure, I could fork out for private lessons and drive my children everywhere... but we all know I'm not going to. There would be no way possible to stuff two cellos in my van even if I didn't have the older two children at home any more by that time. Not to mention the money. Did I mention the money?
Personally, I don't feel as responsible for my children academically when I send them off to school. You could fool yourself that the public school is teaching everything the child needs to know at that grade level. But it isn't true. There are simply going to be gaps even with the best education. The best teacher, doing the best she can, is simply not going to be as emotionally invested in your child as you would like. If she has 25 other kids, you'll be lucky if YOUR kid gets 1/25 of her attention. (We all know that classes are populated with children who DEMAND wayyyy more than 1/25 of a teacher's time. I can have pity on these poor teachers while pointing out that this is NOT a situation I want my child in.)
I think one thing public educators like to point out is that a lot of homeschooled kids have gaps in certain areas like evolutionary theory or advanced mathematics. But I'm not going to get hung up on that. I refuse to get hung up on that. I am developing, by the grace of God, good Christians and good citizens. And I'd counter that there is no shortage of public school graduates who have gaps in such areas as "reading" and "basic mathematics." But I digress...
I'm going to teach my children the best I can using good curriculum. JUST because my third-grader doesn't know where Asia is does NOT mean he hasn't been taught. It just means it hasn't sunk in yet. I'm going to not let that lack of knowledge get tied up in my self-esteem as a person or a teacher. Lord knows the public school teachers don't. The kid doesn't know where Asia is? Well, just look at his family. I've yet to see one p.s. teacher take a child's lack of knowledge personally. Why should I? I should take it as a notice, however, to put "teach the location of Asia" on my calendar. In fact, we're going to brush up on continents next week so that my seven-year old can get the notion that "France" is a continent out of his head. (Where did he get that idea? We went over the seven continents last year!!)
I think that's one of the best things about home education. We can feel free to go back to the basics at any time if needed. I *thought* the children knew where all the continents were, and maybe they did. But they've forgotten, and we need to go over it again. In a public school, it would just be too stinkin' bad for the kid or worse: it would come home as homework! Homework is one thing I *don't* miss. How about you?