Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Homeschooling Decision

Before Rico was born both J and I had a talk about homeschooling.  Neither of us truly remembered how the conversation started, but immediately we both agreed we should probably homeschool.  Our conversations turned from "If we homeschool..." to "When we homeschool..." rather quickly.  We have known for over two years that we were going to homeschool.  Because J has a full time job to support our family, I knew the responsibility for teaching would fall heavily on me.  I have devoured several books that may be helpful to people questioning whether or not the homeschooling route is for them.  If you are at all interested in the idea, I would recommend The Homeschooling Option: How to Decide When It's Right for Your Family, by Lisa Rivero.  You can most likely get this at your local library.  It is VERY unbaised and will serve as an overview and dispel common myths.  If you aren't sure homeschooling is right for you but would like to continue the learning process in your own home, Gureilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School is great.  If you have any specific questions in regards to homeschooling, ask away.  Maybe I can answer them, or point you to the answer.  J decided to write an article for LDS Liberty about our decision to homeschool and some common myths that we homeschoolers seem to be bombarded with once people find out about their decision.  If you would like an LDS perspective, it is a great article.  You can view the original post here or read on.

Fleeing the Bondage of Public Schools:

Imagine a building where all who enter are screened for drugs and weapons.  The halls are regularly patrolled by police and their canines.  Uniforms are required to be worn by the individuals within the building to prevent bullying, discrimination, and classification.  Even with a full-time law enforcement staff, approximately 3 million crimes and 185,580 crime-related injuries are being committed annually in this and all other similar buildings nationwide  (National Crime Survey, 2004).  Inappropriate behavior may result in having to spend more time in the building.  While many of the officials within the building are honest and truly have a desire to help make the world a better place, there are some who commit unspeakable crimes against those whom they oversee.  Everyone within the building adheres to a strict schedule.  Any deviance to the schedule could result in punishment.  Is this building a correctional facility?  No.  It is a public school.  Public schools are becoming increasingly plagued by crime and atheism, resulting in a physically and spiritually unsafe environment for educating children.  This is one of many reasons why the homeschooling movement is growing at a rapid rate in the United States.

Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated: “In many places it is literally not safe physically for youngsters to go to school.  And in many schools – and it’s becoming almost generally true – it is spiritually unsafe to attend public schools.  Look back over the history of education to the turn of the century and the beginning of the educational philosophies, pragmatism and humanism were the early ones, and they branched out into a number of other philosophies which have led us now into a circumstance where our schools are producing the problems that we face.”
This writing is not an attempt to slander public school teachers; rather, it is a response to the misconceptions and other questions surrounding the decision my wife and I have made to homeschool our children.  Hopefully this may serve as a tool for others in defense of their decisions as well.  This writing does not apply to those who, because of divorce, death of a spouse, etc., cannot homeschool.  However, there are many options outside of public education for people in that circumstance.  For those who have chosen to homeschool, it is well known that opponents of homeschooling are quick to criticize and have many misconceptions with little or no foundation.  I, like many others, was educated in public schools and will be the first to say that some public school teachers are angels from heaven.  Unfortunately for today’s public school teachers, they have been placed in an impossible situation where they are expected to raise gobs of children and teach them language, reading, math, and science.  Too often, they become scapegoats for an irresponsible society that relies upon the Department of Education, a godless institution, to teach their children morals, values, and responsibility.

Our society has become one which relies almost entirely upon the government for its sustenance.  By doing so, we have become completely susceptible to the government in ways many people do not even realize.  Public education is simply another form of government reliance which strips us of our liberty to educate our children from “the best books” as we have been counseled by the prophets.  It does not allow our children to freely progress; rather, it hinders them by only allowing them to progress as fast as the slowest individual in their age group.  Public education imposes additional taxes upon our properties and educators are always asking for more.  There are approximately 2.04 million homeschooled children in the United States which represent over $16 billion that taxpayers do not have to spend (Ray, 2011).  If we truly want to free ourselves from taxation and the ever-increasing federal deficit, we can begin by homeschooling our children.

Another example of reliance upon the government comes from parents who say they do not think they could homeschool because they lack teaching or child development credentials.  When God entrusted us with creating mortal life, he granted unto us the ability care for the lives which we create.  He gave us the Holy Ghost to aid us in receiving inspiration.  No one, no matter what their credentials, can understand a child better than parents who earnestly pray for, and seek divine guidance in the raising, teaching, and nurturing of that child.  The saying “a mother knows best” applies here, which is precisely why homeschoolers are so successful.  Parents know their children and how they learn best.  A parent can tailor their teachings to each of their children, which will never be possible in public classrooms.  In A Parent’s Guide published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it states: “The Lord has placed on you as a parent the primary responsibility to teach your children.  Though this is a great responsibility, it is also a divine privilege to have Heavenly Father’s children entrusted to your care.”

A very common misconception associated with homeschooling is that homeschooled children lack socialization and, therefore, are social misfits unable to communicate with others.  Anyone who has raised multiple children can attest to the fact that all children are born with different personalities.  We are all very different beings, physically and spiritually.  Some of us are born with a need to socialize with those around us in order to feel accepted.  Others seclude themselves and are perfectly content having few or no friends at all.  One is not any more correct than the other.  This misconception creates an assumption which eliminates any room for the belief that we are children of God with unique personalities and talents.  It also stands as proof of just how reliant upon government our society has become, to think that we cannot even function socially, without government assistance.  It assumes that the Department of Education is responsible for our personalities and that all publicly educated children are social butterflies anxiously awaiting their next conversation with a complete stranger.  I can attest to the inaccuracy of this assumption.  Having been publicly educated, I have never enjoyed social interactions and have always secluded myself when possible.  I simply am not a social person and my public education did not change that fact.
In truth, public education has proven to be quite detrimental to those students who do not enjoy social interactions.  They become outcast by their peers and begin to harbor deep sentiments of shame, worthlessness, and self-loathing.  We have witnessed extreme situations where students have been driven to such desperately low levels as to take their own lives and/or the lives of other students by acts of extreme violence.  Take a moment to ponder what would be different had the perpetrators of such acts of violence been homeschooled by a loving mother and father.

Many homeschoolers join homeschooling groups that share their same beliefs.  The children within those groups frequently interact.  There are also sporting leagues, music conservatories, theatres, and many other activities outside of the public school system in which homeschoolers can take part.  Studies indicate that homeschooled children actually have a social advantage over publicly educated children, being that homeschooled children interact with all age groups as opposed to only interacting with students their age.  This teaches them to become more adaptable in social settings than their publicly educated counterparts.

It is another common misconception that those who are homeschooled are naïve as it pertains to worldly things.  This is not any truer of homeschooled children than it is of publicly educated children.  I resort again to my personal life.  Although I avoided social interaction at school, I did have friends.  I also became employed at a grocery store when I was thirteen and had many coworkers who were very well versed in the things of the world.  However, even with my public education, my friends, and my coworkers, I managed to graduate from high school a very naïve person, worldly speaking.  I knew that a lot of bad things existed in the world, but I did not know, or even care to know, the details.  Naïve as I was, I still managed to keep a job all through high school, graduate from high school, serve a mission to Guatemala, get a degree, and now act as sole provider for my wife and children.  My naïveté never was cause for me to falter and fall into forbidden paths.  I do not state this to boast, but to show that one can lead a normal, successful, and satisfying life, without knowing all the gory details of what goes on around them.  It also shows how a publicly educated individual can be naïve and that naïveté is not a trait reserved only for homeschooled children. Whether a child is homeschooled or publicly educated, all live in the same world with eyes and ears that can observe what is going on around them.

The final misconception that I want to address is that homeschooled children are ill-prepared for college.  This could not be any further from the truth.  It is a fact that many homeschooled children graduate from the high school equivalent with an associate’s degree.  Studies have also shown that homeschooled children out-perform publicly educated children by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects (Ray, 1997).  If one truly desires to provide their children with the best possible education, statistics indicate their response should be to homeschool their children.

In fact, many of the most brilliant minds to ever grace the human species were homeschooled as children.  Some of the more well-known include Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Charles Dickens, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Brigham Young, Claude Monet, Albert Einstein, and fourteen U.S. Presidents.  This is an abbreviated list, but it helps one to realize that homeschooling is a legitimate means of educating children and preparing them to become productive members and future leaders of our society.

By homeschooling our children, we free their minds so they can reach their true potential.  We opt them out of the “No child left behind” policy which is disturbingly similar to the plan Satan sponsored in the pre-existence.  Just as Satan’s plan would have hindered our spiritual progression, the “No child left behind” policy hinders the educational progression of our children.

We have been charged with raising spirit sons and daughters of God.  Much is expected of us as parents.  David O. McKay, former President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”  We only have 18 years to raise our children and prepare them to become responsible adults who know the ultimate goal of this life, which is to gain eternal life in the presence of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  As important as it is for our children to obtain a secular education, it is of greater importance that they know why they are on this earth, and to what end.  Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated: “If we will keep spiritual learning in its proper place, we will have to make some hard choices of how we use our time.  But there should never be a conscious choice to let the spiritual become secondary as a pattern in our lives.  Never.  That will lead to tragedy.  The tragedy may not be obvious at first, nor may it ever be clear in mortal life.  But remember, you are interested in education, not just for mortal life but for eternal life.  When you see that reality clearly with spiritual sight, you will put spiritual learning first and yet not slight the secular learning.  In fact, you will work harder at your secular learning than you would without that spiritual vision.”  In a homeschooling environment, children can be taught truth in the light of the gospel as opposed to being taught theories which try to compensate a lack of deity.

By homeschooling our children, we reduce the amount of temptation they would have to face as compared to the amount they would face by being publicly educated.  I have heard some people argue that we should send our children to public schools so they can gain more experience in the face of temptation.  President John Taylor, former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated:  “Parents . . . do you surround your sons and daughters with every safeguard to shield them from the arts of the vile? . . . Or do you leave them in their ignorance and inexperience to mix with any society they may choose, at any hour that may be convenient to them, and to be exposed to the wiles of the seducer and the corrupt?  These are questions you will all have to answer either to your shame and condemnation or to your joy and eternal happiness.”  If that is not clear enough, Matthew 26:41 reads: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  The prophets have counseled us to avoid temptation by all means.  Why, then, would we send our children to public school with the intent to enter them into temptation?  As parents, we have the sacred responsibility to protect our children from the adversary that they may focus on their own betterment, rather than trying to free themselves from his binding chains.  If that means homeschooling our children rather than sending them to school, then that is precisely the action that should be taken.

Let the Lord’s words be ever-present in our mind as we seek the ability to teach our children in all things.  From D&C 88:78–79 he counsels: “Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
“Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—.”

National Crime Survey. (2004). Crimes committed on school grounds. Washington, DC.
Ray, B. D. (2011). Research Facts on Homeschooling, National Home Education Research Institute. Retrieved from
Ray, B. D. (1997). Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America, National Home Education Research Institute.


1 comment:

  1. Loved this! We plan on homeschooling at some point. We are waiting until we feel it is the right time. I'm going to check out those books that you mentioned. Thanks for sharing this!