Why I Homeschool
By Jennifer Lambert
I have a 5-year-old daughter and I am home-schooling her, much to the shock and horror of my family, who are almost all public school teachers. I used to teach outside the home and at first, I was completely overwhelmed at teaching my own child. The first month or so of formally home-schooling, I told myself that I was just doing this because she has a late birthday and could not begin kindergarten this year because she missed the September first cutoff. I was worried that she would be bored because she absorbs information quickly and she is very social. She goes to the park often and takes classes such as French, gymnastics, art, and T-ball, to accommodate her social needs and for the subjects at which I do not feel adept. So far, boredom has not been a real issue. I recently made the decision to officially home-school my daughter; our goal is to home-school her for at least K-2 and then to reevaluate her needs and what a school could offer her. I based this decision on several factors, both societal and personal.
The societal concerns for my family are the exposure to undesirable behaviors and values. I desire not to shelter my daughter from the world, but to teach her Christian values and certain behaviors which have seemingly become unimportant in today’s society such as respect, politeness, and good manners. These ideas are often torn down and ridiculed in a secular public school environment. I realize that exposure to certain attitudes is healthy, but I wish to monitor the when and how. I decide with whom my daughter spends time rather than her picking up poor habits and bad behaviors from questionable classmates. I hear horror stories from friends and acquaintances about their children’s problems at school with bullies, uncaring teachers, difficult administrators, and more. These just reinforce my desires to home-school.
The problems public schools have vary from outdated age grouping and wasted instructional time to overcrowded classrooms and inattentive teachers. As a certified teacher in English for grades 6-12 and having taught in public and private Christian schools and college for over six years, I faced these problems from the inside and struggled to be a good teacher. I now face problems as a parent and teacher of a gifted five-year-old. Almost all public and private schools have an age cutoff for attendance of September first. Even if my child had been born earlier, she would have faced these and other difficulties in a public or private school kindergarten this year. Much time is wasted from 8 AM to 3 PM in an ordinary school day, such as transitioning to various facilities or activities, repetitive lessons, and disciplinary issues. Standardized testing seems to be the sole purpose of schools. School administrators do not seem to care as much about the "higher-end" students because they require more resources and effort. I know most gifted kids are bored and feel left out or forced into leadership roles they do not want so teachers can focus more on other children’s needs. Overcrowding creates challenges for teachers and students. Teachers cannot accommodate the instructional or personal needs of individual children and maintain classroom management with thirty or more students in a room. My daughter does not have to face any of these stresses because she is home-schooled. I provide for her instructional and personal needs in the special ways that best suit her.
My daughter is very independent and learns with different styles: primarily visual, musical, and kinesthetic. Her abilities are at different levels in various subjects. For instance, she is reading at a third grade level and doing math at a second grade level while she struggles with writing and art. Some profound concepts in science and social studies are fascinating to her and she cannot learn enough, while other simpler topics bore her. She loves the freedom she has to explore what interests her at her own pace. It is actually much easier to accommodate her as a parent and with home-schooling since I can monitor her closely and adapt what we learn to her level, interests, and needs. As a certified teacher in gifted education, I can steer my daughter to activities that she would never be exposed to in a school environment.
Despite the criticism I faced from family and the difficulties I have experienced in the transition to home-schooling my daughter, I have seen the fruits of my efforts in the past eight months. I am proud of my daughter’s accomplishments academically and socially. I know I did the right thing in deciding to home-school her, and she and I both have learned a great deal.