by Diane Helfrich, July 2021
We now live in a time where the government defines what is taught in our schools and how. While it has always been that way to an extent, we’ve watched the degradation of the quality of education over time. Schools accommodate learners who don’t perform as well so that every child feels exceptional without helping them to master topics. We’ve watched Common Core be hailed as the key to success and then start to fall from grace. Teachers have little flexibility on how to teach topics since worksheets and activities are often predefined. Teachers also handle more kids per classroom with less help than they had even ten years ago. The title to a September 27, 2018 Business Insider article says it all, “The US Was Once a Leader for Healthcare and Education—Now It Ranks 27th in the World.” That was three years ago and before COVID.
More recently, public schools have become a place to present societal trends on topics such as gender, racism, alternate histories, necessary social changes required for a globalist society, etc. In some areas, sex education begins in lower elementary grades, where children are exposed to radical theories that are not widely accepted. We now blur the line between what is a parental right vs. government programming for many of these topics. In that same vein, the recent pandemic has brought about social changes with regard to safety, and parents have little opportunity to exercise their prerogative regarding masking, vaccination, and social distancing since the schools define how those elements will be handled. In one school system in Washington D.C., the school is even vaccinating children eleven years and up with no parental permission or notification; the child is allowed to decide (Washington Post, July 18, 2021). Is this the shape of things to come? Our public school systems are failing us, and many who homeschool now have left for a wide variety of reasons, but parental choices are the underlying reason in almost every case. Surely, we can do better than the public school system in providing good education and a healthy, safe environment!
So, let’s contrast the public school environment with homeschooling. You do not have choices in the public school; homeschooling offers the antithesis of public schooling with nearly unlimited choices. How you homeschool is entirely up to you. You determine the hours, the subjects, and the content of those subjects. You can choose topics that advance your child’s gifts. You determine what curricula to use, or to use no curricula at all—or anything in between. You decide about music and art, competitions, sports, visits to Grandma’s house or the beach, or studying at Barnes & Noble. You determine if faith is at the core of your worldview and supported by your schooling; you decide if you want secular education. Do you want your child vaccinated for COVID? In the public system, your child is required to mask if you don’t vaccinate them. As a homeschooler, you make that choice purely based on medical needs with no social consequence. You choose how much screen time is appropriate for your child. You decide if you need a break or if something isn’t working for your child, and you need to switch something up. When you feel your child has mastered a concept and is ready to move on, you make the decision. Similarly, you determine when your child is prepared to graduate and what the next step should be.
Finally, let’s spend a moment on the power of association—the information you consume and the people with whom you socialize. Many people still question socialization through the homeschooling process. Yet, my son was in school with a girl who stood on a table and screamed when she was upset, a boy who chased other kids on the playground with a brick to hit them, and a first-grade boy who was talking about sex at the lunch table. There were mean kids, bullying kids, sweet kids, sick kids, overbearing parents, and absent parents… the full gamut. We had no choice about that, and we couldn’t opt out of it. In homeschooling, you surround yourself with people of your choosing, people with similar values to yours.
Freedom of choice is the essence of homeschooling and what gives it so much power to produce happy, healthy kids with good values and strong work ethics. So go forth and make good choices to educate your children well. You will be glad you did!