Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hot Topic Tuesday-- The Great Schooling Decision

Okay, so there always seems to be a "mommy war" about how to school children. Homeschool, private school, public school, charter school, Montessori school... It's overwhelming. And I have to say, a lot of Christian mamas can be the most vicious. Because it's all about "what God wants" for their kids.

Now, don't get me wrong. God DOES want something for your children. I am *pretty* sure I can safely say that he wants them to go to school.

Now, that being said-- this was not a choice we had to make-- it was made for us because of the call to live and work in Haiti. Homeschooling IS our option. There are no mission/private/American school in Jacmel. Homeschool IS our only option.

I honestly do not know what we would have done if the whole Haiti thing didn't occur in our lives.

So, here's my question--

How are your kids schooled, and how did you come to that decision? (OR... how WILL they be schooled, if not yet in school?)


  1. Our kids went to a private preschool and now a public (Catholic) school. To me school is just as much about the social aspect as it is about education.

    While I think kids can be wonderfully socialized at home, for me, there is something to be said for not being the one to do it on their behalf. Yes, school can be hard, there can be bullies, and some kids don't learn well in the structured setting, but to me, that's life. They have to adapt.

    I have no issue with people choosing to homeschool their kids as long as they are doing it for the kids and not for some weird childhood drama they endured and are not perpetuating on their kids. The one approach I do take issue with is the unschooling way. That to me is ridiculous.

  2. I'm not a mommy yet, but am hanging on in faith that I will be someday. I think schooling options have various pros and cons and it's very individual. You, the parents know your children, your school system, and your capabilities best so it is a very personal choice between husband, wife, children and God.

  3. Gwenn,
    That's not true. You choose to home school in Haiti. You could send your children to Haitian public school or even a Haitian private Christian school. You choose not to.

    He, he, he...Just being the devil's advocate today!
    I starting to have Riann sit down and prepare her for when you will come and be her teacher. Looking forward to you all moving here!

  4. We homeschool for educational and social reasons.

    My kids have immeasurable freedom in learning, as well as play, creativity and imagination. They love to learn. They crave it. Of course, even amongst homeschoolers there are dozens of different approaches. We don't do "school at home." We just learn - all the time - sometimes structured and sometimes not.

    They are socialized with all ages of people every single day. The quantity and quality of the time they spend with peers and adults ... well, I've yet to find another educational opportunity to match it.

    If I find something that tops the education and socialization they receive, we'll chunk this taco stand.

  5. Also not a mom yet, hope to be eventually through foster/adoption. Had Hal and I stayed in South Carolina, no doubt would have home schooled or private schooled - the public school system there was horrible - most did not even report their test/graduation statistics, those that did were way under par, except for the magnet schools like school of the arts. Here in Nebraska, I would have no problem sending a child to the public school system. I think it's all about the needs of the child. I don't agree with everything the public schools teach, but it opens up lines of communication, and a teaching opportunity. As for the socialization issue, I know some homeschooled kids whose parents handled it great and some who handled it horribly.

  6. My kids went to (church) preschool...I liked the social/religious emphasis less academic.

    Now my kids go to public school but that could always change. I am blessed to live in an area where the schools are wonderful, safe, and conveniently located. I would not hesitate to send my children to private school if I felt they were not safe or getting the education they needed to succeed.


  7. Wow! Good one, Gwenn! I was more heels dug in on this one before I was a mom...but I think we will send our kids to public school unless I see a life threatening situation that is public school specific.

    I assume that Wake county will still have a stellar school system when my kiddos are old enough to start. I went through a WAY less than stellar school system, so I don't get the complaining I hear sometimes.

    The preparation for life (structure, conflict, independent thinking, etc.) in school (whether public or private) is probably the biggest factor for me. At this point, private schools aren't an option for us financially...so there ya go.

  8. We have had our kids in public school, a magnet school, as well as public school in England. We pulled them out of public school in the U.K. because we saw that striving for mediocrity and learning a disdain for authority (any kind)was detrimental to our kids for the 8 months they were in those schools.

    We LOVED homeschooling, but when we returned to the States, for many reasons, sent all three of our kids back to public school.

    My two older kids are now in the dreaded public high school setting and we embrace it for what it is. It's not perfect, but neither is private or home schooling. Everyone compromises something. My kids have great teachers who challenge them. They are respected for their faith by both their peers and their teachers. They are free to be who they are, not pressured to be someone else or wear something else, or take drugs or drink alcohol.

    Regardless of where our kids are, learning takes place in our home as well, and we aim to foster a love for learning outside of academia.

    I think when the discussion of education becomes toxic is when people begin to idolize education or the process they have chosen.

  9. Having sent all three of my children to public schools and interacting with my home school grandchildren I feel like I have seen both sides of the coin. My older kids were in a very good (rich) public school system and excelled. My youngest after 6th grade was in a poorer system and excelled. I think the love for learning is caught. Children who are read to learn to read. Books open up minds and imagations. Parents are the first and most important teachers before kindergarden and throughout childhood.
    What I like about homeschooled kids is that they stay kids longer. They are free to be themselves without the fear of rejection. I think of Micah age five who doesn't think twice about saying that he wears a pullup because he sometimes wets at night. In public school you learn to hide things like that because you will be teased. These kids are also very smart. They are reading well above their grade/age level and the know lots of things.Micah justsaid to me "did you know that grover served two times as president? what was his last name?" He is already a good reader at 5 yrs.old.I know that there is lot to the fact that Gretchen is an awesome teacher. She is very structered and besides she is a really smart person herself. My grandchildren are very well soicalized and have very active lives. Sometimes Katie will pick up some attitude that she sees in other little girls. I will to her "Katie, do you know that sounds a little sassy?" She responds with "No, I'm sorry."That's it. No eye rolling, no back talking at all.
    That was the hardest part of public school for me as a mother.
    Is home school for everyone? No. Some mother's have to work. Some are not able and some are not willing. If a parent is not committed to being the teacher I think public school is a better choice. But if you are looked for the best education you won't have to look to far to see that homeshool done well is a very good choice.
    That said, I have seen homeshooling done very poorly. When kids are left to teach themselves without direction, well that is not school at all.
    So if you are considering homeshooling your kids I would say only do it if you are committed to the hard work that is ahead of you. If not, put them on the bus.(myself i consider myself a victim of Catholic school 1960's style)and yes i know..i can't spell, my grammer is poor, but i know smart when i see it.

  10. Ok I'm going to go ahead and add drama here. Colin is too young to go to school yet but I'm certain I won't be homeschooling him. I expect to have a career again, when my children are in school
    Issue #1 One of the arguments for homeschooling is that children don't learn bad behavior from their peers, and thus act like little adults. From my LIMITED experience this makes them looks like aliens to children their own age. I remember meeting someone in Sunday school as a kid and not understanding why their behavior was so unusual. Another student chimed in "oh that kid is home schooled", the word became synonymous with 'social reject'. I can look back and appreciate now that this child was far more mature than I was. I get it that this magnifies the point that kids are MEAN (I know from first hand experience, I was picked on a lot as a child and teen) but I think learning to deal with mean kids has made me a better person and much more flexible. I tend to always end up working for people everyone else thinks are jerks, but I'm very capable of 'handling' them.
    Issue #2 As a 'scientist' I get very upset when I hear about people homeschooling their children so they don't get exposed to facts that oppose their own beliefs. (I don't really want to open up the evolution debate here, that isn't the point.) The point is *I think* it is wrong to intentionally limit your childrens exposure to factual information. It limits their potential, I think it's best to give children all the fact (age appropriate) and let them make decisions as they see fit when it comes time.
    I invite arguments to this, as I've never actually debated this with anyone who didn't feel the same way I do...
    the end =)

  11. We have nothing against any schooling option, but we will send our kids to public school. I don't have time at the moment to type all the reasons. But I did want to reply to Connie G and say that I grew up in the public school system of SC. I went on to graduate with honors from college and also got my MBA. I agree the SC schools could be improved, but I generally think it's more about the kids and parents and not the schools that determine what you get out of your education.

  12. I think Becky was bang on in her reasoning. I for the life of me cannot figure out why parents would want to limit their children's knowledge base by only teaching their own beliefs. I am not saying all homeschooling parents do this, but if it is the sole reason for choosing HS then I would take issue with that.

    I personally believe that it is our job to raise our children to be independent of us and to be able to make decisions even when we are not there to guide them. Too often parents want to protect their children from the realities of real life and keep them cocooned up at home. I can understand the maternal/paternal desire to protect our kids but to me it can be taken too far.

    Going to school and experiencing life away from mom and dad is to me, very important and provides a baseline for future interactions. Even if a HS child is well socialized it is for the most part done under the watchful eye of the parent, which is simply not the same.

  13. I will say that as a homeschooling mom, I appreciate the ability to be a "filter" (as I have heard another homeschool mom put it) for a bit longer.

    So the opportunity to "filter" some of the messages at a young age that I don't think benefit my kids is definitely a good "side effect" of homeschooling.

    Now, yes. They need to grow and make their own decisions and see the world from different angles.

    But I actually found myself agreeing with Michelle Duggar (mother of 18) when she said something like, "Yes, we shelter our kids. They are young and need protection. It's similar to the way we put young plants in greenhouses to let their root systems establish before putting them out in harsh environments."

    It might sound trite, but I want my kids to be established well. I feel that, as an adult and their mother, I have a better idea of what they can absorb and what will crush them than they do, as a child.

    (And I personally have no concerns with my children not being "socialized." They are each going to live with 22 other kids for pete's sake. And have 20 some teams of other "white people" coming down every year. They will be just fine.)

  14. Here is my quick answer, that I have been trying to write all day while chasing after a 14 month old!

    I have been a public school teacher for the past 6 1/2 years and our plan is that we would send our child(ren) to public schools.

    I attended a private Christian school for a few years at the elementary school and loved it. UNTIL, we switched to a public school and continued to go to the church that was associated with the Christian school and I no longer had friends there. The parents told their children not to have anything to do with my siblings and me because we were "public school kids." At that age I did not understand, but as I got older I realized that their parents had influenced them. Some of the kids were socially awkward and not in touch with reality. That ended up putting a bad private school taste in my mouth.

    However, one of the biggest reasons that I am a proponent of public education is because I think it is my responsibility as a parent to teach my child(ren) that people are diverse-- in many aspects- culturally, spiritually, behaviorally, intelligence levels, socio-economically, etc. The public school is a great place to foster conversations like, "I know that child celebrates _____ and we don't. Why is that? What can you learn from that? What things do you do that are the same?" To me, that is an opportunity to train your child for the reality that they will face when they are independent of you as their parent. I can teach him how to demonstrate love and acceptance of others, whether the same or different. *Typically* a private school does not offer as much diversity as a public school can. Also, I think a child can miss out on that in a home schooling setting unless the parents are vigilant about it. Obviously, Gwenn's situation will be different!

  15. I agree that we need to be a "filter" during the formative years of our children's lives but I guess for me the benefits of public school outweigh the negatives. Yes, my kids have learned things from older kids on the bus that they would not have learned in a homeschool environment, one that comes to mind is when my 8 year old asked me what a condom was...

    I am not selfless enough to homeschool my kids and am the first to admit it. My hat is off to many of the mom's who choose hs and choose to do it well. For us, even if I was selfless enough I think we would still choose public education. Like one poster said it is an amzing chance for kids to see and learn about people that they wouldn't get at home.

  16. Well, as the mom of a almost 10 month old, I have a while to figure this one out. But I have a few thoughts I want to share in response to some of the comments made so far.

    1. Just because a school has poor or unreported test scores does not mean the quality of education is lacking. It could mean that, but it could also mean a myriad of other things, like the students do not care about the test scores so they don't try on them. Before I had my son I taught at a school with low test scores and I think that the students there had a great quality of education- I doubt teachers at any of the other area schools (all with higher scores) work as hard for their kids as my colleagues did.

    2. I wholeheartedly agree that it all begins at home. I could probably pick out the students in my classroom that had mom's who had stayed home with them and then the kids whose parents did not place much value on education.

    3. I don't think think that all home-schooled kids are socially backward. While we all probably know some that are, I also know some that aren't.I know one family (with 7 children) that you would never know home-schools. Of course with 6 siblings, you learn a lot of social skills! But I think parents need to be intentional about allowing their children to have lots of opportunities to socialize with other children their age in age appropriate ways.

    With all that being said, I still don't know what I would want to do. I think it will depend on where we live and what options we have. Right now I think KY has too much emphasis on test scores. If I had a school age child here now I'm not sure if I would want them "being taught to the test." And Private school is a lot of money so I might choose to home school. But I think that would be even harder than being a classroom teacher because then you're not only the teacher (and maybe for more than one grade level), you're also the principal, the cafeteria worker, the janitor, the secretary, the attendance clerk, in charge of book/material adoption, etc. And you'd never get a snow day. But you wouldn't have 180 different students.

    Good topic Gwenn.

  17. "The Ashley Family" put into words exactly how I feel. Well said.

  18. Have to repost. My husband taught in the SC school system. The administration does not care about the kids, the teachers do not have the support of the administration or the parents, gangs and drugs are rampant - they HAVE to allow 20-year-olds to stay in school if they want to, and they want to so they can sell their drugs and get 12-year-olds to become sexually active. It's not all about the test scores, but when you're 49th out of 50 states, I would not put my children there even if there were the drug/gang problems. In 2 years we had our car doors kicked in, he had numerous death threats (from kids who have since been arrested, 2 for armed robbery, 1 for the murder of a deputy sheriff in the process of a robbery).

  19. Sorry, meant even if there were not the drug/gang problems.

  20. I am a homeschooling Mom of 5 kids. This was not a quick choice but one we prayed about and felt very led to. I HS for so many reasons. I am able to be with my children to filter for them until they are able to filter for themselves. It breaks my heart to see so many young girls acting like older teens because of what they are exposed to. I am able to have a 10 year old who acts 10. I am not wanting her to be more mature,I am wanting her to be 10. Each of my children have their own learning styles and I am able to work with them one on one to get them through their challenges instead of placing them in an over crowded class room where they may or may not get the one on one time they need. The social part makes me laugh sometimes. I think people still have the idea that HS children are kept in bubbles and never exposed to other people. It is actually the opposite. My children are forming real relationships with their friends. There is rarely any time in a PS day where the kids can actually talk. They are together yes, but truly doing life together, not always. Can it happen, of course but I think my children are able to form stronger bonds with their group of friends. Do I shelter them, you bet. It's my job to raise amazing adults and to do this I must protect them and not expose them to stuff they are not ready for. I love Home Schooling. I love being with my kids. I think that each family needs to make their own personal choice for their own family.

  21. A big "YEAH, THAT" to Maria. She said everything I wanted to with this exception:
    People often say that homeschooled kids aren't able to socialize well with others. I think that more PUBLIC-schooled kids don't socialize well with others, and here's why: When kids are in public school, they are around a big group of kids of their own age, all day, every day. Cliques form, bullies happen, kids get left out. Also, when kids are in public school, it's not like they're socializing all day!
    The homeschool group that I belong to has kids from age 3-18. One of the best things about it for me is that my kids are learning to "socialize" with ALL DIFFERENT AGES of people. Of course, my children aren't everyone, but most homeschooled kids I know (the ones of parents who are "doing it right", as Nanajobx said) can fit right into most any group.
    Example: when my oldest daughter turned 7 last fall, we had a big party for her at my mom's house. We had about 25 kids total; some were public-schooled, some homeschooled. Of the home-schooled kids there, about half were from "our" group (that we know locally) and the rest were from our church. The two groups do not meet together, although we of course are involved in both. In any case, what I noticed was that the group of public-schooled kids clumped all together, even creating a bit of friction because "Katie's not playing just with ME", whereas the homeschooled kids just played with everyone. Now, of course, this could just be personalities. But my point, of course, is that if you're in a situation in your daily life where you interact with people of ALL ages, you tend to be able to communicate better with people of all ages. With no exceptions, when my homeschooled kids are put into a new social situation, they are at ease, introduce themselves, have fun. I've seen this in church settings, on sports teams, at the ChildWatch program at the gym, etc.
    Long-winded, but at least I didn't TOTALLY repeat what Maria said!

  22. I guess for me I think that at some point our kids, teens will be forced to be in learning situations, college or university, in which their unique way of learning will not be the method of the prof. Kids need to learn to adjust to this and in turn adjust their ways of processing information and learning. If we only teach in a way that suits that child how will they adapt in a very different setting?

    Everyone talks about raising great adults whichg is obviously the end goal of all parents but I cannot see how being the filter in such a huge way can be the best option. Of course kids will be exposed to things we don't like in public school but that is when good parenting comes in, not simply acting as a filter. Kids who are able to be away from the parental unit and learn how to act and function without the filter to me is far more important.

  23. Well I am jumping into this discussion a little late, but here is my opinion. I am the product of a private catholic boarding school where there were girls from around the world. I had a wonderful education there and learned just as much from the girls and all the various cultural traditions they brought with them.

    I had my kids in a private Lutheran school in Oregon and they had small class sizes and great teachers. When we moved to North Dakota, i enrolled them in another private school and was sorely disappointed in the quality of education they were receiving. We also had a BIG problem with racism that the administration did not know how to handle. We then enrolled them in our local 2 room schoolhouse and had no idea that the education could be so lacking. In fact both teachers have failed to pass minimum teaching standards repeatedly.

    I pulled my kids out and decided that the only option available to us is to homeschool the kids. I quickly realized how little my kids actually knew even though they had always been 'A' and 'B' students. I have a much more stringent curriculum and push them to achieve instead of merely skating by.

    I would like everyone to know that I was always the kind of mom that could hardly wait until school started and dreaded 3PM as it meant no more free time for me. All of my lunch dates are history and I work a full time job teaching my kids from 8:30 to 3PM everyday. In addition I spend about $3000 on their pre-packaged curriculum and an additional $1000 or so on incidentals. But after getting into the groove of it, I love knowing that I am responsible for imparting all the knowledge they will need educationally to get into college and be a successful adult.

    My kids are very social and have always been the life of their classrooms and I can tell you that they are not missing out on social time or skills. They still have all the other extra-curricular activities and we also belong to a very active homeschool group whrer twice a week the kids get together for a different sport every month.

    Yes, there are some freaky kids that are in our homeschool group, but their mom's are just as super freaky. For the women that don't use a particular curriculum and just teach their kids "life skill" I can see the evidence that their kids are being short changed. But for those of us who have chosen this very difficult road, it is both rewarding and challenging. Both my kids have declined to go back to a a public school and have no regrets about my choice of homeschooling them. I do see that some odd mom's have chose to homeschool as a means to insulate their kids from reality and because they feel the need to keep their noticeably odd kids from school where they would be butt kicked everyday. What those kids need is some form of therapy to help them learn socially appropriate skills for their age. It bugs me endlessly to see a weird kid who cannot play with their peers and acts like a weird grown-up.

    So long story short, I homeschool due to the hideous lack of certified instructors and feel I am giving them more educationally than they would have received in the public school.That and the fact I have a vested interest in what my kids learn, really drives me to give my best.

  24. Another pro of homeschooling is that there is also something to be said for being able to teach your child in the style that they best learn. Learning styles really vary from kid to kid-- and a ratio of 1:1 (like I am doing now or 1:3 when I have all my kids of school age) is far better than 1:15, or 1:20 or 1:30... whatever it is around here.

  25. My question would be, what happens when the kids who benefit from a certain way of teaching graduate and move on to post secondary? If your kids are visual learners and that type of teaching is done at home, the kids excel. What happens when that same visual kid gets to university and has a professor who simply stands up in front of the class? The auditory learners will continue to do well but the visual learners that have never been expected to learn in any other way at home will struggle.

    My son is the textbook definition of a kinesthetic learner. When given materials that he can physically manipulate or something tangible to understand math problems for instance, he just "gets it". When he was faced with sitting in a classromm listening to a teacher he would phase out and get frustrated. Obviously the majority of classes are not geared to this type of learner so he had to be taught how to adjust his way of thinking to learn better in the classroom. It was hard and it was met with a lot of tears but I truly believe he is better now suited for a formal post secondary education. Now he is able to understand what his teacher is trying to teach and we use more tangible tools at home to reinforce what he is unsure of.

    I also want to point out that I am in now way opposed to HS. I have met many HS families that are doing an amzing job at it and the kids are awesome. The same goes for many kids who attend public school. I guess if I was met with the circumstances of a bad school, bad teachers, etc my view for my kids may be different but I think we are quite fortunate to live where we do.

    I am not sure if it is a difference between the US and Canada but here there are certain requirement for educators that are not the same in the US. A friend of mine lives in the US and she is a substitute teacher, which to my surprise did not require the same education, not even close to that of a full time educator. Our classes are not huge where I live. Even in the high school my oldest attends that has over 2500 students she doesn't have any more than 23 or 24 kids in a class. The elementary grades are even lower. Kindergarten is about 12-15/class.

    We also have extensive services for kids that are of no fee to familes. I think that makes a huge difference as well since one child in a class with special needs can take up most of the teachers time.

  26. I think it's kind of putting the cart before the horse to say that it's not a good idea to teach your child in their learning style because it might make them not able to learn well later. Wait, what?

  27. I didn't say we shouldn't teach our kids in a way the way they learn best. In fact if you go back and read my comment again I said that we did choose to accompany our son's school teachings at home with further teachings in the way he was most fluent in.

    To me, and this is only me, I think by teaching our kids only in the way that they excel in we are setting them up for struugles later in their academic career and in the workplace.

    I finished my undergrad degree with a group of three sisters, all of whom were homeschooled. They were awesome girls, the life of the party in fact but they struggled with the formal aspect of the University way of teaching. They had spent 12 years at the kitchen tabe being schooled by their parent. They had been able to learn at the pace they needed to and they did very well. I am sure they assumed that their grades would continue in university, but they didn't. Now I am not saying this holds true for all HS kids, but it is something to think about.

  28. Gretchen,
    Funny that you noted that the HS kids all played with everyone. That was one of the first thing I noticed about the kids in our homeschool group too. My kids had racism problems at our private Lutheran school and public school, but the HS kids welcomed them and included them in evrything. It kind of blew me away with how accepting they were of new kids. We didn't see any of the ostracism usually dealt to new kids in school.

    My son has some learning differences but we have never had an IEP or any classroom modifications as we have always provided for private Speech, occupational therapy to help with his struggles and a private tutor for after school. I did want him to have to function "normally" in an average classroom, but now that we are HS I do present material differently that allows him more time to grasp the subject/concept completely. I test him every 20 lessons to ensure that he is "getting it". I uderstand the thought that if kids are coddled and allowed to learn at the kitchen table that they will struggle in real life, but if we don't allow our kids to feel academic success, particularly if they have struggled, then you run the risk of squashing any desire to further their education.

    I actually present more material and in a more difficult format than they ever received in either public or public schools. I expect my kids to achieve more and to function at a higher academic level of excellence than they would have in a school setting. And I have also learned that since I have the educational responsibility for my kids, I now see how little I was actually involved with their education when in public school. I am now totally aware of what they need to work on where they excel and what they desire to know in addition to the basic curriculum.


Hey y'all. Allowing comments now after a long time of not. Please be respectful.