About a year ago, I started wondering why other people homeschool. We began because the academic pressure at Luke's primary school made him sick - but I thought it unlikely that everyone, or even most homeschoolers, had the same awful impetus that we did.
In the non-homeschooling world, the conventional wisdom is that people teach their children at home because A) they belong to a freaky religious sect, or B) because they desire total isolation from their fellow humans. Certainly around where we live, homeschoolers are seen as radically separate from their communities. In that world, before we made the switch to homeschooling, it was hard to imagine that the conventional wisdom could be wrong.
Once we started, and I learned how truly awesome homeschooling is, and how very un-radical homeschoolers are, I began to wonder: where are all these weird, unsocialized people I'd heard so much about? The homeschooling families we meet seemed so well-adjusted, involved in their communities, and generally very together that it's hard to imagine their children having the same kinds of problems Luke did when we started. With this in mind, I wondered, what made them decide to homeschool?
To find out, I conducted a survey of homeschoolers in our local email newsgroup, asking why parents removed their children from public schools to homeschool and how they feel their children fare now, socially and academically. I found out that Luke's experience was far more common than the conventional wisdom holds: all 24 parents who answered my survey, from dozens of school districts in 3 states, withdrew their kids from public schools because of problems with academics, such as the curriculum or teaching methods. Their children were bored to tears - either that or driven to aggressiveness, impassivity, or illness by school teaching methods, rules, and regulations. Many were also labeled, punished, and/or bullied, as often as not by the adults in schools to help develop a 'thick skin.'
A few parents cited religion, a few cited social/peer issues, but all placed blame squarely at the foot of the institution itself, both for what was being taught and how it was being taught.
And now, a year has gone by and I'm wondering, not just about the northeast, but about why we homeschool nationwide.
So, I have a question for you: why do you homeschool? Whether you have always homeschooled, or pulled your kids out of school to start, I'd love your input. The survey itself is seven questions long and I am happy to get responses of any length, from the brief answer to pages about each question. My plan is to spend several months getting as many families, from as many states as possible, to respond. Then I will review the responses and write a paper about the results.
To take the survey, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; you will remain anonymous, in case you worry about that kind of thing, and your responses are very valuable, whether you have one child or a dozen, whether some are in school, or some were in school, or none have ever been in school... you get the idea.
I hope you respond to my survey. I believe that schooled children will benefit from our stories, because we homeschoolers show every day that education must be shaped to fit the child, and not the other way around. If we can be open about why and how we educate our children, then we give hope and strength to non-homeschooling families everywhere. We are saying, loud and clear, that there's more to life than school, and many ways to become educated.
P.S. - If you have a blog or website, and would like to link to my "Why Do You Homeschool" button, just copy the text in this box below and paste it into your website. Thanks soooo much to Jena at Yarns of the Heart for teaching me about buttons, and for making the box o' text itself... they don't call me the Stone Age Techie for nothing, and I would not have even known where to start without her!