Friday, August 21, 2009

Educational Choices

Just this past week, I had an opportunity to discuss homeschooling versus other school options with a friend from my own high school days. Home School Legal Defense Association (“HSLDA”) recently published a study conducted by independent testing services which illustrates “that, as a group, homeschoolers consistently perform above-average academically.” (See study here.) I posted a link to the HSLDA article on my personal Facebook page. In response to my post, a couple of my friends commented about homeschooling in general.

One of the points brought up during the ensuing Facebook “debate” was that “. . . at some point the child has to have his/her say in the matter [i.e., the type of education they receive].” It was basically an accusation that homeschool parents force their children to be educated at home, whether the children like it or not. In fact, the comment ended with the declaration that “[i]f the child is not on board then the resentment can be hard to overcome later in life.” Because many other points were brought up during the discussion (starting with the typical socialization argument), this particular one was not dealt with at the time. However, I’ve since pondered those statements and have formed some thoughts regarding them.

My initial thought is this – on what issues do parents allow their children a say in the matter? I’m not talking about things like what flavor ice cream they’d like after dinner, or what pair of pants they want to wear today. All parents, of course, allow their children to make certain choices in order to teach them responsibility. And, generally, the older a child is, the more choices he is allowed to make.

However, when it comes to schooling, do any parents allow their children a choice in how they would like to be schooled? If a public-schooled child suddenly said to his parents one day, “Mom & Dad, I would like to be homeschooled now,” would those parents be willing to make the lifestyle changes necessary to homeschool their child? Before they start each school year, do parents generally have a discussion with their children about where, and how, they’d like to be schooled? If the answer to each of these questions is “no” (as I suspect in most cases it is), then why accuse homeschooling parents of not allowing their children “a say in the matter?”

Except for a brief interval in a private school, I was sent to public school from kindergarten until graduation from high school. Did I have a say in the matter? Absolutely not! There was no discussion in our household about how or where I would be schooled. My parents made the decision and I followed their orders.

Do our children have any say in the matter of whether or not they will be homeschooled? Of course not. Neither do our friends’ or relatives’ children have any say in whether or not they will be sent to public school. Children are not the best judge of what is right for them or their family. Parents are, and it is our right as parents to keep our children at home and educate them ourselves if we so choose. They are, after all, our children. They don’t belong to the state, or anyone else. And, it just so happens that our children are very happy with our decision to homeschool. They wouldn’t have it any other way.

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