Teach Them in the Way They Should Go
Lee Ann Leach
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” — Deuteronomy 6:6 & 7
My fourteen-year-old son and I walked into Northshore Photography to purchase film for an upcoming photo shoot that I had booked with a local band for their upcoming CD artwork. I discussed the type of film I desired with the shop owner and his wife, and my son interjected several questions about the film regarding lighting conditions, film speed, and film grain, as well. They seemed shocked that a fourteen-year-old kid was asking detailed questions about photography and film. I made my selection of film and began to write the check out to pay for my purchase, when I realized I didn’t have my identification with me. I turned to my son, handed him the keys to the van, and asked him to go out to the van and fetch my wallet. He quickly took the keys, replied, “Yes, ma’am,” and went out the door of the shop. The shop owner’s wife, who was serving me, stood there for a short moment and looked at me with a look of perplexity, and then turned to her husband and said, “Did you see that?” My face twisted into a visual expression of curiosity and I asked her, “See what?” Then she said, “Your teenage son just obeyed you without question and without any argument! That was amazing! How did you manage to get him to be so obedient and respectful to you? I haven’t seen this happen with a parent and a teenager in years!” I smiled at her and simply said, “I home school.” Then she sighed and nodded in understanding.
Show Me the Money!
Public schools are allotted a certain amount of money each year for every student that attends their particular school. The state boards of education allot this money for the use of educating each student. It is estimated that each school receives some where between $5000 and $7000 annually for each child enrolled. This money comes from taxes that are paid by each person in the United States, whether you have a child attending public school or not. Each child living in the United States is also assured a free public education, whether or not it is worth the $5000-$7000 the taxpayers are shelling out for it.
I for one, (after having one child in public schools for eight years and my youngest in them for four years) didn’t feel my children were getting their money’s worth. I yanked them both out and began home schooling them five years ago. My brother (who is a head offensive line football coach and history teacher in Sepulpa, Oklahoma) also pulled his last child out of the same public school system where he teaches and began home schooling him. In talking to the parents of school-age children that I am in associated with, I would say that 80% of these parents have taken the same opinion, and most of them have decided to home school.
We all still pay the same taxes for education as everyone else, and on top of those taxes we have the expense of buying our own children’s curriculums and necessary equipment to teach our children on our own time. I haven’t kept a running tabulation of my expenses over the years in home schooling my children, but I can estimate that I spend approximately $2000 a year on each child. My biggest beef with the Department of Education in the last three years is that no one has taken into consideration that the parents who are home schooling still pay taxes for their children’s education publicly, but no one has thought of asking for some of that guaranteed money to help the home schooling parents pay for their children’s education! I can educate my child on $2000 a year — and that includes any tutoring in math, because I am sorely aware that I am no good in that area, especially when we get past the algebra areas!
Hey Dubya! How about some assistance from those tax dollars for us home schooling parents? I could do major and awesome things with $5000 a year in expense money for my home schooling program! Why haven’t some of these home schooling groups and associations petitioned Congress for taxation benefits or monetary assistance in their home schooling programs? We are paying the taxes just like everyone else, why can’t we ask for what every parent that sends their child to public school gets in those education funds? The public school kids get it (or do they?), and their parents do precious little in helping out with their children’s education. I believe the home schooling parents deserve that much and even more, because, after all, we take the time and effort to make sure our kids get the proper education we desire for them and we do it all by ourselves!
Time Turns the Key That I’m Holding Onto
In the early years of home schooling, the children and parents spend anywhere between 3-5 hours a day in study. In the high school years, we spend approximately 4-6 hours a day in study. In public school, your children spend 7-8 hours a day in school, away from home, and then there are the various after school hours spent in extracurricular activities, such as music, sports and school associations. This is time spent away from the very people that are supposed to be “bringing up baby.” Excuse me, but when you were in the throes of passion conceiving this child of yours, or when you were so desperate to spread your “seed” into the next generation, did you stop and consider the responsibilities you were taking on by creating a child of your own? Look at the last two words in the last sentence. Look again. “Your Own.” This child that you brought into the world belongs to you! You are responsible for raising the child, not society, not the United States government, not your local school board and it’s teaches, and not even the church you attend or do not attend! Why do parents feel it is the obligation of public or private schools to teach their children everything from the facts of life, to how to behave appropriately in social situations, to evolution and/or creationism?
Frankly, I didn’t want some person selected by a school organizational committee to teach my child any of these things. I had taught them and given them my time and care for the first five years of their life, and then, when the laws said I had to relinquish them over to the public system, I did. After several years, I realized that their learning had slowed to a crawl (almost a STOP!), and they were developing behavioral attitudes that I never intended for the flesh of my flesh to ever have! This isn’t even mentioning the viral and bacterial infections they were bringing home from every adult and child with whom they came in contact that were being spread to the rest of the family. We won’t even discuss the lice issue! I was a widowed single mother, but I knew there had to be some changes made before my sons were lost in the whole archaic and crumbling system.
That’s when I decided to home school. The time we spend in study has made all the difference in the world between my children and I. I can know where their interests lie, because I am their teacher, and I can share with them in learning about the things they seek after. We relate family history and personal stories with one another when the occasion arises in the texts and materials as we go along, so they learn about their family history right along with their lessons. We incorporate running a household into the learning process. I have sons that can cook a meal, clean a house, do laundry, make a grocery list, do comparative shopping for the best deals, and handle banking accounts. I have control over how these children behave in social situations, as well. My children know who they are, where and who they come from, and what their family has believed and how we have behaved as a family for generations. None of this was taught to them by a teacher selected at random by the school, or from the children they have associated with in a classroom that have no bearing to who they really are or where they actually have come from.
This brings us to the big argument of people who are against home schooling. Namely, “Home school children are deprived of varying social contacts and therefore become single-dimensioned in their social behavior.” To which home schooling parents will quickly respond, “Horse hockey!”
My Social Butterfly
Children taught in public and private schools are subjected to many, many hours closed off in a classroom with 20-30 other children their own age, and one, possibly two adults. They are rarely in contact with any other people of varying age groups and varying backgrounds. I’m using my own experience in home schooling as an example here, of course, because it is what my children and I have encountered. My two sons not only have friendships with children their own age, but they count among their friends many people of different age groups and social stations. Both of my sons work in the children’s ministry at our church, so a lot of their friends are small children that look up to them and love them like big brothers. Both of my sons volunteer with the AIDS ministry and the homeless ministry, so they come in contact with and have made friends among the elderly men and women at the shelters, as well as those people in hospitals and dealing with suffering due to illness. In this, they have learned compassion and gratefulness in good health, as well as what living with drug addictions and alternative lifestyles can bring into society.
Both of my sons go to rock concerts of all genres… from punk to pop, secular and Christian…. and have seen the workings of putting together shows from a full-blown arena production to a small club setting. They can count among their friends enormously famous people in the music industry and the little old man with an acoustic guitar that sits on the Pier in downtown St. Petersburg and plays for pennies. They have seen the scantily clad girls that follow the rock bands because they have no greater ambitions in life, and they have seen the girls that are pursuing careers in colleges and universities, and they have seen the girls that faithfully serve with them in the ministries at church. There is no shortage of the people we come in contact with on a day to day basis to teach my children about society and how to function within it. They count among their friends rock stars, homeless people, people dying with AIDS, the small children in the nurseries at church, the skaters from the skate park, lawyers, doctors, writers, artists, college students, stock brokers, audiovisual engineers• This list could go on forever. They carry on intelligent conversations with these people and have healthy, fun relationships with each of them!
I think at this point, anyone reading this can assume that I am dead set against public and private schools. I am in favor of parents taking responsibility of the children that they conceived and brought into this world, and that the argument of anti-home school people is pure hogwash. I am against any governmentally run agency dictating the information fed into my children’s brains, and will do what is within my power to keep this load of crap from going into their minds. I am a flag-waving home schooler, and damn well proud of it, and even more proud of my children and what they have accomplished and will accomplish. I made the choice to become a parent, and I refuse to let another person or organization take my choice to raise my children in the way I feel is best for them and the future generations of my family simply because I am too lazy or unconcerned to put the time and effort into teaching them. These two boys are my children. I am responsible for what they become. I am their parent. God, in His grace and love, gave them to me to assure that they would be trained to be upright men for His service, and that I would promise to teach them in a way that they would be returned back to Him. That is my only obligation in this life. I will not let my own desires, cravings, needs, and wants get in the way of the most important job of my entire life, nor will I put that responsibility in the hands of someone else. That is why I home school.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” –Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)