A note from a reader inspired this attempt to reassure those dads out there taking the initial homeschool plunge this year. Since dads typically aren't home all day seeing all the cool stuff going on, it's only natural that the nattering nabobs of negativity will occasionally get to us.
Relax. Kids are bouncy. They aren't nearly as fragile as we thought on that first day we brought one home from the hospital. In fact, kids are damn resilient. This goes for their intellect too. As bad as the schools can be, 1/2 the kids still manage to walk out 12 years later with a decent education. Of course, as hip homeschool dads, 50/50 odds on decent are not good enough for our kids. We are looking for 98% on great. Homeschooling may or may not be able to provide that, but it certainly gives better than 50/50 on decent.
What is the fascination with school? Did you really enjoy your years in school? We owe our kids an education. Schools are not required for education. In fact, they are often counter productive. Are we just afraid to be different? Afraid that we won't have anybody to blame if we fail? The number 1 activity at school is waiting. The kids wait for the teacher to take role and start class, they wait to be called on, wait for the rest of the class to finish the quiz. They wait in line for lunch, wait for lunch period to end, wait for the bus, wait in line for this and that. I doubt that average kid gets 15 minutes of teacher interaction all day. It'll be difficult to do worse at home.
Fear of the unknown is a powerful foe. If you, like many of us, have sort of let your wife handle all the homeschool details, now is the time to get more involved. Get thee ass in front of a computer and read up on the homeschool law in your state. At a minimum, you can at least make yourself feel better by knowing you are following whatever lame procedures your state has in place for homeschooling. Join a local homeschool group and get to know other homeschoolers. Millions of people, many of them not as smart as you, have done this successfully. It's not that difficult. Read through the archives here or at Cobranchi.com to gain some reinforcement for your decision to homeschool. Deep down, you know it's the right decision. Use that feeling, feel the force Luke.
Don't worry about how Junior compares to other. If you must, flip through something like the "What Your First Grader Needs to Know" series to get a feel for what type of stuff should be covered each year. (Your wife probably already has the book) If you are covering just the stuff in those books your kid will be way, way, way ahead of his public school peers. The schools don't move quickly, and they are getting slower, not quicker. There is no one way to educate. You'll probably Ebay several curriculum the first year or two as you experiment and figure out what works for your kids. That's ok, in fact it's great. The schools would just keep doing the same thing regardless of results. That is how it has to be when you have 1000 students to account for. You only have your family to account for. That flexibility is like gold. Use it for all it's worth.
At the end of day, remember that none of this is permanent. If homeschooling doesn't work for your family, you can always go back to the school system. They would love to have you. You aren't doing any permanent damage by homeschooling. However, once you've experienced the freedom of parent directed education;
- the freedom from government mandated school schedules,
- the freedom to blow off opening day and go to a baseball game,
- the freedom to travel when it fits your schedule, not the governments,
- the freedom to vacation after labor day when beach condos are discounted 50% and the crowds are gone,
- the freedom to spend a week at Disney Word in early Nov and never stand in a line longer than 15 minutes,
- the freedom to let your kids follow their dreams and passions, because they have the time to,
- the freedom study stuff off the beaten track, because it's interesting and your kids want to,
- the freedom to integrate your faith into education as you see best,
well, I don't expect to see your kids returning to the local government institution anytime soon.
Welcome to the club. After you've been here a year we'll teach you the secret handshake.